A review of the Mahalo Les Paul ukulele.

Right so I was originally messing about my my lil sisters Ohana uke while she was wandering around Spain for part of the Summer. Of course when I expressed orgasmic delight at playing it she went and bought me a Les Paul electro-acoustic model as my first uke.

So what do I have to say about it after three months of ownership? Well I do love it.  There’s simply no getting away from the fact that it is delicious to look at. It’s slightly larger than a standard soprano ukulele, but considering the fact that at 5’10” I’m slightly larger than the average ukulele player this is definitely a good thing. It comes pre-strung with Aquila strings, this for those who don’t know is a wonderful thing. Most uke’s come pre-strung with knicker elastic. They’re hard to tune, and impossible to keep in tune once you do. Where as Aquila’s are easy to keep in tune once the initial stretching period is over with.

For a mass produced instrument the finish is good, not excellent, but good. There are several small imperfections in the varnish, and the dye beneath it. The tuners are good quality and have never needed adjustment to hold tune. The action might be slightly high for a lot of players, but since I have kind of strong fingers don’t have any problems playing it myself. That said when I do restring it I will probably reduce the action very slightly.

I did come up against a few minor niggles. The wires inside the body of my uke buzzed at first. That problem however was easily fix by unscrewing both of the external panels in turn and sticking the wires down with miracle tape, aka duct tape. Then I found that it was still buzzing when I played the C string with any sort of gusto. After a little effort I traced that issue to a cable tie inside that hadn’t been trimmed down, and so was vibrating against one of the braces on the back of the soundboard. So out came long pair of scissors, and a long jewellers tweezers and that was fixed.

Other than that there are some very minor intonation issues with some frets beyond the 9th or 10th fret. But they are extremely minor, and since I have something of a tin ear from too many concerts, nightclubs and raves in my 20′s, to my mind they add to the unique sound of my particular uke. Although they do make my puppy, and violin/guitar playing partner wince a lot of the time, she being one of those perfect pitch type people. (By minor I mean that on a chromatic tuner the note on a given fret is either only very slightly high or low. And I mean very slightly.)

My only real gripe with this ukulele isn’t actually with the instrument, but rather with the instrument bag it comes with. It’s flimsy, badly stitched rubbish. Frankly if you wrapped it in brown paper you would be vastly improving the situation. I wouldn’t trust it to keep dust off of my uke. So the very first thing I bought was a hard-case for my baby. I would strongly suggest you do too.

Now there are those who say that only about 1 in 3 Mahalo Les Pauls are actually playable. So perhaps I got lucky. But I have since getting mine, fiddled around with a few in random music shops , and so far I have yet to find one that’s as unplayably awful as some people make them out to be.

I have yet to talk about how it sounds when played as an electric-ukulele. This is because right now I  don’t have the means to test it. But you can expect a review of this aspect in the New Year. Yup there’s an Orange mini-amp that’s seductively calling my name.

I feel that the Les Paul is a pretty good first uke. It’s a joy to play, a joy to look at, and it makes me smile everytime I pick it up. It’s a budget uke so you do get what you pay for, which is relatively cheap and cheerful. But be warn this one will lead to a very severe case of Ukulele Addiction Syndrome. I should know I’m already planning on not just buying an nice concert uke in the future, but on actually building more than a few also. Stay tuned for more information on that in the near future.

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