My wife just ordered me a $1000 ukulele

Melensdad

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OK seriously, I can manage a decent rendition of Bobby Dare's "Dropkick me Jesus" and I'm pretty good with both a basic and a swing strum for "Amazing Grace" but basically I suck at the ukulele.

So for Easter my wife ordered me an aNueNue "Custom Maui Mango III" tenor ukulele. They are almost impossible to buy in the US. The brand sells some cheap stuff through Amazon, but they also have some very high end ukuleles and guitars. None of which are sold here in the US.

But I have a sister who lives in England and the brand is well represented there.

aNueNue is a Taiwan (non-commie Chinese) brand so its normal to think "cheap crap" because people just lump all Chinese stuff into a pile, but the Taiwanese high end products are simply superb, each hand made by an experienced craftsman. I'm pretty sure this particular model is discontinued. It does not show up on their product list, but web searches of their website find the page for this model in their archives. In fact they don't show any mango offerings. And I'm a mango fan so she really did a nice job with this ukulele.

Not only is it a high end (not the tip top of their range but near the top) ukulele but its also Mango, which is considered to be an equal (but different) to Koa for beautiful tone. The Custom series appears to be their 2nd highest series, with their Bird series as their top of the line. The Bird series is often regarded as the best ukulele in the world, better than the premium Hawaiian made ukuleles. The Custom series was available in Mahogany, Mango and Koa.

WOW, priced at 699 British Pounds ... roughly $980 (varies by day)

Should arrive in a bit over a week :thumbup:

Archived web page #1: http://www.anuenue-uke.com/en/ukulele/one/12/44
Archived web page #2: http://www.anuenue-uke.com/en/products/one/12/41

"Custom Maui Mango III" from the World of Ukes website in England:

This ukulele, from aNueNue’s Maui series, is a beautiful thing to play. The aNN-CMM3 tenor uke has a featherweight action, a shallow neck profile and 35mm nut that for me at least, combine really well to make this a joy to pick with, as well as easy to barre. It is just easy-playing full stop. With aNueNue’s own black water strings fitted, with a thin gauge and slippery feel, the experience just gets better and better.

The aNueNue aNN-CMM3 is constructed from all solid mango. That’s the wood from the mango tree, not the fruit it bears. That would be sticky. I can’t work out when playing this tenor if my go-to word to describe the tone is sweet because of a subconscious fruit connection or not, but sweet it certainly sounds. It isn’t without depth, but brightness and a playful sparkle really come to the fore, accentuated by the harmonics it generates. Coupled with the playability, the lovely tone really makes this aNueNue something that is difficult to put down.

As a stark contrast to the pale solid mango tonewood, there is dark rosewood binding – a sort of white and dark chocolate contrast (see, I’m thinking of sweet things again!). This rosewood also features around a rosette of abalone to decorate the soundhole. The signature shaped aNueNue headstock looks sleek, and pretty with the addition of their logo inlaid in abalone.

With a compensated bone saddle sitting in the rosewood bridge, a bone nut and Grover open geared tuners, the appointments of this uke are all good quality. It comes with a free gig bag – something else which is fine quality. Yet, while everything is rosy in the quality garden (which makes me think of Roses AND Quality Street), the most memorable aspect of the aNueNue aNN-CMM3 is what a pleasure it is to play, and the sweet, shimmering sound it produces.​
 

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NorthernRedneck

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Wow. Nice. I just sold one of my guitars today and ordered another one online. I don't feel bad now spending 300 on a parlor guitar.
 

Doc

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Wow, you must've done a real good job on that tile work at the house you are flipping.
 

Melensdad

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Wow, you must've done a real good job on that tile work at the house you are flipping.

That is the only rational excuse because my playing ability does not warrant a Walmart ukulele :bolt:


Wow. Nice. I just sold one of my guitars today and ordered another one online. I don't feel bad now spending 300 on a parlor guitar.
I trust you will post photos when it arrives!

I'm looking forward to it arriving.

Hard to find ENGLISH reviews of this brand, but one site in England has reviewed 2 different models. Ranked their top model with the highest score ever achieved from any brand. Ranked one of their mid level ukes as an exceptional ukulele. I was aware of the TOP ranking as I had watched that review a while back. So I knew this was a stellar brand, despite the fact that it is relatively unknown.

And I did a lot more searching around this evening. Apparently the Custom series Maui Mango, and the Custom series Ohau Koa were the prior top of the line for this brand but they pushed the envelope higher with newer models. Pretty much all the youtube videos and other various reviews of the "Custom" series date back to 2010/2011. They also had a slightly lower grade, differentiated by lack of detail but same basic model.
 

Melensdad

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Just an update. I was able to find some old aNueNue catalogs on-line.

