aNueNue UC10 Color Series Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

13 Mar 2021

aNueNue UC10 Color Series Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

And now on Got A Ukulele (as the TV show said) for something completely different. Say hello to the new aNueNue UC10 Color Series Concert Ukulele.

aNueNue UC10 Color Concert Ukulele

Actually it's not all that different as ukuleles go, but when you give it a first glance you probably see what I mean. The UC10 Color Series (forgive the spelling - i'm British and it's 'colour', but this is how it is listed..) are a new range of concert scale ukuleles from Taiwanese based aNueNue - a brand that has given us one after another in some wonderful higher end instruments in the last few years. This moves to the other end of the scale though with a range of 'quirky' / 'fun' instruments perhaps aimed at younger players or beginners, but certainly those with far less disposable cash. Regular readers will know that 'quirky' for me is usually a sign of something I am really not going to like, but I don't mind admitting that something about these has grown on me over the time i've had it with me. Sure, you may be glancing at the pictures now and thinking 'toy uke'  but the specs are certainly not toy like. And when you add in the brand pedigree I know that aNueNue have built for themselves.. well, consider me interested!

The UC10 is a regular shaped and scaled concert ukulele made with a solid tone-wood top and laminate back and sides. I say 'regular shaped' but it clearly takes it's cue from the shape of the Moon Bird series with 'swoopy' upper and lower bouts and curvy base. It misses out on the trademark staggered shoulders, but more on that later. I really like the modern look of this shape myself. This has an all solid spruce soundboard coupled with a laminate mahogany sides and slightly arched back in two pieces each. For those thinking this was HPL, or even plastic... nope. Solid topped, all wood.

aNueNue UC10 Color Concert Ukulele body

But it's all about the colour of the top here of course. This one is called 'Arona Blue', but it also comes in a grey / black (called 'Quiet Shade'), a reddish pink ('Living Coral'), a yellow ('Golden Glow'), and a cream ('Almond Milk'). If you think the names are twee or silly, they are actually the official Pantone colour names that are used for the paint used on each model on the top. So if you don't like the names, your gripe is with Pantone, not aNueNue! All models are pretty much identical in construction, save for the fretboards and slightly different coloured bags on the red and cream colours. The colours are not technicolour bold, but more pastel shades and all the better for it I think. It's a flat application of colour that isn't too thick either.  I get though that we are probably already in 'love it or hate it' territory for some people! My only personal gripe is that the back is extremely plain looking mahogany. Maybe they will say that is down to price, and maybe this is all about keeping the focus on the colour top instead, but it is VERY plain when you turn it around and even a gloss coat on it might have lifted it. Still the contrast between the two works nicely, so it's not a huge gripe.

The bridge is a tie bar style in pale maple carved in the same shape as on the Moon Bird series ukuleles. It's extremely tidy and fitted with a straight topped synthetic bone bridge. String spacing here is 42mm. No complaints here and the paler colour is 'different' and works well with the blue I think.

aNueNue UC10 Color Concert Ukulele bridge

Decoration consists of a simple maple binding strip around the top and back edged in a very thin white purfling strip and an intriguing pick guard feature on the upper right bout. This looks to be made of a semi-soft plastic and mimics the fabric of the gig bag the ukulele comes with using an imprint on the surface. I've seen some comments saying the pickguard is made of fabric, but I am not entirely sure it is, rather it is printed to look like the fabric. It also has the effect of giving the remaining top the same staggered shoulder outline of the Moon Bird so has been done with some forethought rather than just slapped on randomly. I don't mind the look of it, but I am not as much of a fan of how it is raised and think it would be better made of a thinner material as I feel the edges of this may catch on strumming. Time will tell how it stands up.  Incidentally, on the cream and yellow varieties of this model you get a slightly darker coloured pick guard.

The body is then finished in a matte which is flawless if rather basic. The top looks better under the finish than the back, with an ultra smooth outer which is very well done and not gloopy. The back and sides are more open pore and feel like a bit of an afterthought, though see my comments above.

aNueNue UC10 Color Concert Ukulele decor

Inside is extremely tidy with no obvious mess I can spy. The kerfing is notched and the braces, including vertical top braces (and extra top braces on the sides of the lower bout) are thin. 

aNueNue UC10 Color Concert Ukulele inside

The neck is made of mahogany in three pieces with very well hidden joints and a satin coat. It's rounded in profile, but not overly so and roomy enough for a concert. At the nut it slims to 36mm and the string spacing here is 29mm from G to A. Comfortable enough.

With this colour option (and also the black, and yellow) it is topped with a rosewood fingerboard, whereas on the cream and red you get a maple board. The light when the photographs were taken makes the rosewood look dry, but trust me (and see the video) it really isn't. It's in great condition in fact. It's edge bound in dark wood too, hiding the the generous 19 frets joined at the 14th. They are finished extremely well without a single sharp edge I can feel. Position dots face out made from a pearly material at the 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th, and they are also repeated on the side.  In what is honestly the only finish issue I can mention so far, there are one or two minor grain marks in the curved end of the fretboard which are noticeable. I really am nit-picking now though.

aNueNue UC10 Color Concert Ukulele neck

Beyond the synthetic bone nut is the usual aNueNue modern shaped headstock, faced with a maple plate and complete with the aNueNue dancing man logo in black. Nice, clean and very tidy.

