Flight Carabao Lite Baritone Ukulele - SUS exclusive - REVIEW

5 May 2024

Flight Carabao Lite Baritone Ukulele - SUS exclusive - REVIEW

Occasionally Got A Ukulele gets hold of something to review very early, or a uke already causing a buzz. This is both of those things. This week I'm looking at the new Flight Carabao Lite Baritone Ukulele, exclusive to Southern Ukulele Store.

Flight Carabao Lite Baritone Ukulele

If you have heard that 'C word' before (it's a Philippine variety Mango by the way) it's because the Southern Ukulele Store in the UK had previously partnered with Flight to make a store exclusive model called the Carabao. I reviewed the tenor version and thought it was excellent. Following up on that the store wanted to develop something at a lower price but still delivering some higher end appointments. Enter stage left the Carabao Lite models, available in both tenor and baritone. This is SUS's TENTH store exclusive model too!


And as for that introduction, in something of a staggering turn of events at the date of publishing this review (and i've only had it just over a week) all the baritone stock is now sold out and I think the tenors have too. Talk about a buzz! In fact THIS baritone is the very last one they have. So why am I reviewing it? Well, because nobody knew they would create such demand and more importantly, the store are getting more of them later in the year. So you can treat this as if it were a 'pre-release' review if you see my point!

This is a modern shaped double bout baritone that follows the template of a few of the other Flight ukes and is immediately recognisable for that. Whilst the original Carabao was an all solid wood affair, in saving money this one keeps the same wood combination, but with solid spruce top and laminate back and sides. The spruce here has some variation in the grain so it may not be top grade, but I rather like the darker striped effect on the edges of the bouts which are nicely bookmatched. Mango is a wood that varies dramatically from sheet to sheet so there are some of these i've seen with more figuring on the back than this one, though I rather like this for being more simple. There's a pronounced curve to the back on this and in the central area the mango wood has a shimmery almost quilted flame to it in the right light. Again we are looking at another pale on pale ukulele (this must now be about my fifth this year - is that a trend), but I think it all comes together well here and looks great.

Flight Carabao Lite Baritone Ukulele body

For the bridge, out goes the pin style and they've gone with a more standard tie bar made of Indian Rosewood. I don't know if that's much a cost saver, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with a regular tie bar and many people prefer them. It's all very tidy and fitted with a compensated bone saddle. Spacing here comes in at 44mm.

Flight Carabao Lite Baritone Ukulele bridge

Decoration is simple, but I am glad it is there in the same way I was glad on other 'pale on pale' instruments as the woods need something to break them up. Rather than going dark, the binding here is pale cream but works in the same way and creates a division between the faces that works well. The sound hole gets a simple abalone / ivoroid ring and the body finish differs from the big brother insofar as it is satin not gloss. SUS say that they chose this as on cheaper ukes with laminate a satin coat can help sound and I would agree with that. (In fact, I would agree with that on most ukes). It's all very tidy too. Then the divisive bit. This comes with a pick guard that is very much reminiscent of the guard on the Flight Iris. Whereas I found the guard on the Iris to be far too stark in contrast, this is made of a sliver of mango wood and blends with the look of the instrument very nicely. I know that pick guards divide opinion, but I really like how this looks myself. More importantly though, SUS advise that the next stocks will come with the pickguard un-attached so you can choose if you want to fit it or not. That's a nice idea. Also on the body you will see a jack socket as, like several Flight ukes, this comes with an active Double brand pickup. I won't re-hash my purely subjective view on this (would rather a choice of acoustic), but this is light weight, has no ugly side panel and uses cell batteries so most of my gripes are removed.

Flight Carabao Lite Baritone Ukulele decor

Inside looks tidy with an X braced lower bout top and notched linings. It's very tidy in there too.

Flight Carabao Lite Baritone inside

The neck wood isn't specified (I won't guess at it) but is satin coated like the body and appears to come with an adjustable truss rod too. That tapers down to usual slightly rounded Flight profile, but with a very roomy 38mm nut and 30mm string spacing. That's nice.

The fingerboard is made of more Indian rosewood with some nice grain to it, but still even in colour. It's in great condition and nice and smoothly dressed down the sides.  There is no risk of sharp fret ends here regardless as Flight have used the 'semi-hemi' frets you see on their higher end models which are smooth as silk. You get 19 of those joined at the 14th. The fret markers follow the original Carabao with offset pearl lozenge shapes at the 5th, 7th, 10th, larger one at the 12th and 15th spaces. These cleverly act as both outward facing marks but also side marks which I like.

