The ukulele originated in Hawaii, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that someone who is interested in this little instrument, would want to try a uke built in its native habitat. My goal is to be able to review at least one model from each major Hawaiian luthier. My first review towards that lofty ambition was the KoAloha KCM-00 and the next one is the C1 Sun Concert from the GString Ukulele Company…
I first learned about the GString brand after seeing an interesting looking instrument on the front of a James Hill CD entitled A Flying Leap. A couple months later, I noticed one listed on eBay from Ukulele4U. I’m usually not attracted to overly decorated instruments, but the unique sun pattern inlay really caught my eye. It turned out that I was too late to buy instrument listed by Rob of Ukulele4U, but I asked him to order one for me. He cautioned me to the fact that there is a 40% drop out rate for this particular model. Of 10 instruments, they tend to only send out 6 of them. Derek Shimizu of GString is very picky about the inlay work and will only ship the C1 if it is absolutely perfect. I later had an email conversation with Derek and learned that GString only builds about a dozen or so C1 Sun Concert’s a year.
The wait was worth it once I received my C1 and was able to see it in person. Pictures definitely do not do it justice. It looks terrific, without being too ornate.
The C1 Sun Concert is constructed of instrument grade Koa, with an East Indian Rosewood bridge and fingerboard, South American Mahogany neck and internal bracing made of Spruce.
Here are some rough measurements.
Length – 24.6 in
Upper bout – 5.6 in
Lower bout – 8.25 in
Depth of body at lower bout – 2.6 in
Nut width – 1.4 in
The Koa used in my particular instrument is a little lighter in color when compared to my KoAloha KCM-00 and Pono PKC 1-E.
The finish on this instrument is glossy. I looked at it over and over and up and down, without finding any imperfections. No chips, cracks, drips, etc.
From a side view, you can see that there is only one fret marker. A White dot in at the 5th fret. I think this is the first ukulele that I’ve seen like this. I actually don’t use the side markers do you? I tend to look at the fretboard markers as I play.
The fret edges on my instrument were dressed very well. No snaggies at all.
The nut is made of Micarta and the action is just right. I have had no problems with buzzing, playability or intonation.
In case you’re wondering, GString strings their ukes with Hilo brand strings.
The peg head design has the GString logo inlaid using abalone shell.
My C1 Sun Concert received a slight upgrade as Derek installed Grover geared tuners instead of friction style tuners which they normally use. As you read this, GString is phasing out the use of friction tuners on all of their soprano and concert sized ukuleles and will be using these Grovers as their older supply runs out. I’m not a fan of friction tuners, so I was very happy with the change.
Another difference that I didn’t expect when I received my ukulele was the bridge shape. After looking at the pictures on the GString website, I thought the bridge would be a rectangle…
I like this shape a lot better. It’s actually the new shape being used for the C1 (the GString website has not yet been updated to reflect the change). The material used for the saddle is Corian.
Look at that inlay work… It’s perfect. So perfect that it almost looks like a decal. You can’t feel any edges, lumps, etc. I really like the Sun design and how it even bleeds up onto the fretboard.
Peering inside the sound hole, I am very happy with how neat and tidy the interior of the instrument is. No excess glue blobs, sawdust, etc.
Looks aside, this ukulele is easy to play and has a sweet sound. If I try to compare the sound that this instrument produces to my KoAloha (both use the same brand strings by the way…), I would say that the GString has a Hawaiian sound, but that it is slightly more harp-like. It has good sustain, but is not quite as loud as the KoAloha. I personally prefer the GString C1 Sun Concert sound to that of the KoAloha KCM-00.
Here’s a link to a short sound bite to give you an idea of what this instrument sounds like:
gstring-sun-concert.wav (53 seconds)
The GString C1 Sun Concert lists for $950 (as of last December – I’ve got an email in to Derek asking if the price has changed and will update it if needed) and can be ordered directly through Derek at GString Ukuleles. This is one ukulele that I plan to keep in my collection for a long time.