Flight TUC-55 Acacia Travel Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

28 Dec 2020

Flight TUC-55 Acacia Travel Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

Managed to sneak in another ukulele review for you pre New Year! I actually didn't think it would happen because Brexit / Covid shipping to the UK has seen massive delays including getting this one, but it arrived! This is the brand new Flight TUC-55 Acacia Travel Concert.


Flight TUC-55 Acacia Travel Concert Ukulele

Now.. Flight Ukuleles (for it is they) know that this will be a somewhat shortened review, and that is because, like another recent review of the Enya Nova Soprano, this is more of an update to an existing line I have looked at in depth twice now. Unlike the Nova Soprano, this is an update upwards in scale, not downwards. This is the brand new Concert version of the much loved Flight soprano from their travel series. Because the core idea and construction is largely the same as the sopranos, I would ask you to read this one in conjunction with those reviews linked below for more detail on the background.


Both of those ukuleles may be familiar to you and both scored very well. They are plastic bowl backed ukuleles with plastic necks and fingerboards, fitted with wooden soundboard tops using the style of the Ovation and Flea ukuleles. What was great about the first releases I thought, was just how good they sounded and played for very little cost. Sure, there is a travel element of course as they are as tough as old boots, but playability and tone for me were the real eye openers at the asking price. At the time, Flight were asked to look at a true concert variant (the long neck linked above IS concert scale, but with a soprano sized body) largely because ukulele players are an easily dissatisfied and pushy bunch... They agreed and here we are! Flight DO listen to buyers - a lot!

Flight TUC-55 Acacia Travel Concert Ukulele body

Like the soprano version, the model names can be a touch misleading, but they are all essentially the same thing. They really just differ with the outer finish on the top, but they are all laminate on the soundboards.  This one, the TUC-55, uses laminate acacia for the top, whereas others in the series are available for varying prices with either plain coloured tops, fancy prints, some etched, and also some signature models. Personally, with them all being laminates I don't actually believe they are likely to differ all that much on tone, and with the soprano I always made the point of 'get the one you like the look of'. There may be more to it than that, but I think with laminates you are chasing the impossible to measure differences in tone. Anyway. This is laminate acacia. One other improvement to note is they have got rid of the plastic moulding circle on the back which is a nice improvement. Even Flea's have those!

And the build is the same as the sopranos. It's the same shape (just larger, naturally) and the same rounded polycarbonate back. This one uses the more updated bridge (string spacing 43mm) than on the original soprano version that was one piece, and has a removable saddle piece for adjustment, but it is otherwise the same design, made of plastic and slot style for easy string swaps. There is no other decoration to the body on this one and the wood is finished in a smooth satin. Of course, if you want designs and decors, the wide range of options in the range of these, like the sopranos, means you are unlikely to struggle to find something you like the look of. 

Flight TUC-55 Acacia Travel Concert Ukulele bridge

Naturally, there is not much to see inside - what did you expect? The top is braced and the bridge is screwed to a bridge plate which is re-assuring.

Flight TUC-55 Travel Concert Ukulele Inside

The neck is, unsurprisingly, the same as that on the long neck concert. So that's a plastic neck fitted with a plastic fingerboard of the same dimensions. It tapers to a 35mm nut with 30m string spacing and is just as comfortable and doesn't bend like some plastic ukuleles can. An important point to note, here because I still see SO many people claiming they 'cannot' play a soprano due to space for the hands. There is as much space on this neck as the regular soprano travel. It's the same to play. It also foregoes the more 'twee' star and butterfly position markers and has the same round dots that the long neck has at the 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th. Thankfully you also get side dots as well. You get 17 integral frets, topped in silver paint and joined at the 14th.  You also get the same zero fret. I know people worry about wear on plastic frets but.. I am still playing the long neck and have found no wear on them at all after 12 months. It's also so cheap that I would not be convinced I was 'cheated' even if they did. This is NOT Magic Fluke Flea cost...

Flight TUC-55 Acacia Travel Concert Ukulele neck

The headstock design is the same too in that the frame of it is an extension of the plastic neck into which a wooden piece, matching the top wood, is dropped. I like the effect it gives on all of those in the travel series.  The Flight logo is in a more subtle black screen print rather than the more gaudy silver on some others. 

Flight TUC-55 Acacia Travel Concert Ukulele headstock

Tuners are the same unbranded open gears and work just as well.  

