June 26, 2009 by Tim
Today we are looking at an Oscar Schmidt Bell ukulele (OU250Bell). This being a No Strings Attached Review I will not be rating this instrument. The bell is one of the 10 ukuleles I had the pleasure to play while I was at the U.S. Music Corp. factory recently. I was only able to play it for a short time, but I am hoping that I will have an opportunity to do a full review some day. (Wink Wink, Nudge, Nudge Tom)
Specs: Bell-shape body, solid trembesi back, sides & top (similar to mahogany in color & tone), antiqued white binding (uneven color for an aged look), colorful trim around top, abalone soundhole rosette, bound rosewood fretboard with dot inlays, chrome enclosed Grover guitar-style gears with ebony buttons, abalone logo in headstock. Satin finish, GHS strings. Hardshell case included. (Thank you Elderly Music)
First look:I have to say that I have been looking at this ukulele for a little while. It is beautiful and very striking. To my knowledge one of the few new bell shaped ukes under $900. The white binding with the red, green and yellow inlay on the body with a abalone rosette around the sound hole make it hard not to notice from a distance, never mind the shape and the wood grain. I think the trembese wood the second most pretty wood next to the spalted mango of the OU7.
Fit and Finish: The instrument that I played was the prototype and it was almost flawless, it had a small binding issue just above the sound hole on the neck. Very smooth and even matte or satin finish, which I prefer. the frets were perfectly filed. everything was straight and nice. Strings where nice and low (Tom Ferrone explained to me that low strings are not always desirable to some ukulele players, traditional ukes have a higher string stance) I took a look inside and the construction is a little different, I tried to get shots of it, but could not. They use the normal slotted kerfing like everyone else for the majority but it switches to a thinner strip at the bell curve at the butt. I assume it is either a prototype thing or just how it is done.
Sound Type: Sounds like most mahogany wood ukuleles. A mellow/slightly muted warm sound.
Intonation: Not enough time with instrument to say
Volume: Nice projection, seemed to ring out. not the loudest I have ever played.
Sustain: Notes rang out and seem to be on par with other solid wood ukes. Strings can have as much to do with it as the way the instrument is made.
String Height: Strings are nice and low how I like them. no way to measure while I was there.
Neck Radius Depth: A nice C neck with the average 3/4″ thickness. (I am guessing, it felt pretty standard) My big hands had plenty to hold onto, but it did not feel too big.
Tuning: With Grover geared tuners it is really easy to tune it. I believe it is a 16:1 ratio and the ebony tuning heads where very comfortable, vey smooth.
Comfort: The one thing about most Oscar Schmidt ukuleles is that the head is kind of heavy. It makes the balance a little different. if you hold it just inback of the heal it is almost balanced, instead of up in the body. A trade off for really nice tuning machines. Playing it is really nice, I was not sure how the shape would be to hold while standing, it was easy to hold like most other ukes. It has a big area for your arm to hold it against you. The frets are well dressed so you will not catch your finger while strumming. The best part for me is the was prestty fast, meaning switching from one chord to the next was nice and easy, barely have to press to get the notes to just sing, no matter where you hit the fret. One thing I would change, and it may be a prototype thing is that the binding could have been rounded down so that it was not so sharp.
Over all nice ukulele, and I look forward to hopefully being able to do a full review someday soon.
Please comment on your experience with this ukulele.
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