On first impressions this is a very nicely made Ukulele. The back and sides are a one piece moulding, very smooth and with no internal bracing on the back that I can see, the sound board, which has some kind of fan bracing underneath, is laid fully on top with no overlap and though you can see the join line, it is lined up properly and smoothly done. There is a raised plastic ring added around the sound hole, I’m guessing it’s just for decoration but along with the sound hole having a large, (1cm), internal lip too, maybe there is some acoustic reason I’m not aware of? Back to the overall build quality and the neck, fret board and headstock faceplate are all very nicely joined up too, with no gaps, excess glue or ridges due to poor alignment. The tuners, the only metal parts are good, open geared ones with a softer, more rubbery plastic for the buttons; they are smooth precise and seem to hold perfectly well. The fret board is all plastic, thought the frets are painted to look metallic, (and I wonder how well this paint will last? There is the first signs of it flaking on mine after a couple of weeks), and no fret markers on the top or sides. There is a scale length of 34.3cm, (13½ in), with 12 frets in total with the neck joining the body mid way between the 11th and 12th and on every string, on every fret the intonation is spot on. The most noticeable thing about the fret board though is it has a zero fret, and not just any zero fret, this one is the furthest away from the nut that I have ever seen! (7mm or ¼ in to be precise – this may not sound a lot but you do notice it when playing chords like F, Gm and C7) Then we come to the nut itself which is moulded as part of the fret board so not adjustable or replaceable, and sadly the slots are cut a bit too wide so there is room, especially with the higher string for some rattle and buzz – especially if your fingering is off on that first fret. Finally in the build we come to the bridge, this again is a one piece affair so the saddle is part of it and not adjustable or replaceable, (the action on mine is very good but it would be a problem if I was unhappy with it). In design it look a lot like the bridge that went on the good Maccaferri Islanders with little stabilising arms either side thus adding to the overall appearance of it being a quality Ukulele. The problem is though after two weeks mine is showing signs of lifting! It’s very good to have no visible signs of glue, but not so good if there is not enough to hold the bridge on.
Next the sound and playability, when I first got it the sound was not great, very mid with not a lot of sustain and overlaid with a bit of plastic bucket and if I wasn't careful a bit of rattle and buzz too, (the nut and zero fret). It kept going out of tune too, but this was because of the strings, they were truly awful; the worst cheap nylon, stretching and stretching but dull and dead, awful! So after a few days of stretching and disappointment I took them off and put a set of good strings, (Aquila Nyguts), on. They settled down much quicker and showed that the tuners can keep tune, they also added quite a bit more sustain and widened the sound too. It went from a poor sounding Ukulele to a reasonable sounding Ukulele, still a little lacking it treble and still needing to be carefully played (though after a few days of playing you get use to the zero fret). The lack of depth in tone is compensated for by the perfect intonation so all of the chords sound sweet, if a little woolly. As a Soprano I thought one further test I should try is the D tuning, so I cranked it up a couple of notches and this has solved pretty much all of the tone problems. The extra tension holds the strings firmly in place so eliminating the occasional buzz and rattle and the higher starting point puts the treble that was lacking into the tone; this now sounds as good as it looks. Unfortunately while cranking it up I did hear a few ominous creeks and I think this hasn't helped the lifting bridge problem at all, (I don’t think it’s the sole cause because I did hear some similar creaks when I was just re stringing it so I think the problem had already started, but…)
On to those final few review questions. Do I think it will last? No not from the evidence so far. The fret paint will come off and so will the bridge if it’s kept under tension. If you want to keep it looking nice you have to not play it, and that rather defeats the object. You couldn’t use it for gigs or anything either, you couldn’t add a pickup, (bridge and saddle as one piece), and it’s not particularly loud on its own, (though better strings did make it louder too), plus you know that bridge is going to come off at the most inopportune moment. Would I get another one if I lost it? No… and yes? As a collector of these things with more than a mumble, mumble, mumble Ukuleles I already have plenty to play regularly and plenty that I play only occasionally but I think look fun. I think some of the more unusual decorations look fun and so long as it didn’t cost too much were I to not have one, or lose this one, I would probably get one of those.
Finally to summarise the Woodi Soprano can be a good bit of fun but unless they overcome the build weaknesses not a great musical instrument