KoAloha Sceptre Tenor Review

I’ve been lusting after a KoAloha Sceptre for a long time. So much so that as soon as the Southern Ukulele Store got one in they contacted me for an easy sale. With these things, there’s always the possibility it’d be a let down once I got it. So…

Specifications

Size: Tenor
Construction: Solid Koa
Frets: 20 (comfortably playable: 17)
Fretboard Koa
Nut and Bridge: TUSQ (man-made ivory substitute)
Neck: Koa
Tuners: Grover geared tuners.
Finish: Gloss.

Strum Test

Sister Kate

Picking Test


MP3

Craig Robertson – Staten Island Slide

Sustain Test


MP3

C-string open. A-string 3rd fret. A-string 15th.

Intonation Test


MP3

12th fret harmonics followed by 12th fret fretted.

The Good Stuff

Playability: My Flying V experiences have taught me to be wary of unusual shapes. So I had some trepidation picking up a Sceptre. But it immediately felt very comfortable to play. Sitting down my arm naturally rests on the first curve and standing on the second. The beveled edges are a nice touch too.

The action is perfect for me. It’s very easy to play and doesn’t create too many buzzes and flubs even with my sloppy playing.

Construction: Flawless as far as I can tell. No fudging or corners cut.

Volume: Alvin Okami makes a big deal about the volume of the Sceptre. And he’s right to. It’s very loud. But he demonstrates the volume by playing loud. Which isn’t when you notice it most. It’s when you’re not playing loud that you really notice the response. When you’re fingerpicking on it you don’t have to force it to get decent volume. You can play very softly and still hear it. Which gives you a lot of dynamic range to play with.

Look: It is one sexy plank of wood. It’s not to everyone’s taste. But I love it.

Smell: Light and sweet.

The Not So Good Stuff

Hmm. There’s not much I don’t like about it. If I’m being really harsh, the tone of it isn’t very rich and I’m not completely sold on the koa fretboard. The shape does cause some storage issues and renders most stands useless.

That’s about it.

Comparison

After yesterday’s discussions, I decided to do a Sceptre version of Carmina Burana to compare to the Ohana version. I tried to keep everything else the same – even the shirt (thus provoking more “you looser does you only has one shirt lol” comments).

Ohana Version
Sceptre Version

The extra volume does distort the Sceptre version (although to be fair, I was closer to the mic). The main thing that strikes me is how clearly the higher notes sound compared to the Ohana. And it was certainly much easier to play up there.

Conclusion

I love it. Right now I want to redo every video I’ve ever made with this ukulele.

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