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View Full Version : International Ukester Reflections: High US $$$ Killed my UAS



sam13
10-09-2015, 04:54 AM
Hi everyone,

Just been thinking about Ukuleles and the UU Marketplace board and why Ukes are moving more slowly ... even some really great Ukes or brands.

And for me, the Canadian Dollar has tanked and now is hovering around 73-77% ... this has really poured cold water my passion for purchasing a new or used Uke.

When our dollar was at par, or close when the UAS burn took hold I would purchase a Uke to satisfy my growing obsession with Ukulele.

Now, it has to be a really big burn and a great price because I have to add the following:

Shipping: $100 US to Canada
Exchange Rate: 23-25%
Bank Pound of flesh: 2%
Taxes: 13%

I look at the price now, add $100 for shipping and multiply it by 140%. OUCH!!!

So it has really cause me do to re evaluate and determine if the burn is real and how badly do I want something.

I think a lot of us non-US Ukulele lovers and enthusiasts are now making the calculation and deciding to not buy more often than buy and it has been contributing to a softer re sale market.

I just thought I would make note and find out what others are finding ... cheers.

SoloRule
10-09-2015, 05:50 AM
It has been a very painful year for the poor Canadian. I could look but couldn't buy.
This is why I bought a Kala Watermelon on kijiji few weeks ago . This is how bad it gets and I don't know how much lower would I go just to satisfy my UAS.

kohanmike
10-09-2015, 05:51 AM
Most consumer and even higher end ukes are made in China. Have you thought about buying directly from China? I buy from AliExpress.com often, one of my best ukes came from there for $140 US (the Uku Hanknn two hole in my signature). I don't know the exchange rate right now, but it must be better than to the US dollar. I also search eBay daily for tenor ukulele and find plenty of reasonably priced ones from Taiwan, China and Vietnam.

Mivo
10-09-2015, 05:52 AM
For me, it is a number of different factors.

One is definitely the strong US dollar relative to the Euro. It's just not a very favorable exchange rate for Europeans. The high shipping costs aside, importing a ukulele to Germany from outside the EU adds another 22% of the total value (including shipping and insurance) on top of that. That offsets the advantages gained by buying used.

Another is that the ukulele boom seems to be settling. People either drop out or have found the instruments they are happy with. There are still ukes that I'm curious about, but I'm overall in a place where I'm content with what I already do have, and where I feel I need to become more experienced or skilled before I further refine my preferences. Further refining my preferences would likely mean fewer ukes rather than more.

Also, I feel that once you have been exposed to higher end ukuleles, the air gets thinner. There are fewer instruments that would feel like a definite upgrade, and they also cost more than what qualifies for impulse buys.

From a European perspective, there isn't really much of a used market for the upper mid range and beyond stuff. Looking back at the past few weeks, there were only a Kamaka pineapple and a Covered Bridge concert in Europe that made me briefly struggle (and both were outside the "I don't need this, but why the heck not?" price zone). The truly nice stuff is in the US, just like the majority of great stores and luthiers, and then it's either CONUS only or made unattractive by the US dollar and the added expenses (full circle).

billten
10-09-2015, 06:40 AM
+1 from me on this, the tenor guitar i had planned to order this year has accelerated in real cost faster than my ability to save for it. I'm still wanting it, just having to wait longer...

bman40
10-09-2015, 07:17 AM
I am in the build queue for a MyaMoe. I am still going to purchase - but hopefully when its complete next summer the cdn dollar may have recovered a bit. No shipping or insuance though - I plan on driving from Vancouver to pick it up in person...

Kayak Jim
10-09-2015, 07:17 AM
Actually it's worse than that. The 25% exchange is going from Cdn to US. The other way around it's 33%. So a US$300 uke is Cdn$400. Plus shipping plustax plus bank fee.

DownUpDave
10-09-2015, 07:23 AM
Yes it certainly does hurt when a $1000.00 ukulele ends up costing you more than $1400.00 of your money. I am in a good place in life, my wife and I being empty nesters and the mortgage paid off. But paying 40% more for the same thing I bougth one year ago is just crazy.

