aNueNue Lion Orange UT Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

18 Oct 2020

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

I'm delighted to bring this ukulele brand back to the reviews page as they have done nothing but impress me with their last few models. This is a uke with bedazzling looks. It's the Lion Orange UT from aNueNue. 

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Ukulele

Of course we have to deal with the looks of this one first and foremost for very obvious reasons. This screams ORANGE!  (though to be fair, the orange colour is limited to the top. More than that would be insane!). It's incredibly bright and is actually a pearlescent / sparkly orange under a gloss which really makes it shine even more. It's certainly one of the most striking ukuleles I have ever seen. Admittedly, that colour is not going to be for everyone, and many prefer traditionally coloured ukes or more subtle wood finishes. Still, aNueNue are going all out for a punchy look and that is certainly the case here. The colouring needs some context though that many people may not be aware of. This model is one of two ukuleles and two guitars in a new 'Artist Series' for aNueNue. The 'Lion' element here is actually the name of a Taiwanese pop band and these are their signature models. I know nothing about them, and like a lot of far eastern bands, it's probably unlikely you will either. But it's a huge musical market out there and they have a lot of fans!. The orange colour is from their logo so is appropriate here. I guess it may seem a bit odd to own an artist model in the west for a band you have never heard of, but it's not like it has their faces painted on it. For virtually everyone outside of China this will simply be a 'bright orange uke'! And hey, if you don't like the colour it's unlikely you are going to buy it anyway. That's fine! If you are interested in what Lion sound like, i've included a video of theirs below the review video at the end of this review.

Anyway, let's look at the actual ukulele. The Lion Orange UT (sometimes called, affectionately or not, the LOUT) is actually based on the 'Bird' series of ukuleles by aNueNue, including the Moon Bird, the Light Bird and the Koa Bird. That is to say the body shape is the same, as indeed are some of the decorative appointments.  So it has that same swoopy, curvy double bout body shape with a fat and round lower bout lending it an air of 'Grand Auditorium' from the guitar world. It also has the attractive offset upper shoulder providing a cutaway effect. I love the shape.

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Ukulele body

The top here is made of all solid cedar and is covered in that pearly orange coating under a gloss which pops and zings like it was pure liquid. Whether you like the colour or not there is no getting away from the fact that it has been done extremely well and is finished like glass. The back and sides move to AA grade solid Koa in two pieces each. They are not made from the curliest koa which presumably would be AAA grade or above, but the stripe here is very attractive and there is a bit of shimmery flame in the right light. I really like the contrast between the brightly coloured top and the traditional wooden back and sides and think it works well. A darker wood on the back may have looked odd I think.

The bridge is similar to the other Bird series ukuleles. It's an oval shaped tie bar style made from ebony holding a compensated top bone saddle. It's very tidy and I like the shape, as I have on each of their other models. String spacing here is 45mm.

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Ukulele bridge

There are a range of other decoration appointments going on that I think work well with the orange too. Around the top edge is a flamed maple edge strip with a thin line of black purfling that sets off the border between the orange and brown koa nicely. Around the soundhole is rosette made of spalted maple and offset like on the original Moon Bird giving the look of a crescent moon. The back is also edge bound in more flamed maple and also has a central stripe and tail strip which works well too. Whilst the bindings don't use the variable thickness 'wave' effect that the Moon Bird does, I don't think they need it and look classy as they are. It's all very pretty and nicely done.

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Ukulele decor

Inside is very tidy. The kerfing linings are notched and applied in reverse like on a Kanile'a and the braces are not over thick. The top bracing is in a diagonal cross with tapered ends which I think may be the 'Mount Fuji bracing' pattern they talk about with other Bird series ukuleles.

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Ukulele inside


The neck is made of mahogany, finished in satin and made from three pieces with well hidden joints at the heel and headstock. It's very like the Moon Bird and tapers to a slightly flattened profile at the nut with as width of 37mm (28mm G to A).

That is topped with an ebony fingerboard which is almost pure black all over the face. It's also edge bound in black hiding the smooth ends of the 20 frets, joined to the body at the 14th. Outward position markers are inlaid in what looks like maple with chevrons in the 5th, 7th, and 15th spaces. In the 10th to 12th space is an inlay of the Lion band logo of a lions head.  It's not for me personally as I think people will always be asking 'what does the lion signify' and then I would have to explain that it's the logo of a band I have never listened to.. but more than that, I find it a bit confusing for locating the 12th as the middle of the face seems to naturally draw the eye, and that's on the 11th. Anyway, dot markers on are fitted on the side at the usual spaces, so my gripe is somewhat minor.

