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View Full Version : I need a great playing/sounding uke for outdoors



deschutestrout
02-23-2015, 03:30 PM
I spend a LOT of time outside, camping, river trips, etc. I want a uke that can withstand moisture, temperature swings (100 during the day to 20 at night ... not in the same 24 hr period, but those are the temps I'm often in). I don't want a cheap plastic uke, and I can't spend $1200 now for a Blackbird ... I protect the heck out of my instruments, so it won't see direct sun, etc.

So...decent laminate? Save for a Clara? Looking for suggestions .... and reports of ukes that stand up well to the elements. UAS - Outdoors.

PTOEguy
02-23-2015, 03:35 PM
Rough choice - I've taken a flea car camping and the friction tuners got a little loose when it got cold. Plus I'm not sure how moisture proof it really is.

I'd save for a Clara, except that I have trouble taking that expensive an instrument into harms way no matter how tough it is.

deschutestrout
02-23-2015, 03:41 PM
I'd save for a Clara, except that I have trouble taking that expensive an instrument into harms way no matter how tough it is.

That, is my issue. I too would have a hard time throwing a $1200 uke in my boat and heading down river. On the flip side, I do take VERY good care of my instruments ... 'ole Clara would be in good hands.

NewKid
02-23-2015, 03:53 PM
Martin OXK

deschutestrout
02-23-2015, 03:58 PM
Martin OXK

looks about right ... but it has to be a concert ... maybe Martin will make one some day.

Photojosh
02-23-2015, 04:02 PM
Fluke is probably going to be your best sound/value ratio. I'd agree with the OXK if they ever made a concert version. I've heard nothing but good about that uke.

kissing
02-23-2015, 05:10 PM
Kealoha plastic concert ukes.
cheap as chips, tough as nails.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00NF61WMG/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1424751012&sr=8-1&keywords=kealoha+ukulele&pi=AC_SY200_QL40

To me, a laminate uke, or even a fluke is too dear to expose to extreme conditions. Laminate is still wood and Flea/Fluke are certainly not expendable.

Cfiimei
02-23-2015, 05:15 PM
Get a fluke or a flea. I doubt you can hurt it bad. The concert Flea might slip into a backpack easier. Both sound and play great. Oh, and take an extra set of strings. Nothing sucks like being in a beautiful location in the middle of nowhere and having a string pop.

protecto
02-23-2015, 05:38 PM
Have you considered outdoor ukulele. I know they are plastic but they are only $100 and there are some in depth reviews on YouTube highlighting the pros and con's I plan on picking one up in a few months.
http://outdoorukulele.com/
YouTube user peteymack64 has over 20 minutes of review. For the price I don't think it would hurt to try. Of course blackbird would be better but it's 10 times the cost.

deschutestrout
02-23-2015, 06:13 PM
Have you considered outdoor ukulele. I know they are plastic but they are only $100 and there are some in depth reviews on YouTube highlighting the pros and con's I plan on picking one up in a few months.
http://outdoorukulele.com/
YouTube user peteymack64 has over 20 minutes of review. For the price I don't think it would hurt to try. Of course blackbird would be better but it's 10 times the cost.
Yeah, they are actually made close to where I live. Strummed one for about 4 seconds. Didn't do it for me. Thanks all for the suggestions! I'll figure it out. :D

M3Ukulele
02-23-2015, 07:31 PM
Currently for me it's a tenor Fluke with plastic fretboard, walnut with Pegheds. When I can afford it (and when they finally make it)..........it will be an eKOA Tenor from Blackbird. ........Sure hope this wish comes true!

Rllink
02-24-2015, 02:17 AM
I have a Makala concert ukulele. It happens to be my only ukulele. It has gone camping, to the beach, to the park, on fishing trips, four wheeling, and was played on the deck all last summer. I really like my Makala. It is of course wood. You can't take it and submerge it in the lake, and it would be a good idea not to sit out in the rain to play it, but hey, how many people actually want to do that? I'm sure there are some. Anyway, I've done next to no maintenance on it since I got it, and it is none the worse for wear. It is quite rugged, and pretty scratch resistant as well. If you want to go with wood instead of plastic, I would recommend it. They aren't very expensive either.

Ukuleleblues
02-24-2015, 03:10 AM
Kealoha plastic concert ukes.
cheap as chips, tough as nails.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00NF61WMG/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1424751012&sr=8-1&keywords=kealoha+ukulele&pi=AC_SY200_QL40

To me, a laminate uke, or even a fluke is too dear to expose to extreme conditions. Laminate is still wood and Flea/Fluke are certainly not expendable.Kissing, Do you think the plastic uke could take being tuned to D? This looks like something I could throw under the truck seat. But I play everything with a D tuned uke.

actadh
02-24-2015, 03:46 AM
Not sure of the status of the BugsGear concert. There was an IndieGoGo a while back. Their sopranos seem acceptable.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/bugsgear-plastic-concert-size-ukulele

