Let's face it, the ukulele is a pretty travel-friendly instrument. Even the biggest of the bunch is only 30 inches long. And once you've got your strum action nailed, it's quite easy to pick up and play. Clearly Candace Chen thinks that a 20/21-inch soprano is too lengthy for travel, and has created the 16 inch long headless Ava.
"Despite ukulele's being already relatively small, I still struggled with portability and durability," said Chen. "As someone who travels constantly – both for business and pleasure – I needed something that could easily be brought on flights." And that need turned into her own creation, named Ava.
It's not the shortest ukulele we've seen recently. The undeniably cool Astro uke was to be just 11.3 inches (28.9 cm) long when folded for travel, and available as an acoustic or electric. Sadly, its jaunt on Kickstarter was unsuccessful, so it won't be going into production.
Chen, a classically trained pianist and violinist who also noodles away on guitar and uke, has also chosen Kickstarter to launch her travel uke creation. The Ava is 16 inches (40.6 cm) long – the same size as a sopranissimo uke – and has lost its head in favor of a novel Turnkey Tuner system. Instead of tuning pegs jutting out, the strings are brought to pitch using one tuning key, that fits on stubby tuning mechanisms one at a time and can then be stowed away inside the body of the instrument, where it's magnetically held in place.
Though the Ava's nylon strings can be played acoustically, Chen has ensured that strummers will be heard in the great outdoors by installing a speaker between the neck and bridge, driven by its own amplifier, and a piezo pickup. There's a sliding volume control on the under side of the body, with power on/off button, battery status LED and 3.5 mm headphone jack. The battery is reckoned to last 6 hours between charges over micro-USB.
The instrument is made using a polymer composite that was chosen for its resistance to scratches, shattering and warping, and has a fold-out wing to help with forearm playing comfort.
The Ava project has already reached its Kickstarter funding goal with more than month left to run. Pledges start at US$299 for an Ava travel uke, a soft gig bag and a collection of tunes from the Ava Community. If all goes to plan, shipping is expected to start in April 2019. The video below has more.
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