Aklot asked for reviews and I was excited to participate.
I ordered the instrument through Amazon on Tuesday and it was in my hands Friday afternoon. Nicely packaged in a solid box with pretty graphics.
This set centers around a concert size instrument with solid mahogany face. The edges of the top are a bit more rounded than usually found, making it less likely to dig into your forearm as you play. The sound hole rosette is laser engraved with a simple attractive pattern.
The joints and edges are all clean and well polished. The side of the neck is very smooth and polished, the fret board is actually bound so there is absolutely no catching on the fret ends as you slide up and down the neck. There is no fret marker at three, but there are markers at 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 and 17, with dots on the side of the neck as well and a total of 18 frets.
The most distinctive feature is the bridge in the shape of a dove, with wings outstretched and a small inlaid eye. The strings are fed through the bridge and then knotted through the sound hold. This can be a bit tricky the first time you try changing strings, but is not uncommon.
The head is in mahogany with geared tuners. The tuners work smoothly and without any slop in them. The brand name, Aklot, and a small dove are etched into the head.
Here is a video where you can see pictures and listen to some sound samples as I noodled on the instrument in my backyard.
I took the instrument along to a family gathering and a couple of other musicians gave this a look over and were really impressed with the finish on the instrument. We played a few songs along with a mandolin and we had a great time. I had no problems playing a wide variety of songs with this ukulele. The action is just a touch higher than I like, but won’t prove much of an issue for most.
This is a really great instrument for a new player! It is attractive and sounds good. It is extremely well made with attention to details that you don’t often find in instruments at this price point. If this was the only thing you got for the price, I believe you get your money’s worth! Add in the first three items in the Starter Kit below and you are getting a pretty good deal!
The Starter Kit
Gig Bag – A nice gig bag with some padding, double zipper and a zippered pocket on the front. It appears to be black nylon and includes a shoulder strap and a strap type handle. The bag is all black with white trim and the brand name Aklot in white. It is certainly good protection from dings and scratches, but won’t save it from being crushed.
Tuner – Very nice tuner that works well and can be read clearly.
Strap – Included in the kit was a checkered Aklot branded leash. It is a very nice leash with broad straps and a large plastic hook for the sound hole. While I could see myself using this with other instruments as well, if you don’t have any weight on the strap hook it can create a buzz, the plastic hook being a bit loose. I may experiment with a bit of felt or padding to see if that will stop the buzz. The peculiar thing about this package is that the instrument has a strap button on the base and on the side of the neck, but the included strap uses the sound hole hook and not the buttons.
Microfiber cleaning cloth – It is pretty small, essentially palm sized it is about 20% of the size of a normal cleaning cloth.
Picks – Two picks are included in the kit. One is felt and the other is a .96 plastic pick. I don’t normally use a pick, but tried them out and they certainly work.
Strings – Yes, there is an envelope with a set of strings in it. They are flat white and all four are rolled up into a single bundle, with no markings or coloration to help you figure out which one is which. You would have to rely on matching the existing strings by size as best you can.
Quick Start Guide – I’ll rate this as poor, a two out of five. Nice quality printing with some good diagrams, with others that are difficult to understand. The English has some problems in places. While the explanation of how to read TABS is good, the explanation of how to read a chord diagram is rather spotty. There are some rudimentary basics on strumming. The book refers to the palm mute or ‘chunk’ as syncopation, two very different concepts that are likely to leave new players without a music background confused. The chord diagrams, contrary to every other chart I’ve seen, is set up to show seven chords for each major key, so searching for a specific chord is a challenge. There are 49 diagrams in the chord chart, but only 19 different chords shown because there are some duplicated as many as 4 times. There is not a 7th chord shown anywhere in the charts and there is really no need to be showing the five different X#m chords. There are four songs in the book, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (two versions!), We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Red Nosed Reindeer and Isola di Capri so you can play a couple of pieces quickly. I’ve already heard from Aklot that the guidebook is being reworked to improve it.