It’s show time, so you stride up to the stage, strap on your instrument and hear the familiar crackle as you plug in. The axe looks cool with binding on the familiar Fender body style. The “Tidepool” finish on the body and matching headstock evokes aged Lake Placid Blue. But you’re not playing guitar… or bass.
You’re playing Fender’s Fullerton Uke, an electric hollow-body ukulele. If your next thought is, “Oh no! I’m on a gig but I forgot to learn how to play the uke,” relax. If you can play basic chords on the top four strings of a guitar, you can play the uke (the first time I ever touched one was minutes before I gave my first uke lesson).
These electric ukes are distinctly Fender offerings. The company’s fans will instantly recognize body styles derived from iconic Fender guitars; the Strat can be had in in black or sunburst (of course), the Tele in black or butterscotch blonde (naturally), and the Jazzmaster in Olympic White or the aforementioned Tidepool. There’s even a new concert-size Billie Eilish Signature Ukulele.
After spending some time with the Jazzmaster version (and finding that its price is an easy $199.99), I wonder why I don’t already have one, if only because it’s a lot of fun. This is an easy instrument to play and has a pleasant, convincing uke sound. Besides, an electric uke can be a refreshing change of pace on your next gig, and you’ll become an instant multi-instrumentalist even if you only play guitar. If the reviewed instrument were mine, I’d be using it at least twice this coming weekend.
At this price, points of concern might be intonation, action, projection, and electronics. The uke provided for review intonated very well, certainly in the positions where most of us would be playing it. The action was better than fine, and the uke played as easily as you could want.
Acoustically the instrument sounded good and made itself heard, but due to its nature these will probably see the most action when amplified. The tone control provides a comfortable range from a soft rolled-off tone that would sit behind a vocal to a more mid-heavy timbre meant to be heard in a mix. The built-in tuner is a nice touch and is mounted on the side with the Volume and Tone controls. Finally, a Fender preamp gets plenty of signal to the side-mounted jack.
Ukulele’s are easy to pass around too, so we had a couple friends check it out. Gary Philips, a beach music aficionado performer who often uses ukulele also commented on the its sharp looks and easy playability. “There’s no buzzing on the strings, it stays in tune and the action is nice and where it should be,” he said, echoing the thoughts of a few others who tried it.
Yes, you too can play the ukulele, for just a couple of Benjamins, and you can look cool doing it. In fact, if you’re already rocking a sunburst Strat or a butterscotch Tele electric guitar, you almost have to.
Fullerton Series Street price: $199.99
Billie Eilish Signature Ukulele: $299.99
Product link: https://shop.fender.com/en-US/ukuleles/