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k0k0peli
06-23-2015, 03:08 PM
Yet another New Uke Day has rolled around. I will not brag about snagging a classic. I will not accuse those who do mention their expensive acquisitions of snobbery. Yet I am almost afraid to reveal some brand names because they're not masterpieces of the luthier's art. Quite the opposite. But they play and sound nicely, if not exquisitely. For the most part, that matters not. I mostly play in my own home for the amusement of my wife and myself and tolerant visitors, and we're happy with the sounds.

Enough of that. We're at the end of a long road trip, just over one month, shortened by two weeks because of a heat wave in our trajectory. We'll dash home tomorrow. We left with three stringed instruments in our car: Kay A-type mandolin, Kala 6-string tenor uke, and Martin Backpacker guitar. We'll return home with at least ten new acquisitions. I say "at least" because something else could jump out and bite me before tomorrow night. Stranger things have happened.

This being a Uke forum, y'all won't be interested in my four new mandos which range from the sublime to the gorblimey (Celtic, Russian, F-type, and mandola). I've already mentioned the 1920's Martin(?) tiple I got a couple weeks ago. No, I'll just name the new ukes and others. We started with an Alvarez RU22T tenor. During a swap of cases, an Ohana SK-10CR soprano joined us. And today I grabbed three Harmonia axes for US$170 total: a UK-201 concert, a UKLL-2N baritone, and a T-10W Puerto Rican cuatro. All have good voices -- good enough for us, anyway. If we hadn't already stuffed the car with other stuff, I might have also grabbed a guitarron, a tres, and maybe more. Too bad they didn't have a charango and a balalaika.

I'd like to see others here mention inexpensive ukes they're happy with. A few of y'all ARE happy, right?

DownUpDave
06-23-2015, 03:36 PM
Well congrats on all the new musical instruments, "sounds" like you had a ball (pun intended). If a uke sounds good to you and you like there is no need for disclaimers.......play it, love it, make music with it.

My first uke was a Gretsch G9120 laminate tenor cost $135.00 brand new, I still have, still play it, still sounds good to me. Same for my $112.00 Islander AS-4 soprano, my car-uke, tons of fun.

katysax
06-23-2015, 03:47 PM
Oh yeah. Inexpensive ukes are fun. While I have some pricey customs I also have an Alic Soprano mostly plastic, a Woodi Soprano all plastic, a couple of Islanders (the Kanilea kind not the plastic ones), a Kala, and I'm not above picking up a no-name uke at a yard sale. Sometimes I buy a cheap uke to satisfy my UAS for a while. Sometimes I do it just for fun - I kind of like cheap plastic ukes. I also like having inexpensive ukes that I can give or sell to friends.

An Ohana or a Kala can be a great uke. Any uke can be fun so long as it stays in tune and the intonation isn't too bad.

Ukejenny
06-23-2015, 03:47 PM
Good heavens - a wonderful musical Odyssey! Congratulations on each and every one!

Booli
06-23-2015, 04:01 PM
I hope the trip or vacation was memorable, as you certainly have some great souvenirs if nothing else - LOL :)

I bet you can't wait to get home so you can rock out :music: on all your new 'toys' and it's great that your wife is along for the ride, both literally and figuratively. :nana:. Sounds like she's a keeper.

I'll bet that many of your UU brethren are as happy for you as I am. Thanks for sharing!

Fleacia
06-23-2015, 04:06 PM
Good heavens - a wonderful musical Odyssey! Congratulations on each and every one!

Agreed!

"Inexpensive" is relative... Your inexpensive could be my wow, I could have eaten for a week on that, which doesn't mean I wouldn't swap it for a uke, just that I'll be eating differently for a while! :D You have a happy family there, right? Well so do I and that's what matters! <3 Enjoy every one, each will offer something new and valuable... and fun!

