July 23, 2013 by Tim
I have to confess a secret; I have been stalking Paul Beard for the past year. I know I am not his only stalker either and we all want something from him. Some want to just meet him and shake his hand, some want him to build them an instrument; I wanted him to let me review his reso-uke.
I actually met Paul Beard, the maker of Beard guitars and one of the most sought after resonator builders around, while I was at Winter NAMM 2012. I was in the Gold Tone booth and his instruments are also in the booth as well. While I was there I saw this exact reso uke, and I was all like “oooh look at that pretty thing”. Picked it up played it and knew it was special, but Paul is always talking to someone, he is a popular guy. After a bit of waiting I gave up and said I would talk to him later, I went by the booth at least 10 times and he was either gone or talking with people. So I went back to the press area to check my e-mail and do a picture dump and the only table with a seat was across from this young blonde teenage girl, I asked to sit down and proceeded to pull out my laptop with my logo on it. She asked where I was from and I said “Ukeeku.com, I do ukulele reviews” and I then asked what she was doing, and she said “My homework, I am here with my dad” and from there we went back to our work. She then asked if I would like to meet her dad who had just built a reso-uke. I asked who her dad was and she said “Do you know who Paul Beard is?” WOOT!! I had an in. met him we talked for a few minutes and he asked me to contact him after the show.
Winter NAMM 2013 and we still had not hooked up a way to get me a reso uke for review. For this whole year I watched twitter accounts, and blogs and places that might sell his reso uke, along with e-mailing every couple months, or calling. When Paul saw me at this last NAMM he had have been like “CRAP!! It’s that uke guy!!”, but he was really nice and said we would find a way this year to get it to me.
It’s at this time I turned up the pressure to get this uke. I told him that I wanted to show people how special these reso-ukes he was making are and that if I had it in time for Ukulele congress and things like the Mighty MO I could really get him some exposer.
He got it to me the day I left for Ukulele World Congress.
After that long story, why should you care?
You should care because I think this is the best resonator ukuleles around. So let the hate mail and comments start to flow, but read the review and listen to the sound sample. If you are lucky to play one please comment.
Concert : 16 Fret
Tuners: Grover Open Geared
Nut: Corian or bone
Saddle: 5-7/8” Hand spun Beard Resonator Cone, With a Beard Odyssey design with a bass baffle
Top: Solid Mahogany
Sides: Solid Mahogany
Back: Solid Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany with a Rosewood fretboard
String Attachment: Knot in a hole
Case: Hard case included
First look: (4) As I said before, I have been on a yearlong quest to get this uke in my hands to review. But when I saw it in the Gold Tone booth over a years ago, it sucked me in right away. This is not the prettiest thing from a far, but by no means is it ugly. The basic body, no frills fretboard, and boring cover plate (I wonder if you can get it any of these designs?) make it seem like a basic resonator. This is the only thing that I saw as a drawback, it has no bling, but I bet you could ask, and why no headstock logo?
Fit and Finish: (5) Perfect? Yes..Perfect. Super clean build and this should not be surprising since it was built by Paul Beard. All joints are great, and even the little fragile screws look perfect and not stripped or over tightened. The finish on it is so light that like most K brand ukes you can still feel the grain, but is smooth and a semi matte finish.
The one funny thing that I found out talking with another builder, the oval sound hole is not needed since the reso parts are enclosed. It just looks pretty. I plugged the hole and it made no difference in sound.
Sound Type: LOUD, but balanced. This is a great way to be heard in a group, or lose friends by being the loudest thing around. I am not a banjo uke lover or a reso-uke lover by no means, but this sounds so different than any other reso-uke you will ever play. The bass baffle is the key, along with the encased resonator parts. It makes this great sound unlike the tinny over powered trapped sound I hear in most reso-ukes. I find it pleasant and more like an old blues guitar sound. Listen to the sound sample to get an idea.
Intonation: (5) Come on…. This is a beard reso-uke!! IF anybody knows how to setup a resonator of any sort is him. Sorry to be blunt, but…
Volume: (11) Out of a score of 5 this goes to 11. The point of a resonator in a guitar or a uke is to boost the sound and give it that twang. This ukulele is super loud compared to almost all other ukes. The only ukes I know that are louder are the Gold Tone banjolele deluxe with a reso back, and anything with a pickup.
Sustain: (5) Short and sweet but not as short as a banjo uke. Why would that get a 5 you ask? Well a reso uke is not made to ring; it is built for short bursts. For that it is perfect.
String Height: (medium Low) Just right.
Neck Radius Depth: (5/8″) C shaped, and pretty thick for a ukulele. I always wonder if the idea is that since the body is so heavy that you would make it thicker so you can guarantee that it will not warp with the added weight.
Comfort: (5) Nice round edges. You know this things body is going to be heavy with all the metal reso parts, but is still easy to hold. I think it would be awesome to counter sink the strings in the string holder so you don’t see them. A couple people that have played it, mind you holding it weirdly, said the string ends poked their arm, a small thing that most people would not notice.
Sound Hole Smell: Which one? The oval one smells like glue, the metal one smells like…. metal.
I find it funny how someone can be famous or known by so many, but not known by so many more. Take Jake, known as THE uke player, but ask most any other non-uke player and they have no clue who he is; same with Beard Guitars. Many people in the dobro, resonator, and guitar world know who Paul Beard is, but in the ukulele world he is relatively unknown (Unless you come from the guitar world). I love the fact that he took on the ukulele and really made something special and even different. It is not just a small Beard reso-guitar. He actually thought about how it would work and how to make it better, instead of just pandering to the ukulele craze and making a quick uke to sell.
My last real word on this is “Want”. If I could afford a $1000 uke right now I would be ordering one right now. While I have had it I had to put it in people hands and explain why it is special, and then their faces just lit up.
This is on my list of ukes I will own someday fo sho.
All Rating on a scale of 1-5
Click here for an explanation of reviews
|Fit and Finish||5|
|Sound Type||LOUD but balanced|
|String Height||Medium Low|
|Neck Radius Depth||5/8″|
|Sound Hole Smell||Glue/Metal|
Places to buy on the web:
Currently Contact them for price and availability
I heard they are about $1000.
HD Audio Sample: