FLEA Ukulele... Looks fabulous in a quirky way, but how does it rate in terms of quality of build and of sound? Firstly, it is introduced by the Magic Fluke Company and produced in the US, so you’d expect a well-made uke. It is marketed through Flea Market Music, and the minimum for sale price is around $169.
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Flea Ukulele Specifications
- The basic Flea model really stands out. It veers away from the traditional uke body, with an oval outline and a flat base.
- A nice feature of this brand, for those who want to stand out, is you get to choose from seven available colors. You can go for something outlandish or just stick to the basic wood shades, if you so choose.
- Buyers also get a gig bag (zipped) and an instruction manual on how to play ukes. A nice bonus but certainly not the main reason for spending your money on this model.
- The top is made from Australian hoop pine. The fretboard is of plastic.
- The back and the side is actually one molded bowl. It is made of ABS plastic (injection molded) and reinforced for better performance and longevity with fiberglass. Basically the whole design is like the one of an Ovation or Applause guitar.
- The neck of the instrument is rounded at the sides but unlike the most guitars and ukuleles, the back of the neck is flattened. It is Maple-made.
- Flea Ukulele’s body is soprano sized but the neck comes both in soprano and concert type. Soprano necks are (of course) a bit smaller than the concert neck. A soprano neck is 14″ long scale and has 14 frets whereas the concert neck is 15.5″ with 15 frets by comparison. The total length of a uke with a concert style neck is exactly 22.25″.
- Like the traditional ukulele pegs, these use a 1 to 1 ratio for the tuners.
So what are the good points?
- You can keep it standing on the floor or any flat surface, without the help of stands, thanks to the flat bottom of the instrument. Pretty neat!
- The bulk of instrument is basically made of plastic. That means the plastic fretboard is joined with a plastic neck. Even the fret markers are plastic. This gives the player a basic difference from the traditional ukes. Whereas traditional are completely made of wood, Fleas are made of plastic which means lower weight. this might not appeal to everyone, however.
- The molded fretboard helps to keep the intonation system precise and perfect.
- The ukulele can be bought as part of a deal with lots of other bits of kit including:
- Illustrated 10-lesson book with CD, song booklet, for a great beginner’s reference.
- Electronic tuner, felt picks, accessory pouch, denim gig bag, exclusive tote carton. All a beginner could need!
A buyer’s flea ukulele review : “It plays well and sound better then more expensive ukes I have played. When i go on vacation it is a no brainier which uke I’ll be taking. it did take me a little bit getting use to the all black fret board. It has the correct intonation, best I have seen. It also suprised me to how well it stays in tune. I have had 7 ukes and the Flea is my favorite to date.”
Any Downsides ?
- Even though the Flea ukuleles sound great and look neat, the looks may not appeal to all, especially traditionalists.
- It has some faults that needs to get used to: First problem is with the tuners. Even the slightest turn changes the tone of any string. First timers need to practice more to get a grip of it.
- Limited in terms of size with soprano and concert only available, baritone and tenor sizes aren’t. No electric types either.
- Another one is the fretboard itself. When the fretboard helps in intonation the hollow shell amplifies all sounds/music made with it. That includes your finger moving up and down the strings. This is pretty annoying at the start and needs some time getting used to.
- Might be better sticking to something like a Kala (our review here) if a beginner. Or if on a really tight budget consider a Mahalo (review guide).
The Flea Ukulele is a beautiful piece of art. But underneath the exterior there lies a really great sounding uke. The model requires a bit higher experience level than beginners to the instrument, so this may not be the best starting uke.