If you are speaking about the most sweet-sounding string instrument, the ukulele easily takes the first spot. Considered as the quintessential instrument for Hawaiian music, the ukulele has made its way into genres like country, pop and rock. From Elvis Presley in the movie Blue Hawaii to Eddie Vedder, the lead-vocalist of Peal-Jam in the album Ukulele songs, artists have loved and used the instrument for its tone. It is surprising to see that even tough guys like the legendary undefeated heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano and Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) of the WWF fame have had their large hands playing the tiny instrument. Being a fun and easy-to-carry instrument, an ever increasing number of people want to take up playing the instrument as a hobby. A beginner, not knowing much about the instrument, would just walk into a local store to buy a cheaper and more affordable model being sold, without even trying it out. As in most cases, these cheap ukuleles end up being a toy like instrument and moreover a disaster to play.
But there are a few well-made Ukuleles, which fit right into the budget and are great sounding as well. One of which is the Harley Benton UK-10S. Harley Benton, owned by Saein Musical Instrument Co., Ltd., South Korea., is well known for manufacturing popular and high quality guitar models for companies like Ibanez, Epiphone, and Peavey at their factory in Gaomi, China.
The Harley Benton UK-10S Ukulele is a really well built instrument. It is a concert-size ukulele, with a solid spruce top, mahogany back & sides, okoume neck, rosewood fingerboard, dot-inlays, 18 frets, a scale length of 377 mm, saddle width of 35 mm, rosewood bridge and chrome die-cast tuners, which are a steal at such an affordable price. The ukulele comes in a Satin Natural finish, which is subtle and beautiful.
The Spruce top is a soft but strong tonewood which is also crisp and vibrant. It offers a loud and bright tone, while still keeping it warm and full. The warmth is more of the romantic warmth. It also has great dynamics over a wide range of frequencies. The Mahogany back and sides offer thick low mids and high mids. Both the woods balance each other’s tone beautifully. Rosewood has always been a favourite and moreover a standard for fretboards and bridges. This €55 ukulele has a great tone and the strings hold their tuning pretty well once all they are stretched enough, all thanks to the die-cast tuners. The very interesting part is the use of Okoume. It is a light weight and durable wood, which has a tight grain pattern. It is similar to maple in tone and is bright. It works well as a more affordable option to maple. The frets are very well finished with no sharp edges, making it easy to hold chords. It is a bit difficult for beginners to play higher up the neck because of the nut-slots being a bit high, but a quick setup to deepen the nut would fix that. The Harley Benton UK-10S is exclusively available at www.Thomann.de for a price of €55 for the ukulele and €66 for a combo set consisting of the Harley Benton UK-10S, a pack of Pyramid Ukulele Strings and Rockbag RB20001B. Thomann also offers a 30-day-money-back warranty and a 3-year warranty, which is an icing over the cake. Inspite of all the great construction material, the actual sound from this model is not very impressive at all and one should not compare it with an expensive, well tuned Ukulele. You can take an example of how the UK-10s sounds and judge for yourself. Surprisingly, the Harley Benton UK-10s holds the tuning for quite long time unlike other sub 50 Euro Ukes which lose their tone in 20-30 seconds of playing.
Considering the super low price point, this Ukulele performs and sounds extremely well and I would definitely recommend buying this for yourself or even for your child to get his/her hands on a string instrument.
In a note that George Harrison (needs an introduction?? Seriously?) wrote in 1999, he calls the ukulele, a “UKE” and the ones who play it as “Crackers”. “You can’t play it and not laugh!” says George. He writes, “I love them, the more-the merrier!”, and appreciates the fact that it is so simple to carry.