|Body And Neck:|
The Fender Grace VanderWaal Moonlight soprano ukulele is a lovely looking little instrument, with visuals that suggest it’s surely a higher-end model. Which is why you will probably be surprised to find out that it’s actually sitting pretty in the ukuleles under $100 category! Today we are taking a look at why this beautifully styled modern uke – inspired by Grace’s own musical journey – is a great choice when shopping on a budget.
The soprano body is the smallest available in the ukulele family, so it's particularly suited to younger players with smaller hands (although doesn’t rule out bigger players – just look at the legendary Israel Kamakawiwo'ole!). This stunning model features a mahogany body in a gorgeous navy-blue color with a gold sparkle rosette, cream binding and a satin finish. It really does grab your attention with its unique visuals.
The neck is also painted navy blue with cream binding. Made from nato, it has a walnut fretboard with 16 frets and dot inlays. It has a scale length of around 13″, which is typical for a soprano uke. Overall, everything about the construction is standard, but the finish is what makes this one really stand out from the crowd. The final touch is Grace's signature in gold on the back of the four in-line Tele headstock – her stamp of approval.
Despite a price tag of under $100, the hardware stands up to scrutiny. It comes with a walnut pull-through bridge, which makes changing strings much easier than traditional ukulele bridges. It offers more than enough stability for even the most enthusiastic playing combined with a bone nut and saddle. It's these small touches that place this uke ahead of many others in the same price range.
The tuning machines are open-geared and add even more stability to your tuning. The tuners themselves are gold in color to match some of the other accents on the uke. Everything is inspired by Grace's debut album, Just The Beginning, right down to a custom floral soundhole label depicting the album artwork.
One of the best things about this little uke is that it really is ready to go straight out of the box. That's not something you often hear with many instruments outside of the higher-end ranges, but in this case it's true.
While this is a beginner instrument, we would suggest that it's stage ready for players of various skill levels. The Fender California Coast clear nylon strings give a nice bright overall tone. It can lack harmonic clarity when playing more complex voicings, as the leading note doesn't always ring out as clear as you'd like. It doesn't always capture the most subtle nuances, but we are nitpicking here. The most common things you'd play on this kind of uke are actually clear and vibrant across the ranges. Overall, it sounds very nice and the occasions where it lacked clarity were rare.
This is a beautiful example of a well-designed soprano ukulele and, at under $100, it just gets more attractive. It looks absolutely fantastic and the hardware is better quality than the average uke at this level. It sounds very nice despite a few issues and is ready to go straight out of the box. We think we like it as much as Grace!