Bad strings High action There has never been a better time in the history of music to be on the market for a beginner instrument.
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I've said many times recently that I am staggered at the sheer volume of new ukulele brands emanating from China these days. And the Caramel brand seems to be one that has a lot of people talking very positively.
Whether that is because they are genuinely good ukuleles or because they are ludicrously cheap I am not sure. Either way, I thought it would be good to see what the fuss was all about. These are also principally only available from the likes of Amazon and Ebay, so I immediately sneer a little as that means they will arrive straight from the factory with no setup.
In short, they have not been through the hands of a dealer. To make matters worse, they are not actually warehoused by Amazon, so ordering one means waiting for one to arrive from China, which in my case was a wait of four weeks. My concern that the are mainly supplied through Amazon as this one was is also marked by the fact that this brand amazon write a review ukuleles to have nothing but 5 star 'reviews' for their various products.
I always raise an eyebrow when I see that, especially when you consider that instruments like the Stagg US10 ukulele was one of the highest rated ukuleles on Amazon UK - a view I very much did NOT share. I'm not saying there are no objective reviews on such sites, but the majority seem to be from people who have no other experience of ukuleles and as such, saying it sounds 'brilliant' is a bit of a hollow statement and people who give five stars for things like 'it holds tuning'.
Any ukulele will hold tuning if it's set up correctly Still it arrived safely in a Caramel branded cardboard box, complete with the 'oh so sickly' strap line of 'Caramel melts in your heart' written down the side. I thought it melted in your mouth to be honest, but there you go.
The CCA is a standard shaped and scaled acoustic concert ukulele made from laminate zebrawood. The brand don't go to any great lengths to point out that it is made of laminate, but if the price hadn't convinced you that this isn't solid wood, let me confirm it.
As I always say, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but I still think they should make it clear.
And a word here about zebrawood laminates. Personally, I don't actually like it much. Sure, it's pretty enough I suppose, but I think it has become totally over-used by Chinese brands in their ukuleles. It's certainly not the first zebrawood ukulele I have looked at, and a quick search of ukuleles on Amazon.
You get the picture. It's absolutely clear to me that these originate from a small number of factories perhaps just a handful who are knocking them out in large batches, changing the makers label to suit.
Nothing wrong with that per se and it's understandable considering how many come from that country. What happened to originality? I suppose the counter-point to that is that there was a time when most ukuleles were made of mahogany, so maybe this is just a non-point.
For me though, this wood is SO striking that seeing so much of it get's extremely samey. Anyway, zebrawood it is, and striking because of that which is precisely the reason they use it. Looks, and not much else. This one is put together well enough, and is also complimented by some off white edge binding where the top and back meet the two piece sides.
That's nicely applied and compliments the zebrawood I think. Also decorating the top is an engraved sun motif. Seriously, is everyone putting sun motifs on ukuleles now? It's also nice enough I guess, but originality now seems to have gone out of the window! The top and back are bookmatched pieces and a glance at the edge of the sound hole shows it to be rather thick laminate too.
The back, incidentally, is slightly arched. Looking inside and we have notched kerfing linings and overly chunky braces.Whether you are a beginner looking to get yourself into ukuleles or trying to find a nice gift for your friend or kid, bundles are always a good idea.
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