Captain Simian
06-23-2015, 04:12 PM
My 3 most expensive ukes are my Ohanas (SK-38 & TK-38) and my reso-banjo uke that I got from Antebellum. The rest I don't think I paid more than $100 or so. I just can't seem to justify buying a super high end instrument at this time. Maybe in 5 more years when I feel like my playing is worthy of it.

uke-garou
06-23-2015, 04:13 PM
I have a Koa Pili Koko mahongany tenor. It is on the low end of the price curve, but it is an all solid instrument with bone nut and saddle. It doesn't have any embellishments.
It sounds nice and is set up well. I am happy.

There is no shame in having a low cost instrument.
Ukulele = Happy

wayfarer75
06-23-2015, 04:39 PM
There is no shame in having a low cost instrument.
Ukulele = Happy
Indeed! I have two expensive ukes, one sorta expensive one and a nice cheap Kala soprano that was my only uke for two years. I just bought a hard case for the Kala, because the gig bag doesn't cut it for travel. I will never get rid of it.

k0k0peli
06-23-2015, 06:57 PM
Yes, it's been a splendid but surprising trip. The heatwave drove us from our expected trajectory to the vicinity of the shop where today I bought the last five instruments. There's a major forest fire burning a dozen miles away -- downwind, luckily, but we're all packed up and ready to flash homeward tomorrow. Most of the instruments acquired on this trip came unexpectedly. I recall a saying that good luck comes to those who prepare for it. Yes, I searched in many shops, and got lucky just often enough.

Now comes the fun: Setups for those that need it. Restringing as needed, in stock or variant tunings. And clearing enough space in the house to put everything out to be seen and used. I'm up to 33 stringed instruments now. Any more and I'll have to start hanging them from the ceiling.

SteveZ
06-24-2015, 02:32 AM
........Now comes the fun: Setups for those that need it. Restringing as needed, in stock or variant tunings. And clearing enough space in the house to put everything out to be seen and used. I'm up to 33 stringed instruments now. Any more and I'll have to start hanging them from the ceiling.

Also enjoy taking an inexpensive instrument and then tinker with it to get the most out of it. So many folk give up on perfectly good instruments that just need some tweaks here and there to be decent songbirds.

33? Have a hard enough time finding space for the dozen that are here. Granddaughters pre-inherited another half-dozen already already.

The mandos sound interesting, too. Have gone through a lot of mandos over the last few years and now down to one made by a luthier (Brian Burgess) in Kentucky. Oddly enough he also makes guitars and sells under the "Kentucky Guitars" label, but must sell mandolins under a different label since the "Kentucky Mandolins" label is owned by Saga Music and all of these mandos are made in China. I bought Serial Number 7 of his mandolins when he just started making them. Tried to talk him into trying ukuleles as well, but haven't swayed him yet. If Brian ever does start making ukes, they will be stunning. Here's that mando - my last and the keeper.

80904

hendulele
06-24-2015, 02:46 AM
You're not a snob. You're a value-minded consumer!

Icelander53
06-24-2015, 05:21 AM
Gretsch hog tenor. just over $200 and a best buy imo.

Icelander53
06-24-2015, 05:33 AM
Pretty soon you'll have to hire a houseboy to restring and tune them.

Most of the economy ukes in my horde have turned out to be surprisingly good, and consequently I haven't yet gotten rid of them, as I had planned to do as I upgraded. The three all-laminates I keep as "bangers", out of the case and ready, so they get a disproportionate amount of play and have improved almost magically in tone. (The first blossom was when I switched them to fluorocarbon strings.) A few other economy solid-tops and all-solids sound so sweet that my recently purchased higher-end ukes don't get much play—I guess I favor the Susan Boyles of the uke world: the unglamorous, greatly underestimated treasures.

I'm going out on a limb here but my suspicions are that with some notable exceptions you can with luck and diligence find an inexpensive uke that plays very much like one of the upper midrange ukes. I can afford some better ukes but I have one inexpensive one that is pretty much in the ball game. I'm sure then that there are plenty of others and better.

katysax
06-24-2015, 06:22 AM
I'm going out on a limb here but my suspicions are that with some notable exceptions you can with luck and diligence find an inexpensive uke that plays very much like one of the upper midrange ukes. I can afford some better ukes but I have one inexpensive one that is pretty much in the ball game. I'm sure then that there are plenty of others and better.

