Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

20 Dec 2020

Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

I declare 2020 the year of the boom in 'house brand' ukuleles! And here's another. Following on from my look at the 'FUZZ-S Tenor', this is the COCO-S Tenor from Forest Ukuleles in the UK.

Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele

Of course, house brand ukes are not new, it's just that I have seen a lot more of them this year than ever before. You will know by now that I think it's a neat idea - when a shop puts its name and faith in something, it really NEEDS to be good, and for that reason they almost always are. I loved the FUZZ from Forest of Dean based 'Forest Ukuleles' run by Matt Stead at The Uke Shop, so was delighted to here he wanted to lend me another creation in the form of the Coco.

This one comes in tenor scale only and, like the FUZZ is made from all solid tonewoods in the far east to Matt's spec. With this one we have a solid spruce top in a couple of pieces with very nice even colouring and grain. It's paired, to great effect in my opinion, with solid cocobolo on the back and sides using a pair of pieces each. Cocobolo is such a stunning wood and that's the case here. Whilst some cocobolo can, I find, get a bit too 'swirly and out there' for my tastes, this a classier affair with very obvious dark and light stripes ranging from a deep red to an almost black colour, all bookmatched wonderfully. It's the real show stopper on looks for me and whilst it has the effect of a rosewood back and sides, I think it knocks that wood out of the park on the head turning factor. The contrast with the spruce is just wonderful.

Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele body

The bridge is made of rosewood and is a through body style. It's nice and small and very tidily finished. That holds a compensated top bone saddle.

Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele bridge

The decoration choice leaves me with a bit of a challenge with the review. Firstly it has rosewood edge binding to the top and back with a thin white purfling strip where it meets the sides. On the top there is an added thin strip of abalone which, because it is thin, doesn't look ostentatious or too glitzy.  There is more abalone around the sound hole too and on a back and tail stripe which works very nicely with the cocobolo.  What this one also has is an inlay edged in wooden rope marquetry in the shape of a pickguard with inlays inside it of hibiscus flowers. I have to say that this sort of decor is NOT for me and ordinarily that would affect my scoring. However... Matt explains that in early 2021 he will be offering these both with AND without the inlays - recognising that people like me exist! So this inlay, whilst not my style is being mentioned in the revirew, I have not let it affect the scoring - I would get the plain one myself though!

Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele decor

The body is then finished in a poly gloss which is clearly very thin (a good thing) as you can see the grain ripples of the spruce on the top giving it the effect of a nitro finished spruce topped guitar.

Inside is reasonably tidy though does have a fair bit of glue / polish staining on the underside of the top. The kerfing is notched and the braces not overly thick though. It's also braced more traditionally than the FUZZ which used a V bracing pattern.

Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele inside

The neck is made of mahogany with a very well hidden joint at the heel and possibly one at the headstock, which is invisible if there is. It's nice to see that it is finished in satin, not gloss making it really smooth to play. It's also not 'baseball bat' round at the nut and is pleasingly 38mm wide with 29mm G to A. Very comfortable indeed.

That is topped with a rosewood fingerboard that is so dark, it looks like ebony. Looking at it closely, it appears to be the more eco friendly re-constituted rosewood and is even in colour and smooth everywhere.   We have more inlaid decoration on the fingerboard with a very nicely done hibiscus flower in 5th, 6th and 7th spaces and a forest stag, a nod to the Forest of Dean no doubt, in the 11th - 14th positions. Despite not liking the top decoration, I actually like these inlays on the fingerboard very much.  It could cause position confusion normally, but thankfully there are regular side dots at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th to orientate you. Nice. It comes with 18 frets (14 to the body) and they are all dressed very nicely and are also edge bound in rosewood.

Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele neck

Beyond the bone nut is a slotted headstock faced in glossy ebony which looks classy and is almost piano black in appearance. Despite there being more room here for a logo (unlike the FUZZ tenor and its funky tuner layout), there is none. I think it needs a logo here myself as it looks a little bare.

Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele headstock

The tuners are unbranded chrome open gears, side mounted with vintage shaped buttons. Despite there being no branding, a look at the quality of the gear parts tells me that these are plainly NOT bargain basement tuners. Still - I do prefer the tuner choice on the FUZZ.. One thing that does set off my OCD alarm though is that on one side the tuners are not screwed on quite straight. Irritating.

Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele tuners

Finishing it off are a choice of strings (either D'Addario Titaniums, or like this example, Worth Clears) and a very nice branded padded gig bag. And that is yours for what I think is a pretty reasonable price of £439.

Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele back

If you knew about the personal collection of ukuleles Matt Stead owns, he is unlikely to put his name to something that is shonky. And sure enough, aside from that tuner and a touch of mess inside, this is a very well put together instrument in core construction and finish. It's not cumbersome at 770g and is nicely balanced to hold. Like the FUZZ, the neck is particularly nice on the hands too and is a joy to play.

Also like the FUZZ, the volume here is terrific and it has some long lasting sustain too meaning you can be expressive with your playing. Both are very good and punch above the price point.

Tone wise, there is certainly a brightness from the spruce giving the sound a crisp forward projecting edge. The cocobolo though comes through adding a richer darker background that mellows it out, much as the ziricote does with the FUZZ. It means it has a very nicely balanced tone that is not too strident, but not too muted and earthy either. Strummed, that mix comes through with a really pretty, shimmery jangle as the instrument harmonises with itself. It's complex and interesting to listen to and very pretty. That decent sustain and bright spruce element really comes into play when fingerpicked giving it a very clear chime right up the neck. Couple that with a very comfortable neck and this is a joy for porch pickers. This is a GREAT sounding instrument.

Forest Ukuleles COCO-S Tenor Ukulele stag

I should not be surprised of course - Matt knows his onions. Sure, the design cues are not totally for me, though it's nice they can be opted out. The tuner placement annoys me as does the fact that they are something of a downgrade to the UPT's on the FUZZ (meaning I think there is a 'little' less value for money here), but I am nitpicking. This is very well put together with a superb voice and tone that is really what it's all about. It's a terrific sound and a great player. 

Again - comes highly recommended!


Model: Forest Ukuleles COCO-S
Scale: Tenor
Body: Solid spruce top, solid cocobolo back and sides
Bridge: Rosewood, through body
Saddle: Compensated bone
Spacing at saddle - 40mm
Finish: Gloss
Neck: Mahogany (Satin finish)
Fingerboard: Rosewood (looks like ebony!)
Frets:18, 14 to body
Nut Bone
Nut Width - 38mm, 29mm G to A
Tuners: Unbranded open gears in chrome
Strings: Worth Fluorocarbon (D'Addario Titanium also a no cost option)
Weight: xx
Country of Origin: Far East?
Extras: Gig bag, choice of with or without decor
Price £439


Excellent build and finish
Classy design
Very nice neck
Great volume and sustain
Clear shimmery tone
Decent price for the spec


Would choose the plain decor version
Wonky tuner
Headstock looks lost without a logo


Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and finish - 8.5 out of 10
Sound - 9.5 out of 10
Value for money 9 out of 10






  1. Thanks for the review, Baz. I missed you on Sunday, youtube kicked me off and won't explain why. GRRRR.
    I do like this uke, but the top design is a bit much.


Please leave me a comment!

Help Support Got A Ukulele

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.