Flight Carabao Lite Baritone Ukulele neck

Beyond the bone nut is a more traditional slot head rather than the single 'hoop' you see on many Flight ukes. I've got nothing against the more traditional style here and it looks classy against the body with it's facing of glossy piano black wood. The Flight logo sits in the top face in a shimmery pearl.

Flight Carabao Lite Baritone Ukulele headstock

The tuners match the original in the form of  side mounted open gears by Prowel, but this time in chrome. They work really well too. You'll also note on the back of the headstock the SUS logo showing this is an exclusive.

Flight Carabao Lite Baritone Ukulele tuners

Finishing things off aside from that pickup are a set of black nylon strings with wound 1st and 2nd (as used by Flight on their Aurora baritone on which I thought they worked well - think they are made by D'Addario), and a blue padded branded gig bag. The bag is not the same quality as their higher end red bags, but it's still really pretty good. And the price is something SUS were focussed on in making the spec cuts to make this a 'Lite' version as that moniker would mean nothing if it was not affordable. For the baritone this comes in at a remarkable £199 and the tenor is even less. That's extremely tempting money for a baritone with not a lot else below it in price (and certainly not much, if anything at all with specs like this). For the baritone curious ukulele player (which my emails suggest there are quite a few!) - this is a total no-brainer. In fact, considering the first batch sold out before they could even get one sent to me tells me that my endorsement on that point wasn't needed! The demand is there!

Flight Carabao Lite Baritone Ukulele back

You can see that I am very taken with this one. The build and finish are great with nice appointments. And there is something about the looks of this one I love but can't put my finger on. I think it's the satin and pale look that kind of doesn't remind me of a ukulele or a guitar or.. dunno! Maybe it's the simplicity which actually when you look closer is not so plain. It kind of comes across as something a one off from a local luthier would come up with. I love it. 

Naturally, coming from SUS the setup on this is bang on. It's a nice uke to hold with not a huge amount of weight at 855g and balances nicely too.

Baritones rarely struggle on the basics of volume and sustain with those lower strings and much more body real estate and so it is the case here. Tons of volume and even more sustain that rings on and on. Very good.

Tone wise I found this one pleasing too. Whilst I regularly say I like darker sounding tone woods on ukuleles, that really applies more to the smaller scales (and particularly soprano). Darker sounds on a baritone with the deeper register can sound a bit boomy and overwhelming to my ear so it's nice to see the spruce is balancing things here. It's naturally a lower overall tone, but there is quite a lot of range in the tone here with some clear highs coming through. Also with some cheaper baritones I find they can lose their way and get muddy if you are just playing first position cowboy chords, but this one is impressively clear strummed simply like this. I like it, though I think baritones are more about playing melody and chord melody all over the neck.

Fingerpicked this is very nice to listen to (and play) with the lingering sustain giving you lots of character to play with (even if your play is, once again, shoddy like mine is in the video.. it was early...). This has a nice chimey sound up the neck again with that breadth of tone that stops it being a one trick pony. Never mind this being a 'good sounding uke' - this is simply a good sounding stringed instrument. And, no, i'm not saying this is the highest end tone, but for the money it's superb.

I always like looking at ukulele store exclusives for the simple reason that no store in their right mind would put their own name on something that was a dud. And so it is here, because this is a great uke for a superb price. You really wouldn't notice the spec cuts that make this a 'lite' in any way I don't think and for the asking price, this is punching WELL above it's weight. HIGHLY recommended. Keep an eye on that new stock!


Model: Flight Carabao Lite
Scale: Baritone
Body: Solid spruce top, laminate mango back and sides
Bridge: Indian rosewood tie bar
Saddle: Bone, compensated
Spacing at saddle: 44mm
Finish: Satin
Neck: Unspecified
Fingerboard: Indian Rosewood
Frets: 19, 14 to body
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 38mm, 30mm D to E
Tuners: Prowel open gears
Extras: Double brand pickup, Gig bag
Strings: Black nylon 1st and 2nd with silverwound bass strings
Weight: 855g
Country of origin: China
Price: £199


Great 'different' looks
Great build and finish
Nice fingerboard
Great volume and sustain
Broad tonal range
Clear tone
Terrific value


Let me have an acoustic only version.


Looks - 9.5 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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