A pair of signature models for the “America’s Got Talent” star.
by Teja Gerken
January 28, 2019
Fender’s list of signature models is one of the longest in the business, but 14-year-old ukulele sensation Grace VanderWaal is the youngest artist to receive a Fender instrument with her name on the peghead. An inspiration to countless young ukulele players and songwriters, VanderWaal won the 2016 season of America’s Got Talent, and released her full-length album Just the Beginning in 2017. And now, Fender has created a pair of instruments custom-tailored to the young ukulele star’s performance needs and design ideas: the acoustic-electric Grace VanderWaal Signature Ukulele and the very affordable Grace VanderWaal Moonlight Ukulele.
The Grace VanderWaal Signature Ukulele is a concert-size instrument with a body made of sapele wood. Its most distinctive feature is its Fender-style peghead, which looks like a miniature version of a Telecaster peghead, with all four tuning machines on one side. To meet Grace’s demands for easy amplification, the instrument includes Fishman’s Kula electronics, which consist of a pickup under the ukulele’s saddle and a side-mounted preamp with controls for volume, bass, midrange, and treble. The preamp also includes a built-in tuner, a handy feature regardless of whether amplification is needed. A gold-sparkle rosette, gold vintage-style enclosed tuning machines, and a natural gloss finish complete the instrument, which comes in a sturdy gig bag with backpack straps.
The Grace VanderWaal Moonlight Ukulele is a soprano-size instrument (the smallest type of ukulele). The uke’s body is made of mahogany and finished in a satin navy blue color. Like its bigger sibling, the instrument has the Fender headstock (finished in the same blue as the body, with open-geared tuning machines) and golden rosette. The Moonlight Ukulele has no electronics, and it comes without a case.
Both ukuleles offer solid performance. Naturally, the larger Grace VanderWaal Signature Ukulele has a fuller, louder sound, with more bass and headroom for forceful strumming. The instrument’s built-in tuner works like a charm, and plugging it into a Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge amp proved that it would be a perfect partner at open mics or any performance situation. While the Grace VanderWaal Moonlight Ukulele is a bit quieter sounding than its sibling, it shares the larger instrument’s excellent intonation and tuning stability.
Both Fender Grace VanderWaal models are cool additions to the company’s catalog. Grace VanderWaal fans will delight in the chance to play the same uke as their idol, and others may fall in love with the ukes’ looks and sound.
Grace VanderWaal Signature Ukulele
SPECS: Concert-size ukulele. Sapele top, back, and sides. Nato neck. Walnut fretboard and bridge. 15-inch scale. 1.375-inch nut width. Four-on-a-side, enclosed gold tuning machines. Fishman Kula electronics. Designed in the USA, manufactured in Indonesia. $199.99. Fender.com
Grace VanderWaal Moonlight Ukulele
SPECS: Soprano-size ukulele. Mahogany top, back, and sides. Nato neck. Walnut fretboard and bridge. 13.6-inch scale. 1.375-inch nut width. Four-on-a-side, open-gear tuning machines. Designed in the USA, manufactured in China. $99.99. Fender.com
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