Mahalo Flying V Ukulele Review

I wasn’t going to write a review of the Mahalo Flying V. My brother got me one for Christmas. It was a nice thought and he wasn’t to know it’s the WORST UKULELE IN THE WORLD.

The Good Stuff

The Look: It does look good. Even close up. The way the neck attaches to the body is a little inelegant, but nevertheless.

… erm… The intonation isn’t too bad for the price.

The Bad Stuff

The Sound: The sound is awful. Weak and flat.

Playability: It’s very hard to play without buzzes and scratches. The neck feels nasty. It’s almost impossible to find a comfortable strumming or picking position. Which brings me on to…

The Shape: The shape makes it impossible to hold and strum comfortably.

When you’re sitting down it’s hard to avoid getting spiked in the groin. Which isn’t an experience I enjoy (and anyone who tells you I do enjoy it and that I regularly pay for exactly that experience is lying).

The only way I’ve found to play it standing up is to stick my arm through the middle of the V. Which makes strumming tricky, picking impossible and you look like a divot.

Tuning Pegs: Argh! Cheap friction pegs.

Tests

Strumming Test

 
MP3

Picking Test

 
MP3

Intonation Test

 
MP3

Overall

If you are thinking of getting a Mahalo Flying V as your first ukulele please, please, please don’t. I can’t think of a worse ukulele to learn on. If you must have a ukulele that looks like a guitar, get a Mahalo Les Paul instead. They’re a much better instrument.

If you have a decent uke or two already, get one for the novelty value. But buy one of these while you’re at it.

View Comments

41 Comments

  1. David Barnes May 20th, 2009 6:32 pm

    It didn’t sound that bad… better than I’ve ever got out of my normal-shaped Mahalo. And you edited out all the yelps of pain very effectively.

  2. Emily May 20th, 2009 7:03 pm

    Damn, I saw one for sale recently and was fighting the urge. “NO MORE UKULELES,” screamed my tiny, one room apartment. “NO MORE UKULELES,” screamed the ghost of my mother. *le sigh* No more ukuleles for Emily…for awhile.

  3. todd May 20th, 2009 7:15 pm

    I had to hush my laughter at my work computer when I clicked your ‘novelty’ link at the end of your post….nice…..

    well, this will keep me from gettin’ one for my son….who only at 3 years of age was taken by its appearance…..i think he’s gonna be a rocker?…..

    thanks for this….

    cheers,
    Todd

  4. Anne May 20th, 2009 7:16 pm

    I like the 1980s-art-deco swoop for the bridge.

  5. docpaul May 20th, 2009 7:24 pm

    Query – did you pick a particular song for the “strumming test”? Love that chord progression.

  6. Byjimini May 20th, 2009 7:27 pm

    Funnily enough, the Mahalo V-shape was indeed my first ever ukulele. As soon as it came through the post, I knew it was going to be horrible to play, so I bought a bog standard Mahalo to practice on and used the Flying-V as something to bring out when friends were round.

    Sold it a few weeks ago – it’s purely something to piss about on and not use as a serious instrument, ever.

  7. Byjimini May 20th, 2009 7:40 pm

    Doc – I think it’s Sister Kate. I did wonder the same thing but kept reading through the reviews and saw that Woody had used it for another as well.

    http://ukulelehunt.com/2008/08/21/the-ditty-bops-sister-kate/

  8. J-Hob May 20th, 2009 7:48 pm

    You didn’t make it sound bad at all!

  9. Dick May 20th, 2009 8:20 pm

    yeah ive got one of these, it wont hold its tuning and certain chords dont work. F doesnt work. F’s a pretty useful chord. I don’t get F. I get some horrible dischordant mess. ID much rather have f.

  10. Cardboardfrog May 20th, 2009 11:48 pm

    i was going to buy a flying V following having a ‘lazy ukulele’ but was charmed by a lanikai soprano instead and i have to say i’m glad i was.
    i have an increasingly impressive number of ukes and amongst them is the only uke to guitar cross over you haven’t covered which is the tele’ and i have to say, its probably half way between the other two, alright, not great.
    you have to post that version of sister kate, i’m almost certain thats not the same chords! it sounds so good lol

  11. zym May 21st, 2009 1:16 am

    hehe

    they really are a bag of shit arent they :)

  12. loui May 21st, 2009 5:14 am

    this is all SOOO true i bought one of these because i thought they looked awsome for my 2nd ukulele. but they SUUUUCCKKKKKKK!!!! NEVER BUY ONE OF THESE!!! they sound like shit, and wont stay tuned for more than 2 minutes. dont buy one.