Having had ukes of pretty much every range and price here is my .02

You can find a $45 soprano that sounds as good as anything, even the most expensive ukes (when I say you can find you've got to hunt for it - not every Makala Dolphin or entry level uke sounds the same - you've got to play a bunch to find a really good one). But it won't have the feel in your hands. And it won't be as good all the way to the end of the fretboard. If you are lucky it might intonate as well, at least on the upper frets. And it might project. It won't play as well as a really great vintage Martin, but it will play as well as any current Martin I've played - as long as you are at the first five frets.

When it comes to tenors and concerts you've got to spend $100 to get something that is really good. Again - I say you can find - most won't be that great. However, again the feel won't be the same as a pricier ukulele. Where you'll have to spend more money is to get anything more than minimal sustain. And it's up at the 10th fret or so that things really start to fall apart.

It really depends how and what you play. If you are strumming and playing only on the first five frets than you can get some really great sounding and playing ukes for $100 or less. If you are fingerpicking and playing solos, and if you use the upper frets, that's where you really find differences in more expensive ukes. You will generally get more chime and more sustain, more accuracy in intonation, and more life in the upper frets on a more expensive uke.

Icelander53
06-24-2015, 06:36 AM
I agree when you say "feel". Nothing feels better in my hands then my Ponos. The Gretsch feels cheap comparatively. However, having said that my Gretsch is well made with no obvious flaws or carelessness in manufacturing and the setup made it sing. (thanks HMS). And it's quite beautiful. Again not like the Ponos but really something nice to look at. Of course this is in the $200 range so not bargain basement. I've yet to hear anything amazing under that price but I haven't hardly played any of them. My first Laminate tenor cost under $100 and it played well at the upper frets and sounded surprisingly good.

Nickie
06-24-2015, 08:28 AM
Congrats!
None of my ukes cost over $300, and I'm pretty happy with them. The only reason for me to be dissatisfied is fret buzzes. Except for those, my ukes sound great to me. There are 12 stringed instruments between the two of us here. I count my hammered dulcimer as a percussion instrument.

actadh
06-24-2015, 08:53 AM
My $15 First Act Discovey uke is riding on the floorboards on today's road trip to Cincinnati. I wouldn't subject my other ukuleles to a car ride on a hot day.

k0k0peli
06-26-2015, 10:28 AM
UAS struck again. I just punched the BUY button for an eBay dealer to ship me a new Oscar Schmidt OU28T 8-string tenor uke for US$92 shipped. I just couldn't help myself! And I haven't even setup all my recent purchases yet. I have a little more self-control when I look at the charango listings, and I'll build one or more tin-can balalaikas to fill that need. But now I must avoid the electrics...

SteveZ
06-26-2015, 10:40 AM
UAS struck again. I just punched the BUY button for an eBay dealer to ship me a new Oscar Schmidt OU28T 8-string tenor uke for US$92 shipped. I just couldn't help myself! And I haven't even setup all my recent purchases yet. I have a little more self-control when I look at the charango listings, and I'll build one or more tin-can balalaikas to fill that need. But now I must avoid the electrics...

I'm enjoying my OU28T. The action was somewhat high (aren't they always!) at both ends. I reworked the nut slots to handle one end. I then put one of those $12-15 Joyo tuner/preamp/pickups on it and adjusted the saddle height accordingly. It has become a favorite. Enjoy!

k0k0peli
06-27-2015, 11:10 PM
I'm enjoying my OU28T. The action was somewhat high (aren't they always!) at both ends. I reworked the nut slots to handle one end. I then put one of those $12-15 Joyo tuner/preamp/pickups on it and adjusted the saddle height accordingly. It has become a favorite. Enjoy! Oh darn. Now you've got me researching pickups. :( But I'm not sure I'll want to cut holes in the side of instruments to electrify them. A couple of my so-recent acquisitions, an F-type mando and a baritone 'uke, both labeled Harmonia, are quiet and cry out for amplification, especially the tinny-sounding mando. Guess I'll look for some clip-on solution.

