November 3, 2011 by Tim
This is one of those reviews that I hate to write. I did ask the company to send me this uke to review, and they had no issue doing it. My problem is that in short this uke is a good idea gone wrong. I don’t fault McNally since they make instruments that are in a diatonic scale, meaning that if you hold down one string and strum that it will sound good. That being said they are not really ukulele builders, more of a rustic mountain dulcimer maker.
Just read on to see what I mean.
As a side note, they are made pretty well and care was taken in making it. It just is not a good form for a ukulele. Also please take a look at their site for a blast back to early 90’s web design
Concert: 15 fret
Nut & saddle: Plastic
Top: Solid Spruce?
Sides: Solid Spruce?
Back: Solid Spruce?
Neck: Solid Spruce?
Strings: Steel, attached with a loop on a post
Case: Fitted Gig Bag
First look: (4) Although it is weird looking, I have to not totally knock it for how it looks. It looks fun and like nothing you will see normally. That being said, yes it is not the prettiest thing in the world either.
Fit and Finish: (2) My guess on how this thing is made is that they get a 2 X 4 cut a notch down the center, spread the sides a part and stick a piece of wood between then to make the sides and neck. Then fit some pieces of wood on the top and back and trim it down to the body, then sand liberally. The next step would be to slam some frets on the “neck” and call it done.
Now to be fair, it is not sloppy or done without care. Everything is straight, and there is a really nice laser cut sound hole. The action is really good and all that, but the wood choice is weird and the neck is 2” thick?? Also the finish on the “Fret Board” makes it impossible to bend the strings at all. It is just done quick and cheap.
Sound Type: Tinny and shallow. There is no sound box, I would have to say I would put a pickup in it.
Intonation: (4) Pretty good. Not really off and it seems good up and down the fret board.
Volume: (4) If it had nylon strings there would be no way to hear it. The steel strings make it be heard.
Sustain: (2) It is not like I am muting it with my sleeve, but it dies super quick. I expect more out of steel strings
String Height: (medium-low) The strings are where they should be.
Neck Radius Depth: (2″) Cut a 2 X 4 in half long ways, round the edges. That is what it is like
Frets: (2) The frets are good, they are not the issue. The fret board as whole sucks, too wide, cannot bend and dents since it is so soft
Classical guitars have tuners that come in 3s on each side.
Comfort: (3) Like a Risa Solid, this uke requires that you use a strap to play it. I find that the one that they included is really uncomfortable and ugly to boot. Also the super thick neck makes it extra weird to play
Sound Hole Smell: Woodshop
Ukuleles are compact enough; there is no reason to make them smaller. I have to commend them on a good try since they did pay attention to things like a nice case, and the nice laser cut sound hole inlay. Beside those things it is a total disaster from the tuning pegs to the posts that hold the custom strings that you can only get from them. The floating bridge looks nice, but is really weirdly placed, and trying to play this thing is really strange. I might be the fact it has steel strings that confuses my fingers or the tension of them, but I found this thing a bear to play. I also did not care for the sound either. Playing with others you get really dirty looks, worse than playing a reso-banjo uke in a crowd of “Normal” uke players.
I would say this thing is not for me. I think I could spend my $200 on something a little nicer.
All Rating on a scale of 1-5
Click here for an explanation of reviews
|Fit and Finish||2|
|Sound Type||Tinny and Shallow|
|String Height||Medium -Low|
|Neck Radius Depth||2″|
|Sound Hole Smell||Woodshop|
Places to buy on the web: You can find regular StrumSticks online, but not the Ukulele
Only place I have seen them is on their site LINK – $198
Currently the cart does not work, may have to call to order.
Response from StrumStick
“We make the Ukelele Strumstick strictly for fun and its unique sound. There are plenty of great regular ukes out there, we were not trying to make yet another traditional Uke. This has steel strings, and a tiny soundbox, it has a banjo/mandolin kind of sound, and nobody needs it. But, it is a fun character sound, it is all handmade, and the Uke has a long history of interesting novelty varieties being made. The woods are Padouk, Spruce, and Maple, all solid woods. (Not all spruce as listed in the review). This is an instrument made to be inexpensive (as handmade instruments go), simple, but well made of high quality materials, for a specific niche purpose. It is not supposed to sound like a regular Uke, and it is supposed to be as small as possible. I have no issue with anyone not liking the sound (or the looks), but I must say, no 2×4’s were slammed with frets in the making of this instrument.”
HD Audio Samples: