By Cynthia Smith
Conjuring images of luaus and leis, the diminutive, toy-like ukulele has had a decade-long resurgence. The uke continues to gain popularity, as it’s not only a fun and easy instrument to learn, its unique sound and portability also make it the perfect songwriting tool.
Enter Grammy-winning artist Billie Eilish and her signature ukulele from Fender. While you may not associate her signature sound with the instrument, Eilish started on the ukulele, and it’s her preferred tool for songwriting.
The matte-black paintwork incorporates Eilish’s “Blohsh” symbol—the gender-neutral logo she created in 2016—and the headstock is designed in the familiar Fender Telecaster style (just like the company’s Fullerton Ukulele Series). The body is about the same size as a concert ukulele, but the neck is as long as a tenor and flatter than a standard uke. As a result, the Billie Eilish Signature Ukulele has the feel of a small guitar, leaving a bit more room for your fingers when playing close chords, as well as making it quite comfy to rock out. The machine heads are very smooth and responsive, and the no-tie bridge makes changing strings easy, so there’s no need to take a course in sailor knots. The bridge produced a buzzing sound, whether amplified or unplugged, but I’m assuming it’s nothing a quick setup couldn’t cure. Unlike many ukes that can be tiny, fragile, and fussy, the Billie Eilish Signature is built quite solid, and I wouldn’t be precious about taking it on the road.
The ukulele’s acoustic sound is thinner than a standard model. It’s still a nice round tone, but it has a bit more bite to it. The onboard Fishman Kula preamp includes a tuner, 3-band EQ, and a volume control, and it produced a nice punch when I plugged into a Fender Twin guitar amp. I usually find that ukuleles sound better when played acoustically and miked, but Fender and Fishman did their homework on the electronics, and I felt comfortable performing jazz standards, rock songs, and Hawaiian tunes. The Billie Eilish Signature Ukulele handled the style variations like a champ, and it was fun to play.
This ukulele really surprised me. It’s a serious and attractive instrument. As long as you’re not an uke purist, the uniqueness, sound, and robust construction of the Fender Billie Eilish Signature Ukulele could be just the right choice for you.
Watch Eilish and her Pitbull Pup Shark Demo the Billie Eilish Signature Ukulele
Check Out Lucy LaForge Play the Billie Eilish Signature Ukulele on the “Fender Demos” Series
Guardians of Guitar reviewer Cynthia Smith performs with the ukulele duo, Ukubabies, with Kerry Wing. Check them out HERE.