Noah Super Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

30 Oct 2021

Noah Super Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

A return with for a brand much featured on Got A Ukulele and a brand new model for them. This is the Noah Super Tenor.

Noah Super Tenor Ukulele


You will know the Noah brand by now, set up in the UK by Matt Cohen and hand built by his luthier contact in Vietnam where he used to live. They've always impressed me for the combination of nice builds and very good prices for what you are getting. This one fits in a gap that is increasingly asked for by ukulele players who want to move toward the bigger guns but want to stick with tuning they are used to. The term 'Super Tenor' can actually mean a couple of things, either a tenor bodied ukulele with a baritone scale or, like this one, a baritone sized body with a tenor scale (17") neck. Nice. It's designed to be strung in regular C tuning.

Like all other Noah ukes this is hand made from all solid woods. Here they use the classic combination of solid spruce on the top and solid mahogany on the back and sides. It's a tried and tested wood combination in musical instruments giving the crisp clarity of spruce that is then tempered with the woodier, darker sounding mahogany. Matt has used this combo on his instruments before and I can see why. This has two pieces on the top (not that you can ever really see the join with spruce), two pieces on the sides and slightly curved back. The larger sized body is self evident here with a highly attractive very rounded lower bout which I think looks great.

Noah Super Tenor Ukulele body

The bridge is made from the Vietnamese hardwood Gõ gõ mật (no I won't be attempting to pronounce that in the video!) which looks very much like rosewood, perhaps a bit paler. It's a Taylor-esque shaped pin bridge style fitted with a bone saddle. It's extremely tidy in the finish and I'm glad those days of glossed bridges on the early Noah ukes seem to have gone. Spacing here is 45mm.

Noah Super Tenor Ukulele bridge


Decoration is nicely done too with Indian Rosewood edge binding to the top and back with abalone purfling around the top and a thick black and white strip on the back. The abalone is repeated around the sound hole and the rosewood also appears in the tail strip where the sides meet. I have said before that I am not really a fan of abalone, but it is growing on me here.  Perhaps it's the larger body that means it doesn't stand out as much on the top. It's then finished in a nicely done gloss. I tend to find there are usually some minor finish marks in most Noah ukes I see - it's not something that bothers me too much when I consider that they are hand made not factory production, but bar one or two really minor marks in the binding this is the tidiest Noah I have yet seen. 

Noah Super Tenor Ukulele decor


Inside is only reasonably tidy though with a fair amount of glue mess under the bridge plate. The braces and kerfing are very neat though.

noah super tenor ukulele


The neck is made of a sandy brown coloured maple. It's in three pieces but the joints are very well matched. I'm also pleased to see that it is satin finished and not glossed meaning a very smooth and fast neck to fret on. It tapers to a not overly rounded profile and a very nearly 40mm nut and 33mm G to A. For wider neck lovers like me that will be a treat. It's a whopper!

It's topped in more Gõ gõ mật which is in good condition but I feel could have been sanded and polished down a little better (though note my comments above on the hand made side). It is fitted with 19 frets joined to the body at the 14th and they are dressed nicely. It looks like it may be edge bound too, but that does get a little scruffy at the 19th. Pearly position dots face out at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, double 12th and 15th and these are repeated with side dots. 

Noah Super Tenor Ukulele neck

Beyond the bone nut is an open frame headstock which seems to be becoming quite the fashion now. I like them, particularly their smaller face footprint compared to double slot headstocks. It's faced with more mahogany with an attractive point shape carving at the base and holds the Noah logo in pearl at the top end. It's satin too and as a very minor gripe I wonder if the face would look better glossed like the body to make the mahogany 'pop'. It needs a bit of a tidy up for excess polish inside the slot as you can see.

Noah Super Tenor Ukulele headstock

Tuners are chrome side mounted open gears. They are unbranded but clearly have good mechanisms and work well.

Noah Super Tenor Ukulele tuners

Finishing things off are a tail strap button, a set of Aquila strings and the usual Noah padded bag. The price really surprised me as these come in at £269.99 which I think is an extremely fair price for a hand made, non Chinese ukulele of this size. That also comes with free shipping within the UK, though Matt will also ship abroad  if you contact him direct to discuss costs and timescale.

I think you can probably tell I am quite impressed with this one so far. In fact on first removing it from the gig bag I was immediately taken by it. I'm normally a smaller uke kind of guy but do own tenors and like the bigger instruments as i'm also a guitar player. Something about the overall dimensions and look of this one really warmed with me. It has clearly been put together very well and despite the very minor hand made marks i've mentioneed, this is a very good example from Noah. It's not heavy for a baritone bodied uke at 785g and balances well. It also feels great in the hands, particularly the neck which is lovely.

Noah Super Tenor Ukulele back


First ticks in the right boxes, perhaps unsurprisingly with that large body, are for volume, projection and sustain. This a beefy beast which pushes the sound out with little effort and bodes well for play. That's not to say it's strident or 'too much' as it responds well to dynamic playing meaning it can be subdued, but you will not have any worries being heard if you need to.

The main tone is kind of what I expected. Crisp highs from the spruce top but mellowed out by a combination of the bigger body and mahogany tonewoods. I have always hated to say this on a ukulele blog, but.. rather like I tend to find with a lot of baritones, there is a lot of 'guitar sound' here despite it being tuned in C and not G tuning. That bigger body is certainly filling the tone out and in a good way. I am a huge fan of spruce topped acoustic guitars (and own a few) but they are not really to my taste with ukuleles so much as I think the smaller real estate on the naturally smaller instruments means the spruce dominates too much for my ear. That bigger body on this one really does seem to tone all that down and reminds me why this wood combo is such a classic on acoustic guitars. Don't get me wrong, this is still very much a ukulele sound and it has a tonne of character and harmonic jangle that is extremely pretty when strummed. Fingerpicking is a joy on the comfortable neck and the notes seem to soar and shimmer too. I've been very impressed by the tone on this one and find it compelling and interesting to listen to. In no way is it one dimensional.

I've been reviewing Noah ukuleles since they first appeared on the market and they are another brand that simply listen and get better with each new iteration. When it comes to design, build quality and tone this one just combines them all in the right way for my tastes. I'm struggling to find major fault with things here and think I just discovered my absolute favourite Noah yet.  I also think this is a steal of a price for what you are getting considering other brands at this price point. I'd happily have this in my arsenal and it comes very highly recommended.


UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP
 
Model: Noah Super Tenor
Scale: Tenor scale, baritone body
Body: Solid spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides
Bridge: Gõ gõ mật - pin bridge
Saddle: Bone
Spacing at saddle: 45mm
Finish: Gloss
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Gõ gõ mật
Frets: 19, 14 to body
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 40mm, 33mm G to A
Tuners: Chrome open gears:
Strings: Aquila
Extras: Tail strap button, gig bag
Weight: 785g
Country of origin: Vietnam
Price: £269.99

UKULELE PROS

Great classy looks
Proven wood combo
Very good overall build
Great neck
Terrific volume and sustain
Characterful, jangly tone
Balanced tone
Good value 


UKULELE CONS

Very little. Some very minor hand made tooling marks and glue mess inside, but no biggie

UKULELE SCORES

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

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9.2 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW





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6 comments :

  1. Nice review Barry
    Too bad it's only available in UK.
    I was curious about the fretboard and bridge woods and was directed to this Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sindora_siamensis
    Since the former CITES ban, many substitutes for rosewood were and are still being used-some are better than others. What's your opinion of this wood vs rosewood?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Umm - it's not UK only. Like the review and video says - Matt WILL ship worldwide - just need to contact him direct.

      Delete
  2. Looks like another success from Noah. I've got an early model Monkeypod electro-tenor, still going strong, and just bought an 8 string baritone from them too. Both lovely instruments. Solid wood throughout, sweet tone, and they just feel great in your hands. Better than any 'big brand' ukes I've tried so far.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Can the Super Tenor take a Low G string?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - no reason why not - pretty much all ukes can

      Delete
  4. That headstock looks like some flights.

    ReplyDelete

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