  13. Ritchie May 21st, 2009 8:16 am

    Well, I have to say you have got it “spot on”. I was bought one 3 Christmas’ ago by my daughter-in-law, so I can’t even sell it …. along with the ‘white fruit’ Mahalo that my number two son bought me as a fathers day present… and the first one I ever bought … and the ‘old’ harmony I paid a fortune in import tax for and the ….. , no wonder I suffer from U.A.S.

    Should the link really have taken me to ebay to buy a ‘cricket box’?

  14. Ritchie May 21st, 2009 8:18 am

    oh sorry I meant to add “did you change the strings?”

  15. mictoboy May 21st, 2009 10:23 am

    do guitar websites review every shitty argos special guitar they find?
    Can’t we just assume that very cheap and nasty ukuleles are very cheap and nasty? I appreciate ukuleles are still very niche and not widely known about, but I’m pretty sure average joe in the music shop will recognise a shoddy istrument as shoddy.

    sorry, for the grumpy words, but i’m grumpy.

  16. Art Crocker May 21st, 2009 1:20 pm

    Interesting that you can take a not so great uke, put in a little strum rhythm and have it sound like something.
    By the way what is that chord progression and strum pattern?, Sounds great.

  17. Woodshed May 21st, 2009 3:46 pm

    David and J-Hob: Sounds terrible to me, but there you go.

    Emily: I’ve told myself that many times. Hope you have more will power than I do.

    todd: Maybe I should have NSFW’d that link.

    Anne: I’m not so keen on that. It seems strange to add curves to the most angular ukulele possible.

    docpaul: Yes, the strum is always Sister Kate and the picking is always Staten Island Slide by Craig Robertson.

    Byjimini: Wholeheartedly agree with your assessment.

    Dick: I often use words beginning with ‘f’ when playing it.

    cbf: It’s the same chords with the variation that I mention in the post.

    zym: If only I had your insightful brevity.

    loui: Can’t disagree with any of that.

    mictoboy: I don’t take my cues from guitar websites.

    Art: The chords for Sister Kate are here.

  18. Ritchie May 21st, 2009 5:24 pm

    Al, I don’t know what happened to my post earlier today … but never mind … one of the things i pondered was “what sort of strings did you put on it?”

    your assessment was ‘spot on’ I got one from my daughter in law a few Christmas’ ago and as it was a present I can’t really sell it, however i am tempted to put aquilas on or would it be a waste?

  19. mictoboy May 21st, 2009 9:36 pm

    one should always take your cues from snooker websites

    re-reading my post now, i’m even more sorry for being grumpy.

  20. Woodshed May 23rd, 2009 9:02 am

    Ritchie: Sorry, the posts got caught in the spam filter. I don’t think I’d bother playing it no matter what strings were on it. Can’t hurt, though.

  21. Phil March 18th, 2010 9:57 pm

    This uke is my first ever uke, and I feel compelled to say that mine is alright to play. Having tweaked the tuners with a pair of pliers, tuned it to a’d'f#’b’ and filed down the bridge a bit to lower the action, it plays beautifully, the sound isn’t the best ever, but it’ll do.

  22. Woodshed March 18th, 2010 10:03 pm

    Phil: Glad you’re happy with it.

  23. Ukuloco May 10th, 2010 2:47 am

    Try putting the lower point in your right elbow. They play quite well this way. I put geared tuners, Aquilla strings and a pizo pickup on mine. It stays in tune well, plays in tune up and down the neck, and sounds bright and snappy when plugged in. I play it on occasion when our church praise team is doing a youth event. It is a lot of fun! I must have got a good one.

  24. Jed August 12th, 2010 2:30 am

    I’m so glad you wrote this. I was about to get my first ukulele, and at first I wanted a Telecaster shaped one. I then decided I wanted either the Les Paul or the Flying V. I know where MY money’s going.

  25. Woodshed August 15th, 2010 7:14 pm

    Jed: Glad I could save you from disaster!

  26. WiredToTheMoon November 12th, 2010 6:10 pm

    thanks i was totally intent on buying one, i never realsied they were that bad!xxxx

  27. Woodshed November 13th, 2010 11:01 am

    WiredToTheMoon: Glad to warn you off it. Hope you enjoy whichever uke you do get.

  28. Dan November 27th, 2010 11:51 pm

    I just got given this as my first Ukulele for my birthday and I think I disagree that it’s the absolute worst thing to learn on for two reasons:

    1. It looks cool in a ‘hey man nice bright pink flying v ukulele’ kinda way, not the best reasons for buying a Ukulele for a first time but it’s kinda of a nice thing to stick on a wall or on a side if you lose the desire to play a Ukulele after a month

    2. It’s always out of tune, seems an odd plus point but I’ve never had to tune anything before. Tuning something every time I play it is forcing me to get used to tuning.

