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Thread: Laminate Soprano Islander or what ???

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Default Laminate Soprano Islander or what ???

    A friend from the USA will be visiting the U.K. later in the year, he is willing to the purchase and bring me a Ukulele. The bulk of instruments that I might like to purchase are available in the U.K., though import costs and local taxes push the price up - and sometimes folk seem to take extra profits too. However a few that I’m really interested in aren’t available here at all, or are either very difficult to get hold of or are greatly overpriced. My budget is about $120, and I don’t play well enough to warrant spending much more than that - it’s amazing too what you can get out of a cheap but we’ll set-up Uke.

    The Islander Laminate Sopranos come in Mahogany (MS-4, $98) and Acacia (AS-4, $118). Does anyone have much of a view as to whether (and if so why) it’s worth spending the extra $20 on the Acacia model. Does anyone have a view on buying either of them? The primary attraction of the Islanders to me is their wide nut and reputation.

    In Concert Ukes I like the greater compactness of the twelve (rather than fourteen) fret to neck models and wondered about a couple (listed below). With the short neck they are only a little bigger than a Soprano and the extra string length does make a useful difference to sound and finger space.

    Oscar Schmidt do a Pineapple Concert Uke, their OU2P, and I can get one for under $80 in the USA but not at all in the U.K. I’m not attracted to the figure eight shaped OU2 but like the Pineapple shape, are they any good?

    Gretsch Ukes are available in the U.K. but at, what I think is, a very heavy premium. I wondered about their G9110 Laminate Concert body and scale Uke - $119 including a Gretsch bag - does anyone have any views on it?

    Finally, ‘cause the price is right and folk like them, I have found some ‘as new’ Kala KA-SEM’s for $68. Soprano’s are compact, I can fit a new nut to space the strings out and I believe that they’re really nice sounding Ukes - especially with some Worth Browns on them. It could be a very pleasing saving over the new U.K. price, but maybe I’m just being mean and shouldn’t be troubling my friend with this purchase.

    As I said earlier my budget is about $120. I like widely spaced strings, compact Ukes and the Pineapple shape (for its more mellow sound). I hate bling and fancy paint jobs, and I don’t like anything sounding overly ‘bright’ I’m primarily looking for what’s not readily available in the U.K. or is well over priced here. All prices above include delivery within the lower 48 states.

    What do people think or suggest?
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 05-15-2018 at 09:51 AM.

  2. #2
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    I'm not a lover of sopranos, but I did have some Kalas, a KA-S & KA-SEME, & a Makala pineapple, all good ukes - of the three I would have kept the KA-SEME if I would have played soprano.

    Maybe think about a Flea, they seem to cost a lot over here.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Walla Walla, WA
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    I do like sopranos. Expensive sopranos, usually. At one point I ordered an Islander and found it roughly made and unimpressive. I sent it back. I think Kala or Ohana are better. I have a $40 Kmise laminate that arrived set up perfectly, with all accessories, and it sounds great. I'd recommend it, but I suspect that, understandably, you'd like something that conveys more cachet and status. But you might want to slip one in with your order and see what you think. Then again, they may be just as cheap there.

    https://smile.amazon.com/Ukulele-Sop...oprano+ukulele
    Tiny Tenor spruce/mahogany
    Kiwaya KTC-2 mahogany concert
    Flight Travel soprano

  4. #4
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    Jul 2014
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    London, UK
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    I second Keith's Flea suggestion. A bit above your price range but they are rather pricey over here. I'm sure Booli can confirm but I seem to remember reading that they have a wider nut as well?

  5. #5
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    Thank you for the responses so far.

    @ Croaky Keith and Pirate Jim. I had thought about a Flea but at at least $180 they are well above my budget. They do have wide spaced strings but when I tried one out I found that other parts of their design don’t work well enough for me. My experience with Kala’s has all been good. The Soprano size is relatively compact and that has proved very helpful in a room crowded with other Uke players, the short scale works well with my short fingers too.

    @Ziret. I had a similar experience with one of their Concerts and should have sent it back, however I sorted out the issues and it’s an OK player now - but I will always resent having to do that work ....... don’t ask what I think of the supplying dealer’s QA and sales promises.

    I hadn’t thought of a Kmise. Cachet and status have little to no place in my life so if a Uke sounds OK, and works with my short thick fingers, then I’ll likely play it regardless of who makes it. As I recall Ohana Ukes have a narrow (34mm) nut and so don’t have wide spaced strings, for me wide spaced is essential.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 05-15-2018 at 10:31 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    I use an Islander laminate as a beach Uke.
    It is a tenor and a real bargain at 125.
    Keep Strummin'

  7. #7
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    Have you thought about the Outdoor Ukulele, Graham?

  8. #8
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    I own the Islander Acacia AS-4 soprano. Mine arrived well set up from Uke Republic, and I have no complaints about the build quality for the $118 I spent on it. It's my camping uke & suits that purpose very well. I am definitely most comfortable on concert scale, but the Islander is one soprano I can play without issues. I changed the stock Aquilla strings to Worth Clears. I have noticed that HMS has started selling the Islander Acacia ukes in all sizes on their website, so they must be happy with the build quality.
    My ukulele family.....
    Islander Acacia laminate soprano
    KoAloha concert - circa 2006
    Loprinzi cedar & rosewood concert
    Gary Gill concert scale tenor, Douglas Fir & Mahogany

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    I'm a novice player. I own an Islander Acacia AS-4 soprano, too. I loved it when I first got it (from Uke Republic). It felt so lively and comfortable to me, as well as sounding and looking great. I was convinced the wide nut and shallow neck were big reasons for my joy, so I bought an Islander mahogany-laminate in the concert size.

    For reasons I haven't figured out yet, I don't love the concert. It had several rough edges on the body when it arrived. I guess that should not have surprised me, given the price; but the acacia soprano was perfect so my expectations were high. Perhaps too high for this price range.

    My ear is not well developed, but I'm sure the concert sounds fine. Especially if someone else is playing it. There seems to be no real reason for my not liking it, but for some unknown reason, I don't.

    I struggle mightily against the desire to find the perfect uke; or several perfect ukes. If I would just practice more I'm sure this uke would sound a lot better; and then, maybe, I would love it like I want to.

    Funny how these things work.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    I think Islander must be a brand you really should get from one of the specialty dealers. The one I had that was rough was a concert, too, Junie, and probably mahogany, as that's what I was looking for at the time. Maybe their QC for that line was not good at the time.

    If you are looking for one that's wide at the nut, Graham, I'll measure that Kmise when is returns from a friend this weekend. I have a hunch it's the usual, though.
    Tiny Tenor spruce/mahogany
    Kiwaya KTC-2 mahogany concert
    Flight Travel soprano

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