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Ukulele fingerboard

The headstock is the same sort of slot head as I saw on the Light Bird and looks great. It's faced in glossy ebony and holds the usual aNueNue logo in inlaid pearl on the top face.

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Ukulele headstock

The tuners are chrome open gears with backward facing vintage style buttons. They are clearly good quality metal and are stamped with the aNueNue name. They work great too.

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Ukulele tuners

Finishing it off are a set of aNueNue Black Water fluoro strings and a case that takes the orange colouring off the chart!.  It's actually the same sort of case as comes with the Moon Bird (so superb quality with strong hinges and handles), but instead of the blue, it's in bright orange. I absolutely love the case! And the ticket price for this one is at around £1299 in the UK. That places this side by side on price with the Moon Bird tenor so very much at the top table. It is a fair bit less than the Koa Bird, but of course a bit more than the Light Bird. Choices choices..

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Ukulele hard case

As I say, the build and finish here are exemplary. It's nice to hold and not overly heavy at 735g and is nicely balanced too. Good news so far. Volume is terrific and the sustain is both long and has a pleasing warble that adds to the tone prettiness. It plays comfortably too with a very nice neck in the hands and a comfortable body shape. Setup is spot on as well, but I didn't expect any different on that score.

The tone really pleased me here. There is a definite jangly brightness going on, but with a mellow backing that smooths it out and ensures that, when strummed, it's not poky or too snappy. It gives it a laid back flowing sound that I think is absolutely terrific. Like other Bird series ukes though, I think it particularly shines when fingerpicked, but it's not a one trick pony - I just smiled bigger smiles when picking it. This is such a pretty sounding instrument! The clarity of tone is superb and so is the accuracy. It's honestly really hard to put it down in words as there is literally nothing much I dislike here. I am sensing that it really does have a bit of everything. There is a touch of brightness, a touch of the woody, perhaps from the cedar and a richness in the middle which may be from the koa. It's really nicely balanced between those and shimmers. Boy!

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Ukulele back

In a recent interview I did with Alex Beds, I pointed out that at the top table (that this clearly sits at), it's really hard to give recommendations to people. I regularly get asked 'which would you choose between X, Y and Z' and I can't answer them. All the ukes on here that get a 9.5 on tone are stellar sounding instruments that all do their job impeccably. Of course, there are differences but that is subjective to you and what I think is largely irrelevant. I am just here to tell you that this one DOES sound great! For me, I think I like the overall balance a touch more than the Moon Bird.

aNueNue Lion Orange UT Ukulele Lion logo

Ultimately, this is clearly another exceptional instrument from aNueNue and that comes as no surprise to me having played others at this price. They have clearly struck something right with the bird design and it's nice to see them putting them out in different variants. And I think that's the point here. The orange isn't for everyone, but many will love it, particularly those who find more traditional looking ukuleles a little bland. Choice is good of course.  If you like it you like it and I'm pleased to report that it's every bit as good as others at this price. If you prefer traditional - hey you have other Bird series ukes to choose from. It's all good.

Highly recommended.  And many thanks to Matt at The Uke Room (who stock these) for loaning me this instrument. 



UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Model: aNueNue Lion Orange UT
Scale: Tenor
Body: Solid cedar top, solid AA koa back and sides
Finish: Gloss with pearlescent orange top coat.
Bridge: Ebony, tie bar
Saddle: Bone
Spacing at bridge: 45mm
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 20 (14 to body)
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 37mm (28mm G to A)
Tuners: aNueNue branded reverse open gears
Weight: 735g
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Strings: aNueNue Black Water
Extras: Orange hard shell case
Price: £1299

UKULELE PROS

Looks (if you like them!)
Impeccable build and finish
Wonderful neck
Terrific volume
Great shimmery sustain
Clarity of tone with a balance between rich and mellow
Wonderful case

UKULELE CONS

Looks (if you don't!)


UKULELE SCORES

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

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9.3 out of 10


UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW







Lion Band video








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4 comments :

  1. Does it have a slightly radiused fretboard? I was pleasantly surprised to discover this with a Moon Bird since it was not mentioned on their site or your review.

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  2. What a magnificent instrument! It makes me think of 1970s luxury, that orange and wood combination. The band logo does seem oddly placed though (might have made more sense on the headstock) and looks unfortunately like a football club shield . Other than that I'm absolutely drooling despite not playing tenors.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is going to sound so Middle School, but . . . I'd really like the case!!! (Sorry!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kate! if they were available separately -i'd buy one!!

      Delete

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