Emenee plastic Flamingo soprano ukulele with pitch pipes attached

My White Flamingo
With Pitch Pipes

emenee chris kratt plastic soprano ukulele
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cream emenee flamingo soprano ukulele faux wood marbled back
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emenee flamingo plastic soprano at Lardy's Ukulele Database

Faux Wood Alternative
No Pitch Pipes

It has Rotosound strings on and is tuned g~C~E~A with a set of g~C~E~A pitch pipes on top



Emenee Flamingo

It's always difficult to review a very experienced Ukulele as you don't know what it has been through to get all of that experience, and with some of the baggage this particular model carries along with it, (2 court cases for patent infringement, Arthur Godfrey switching his endorsement etc.) I really think I need to be accurate. I won't go into the particulars of the manufacturing process though they are all out in the court case evidence but I will start by mentioning the obvious innovation; the built in tuning pipes. These days there are a lot of Ukuleles on the market that have a built in tuner, my Ibanez Talman for example, and we all have seen people at the local Ukulele gathering with the clip on tuners clipped onto the tops of their instruments, but this was the first and being way...way before the advent of electronic tuners it is a set of pitch pipes tuned to g~C~E~A, (interesting in itself because it shows a clear movement away from the earlier a~D~F#~B tuning that was recommended for Sopranos before the war), attached firmly, (not just clipped), to the headstock. I have never found a direct connection between Wm. Kratt, the pitch pipe maker and Chris Kratt who was the original producer, (well Park Plastic's made them but they made them for Chris Kratt) but they were both based in Union, New Jersey and I would think if nothing else, given the proximity the pitch pipes were made by Billy. (and of course the pitch pipes don't count as one of the 4 major components sited in the court cases)

On the the Ukulele itself and I'll start with the obvious facts. Mine has a cream soundboard and headstock with a brown marbled faux wood back and sides. There is also a darker less marbled more faux wood brown fretboard with little pearlised plastic inserts for fret markers, 2 diamonds with a circle between them on 3, 5, 7, 10 and 12. On mine, on one of the 3rd fret diamonds the paint(?) has come off from part of it showing that these are actually clear plastic inserts that were coloured. There is a zero fret at the top of the fret board and the fretboard sits on top of the sound board showing it it clearly a separate piece and not a part of the same moulding. The headstock front is also a separate moulding sitting on top of the net with the actual nut as a part of this mounding. The bridge does appear to be part of the same moulding as the sound board, (the fourth component), and as such there is no possibility for adjustment. The statistics are it is 533 mm (21 in) long, not counting the tuner, (after all they didn't all come with one) with a 348 mm (13 3/4 in) scale. the nut width is 37 mm (1 7/8 in), the lower bout is 165 mm (6½ in) and the body depth is 56 mm (2¼ in). The overall manufacture quality is good with no obvious lips where the part have been sloppily joined and the decoration is, even after 60 odd years pretty crisp and nicely done. The friction tuning pegs are very good for a plastic Ukulele, (given the usual tendency to use plastic push in jobs), with a cream plastic button on a metal post with washers front and back to protect the plastic. One thing though, all four of my tuner buttons still have the little lump that show where the were moulded and that usually gets filed off; odd that this wasn't done on what is otherwise a nicely finished Ukulele?

For tone and playability it is where it gets a little harder as you have to take the age into account. There is a slight bowing in the neck and I have no way of knowing it this is a manufacturing flaw or the result of age, (my experience is all plastic necks bow with age?) However this does make the playing action a little high for my taste though I think the action would have been high without the bowing, (it is only slight). The intonation is very good though, a tiny bit sharp at the 12th fret but it is probably the bowing again. The tone is not great though, rather muddy and undefined with not a lot of bass or treble; the sustain is not great either. They could possibly be improved with better strings but not, I would think by much. Its hard to criticise too much after all this time but what I think is fair to say it the equally old, equally plastic Fin-Der Diamond Head sounds better and to be honest so does the T plastics Beat Guitar (which might be its junior by 10 or so years but 50 years old to 60 years old? Come on), both of which also have similar quality string on.

As ever with a Ukulele of this age the question "will it last?" has already obviously been answered, but would I get one again if I lost this? Well as a collector itis one of the best looking plastic Ukuleles of the period and a fairly seminal piece in the history of the Ukulele so should be in a collection. As a player, well I don't play this one much, I wouldn't take it club meetings and I certainly wouldn't gig with it so not if I only wanted players