    It’s a pain in the arse to hold though, which has the potential problem of teaching new uke players bad habits, nothing that a few hours on a properly shaped one won’t solve though, I’d imagine.

    I suppose it’s down to how dedicated you think you’re going to be, if you’re unsure the novelty factor of this might make it a nice choice.

  29. theForgottenCereal January 24th, 2011 10:21 pm

    I have one of these and I have to say I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as everyone is making it out to be. For a cheap made-in-China instrument, the workmanship is actually really good, particularly the fretwork and intonation. The neck is straight and the finish is even (mine is black). Maybe the quality varies between individual instruments depending on who at the factory worked on them, I don’t know.
    As far as the tuners go, yeah they do kinda suck, they’re just 1:1 pegs. I have to tune it pretty much every time I pick it up, but after that it will generally stay in tune. And yes, holding it is awkward, but you get used to it. For me it is most comfortable resting the inside corner of the V on my right leg while sitting, like a classical guitarist. (Although I’m sure that is probably a no-no for serious uke technique)
    All the problems with it stem not from bad workmanship (other than the cheap tuners) but merely the fact that the V shape is just not ideal for an acoustic instrument. Hollow-bodied string instruments are shaped like an 8 for a reason, it gets the best sonic response from the entire range of tones. So naturally the V is not as crisp or powerful as a conventional uke.
    It’s like the guy said, I didn’t get it expecting to use it as a serious instrument, I got it for the silliness factor. It gets a laugh out of everyone who sees it for the first time, and it’s fun to goof around on.

  30. Woodshed January 28th, 2011 10:21 am

    theForgottenCereal: Thanks for the review. Always good to hear differing opinions.

  31. Sean Sweet Sauce May 11th, 2011 11:49 pm

    Well I rushed to get this uke as my first before checking any reviews (Bad move on my part, I know). Any tips on getting a better sound out of it?

  32. Woodshed May 15th, 2011 12:04 pm

    Sean: Sorry, I’ve never been able to produce a good sound.

  33. RogerB May 27th, 2011 12:13 am

    Ukuloco mentions a ‘church praise team’
    I just bought a ‘V’ from a charity shop in Kendal,UK it had belonged to a musical vicar
    Ukuloco is that you?
    Sorry to see your opinion, I was carried away and the shop had been robbed recently so…..
    Now i wonder should I try Aquila?

  34. RogerB May 27th, 2011 12:15 am

    And there’s one on your header design Woodshed. I think this lends credibility.

  35. Woodshed May 27th, 2011 6:46 am

    RogerB: There’s one of most shapes in the header.

  36. RogerB May 27th, 2011 2:35 pm

    But I think it is the actual vilified V there. Along with your site I like the header!
    I’m a bit p o with impulse purchase, they’re not even funny anymore, if they ever were. It’s lined up as a ‘de luxe’ birthday present, £20 .
    Keep up the good work
    rb

  37. shaun m November 1st, 2011 11:56 pm

    I bought on a whim my Flying V from ‘Cash Converters’ in Chorley , Uk for 14.99 whilst waiting for my first Uke (Dolphin] to be delivered from ebay ..it sounds ok ..the drawbacks i found it hard to hold the pointy bit hurt my arm or like the reviewer said ‘it’s nearly imposible to hold etc,the machine heads kept slipping till i tightened the nuts up ..now it’s fine ..intenaion is ok the finish pretty good .. the positives don’t outweigh the fact that my bicep is very sore !..

  38. Woodshed November 2nd, 2011 10:35 am

    shaun: Thanks for the review. Hope your bicep recovers soon!

  39. ukuloco November 3rd, 2011 1:55 am

    I still have mine RogerB, I’m in south Texas. I have gotten way more fun out of this thing than the money I invested in it. I will admit that it sounds quite muddy without the pickup.

  40. Martyn13 December 27th, 2012 7:38 am

    Somebody must have been paying attention because the Uke my daughter sent her little brother for Christmas is a Mahalo flying V and it has geared tuners. He’s six and has already decided that he prefers to play it sitting down and across his lap. Jeff Healey would be so proud. I’m 56 and am wondering if learning on this is a good idea. Not much time left to be wasting it.

  41. Woodshed December 27th, 2012 9:25 pm

    Martyn13: That’s a smart kid. I didn’t think of playing it like that!

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