So, once I decided that these might be the modern day "Martin ukes", I became seriously interested. Then I learned that only the initial batch of UC-1's will have the Collings "haircut" style headstock while subsequent ones will have the Martin style headstock, which made them even more intriguing to me. I like the "haircut" headstock a lot more than the Martin style, so if they aren't going to make anymore UC-1's with the cool headstock, I'd better get it now right??? So I finally relented to the UAS whirlwind and got me a UC-1 this week. To be honest, I'm kind of embarrassed to have bought so many ukes in such a short time this year. I'm fully aware that I only have two hands, but sometimes it's hard to fight the urge to try that very interesting ukulele.
Anyway, since I have the Collings ukulele now, I'll post some early impressions:
-Very light weight. It really reminds me of a vintage Martin in that it almost feels like air. It could also be that I've been toting around the ebony William King concert a lot lately so anything feels light by comparison. But the Collings really does feel super light to me.
-Very loud. I think the KoAloha concert probably has the biggest volume among production concert ukes I've heard. I don't have a KoAloha concert to compare it with, but I think it's close to the KoAloha in volume if I remember them correctly.
-Sounds great with the stock Aquila strings. I've come to dislike Aquila strings on most ukes, including stock ones that come on the Honu, both Kanile'as, and the LoPrinzi mahogany tenor, but it sounds great on this uke. I think I will keep the Aquilas on this uke for a while before trying out some Worth CDs.
-Nice bright and clear sound. Seems "ukey" enough to me. I think Collings is trying to build a ukulele instead of a uke that sounds like a guitar. I can't say I really know what a "guitar-like" uke sound like, but to me this uke has a fairly traditional ukulele sound.
-Beautiful mahogany. Dark color like the mahogany found on vintage Martins and Kiwaya KTS series ukes. I much prefer this over the "ribbon" mahogany found on many import ukes. And I like it more than the mahogany found on my LoPrinzi mahogany tenor as well.
-It has a gentle radiused fretboard, which was a surprise to me. Comparing it to the King concert that has a 16" radius, it looks about the same to the naked eye. I haven't found a radiused fingerboard to be a necessity and even though I play my two radiused King ukes all the time, I have found flat fretboards perfectly fine to play on. Still, I do like radiused fingerboards and it's a nice surprise to see it on this uke.
-Well setup and easy to play. You can alway adjust setup yourself, but it's nice when it comes ready to play with great setup.
-Outstanding workmanship. Very clean on the inside and well built. Collings has a great reputation for quality workmanship. This is the first Collings instrument I have ever seen in person and it meets that reputation.
I've only had it for a very short time, but I think it has exceeded my expectations. I think it would really be a hit if they can bring the price more in line with the Hawaiian factory makers. But as is, they seem to be selling well right now, especially the base model UC-1. I think Collings is in this market for real.
Radiused fredboard. I think it's 16"-18".
Soundhole label. I believe this one is the 7th prototype (P-7).
Treasures from Austin (L: Collings, R: King). Are you sure the ukulele didn't originate from Texas???