Enya Moon 5 String Taimane Signature Ukulele - REVIEW

3 Dec 2022

Enya Moon 5 String Taimane Signature Ukulele - REVIEW

It's always enjoyable to get an early look at a ukulele that is causing a buzz in the marketplace. This is the brand new Enya Moon 5 string Taimane Signature ukulele.

Enya Moon 5 string Taimane Ukulele


Enya are a brand that keep pushing the boundaries year on year and have created a real name for themselves now in the ukulele world for that very reason. So it didn't actually surprise me at all to learn that they had teamed up with one of the most gifted ukulele performers on the planet, Taimane Gardner to develop a Taimane signature model.

Actually, there are two Taimane signature models, both tenors and they come in either a regular four string tenor option or, like this one, a five string in line with the instruments Taimane performs with herself. There are some other options too, but I will come onto those as we get into the review.

With both options we are looking at all solid mahogany bodies, similar in shape to the Nova U design, and similar in construction to the (rather lovely) Enya Feather ukulele I looked at not so long ago. That is to say they are built from a block of solid  mahogany (actually three blocks conjoined) that forms the back, sides and neck into which a sound chamber is routed out of the body area and a sheet of solid mahogany is dropped on top to complete the 'shell'. It's a concept that worked very well on the Feather and has also been used by builders like Pete Mai at Bonanza. It's one of those ideas that I first thought 'that won't work' when I saw it, but actually it works extremely well! There are some differences with the Feather though which I will come on to in the review.

Enya Moon 5 string Taimane Ukulele body


The bridge is the same slot style as the Feather, made from Richlite composite and is extremely tidy. Sitting in that is a compensated top bone saddle. All very low profile and attractive. Spacing here is 44mm.




Decoration is where things start to change. First of all, this comes with a regular round sound-hole rather than the Enya logo cutout shape. I do actually prefer the more standard look myself and this comes with the first of a series of design cues worked up with Taimane in the form of a white crescent moon inlay around the bottom half. The design brief explains that the cues represent the sky, so with the moon we have our first element. Also different to the Feather is the fact there is no side sound port. That's no issue to me as the jury is out with them for me in any case. The finish here is not gloss either rather an open pore satin over a very subtle sunburst brown and black (the four string is also available in blue, but the five is black only). I personally think it's extremely attractive, not gaudy and classy to look at. It's got a dusky, smoky look to it that I love.  In fact, with apologies for the gushing - I think it's one of the coolest looking ukes I've seen in quite some time!

Enya Moon 5 string Taimane Ukulele decor



Inside is there isn't much to see on account of the construction, but the top is braced. You will also see the various gubbins connected to the pickup system.

Eyna Moon Five String ukulele inside


The neck is integral to the body due to the construction and tapers down to the same profile and comfortable 38mm nut (30mm G to A) as the Feather which I found extremely nice to hold. I also much prefer that it's finished in satin and not gloss.

Sitting on that is more richlite for the fingerboard which is even in colour and extremely smooth. Unlike the Feather, this is not glossed either and I much prefer it for that.  It has the same 18 frets as the Feather, joined at the 13th. Position markers take the form of inlays of the tropical Pacific Iwa (or Frigate) bird at the 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th spaces, thus completing the next 'sky' design cue. Nice. And yes, you also get side dots.

Enya Moon 5 string Taimane Ukulele neck


Beyond the bone nut is the Enya asymmetric headstock shaped faced in matte black. This holds both the Enya logo and a further inlay which represents a star and thus finishing the 'sky' connection. Again, this is attractive.

Enya Moon 5 string Taimane Ukulele headstock


Tuners are Enya branded closed gears in chrome and, naturally on this one, you get five of them. At the top edge of the back of the headstock is the Taimane name. This is not too ostentatious and that brings me to a word on signature instruments more generally. My view on them is rather mixed, but if there is one thing I DON'T like it's brands being lazy and just taking an existing model, screen printing a name on the headstock and calling it a 'signature'. The process here seems more involved and has a themed story, but also design changes like the sound-hole and the offering of a five string with which Taimane is associated. I really do like the 'concept' here, and that it's not too 'in your face'. Good work.

Enya Moon 5 string Taimane Ukulele tuners


Finishing it off is a nicely decorated padded gig bag and strap carrying Polynesian style designs, a set of D'Addario strings, cables for an amp and for charging the pickup and a card explaining the concept in Taimane's words. The other thing you will have noticed here is that the five string comes fitted with the Enya AcousticPlus system that allows you to apply effects to both the plugged in AND acoustic tone. The four string gives you an option of with or without (for lesser money), but with the five it is standard. I get the impression the five string is the 'de-facto' signature model. And in this variety you are looking at an asking price of $599.99 and less for the four string (and less again if you ditch the pickup). That's inline with the Feather price and in fact a bit less if you go four string, so they don't seem to be being cynical on the price just because Taimane's name is on it either. I do wish they'd offer the five string without the pickup though.

