Grace VanderWaal broke onto the scene in 2016 with her unique sound and ‘Boho Chic’ style, bringing a breath of fresh air to the popular music scene. Her impression and influence have extended into her own line of signature ukuleles thanks to a partnership with Fender.
The Fender Grace VanderWaal Signature Ukulele (let’s abbreviate it to the GVW Signature) is the premier offering in her personal Fender line, and is a great example of the quality you can find in the sub-$200 ukulele price range.
This concert-style model certainly is a thing of beauty, with a body and neck well-crafted from sapele and finished in gloss walnut for a striking yet sophisticated appearance. Grace’s influence shows through with personal touches such as a sparkle gold rosette (who doesn’t like a little bit of glitter in their life?) and a distinctive sound hole label with a floral motif. Not that a label really means that much, but it does add to the whole vibe.
In our opinion, you can’t really call an instrument a Fender without some traditional touches. The GVW Signature comes through on that end with a Tele-style headstock with Grace’s own heart-inspired signature on the back (in gold, no less).
The gold theme continues with the hardware, particularly the gold-plated tuners. String changes are simple and quick thanks to the pull-thru design on the bridge. One thing we would have liked to see is strap buttons that came preinstalled, but that’s a minor detail that would be relatively easy to add if that’s your preference.
One area where the GVW Signature really shines is the Fishman Kula preamp system that comes as a standard feature. The Kula isn’t a guitar-based system that was just thrown in for kicks – it’s actually designed specifically for use with a ukulele, and it shows! It offers an impressive level of tonal flexibility with a 3-band EQ (bass, mid, and high) along with a standard volume knob. The integrated chromatic tuner makes this one a winner, particularly for a live setting where you may need to quickly tune on the fly.
It would be nice if a gig bag was included. There is one available, but unfortunately it would have to be purchased separately. Otherwise, great results in the hardware department.
So, it looks great and has good features. That’s all fine and dandy – but how does it sound?
No complaints from us here! The tone, when it’s unplugged, is sweet without sounding ‘cheap’. Ukuleles can be instruments that are considered relatively inexpensive, and many of them just don’t live up to the tone standards that should be set by a professional-level instrument. No such worries with the GVW Signature. Fender did it right!
Plugged in is where the GVW Signature rises above the rest. Without a doubt, the Fishman Kula shines a pretty bright light on this uke. It’s so easy to dial in ‘your’ sound with the responsive EQ that you may find the GVW to be your new #1.
You may be able to call Grace VanderWaal an ambassador for the ukulele, and Fender has certainly used that to their advantage (and yours as well!) with the Grace VanderWaal Signature model. It looks cool, delivers in the sound department, and has some impressive features – certainly worthy of a place in any ukulele’s player’s collection.