So I just sit and wait and look. Yes UAS is still burning and raging but I am learning to enjoy what I have. Simon and I have spoken of this fact. We were smart/lucky to buy very good instruments early on in our uke playing journey so we are now enjoying them even more. Canadian luthiers are getting my business more often as well.

sam13
10-09-2015, 08:31 AM
I am in the build queue for a MyaMoe. I am still going to purchase - but hopefully when its complete next summer the cdn dollar may have recovered a bit. No shipping or insuance though - I plan on driving from Vancouver to pick it up in person...

Oh, that is pretty close drive isn't it for you ... hmmm ... perhaps I should stay on the MM build list and fly out to Vancouver ... drive over and stay for a couple of days to save on shipping costs!

sam13
10-09-2015, 08:33 AM
Actually it's worse than that. The 25% exchange is going from Cdn to US. The other way around it's 33%. So a US$300 uke is Cdn$400. Plus shipping plustax plus bank fee.

I agree ... I calculate about 40% extra ... on top of cost + shipping cost ... makes less sense to buy used unless some one is offering the Uke at a good price. Free shipping from Andrew at HMS for us or as noted Europeans makes a great opportunity to buy new.

SoloRule
10-09-2015, 08:36 AM
Yes it certainly does hurt when a $1000.00 ukulele ends up costing you more than $1400.00 of your money. I am in a good place in life, my wife and I being empty nesters and the mortgage paid off. But paying 40% more for the same thing I bougth one year ago is just crazy.

So I just sit and wait and look. Yes UAS is still burning and raging but I am learning to enjoy what I have. Simon and I have spoken of this fact. We were smart/lucky to buy very good instruments early on in our uke playing journey so we are now enjoying them even more. Canadian luthiers are getting my business more often as well.

I am sure once we forget about the dollars were at par two years ago , we will start buying again before it dive to even lower exchange. I can not see Cdn $ going back up any time soon so we might as well learn to deal with it or buy a novelty uke to cure the itch .

DownUpDave
10-09-2015, 08:48 AM
I am in the build queue for a MyaMoe. I am still going to purchase - but hopefully when its complete next summer the cdn dollar may have recovered a bit. No shipping or insuance though - I plan on driving from Vancouver to pick it up in person...

I just recently took my name off the list. I was getting close to having to give a deposit and I made the decision to jump ship. I already own a Mya Moe which I bought used right here on the market place. I figured what I wanted to order from MM would cost me close to $2400 CDN and I was already happy with the sycamore tenor I own.

I hope our dollar does rally so you don't take a bath on the exchange. Good luck, Mya Moes are lovely instruments

Pete Howlett
10-09-2015, 10:11 AM
Welcome to my world :( I have just returned from Canada with a pile of sand paper making a great saving on last year. I've always been at the mercy of exchange rates. What I fail to understand is why you would want to particularly buy outside your country when there are great builders there. Ever heard of Shelly Park's Moodyville ukes? Phenomenal value and design/build quality from a great maker...

Mivo - it may be slowing in your sphere but I get enquiries every month for $1800/1800 euro+ instruments... Also you should look at my workshop assistant Tom Ziegenspeck if you want a world class German built uke. So should anyone for that matter; his pearled up tenor harp ukulele recently sold for 2,500 euro - a bargain for whoever bought it.

Brian1
10-09-2015, 10:38 AM
Ever heard of Shelly Park's Moodyville ukes? Phenomenal value and design/build quality from a great maker...

I had not thank you. I can't find a website just a FB page. (I am not on FB) But I may look in her(?) direction. Female "Craftsmen" (maybe we need a new term for that) have always been the best to work with. I would really like to work with a female builder.

And although I feel for our neighbors to the North, who used to have currency 63% of the US dollar not that long ago, before they were 103% of the US$ more recently. I might be taking a closer look at Canadian built ukuleles. They are not taxed when they come into the US at least not yet.

