definitely a piece of high-tech, engineered and produced in usa. the folks at blackbird really spent some thoughts on that one and came up with great engineering and sound without using a single bit of wood and still sustainable. from a price point this is significantly above middle class: rsp 1295 usd plus shipping. not exactly pocket money, but worth spending – provided you are happy with a bit of extravaganza looks.
i got mine from andreas david at gute-ukulele.de even before it appeared online 🙂 (ordering directly from blackbird in usa would have been even more expensive incl. shipping and customs).
- body and neck: ekoa® natural linen composite
- hollow neck, additional soundport on (hollow) headstock
- fretboard: richlite, 17 frets (12 to body), fretboard and side markers on 5, 7, 10 and 12
- bridge: richlite
- nut: graphtec tusq
- saddle: graphtec
- black gotoh upt tuners
- top in natural matte finish
- strings: re-entrant clear fluorocarbon (oasis bright?)
- weight: 594g
- length: 61cm (24in), body 28.5cm
- width: at bridge 20cm, at fretboard end 14cm
- height: 7.5cm (3in)
- fretboard width: 1st fret 36mm (1.4in), 12th fret 44mm (1.75in)
- string spacing at nut: 29mm (from g to a string)
- string spacing at 12th fret: 35mm
- scale: 38.1cm (15in)
first hands-on impressions
she came in a gator 4g gigbag and seemed quite heavy at first; after unpacking it became clear that a good part of that impression was caused by the sturdy gigbag. the gotoh upts tune like a breeze – but what else would you expect from geared tuners. this ukulele looks different and feels different: the soundboard reminds of matte finish wood, the rounded body and neck are glossy and polished with a slightly different fabric structure. yet the whole instrument seems to be indestructible. the unusual overall look is enhanced by the ovalish off-side soundhole and the glossy fretboard (matte fretboard can be ordered as custom option as well). the bottom-mounted strap pin will come handy, the body is really slippery and makes the uke a bit difficult to hold.
action is comfortably low, it plays like a breeze and i haven’t yet had any buzzes.
sound and intonation
intonation is really spot on all the way up the neck, all notes are loud and clear with a nice sustain. when i strummed the first few chords i almost dropped the uke: this thing is loud, much louder than i had expected from a concert uke. even the higher notes are still loud and clear. ok, admittedly this is my first ukulele in this price range so i cannot really judge whether an all-wooden uke would be comparable (i have some doubts).
the hollow neck construction not only lets you feel the music in your left thumb, it is also a great help for any headstock-mounted clip tuner. i prefer the planet waves micro headstock tuners (pw-ct-12, available on amazon and elsewhere) which is already highly responsive on standard necks – here the responsiveness of the tuner is on par with what you would get from a pickup tuner.
despite the uke being completely free of wood it still sounds like good old tonewood without any “plasticky” bits – to my ears the blackbird marketing promises of “naturally warm sound, feel and finish” are fully kept.