Journey J-UKE Thin Body Soprano Electro Ukulele with Scoopaway
Ukulele price £249. Worth String upgrade £8.
This is a nice looking little thing, a thin body soprano ukulele with a 'scoopaway' style cutaway, a slightly arched back and wide neck. The J-UKE soprano is equipped with a simply brilliant bag too. I mean, you shouldn't buy a uke because of the bag - but if you did, you'd go for this. It's got pockets all over, masses of padding, including neck protection inside and even a removable, waterproof cover in case it rains on the way to your uke club (it's a kind of long shower cap thing!)
I feel a bit guilty only talking about the bag really so far... as the uke is really rather nice. When I first tried it, it wasn't so loud and actually, I'd heard better in the price bracket - but I persisted, with different string tests - and I'm glad I did! With Worth strings on it really opens up. You can add Worth Browns as an option from the dropdown list - we’ll fit them for £8 And with these on it is really very nice indeed. Bright, as you'd expect from it's solid spruce top, but with some nice complexity, and plenty of controlled volume (i.e. is very expressive - very delicate when you want it to be, and full of life if you step things up a bit.
The back and sides are made from Meranti, engineered Meranti - which I think means laminate! However, it looks very nice with a pleasant hue and some nice darkness in the grain. Completing the picture are open geared tuners and the scoopaway design to give better access to the upper frets, with pau ferro wood used to highlight this design feature.
This travel soprano has a nice set up and really quite wide neck (37mm). This gives a really spacious fingerboard, which coupled with the soprano scale give me the best of both worlds - not far to stretch when covering several frets, but lots of space in between the strings for your fingers to go.
There's also a passive pickup, Journey Instrument's own, which I also really like. To be fair, I'm usually an active pickup man because of my love of the Mi-Si pickup, but that's pricey and would be overkill on a uke at this price. Aside from not being extremely loud through an amp (without a pre-amp, passive pickups produce a lower level of signal for your amplifier), the tone is really very good. Another factor in my active preference was the poor quality of inexpensive passive pickups which can sound terribly tinny, and the sheer cost of professional ones. This seems a great balance in between, I'd stock them on their own if I could!
Overall, a very smart looking travel soprano, with super playability and a nice finish, complete with a fantastic gig bag. A really nice alternative to better known brands once fitted with Worth clears!