Uluru Sedera III (World Of Ukes) Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

6 Sept 2020

Uluru Sedera III (World Of Ukes) Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

I've said before how I like the idea of a ukulele that is specced and designed by an actual uke specialist store. Always interesting to see another one come along, and this week we look at the Uluru Sedera III Tenor, an exclusive to World of Ukes in the UK.

Uluru Sedera III tenor ukulele

Having a 'house instrument' is nothing new of course and many music stores do it. When you think about it, it makes total sense for a specialist store. Their business is selling reliable instruments that keep people coming back. The ukulele market can be extremely variable but if you create your OWN model and ensure it meets YOUR shop standards everyone should be happy. This one was designed / specced by Matt Warnes at World of Ukes in conjunction with the Ayers / Uluru brand.  It should also be noted that Matt has probably created more exclusive 'house' models than any other uke dealer I know of. Going back to the Zedro and Klassico when he was at Omega Music, he continued the trend at World Of Ukes with ukes like the Pioneer, the Eden and the Light Bird. This one is up there at the highest end of WOU ukes.  The common thread between the earlier exclusives is that I have played them all and they have all been extremely good. For this reason some will think that this review is a foregone conclusion, but as Matt will tell you, I don't always agree with him and he still stresses when I am looking at something in his stock list. Let's have a look.

This was fully specced by Matt with Uluru, the brand that make his choice of performance uke, the Uluru Lehua Tenor Ukulele, (and came out with a mammoth Got A Ukulele score) so I can see the sense in his builder choice. He trusts them enough to play one! It's designed to be more affordable than the Lehua though, much like he tried to achieve with the Light Bird being a lower priced Moon Bird alternative.  He's actually been working with them on this for best part of a year to get it right which is nice.  For those getting a bit weird of late on the subject of country of origin, Uluru are a Taiwanese brand and their ukes are made by luthiers in Vietnam. (Hint - don't ever email me asking me to recommend ukes and specify that my reply cannot include anything Chinese...)

This Sedera III is a tenor, but there is also a II model in concert flavour. They are, naturally, all solid wood ukes and this has a traditional  double bout shape with an attractive curvy base / lower bout. For tone woods, Matt went with solid cedar on the top and African mahogany on the back and sides. Pairing a paler, softer tone wood with a darker back and sides is very traditional in ukes and guitars for both contrast in the looks, but also to balance tone. I like the look here, but if being very picky I would prefer more contrast, perhaps a paler top or a darker back. There's a lot shades of brown going on here. The two pieces of cedar on the top are clearly very good quality with an extremely tight and straight grain. The back and sides are beautiful (not a trait all that common with mahogany), the pairs on both nicely book-matched and both with lots of shimmer in the light.

Uluru Sedera III tenor ukulele body

The bridge is a tie bar style, not too large, and made from super smooth ebony. It's really tidily finished and fitted with a compensated bone saddle.

Uluru Sedera III tenor ukulele bridge

Decor on the body is understated and 'works' with the look of the rest of it without it being garish or ill-thought out. A 'parts bin' uke finish this is not. We have ovangkol wood binding to the top and back which blends with the woods nicely and is set off by an ultra thin maple purfling line on both. The soundhole rosette is mainly abalone edged with more ovangkol and very thin black edge strips. I think the balance works here and doesn't fall foul of my usual gripe of mis-matched design cues.

Uluru Sedera III tenor ukulele decor

The body is then finished in an extremely well done, mirror finish gloss which is not over done and I am struggling to fault.

Inside is extremely tidy with notched linings and thin braces. The top braces are an interesting criss cross pattern much like some guitars as you will see below.

Uluru Sedera III Tenor Ukulele inside


Moving up to the neck this is reminiscent of the Lehua in many ways. I don't believe he has specified the wood type, but it's built like the Lehua in that that the only joints appear to be along the length to create an attactive skunk stripe running all the way through it to the headstock. We have a rosewood heel cap and, pleasingly, the neck is finished in satin to avoid that 'grippy / sticky feel that many people dislike with gloss necks. At the nut it's an average 35mm (28mm G to A) but slightly flat in profile. Matt knows this is not my preference, but he is not speccing for me, he's doing so for his customers and tells me he went with an average. I can't complain about that, despite me liking them a touch wider.

