Oscar Schmidt OU-26 Full Review

6

July 22, 2010 by Tim


As some know, my first uke was an Oscar Schmidt OU-2 and I still play it. On a whole it is an in expensive ukulele and it is very sturdy. I will admit for a little while OS had quality issues but since they moved the production from China to Indonesia it seems to have solved the issues.

The OU-26 is basically an OU-2 with 6 strings. The C and A Strings have an octave string with them (C is up and octave, A is down an octave) Other than that they are identical.  

Specs:
Concert
Body: Laminated Mahogany
Saddle : Bone
Nut : Bone
String : Aquila
Peg : Closed Gear chrome

Looks

First look: (4) The newer laminates from OS seem to be more red than before. I would almost say that the color is more of a cedar red. It is obvious that it is not an expensive uke since it has a plain white silk screen logo and it says “Aloha” at the top. I wish they would leave that off, it is really cheesy. One of the things that I think shows that it is at least of some quality is the binding on the fret board and the fret markers are actual inlays. The satin does not do much for it either. I have seen much nicer looking ukuleles. The fact that it has 6 strings will make most uke players pick it up above all other aspects.

Fit and Finish: (4) For the price it is really well made, saying that, it is a tank. The finish is very smooth and there are no glue marks or weird wood patterns that you may find on some other cheaper ukuleles. The laminate they use is very thick and makes it a bit heavy but sturdy. I would give this to any kid and not worry about serious damage. With a basic 3 piece neck with a nice smooth finish it is nice to play. The saddle could use a little work, it seemed kind of rough to the touch. One of my big gripes is that the edges are very sharp, not like a knife, but if you play it for an extended period it will leave a crease and become uncomfortable to play. Over all it is straight and all the parts that you would want someone to pay attention too are taken care of such as the nut and saddle are really well done and the frets are nice and dressed. I know that having the instruments setup in the USA helps with the end product.

Sound:

Sound Type: Fuller than any 4 string ukulele. The extra 2 strings make it almost lute sounding and give that base note that helps round out the sound without having to have another instrument like a guitar helping to boost the sound or having to have a low G string.

Intonation: (5) Intonation is perfect. The compensated saddle may have something to do with it. Also OS is constantly improving their ukes. Tom Ferone seems to always be tweaking the different ukuleles in the OS line to make them the best production ukes he can make.

Volume: (4) With the extra strings it is louder, but still not as loud as many of my other ukuleles. I think the thicker top is to blame for volume.

Sustain: (5)  I like the way that it sings. The Wrapped A it seemed to die sooner than the others. Not a big deal.

Feel:

String Height: (Medium) Very playable. The neck is nice and straight so the strings are at a really good height

Neck Radius Depth: (3/4″) Average radius depth for a C shaped neck.

Frets: (5) I really like it when the fret board has binding on it. It is a cheat in some ways, but you can’t feel any frets on the side of the neck. All the frets are dressed nicely. Not too low or high.

Tuning: (4) This is one of those instruments that if one string is off you will notice right away. Since there are an extra 2 strings it is harder to tune and only hit the one string you want to tune. I ended up using a pick to hit each string.

Comfort: (4)  HEAVY but you almost don’t notice it. Unlike the OU-2 it is very balanced. Usually the geared tuners make the head really heavy but not on this one. I think that since you know it has 6 strings you excuse that it is heavy. What bugs me is how the edges are not rounded at all. It can make it uncomfortable to play for an extended period of time.

Smell: (Elmer’s Glue)

Final Thoughts

I think that anyone who wants to have some fun and have a very different uke then this is a great addition to any ukulele players collection. I would not recommend this as a daily player though. I found that there are many songs that don’t sound right when played with it, like most songs. I really liked it for a list of Beatles songs like Let It Be, but beyond that it takes some trial and error to find the right songs to use it for. The other thing that I found is that I had to use a felt pick to get the full sound out of it, otherwise I was not hitting the low A and it sounded weird. Other than that I did like it a lot, too bad I had to give it away.

I figured that not very many people would be super excited about an Oscar Schmidt uke as a give-a-way so while I was checking out the Bluestone Folk Schools Uke building class I met Spencer, Joni’s son. Joni was nice enough to let me stay at her house so I would not have to rush home that same day. Her son Spencer is very talented and the night I stayed over we pulled all the ukes I brought to show people, I brought 6 in total, and Spence seemed to gravitate toward the OU-26. So the next morning I got up and took some pics of the ukulele and then handed it over with the promise that he would make a video. The rest is history.

