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rappsy
03-10-2015, 10:38 AM
Ok. Here's a subjective question.

I own the Koa Concert M40 with the Hardwood Fretboard. The purpose of my purchase was to use it as my travel Uke and not to have to baby it. Well, because I got the top of the line, I do baby it and I do not do with it what I intended.

My question is this: I like the sound and am wondering how much different, if any, will it be from the plastic fretboard and their standard soundboard material? I realize Koa will change the sound somewhat, but does anyone feel it is substantial? I am thinking of putting this up for sale or trade and just getting one of the Flea plastic fretboards and laminates that I won't have to baby.

Opinions???

Thanks in advance.

deschutestrout
03-10-2015, 10:58 AM
Ok. Here's a subjective question.

I own the Koa Concert M40 with the Hardwood Fretboard. The purpose of my purchase was to use it as my travel Uke and not to have to baby it. Well, because I got the top of the line, I do baby it and I do not do with it what I intended.

My question is this: I like the sound and am wondering how much different, if any, will it be from the plastic fretboard and their standard soundboard material? I realize Koa will change the sound somewhat, but does anyone feel it is substantial? I am thinking of putting this up for sale or trade and just getting one that I won't have to baby.

Opinions???

Thanks in advance.

Funny, I treat my "beaters" the exact same way I treat my top shelf guitars, etc. I think if you appreciate instruments like you and I do, that's just the way it is. Play it and enjoy, it's unlikely you're gonna damage it ... and if you do? Invest then. (says the one who's purchased 6 ukes in the last two months ... don't listen to me, I'm sick :drool:)

deschutestrout
03-10-2015, 11:02 AM
And thinking about it, I think I chose my "beaters" as those where if it imploded, you'd hear an "ah sh!t" instead of an "oh F@%K!!!"

rappsy
03-10-2015, 11:08 AM
Well enunciated. You are going to need more room in your signature for all your Ukes.

deschutestrout
03-10-2015, 11:17 AM
I believe you and I are oddly "kindred spirits" of a sort ... when I seek a "travel, beater, not-to-worry-about" instrument, it has to sound good, play well, etc ... which makes it a solid, "quality" instrument, and one I take care of. My incoming Clara, as durable as I hear it is, will likely sit home when I'm camping during colder, wet weather, and my $100 incredible-playing Ohana will likely join me instead.

WestyShane
03-10-2015, 11:38 AM
I am thinking of putting this up for sale or trade and just getting one that I won't have to baby.

Sweet, send it to me and I'll mail my laminate Mahalo to you!

I almost asked for a Flea for Xmas to use on camping trips but then decided I would probably be in the same boat as you. The intonation is a bit off but my Mahalo has otherwise treated me great for the 6 years I've been abusing it. I can buy 5 of 'em for the price of one Flea and after a few whiskies around the campfire neither myself or my friends think it sounds too bad.

Hippie Dribble
03-10-2015, 12:04 PM
I can buy 5 of 'em for the price of one Flea and after a few whiskies around the campfire neither myself or my friends think it sounds too bad.

Well put Shane. And that's it exactly. I don't think most of us have ears that are so sensitive we still can't appreciate the sound of a laminate mahalo. All ukes sound great to me more or less. My orange mahalo gets as much play time as my orange custom Black Bear. :)

DownUpDave
03-10-2015, 02:38 PM
If you like the sound of your Koa with wood fretborad then just use it. I don't think you would treat a $160 laminate flea harshly or without fore thought. It is a musical instrument so you will use some care in how you handle it. Because of that your Koa will be fine, plenty of expensive instruments get used and abused and survive.

Look at working bands with acoustic guitars they all have scratches, dents and dings from decades of making music. Nothing makes a builder happier than to see one of his instfuments well worn and well used. That is what they are made for.

Cfiimei
03-10-2015, 06:27 PM
I had a concert flea that I once swatted several flies with. It didn't even go out of tune. I abused the crap out of it for years, and finally dusted it off and gave it to a friend. Four years later and it is still going strong. The gal I gave it to has dwarfism, and when she plays it it looks like she is playing a jumbo guitar. She can really make that thing sing. Personally I think the sound of the laminate / plastic (original Flea formula) holds its own against much pricier axes, and dang they play easy.

igorthebarbarian
03-10-2015, 07:09 PM
I love the title of this post: "Flea Question" ---> go see the vet!