Mivo
10-09-2015, 10:49 AM
Mivo - it may be slowing in your sphere but I get enquiries every month for $1800/1800 euro+ instruments... Also you should look at my workshop assistant Tom Ziegenspeck if you want a world class German built uke. So should anyone for that matter; his pearled up tenor harp ukulele recently sold for 2,500 euro - a bargain for whoever bought it.

That's the "after refining one's preferences" stage I referred to, though, for me at least. If I bought a 2000+ Euros instrument, I would probably know exactly what I want, and there'd be a good chance it would be my One Uke. For me, that's the next attainable step up from where I am, and it would probably mean letting my handful of other ukuleles go (but I'm presently happy with what I have, so maybe my ukulele-y zenith was reached in the 1000 euros sphere).

It is doubtlessly subjective and individual, and also different for collectors, but I feel that the better I know what I like, the less likely I'm to shop around and buy additional instruments. It is a little like dating vs. marrying, at least in theory. (This was all in reference to the used uke market, chiefly at least, that Sam had touched on.)

Your post, and Dave's, did reminded me of the option to focus on regional luthiers. Since this forum here is my main community link to all things ukulele, and the forum is a bit US-centric, it's sometimes easy for my views to also be US-focused. There are great luthiers outside the States, so importing isn't the only approach, and exchange rate troubles are less pronounced.

Pete Howlett
10-09-2015, 11:22 AM
Shelley Park is an undiscovered treasure - most of her output seems to go to Japan thoI am sure she will sell 'local'. Her time lapse videos are a model of how the build process comes together. I watch them regularly...

Andy Chen
10-09-2015, 10:31 PM
In Singapore, I'm feeling the effects of the strong USD too. This kinda led me to discover the wonderful Barron River of Cairns, Australia. Do consider getting one of Allen's ukes. Great value for money. Excellent workmanship.

DownUpDave
10-09-2015, 11:06 PM
We are in the same boat as you Sam, if not worse. Exchange rates are extremely low at about 0.72 and import duties, taxes & freight are a real killer. A ukulele listed at $3500 in the USA will cost about $5000 to land in Australia.
That being said, I'll still buy something I like from the USA because life is short and there are way too many lovely instruments calling my name. I'm never going to be able to control my UAS, so for now I'll just weather the storm.

Well said Campbell and my sentiments exactely. Although I sit and wait and watch if something comes available that I really want I will buy it without hesitation. Life is short but it can be very wide if you fill it up with the things you love and love to do. The dollar will ebb and flow but the passion remains strong.

Ok I am off to look at HMS for the next something special. Should have bought that spruce and ebony Moore Bettah they just auctioned off..........would have only been $12,000 CDN :p

Tootler
10-09-2015, 11:30 PM
That's the "after refining one's preferences" stage I referred to, though, for me at least. If I bought a 2000+ Euros instrument, I would probably know exactly what I want, and there'd be a good chance it would be my One Uke. For me, that's the next attainable step up from where I am, and it would probably mean letting my handful of other ukuleles go (but I'm presently happy with what I have, so maybe my ukulele-y zenith was reached in the 1000 euros sphere).

It is doubtlessly subjective and individual, and also different for collectors, but I feel that the better I know what I like, the less likely I'm to shop around and buy additional instruments. It is a little like dating vs. marrying, at least in theory. (This was all in reference to the used uke market, chiefly at least, that Sam had touched on.)

Your post, and Dave's, did reminded me of the option to focus on regional luthiers. Since this forum here is my main community link to all things ukulele, and the forum is a bit US-centric, it's sometimes easy for my views to also be US-focused. There are great luthiers outside the States, so importing isn't the only approach, and exchange rate troubles are less pronounced.

