There are two kinds of reviews that can be posted for an instrument or other type of product.
1. No Strings Attached Review (Thank my father in-law for the name)
These reviews are of items and instruments that I did not have enough time with to do a full comprehensive review. Most of the items are either items I tried at a fest, in a store, it belongs to a friend, or even demo/prototype items that cannot be taken off premises.
The review will be brief and will cover many of the points I cover in a full review but I will not rate them at the end of the review. Simply I will just give my overall impression and hope that at a later time I will be able to do a full review of the product when and if I am give sufficient time to review it thoroughly. If I do have the opportunity to conduct a full review I will make sure to post a link at the top of the No Strings Attached review to the Full Review.
2. Full Review
A Full Review is one that I have a lot more time with the instrument or product, 1-2 months if possible. The reason is that most instruments sound different as time goes by. In my experience with wood instruments, such as guitars and ukuleles, after the first 1000 strums or more the sound becomes more stable. It also stays in tune longer and that is when you really hear how it sounds. Most ukuleles sound good when you buy them, but do they stay that way? Does the sound change? How does it change? Does it stay in tune ever? Not to mention intonation and feel over time.
The layout will be simple. Specs, description, Ratings with small explanations of the rating, a brief conclusion, and final thoughts to rap it. At the bottom of the review will be a summary of all the scores for quick viewing.
All ratings will be on a 5 point scale, very simple and easy to understand and compare.
The reviews will be rated in the following areas:
What is the first thing that people notice? What it looks like, but that is a minor part of what makes a uke good or bad, Unless you are in a ukulele death metal band, than looks are the most important thing. (If you are actually in a ukulele death metal band please e-mail me, sounds fun!)
I will rate 2 areas:
First look – Basically how does it look from afar. The 5 foot test.
Fit and finish – What does it look like up-close. Is the finish even? Glue marks, look of the wood grain, inlays, even the inside (binding and support).
When it comes down to it this is what counts the most. This is where it gets subjective so I will try to only rate measurable attributes and use descriptors for others in hopes that people can compare one ukulele to another. The goal is to help people find the sound they are looking for, and some things like mellow, bright, or tinny are things people are looking for, and none is better than the other.
I will rate 4 areas
Sound type – mellow, bright, muted, tinny, and the list can go on.
Intonation – does it stay in tune up the neck?
Volume – How loud is it?
Sustain - Not as important on a ukulele, but good to know for deciding on the “right” sound.
A ukulele can look awesome and sing like a bird, but how does it feel to play. many factors come into play when it comes to the feel of an instrument. Feel makes up for a good portion of what people like and dislike about an instrument. I will try to rate the items I can and describe those that cannot be quantified or simply should not be.
I will rate 5 areas
String height - Some like it high others low, so I will simply use High, Medium, and Low
Neck radius depth – another subjective area, so I will measure it at the 5th fret. (Most commercially made uke necks are 3/4″ thick)
Frets – how high are the frets? Is it easy to make a solid note?
Tuning – If it is hard to tune than it is likely you will not tune it properly. Are the tuners too close? how well do they hold? Are they easy to use?
Comfort – Some instruments are not easy to hold and play. The odd shapes or placement of the bridge can effect this. also how the neck meets the body can effect it along with thickness of the neck.