|Body And Neck:|
Regular readers of GuitarFella will know how much we admire Washburn’s budget subsidiary Oscar Schmidt, because they always manage to deliver an instrument that punches well above its weight for the price. Even in this higher-end sub-$500 ukulele category, their electro-acoustic OU55CE baritone shows good value and proves a popular choice. Let’s see why it’s made our chart.
With a long baritone size, D-G-B-E tuning, and a distinctive cutaway, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the OU55CE for a miniature acoustic guitar instead of a ukulele. There are many familiarities with a guitar, but it’s certainly a four-stringed uke – we can vouch for that! The OU55CE is crafted from laminated select Hawaiian koa on the top, back and sides, showing off a stunning grain that’s complemented with a sleek gloss finish, and beautiful abalone rosette and binding for some extra flair.
As mentioned, there’s a generous cutaway on the treble side of the uke, which gives players unhindered access to the highest frets of the 19-fret rosewood fretboard. This all sits on a wide and sleek nyatoh neck (an Asian hardwood, not to be confused with nato). Whatever your style, the Indonesian-made OU55CE is easy to play and feels quite high-end in its construction – as it should for this premium price – although it feels in need of a string-change out of the box.
The OU55CE is an electro-acoustic, so features a Belcat UK-2000 pickup and preamp system, with volume slider and 2-band EQ (bass and treble). Up at the headstock there’s four closed-gear Grover chrome tuners, which are excellent at holding tuning and feel smooth to turn. Meanwhile, depending on where you purchase from, you can also find this uke with a great bundle of essential equipment – including a hard case and a tuner – which is handy if its your first baritone uke.
Acoustically it projects very well, whether strumming or picking, and offers a warm but balanced tone with great sustain. The highlight though, is actually the plugged-in sound – the UK-2000 preamp does a great job, with quite a natural and even tone that’s tweakable thanks to the EQ controls. Add a little reverb through the amp and you can get some really wonderful sounds from this ukulele.
Needless to say, we’re impressed with Oscar Schmidt’s higher-end baritone offering. The OU55CE sports unique and attractive design, that complements the solid playability. Both plugged and unplugged it sounds great, and definitely worthy of stage performances.