Beltona’s Metal-Bodied Soprano Ukulele Review By Pat Monteleone
About two years ago, in an effort to find a way to compete in volume with my various musical performing partners, I thought of buying a resonator ukulele and decided to check out Beltona. I figured that any company with enough chutzpah to locate its shop so far away from North America in a country as gorgeous as New Zealand ought to be investigated.
After reading some on-line reviews and visiting their nicely-designed web site, over the course of a few weeks time, I decided to get a Beltona. I contacted Steve Evans about a purchase. Steve was gracious and helpful, and he answered my many questions promptly, considering the baffling time-zone difference (it’s always tomorrow over there). I placed a deposit on a soprano model with a mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard, and diamond-dot pearl inlays. (all of Beltona’s instruments are custom-made, so one is able to request different inlays, engravings, etc.) I received the instrument on September 11, 2002, the one-year anniversary of the infamous terrorist attacks. The gloom I experienced at the start of that memorial day was tempered by the arrival of the Beltona.
The ukulele is solidly constructed of nickel-plated bell brass. The wide fingerboard allows for comfortable chord formation. (I had a chance to strum Pops Bayless’s National uke at last year’s UHoF Expo, and while I was very pleased with his uke’s tone and attributes, I found the National’s narrower fingerboard to be, well, noticeably narrower than the Beltona’s.)
All of the fittings of the Beltona are tight, and the finish of the wood and metal parts is clean and smooth. The instrument is hefty, as one would expect of an instrument made chiefly of heavy metal. Because of its weight, I’ve made adjustments to my playing method whenever I use it (I sit down). I am looking at non-marring methods for attaching a strap.
The tone of this ukulele is surprisingly mellow and warm, despite its metallic construction. There is no hint of a tinny sound. And, as expected, the Beltona is loud. I no longer worry about being drowned out by other instrumentalists. In fact, I have used my Beltona with a friend who plays a concert grand piano, and he is impressed with the little soprano’s ability to compete with that gigantic, voluminous monstrosity. The ukulele stays perfectly in tune up the neck, which attests to the close tolerances applied to its construction. The Beltona ukulele is a fine, high-quality instrument of stunning beauty, indubitably residing in a class of its own. It has a wonderful, pleasing tone. Finally, it is an attention-getter and a conversation piece; I have never played it in public without provoking stares of disbelief and comments suggesting surprise and awe.