StacyAZ
02-24-2015, 04:08 AM
I am in the same "boat" you are, looking at getting a ukulele that can withstand outdoor use. I am fortunate to have a couple river trips in the works for this summer (Grand Canyon then Deso/Gray) and want to take a uke. Plan A was to buy a hard case for my Luna Honu, but I am looking at buying another uke anyway to string Low G and learn fingerstyle. It would be better if I could take this uke on my trips so I can play songs requiring Low G (duet with my guitar-playing husband). Since I live in Southern Arizona I will be avoiding solid wood ukes that require supplementary humidification. So in my mind it comes down to a Fluke or a Clara, which I am happy to see are among those recommended to you here! But at $1000 more, the Clara is just too precious to seriously contemplate at this time. I've only been playing the ukulele for a month! Like you, I would not feel comfortable at all taking a Clara on the river (boats do flip on the Colorado, and sand is ever present), so I have pretty much decided on the Fluke for myself, with a hard case I can put into a rented dry bag.

wayfarer75
02-24-2015, 04:31 AM
I'd go for a Fluke or Flea. But no ukulele is indestructible, so I'd be prepared to replace it.

katysax
02-24-2015, 05:58 AM
There are many laminate concerts in the approximately $100 range that are quite playable and sound pretty good. It won't withstand absolutely anything but it will withstand a lot and in the end if it gets messed up you can throw it away. Even though I have a Clara I would not use it as you describe. I'd just get an Islander concert or something equivalent and use that.

For what it is worth when I was a teenager I saved all my money for a Gibson guitar. That guitar went with me everywhere for years. It went camping where it was exposed to extreme temps. It spent time in the car. It flew on airplanes. After about 40 years it was beat to hell, and the case was a wreck, but truth is we are all (me included) probably way more sensitive about our instruments than we really need to be. Of course if I had treated that Gibson well it would not have reached the point of being unplayable and unrepairable, but I got a good 40 years out of use out of it, many of which during which it was badly abused.

deschutestrout
02-24-2015, 06:06 AM
There are many laminate concerts in the approximately $100 range that are quite playable and sound pretty good. It won't withstand absolutely anything but it will withstand a lot and in the end if it gets messed up you can throw it away. Even though I have a Clara I would not use it as you describe. I'd just get an Islander concert or something equivalent and use that.



Thanks Katysax....that's where I'm leaning. I may just wait until a good used laminate comes up on UU Marketplace. Funny thing is, I had the PERFECT, great sounding all laminate Kala...I gifted it (which felt darn good) ... wishing I could have "replicated" it :eek:

Lori
02-24-2015, 06:25 AM
If you really enjoy great sound, then the Clara is the way to go. If you would be too worried about that, then get a really sturdy case, and bring something else. Really, if the case is really strong, you really have 80% of your worries taken care of. If you picture yourself in risky situations while you are playing (in a canoe, on a towel on the beach), then a less expensive plastic might be the way to go. If you can keep your uke with you all the time, then it might be OK to risk an expensive uke. If your uke will be transported by others from time to time, bring something that won't break your heart if it is lost. I like my long neck Flea.

–Lori

Uncle Rod Higuchi
02-24-2015, 07:56 AM
it's a plywood box, but the neck is detachable so it stores easily and is very sturdy.

check out "Pahulele" on YouTube. Ho'okani Music, Honolulu, Reid Shigemura,
soprano or tenor.

I have one of each and I enjoy using them. They obviously don't sound like other ukes,
due to their heavier (comparatively) construction, but they 'work', they are eminently
portable, and no worries about string tension and neck/body connection... as the neck
detaches and is securely stored inside the body :)

just another option :)

keep uke'in',

spookelele
02-24-2015, 08:23 AM
Im looking for this kind of thing too for backpacking. I pre-ordered a kala waterman, which is soprano though, mostly because I need something smaller because I have to carry everything.

I think not absorbing water is important, esp if you overnight. When the temp drops the air inside the uke will condense on the inside of the uke. It's why tents often are wet inside when you wake up. Laminates are not sealed on the inside. And then in the morning, when it starts to warm, you'll get condensation on the outside.

rappsy
02-24-2015, 08:41 AM
I agree with the Flea. They are so well made, that if you drop you oar or bat, the Flea can be used. :o They are small and lightweight. The concert size (M40) has a scale that is a bit bigger than a concert so if you familiar and happy with concerts and tenors, this should work fine.

deschutestrout
02-24-2015, 12:05 PM
Ha! Yer funny Bill1! I'm a professional outfitter on the Deschutes in Oregon, and do a ton of camping on the river, and in the mountains for pleasure. I ALWAYS carry an instrument ... I'll keep it dry (that's never been an issue) ... temp range from 20F-110F is the variable. $100 laminate or a concert flea is likely what I'll go with ... it explodes after a season, buy another. Clara is still on my radar ... but it would stay home below 35F and above 90F ... then the $100 lam would get thrown in the mix. Thanks all! Great suggestions!