The Custom models, produced in Mahogany, Mango or Koa were in production from 2011 to 2014. It was removed from the catalog after 2014 and replaced by the Bird series in 2015. Prior to the Bird series the Custom series was the top of the line product produced by aNueNue.

It appears that prior to the Custom series, a less detailed series, also produced in Mahogany, Mango or Koa, was the top of the line offering from aNueNue. This prior series does not include the rosewood binding or the rosewood/abalone/rosewood rosette around the sound hole.
 

Melensdad

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It arrived about 5 hours ago. It is amazing too.

The strings ring out clearly and notes sustain so very long (not typical for most ukuleles)

Pictures and a "review" to follow (eventually)
 

NorthernRedneck

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That's the difference between a cheaper instrument and something more expensive. My wife doesn't appreciate that. I had a cheaper $150 guitar for camp and when I put it up against my $2000 Taylor she thinks they sound the same but the feel and sound to me is worlds apart. It's like comparing a low end kia to a high end cadilac.

Sent from my SM-T800 using Tapatalk
 

Melensdad

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This is a pale blond colored mango with a satin finish; I find it rather striking in its understatement, looking rather classy. Its pale blond color with contrasting dark rosewood edge binding sets this apart in the looks category and could be loved by some but also disliked by others. From a distance you could mistake this for a spruce topped instrument but up close the mango grain is unmistakable. The sound hole is edged in black wood and not part of the rosette, which is a multi-striped black/rosewood/white/abalone/white/rosewood/black rosette. Chocolate brown rosewood edge binding, bridge, a small mango heel plate, and an abalone logo in the headstock complete the ornamentation. This is not a flashy uke but the subtle details are well done.

The mango tone wood is all solid with book matched pieces forming the top, bottom and sides. The side pieces joined at the base with a decorative rosewood stripe at the joint. The sides exhibit a rather nice flaming that becomes apparent in the light; there is minimal flaming in the top or back. The two piece top joint is nearly invisible to the eye but the grain pattern of the book matching hint at its location, this same joinery skill is exhibited with the two piece book matched bottom. The mahogany neck is a 3 piece affair and one of the joints is not well hidden as the grain doesn’t match, making the joint apparent. I wouldn’t call this a flaw as the joinery is not flawed, its just a noticeable joint due to the grain.

One striking thing to me is the light weight of this tenor. I’ll admit to not being well versed on tenor weights but this one just feels so light in the hand and so beautifully balanced. Grabbing my kitchen scale I set this on the scale and it registered 557 grams (19.6 ounces). My concert Magic Fluke (with K&K Big Island Spot pickup) at a nearly identical weight of 552 grams (19.5oz), the concert size Tiny Tenor (with K&K Aloha Twin pickup) weighed 2 ounces less at 502 grams (17.7 oz), while my concert Lanikai Mango (Fishman pre-amp/pickup) is a whopping 711 grams (25.1oz). An old catalog from aNueNue claims they developed a light weight building process. Not sure what that is or how they accomplished it but it appears that they were successful in upholding that claim.

It has a traditional double bout shape and the back is nicely arched, but not overly so. The bracing is sitka spruce. The finish is flawless, inside and out. The exterior is coated in a thin nitro-cellulose lacquer that allows the wood graining and pores to be exposed, in the most subtle way. There is no gloss to this finish, rather it is a nice satin finish on the body of the instrument with a smooth dull finish on the neck which allows the hand to easily slide up/down the neck. If you are looking for a shiny ukulele that will reflect the light then you will be sadly disappointed but if you want something subtle that feels like real wood under your finger tips then this is something you will enjoy. Inside the build is neatly done with no hint of a glue smell and no signs of any glue, the kerfing is notched.

I gather that the bracing is of some special design by their Japanese luthier? Not really sure how it is different but references to it indicate the design of the bracing is somehow different. What I know is that this top rings pure and clear with a wonderfully long sustain. So whatever the bracing is, however it is, it seems to work as the strings sing out nice and long. And by ringing out long, I mean you can pluck a string and almost count to 10 before it stops. This has very nice projection, possibly due to the slight arch in the back and the somewhat large sound hole. It also has a greater sustain than anything else I’ve tried and you can feel lots of body vibration into your chest as you play this ukulele.

Strings are black fluorocarbon Orcas from Japan. Clarity of sound across the entire range of the strings has a nice balance of warmth, with brightness singing out in the higher notes; this is not a ‘plunky’ sound but rather a clear ring at the high notes with each sounding out distinctly. Overall I’d say the tone is generally warm, indicative of mango instruments. The strings are attached to a traditionally shaped bridge with a tie bar and holds a compensated buffalo bone saddle.

