Flight Nighthawk EQ-A Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

19 Jun 2022

Flight Nighthawk EQ-A Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

There's been a fair few Flight Ukuleles on these reviews over the years, but without getting ahead of myself, the looks of this one immediately turned my head. This is the new (ish) Flight Nighthawk EQ-A Concert.

Flight Nighthawk Concert Ukulele


Flight have an impressively large range of ukuleles these days matching all price points from the cheap as chips Bumblebee's and Travel ukes up to their high end Anniversary series. This one sits in the Royal series at a more reasonable price point but still firmly in the serious ukulele category. And as for those looks, well, gosh.. I absolutely love the look of the body in this one. More on that in a moment.

The Nighthawk EQ-A is an electro acoustic concert ukulele made from all solid tone woods. The top here is solid spruce and the back and sides are solid mahogany. A reliable, tried and tested combination for sure, but you'd hardly know what the woods are on account of the deep dark grey / black gloss finish applied to the whole body. Saying that it's actually very slightly transparent and thin as held in the right light you can see the telltale spruce grain lines in the top. The back though looks more solid black unless under very bright light - I like that! On that point, bear in mind that I have seen some pictures of these where the stain is much lighter than it is here - on this one it's very dark, so do bear in mind that you might not get the same. Incidentally, this also comes in a tenor variety though I was pleased to be loaned this as despite my reluctance to engage with concerts some years ago they've started to become a real favourite of mine.

Flight Nighthawk Concert Ukulele body


The bridge is a pin style as used by Flight on several other models and is made from rosewood. It's extremely tidy and a style of bridge that I do always like. What I find odd here is that that chose to use the same black plastic pins topped with a red jewel like dot as seen on the Fireball.  When you look at the rest of the decor on this instrument I have to wonder why they went red and not blue? The saddle is made of bone and compensated and the string spacing is 40mm.

Flight Nighthawk Concert Ukulele bridge


As I say, the body is finished in this very dark grey / black gloss coating which is not over done anywhere. And the decor that really sets that off for me is the pearly blue binding around the top edge and into the scooped cutaway on the top shoulder. The contrast with the black looks great I think. Around the sound hole is a more regular abalone ring as I suppose more blue here may have been overkill. Yet I think it stands out for not matching the blue and the uke may have looked better leaving the sound hole unadorned?

Flight Nighthawk Concert Ukulele decor


Inside is reasonably tidy apart from the drill holes for the bridge pins which look like they were knocked through with a hammer - a sure fire way of encouraging string snaps.. The kerfing is notched and the bracing not too heavy with a couple of the top braces drilled through, Kanile'a style to reduce weight whilst maintaining rigidity.

Flight Nighthawk Ukulele inside


The neck is made from African Mahogany (Khaya) and whilst it is jointed in the heel and headstock they are brilliantly hidden. I'm also pleased to see that it is satin coated rather than gloss making for slick position changes in the hand. Less pleasing for my hand shapes is that it tapers down to a generic slightly rounded profile and 35mm nut width (27mm G to A).

That is topped with more rosewood which is pleasingly dark and even in colour and also in great condition. It's fitted with 19 frets joined at the body and, like one or two other Flight models, they are semi-hemi frets meaning the ends are curved and rounded before fitting. That's a high end appointment that eliminates the need for aftermarket fret dressing or sharp frets. Nice and super smooth. The position markers are interesting in the form of angular U shapes that look like staples inlaid at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th, with the 12th being slightly larger to mark the octave. Thankfully those are also paired with small dots on the side. Small modern touches like these are always nice to see on a ukulele to set it apart from the large range of competition.

Flight Nighthawk Concert Ukulele fingerboard


Beyond the bone nut is the headstock shape common on many Flight instruments these days in the form of a long wedge shaped open frame. That's faced in more black wood and holds the Flight logo in blue pearl to tie in with the body decor.

Flight Nighthawk Concert Ukulele headstock


The tuners are black and gold open gears by Prowel and are, naturally, mounted on the side like a regular slot head. They work well and seem to be good quality on the gearing.

Flight Nighthawk Concert Ukulele tuners


Finishing things off are a set of Worth Brown strings and an active pickup system by Double terminating in a jack socket / strap button combo in the base. Whilst I don't personally favour active systems, this one doesn't commit the cardinal sin of having either a massive 9v battery or an ugly side control panel in the instrument. Rather this is mounted under the edge of the sound hole and is powered by button cell batteries. I can live with that though I think I'd still prefer a straight acoustic option so I could choose the pickup myself. It also comes with the ubiquitous and good quality Flight gig bag in red. And for all that you are looking at what I think is a reasonable £319 in the UK. That's a fair bit less than something like the Fireball.

Flight Nighthawk Concert Ukulele bag


So it's all very positive so far - a good build with good finish and good looks. The action setup is good too and it's not heavy at 585g despite the pickup. Balances well too.

Volume here is very good with great projection without much effort. Sustain is more in the 'acceptable' category rather than 'stellar' but it's not too shabby, and remember that this is a concert with less real estate to vibrate.

Flight Nighthawk Concert Ukulele back

The tone is what you would expect from a concert with a spruce top. Jangly, peppy, fizzy, zingy and very nice to listen to. Percussive when you want it to be, but richer in tone than a soprano. It's not a one trick pony and the mahogany is doing its job in keeping the tone in check too so it's not overly bright. Strummed, there's a lot of character and bounce to the sound which is just how I like a concert to sound. Fingerpicking is seriously chimey too right up the neck and it's a joy to play this way too.

But then things are never perfect are they? You'll note in the video that I heard a buzz when playing it. Whether it comes across in the video to you I don't know, but I've played enough ukes to know what it is - and it's certainly there. 

And I say that because it is NOT string buzz (as I say - the string setup is good) and you will see me guess in the video that it's a wire from the pickup on the side of the instrument. The fact it came on in the video and not in my earlier playing was part of my thinking for that (as wires can move), but it just didn't sound like a string buzz eiother. Sure enough, after recording I put my finger inside and bent the wire a bit and the buzz has gone for now (but I suspect will need taping down to keep it that way). So it's an easy fix, but should not have come to me like this. It really does demonstrate why you should buy from a specialist store who would have spotted this and sorted it. It's only right that I have to adjust my scoring on the 'fit and finish' to reflect that despite it being an easy fix as it's not right. For the record, had there been no buzz i'd have given it an 8.5 in that category, but Got A Ukulele always tries to be honest whoever the brand are. You can work out what the unencumbered overall score would be with that information!

Still, back to the tone - it's a very pretty sounding instrument with a signature sound that I think is most pleasing. There is also a lot of clarity there too which helps. It's an accomplished little instrument for sure.

NOTE!! FOR THOSE WHO MISSED THE MESSAGE ON THE VIDEO - Yes - some strings sound out in part of the recording - I have checked the intonation all over the neck with a strobe tuner and it is dead on - what you are hearing are strings stretching a bit during play as it's brand new. I only have limited time to record videos and apologise for that - but it's NOT a setup issue

So there you have it - a ukulele with much to like. Whilst the design cues don't hang together absolutely perfectly for me I still think it's a great looking instrument And when you consider some of the appointments, the decor, the frets, the pickup, the asking price is really very fair. Helpfully it sounds good too even if the buzz was annoying! Bought from a specialist dealer who will check things like that I think this is another very nice choice from Flight that has ticked a lot of boxes for me. You are on your own if you buy elsewhere - but based on using a specialist dealer - recommended!


UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Model: Flight Nighthawk EQ-A
Scale: Concert
Body: Solid spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides
Bridge: Rosewood pin bridge
Saddle: Bone
Spacing at saddle: 40mm
Finish: Black stain under gloss
Neck: African mahogany (satin)
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 19, 14 to body semi-hemi frets
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 35mm, 27mm G to A
Tuners: Prowel open gears
Strings: Worth Brown
Extras: Double pickup system, branded gig bag
Weight: 585g
Country of origin: China
Price: £319


UKULELE PROS

Great overall look
Generally clean build and finish
Smooth neck
Great frets
Good volume
Clear chimey tone
Fair price

UKULELE CONS

Red bridge pins?
Give me a straight acoustic option
Scruffy interior bridge plate
Buzz!

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and finish - 7 out of 10
Sound - 9 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 8.5 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW




GOT A UKULELE IS NOT PAID BY BRANDS OR SHOPS - YOUR KIND DONATIONS KEEP THE SITE GOING! THANKS FOR YOUR ONGOING HELP!

SAY THANKS WITH A BEER!

BECOME A GOT A UKULELE PATREON

OR




THANKS!

2 comments :

  1. My take on the red pins is that they act as a palate freshener, so that my sightbuds are not deadened by the ubiquitous blue. The soundhole ring is superfluous, I agree. ( comment posted by my OCD)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You did it to me again! You reviewed a nice uke that I couldn't refuse. I like the red pins, and I don't mind the extra weight of the electronics. I'm super strong. : )

    ReplyDelete

Please leave me a comment!

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.