But seriously I had a basic plastic-fretboard soprano Flea that I got from Elderly - because they threw in the gig bag for free vs. ordering from the Flea site which was an extra $30 or so.
(Side question - when are they running a 10% off special because Flea's Fluke's are good to get from them!)

I would agree that I like its relative affordable-ness. I never felt bad leaving it out in the open/ on a desk unprotected.

I kind of have that mentality of "if it's too nice, I'll be afraid to touch it for fear of wrecking it" which I know is illogical and dumb. But that's how my brain works.

Also, they're made in the USA - which makes them a little pricier - but they have great personable customer service.... crap, I might have to get another one sometime!

RAB11
03-10-2015, 09:30 PM
I've taken my 30 quid Dolphin camping and stressed about rolling over in my sleep and crushing it.

As people have said, if it's a musical instrument you're likely to take some care. It's what makes you a musician. Just go out and play it.

Booli
03-10-2015, 10:40 PM
I'd just keep and use the Flea. Just play the living snot out of it until it dies.

My first Magic Fluke Co. instrument was a concert Lava Flea w/plastic fretboard that I got on sale from Uke Republic. I am actually looking forward to the day when the frets are all worn down, kind of like a badge of honor, that I put so much into it, and got so much joy out of it. 2 yrs now and thousands of hrs of play time and no signs of wear.

Since then I have a tenor Koa Fluke with the rosewood fretboard and pegheds (which I also love for different reasons), and back in Jan I bought a tenor Flea with walnut soundboard and birch rosette soundhole, that also has the rosewood fretboard...I put Living Water re-entrant strings on both the concert and tenor Fleas just recently and I like the sound of the concert Flea with the birch soundboard so much better...it's much more lively and has a sweeter tone than the walnut soundboard to my ear...

These are my 3 favorite ukes right now out of 15 total that I own. For me- I love the way they sound, I love the ease of the fretboard and neck, and the intonation is near perfect on all 3, and while they share some elements of design and construction, they all are unique sounding in their own way...

If you worry about the Flea getting ruined or lost, you can rest easy knowing that you can easily get another one, exactly the same model you already have to replace it, and while not all instruments of the same model will play or sound exactly the same, it's highly possible that Flea and Flukes have a higher consistency from uke to uke of the same model...

So I would not baby it, and give it all the attention you possibly can, only then will you feel and see the rewards...

Newportlocal
03-11-2015, 09:06 AM
I have a tenor pineapple flea with the standard tuners and plastic fretboard. I use living water or PHD strings on it. I never ever have to worry about it. I used to have a tiki soprano flea and sold it years ago. Should have kept it too. They are great ukes for a no worry uke. They even stand on their own. I have a CR I play most of the time, but like having the flea to take wherever I want without worrying. They are very close to indestructible.

rappsy
03-11-2015, 09:39 AM
One more question.

For you tenor players, how much difference did you find in the play ability of the Concert Flea vs the Tenor Flea? (I've never even seen a Tenor Flea.) The concert is bigger than most at 15.5" vs 17" scale for the tenor, so did you notice anything different in it, especially at the lower frets where are they are bigger anyway? If I am going to put in a fair amount of time on it, should it be the same size as the other Ukes I play?

Thanks again in advance.

Newportlocal
03-11-2015, 09:52 AM
One more question.

For you tenor players, how much difference did you find in the play ability of the Concert Flea vs the Tenor Flea? (I've never even seen a Tenor Flea.) The concert is bigger than most at 15.5" vs 17" scale for the tenor, so did you notice anything different in it, especially at the lower frets where are they are bigger anyway? If I am going to put in a fair amount of time on it, should it be the same size as the other Ukes I play?

Thanks again in advance.

Trick question with no easy answer. I started with soprano ukes and gravitated towards low G tenors. Tenors you can switch between reentrant and linear. I realize there are sets for other sizes, but more common to have a low G on a tenor and you can experiment with different linear and reentrant string brands and styles. So,there is the what tone are you trying to get. As far as fretboard size it is really just a preference thing. Hard to tell which size will be the goldilocks size for you, and some actually enjoy all the sizes equally. They all have string tension differences,tone differences,etc. I think you will probably be happy with either choice you make. I remember self torturing on my past uke decisions. If you think it's bad now see what it's like if you get a custom uke later in life.;)

ksiegel
03-11-2015, 11:00 AM
3
One more question.

