Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life.

Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life. Sunset at Telegraph Point.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bruce Wei Ukuleles - A Follow-Up Review

Bruce Wei Ukuleles - A Follow-Up Review

It is now around two years since I reviewed a range of ukuleles made in Vietnam under the Bruce Wei label.
The original review is to be found here:

Bruce Wei Ukuleles - A Small Review 

 Over the intervening period, my ukulele playing has felt most comfortable on tenor sized ukes so these are the ones that have had the most use.
I have onsold to other ukulele lovers all other sized - soprano and concert ukes - that I have owned and I am left with just two Bruce Wei tenors.



This is one tenor that has really grown on me.  It has an Indian rosewood body and a spruce soundboard together with a maple neck.


There were many online criticisms of Vietnamese and Taiwan-made instruments some years ago, based around some perceived lack of longevity in the construction.  Specifically some users claimed that the glue joints were prone to cracking or some such.



I have never seen any evidence of this and as can be seen from these images, the instrument is still superb in its appearance.  This uke has been played many times each week - at uke groups, workshops and concerts and it looks as good as it did when new.

Even the little details like the inlay, have not shown any signs of deterioration - something that happens on cheaper instruments over time.  
As it has aged, and with playing, it has really matured in sound producing a "rounder" and warmer tone with some growth in volume and sustain. 

My favourite instrument has grown to be the Bruce Wei 8 string tenor ukulele that I purchased around Xmas of 2012.
This one is made from solid mahogany - both body and soundboard - again with maple neck and a beautiful Indian Rosewood headstock.

Neither it nor the regular tenor came with bindings as part of the body, but I notice that some of the newer Bruce Wei instruments are now offering this feature.

The inlay details are as good as before and the finish superb.

Most importantly however, is the sound.  This instrument is such a joy to play.  No buzzing, perfect intonation and a wonderful depth of sound from those Aquila strings.

It came with a very busy fretboard inlay which at first I did not like for its complexity - I prefer simpler inlays - but now I don't notice it.  It does attract a lot of comment from other ukers and audience members of course.

I thought that after some years these comparatively cheap (to buy) instruments would start to show some limitations and failings.
I could not have been more wrong.
These are high quality ukuleles built to an excellent standard.
They are sounding truly wonderful, and as a value for money instrument cannot be surpassed in my humble opinion.


  1. Hey, great review. I'm in Vietnam in a couple of months and looking to visit the Bruce Wei operation... Have you been?

    1. Hi Steve, yes I spent a month there in 2004.
      I did not even know of Bruce Wei while we were there so missed that opportunity
      I'm not sure where in Saigon Bruce Wei operates from. I have purchased from him online and all my correspondence with Bruce has been via email.
      You can find his products on ebay under bruceweiart


  2. Hi, Truly enjoyed reading about how you build your Ukuleles. I also went on Ebay and purchased a Ziricote Tenor Ukulele from Bruce Wei. I had to look the wood up to know what it was. It is really beautiful! Thanks for the information. I've never played Ukulele, but look forward to the challenge. Don't know how I found your site either, but so happy I did. Happy Holidays! Debra

    1. Thanks Debra, I'm glad it was useful.
      Ziricote is an outstandingly beautiful timber.
      I hope that you are happy with its tonal qualities and its ability to sustain the notes from your uke.
      I have had fun playing Bruce Wei ukuleles, and he has also been the source of my bone nuts and saddles for the ukes that I make.

  3. Hi!
    I would like to purchase a Bruce Wei ukulele but have read online that the bodies are smaller than other brands' instruments.
    What is your experience? I would like to purchase a concert size but am now considering tenor.
    Also, Bruce Wei offers ukuleles with a sound hole in the shape of the Hawaiian islands (multiple sound holes on the left side). Do you think it affects negatively the sound quality?
    Thank you!

    1. The ukulele that is in the first picture of this post is a tenor from Bruce, and this is the one that I most regularly play. My wife plays a Lanakai tenor. The Lanakai is slightly wider and slightly deeper in the body but the Bruce Wei is slightly longer (in the body). The fretboard and scale are the same as they are both tenors.
      I can't play a concert uke as my fingers are too big for the frets - concert frets are smaller than tenor frets. You might need to check out a concert and a tenor for yourself to see how your fingers feel for the chord work.
      The concert has a brighter tone than the tenor of course because of its size.
      As for the placement of the sound holes, I have played many different styles, and I keep coming back to the traditional central sound hole as it seems to give more volume and resonance.
      Hope this helps