flight ukulele have produced a limited run of only 50 of these ukuleles made in hawaii; at the same time they made another ten from koa (model wus-4). one of the fifty mahoganys made it to me – and i was pleasantly surprised. i’ve read some high praise, statements like “i never expected this instrument to be so good, it’s playability and sound are on par with hawaiian ukuleles in price ranges beyond 900€” sound quite bold to say the least. even when not coming from the manufacturer. the wus-3 are originally sold for 300€, the koa wus-4 will lower your bank account by 420€. once again i bought mine from andreas at gute-ukulele.de.
- body: laminate mahogany, satin open-pore finish
- neck: mahogany (3 pieces)
- fingerboard: pacific walnut; 15 frets (12 to body) with single dot markers on 5, 7 and 10 on fretboard and side
- bridge: walnut
- nut & saddle: bone, saddle is compensated
- open geared (4:1) tuners with black buttons
- strings: japanese fluorocarbon (didn’t come with any brand indication)
- weight: 350g
- length overall: 54cm (21 ¼”)
- upper bout: 12,8cm
- lower bout: 16,8cm
- depth: 4,5cm at neck joint, 5,5cm at bottom
- fretboard width: 36mm at nut
- string spacing: 30mm at nut, 37mm at 12th fret (measured from outer edge g-string to outer edge a-string)
- scale: 35cm (~13 ¾”) from nut to bridge
- no serial number, but we know it’s one of only 50 ever produced
first hands-on impressions
“reduce to the max” was my first thought when i took the uke out of the gigbag. and indeed, there is nothing to distract the eye – it’s just plain mahogany with an open-pore satin finish. not even bookmarked wood, just plain. the body is built from only three pieces of wood: top, bottom, sides. some light bracing and a foot block are visible inside, all cleanly glued together; i couldn’t see a single excess drop anywhere. the fact that this is laminated mahogany does not matter to me at all, i am convinced that a good thin laminate like this one used here does not sound any different than massive wood. might be slightly noticeable on huge instrument bodies like guitars (i even doubt that), but for sure not on these small scale instruments i am dealing with. i am convinced that laminate is not autmatically a sign of poor craftmanship or instrument quality.
anyway, back to topic: fret edges are smooth, the neck is a bit wider than usual and has a nice flat d-shape profile. really a pleasure to play, especially with the low action: i measured barely 0,5mm at first fret and 2,75mm at 12th fret – barré chords are definitely a breeze to play on this one.
two things caught my eye: 1) the soundhole appears somewhat smaller than expected and in fact it measures only 47mm (compared to 52mm of the makala soprano). 2) the walnut bridge is lighter in colour than the walnut fretboard and i wonder whether it would look better with a slightly darker bridge. don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t look wrong or bad in any way, it’s just a thought popping up in my head.
as you can see on the pictures the bridge is just a small square, minimalized in size. and yet it gives you the choice on string attachment: you could tie the strings (with the typical timber hitch as shown here) or you could secure the string end with your favourite stopper knot. (i prefer the classical figure-8, perhaps a stevedore knot on the thin a-string – but of course you could as well use another one like e.g. the classical ashley stopper) [note to self: write a dedicated post about useful knots on ukuleles 🙂 ]
the included gigbag is “light and stylish” (according to flightmusic website). well, yes, it is. slightly padded, but i wouldn’t trust it to significantly protect the instrument from catching dings and dongs on a journey. good enough for comfortably carrying the uke and some spare strings it is by far not as flimsy as the blue one that came with the flight travel soprano, but still. i am used to keeping my ukes in a bit more protective housings (hard or soft cases) so it seems i will be in the market for an affordable soprano hardcase soon – better safe than sorry…
well balanced, fully matching my expectations of a mahogany uke with fluorocarbon strings. intonation is spot on everywhere on the neck, even in frets 12+. as said above, barré chords are a breeze due to the low action – you really don’t want to put it down again once you started playing. the low end is nice and warm, the high end is clear but not too bright; overall the sound is well balanced (did i mention that already?) with a typical warmth of mahogany.