All Rating on a scale of 1-5
Click here for an explanation of reviews

First Look 4
Fit and Finish 4
Sound Type Fuller than a 4 String
Intonation 5
Volume 4
Sustain 5
String Height Medium
Neck Radius Depth 3/4″
Frets 5
Tuning 4
Comfort 4
Smell Elmer’s Glue

Places to buy on the web:

Elderly Music : $75

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6 thoughts on “Oscar Schmidt OU-26 Full Review

  1. Joni says:

    Great reveiw, as always! As far as strumming the thing, I’ve found that I like to do the “one string, two string” on this uke. It sort of gives most songs a broken music box effect. Like you said, it doesn’t work with every song, but this technique does broaden the number of songs that sound cool on it. By the way, Spencer is still enjoying it, too.

  2. Laura says:

    I got to play with this exact instrument while Spencer and Joni were at our house this week. It’s a cool idea, having more octaves to play with, but the low A was just too deep for my taste. As mentioned already, it’s a fun uke to play – and the feel of the thing is satisfactory overall – but it has a limited playlist. Maybe a different tuning would make the octave jumps feel less severe?

    • UKULELE MIKE says:

      I disagree about the low tuned A. . . I actually thought it nicely rounded out the sound of the uke and made it a richer fuller sound. I just received my OU26 last week and I’ve totally fallen in love with it. In the original review you spoke repeatedly of it being a “tank” and being so heavy. . . I’m not sure what you mean by “tank” but honestly this uke is probably one of the lightest ukes I’ve ever held in my hands. I used in a performance on Sunday with 7 other ukuleles and I had to actually tone down my playing so as not to cover the other ukes. It has a great voice and in my mind the octave strings do 2 things. . . they round out the low end of the uke and the octave 3rd string adds an additional brightness. When I play the uke it provides for me what I would define an “island” sound. . . I’ve played it with several trad Hawaiian songs and it really fits the bill for that literature. I’ve also used it on some old timey songs and it almost gives that feel of a string band that might include a banjo ha ha ha. . . I still havent figured out how to use my fingers on it. The pick does seem to work best. What I have discovered is doing “cross picking” and I’m intending to do an instructional video on that topic with this uke soon. I’d totally agree you should add this to your arsenal of ukes.

  3. Jean Debefve says:

    Hi !
    I just bought a OU26 today – my third Uke by the way. I just fell in love with the 6 strings arrangement and thought the kind a “charango type” sound with the double strings would fit well for quiet winter evenings – as well as the price… I must admit the sound is a little bit too quiet for an instrument of that size but anyway I’ll have a pickup on it quite soon for gigs.
    I am a little bit puzzled though : I just cannot find a “low A” on the instrument ! I does have a low G… And what’s more, no low A either on the one played by Spencer on the video (and the sound does not seem not fit the chords played -especially the low A-B-C-A bass pattern…) What’s the trick ?
    Other puzzle : the octave C… On the “nut photo” on your review, the higher octave C string sits on the left side. When I bought mine, it was on the right side but as soon as I got the Uke home, I changed it because it made more musical sense to me (when I pluck the string with my thumb, “campanella” wise (John King’s way), I do not like the octave jump…) Then I read your nice review and saw that the one you tried was stringed this way. Strangely enough, the nut groves on mine do not seem to accomodate this way of stringing… I’ll have to enlarge the bass C groove a little bit to level the string – Gee, I might also “space” the two C strings a little bit so that I could sort of chose the string when playing fingerstyle…
    Have you got any idea of the “right way to string a six string Uke ” ? Is there a tradition somewhere ? Or is it just that the instruments are sent abroad without strings and are stringed by the shop or the importer ? (And, yes, I live in Belgium…)
    Anyway I am quite happy with my new Uke so far ! The intonation is perfect, the sound is rich and pleasing even if a bit on the quiet side. I will probably try a whole bunch of other strings to make it find its best voice…
    Very nice instrument for its price, and a very nice “second Ukulele” with a voicing of its own.

    • Tim says:

      Sorry it took me a little bit to get back to you. I have looked into it and it sounds like you have a left handed one that was still strung right handed at some time. I know OS was going to discontinue that model and come out with a OU-28 (8-string) so maybe you have a remainder. I would return it. To change it and make it work would require major changes to to the nut.

  4. P.J. says:

    When this was posted, a lot of folks assumed OS had bone nuts and saddles. It was later revealed that they didn’t and don’t advertise that they do.

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