Review For the Beltona Blue Soprano Uke
By Paul D Moore, June 2005
This is the second instrument I own from the Beltona Range of Resonator Ukuleles. The first one I got and reviewed is the Tenor Steel (here on the site). I am even happier at having again gone for another member of the Beltona Family.
While I was in New Zealand this year playing at a festival I decided to pick it up myself. Unfortunately I never got to the North Island, but as luck would have it my daughter who was traveling at the same time picked it up for me. (as a result I’ve now turned her into a Uke player!).
With the crazy prices ukuleles seem to demand these days one should be very wise in choosing the right ukulele for the right job. Vintage Ukes have gone sky high but there are some good cheap wooden ukes out there for around the $200 mark. In my opinion they out weigh the $200 plastic ones. A Beginner may find even a playable uke for $25 but I digress lets talk Resonator Ukuleles.
There are a few Resonator models about. These by nature command higher prices but the difference in quality and sound is vast and once you start thinking of buying an instrument unseen then you better look out as we are going in way over the $500 range and that is serious money. So if you need a ukulele that projects well like I do (I play a lot of solo One Man band gigs without amplification) or battle to be heard inside a band you cannot beat a resonator Uke!!
I have tried Johnson’s, and Nationals* both old and new (the older* ones are better) these are at each end of the scale re price. The Johnson for its price is not worth the bother unless you want to strip it down change the cone and try and rebuild the whole thing. The National (for me) has a narrow neck and thus is not user friendly and tends to use its name to command higher prices. So why an instrument with a body molded from glass reinforced resin instead of steel? Well first it’s cheaper and second it sounds beautiful!
The other delights this Uke has is it looks like steel that has been painted and the paint job is tough resilient and perfect. Another great asset this Ukulele has is its weight. (As stated in the blurb on the site its 35% lighter than a metal Instrument.)
For anyone who travels this is a fantastic advantage. There are no problems when getting on a plane with this seemingly weightless Uke, and if you travel with a few instruments then you know what a hassle that can be. Another thing about the paintwork it makes the uke resistant to sweat. I live in the Middle East (Israel) and sweat is a major problem with wood and steel instruments as the salt eats into both materials. Not so with this baby it whips of clean without a mark. Finally the Rose wood fingerboard is beautiful and its color is rich and blends nicely with the instrument, which like all Beltonas are beautifully crafted.
OK down to its playing: I have been working on more finger picking of late to supplement my chord playing rhythm style. This is the best instrument I have for its action and fingerboard response as I run up and down finger picking its fantastic. I am blown away at the sound I get as I play down to the last fret!!! Its response is better than any of my other expensive Ukes. The sound projection is grand. Its seems to have a mellowness that carries weight which is an unusual trait in a resophonic instrument however this is most likely due to nylon strings together with a quality cone and non metallic body.
The Hilo Black strings work fine (I am a big fan of these strings) but i will experiment with some Aquilla ones in the future. I have this tuned at GCEA , but will use ADF#B and other tunings in due course. I have also (like the Tenor) had put in 2 strap pegs so it hangs round my neck a must for a one man band. I recommend this instrument fully especially if you never had the chance to play one. In future I would like “A Steel” but dreams are fun and this will be more than enough for my needs right now.
One last note I run a voluntary project here in Israel (I work with Jewish and Arab Children teaching them Ukulele and Kazoo its called Ukuleles for Peace) when the kids tried the Beltona Blue uke they where captivated by it. but right now they make do with cheap $25 Mahalos with better strings on. More dreams 20 kids with Beltona Blue Ukes!!! Aloha Paul Moore.
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