Snail SEU-2C Flamed Maple Electro Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

13 Mar 2022

Snail SEU-2C Flamed Maple Electro Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

A welcome back to a brand that has always done rather well on Got A Ukulele, and a model that  fills a somewhat under represented part of the uke market. This is the Snail SEU-2C Flamed Maple Electro Concert.


Snail Electro Concert Ukulele



And the under representation I am talking about here are solid body electric ukuleles that don't use steel strings. There are one or two out there, such as those by Fluke and Pono, and I guess you could include the Godin Multiuke in that group, but generally speaking when people see solid electrics they are thinking guitar style ukes like the Risa LP. I love the concept of these and in fact had one made for me by a luthier in the form of my Rob Collins Tin Guitar solid tenor. The reason? Well, they make trouble free stage ukuleles that allow you to rock a bit louder without worrying so much about feedback due to the lack of a sound hole. They are really designed SOLELY for plugging in. Maybe that's something of a narrow market, but I'm not so sure considering just how much interest I see in electrics these days. And of course, being a solid body they also suit for late night quiet practice or use with a headphone amp to avoid waking the kids.

This model by Snail comes in two wood varieties, a flamed maple top like this one and a flamed acacia, and also in both concert and tenor scales. It's a simple double bout look with not much going on decoration wise, but I really like it for that. In fact, aside from the lack of a cutaway, it's the same simple look as my Tin Guitar model. Of course you don't have a sound hole to decorate, but either way, it's all about the wood here. The main guts of the body are made from a chunk of mahogany, but dropped on the top of that are two pieces of bookmatched flamed maple veneer to give it the look. It's very 'early Les Paul' in look even down to the translucent golden yellow stain that covers it. The flaming on this example is pretty, nicely matched and looks great. One thing I can't tell is whether there are additional chambers in the mahogany to further help feedback resistance. Obviously there must be gaps underneath the controls and bridge to take the wiring, but I know Rob Collins, and I believe, Pono put other chambers further up in their solid bodied ukes to assist. You'd have to ask Snail.

Snail Electro Concert Ukulele body


The bridge is made from ebony in the usual Snail 'Taylor-esque' shape and is a slot style. It looks a bit big for the body to my eye, but this isn't a usual soundboard top so I'm not concerned about it muting things. It's very tidily finished and holds what looks like a bone saddle with a compensated top. Spacing here is just shy of 45mm.

Snail Electro Concert Ukulele bridge

Elsewhere on the top are a couple of control pots for volume and tone. When I put some early 'clue' pictures up on my Socials people commented that they were large, but as you can see - that was an optical illusion. They are actually very small which is pleasing to see as they didn't just go to the guitar parts bin and fit any old knobs. They look to be good quality too with the tone knob having a nice notch you feel at the 50% mark. That under saddle pickup runs through these and down to an output jack in the base which doubles as a strap button. There is nothing else to speak about on the body bar the access cover for the electrics on the back (a good thing if you ever end up with a bad solder joint in the wiring) and the battery compartment. Yes, this is an active powered by a 9v battery, but I don't mind that so much on a solid body as you are not hanging a massive compartment on a delicate acoustic uke side.

Snail Electro Concert Ukulele decor


The neck wood isn't specified, though I suspect is mahogany. It's in three pieces with fairly well hidden joints and because of the thin body depth the heel is shallow too. It's finished in satin like the back of the body. It tapers down to a slightly squashed profile and to an average 35mm and 28mm G to A. As ever, I prefer them wider, but the profile helps me a touch here.

That is topped with more ebony for the fingerboard which looks to be in nice condition.  It's edge bound down the sides in matching mahogany to hide the fret ends of which you get 18, joined at the 14th. There are no sharp edges to these either. Pearly dots face out at the 5th, 7th, 10th, double 12th and 15th and thankfully these are repeated with white dots on the side.

Snail Electro Concert Ukulele neck


Beyond the bone nut is the usual somewhat stylised crown shape that Snail use, faced in a darker wood which is slightly offset from the edges which I always have found attractive. Like most Snail ukes I've looked at the logo is inlaid in what looks like a paler wood. Like all the others i've always found the logo to read oddly due to the script and says 'Snoie' to me. Not the biggest uke criticism in the world, but surely they could make it clearer?

Snail Electro Concert Ukulele headstock

The tuners are sealed chrome gears with Snail branding and they all work ok.

Snail Electro Concert Ukulele tuners

Completing the package are a set of clear fluoro string and a padded branded gig bag that fits the shallow depth nicely and seems to be decent quality. And considering I've yet to find anything glaringly wrong with the instrument, the price is rather pleasing too at £249. That's affordable for a lot of ukulele players though of course some may say 'but it's just a block of wood with a neck glued on'... I suppose you could say that, but then.. take a look at the price of Fender telecasters...

Snail Electro Concert Ukulele back

So all in all i've rather liked what i've seen here and the whole thing is put together well and finished nicely too. Of course, whether this floats your boat depends on whether you want to solely plug in or not, but as I say, I have had the need in the past so I 'get it'. It's naturally heavier that an acoustic instrument but doesn't feel cumbersome or a real heavyweight like the Godins are and comes in at 960g. Of course players of these are more likely to be on stage, plugged in and using a strap so it's no biggie either way. It's balanced nicely too.

It's always incredibly hard to judge tone on a solid electric, and harder to get that across in a review video. At the end of the day, the tone of these is swayed significantly by the amplifier that is being used and how you shape the tone on that or through a pre-amp pedal. As such, the review video uses a decent acoustic amplifier in the form of the Roland AC33, though I have kept the tone controls on middle levels across the board and not chosen to use effects. And of course, what you are hearing is the sound of the amplifier recorded by a microphone rather than a line out. What matters is that it is not muddy sounding or weak.

There is good clarity from the pickup here and the tone control works well with a good sweep range between bright and bassy. There is a slight volume drop off on the A string on this example, but it's minor and easily remedied by a thin shim of paper under that part of the saddle. Saying that I find the thinner strings on piezo pickup systems naturally have a touch less volume due to their lesser mass so I am perhaps making more of this that it deserves. This is not a muddy pickup and it doesn't need masses of volume at the amplifier to make it heard.


Snail Electro Concert Ukulele jack socket

Have a listen yourselves to the video, but I can't find much wrong on the sound of it. Sure, it sounds like a piezo and is a touch 'quacky' in that regard - but short of fitting a very expensive MiSi system (and then making the uke much more than £249) they all have a touch of that to them. More importantly though it's easily notched out with an EQ pedal to suit. Of course the other fun part to these is the experimentation in applying effects to the sound. Whilst I don't think piezo's take sustainer effects and overdrives that well (due to the lack of core sustain) I can attest that this will work just fine with reverbs, tremolo, delays and loopers. In fact I used all of those with my solid body.

And that's the real point here - this is not an instrument trying to be an acoustic sounding thing for acoustic style music - it's aimed at being a versatile stage ready instrument designed to be amplified and played around with to push some boundaries on the sound. If you are a in a group, band or are solo performing, instruments like this represent no frills, but very reliable workhorses that are plug and play if you have the necessary amplification. I like them, I own them and would gladly own this one. Recommended!

Thanks to Southern Ukulele Store for the loan of this one 


UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Model: Snail SEU-2C Electro
Scale: Concert
Body: Solid mahogany with flamed maple drop top
Bridge: Ebony slot style
Saddle: Bone, compensates
Spacing at saddle: 45mm
Finish: Satin
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 18, 14 to body
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 35mm, 28mm G to A
Tuners: Snail branded sealed gears
Extras: Active pickup system with controls and tail jack / strap button, gig bag
Strings: Clear fluorocarbon
Country of origin: China?
Weight: 960g
Price: £249

UKULELE PROS

Good build and finish all round
Nice wood appointments (ebony, flamed maple)
Top controls are not 'parts bin' large
Decent, clean, accurate tone output
Decent enough price

UKULELE CONS

Can't really think of any that are show stoppers

UKULELE SCORES

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

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW




 


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