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Thread: what is truly the best ukulele?

  1. #1

    Default what is truly the best ukulele?

    okay, this question isn't to see your opinons (well, it is), but i'm really confused!

    so before today, i have never played a k brand ukulele (kamaka, kanilea, koaloha, the sort) so i went to a local ukulele store and got my hands on a kanilea.

    you see, i have a beginner's lanikai 21 tenor, and it's fine, but it sounds like a toy now. but when i played the 700 dollar kanilea, it didn't sound significantly better. ?? seriously, it may have had a 15 percent more volume but not much sustain..

    now the confusing part is, i went to guitar center and played a concert cordoba ukulele. cordoba makes classical spanish guitars (?). and man, that cordoba just melted me. you see, the cordoba's sound seemed to melt into one beautiful harmony. the kanilea sounded good, but it was like individual strings sounding off, instead of the cordoba, where it sounded one and united.

    i'm really confused, cause' i thought the k brands were the top dog.

    oh btw, they didn't have a kamaka at the store, so i'll be waiting about a week or so when the shipment of kamakas come in.

    are kamakas still good? i'm really nervous about playing them, cause' after listening to the kanilea, i don't know what to expect.

  2. #2
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    The best ukulele is the ukulele that you think you'll play all the time. That's the bottom line. Doesn't matter what brand it is or how much it is. The point is if you play well enough, no one's gonna look at what ukulele you're playing.

  3. #3
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    You really have to go by what you hear in person. I found the each uke is different, and I have played many "K" brand ukes, and walked away unimpressed. It is kind of hit or miss. Eventually, I found a Kanile'a that had the magic sparkle sound I was hoping for, and I bought it. At the same dealer, I player a number of other Kanile'a, different sizes, and by far, even though this was a super concert, compared to the tenor they had, it was far superior. The KoAlohas seem to be pretty consistent though. But I would probably have to have some hands on time with any high priced uke before I bought it. Don't buy on reputation alone, if you can help it.

    –Lori
    Last edited by Lori; 10-28-2009 at 07:51 PM. Reason: spelling

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ed531 View Post
    The best ukulele is the ukulele that you think you'll play all the time. That's the bottom line.
    Yep. And which one is "the best" will probably change over time. I actually haven't taken my Mainland out of the case in four or five days. For some reason the Makala is just doing it for me this week.

    Doesn't matter what brand it is or how much it is. The point is if you play well enough, no one's gonna look at what ukulele you're playing.
    Or they may look at it and say "whoa, that guy's making that $40 Makala sound awfully good!"

    --Mark
    Mainland CMM-S | Makala MK-S and MK-SD | Unknown Japanese uke from the '70s ("The wreck of the old '77")
    It's pronounced "Blrfl."

  5. #5
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    Personally, I think the best Ukes are solid wood and aged...I have an 8+ year old Koa soprano that, when I play, sounds AMAZING. To hear that little Soprano emit such magnificent sounds astonishes me. But that's just me.

    And in my own experience, Lanikai's are good Ukes, my uncle has the same one that you have - but when I play that and then I grab my soprano and play that...I personally can not only HEAR a significant difference but also FEEL a significant difference - the fact that his Uke is laminate and mine is solid really produces a different sound to me. The last time I played a Cordoba, it was okay to me...it sounded rather "dry", if I may use that term. The wood felt weird to me as well, but then again...we're all different and have different opinions.
    Oh, hello there.

  6. #6
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    I know many claim they have the best wife on Earth but I know that's impossible because she's married to me. I own one K brand 'ukulele a Kamaka pineapple but all and all I pick up and play my Flea the most often. If I ate the best tasting pizza every day I'd tire of pizza. Variety is the spice of life.
    Am I making any sense?
    "I 'ike lakou, o 'oe, ka mea wale no nona ka inoa, o Iehova; O 'oe no ka Mea ki'eki'e loa maluna o ka honua a pau." HALELU 83:18

  7. #7
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    This is kind of reminding me of that post that MGM made where he played all those ukes and dared us all to tell the difference by sound alone...

    If it sounds great to you and you love playing it, then that's the best uke.

    It's like everything else, what is the best car? What is the best food?
    ask those questions and get many different answers...

    I admit that my Lanikai does not sound as great as I remember it sounding when it was my only ukulele. My wife does not like the sound of my Lanikai much anymore either. I am going to swap out the Aquilas for D'Addarios and see what happens though.

    I love the way my Pono sounds, and so does my wife, but others on this board say they are not impressed with Pono ukuleles.

    So here's your answer:

    IT DEPENDS!
    My Quiver: S & J Craft Milo Tenor "Liliu" six string custom and Milo and Lychee concert by Emil Bader
    Pono PKT-1 Koa Tenor w/MiSi, Lanikai LU-21T - Autographed!, Hikare CU 528 Baritone
    R&L all koa mini concert, Mainland Gecko, Epiphone Les Paul Vintage, Purple Kamoa GC-700, Kala Concert
    Nothin' left to do but : ) : ) : )

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ed531 View Post
    The best ukulele is the ukulele that you think you'll play all the time. That's the bottom line. Doesn't matter what brand it is or how much it is. The point is if you play well enough, no one's gonna look at what ukulele you're playing.
    Couldn't have said it better.

    What's the best "anything" depends on your own tastes. My husband insists I buy only Best Foods mayo. Some might prefer another brand or even Miracle Whip.

  9. #9
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    I think it really takes a trained and experienced sound professional to describe certain quality of an instrument objectively.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahnko Honu View Post
    If I ate the best tasting pizza every day I'd tire of pizza. Variety is the spice of life.
    I hope you're still not talking about your marriage here.

    Quote Originally Posted by shores&hammocks View Post
    the kanilea sounded good, but it was like individual strings sounding off, instead of the cordoba, where it sounded one and united.
    This is just an opinion, but it seems to me like the Kanilea has more clarity. As always though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, one man's trash is another man's treasure, to each his own, whatever floats your boat, different strokes for different folks, and any other idioms about person preferences.


    Successful sellers: Nuprin (Mele Tenor Koa/Mahogany Electric on 11/2009)
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  10. #10
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    I can relate to what you are saying. I went and played several of the K brands one afternoon when I had the money to buy something. I thought my mind should be blown from everything I read online, but I found most of the K ukes I tried to be kind of average sounding at best. Then I picked up my particular Koaloha and it just sang out to me. It seriously sounded drastically better than the other three in the shop to me, so I took that one home.

    Find the one that makes your heart sing, that is the best uke!
    Vintage Ukulele Player and Collector

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