For you tenor players, how much difference did you find in the play ability of the Concert Flea vs the Tenor Flea? (I've never even seen a Tenor Flea.) The concert is bigger than most at 15.5" vs 17" scale for the tenor, so did you notice anything different in it, especially at the lower frets where are they are bigger anyway? If I am going to put in a fair amount of time on it, should it be the same size as the other Ukes I play?

Thanks again in advance.

Can't speak for the Flea, but as a Magic Fluke aficionado...

I have a Tenor Fluke - M22, mahogany laminate top, rosewood fingerboard, peghed tuners, b-band pickup - it was a 2nd, paid between $300 - $400 at the Magic Fluke Shop. I also have a Firefly Soprano Banjo Uke, ordered before they were available (s/n is #22). I find them both easy to play, as well as a joy to play. I have the Firefly in a Colorado Case Company gig bag (with the Bean Sprout logo on it, the closest I will ever get to owning a Bean Sprout banjo Uke, I'm afraid), and keep the Fluke in the Gator Hard Shell Case that Fluke sells (or used to sell?) for it.

Are these instruments beaters? No - I don't own anything I'd call a beater.

Do I worry about taking them out into the cold/wet/dry/hot world? No, but I do treat them with respect.

What do I do with these instruments when someone asks about, or admires one of them? I place it into their hands, and have them strum a bit, or -if a complete novice - show them the C and F chords, and take them through a two - chord song chord.

So, when I distill all this down, what I come up with is: Play your ukulele. Take it with you where ever you go, play it loud, play it proud, and have fun with it.



-Kurt

StacyAZ
03-11-2015, 11:31 AM
One thing that niggles at my mind that I haven't seen addressed yet is the fact the the OP is talking about a Koa-topped flea. Doesn't the koa top, being of solid wood, require more care (i.e. humidifier) than the standard laminate-topped fleas? For that matter, does the rosewood fretboard require special humidity care as well?

I'm a noob living in a dry climate (southern Arizona) so I feel like I have to pay attention to the special requirements of solid wood ukuleles based on what I've been reading here in UU.

DownUpDave
03-11-2015, 11:46 AM
One thing that niggles at my mind that I haven't seen addressed yet is the fact the the OP is talking about a Koa-topped flea. Doesn't the koa top, being of solid wood, require more care (i.e. humidifier) than the standard laminate-topped fleas? For that matter, does the rosewood fretboard require special humidity care as well?

I'm a noob living in a dry climate (southern Arizona) so I feel like I have to pay attention to the special requirements of solid wood ukuleles based on what I've been reading here in UU.


Those are all very good and valid observations. The OP lives in Florida so nice and humid with no worries of drying out. You are right about a laminate top and plastic fretboard being less suseptable to enviromental damages. If Lenny was camping, hiking or boating with the wood top and fretboard model then there might be cause for concern.

SweetWaterBlue
03-11-2015, 05:18 PM
I can't really speak to how much different the solid wood soundboards on a Flea sound than the laminates, since my Flea is a laminate. Judging from my other ukes that have solid tops vs laminates, I would say the solid wood probably sounds a bit better. Whether you would feel the difference in sound around a campfire is probably debatable.

My concert Flea is easier to play than my Lanikai STEQ tenor. I think its mostly because my Flea has wider string spacing, and lower action than my tenor does. Its mostly due to the zero fret, which I think even the wooden fretboard Fleas have.
The plastic fretboard sounds as good as the wooden one (if not better) IMO.

I played the crap out of my Flea when I first got it. So much so that I wore grooves in the plastic frets in 2 months. A few years later I gave it to my grandson, who was under 2 years old. After seeing him use it as a bat, hammer, etc a few times, I traded him my Dolphin and took the Flea back. The Flea is still going strong. The Dolphin regrettably didn't survive lol. The Flea is a great outdoor and foul weather uke, which also sounds good to most people's ears.