BY GREG OLWELL | FROM THE WINTER 2018 ISSUE OF UKULELE
THE LOOK For the unsubtle strummer, a brightly colored banjo-ukulele just seems so right. Gold Tone’s new Little Gem line of concert-sized banjo-ukes is available in a handful of outrageous colors, including ruby, sapphire, diamond, and amethyst (seen here). Matched with the plain, maple-finished neck—and a star inlay at the fifth fret—the Little Gem is a Technicolor showpiece. Some probably can’t cotton to the bold look, but the way I see it, if you’re going to go, go all of the way.
THE FEEL As promised, the satin finish on the neck feels like satin—slick and elegant—and the frets and nut are smooth, which made playing effortless for my fretting hand. At over two-and-a-half pounds, the Little Gem is probably heavier than most ukulele players are accustomed to, and a strap would probably help.
THE SOUND A banjo-uke’s machine gun-fast attack of picked notes and near total lack of sustain took a little adjustment to draw a good sound, but when my picking hand adapted, I was treated to its distinctive plucky tone, which was clear and bright, with mountains of penetrating volume when I dug in, and a somewhat more sedate volume when gently coaxed. For the price, it’s a good value for those looking for the bold tones of a banjo-ukulele.
BODY Clear acrylic rim with 8″ diameter head; chrome-plated flat-bar tension hoop with 12 brackets; EZ-String tailpiece
NECK 15″ concert-scale maple neck, with dot and star inlays and black binding; 1-3/8″ wide nut; 18-frets; chrome-plated sealed-gear tuners; adjustable truss rod
OTHER 2.63 lb.; strings (.025, .036, .030, .023); maple bridge with ebony cap; padded gig bag, available left-handed
MADE IN China
PRICE $149 (street)