aNueNue UC10 Color Concert Ukulele headstock

Tuners are unbranded open gears with small cream buttons, yet, looking at the gears are clearly of decent quality looking rather than cheap parts bin choices. 'Maybe' i'd like the buttons a little smaller, but really no complaints here either.

aNueNue UC10 Color Concert Ukulele tuners

Completing the package are a set of aNueNue Clear Water fluorocarbon strings and very attractive branded, linen faced gig bag with front pocket, straps and a blue velour trim. It's really nice quality. With the red and cream models you get a slightly paler fabric to the others with a brown trim, but they are otherwise the same. And that comes in at what I think is an entirely reasonable £150 in the UK at the time of writing. Stocks are very limited (if non existent) though at the moment (you saw it here first!!), but I am told by World Of Ukes that more are coming. Got A Ukulele is read worldwide though, so it would only be right to mention that you will find these outside the UK too, and in stock.

aNueNue UC10 Color Concert Ukulele bag

As you will have noted, I have not found much to complain about so far, if anything much at all. The build really is excellent presenting a supremely clean well put together instrument in all areas. I think it may be a shame if people can't get beyond the looks, because this really is pretty flawless. Trust me, I have looked for problems and honestly can't find anything worrying in fit and finish. Looks ARE important to people though.. I get that. They affected me too at first. In fact when I first saw this it was because a friend shared his views and my first reaction was 'Fisher Price Uke'... However... since looking at it more, my view has changed, and changed quite a bit. No, it's not traditional looking, but then I DO love things that annoy traditionalists... But irrespective of that, I actually think it's rather charming to look at.

Anyway, let's get on with it. We need to play the thing!

To hold it it feels very comfortable, both in weight at only 490g (i've played sopranos that weigh that much), good balance and a smooth non-grippy finish all over. It feels like far more value than the £150 would suggest to me. You just know it's well put together.

aNueNue UC10 Color Concert Ukulele back

Volume is very good and so is the sustain, so this won't be a one trick pony ukulele with limited character. You WILL be heard and you will also be able to add some subtleties to your playing. Really very good in both departments.

Being a solid spruce top I was expecting brightness in the tone, but admit to not knowing what the paint covering would do to the sound. It's a very thin coat though and that means the brightness is certainly there as you will hear in the video. It's zingy and peppy. Yet there is more to it.  Whilst bottom end is not the strongest part of the tone here (though easily remedied with a low G string I guess), there is a nice touch of harmony from the mids giving more fullness to the tone and adding character. Strummed it's bouncy, jangly and an extremely fun sound that would hardly offend any ukulele fan. Fingerpicking is crisp, sure footed and accurate too. And that sure footedness is what I take most of all from it. It's extremely clear in tone, plays accurately and keeps volume anywhere on the neck. It's an assured sound with very little effort put in to playing it - that feeling I have described before of 'it almost plays itself'. OK, this reviewer would like a touch more roundness to the sound to fill it out, but again I am nitpicking. In fact I have been playing this more than I play most other review ukuleles. This does NOT sound like a £150 ukulele to me and I have heard muddier, quieter, less inspiring tones from much more expensive, fully solid ukuleles before. If you want darker, woodier, moodier sounds, I'd still look elsewhere, but if you like crisp and clear there is not much to dislike here. In fact I think it will suit the majority.

I've really 'ummed and ahhed' about how to score this ukulele. Sure, the looks will not be for everyone, but you certainly should not be looking at this as a toy because of them. It also sounds like I am getting ahead of myself in being quite so positive, but.... The fittings, attention to detail and the build are all extremely good here and are better than many ukuleles for a LOT more money that I have seen.  Sure the tone could be a touch more rounded for me, but i'm genuinely struggling to find much else wrong here - it's crisp, clear, responsive and extremely precise to play. And the price, with that bag and this level of build quality is a total STEAL in my view.  I have no hesitation at all in giving this one a high recommendation. No it's not up there tonally with the high end aNueNue instruments, but you know what, here's the rub they may not like to hear.....  

It's a lot closer to those than the low price would suggest.  

And thanks again to World of Ukes for selling me this one (yes, I put my own money where my mouth is here!!)


UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Model: aNueNue UC10 Color series
Scale: Concert
Body: Solid spruce top, laminate mahogany back and sides
Bridge: Maple, tie bar
Saddle: Synthetic bone
Spacing at saddle: 42mm
Finish: Satin
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 19, 14 to body
Nut: Synthetic bone
Nut width: 36mm, 29mm G to A
Tuners: Unbranded open gears
Strings: aNueNue Clear Water
Extras: Padded branded bag
Weight: 490g
Country of origin: China
Price: £150

UKULELE PROS

Pretty much flawless build and finish
Love the looks myself
Light weight
Great volume and good sustain
Bright, extremely clear and crisp tone
Responsive to play with little effort
Very comfortable neck
Lovely gig bag
Very good price for the build quality

UKULELE CONS

Back is a bit plain?
Pick guard would look nicer flush with top
Would like slightly more rounded tone (personally speaking)


UKULELE SCORES

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

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9.3 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW





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4 comments :

  1. This one is intriguing. I'm kind of liking the blend of fun and minimalism in its looks.
    Thanks for including the specs!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I rather like the plainish mahogany back. 9.3 out of 10 certainly gets my attention.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Barry .. you didn't mention anything about the setup and it looks like the action is a little high... I could be wrong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In reviews, if I don't mention setup it's because it's just fine. This isn't high at all. Bang on how I would set it up myself.

      Delete

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