Mabuhay MC-11E Concert Electro Ukulele
This fabulous all solid mango ukulele is a fascinating thing to look at, but also a really rewarding instrument to play. In my mind, there’s no doubt that if this model had been produced by one of the big boys, it would be getting massive acclaim. As it is, Mabuhay is a small supplier from the Philippines, with barely enough capacity to meet UK demand, even though it remains relatively unknown. The company harvests mango trees that are one hundred years old or more, from commercial plantations, and then only when the trees have stopped bearing fruit. Certainly when you look at the beautiful mango grain and richly varied streaks of light and dark, you can see that nature spent that century very well, making a ukulele that looks so lovely.
Unusually, the Mabuhay MC-11E concert electro ukulele has more mango features than most all solid mango ukuleles, in that the neck, fingerboard and bridge are also fashioned from the same wood. This gives the instrument a different and highly original look. In keeping with this mango dedication, there’s no binding, and a smooth natural finish. With the limited nature of production, and original looks, there’s little chance of being outshone by your peers if you take this beauty along to your ukulele club!
There is a bone saddle and 37mm nut, Aquila strings and geared, open tuning machines. The fingerboard is smooth and free-playing and despite not always being a fan of Aquila strings, in this case, their regular nylgut series strings prove to be a perfect match. The tuners are unbranded, but having taken delivery of my first Mabuhay MC-11E ukulele and found it virtually in tune, I’ve no problem in suggesting there’s nothing wrong with them!
I don’t know whether it is because the more I play this Mabuhay, the more I think of mango, and therefore want to describe the tone as sweet. But sweet it is, with a strong and bright attack giving way to more subtle overtones. It has volume to spare and is particularly strong for picking, with good sustain helping your melodies standing out. It also sports a passive pickup, which does the job well, particularly when coupled with a good DI box. You can get a good representation of the tonal clarity through an amp, and although a minor point, the fact the jack input doubles as a strap button is handy!
There aren’t as many electro concert ukuleles on the market as tenor versions, by any means. But, that lack of competition is the reason this stands out amongst the small number of rivals in this sector – what makes it stand out is the value for an all solid instrument, its performance and playability.