Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

7 Jan 2024

Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

It's 2024 and Got A Ukulele returns with a brand much featured here and well liked. This is the Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele.

Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele

Snail have been around for a while now and always represent an alternative brand to the Kala's, Ohana's and more recently the Flight's. They've been on this site many times and have usually done pretty well.  This one may be a new model (I am not sure) as I am not yet seeing it in many stores, so was loaned to me kindly by the UK Snail distributor Red Chilli Audio.


The UKC-380 is a standard double bout concert scale ukulele with a traditional look and dimensions. The body here pairs solid spruce for the top with laminate spalted maple for the back and sides. The spruce looks to be reasonable quality with tight straight grains on the two top pieces though I don't think highest grade as there is a bit of wave in the grain lines. I also like the look of spalted maple, but not so much on the top of instruments so pleased to see it on the back and sides here. They are bookmatched too and the spalting on this example is not too severe. I will say though that I prefer more contrast with top and back woods so the pale on pale look here is not to my personal taste, but to be fair the maple is more interesting to look at than the more normal flat coloured mahogany. I find the Snail model naming a touch confusing so not clear where the 380 line sits, but it seems to be a little above the more entry level laminate instruments, but below the more expensive all solid models.

Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele body

The bridge is the usual Snail batwing shape and is a through body style made from what they bill as ebony. The wood is clearly stained though as the staining is not even on the top edge leaving some paler patches which irritates me. Saying that though it's extremely smooth and low profile so not a huge hunk of wood on the top. That holds a bone compensated saddle with string spacing of 44mm.

Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele bridge

Decoration is a little generic for a spruce topped instrument as they have gone with abalone purfling around the top and sound hole. To be fair though, unlike some abalone this is quite dark and subdued and doesn't look too chintzy at all. Around the top and back is additional dark wood binding which works nicely enough to break up the pale faces. The body is then finished in a satin coat which is smooth, not thick and nicely applied.

Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele decor

Inside is very tidy with thin braces and notched linings. The top is also extremely thin which is nice to see.

Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele inside

The neck is made of mahogany with joints in the heel and headstock, the heel being particularly noticeable. It's nicely finished in more satin and extremely smooth. It tapers down to a rounded and skinny nut profile like a lot of Snail ukes at 34mm wide and 27mm G to A. It's far too skinny for my tastes, but your mileage may vary.

The fingerboard is made of ebony which, if the bridge is anything to go by, is likely also stained dark. It's in good shape though and even in colour. It's bound down the sides in a dark wood which hides the ends of the 18 frets joined at the 14th. There are no sharp edges here. Abalone position dots face out at the 5th, 7th, 10th, double 12th and 15th and these are paired with white side dots.

Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele neck

Beyond the bone nut is the usual Snail headstock shape which I have always liked for being a little different. Again it's faced in more dark wood which gives it a kind of 3D look, and yes, again, the logo still reads Snoie to me... that's inlaid in paler wood.

Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele headstock

The tuners are generic sealed chrome gears which work ok, but are very samey and i'd much prefer open gears.

Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele tuners

It comes strung with D'Addario clear fluoro strings and comes with the usual Snail branded gig bag. Fair play to Snail as they were, I believe, one of the first brands to consistently offer a half decent bag with your purchase. Kala are still to catch up here (largely). And the RRP on this is listed as £259.99. I think that is actually expensive considering you can get all solid ukes from the likes of Enya and Uma for a lot less or solid toppers from most other mainstream brands for less money. Bear in mind though that I have seen these regularly chipped down in price so I would shop around. The review scoring is based on the RRP though - bear that in mind!

Snail UKC-380 Concert Ukulele back

So largely decent so far and aside from niggles like the scruffy bridge finishing, parts bin tuners and skinny nut, it's pretty well put together. And, i'm not sure why, but with the playing, photographing and just looking at it the all pale look is actually growing on me for being quite different. It's extremely light too at 465g and balances very well. Setup too on this example is bang on, it's just a shame (for me) about the skinny nut.

The volume here is very good with no complaints. It'a punchy little thing. Sustain is not out of the park but perfectly passable and perhaps more expected from a concert body. It's not bad on this point, just not great.

I'll admit that when it arrived I was concerned about the wood choices on tone. Spruce is bright, maple is bright and bright on bright were never going to equate to the darker woody tone that I like. And whilst it certainly has a brighter edge there are actually more mids coming through in the tone to my ear meaning it's not a one trick pony or too shrill on the ears. Yes it's still brighter than I personally prefer, but more balanced than I expected too. 

Strummed it's peppy and jangly which is exactly what you want from a concert with a very clear voice which is nice to listen to and very rhythmical. The brightness reminds me more of a very peppy soprano, but I stress again that I don't think it's overly bright. Fingerpicked it can sound really pretty indeed with that crisp music box type tone which again is very pleasant. It's not a 5 start tone for sure, but it has it's own character and is a nice clear sounding uke that will suit many people.

I've rather liked looking at this one. It doesn't sweep the floor on most of the score categories due to minor gripes, but is still well made and has looks that are really growing on me. I'd certainly shop around though as I think the RRP is too rich for what you are getting, but they are regularly knocked down. 

Recommended if you can find one at a better price!


Model: Snail UKC-380
Scale: Concert
Body: Solid spruce top, laminate spalted maple back and sides
Bridge: Stained ebony, through bridge
Saddle: Bone, compensated
Spacing at saddle: 44mm
Finish: Satin
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 18, 14 to body
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 34mm, 27mm G to A
Tuners: Sealed chrome gears
Strings: D'Addario flouro
Extras: Gig bag
Weight: 465g
Country of origin: China
Price: RRP £259.99


Good core build
'Different' looks
Good volume
Peppy, jangly, typically concert voice
Not as bright a tone as expected


Generic tuners
Some slight finish issues
Skinny nut
Touch expensive?


Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and finish - 8.5 out of 10
Sound - 8.5 out of 10
Value for money - 8 out of 10 (at RRP)









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