28 Jan 2024

Noah Mahogany Soprano Ukulele - 2024 edition - REVIEW

A welcome return for a ukulele brand that i've looked at regularly and going back to 2013. This is the 2024 re-booted Noah Mahogany Soprano Ukulele.

Noah 2024 Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

Noah are a British based brand, founded by Matt Cohen who have instruments built for them by a luthier, Ton That Anh in Vietnam. Matt used to live over there so built his contacts and trust with the right people to work with and founded the Noah brand all those years ago, charmingly named after his son. I've looked at plenty of them, and the one thing I like with Matt is that he listens to criticism. Over the years they've always got better, with attention being turned to things that needed work. And i'm not the only fan of Noah - there's a big bunch of people out there that love them too. When he told me about this one I was intrigued enough by the changes to give it another crack of the whip. I first looked at the standard Noah Mahogany Soprano in 2017 and whilst it did pretty well on my review,  i'll let you have a read of that to understand some of the things I picked it up on. It would also be churlish to say that the changes are solely down to me, as I understand some of the changes came to Noah from their Noah Artist, Matt Hicks (who knows a thing or two about sopranos!). Let's dive in.


So, mahogany sopranos are 'my thing' and Noah know that I will be being particularly careful here. If fact I think it's fair to say it's mahogany sopranos that I judge most ukes against as a starting benchmark. This is still a small double bout sop, but I am pleased Matt Hicks suggested making it a bit skinnier than the original. It's a slight difference, but I do prefer the more trad looking sops. This has slimmer waist and, I think, slightly slimmer front to back. It gives it a slightly more vintage look which I like. The mahogany here has interesting grain with a wave and shimmer in the top which I like. The top back and sides are all bookmatched nicely.

Noah 2024 Mahogany Soprano Ukulele body

The bridge is a tie bar style from the Vietnamese hardwood Gõ gõ mật, which I have since been told translates roughly as 'Honey Wood'. It's very tidy (long gone are the days of Noah glossed bridges) and holds a bone straight topped saddle. Spacing here is 40mm.

Noah 2024 Mahogany Soprano Ukulele bridge

The decoration has also moved to a more trad look. Whilst it has the same maple edge binding with black and white purfling strips, out goes the abalone sound hole ring which is replaced with a wooden inlaid herrongbone style ring. That's a change for the better for me. I'll also say at this point that over the years the quality of this sort of decor on Noah instruments has also improved. In the early days some of these trims could be a bit slap-dash, but this is very nicely done indeed. The body is finished in the same sort of satin coat which has been well done also.

Noah 2024 Mahogany Soprano Ukulele decor

Inside is pretty tidy, but clearly hand made. The linings are notched and the braces fairly small. The top is vertically braced on the lower bout under the bridge. The top wood is also clearly quite thin.

Noah 2024 Mahogany Soprano Ukulele inside

The neck wood changes on this model to a maple neck which I'm always a fan of. Noah have used maple before on some other instruments, but i've thought it a bit on the dark side. This is much paler and I love the contrast and the grain patterning in this example. It's in two pieces with a fairly obvious heel joint and is glassy smooth in the hands.  In another great positive change, the nut width on this is now 37mm with 30mm G to A. That's a great move in my opinion!

The fingerboard is made of more of the Go go mat wood and is even in colour and nicely oiled. There are a few 'hand made' tooling marks on here though if such things bother you. They don't with me, but it would be wrong to ignore them as they are visible in the picture. It actually feels like it is slightly edge rolled too which is nice. That holds 17 frets, joined at the 12th and they are all dressed extremely well. Pearl position dots face out at the 5th, 7th and 10th in very traditional soprano fashion and they are paired with side dots (the original missed these off!).

Noah 2024 Mahogany Soprano Ukulele neck

Beyond the bone nut is the usual Noah headstock shape faced in more mahogany which gives it a nice 'layer cake' look against the paler maple. The Noah logo is inlaid in pearl at the top.

Noah 2024 Mahogany Soprano Ukulele headstock

The tuners are a great improvement for this particular reviewers likes. Out go the guitar parts bin sealed gears and in come friction pegs. And looking at the metalwork on the collars, these are GOOD friction pegs too, not grippy cheap ones. I know these things annoy some people, but on a soprano they just LOOK so right. Many die-hard soprano fans I know also prefer these. It's a yes from me!

Noah 2024 Mahogany Soprano Ukulele tuners

Finishing things off are a tail strap button and the usual Noah padded gig bag. I'm not going to get into a war about straps on ukuleles (if you want to use one, use one), but on a soprano? Really? I hope that is an option as I wouldn't want one. It comes with a choice of strings, either Martin M600's (as on this review model) or regular Aquila and will cost you £239 direct from Noah which is inclusive of domestic shipping. He also ships worldwide, but you need to contact him for a quote. I think that's a really fair price for a very well made all solid wood soprano that has got most things right for me so far.

Noah 2024 Mahogany Soprano Ukulele back

So i'm pleased so far. It's a nicely made thing, and I think the 2024 improvements are welcome. It's also one of the best finished Noah ukes I have seen so far. It's not heavy in the slightest at 460g and balances really well. One comment I will make from the off is the string choice. I love Martin strings, but they feel a bit looser than I would like on a soprano. It's a very minor thing, but I think i'd prefer a bit more snap (terrible word to use) in the feel. I think a string gauge change may be worth exploring and wonder if the Aquila option will have a better feel. It's not affecting the sustain or volume, both of which are great and it's a punchy little soprano. Heck, it's not a complaint.. meh.. strings.. personal... subjective...

Tone wise, despite being mahogany, the soprano sized body will push it more to the brighter end of the scale, but it kind of depends how you play this one actually. Strummed it's just what I like from a mahogany soprano - peppy, jangly, zingy and VERY rhythmical. What is great here is there is still excellent clarity from the individual strings rather than it turning into a muddy mess. You can hear each string even with fast strumming. Played this way that bouncy sound is certainly on the brighter side to my ears.

Switch to fingerpicking, chord melody or lighter play with the flesh of the thumb and is shows a nice rounded warmness to the tone too, particularly at first positions. I think it's delightful played like that and it pulls a richness out of the tone. Up the neck the chime is more noticeable, and remains clear and direct.

I don't have the 2017 version here to do a side by side, but I don't think I'd pick them apart. Yet, maybe there is more to it as that warmth you can coax out of it reminds me very much of the Kiwaya mahogany sopranos (which will cost you significantly more). So I chose to leave the sound score the same as the 2017 model but up the value for money which, despite being more due to inflation really got me thinking that this is punching well above the asking price really.

All in all, Noah have done to me what they always do - listen, and get better with each new model that comes my way. If you are fan of mahogany trad sopranos (as I am) this is bang on the money and delivers very nicely. They are also a nice, small company to buy from and this a uke that 'feels' more real too rather than factory production line stuff.

Highly recommended.


Model: Noah Mahogany Soprano (2024 edition)
Body: All solid mahogany
Bridge: Go go mat - tie bar
Saddle: Bone
Spacing at saddle: 40mm
Finish: Satin
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Go go mat
Frets: 17, 12 to body
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 37mm, 30mm G to A
Tuners: Friction pegs
Strings: Choice of Martin M600 or Aquila (reviewed with M600)
Extras: Strap button, gig bag
Country of origin: Vietnam
Weight: 460g
Price: £239


Great classy looks
Good build and finish
Great style and function changes of the original
Good volume and sustain
Typical soprano sound when strummed with nice clarity
A warmth comes through when picked
Punching well above the asking price


Strap button?
Might want to experiment with string gauges for feel?


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








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