Cordoba 25CB & Paulele KBUS Side By Side Full Review

4

March 26, 2011 by Tim


Quick preface to this article; I wrote this a long time ago, but the Cordoba ended up cracking before I could finish the review. I have never had an instrument crack before, and I keep the humidity between 40-50% at all times. So if some of this article seems like you have read it before, you have. I took parts of it to get the Kiwaya one done. I now have another Cordoba 25CB and now I am able to get this baby out….with a few edits.

HERE is the Full Review of the Paulele.

What we have is a comparison of two bamboo ukes. The Cordoba 25CB and the Paulele KBUS made by Kiwaya, but first a joke.

A panda walks into a diner, sits down, and orders a sandwich. He eats the sandwich, pulls out a gun, and shoots the waiter dead. As the panda stands up to go, the manager shouts, “Hey! Where are you going? You just shot my waiter, and you didn’t even pay for your sandwich!”
“Hey, man, I’m a PANDA!” the panda shouts back. “Look it up!”
The manager googles panda and reads: “Panda: a tree-dwelling mammal of Asian origin, characterized by distinct black and white coloring. Eats shoots and leaves.”

Sorry, best bamboo joke I found, but since we are thinking about bamboo now, let’s talk about the newest oldest material used for ukuleles!

Paulele Body

If you have been watching the trends in the instrument world you may have noticed that many companies are trying to go “green”. For example Martin is now making a cherry ukulele because it is a plentiful wood that is fast growing. The other material is bamboo. Bamboo has been used for thousands of years for food, building materials, and musical instrument (Mostly wind, and some acoustic). Talk about fast growing! Some bamboo can grow 12-48 inches a day and is so prevalent that the only place you don’t find it is Europe (and do you blame it, who wants to grow in Europe! I kid, I kid)

Using bamboo makes a ton of sense being that it is a hardy grass, yes a grass, it is super strong, looks awesome, and it is pretty moisture resistant. On the tough side I have seen pictures of a guy (G Randal Wright) doing a handstand on a custom Bamboo uke (I would have tried it but 1. They are not my ukes. 2. I can’t do a handstand)

Both use the same tuners

So here is where I am confused…Is it a laminate? A bamboo shoot would not be big enough to make a ukulele so they glue them together, but side by side. So does that mean it is a solid top, sides, and back? Really most ukuleles are 2 pieces that are book matched and they are considered solid top and back. When you use bamboo it is just several pieces joined side-to-side. For arguments sake I will say these ukes are solid bamboo, and I mean almost all bamboo. The top, sides, back neck, fret board, bridge, and lining are all bamboo. The only things that are not are the nut, saddle, tuning machines, and the bracing (I think they both have maple bracing which is a good choice)

 In this review I was lucky enough to have them both at the same time and figured I would do a comparison, there is not a declared winner in the end. These are very different and also the same and it really comes down to personal preference. Read on or skip to bottom for scores and final thoughts, and if you have read this far then why not read the rest.

Specs:

Cordoba 25CB (C for scores below)
Concert : 18 Fret
Tuners: Open Geared
Bone nut & saddle
Top: Bamboo
Sides: Bamboo
Back: Bamboo
Neck: Bamboo and Bamboo fretboard
String attachment: Tie
Finish: Satin
Case: Padded gig bag
Full Specs:
http://www.cordobaguitars.com/25cb
Paulele KBUS (P for scores below)
Soprano : 12 Fret
Tuners: Open Geared
Bone nut & saddle
Top: Bamboo
Sides: Bamboo
Back: Bamboo
Neck: Bamboo and Bamboo fretboard
String attachment: Tie
Finish: Satin
Case: Padded gig bag
Full Specs:
http://www.kiwayaukuleles.com

 

Looks

First look: (C:4 P:4) Although both will stand out in a crowd with the unique bamboo grain I find them kind of boring. They have no zing, zip, pizzazz, and other words like that. My friend Alex nailed it when he said “they should have more contrast. A rosewood or dark stained fret board and bridge would have made it a lot more interesting to look at”. I agree with Alex and I would have like to see a little bling like a rosette around the sound hole. for $200 I would think they might have some decoration.

Fit and Finish: (C:1 P:5) Both look really nice and well made. Both are sporting

Do you see the crack?

a nice matte finish and tight seams, but the Cordoba had some major things that I thought merited a 4 point deduction. Many of the joints have glue sticking out, the second one I received looks like it is also cracked, and it has small pits and scratches all over . You can feel it and see it if you look close. Another thing that sets them apart is how the back bracing is done. The Cordoba has a normal slightly curved back that goes from the butt to the heel and has nice bracing. The Paulele has no bracing and is an arched back, and that is so awesome. An arched back is a really cool thing to have that you see in violins and some guitars that have laminate back. The arched back adds to sound and not having bracing just lets it sing and adds depth to the sound.

YUCK!! Butt Glue!

Sound:

: The Cordoba is a nice clear mellow sound that you would get from a spruce top ukulele. The Paulele is a punch and forward sound that seems to jump out of it as you play. it almost throws the sound in front of the sound hole. Both a preference of the sound you want.

See, No back bracing!! How awesome is that?

Sound Type

Intonation: (C:5 P:4) As you can see the score differ a little bit between the

two ukes. we will start with why the Paulele scored lower. when playing chords that involve the first to the third frets the notes can go sharp if you press all the way down to the fret board. I think this is due in part to the nut being a little high, something that can be addressed by a good music shop. Beside that both are spot on with intonation all the way up. The Cordoba plays like a $250 uke should.

Volume: (C:5 P:5) Here is where we are comparing apple to oranges when it come to these ukuleles. It would be un fair to say that the Paulele is not as loud, it is a soprano and the Cordoba is a concert. both are very loud and should not have any issues being heard. I will say the Paulele is a screamer and may actually be too loud for some people.

Sustain: (C:5 P:5)  Long and nice. I think the bamboo might actually have an advantage over wood in this aspect. It just seems to ring longer than my other ukes.

Feel:

String Height: (C:Low P:Medium) The Cordoba was setup with really low action and it seems to not be an issue. Very easy to play. The Paulele is medium, just a regular heith which I think hurts it since the nut is high and messes with playing.

Bamboo Galore!

Neck Radius Depth: (1/2″) Standard neck, Both feels like a normal C Neck.

Frets: (C:4 P:4) This is my “What the Hell” moment for both of them. If I am going to pay $200+ for a ukulele I expect the fret s to not be felt on the sides of the fret board. that is the only issue I see and it is with both. the frets are well done beside sometimes getting caught while strumming with the frets sticking out where the fret board is in the body. Maybe I am too critical.

Tuning: (C:5 P:5) Same exact tuners on both and they work great, I wish they were friction tuners but really it is what sells to the masses. they tune easily and stay in tune, what else could you ask for.

Comfort: (C:4 P:4)  I ding both of them for the exact same thing, heavy head that throws the balance off. I think bamboo is lighter than regular wood so the tuning machines over light friction tuners seem to make them feel head heavy.

Sound Hole Smell: Cordoba: Peanuts and wood. Paulele: the sweet smell of a glue stick that you use to have in your desk in like 3rd grade.

Final Thoughts

When I look at these ukuleles I am torn. On one hand the Paulele is better built and just seems tighter but has issues with a nut that is too high, while the Cordoba is nice and plays well but it has glue marks and seems to crack. I think in the end I would get the Paulele and get it setup, but really that is because I don’t have a loud plucky uke in my collection. Having a Bamboo uke would also be kind of fun an novel to show off. “Look what weird thing that I have!!”

Addition from when I first wrote this: I have played several other Cordoba models and find them to be really awesome ukes, I just think that they need to figure out how to work with bamboo and keep it stable

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

Cordoba 25CB                                                  Paulele KBUS

First Look 4 First Look 4
Fit and Finish 1 Fit and Finish 5
Sound Type Clear and mellow Sound Type Punchy and forward
Intonation 5 Intonation 4
Volume 5 Volume 5
Sustain 5 Sustain 5
String Height low String Height Medium
Neck Radius Depth 1/2″ Neck Radius Depth 1/2″
Frets 4 Frets 4
Tuning 5 Tuning 5
Comfort 4 Comfort 4
Sound Hole Smell Peanuts Sound Hole Smell Glue stick

 

HD Audio Clips:

Paulele KBUS

Cordoba 25CB

Places to buy on the web:

Elderly: Cordoba 25CB- $249
Uke Republic: Paulele KBUS –
 $198
Amazon: Paulele KBUS –
$198  Cordoba 25CB – $249hello

Gallery:

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4 thoughts on “Cordoba 25CB & Paulele KBUS Side By Side Full Review

  1. Matt Lathrop says:

    Hey Tim, how do you think the Tall Grass ukes hold up to these two? ive been looking for a nice bright soprano and ive been thinking about going Bamboo.

    Matt *bassukuguy*

  2. Tim says:

    At this point go paulele

  3. Chartric says:

    Now we know who the sebnslie one is here. Great post!

  4. art says:

    I sold these Paulele Bamboo Ukuleles as a dealer for several years.
    They sounded great. Not at all like a ukulele with a spruce top.
    More Like a Ukulele with a Bamboo top. The sound really vibrates.

    Unfortunately they have been discontinued by Takumi Ukulele which made the Paulele and Cordoba.

    zukulele.com

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