Lawson Ukulele Review
Lawson 8 Stringed Acoustic/Electric Tenor Ukulele
By Daniel Shapiro
Before I review my ukulele in earnest, I must begin with a preface – for the story of how I garnered my opinion of my ukulele is, dare I say, more interesting than a simple cut and dry rehashing of its specifications. Needless to say, the reader will no doubt more fully understand my estimation once he knows where I’m coming from.
Now I shouldn’t make any grandiose claims about why I should be reviewing this ukulele. I haven’t been playing for years nor am I amazingly skilled. I’m simply a newcomer to the ukulele community who has been an ardent music fan all my life. In truth, I’ve only been playing for about three months. But I’ve quickly grown to love the instrument – its pleasant sound, relative ease, and unique esotericism make it something you can enjoy learning. And gentlemen, let’s not forget its appeal to the fairer sex. Because playing the guitar is mighty cool, but the ladies will always go for the man stronger enough to be willing to play the smaller instrument; just as you never see a Hummer driver with a lady friend, the guitarist is often alone at the party.
With knowledge of all of these essentials, I, being the most studious of college students, signed up for a ukulele class at my university. Now reader, only two things surprised me more than the fact that I could actually take such a class: one, that I could do it for free; and two, that I would get credit for it.
So I strode into class on the first day, armed with nothing more than a fear that I would turn into Tiny Tim. And out I strode on the last day, complete with a few sheets of music and an obsession for the instrument.
But alas, reader. No ukulele.
So I began searching for an instrument within the means of a college student. About a week later, I found one on eBay that was not only a reasonable price - $99 – but had some great features, too. The Lawson Tenor Ukulele is both aesthetically and aurally pleasing. The cream binding and abalone inlay look lovely in conjunction with the dual dolphin sound holes, and the solid mahogany body not only looks beautiful, but gives a deep rich sound when played.
Of course, the eight string set up may not be for everybody – I’ve heard some say it’s a bit harder to pick. I, however, found it just wonderful. The coursed pairs give the ukulele a nice choral sound when strummed, and I was very happy with the tonal quality of the instrument. While the strings could be a better quality, I was willing to let that slide because I was considering having it restrung eventually anyway.
Of course I would be amiss to neglect to mention the electric pickup. This was probably the most alluring feature when I bought the Lawson, and I found it perfect. The sound, when amped, was very true to life, and the three band EQ was a very nice touch.
Reader, I loved this instrument. But note my tense – loved, because it is no more. Indeed, after less than a few weeks playing it, a simple strum given to the instrument was returned with an unwarranted attack in the form of a break.
Now this was not a simple break that could be easily repaired. A broken string could be replaced, a hairline crack could be ignored. But a bridge, ripped from its very roots? I brought the instrument-corpse to the local luthier, and his diagnosis deemed the repair too cost prohibitive to be worthwhile.
So I offer this story, not so much as a review, per say, but as a combination lemon warning/desperate plea. Because, having read this, the reader should take away two facts: One, that although the Lawson Tenor Eight Stringed Ukulele offers great sound for a beautiful instrument, the shoddy craftsmanship offered by its creators should make it an avoidable sand trap for any would-be ukulele buyer. And Two, that a passionate uke fan is, as of today, ukeless.
Reader, I’m a college student studying Theatre. So not only am I broke now, I will be for a while. So do us both a favour – don’t buy this ukulele, and send some pointers my way if you see a nice cheap one.
Finally, here are a few comparative pictures:
The complete ukulele, as shown on the eBay listing:
And my ukulele, after it was destroyed by trying to play it: