Noah Rosewood Spruce Concert Ukulele - 2020 model - REVIEW

29 Nov 2020

Noah Rosewood Spruce Concert Ukulele - 2020 model - REVIEW

A welcome return for a homegrown brand that I've always enjoyed looking at. This is the brand new, revamped Rosewood Spruce Concert from Noah Ukuleles.


Noah Rosewood Spruce Concert Ukulele


Noah is the uke business of a very nice chap called Matt Cohen from Brighton who I first met many years ago. Some years before, Matt lived and worked in Vietnam and during that time built up connections with a luthier who he now uses to make ukuleles for him which he sells from the UK under the Noah name. I've reviewed several of them over the years and it's fair to say that with each new iteration the quality gets better and better. I like brands that improve like that, and particularly those that listen to feedback from customers.

This concert model serves as a significant update to an existing rosewood spruce concert from the same brand. It's actually in the same range as this Rosewood Spruce Tenor ukulele I reviewed in the middle of this year. I don't normally review different scales in the same model line, but in this case I am making an exception because of the 're-boot' in the concert model that changes a fair amount of detail.

This uses the same core woods as on the original concert version of this model (incidentally, a model that you can still buy). That is to say you get a solid Sitka Spruce top and, seriously beautiful solid Indian Rosewood back and sides. I adore the classy contrasting look and, of course, this is a pairing long since used in musical instruments. It not only looks good but works well with tone balancing too.

Noah Rosewood Spruce Concert Ukulele body

The bridge is made of the same Vietnamese hardwood that Noah usually use, and the one I dare not pronounce. It's called Gõ gõ mật and is dark and even in colour. Like the tenor version, this is a pin bridge in the Taylor guitar style, only this time with black buttons. The saddle is straight topped and made of bone with a string spacing here of 44mm. I mentioned in the tenor review that I thought the bridge plate looked a little large on the body, and it's even more so here on the smaller concert. It didn't affect anything on the tenor, so we shall see how this goes.

Noah Rosewood Spruce Concert Ukulele bridge

Decoration changes a little on this model too. Out goes the maple edge binding and in comes more rosewood with a maple purfling edge. I think that is a change for the better. The top black and white purfling is now complemented by an abalone inlay. That's not to my taste as my readers will know, but Matt explains that he had a lot of requests for this, so what do I know! Like the tenor, this has an abalone soundhole ring so it hangs together with that.  The body is then finished in a very nicely done gloss finish which I can't spot many flaws with, and you also get the choice of satin too. Like all Noah ukuleles I spy one or two inlay flaws in the binidings and tooling marks, but I always point out that they don't bother me too much considering the price and the fact that these ARE hand made. What I will say with this example is it is, without a doubt, one of the tidiest Noah ukuleles. I really am nitpicking.

Noah Rosewood Spruce Concert Ukulele decor

Inside is fairly standard with notched linings and tapered bracings. There is a bit of mess on some of the kerfing, but really nothing major and certainly no flaws.

Noah Rosewood Spruce Concert Ukulele inside


The neck is made of a light brown maple with a joint in the fairly chunky neck heel. The heel is also end capped with more rosewood. That's also finished in gloss and is maybe Matt will consider future models leaving the neck in satin.  It's fairly rounded in profile at the nut, but pleasingly wide with a 38mm string spacing with 30mm G to A. That suits my hands.

That is topped with more Gõ gõ mật which is nice an even in colour, though there is a touch of polish in some of the grain pores - that should come out with a touch of fine wire wool. The 16 frets (12 to the body) are edge bound with more rosewood and there are no sharp edges anywhere. Position dots face out in white pearl at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th and thankfully these are repeated with dots on the side - something else that wasn't always standard with Noah.

Noah Rosewood Spruce Concert Ukulele neck


Beyond the bone nut is an open frame headstock similar to those we've seen appear on a couple of ukes this year. Readers thinking that this is just another factory re-badge (which does happen) would be wrong of course as not only is this not Chinese, it's made by one luthier - the same guy Matt has always worked with. It'd topped in more rosewood and holds the Noah logo in abalone on the top. I like it a lot.

Noah Rosewood Spruce Concert Ukulele headstock

Tuners are side mounted open gears white pearloid buttons. They are unbranded, but work just fine.

Noah Rosewood Spruce Concert Ukulele tuners


Finishing the uke off are a set of Aquila strings, a tail strap button and the usual padded bag you get with Noah ukes. And that is yours for the extremely reasonable price of £269.99. Remember, this is hand made, all solid wood, with lots of decoration. That's a very keen price in fact, a bargain even.

It's a nice ukulele to hold and is not heavy at 580g. It's balanced too. Any worries I had about the size of the bridge plate melted away with the first play because the volume and sustain are both great here. You will not be lost with this and the sustain makes for adding in frills to your playing quite easy.

In my review of the tenor I pointed out that the rosewood served to balance off the naturally bright tones of the spruce and it is much the same here. Sure, it's a peppier, snappier sound to the tenor, but that is understandable with the smaller body, yet  there is still a very obvious balance with the tone here. Strummed you can get some really jangle going on erring towards the soprano style, but with both a bright top edge and a warm background too that fills it out.  I really like that as the instrument never sounds severe or strident. Everything stays clear and precise too.

Noah Rosewood Spruce Concert Ukulele back

Picking is particularly good fun on account of the comfortable string spacing, but that good sustain allows you to add some touches to your notes too. The notes are bell like clear right up the neck and again that mix of bright and warm makes for a very pretty tone that never jars. It's a rounded tone which is often something that gets lost with a lot of concerts.

Back down to earth, no, the tone is not top table Hawaiian stuff, but hey, it's only £269... For a better perspective - to my ears this stands side by side with far more expensive offerings from Pono. In fact, well above some of them as it has more punch in the delivery. Another really nice sounding and playing uke this one.

All in all, as I allude to at the start of the review, I really like the fact that with each Noah I look at, the quality goes up. This is indeed one of the tidiest I have yet seen I think. I understand Matt listening to his buyers on their tastes so understand why he went with more abalone on the top, it's just not to my taste personally. That's not a show stopper though, and what we have here is a really well made, well finished and great sounding ukulele for not a lot of money at all considering the specification.  As such, I am more than happy to give this one a strong recommendation too! Oh - and Matt WILL ship worldwide if you ask him for a quote!

Thanks for the loan Matt - and you must tell me sometime how to pronounce Gõ gõ mật!



UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Model: Noah Rosewood Spruce
Scale: Concert
Body: Solid Sitka Spruce top, Solid Indian Rosewood back and sides
Bridge: Gõ gõ mật
Saddle: Bone
Spacing at saddle: 44mm
Decor: Roswood and Abalone binding, Abalone soundhole
Finish: Gloss (satin available)
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Gõ gõ mật
Frets: 16, joined at 12th
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 38mm, 30mm G to A
Tuners: Side mounted open gears
Strings: Aquila
Weight:580g
Country of origin: Vietnam
Extras: Gigbag, strap button
Price: £269.99

UKULELE PROS

Great build and looks on the wood
Very comfortable neck
Great volume and sustain
Nice balanced tone
Very keen price

UKULELE CONS

Very minor flaws in some bindings
Too much abalone for me (very subjective point!!)


UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 9 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 - 9.1 out of 10


UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW









GOT A UKULELE IS NOT PAID BY BRANDS OR SHOPS - DONATIONS KEEP THE SITE GOING!


THANKS!

2 comments :

  1. I bought a Monkeywood Tenor from Noah on your recommendation and I'm very pleased with it. If you look closely you will see filled wormholes on the fretboard and a few dings on the body, probably be regarded as a second quality by SUS. But if sound quality, sustain and palyability matter to you more than cosmetic looks, this is the instrument to go for. I love the sweet sound I get from it and it has become my go to uke.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Baz, The wood called Go go mat is known in English as Rose Cherry. Thanks very much for another great review.Take care.

    ReplyDelete

Please leave me a comment!

Please Help Keep This Site Going!

If you enjoy this blog, donations are welcomed to allow me to invest more time in bringing you ukulele articles. Aside from the Google ads, I don't get paid to write this blog and for reasons of impartiality a not sponsored by brands or stores. Your donations all go back into the site to allow me to keep bringing you reviews, and in the end the ukuleles acquired are given to local schools and charities.