Enya is one of the most popular new ukulele brands on the market. Even though they’re only a few years old, they’ve made a splash with their innovative designs, great sound, and incredible prices. Here’s everything you need to know about Enya ukuleles!
They’re Based In China
Enya is one of a crop of new ukulele brands based out of China. They are headquartered in Huizhou, near Hong Kong. This means that, unlike US-based brands that manufacture in Asia, they are very closely connected to where their instruments are made.
They’re Not Affiliated With Enya the Singer
Even though they share a name, there is not connection with the Irish star. But you can play some of her music on an Enya ukulele anyway!
They Also Make Guitars
While Enya’s ukuleles are front-and-center, they have also built a line of guitars under the “Amari” label. While their guitars are still mainly available only in China, their ukuleles have made it around the world. They’ve even started to combine the two instruments with their new “U-Guitar” line of smaller acoustic guitars modeled on ukuleles. They also have a “guitarlele” in their X1 series.
Review of the Enya X1 Series of HPL Ukuleles
Of all the ukuleles that Enya makes, the X1 series is the one that has made the biggest splash. And that’s no accident! It’s a wonderfully innovative line of ukuleles made from a very special material. They’re available in the four main sizes (soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone), plus fun pineapple and round shapes. There’s also a “guitalele,” a tenor-scale guitar that is perfect for six string players on the go.
What is High Pressure Laminate?
High-pressure laminate, or HPL, is made by using (you guessed it!) high pressures to fuse many layers of cellulose (the fiber in wood and paper) together. Believe it or not, the other major use of HPL is in countertops! If you’ve ever seen a Formica countertop, you’ve seen HPL in action.
There are a few reasons why companies including Enya have started using it in their ukuleles.
- It has very similar tonal properties to wood, making it an ideal choice for making instruments.
- Since it’s synthetic, the companies have more control over the process and properties of the finished product.
- It’s waterproof and resistant to temperature and climate changes.
That last point is a huge advantage for the Enya X1 ukuleles. While other ukes can warp, crack, or otherwise feel the effects of changes in humidity, HPL ukuleles are all but impervious to climate extremes. You can board a plane in hot and muggy Louisiana and get out in cold, dry Minnesota and your uke will keep on chugging. That’s one (but not the only) reason why Enya’s X1 ukuleles make a great travel companion.
Build Quality and Feel of Enya’s X1 Ukuleles
The first thing I noticed when I opened up the box on my X1 tenor was the level of detail. Many ukuleles in this price range have to cut corners on certain features. Slotted headstocks, radiused (curved) fretboards, and compensated bridges sometimes have to be sacrificed to keep costs down.
Not on the X1 there’s a remarkable attention to making it look and feel like a much more expensive ukulele. Intonation is very good up the neck, and the action is fairly good as well. The frets are well-positioned and not sharp, avoiding a common problem on less expensive ukuleles.
HPL doesn’t have a wooden grain, and can have almost any kind of color or pattern finish. Enya put a wood grain pattern on the X1 that mimics the sort of look you’d find in a wooden ukulele. It won’t fool anyone up close, but from farther away it more or less looks like a wooden uke. It’s a bit disappointing that they didn’t go crazy with colors and designs, but I can see why sticking to a classic look is probably best. Maybe some day they’ll expand their color selection!
How Enya’s X1 Ukuleles Sound
Here’s popular Youtuber Ariel McCleary playing and giving a review of the X1 pineapple ukulele, so you can get a sense of how it sounds:
Overall, they sound just like a ukulele should. Nice and mellow, with a good balance between strings. I normally suggest swapping out whatever factory string come on any ukulele, and the Enya X1 is no different. However, the strings aren’t necessarily bad, and will do fine if you want to get a sense of the instrument for a while before switching strings.
The HPL sounds a lot like a good laminate ukulele, although it is a little quiet. Next to wooden ukuleles of a similar size, the Enya X1 ukuleles won’t be as loud. While some might not like that, I actually like the softer voice.
The Perfect Travel Companion
The HPL already makes the Enya X1 a great travel ukulele, but there’s another feature that really puts it over the top. The strap button at the base of the neck is actually a bolt. Loosen the strings, unscrew the bolt with the hex key that Enya ships with the ukulele, and the neck will pop off!
This removable neck means that the ukulele can effectively be folded in half for storage. Even a baritone, normally close to 30″ long, will easily fit inside a standard carry-on bag. The soprano is amazingly compact, and could even fit in a medium-to-large women’s handbag!
When you’ve arrived at your destination, just slot the neck back in and screw the bolt back down. It’s best to loosen the strings considerably when you’re removing the neck, because tighter strings make it harder to fit the neck back on.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the bridge is not fixed or glued down. I almost lost it the first time I packed my X1 baritone to travel! Luckily, it had just fallen into some of the clothes in my bag. Now, I remove it before packing and keep it in the pocket of my carry-on bag. Be sure to put it back in before replacing the neck!
All of Enya’s ukuleles ship with a bunch of fun accessories. Some are very useful, like the soft padded cases. Some are less so, but still kind of fun, like little finger shakers. The most important accessories that Enya provides include
- A soft case/gig bag, which is very well-padded. It does a great job of protecting the ukulele from any dings and scratches during travel. There’s a little pocket on the front to carry strings and other odds and ends. I wish it were a bit bigger to fit things like sheet music, but that might be hard on a small ukulele case.
- A tuner, which clips onto the headstock. It works well in noisy situations, and is very accurate. Be careful, though, because it’s definitely not as rugged as the ukulele. I accidentally crushed the first one by packing it at the bottom of my suitcase.
- Extra strings, which are honestly not all that great. Not terrible, and they’ll do in a pinch, but it’s best to spend a few bucks on Aquilas, D’Addarios, or your string of choice rather than use the included strings.
- A capo, which is a bit flimsy but useable. Honestly, it’s best to learn to play without a capo, but for playing in an odd key this could come in handy.
Wooden Enya Ukuleles
Besides the X1 series made from HPL, Enya has a wide variety of more conventional wood ukuleles. Some of them are an incredible value for a solid-wood ukulele, and are a great choice for beginners and expert players alike. They also come with many of the same accessories as the X1 series, including a nice padded gig bag, strap, and tuner.
- The Enya OMS Concert Ukulele is made out of koa, with a lovely, rich grain. It is louder than many of the other Enya ukuleles, but still retains a nice warmth to its sound. There’s a pretty patterned rosette around the soundhole, and the bridge has a butterfly-like shape. All in all, it’s a very visually and sonically pleasing ukulele.
- The Enya KUT-20 is a tenor ukulele made out of sapele wood. It has a soft, sweet tone that feels very mellow. This is a great ukulele for quietly strumming or times when you can use a mic to bring out the subtleties in its sound. It also features a beautiful orchid-like engraving around the soundhole.
- The Enya KUT-MA is a remarkable value for a solid-mahogany tenor ukulele, and plays wonderfully. Right out of the box, the action is great, the frets are well-dressed, and the intonation is perfect. The solid wood produces a great, rich tone, and also has a beautiful grain that makes for a classic look.
Enya is quickly becoming one of the most popular ukulele brands not just in the US or China, but worldwide. They offer incredible value and feature some innovative designs alongside classic wooden ukuleles. If you’re looking for a travel ukulele, a first ukulele, or just a different sound, take a look at Enya. You’ll be sure to find something that will fit your style!