good_uke_boy
02-24-2015, 12:10 PM
I played my Clara on the top of Vail mountain. Just sayin'

deschutestrout
02-24-2015, 12:17 PM
I played my Clara on the top of Vail mountain. Just sayin'
To clarify I WANT A CLARA :drool: Just don't have $1000 to invest in one at the moment. All of you just need to come fishing with me ... then I'll have $ :) And, curious ... how cold was it on top of Vail and how did the Clara perform? And, how did it react when you went to a cozy spot in front of a fireplace? Serious questions...I wanna know just how kick a$$ these are.

timmit65
02-24-2015, 04:06 PM
I'm going throw a curve ball....Look at the Epiphone LesPaul. It's essentially an electric guitar. It's a bolt on neck and semi-hollow body Uke. They're roughly $100.00. If you put better stings on them they sound much better acoustically(a little better than a hollowbody guitar, but not like an acoustic).....I travel with mine in an upgraded gigbag or hardshell case, never had a problem. That said, I don't camp, but do live in Florida! I normally fly with it a couple of times a year. It stays in my locked car in the heat of summer...in Florida.

I'm not saying this is the answer, but it works for me. Take a look!

good_uke_boy
02-25-2015, 01:53 AM
To clarify I WANT A CLARA :drool: Just don't have $1000 to invest in one at the moment. All of you just need to come fishing with me ... then I'll have $ :) And, curious ... how cold was it on top of Vail and how did the Clara perform? And, how did it react when you went to a cozy spot in front of a fireplace? Serious questions...I wanna know just how kick a$$ these are.

Temp was in the 20's. The Clara performed just fine, but it was too cold to play with ungloved hands for more than a couple of minutes. Clara did well once inside, too. Pretty good for an instrument with such great tone.
FYI, my understanding is that Clara's eKoa is not as hardy as Blackbird's carbon fiber instruments. For example, Blackbird apparently recommends not using Clara as a boat paddle, while using a tenor Blackbird BTU for that would be just fine.

Ukejenny
02-25-2015, 10:08 AM
I have been saving for a Clara and I feel that, from what all I've read and heard online, it sounds and plays very well. Some say it even rivals the sound of a much bigger, aged wooden ukulele. It will be my forever ukulele.

Down Up Dick
02-25-2015, 10:52 AM
I have been saving for a Clara and I feel that, from what all I've read and heard online, it sounds and plays very well. Some say it even rivals the sound of a much bigger, aged wooden ukulele. It will be my forever ukulele.

I, too, would like a Clara, though I'd rather have a Blackbird tenor. I'm waiting 'til my playing can justify ithe price--might be a while.

I've given up on wooden Ukes--no more humidity hassles! I'm planning on just whacking away at what I've got, though I'm thinking (a little) about a tenor Flea.

As The Graduate was told--"Plastics!" (and carbon fibre and steel). :old:

deschutestrout
02-25-2015, 12:18 PM
I may just look at my current "fleet" and say, "hmmm, which one wouldn't I mind too terribly bad if it got damaged, or a seam popped, or the top warped so bad that I needed to replace it with a Clara?" :D . And I do take extremely good care of my instruments, so it would take a fair amount of really extreme temps to cause a major issue. Or, HMS has many set up lams for under $125 ... if I pick up a new "beater" that will likely be the way I go ... although my "beaters" get treated with the same loving care as my top-shelf guitars ... lots of great suggestions folks...and so many lean towards Clara ... that in itself speaks volumes.

SteveZ
02-25-2015, 02:58 PM
Another vote for a Flea. I have a Flea soprano that has survived being inside my car during a Central FL summer, left in the backyard in the rain, and various other "where the €ег# did I leave the Flea this time?" situations. It's still going strong in spite of me....

deschutestrout
02-25-2015, 04:14 PM
Next shop I enter that has Fleas .... I'm gonna spend some time with one and see what I think. Many love them ... that says a lot.

ralphk
02-26-2015, 02:17 AM
A Flea, without question. Sorry I sold mine when I had to do some downsizing. A concert scale, plastic fretboard*, plain finish. If, and I think it is very unlikely, the top ever cracked, the factory can quickly install a new top. Note that the factory is fairly automated and the tops are cut out of an acoustic laminate sheet, so there is little hand work involved in making a new one or a repair. Surely one of the best options, and a good sounding one at that.

Ralph

* I'd probably go for the nice wood fretboard. It too could be easily replaced.

Ukulele Eddie
02-28-2015, 10:50 AM
How about a bamboo uke?

deschutestrout
03-01-2015, 12:55 PM
Just ordered a laminate mahogany concert from Mims for $107 shipped! I've heard such great things about Mims (and Ohana...this will be my 1st) so I figured what the heck. No way to really go wrong. With the care I take of my instruments, it will take quite an extreme situation for this to become unplayable ... and by the time it does, hopefully I will have stashed enough cash away to the the Clara Blackbird that's on my radar :D. Thanks for all your input gang ... I will soon receive my campin' / boatin' / hand to the drunk guy uke :cool: