Paisen Rosewood Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

10 May 2020

Paisen Rosewood Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

Review day, and another first for a brand on Got A Ukulele. This is the Paisen Rosewood Concert ukulele.

Paisen Rosewood Concert Ukulele


Paisen are a Chinese based company and this uke has been one of those where the product descriptions and sales method have made it quite a job to get down to some reliable facts. And sadly, it is, to the best of my knowledge an Amazon or factory direct only instrument too. I know I said I would be shying away from those reviews at the current time, but I have had this one in my possession for a while now and a fair few regular readers have asked me to look at it. Oh.. and it's also one of those that certain YouTube 'influencers' go totally over the top about too.. Let's see what this independent reviewer thinks.

First up on the confusion stakes. This is branded 'Paisen', and indeed the bag and headstock says so.. but when you look at Amazon reviews left by others, some people are receiving them labelled 'Tianyu'. In fact some of the actual product listing pictures on Amazon show the Tianyu logo... I think one brand is the parent of the other, and I am not sure if the 'Tianyu' labelled models are still coming through. A name hardly matters of course, but it would be nice to know.  It doesn't end there, but we will come on to that a little later.

This is otherwise a standard shaped double bout concert ukulele. The next element of confusion comes with what it's made of, as the product listing goes out of it's way to make it sound more special than it is. The whole product description is a master class in bull... In fact in one place it is called 'Truly Rosewood'..  Sure, there is rosewood here, but it's a laminate wood instrument. To be fair to them, it looks like it might be a laminate of sheets of rosewood as the inside is clearly rosewood too, but that's still laminate. The brand even quote one of the YouTube influencers is calling it 'quality wood'... Hmmmm. It's pretty standard laminate as far as I can see. On the positive side the stripe on the two piece top, two piece curved back and two piece (poorly bookmatched) sides is nice enough, but it's still not out of this world.. And they ARE only veneers... Still. It's hardly ugly and something a bit different.

Paisen Rosewood Concert Ukulele body

The bridge is made of rosewood and is a slot style holding a straight topped plastic saddle. It's covered in the same satin as the body, which is something I never like and is also a bit scruffy in places, such as around the pearl plug holes that cover the screws holding it down. In fact, I am glad it IS screwed down as the fixing otherwise is rather poor with a noticeable gap on the bottom edge. If this was merely glued I wouldn't give it a long shelf life..

Paisen Rosewood Concert Ukulele bridge

Decoration comes in two parts, one element I like and one that irritates me. Firstly, the top and back are edge bound in an attractive rope style inlay made of lots of pieces of coloured woods. I think they look great in contrast to the dark of the rosewood veneer. Really nice in fact... But then there's the sound hole(s). Look familiar to you? They may well do, because that design of offset multiple circles edged with wooden veneers in the shape of a vine / oak leaf is one created by the Ovation guitar company many years ago and is use on some of their round back instruments. They even repeated it on their Applause ukulele. To be clear,  I have no idea if Paisen have permission to use it and they probably do, but...  is nobody capable of originality any more?  Whilst it's not for me personally, I don't hate the look as such, but I would get fed up of people asking me 'oh is that an Ovation ukulele', and having to say, 'No, it's a Paisen, or possibly a Tianyu'...  Or maybe even something else.... I've been told of the same design being used by Ammoon, Caramel, Gear4Music and Harley Benton. It's totally lazy and derivative... Other than that, the body is then finished in an open pore satin which has been pretty well done all over.

Paisen Rosewood Concert Ukulele decor

There is one more thing to mention though when it comes to decoration. Looking at the product listing and some other review photographs, it seems that some of these instruments are sold with an extremely nosensical engraving on the top. By that, I am referring to a large engraving running from the bridge to the upper bout that reads 'Ukulele Guitar'.... Ugh.... What the hell is a ukulele guitar?? This one doesn't have it, and it may be the case that they have stopped doing it (because somebody told them how utterly ridiculous it was), but when their product pictures show it as still there, i'd worry that you run a chance of getting one like that. I would be mortified if I bought one and it arrived in that way!!

Inside is pretty standard with thin enough braces and notched kerfing. What I can't show you with the picture is there is an excess of glue on the linings. Take my word for that.

Paisen Rosewood Concert Ukulele inside

The neck wood is not specified, but it's pale and a nice contrast to the dark body.  It's jointed at the heel and headstock and they are not too obvious either. It's overly 'broom handle' rounded on the back for me though and a disappointingly narrow 34mm at the nut and 27mm G to A. That's not comfortable for people with hands the size of mine.

The neck is topped with a rosewood fingerboard with some nice curvy shaping at the end. It's rather variable in colour which I don't like to see in a rosewood fingerboard, but I suppose it's not life and death. You get 17 frets in total (not counting the two half frets on the curved end which serve no purpose) and it's joined to the body at the 12th.  They are not edge bound, but the metal ends are stained black to almost hide them. They are, however, poorly dressed with several having sharp ends which need work. Pearl dot position markers face out at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th, but sadly you get no side dots. The gripes are mounting up here.

Paisen Rosewood Concert Ukulele neck

The headstock is 'Kanile'a esque' in shape and is faced in more rosewood. It's quite tidy to be fair and the Paisen logo is inlaid in pale wood. If you get a Tianyu the logo will be etched.

Paisen Rosewood Concert Ukulele headstock

The tuners are generic chrome sealed gears. They look like poor quality and the chrome plating on two of them is pitted and ugly. They all turn at different tensions too with one of them feeling ultra loose and the button is wobbly. Still, being gears they will hold.

Paisen Rosewood Concert Ukulele tuners

Completing the package are clear nylon strings, a branded functional gig bag and a couple of strap buttons. You also get some other extras too.. Well, you should get other extras... there was nothing else in my box... Assuming they package yours correctly you should also get a strap, tuner, capo, picks, and spare strings... I won't lose sleep about not getting such things as it was bought for this review, but a beginner probably will and it highlights another pitfall of not buying through a real dealer. Honestly though, included or not, it never affects the score as the extras are usually pretty poor. And that can be yours for a price at the time of writing of about £70. They also make this is a tenor scale too. That's a value ukulele all right, though bear in mind there are quite a few gripes mentioned above to balance that out.

The build, apart from the gap under the bridge and the areas needing setup attention seems ok. I can spy no other huge gaps, finish flaws or errors. It does feel a touch hefty in the hands though and is very slightly body heavy too.

Paisen Rosewood Concert Ukulele back

When played, the first things I usually mention in reviews it only does fairly well. It's not quiet and doesn't have poor sustain, but neither of those are outstanding either. Distinctly average on both of these counts.

Sadly, it didn't improve in other areas for me. Put simply, I find the tone here rather disappointing. It's not a muddy sounding instrument and there is some clarity that is a positive, but it's clarity at the expense of any sort of character and interest. Despite the Paisen product description claiming a 'deep bass' I find it overly bright and brittle sounding. It didn't really move me whether played strummed (in which it's hard to get any sort of jangle to the sound) or picked (where it falls down with average sustain). In fact I think this is one of the shortest paragraphs I have written on tone in a review for quite some time, and that is because there isn't much more I can say about it. The 'distinctly average' continues.

It's not a howler of a ukulele and the looks will turn heads for sure. The build is fairly sound aside from the desperate need of a setup. The price is keen too, though it is placed in a very congested market at that money. But for me it is just extremely bland in the way it plays and sounds. Sure, it functions as a ukulele in a basic sense, but those looking for something interesting on tone may want to look elsewhere. Close but no cigar..






UKULELE STATS ROUNDUP

Model: Paisen Rosewood
Scale: Concert
Body: Laminate Rosewood
Bridge: Rosewood slot style
Saddle: Plastic
Neck: Unspecified
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 17, 12 to body
Nut: Plastic
Nut Width: 34mm (27mm G to A)
Tuners: Unbranded sealed gears
Strings: Nylon
Extras: Bag, strap buttons, tuner, strap, spare strings, capo
Price: Circa £70

UKULELE PROS

Price
Nice finish
Rosewood is striking to look at
Nice edge binding

UKULELE CONS

Questionable marketing descriptions
Derivative and lazy design
Narrow rounded neck
Terrible tuners
Gap under bridge
Only average volume and sustain
Brittle tone with little character
Sharp fret ends
String buzz

UKULELE SCORES


Looks - 8 out of 10
Fit and finish - 7.5 out of 10
Sound - 7 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE -7.9 out of 10

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1 comments :

  1. Thanks for your review, Barry. I got the same one a few months ago (with the junky extra stuff that went into the bin). I changed the tuners to Gotos that I had in my spare parts shelf and that made a remarkable difference. I also did a set-up, which I do to all my instruments, and now it plays much better. On other mod I did was to install a pre-amp unit. I quite like it now as a "go to the park/beach/camp" uke. The neck is OK with me but I have smallish hands. I concur with your review and the niggles as well. Still, I'm pleased with the ukulele.

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