Profile for Big Ben > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Big Ben
Top Reviewer Ranking: 509
Helpful Votes: 1697

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Big Ben "fly_mo" (Bedford, UK)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Tanglewood Union Series TU 5 Baritone Ukulele w/ Hard Case
Tanglewood Union Series TU 5 Baritone Ukulele w/ Hard Case
Offered by Knock on Wood
Price: £107.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Good ones are exceptional, but not all TU-5 baritones are good..., 13 Mar. 2015
We bought our Tanglewood TU-5 in the local high street muso store, and I'm glad we did. The tone was what sold it - just so full and resonant. But (the dealer pointed out) the neck was less than straight, so he had a word with his wholesaler, who sent a couple more of them to provide us a choice.
The one we chose was near perfect - with the same big sound and improved action/intonation.
Just loved it!
The case is a necessary item for a ukulele built from such light and resonant materials. Very thin laminate soundbox, much like a Kiwaya, with a minimal semi-matte finish. Let it dry out or get too humid at your peril. This (seemingly) was what had happened to the other two instruments we tried - presumably whilst hanging up in the shop? The tops were slightly out of shape as well as the necks.
So take care when buying, check your local humidity, and use humidity control (desiccant or humidifier) in the case if needed.
Sharp fretty edges on a fingerboard can be an indication that the neck/fingerboard has dried (relative to the time of manufacture) and the wood has shrunk across the grain.

Fit and finish is very good and simply presented, this is not an ornament but a finely made working instrument. We like the simplicity and home-made support slings made from rough twine or leather (or bootlaces!) fit in well with the aesthetic. A support sling is recommended since the long neck and ultra-light sound-box mean that this uke tends to balance neck-down - not unusual in a baritone. The open machine heads do a good job and hold pitch very well once the strings have settled in. The elegant clean-cut bridge is similar to the Martin type, just tie a knot and slot the string in, at least in theory. More on this below.
The action is easy, not super low, it is easy to play up and down the neck on this example.
This instrument is not about looks and ornamentation. It's for playing.
Until quite recently, a traditional way of identifying a racing car was to start it up. If people jump back, it's a racing car.... ;)
Start this baritone uke up, and heads do turn.

Once home, we ran into an interesting situation.
The standard black nylon strings would not come up to concert pitch in gCEA tuning without the A string breaking at the bridge. So we tried dGBE - far too slack. In between there was a point where the strings were nicely tensioned and remained unbroken.
Perfect!
Sounds good and plays easily.
Well, fun to play but not exactly concert pitch. Did sound (and feel) very good. A free set of Aquila NylGut strings was provided by our excellent dealer, and these would come up to pitch with some help (see below). But the sound was now rather drier and more 'brittle'. A bit thin for our taste on this instrument. That came as a surprise.
Aquila NylGut had worked pretty well on our TU-4 Tenor Uke.
But the Aquila Reds (low G) had worked even better on it, so we tried them on the TU-5 Baritone.
Success!
Now, opinions on tone can vary - this is our take on it....
Amazing, resonant sound. Deep, warm, throbbing tone and a light, bright fragile strum too. Best of both worlds for fingerstyle and for strumming, which is great, since I tend to mix the two. Used to play guitar a lot, before my fingers took early retirement.

We were able to get the top two strings up to concert pitch without breaking by wrapping the end near the knot in some heavy gauge linen thread to act as a 'washer'. A thin string wrap might do it too. The interior of the bridge slot may have some sharp edges that are at fault in this - cannot see inside there, but it seems likely.

The wound strings were fine, especially with some neck lube applied (which can help the wood too) - although the nut and the bridge needed to be very slightly relieved to accommodate the wound D string. The nut and bridge were clearly intended for re-entrant tuning (high 4th string), but the Aquila Red wound 4th is surprisingly slim.

This TU-5 baritone is now a fabulous instrument that is admired at ukulele gatherings by others. Me? I just love it.
Even my classically-oriented wife loves the sound, it's that good. ;)

Recommended for those willing to be selective in purchasing one and happy to tinker a bit getting it at its best.
The tone and action is worth 5 stars in our view, one star knocked off for the necessary tinkering, although I was tempted to give it 5, since it's so good to play now we are over the fiddly bit.


