24 Mar 2024

Snail UKC-470 Quilted Ash Concert Ukulele - REVIEW

Back this week with a ukulele from a brand that has grown to be extremely popular in the uke world. This is the Snail UKC-470 Quilted Ash Concert.

Snail UKC-470 Concert Ukulele


After a few weeks at the more expensive end of the scale, this offering from Snail is more at the value end, being made from all laminate tone woods in the body. That's cool with me and as I always say, i'd take a good quality laminate over a poorly made solid wood uke that is 'solid for the sake of it' any day of the week. Yet for laminate, this is clearly not a boring hunk of brown saplele but rather a striking ukulele made from a wood I have not reviewed before.

SUMMARY VIDEO REVIEW

The UKC-470 is a standard double bout shaped concert uke with an outer laminate veneer of quilted ash. And striking it is indeed with it's swirly patterns that change in different light angles. The top back and sides are in two pieces each and the grain is pretty well bookmatched on all three. It's paler than I like with a ukulele, but this is a nice change from the other usually pale laminates - like spalted maple... I like how the darker patches here look more open pore than the paler ones which look kind of polished smooth. Interesting and different!

Snail UKC-470 Concert Ukulele body


The bridge is the usual Snail design being a kind of batwing shape through body bridge made of ebony. It's reasonably finished too. Sitting in that is a compensated saddle made from an unspecified material that looks like bone to me. String spacing here is 42mm.

Snail UKC-470 Concert Ukulele bridge


There is no other decoration to this ukulele, but then I guess the looks here are all about the wood grain in the laminate veneer. Saying that, I do think it looks a little bare and needs something else. Adding to the 'slightly different' look are two sound holes, one small one on the upper top face and a side sound port on the lower bout. Because of the lack of binding the laminate construction is obvious on the edges giving it a kind of agricultural look rather than high end which is a bit of a shame considering the wood grain and choice of a wood like ebony. I am nit picking though. The body is finished in an open pore satin which is pretty tidy too.

Snail UKC-470 Concert Ukulele finish


Inside is very tidy with notched linings and thin bracing. The top is braced vertically on the lower bout below the central brace and either side of the bridge plate. I can't see any glue mess here.


Snail UKC-470 Concert Ukulele inside


The neck wood isn't specified (Snail don't tend to for some reason), but looks pale and is probably something like sapele or okoume. That is finished in satin to and is made of three pieces with joints in the heel and headstock that you can easily see. It tapers to a slightly squashed but still rounded profile and has a very generic 35mm nut width (27mm G to A) which is too narrow for my own tastes, but your mileage may vary here.

The fingerboard is made of ebony with brown wooden edge binding. The condition looks a little scruffy as do the ends of the frets, though they are not sharp anywhere, so no real issue other than when looking at them closely. It has a fairly standard 18 of those joined at the 14th.  Pearl outward dots are placed at the 5th, 7th, 10th, double 12th and 15th and they are paired with small white side dots too.

Snail UKC-470 Concert Ukulele neck


Beyond the bone nut is the usual Snail headstock  - a shape I like as do I like the facing which doesn't quite meet the edges giving it a raised 3D effect. Once again the Snail logo is inlaid in wood and reads SNOIE to my eyes. When are they going to change that??

Snail UKC-470 Concert Ukulele headstock


The tuners are Snail branded sealed gears in chrome. Whilst the buttons are not overly large, I'm not a fan of chunky sealed gears on a ukulele and would prefer open tuners. These work ok generally, but there is a bit of slop before the turning which is a bit fiddly on accuracy.

Snail UKC-470 Concert Ukulele tuners


It is finished off with strings that I found hard to track down, but think they are D'Addario. It comes with the usual Snail branded gig bag (and once again, hats off to Snail as they were one of the first far eastern brands I recall including a bag back in the day). And that will set you back an RRP of a penny under £175, but shopping around will find that a bit cheaper in the uke stores. Either way, not a shameful price, even for a laminate.

Snail UKC-470 Concert Ukulele back


So something rather different looking, but of course that means it will probably divide opinions. Me, I like the grain, but it's a bit too pale for my tastes and needs some other decoration. It's striking though, and the core build seems sound and the finish is generally good. It feels very light too at only 460g and balances ok despite those tuners.

Basics first in volume and sustain. Both are passable, but not the loudest or longest I have heard. It works as a uke, but is a touch constrained to my ears, and because this is all laminate, time playing it is not going to open up the woods to improve that. Still, it's kind of introspective and laid back sounding which isn't offensive.

Being a laminate it's not going to have a tonal signature of the outer wood as it would if it was solid, but saying that I have no idea how quilted ash is likely to sound anyway! What we have here is a pleasant sound which is a touch on the brighter side, but not overly so. Strummed it's peppy and jangly, and sounds more soprano than concert, probably because of that lower than average sustain. It means it works ok as a rhythmical ukulele played this way, but I would still like a bit more punch and length to the tone. Fingerpicking gets very staccato for the same reason meaning you can't do much in the way of frills with the notes as they die off quite quickly. Saying all of that though, I personally think the sound is rather pleasant and pretty. As I said above, it's a  'laid back' tone - and quite relaxing. So a mixed bag on sound I think, but something about it is still pleasing me.

So, a lot of positives here and most of the negative issues i've raised are subjective points.  As such this is not a bad score at all for a very fair price. It's a decent light build, largely decent finishing and whilst the looks will be divisive, it's certainly striking. I'd like a bit more power myself, but it's not an unattractive sound. Not bad really!


UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Model: Snail UKC-470
Scale: Concert
Body: Quilted Ash laminate
Bridge: Ebony, through bridge
Saddle: Bone? Compensated
Spacing at saddle: 42mm
Neck: Unspecified
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 18, joined at 14th
Nut: Bone?
Nut width: 35mm, 27mm G to A
Tuners: Snail brand sealed gears
Strings: D'Addario?
Weight: 460g
Country of origin: China
Extras: Gig bag
Price: £175 RRP

UKULELE PROS

Interestingly different body look (if divisive)
Good core build
Largely decent finishing
A pretty tone
Fair price

UKULELE CONS

A little bare looking?
Generic nut width
Prefer open tuners 
Would like more punch and sustain

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 8.5 out of 10
Fit and finish - 8.5 out of 10
Sound - 8 out of 10 
Value for money - 9.5 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 8.6 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW


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

SAY THANKS WITH A BEER!

BECOME A GOT A UKULELE PATREON

OR THRU PAYPAL



THANKS!

4 comments:

  1. Very good review. Too bad the luthier didn't regard the grain pattern in the soundboard as a blank canvas on which to add some sort of unusual design or embellishment. Just a touch here or there might have added some oomph and visual drama despite not affecting the ukulele's 8/10 sound. Still, a very interesting instrument regardless.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It’s not for me although it looks well made I think the wood pattern looks like a pee stain

    ReplyDelete
  3. As you remarked, Barry, this uke has a striking-looking body due to the pattern of the wood grain, but nevertheless it does look rather bare. Snail seem to like through-body stringing holes, but I'm not keen. In this case, you would have to push a new string through the bridge hole and out through the side sound port in order to tie the knot, as the sound hole at the front is so small. As someone who likes to mess about with different strings, it looks looks less than ideal to me. The tone of the instrument was a bit shrill and bright for my taste, and I would want to change the strings to try and mellow it out a bit!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I bought one, so obviously I like the looks. It is quite quiet, with a smooth sound. but the personal sound hole makes up for it. For me it works well as a beginner ukulele that I can use to practice in the house or outside without annoying everyone! The personal sound hole works well in a group, as I hear
    my mistakes, but don’t broadcast too loud to the rest of the group.

    ReplyDelete

Please leave me a comment!