Uluru Sedera III tenor ukulele neck

That is topped with an ebony fingerboard which is jet black with no flaws and some nice end shaping around the sound hole. The edges are also bound which both hide the fret ends (a generous 20, 14 to the body) and help remove sharp edges of which there are none. A man after my own heart he specced no outward markers to muddy the looks, but we have side dots (the ones you actually look at!) at 5, 7, 10 and 12. Nice.

Uluru Sedera III tenor ukulele fingerboard

Beyond the bone nut is a slotted headstock much like the Lehua, but actually more attractive to me on account of it being faced front AND back with a veneer of stripy rosewood. It adds a bit more interest to this end of the uke that the Lehua doesn't have. I wonder why rosewood was chosen as consistency would suggest more African mahogany here. It certainly doesn't look out of place I suppose, but it was something I immediately spotted. My first gripe, as with the Lehua, is the Uluru logo which I still think looks less 'serious' than the price dictates. Oh well. Uluru are not going to change their whole marketing style because Barry Maz has a moan...

Uluru Sedera III tenor ukulele headstock

Tuners are side mounted open gears in chrome. The are not branded, but clearly good quality that you can see from the gear mechanism. These are not cheap pressed metal. Oh, and being an exclusive you get the World Of Ukes logo nicely etched in the back of the headstock. There's something a lot more classy doing it that way as opposed to a certain influencer I saw who put out signature uke with his OWN FACE etched in to the top. I kid you not...

Uluru Sedera III tenor ukulele tuners

Completing the deal is a very nice branded padded gig bag which is great quality (really nice in fact). Interesting to me are the strings as Matt specced them specifically to what he thought suited. He's gone with Living Water Fluorocarbon from Ken Middleton. That's the first time i've seen a uke come with them as standard and I am surprised it took this long (I have been known to use Ken's strings myself. In fact he lives about 10 miles from me!!). And for that you are looking at and RRP of £749. It's in serious uke territory, but considerably less than the Lehua. It's about the same as the difference between the Moon Bird and the WOU Light Bird. Clever idea to give buyers a more reasonably priced alternative.

So all looking rather good so far. The build and finish here are both excellent and my gripes are minor. It's not overly heavy either at 665g and is perfectly balanced.

Volume and sustain in this model are both excellent and come with no complaints with me on either score. It's loud and lively!

The tone itself surprised me a little as I was expecting something more earthy from a cedar and mahogany mix. This is chimey instrument with some very clear highs that ring and ring. Thankfully it's not a one trick pony though as a strum shows you that there is some very pretty harmonisation going on that makes the middle tone shimmer. This gives it a richness which is very attractive and helps create a jangly, peppy sound when strummed fast. The clarity here is also extremely good with absolutely no muddiness or mis-steps at all. It's a lot of fun.

The fingerpicked tone is zingy, clear and music box like in its prettiness. An extremely nice instrument to pluck at all over the neck. For me personally, I must say I prefer my tenors to be darker and woodier, but this is still a cracking sounding instrument that plays extremely well.

Uluru Sedera III tenor ukulele back

This Mr Warnes fella clearly has a  very good eye and is demanding of the brands he chooses to work with. I've not yet seen one of his exclusives that I have disliked and its business as usual with the Sedera. In fact, considering the price saving over the Lehua, this becomes a no-brainer for those looking at the higher end but not wanting to break over the £1k mark. It's a clever move and the build, finish and tone make it clear that Uluru was a good choice to partner with.

Once again, he's specced a cracker and it comes very highly recommended by this website.

https://worldofukes.co.uk

UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Name: Uluru Sedera III
Scale: Tenor
Body: Solid cedar top, solid African mahogany back and sides
Bridge: Ebony, tie bar
Saddle: Bone
Neck: Unspecified (mahogany?)
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 20, 14 to body
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 35mm (28mm G to A)
Tuners: Side mounted open gears
Strings: Living Water
Extras: Gig bag
Weight: 665g
Country of Origin: Vietnam
Price: £749

UKULELE PROS
Classy looks, not overdone
Great build and finish
Light and balanced
Great volume and sustain
Bright crisp tone with some nice middle ground shimmer
Fair price

UKULELE CONS
Still don't like Uluru logo!
Nut could be a touch wider for me

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 9.5 out of 10
Fit and finish - 9 out of 10
Sound - 9 out of 10
Value for money - 9.5 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9.3 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW




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