Tuners are 14:1 open gear Grover brand 9NB STA-Tite ukulele tuners which top a comfortably thin half-round neck profile. The tuner buttons are ivory colored plastic, not too large, oval in shape. Fingerboard is rosewood that is of very even color overall. There are 18 total frets, 14 to the body and the frets are slightly flattened on the top. The ends of the frets are nicely contoured so as not to be sharp, and the sides are dressed in a strip of matching rosewood with a joint that is invisible to the eye. There are single abalone fret markers on the face of the fingerboard at the 5, 7, 10 and 12 positions with corresponding white dot side markers. The fingerboard is capped off with a 35mm buffalo bone nut at the base of the unique aNueNue mango faced headstock that is inlayed with an abalone Hawaiian “rainbow man” logo. The “rainbow man” logo adopted by aNueNue is based on a famous Hawaiian petroglyph, its inlay into the headstock is perfectly executed.

The instrument does not come with a hard case, which is disappointing considering aNueNue introduced one of the finest ukulele hard cases in 2015 with the Bird series. You will get a thickly padded gig bag if you buy a “Custom” series instrument, which you will likely discard into a forgotten corner and replace with a quality hard case and a humidifier to maintain the integrity of the instrument. I’ll admit before I discard the aNueNue padded gig bag that this is a nice gig bag, but a new hard case is already on order! Anyone want a gig bag?

aNueNue seems to be virtually unknown in the US and appears to be a Japanese luthier who teamed with a Taiwanese Ukulele company to produce several ranges from novelty to superb quality ukuleles and guitars. Their higher range products, they seem to be astounding. As for this particular ukulele, simply put, this aNueNue Custom Maui Mango III Tenor is so far above my skill level that it is absurd that it should be in my possession; I’m grateful to have it!
 

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Melensdad

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Thanks all.

I need a strap and a case for it.

While it is light, the arthritis in my left wrist doesn't like holding any of my ukuleles, so I have straps on all the others. This will get a strap soon. Actually I have a strap, but I don't have any strap buttons. So I need to get some nice strap buttons that will match this ukulele and attach the strap.

I've got a protective hard case ordered. Should arrive in a couple days. Because of the lack of humidity here in the winter I keep all these things in hard cases with humidifier control packs so the wood doesn't crack. Not needed for laminate instruments but anything with either all solid construction or solid tops should have humidity so they don't crack.

Have not had a chance to play/practice today. Been busy and now I'm sore. Might pluck around a bit with it later.
 

NorthernRedneck

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Here's my new toy. Beautiful guitar. Parlor size. It's an Alvarez. I've been lusting for an Alvarez since high school but never bought one. Excellent sound and quality. It rivals my $2000 taylor.
d4ebf67513964f02bb5092e8e7fcdd14.jpg
 

Melensdad

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Here's my new toy. Beautiful guitar. Parlor size. It's an Alvarez. I've been lusting for an Alvarez since high school but never bought one. Excellent sound and quality. It rivals my $2000 taylor.
d4ebf67513964f02bb5092e8e7fcdd14.jpg

VERY NICE

Parlor guitars are smaller bodied but otherwise the same neck length? Is that correct? I assume being a smaller body they don't have quite the same volume. What other characteristics make a parlor guitar? It it just dimensions?
 

NorthernRedneck

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Pretty much. I believe another term used to describe them is a 12 fret guitar which basically means the neck joins the body at the 12th fret when regular sized guitars are joined at the 14th fret. Also the neck width and dimensions are the same as a normal guitar. The sound also projects nicely for a smaller body. Its still about the same depth body as a full size just smaller diameter.
 

Melensdad

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FWIW, I installed some Ivoroid strap buttons with Abalone inlay, added a strap and got a case so I can keep my new aNueNue Uke at the proper humidity. Love playing this one. Its has a nice easy action to it, very similar to my Romero Creations Tiny Tenor.

Sadly it is not the magical uke that makes me a better player without practice :unsure:
 

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NorthernRedneck

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Very nice. You did a good job with the strap pegs. I prefer that setup to where they installed the neck peg on my new guitar.

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Melensdad

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Very nice. You did a good job with the strap pegs. I prefer that setup to where they installed the neck peg on my new guitar.

Sent from my SM-T800 using Tapatalk

I have the straps attached to the base of the neck on 3 of my ukes and at the end of the neck on 1 of them. I did all the installs. Simple, but it is a bit unnerving taking power tools to an instrument, at least the first time. I like the strap at the base of the neck. Just my preference. And that is all it is, just an individual preference, nothing more.

I also chose fairly expensive strap buttons/pegs. The most common are metal buttons, cost a couple bucks a piece. These are about $15. On my Tiny Tenor I used Ebony with a Mother-of-Pearl button. My Lanikai has Cocobolo with Mother-of-Pearl. Just think they look a lot better and even at $15 they are not crazy expensive, especially considering the value of the instrument they are mounting onto.

This is the brand I used for all three I mentioned => http://www.iluak.com
 
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