Flight TUC-55 Acacia Travel Concert Ukulele tuners

It comes with a set of Aquila strings and the same 'sort' of thin gig bag / dust cover. Naturally, being a bit bigger this comes in at a slightly higher price. These concert models start now at about £50, whereas this acacia model comes in at £60 RRP. The signature models are more, though I have never understood why. Putting that in perspective to the current RRP on the sopranos, they start at about £40 and go up to about £45 for the equivalent acacia top. So it's really not a huge uplift in price at all. What is a shame though is that supply is restricted at the moment due to no fault of  Flight, but rather the Brexit / Covid delays I mentioned from the off. I am assured though that they are working on supply lines and these will be available soon in 2021 in the usual places.

Flight TUC-55 Acacia Travel Concert Ukulele soundhole

Like the other travel ukes from Flight I have looked at I can find no issues with the build here. There is no scruffiness or gaping seams. The finish is also far smoother than the matte finish on the long neck I looked and seems more resilient to scuffs.  No complaints here. It has a bit more heft to it. Sadly I don't have the weight of the standard soprano travel to refer to, but this weighs 655g compared to 525g for the long neck soprano version. Still, it doesn't feel in any way cumbersome and is nicely balanced at the 12th too. In a previous model review I mentioned that I preferred the long neck in terms of comfort over the regular soprano because of my size and I would now say I prefer THIS over the long neck for the very same reason. It just feels more secure and substantial to hold whilst still being a teeny uke. It's very comfortable in my arms and I like the neck just as much.

Naturally, with a bigger body, this has a similar, yet fuller tone to the soprano sized bodies. There is more richness throughout and a greater range to the tone which I really like. The volume is excellent and the sustain not bad either.  I'm not going to say much more on tone and sound and rather will let you compare the videos I've made of the various guises and make your own minds up. I personally prefer the fuller sound to this one, but that is not to say that I dislike the soprano version. I know there are people who dismiss the soprano version for not 'sounding like a wooden uke'. Well, sure, but then it largely ISN'T a wooden uke - it sounds like its own thing (much in the way the Flea does) though that doesn't mean it's a bad sound in any way. This takes things closer to a wooden uke sound for me and is a little less brittle in tone and I suspect would fool many in a blindfold test.  The soprano is more traditionally staccato and brighter where as this is broader and, dare I say it, woodier... Well duh... that's kind of HOW sopranos and concerts differ... so it stands to reason! Like bright and snappy? Get the soprano. Like fuller tones? Get the concert. 

But hey - some people just hate plastic ukes full stop and it really doesn't matter what I say. I think this sounds great for the money and punches WAY above that price.  I'm not trying to compare this to a Kamaka or a Kanile'a - that would be silly. But it does stand up for me to many regular ukes of much higher costs AND the Magic Fluke Flea too. For sixty quid...

Flight TUC-55 Acacia Travel Concert Ukulele back

All in all, I really like these models, and judging by how many people I see posting on social media with pictures of theirs, buyers like them too. As I say, some purists get sniffy about them, particularly the plastic parts (which don't bother me so much), but for the very low asking price I think the playability, tone and resilience are a total bargain for the cost. I think I would stick my neck out and say I like the tone and sound of the concert more than the soprano, but then, the soprano is a touch more portable and more 'throw in your rucksack-able'... They are all good really though, and this seems a great addition to the range. As impulse purchases go, don't think you can go wrong here!

And I 'think', as usual with Flight ukes - if you put the code 'GOTAUKULELE' in the checkout at Musicroom you may get a small discount too.


UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Name: Flight TUC-55 Acacia
Scale: Concert
Body: Bowl back (ABS), laminate acacia top
Bridge: Plastic, slot style
Saddle: Plastic, removable (43mm G to A)
Neck: Plastic
Fingerboard: Plastic with integral frets
Frets: 17, 14 to body and zero fret
Nut: Integral
Nut Width: 35mm, 30mm G to A.
Tuners: Unbranded open gears
Strings: Aquila
Extras: Dust cover bag
Weight: 655g
Country of origin: China
Price: £60

UKULELE PROS

Great build
Extremely tough
Tone, volume and sustain that bely the price
Much broader, richer tone than the soprano
Very playable
Great price

UKULELE CONS

Sound may not suit purists (though this is much closer)
Not much else wrong for the money!

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 8.5 out of 10
Fit and finish - 8.5 out of 10
Sound - 8.5 out of 10
Value for money - 9.5 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 8.8 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW





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7 comments :

  1. My standard Flight Travel Soprano weighs 492g.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The discount code gives you 10% off it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Would you say the Clearwater roundback concert is better?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bit of an unfair comparison really - the Clearwaters have solid tops, wooden necks and fingerboards etc - apples and oranges. I like both.

      Delete
  4. 655gm! Wow, kinda hefty.

    ReplyDelete

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