east start alida semi acoustic archtop tenor Ukulele

My nice(ish) Green one

electric semi-acoustic tenor ukulele
Bass side
alida electric archtop ukulele back
uu gibson style semi acoustic tenor Ukulele
Treble side
It has steel strings and is tuned G~C~E~A

Ukulele Underground special East Start alida at Lardy's Ukulele Database

One of the Others
He's changed his knobs

Alida ESU-J58 Semi-Acoustic

The story, for those who aren't members of Ukulele Underground. A chap who is, had been looking into getting a Steel Strung Semi Acoustic Ukulele, he had seen the Kamoa E3 but had also managed somehow to find East Start Musical Instrument Co. and figuring these would be cheaper contacted them about buying one direct. In typical Chinese manufacturer fashion they gave him a price for one and a price for 20, (which was about 40% the price of 1), so he thought he would have a shout on UU to see if he could find some others to come in on the deal. Now I am very keen on the idea of a nice Semi Acoustic style Ukulele and design wise I liked the East Start one best, mainly for the big curly tailpiece; and as someone who does the odd bit of UU, I saw the shout and I was in. To cut a long story short he managed to get 19 sales including himself and me and if we brought the rather fetching looking two tone hard case, (at a bargain price too), the deal was a on! And as its kind of custom I got to pick the colour so I picked the green as I don't have many green Ukuleles.

So it arrived! A bit extra to pay for import, some messing about with delivery and its finally in my hands! Its Green! and it does have the big tailpiece, (even it it was meant for a guitar!) There was some doubt about what I would get when some of the others got theirs and the Ukuleles weren't quite what they had ordered! And the case is spectacularly..? spectacular. The Ukulele is really, really, really lovely ... except... there is quite a big blemish on the front, certainly something that proper QC should have picked up. If I was a retailer who had brought 20 for resale I would have to be selling this at a reduced price as a second What is also disappointing is two of the knobs are not fitted properly either and this just reinforces the impression, with the badly repurposed Guitar parts, and the blemish, that its all a bit slapdash and made by people who could make a very nice instrument but couldn't be arsed!

I have been saying to myself that I will do a full review for this with measurements and the like but I don't think I will. It's not going to say much that I haven't already said. The more I look at it the more I think that the body was made for a Guitar and they have just put a Ukulele neck on it. As the photos show it has a bit of a stumpy look to it straight on, and the bridge is very high on what is a big body, but the intonation is right so that is where it is suppose to be on what is actually a small, (16½in, 42cm), Tenor scale. Some of the fret markers could have been fitted better, (not raised this fault before because the others are so much larger), and apart from the badly fitted knobs the electrics work very well. On the final two questions Will it last? Yes its sturdy enough, it will last pretty well if its not abused and issues like the knobs are fixed. It would probably look great on stage; it does look great from a distance. Would I get it again if I lost it? No, I would want to get a properly made one that didn't look like B stock, and started out as a Semi Acoustic Ukulele, not a hybridised Guitar; in fact I still do!

To my mind East-Start have shot themselves firmly in the foot with this! No, the have shot themselves in the head and the whole of the "buy direct from China" industry in the foot with this. The people they have pissed off with their slapdash attitude might not have been major suppliers with big money contracts but they are influential. Ukulele Underground is by far the biggest forum for Ukulele players and most of the people involved are senior members. Had East-Start done a good job all of us would have been raving there about it and other buyers, plus a number of small to middling distributors would have been banging on their doors for the next batch. As it is everyone has let the whole of serious, (and semi serious), Ukuleledom know how unhappy they are with East Start and the quality of their product, so now no-one will want it; and that includes all of the small to middling, and probably some large, distributors. And it won't just be Ukuleledom either, a lot of people on Ukulele Underground will be members of other Instrument forums too, so word will soon spread to them that East-Start are unreliable and have poor quality control. Any distributor looking to place orders for any type of instrument will find all of the grumblings and almost certainly look elsewhere. Surely East-Start must have realised this when they took the order?
But what is saddest is this panders to what most Euro/American buyers think the case when buying direct from China will be, and they will be discouraged from trying any of the other direct sellers. I have brought from other suppliers direct from China in the past and have, up to now, been very happy with the deals, and got some lovely Ukuleles at bargain prices. This is one of the reasons I was happy to be a part of the enterprise, but I was let down this time and whilst I will still consider buying direct, I wouldn't go for an Alida, Notep, Altima or any of the other East Start brands in an online deal; and it will put others off completely.

Thanks to Michael for all his efforts though - It was never his fault