Aquila 89U RED SERIES, Ukulele BARITONE Low-D Tuning - DGBE (w/ wound D & G-string)
Aquila 89U RED SERIES, Ukulele BARITONE Low-D Tuning - DGBE (w/ wound D & G-string)
Offered by Original Artisan
Price: £11.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent strings, with a few caveats..., 13 Mar. 2015
We now have one of these:- Tanglewood Union Series TU 5 Baritone Ukulele w/ Hard Case
This comes with anonymous black nylon strings that are a bit slack when tuned gCEA and tended to break the top E string when wound up to dGBE. Annoying, and not a traditional baritone linear tuning in either event.
Aquila NylGut strings were tried, but did not suit us on this instrument. Sound was too brittle and thin - but no problems getting up to pitch.

So we bought a set of these Aquila Red strings (for around seven quid) and after learning to fit them to the somewhat sharp-edged bridge of the TU-5 they have performed wonderfully.
Deep, warm, throbbing tone and a light, bright fragile strum too. Best of both worlds for fingerstyle and for strumming, which is great, since I tend to mix the two.
.
Fantastic sound and feel - but I'm primarily a guitar player and un-bothered by the two wound strings (D & G). These do have a well-muted whistle when sliding around the fretboard. But it might unsettle some ukulele string purists?
Balance across the strings is good, and the tone holds up as high as I can fret cleanly, which is around the 12th to 14th on this instrument. Once stabilised, they stay in tune day to day very close to concert pitch even with regular use.
That's the good news.
.
Getting the Tanglewood to bring them up to pitch was a pain. The TU-5 bridge is possibly to blame for that, but the top two strings (B & E) have both broken a couple of times despite our precautions. It took several days before these strings settled to concert pitch - think it was nearly a week. Did not dare wind them over-pitch to pre-stretch them for fear of more breakages.
.
Recommended for your baritone ukulele if you want a Low D (linear) tuning and do not mind wound strings - and are prepared to take time and trouble installing them and winding these up to pitch. Then they are truly marvellous!
Despite the difficulties, these are worth 5 stars for the incredible rich, resonant tonal range they deliver.
We just bought a spare set, just in case. They really do sound that good.


Tanglewood TU4 Tenor Ukulele Mahogany
Tanglewood TU4 Tenor Ukulele Mahogany

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Uke, well worth the 80-odd quid we paid, 5 Jan. 2015
Paid around 80 quid cash to a high street dealer, and it came with a good quality hard case.
This is top quality craftsmanship, one of the best-made instruments I own after a long career in the industry.

The Tanglewood TU4 Tenor Ukulele was the solution to my aging and arthritic fingers - my first uke was a 'GemUke' given to me in the 1950s, it was a small banjo-ukulele that I struggled to play when my hands grew to adult size, eventually switching to guitar in the 1960s. Still got the GemUke, but very rarely play it.

This tenor uke has a string spacing and action that enable me to perform all the stuff I could do as a kid, and more! Much nearer a guitar in feel.
It has a full, resonant tone that varies dramatically with the right-hand style employed. Bright as you like, but very full and rounded with thumb strumming. Oh, and pretty loud, too.

So, I really do like this Uke. I like it very much!
Other Uke players tell me it sounds wonderful - and one offered to swap! No deal...

It's finely made, with excellent fit and finish, but all very simply and elegantly done.

Criticisms?
I had planned to try a Linear tuning with a suitable set of strings (low bass, not re-entrant tuning), but the bridge is precisely cut for the standard re-entrant tuning, and I'm just not willing to modify a work of art with my doubtful skills.

Recommended?
Oh yes! But do shop around for the best price....
Might be a bit big in the neck for a small child - would suggest you try a Soprano (standard) ukelele in that case.


Tanglewood TU4 Tenor Ukulele - B Grade
Tanglewood TU4 Tenor Ukulele - B Grade

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent uke, well worth 80-something quid, 4 Jan. 2015
...well, I'm not sure if mine is a 'B' grade, but I paid around 80 quid cash to a high street dealer, and it's immaculate - came with a hard case too...
This is top quality craftsmanship, one of the best-made instruments I own after a long career in the industry.

This Tanglewood TU4 Tenor Ukulele is the solution to aging and arthritic fingers for me - my first uke was a 'GemUke' given to me in the mid 1950s, a banjo ukulele that I struggled to play once my hands grew to adult size, eventually switching to guitar in the 1960s.

This has a string spacing and action that enable me to perform all the stuff I could do as a kid, and more!
It has a full tone that varies dramatically with the right-hand style employed. Bright as you like, but very full and rounded with thumb strumming. Oh, and loud, too.

I really do like this Uke.
Other Uke players tell me it sounds wonderful - and one offered to swap! No deal...

It's finely made, with excellent fit and finish, but all very simply and elegantly done.

Criticisms?
I had planned to try a Linear tuning with a suitable set of strings (low bass, not re-entrant tuning), but the bridge is cut for re-entrant, and I'm just not willing to modify a work of art.

Recommended?
Oh yes! But do shop around for the best price....


High Quality Tremolo Springs,Claw,And Screw Set,For 'St' Type,Floyd Rose Etc
High Quality Tremolo Springs,Claw,And Screw Set,For 'St' Type,Floyd Rose Etc
Offered by WarHorse Guitars
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fits and works well, 23 Sept. 2014
These are fine, fitted my Fuji Gen Gakki Superstrat (branded Casio) perfectly, looks like good quality plating too, Recommended.


Tech air 17.3 inch Lightweight Slimline Super Sleeve for Laptops with Carry Strap
Tech air 17.3 inch Lightweight Slimline Super Sleeve for Laptops with Carry Strap
Price: £7.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neat and effective 17" laptop bag, 23 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Nicely made, looks to be built to last and carries our massive Inspiron 1720 plus a spare battery, a backup hard drive, a couple of magazines and a (pen-and-paper) A4 notebook without bulging or straining.
Does the job without advertising 'I'm a laptop, steal me' very well.
Recommended!


WIFI 150MBPS WIRELESS ADAPTOR 802.11 B G N LAN NETWORK MINI USB DONGLE ADAPTER
WIFI 150MBPS WIRELESS ADAPTOR 802.11 B G N LAN NETWORK MINI USB DONGLE ADAPTER

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tiny WiFi stick works unreasonably well, 23 Sept. 2014
Works well on our WiFi, no problems with recent Linux kernel, it Just Works - and it works well for such a small device (with a tiny antenna) in places where some laptops struggle this is OK in our home. Good value.
Recommended!


Qwerty TPad USB Multimedia Keyboard with Touchpad
Qwerty TPad USB Multimedia Keyboard with Touchpad
Offered by ADMI Limited UK
Price: £14.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Good long-lasting keyboard/touchpad that has become more expensive over time., 23 Sept. 2014
These are still fair value, although the price has nearly doubled over the years.
We have one of these keyboards that must be about five or six years old, and the printed letters on the keys are now very slightly worn after pretty continuous use on our home-brewed TV PC media centre thing - flat screen TV with a tiny PC box.
Just bought this one for use with a Raspberry Pi B+, and it works every bit as well.
We prefer leads to Wireless for reliability reasons, and the TV/PC setup is close enough to the seat so that we can read the fine print on a 32" screen easily. Your living room may vary.
It's a bit light for typing on the lap, so it can help if you use a tray or have a strip of ply Blu-tacked underneath. I rarely bother with that now. Works well for me.
In its favour the pad is off to the right, which suits me, and greatly reduces the chance of typing actions being misunderstood by the pad.
Recommended if you need something that combines keyboard with touchpad.


Doughnut
Doughnut
by Tom Holt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Good old Tom Holt!, 23 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Doughnut (Paperback)
It's Tom Holt. Tom Holt in good form, too.
I've been a fan since "Expecting Someone Taller", so maybe I'm biased.
The strange significance of the doughnut emerges gradually, with accompanying alarms and excursions that are as nothing compared with the Awful Event in our hero's past - until things go from bad to worse. And the resolution comes from out of left field. Very entertaining, and no spoilers here....
If you have enjoyed Tom Holt, I feel sure you will like this - if he is new to you, might I suggest starting with "Expecting Someone Taller" since it is usually available used at a bargain price.


Cobweb
Cobweb
by Frederick George
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Neal and his uncle deliver a solid thriller, 23 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Cobweb (Paperback)
This is a rumbustious thriller with well-drawn characters and a beautifully-detailed picture of middle America at the time of the Gulf War. Although the war features in the story, the action is confined to the USA, and is very well done indeed.
The plot involves a likable young married couple with their first baby - he's a deputy sheriff and she's an ex-military nurse who is called up when trouble starts in the East.
So we get to discover how Dad (who is a lot smarter than others suspect) handles the international terrorist plots whilst running for Sheriff and looking after baby, whilst (this is after all Neal Stephenson and his uncle writing) the intricate dealings in Washington and elsewhere are being exposed from other related viewpoints. I greatly enjoyed it, and found it hard to put down.
Recommended!


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20