World of Ukes Pioneer 1TE L.R.Baggs Tenor Electro Ukulele
This is the Pioneer 1TE, a limited edition World of Ukes branded ukulele.
This model was released in September 2018 on a very limited run. This is the second edition of the ukulele, which features small changes to the first one - namely: -
* More prominent side markers and inlaid fingerboard
* Slightly wider bottom bout and depth for more volume
* More interesting bridge shape
Made of all solid acacia, with a high gloss finish, I’ve gone for the best of both worlds when it comes to tonewood. Good quality acacia, using some of the heartwood to give the highest contrasts in colour and grain. To this end, the acacia goes from dark chocolate brown streaks, to much lighter hues of gold. This is finished off with a nice bit of abalone around the soundhole, with mahogany inlay around the body – just to show off a bit!
When coming up with this World of Ukes brand ukulele, I wanted to do something a little different. This was a tricky task given the ever increasing range of ukuleles available in the UK. In the end, the idea came to use an asymmetrical body shape. The purpose of this? Well, nothing really! Except that it looks smart and given the limited production run (very limited!), it is unlikely anyone at your ukulele club is going to have one similar!
Another key factor of the Pioneer 1T ukulele is the requirement for it to play extremely well higher up the neck. That’s the stage I’m at with my own playing, venturing higher, fingerpicking more and increasingly playing melodies rather than chords. It made sense if I was going to put my name to a ukulele (World of Ukes that is, not ‘Matt’), then it had better perform well in those areas. With World of Ukes Clarity (made by Worth in Japan) fluorocarbon strings fitted, the Pioneer 1T is an extremely expressive tenor ukulele, with lovely sustain and a chiming, bell-like clarity all over the neck. Just because it excels with picking doesn’t mean it fails when playing chords – quite the opposite, with that chiming effect giving a really strong, full sounding chord with complex overtones.
Other features include a high grade black walnut bridge and fingerboard, open geared tuners with chrome buttons and a compensated bone saddle and nut. The saddle has been lowered to give a nice playing action, what I consider to be the perfect balance between ease of playing, without losing volume. There is scope to lower it a touch if you prefer super-low action, but this is a matter of taste - please let me know if required.
One thing I also wanted with the World of Ukes Pioneer 1T was to use a small workshop, rather than one of the giant factories. This was definitely not a badging-up exercise – no, I wanted very much to make a low production run, bespoke model to my specifications. To that end I used a small workshop with a lot of passion and skill, which worked by hand as much as possible. So, the build quality is good but the gloss finish, if you hold the uke to the light, has miniscule imperfections caused through being sprayed by hand, rather than machine. To me, given they look lovely and you can’t see this unless you are inspecting with a magnifying glass, there’s no issue – but I thought I’d mention it, and the reason why.
Overall, the World of Ukes Pioneer 1TE has a lovely, expressive sound, fine looks and a bit of character about it. It is a long way off the generic ukuleles you increasingly see these days, and all the better for it. Is it the best ukulele in the world? No. Is it the best ukulele for this price? You know, having played many thousands, I certainly think it would be in with a good shout.
The 1TE is the electro version with an LR Baggs Five O pickup and preamp system… this is around £160 worth of kit on its own, making this a very well priced instrument. The pickup is specifically designed for the ukulele’s unique voice and delivers a fantastic reproduction of that distinctive sound. It has a volume control just inside the soundhole and is powered by an internal CR2032 (watch type) battery.
Click on additional info at the bottom for a video of this World of Ukes ukulele in action.