Enya Moon 5 string Taimane Ukulele bag


So, despite my usual split opinions on 'signature' models this one has impressed me all round in build and finish. I liked the Feather concept and I actually prefer the design cues here if I am honest. The offering of a five string is also of interest as, despite me liking them, I have only ever reviewed one other in my time on Got A Ukulele! The build and finish is very good in all departments. With the construction style and the addition of the pickup it feels hefty like the Feather and clocks in at a greater weight of 955g. It's not uncomfortable to hold but you know it's there.

A word first about those five strings for those who have not seen one before. The five string tenor is the ukulele Taimane is most associated with and adds in an extra string designed to be played in unison on the G. That is to say the fifth string is not placed in regular string spacing apart from the others, rather very close to the 4th string, mandolin style. There are no hard and fast rules on how these strings are tuned, but usually I see five strings with the two G's tuned an octave apart (so a high G and a low G on the same instrument). In this case we have two low G's which is Taimane's preferred tuning to give more bottom end to her sound. People often say they are harder to play and pick, but honestly, I've never had an issue. Incidentally, if you wanted to put a high G in place of one of them I see no reason why you couldn't (subject to a possible need to tweak intonation), and you could, of course, remove one and play it as a regular four string too.

I really liked the sound of the Feather. It wasn't the punchiest uke on the block and had a tone that reminded me more of a concert (not a  complaint, just an observation), but I did really like it. I wonder here though whether those two low G strings will beef this one up. The volume sits about the same as the feather, so still not the punchiest, though this only has a diminutive body. The sustain though is significantly longer with those low G strings ringing on and on and on. Lovely!

Enya Moon 5 string Taimane Ukulele back

Tone wise there is much more going on too with a very obvious shimmery bass element to the tone and a much more 'tenor' sound. Strummed it's jangly and peppy, clear across the strings and has great rich range. It's a very enjoyable sound to my ears. Fingerpicking too seems clean and has more range with the low G coming through. I would say something though - I don't grow my thumbnail out for picking like I do my fingers so am picking these with flesh so the G's can sound soft when picked. If, however, you grew out the thumbnail (as Taimane does) you are REALLY going to get some zingy bass notes going on with this! One other thing I find with five strings is you have to be careful how you both attack the bottom strings and fret them as it can be easy to create a shimmery buzz into each other. You may notice some in the video, though that says more about my technique rather than a fault! I tend to do it with mandolins too!

As for the pickup - read my comments on the Feather review. I guess they are a bit of fun, but they are not for me and I'd rather use regular effects pedals and an amp, but I'm not objecting to it. I just wish there was an option to not have it on the five! Though, of course, you don't need to use the effects and it works as a straight pickup too which is handy I guess.

All in all this is a really rather nice thing. I kind of knew I'd like it as I liked the Feather so much, but actually I am preferring the design cues here and particularly that sunburst body. It's very well made, plays very nicely, sounds great and they didn't go cynical and just slap a name on the front of the headstock to charge you more. 

Very highly recommended!



UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Model: Enya Moon 5 String Taimane Signature
Scale: Tenor
Body: Solid routed mahogany
Bridge: Richlite, slot style
Saddle: Bone, compensated
Spacing at saddle: 44mm
Finish: Satin sunburst
Neck: Mahogany, integral
Fingerboard: Richlite
Frets: 18, joined at 13th
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 38mm, 30mm G to A
Tuners: Enya branded sealed gears
Strings: D'Addario Titatnium with doubled low G
Extras: Strap, AcousticPlus pickup, Bag, Strap buttons
Weight: 955g
Country of origin: China
Price: $599


UKULELE PROS

Wonderful looks
Great build and finish
Nice theming
Comfortable neck and body
Good range to the tone
Great sustain

UKULELE CONS

Would prefer option to buy 5 string without the pickup

UKULELE SCORES

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

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9.2 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW


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8 comments :

  1. Nice review...you gonna be the first to review the new Flight ultra travel line?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so glad that this review confirmed what I expected. This is a gorgeous ukulele and I've always been enthralled with Taimane, so I'm glad to hear that it's got it where it counts. I don't know that I'd ever stretch my budget to pick one up but it's nice at least knowing that it's there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was really hoping you would give this a good review as I want one, you didn't disappoint.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, nice sound, love the looks, but I think the logo on the head plate should be rotated!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, nice sound, love the looks, but I think the logo on the head plate should be rotated!!

    ReplyDelete

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