Rodney.
09-20-2015, 12:11 AM
A 36 euro Dolphin and a 44 euro Hora Baritone is all I need to be a happy plucker. And about 25 euro of strings. Had to do some saddle work on the Hora, and some nut work on the Dolphin, that's about it.

Doc_J
09-20-2015, 02:34 AM
I'd like to see others here mention inexpensive ukes they're happy with. A few of y'all ARE happy, right?

Got a $99 Takamine laminate in my office that sounds better than quite a few higher end ones. If it was the only uke that I owned, I would be content playing it. I'm never selling it. But, there are better ukes out there.

mm stan
09-20-2015, 02:57 AM
Having custom ukes doesnt make you a snob, bragging about them does..and nothing wrong with supporting the luthier of your new uke, no matter what price range it may be, get the best uke you can afford,
Budget ukes are a bit inconsistent, id try a few and pick the best one of group.. more than anything, an
Experienced player will any instrument sound okay.. have fun with your new aquisiations,
Im proud with any uke, like friends, I try to treat them equally, you can learn from any uke..happy strummings :)

NatalieS
09-20-2015, 04:52 AM
Well said, Stan. I don't think I've ever seen a UU snob. Whether a person has an inexpensive uke or a high-end custom, we're all uke players and we enjoy hearing about other players' instruments. k0k0peli, your instrument list in your signature is impressive! You must have a really fun house, surrounded by so much music. :D

photoshooter
09-20-2015, 09:37 AM
This was my first uke, a Kala concert. I bought it to see if I'd like playing. Within a short period I "upgraded" to two tenor ukes- a Kala cedar top and a Pono MT. I like playing tenor better but this little concert still gets played very frequently. In fact I added a passive piezo to it to make it a little more versatile. I doubt I'd ever get rid of this one. I had Sarah Maisel sign it at the UkeNJ event so now it's a "special limited edition" uke :)

Uk3player78
09-21-2015, 06:41 AM
Congratulations on your new ukes! This thread is right up my street.

I don't see snobbery in the uke circles either. My past guitar circles are another matter. I also like the cheap end. I have had some nice ukes but that was before a recent break. I have played for 4 years although miss one as i had a break.

I came back with one Mahalo U320T Tenor. I did want to upgrade but never got round to it, make that 11 months ago. Only adding one Makala dolphin and a Makala MK C brown concert.

For the intonation the the Makala dolphin is good low down and ok higher up. The Makala concert is much better but the Mahalo tenor... take a tuner to it. Its spot on!

I'm not sure what the plan is. I get excited about a purchase, do a bit of research then forget about it and play mainly the Makala concert every day everywhere. :D

The factory hand made ukes i had before were good but didn't blow me away so why even try. I can wait. :)

VegasGeorge
09-21-2015, 09:10 AM
I'm no Ukulele snob, no not me! But my Ukuleles, that's another story. My fine quality solid wood instruments just don't like hanging around next to, ...... well you know, those laminates from the wrong side of town. Even when the lamies get dressed up all pretty like, the Koas just think they look gaudy and cheap. It's funny watching the Koas 'act polite' when they have to hang next to one. I know what they're thinking!

k0k0peli
09-21-2015, 10:58 AM
I am beginning a massive multi-NUD-NMD-NGD-etc event. Sort of. The evacuation alerts have been lifted. We are slowing unpacking our wagons and bringing back precious items - artifacts, clothes, and INSTRUMENTS! All my good 'ukes, mandos, guitars, that have been locked away in isolation for the past week and a half! New to me again! Well, it's hot today, to warm to haul in everything. So this is a two-day NUD-NMD-NGD. Sort of like a 29 February birthday party.

Are any of those worth being snobby about? I think I have four pro-quality instruments: the Ibanez Performance 6-string and Ovation 12-string guitars, the Keith E Coleman Celtic mandolin, and the ancient Martin tiple. But I can't get *too* snobby because the Ibanez and tiple were yard-sale and flea-market bargains and the Ovation was a pawn-shop deal. The Coleman was just a plain steal for its quality! As the saying goes, "The only sin in my family is paying retail." So I try for reverse snobbery. The cheaper, the better.