While Fender is famous for pioneering Telecaster and has a plethora of best-selling electric guitars, the lesser known part of their manufacturing constitutes production of ukuleles. While Fender ukes might not share the same fame as their “older” sibling, that is definitely not due to the quality issues. Like most of the things they do, Fender puts a lot of time and thought into making the best ukuleles and their “Nohea” is one of those attempts. Let’s talk whether that attempt is successful.
The Nohea is a tenor ukulele, size-wise, it is between concert and baritone. This means that tenor ukes have good volume while not being too bulky (by ukulele standards, I mean). The top, as well as the back and sides, are laminated Koa. Koa is a popular material for ukuleles. After all, it is a Hawaiian tonewood. It has beautiful golden color and sounds wise it is similar the most to rosewood in its warmth. While Koa is an amazing material for ukuleles, laminated tonewood is rarely as good as solid one. Nevertheless, I do not think that laminated Koa ruins the sound of this uke in any way. The mahogany neck has a rosewood fingerboard and on top, you have Fender Telecaster headstock shaped headstock. With scalloped fan bracing that adds to stability and sound of this ukulele, Nohea produces resonant, consistent sound.
Apart from the well-chosen tonewood, Nohea boasts some very functional and easy to use hardware. The Die-cast tuner with vintage-style buttons, bone nut, and rosewood bridge are all high quality and durable. This uke also ships with GHS Hawaiian Ukulele Tenor strings and a Fender gig bag that perfectly fits in the instrument and extra accessories. As for the strings, once you break them in, they only complement the overall sound.
Whenever Koa is involved in any instrument you always get its unmistakable sweet and bright tone. That being said, Nohea has laminated Koa instead of the solid. While the sound and tonality would have probably been a bit better with solid wood, it would probably raise the price by a lot. Laminated wood still produced an amazing sound that is pretty goddamn good for any beginner-intermediate player. I have heard some people complain a little bit about the buzz and while that might be the case it is also fixable. The action on Nohea is low enough to allow for comfortable playing and good sound. Overall, Fender created a very strong competitor to the more established brands in the ukulele industry.
Nohea translated from Hawaiian as “lovely” and Fender Tenor Ukulele “Nohea” is definitely a lovely instrument with beautiful craftsmanship, amazing looks, and sweet sound. While it is not the best of the best, it is definitely an amazing option in its price range. The laminated Koa (while laminated is not my, and a lot of people’s, favorite thing) achieves great sound and real tenor volume that many entry-level and intermediate players will love.