Mivo,

Don't forget you can buy from anywhere in the EU and you pay local VAT so your only extra is the shipping cost. If you go outside the Euro zone there will be a small cost for currency conversion but it's not that great. I've bought Ukuleles from Brueko and Risa, as well as a good quality Tenor Recorder from Thomann all direct from Germany and I've bought Aquila strings direct from Italy with no problems. The price on the website was the price I paid, conversion from Euro to Pound was a few percent (well under 5%) and shipping costs were very reasonable - in the order of 10 - 15 Euros IIRC, less for the strings. I certainly have no problems buying from mainland Europe but hesitate to buy from the US even though the dollar rate for us is quite reasonable because of higher shipping charges and the import duties (VAT + 5% for the UK, I think) so what looks like a good price when you do the dollar conversion ends up being close to the same number in pounds after you've added in the charges. For US made ukuleles I look for a local sellers as they are better equipped to handle the hassle of importing. Both my Flea and my Fluke came from UK sellers. Similarly if I go for a hand made uke, I will be looking at UK luthiers. I've got my eye on Rob Collins (tinguitar.com) as he is fairly local and his prices look very reasonable.

mountain goat
10-10-2015, 12:23 AM
We are in the same boat as you Sam, if not worse. Exchange rates are extremely low at about 0.72 and import duties, taxes & freight are a real killer. A ukulele listed at $3500 in the USA will cost about $5000 to land in Australia.
That being said, I'll still buy something I like from the USA because life is short and there are way too many lovely instruments calling my name. I'm never going to be able to control my UAS, so for now I'll just weather the storm.
Or even more Cam. It just isn't do-able anymore, certainly not for me. The last uke I bought was spot on 2KUSD and I ended up paying over 3KAUS. Add your 300+ for the customs Christmas Party fund and therein is my cure for UAS by default. Time to research builders closer to home. Or stop buying them? Na.

CdnSouthpaw
10-10-2015, 04:12 AM
Add me to the list as well. Buying from the US is too cost prohibitive now.

I guess it's good for our econonomy to keep the $ home....still a killjoy though.

hollisdwyer
10-10-2015, 04:33 AM
Good god, you bloody Canadians, complain, complain, complain. Us Aussies are another 10% worse off than you. Our dollar is worth only 68-72 cents US. I better have a good garage sale to finish paying for my Beau Hannam that is on his build list.
PS. Only kidding about Canadians. Some of my best friends are Canadians. Lol

billten
10-10-2015, 04:51 AM
What I fail to understand is why you would want to particularly buy outside your country when there are great builders there. Ever heard of Shelly Park's Moodyville ukes? Phenomenal value and design/build quality from a great maker...

Have you checked their sites? Most if not all local builders quote prices in USD not CDN $ since their customers are largely in the US. I can guarantee they are not giving back this windfall change in rates.

M3Ukulele
10-10-2015, 06:48 AM
I purchased a Moodyville tenor from Shelly a year and a half ago. Wonderful ukulele. My number ONE. She is a great builder and great person. I visited her shop, played four gypsy tenors and picked a beautiful Sitka top with black walnut sides and back and she delivered it to me in two months. I got lucky as she had a break in her schedule so she built me one- start to finish. She generally builds four at a time. Call her direct and start a dialogue. There is no website just Facebook but don't let that stop you. Very light,responsive build. I highly recommend Shelly. Her tenors are a real value and well made.

Fast forward to this past July when I had UAS......wanted a Koaloha......didn't see any Koa I liked so purchases an OPIO. Very nice ukulele but got HAMMERED on exchange and duty. I wanted to try the 15 fret neck, unibrace and experience the whole KoAloha experience. My Opio with Oahu hard case ended up costing me $900 Canadian with free freight but paid all exchange and taxes. Generally I try to plan a trip to USA and stay four days. Long story short........I'm hold off any U.S. Purchases and either buying in Canada or Australia. We have some great builders here and in Australian Baron River and Scot Wise seems to build very nice ukuleles.

FWIW

Nickie
10-10-2015, 02:19 PM
Canadian luthiers are getting my business more often as well.

This is what I was thinking. There should be plenty of excellent builders there, and more nice wood than in the US. If I were Canadian, I think I'd try to buy Canadian.....probably.

Pete Howlett
10-10-2015, 03:11 PM
This is a case of 'it is what it is!'. The fact is exchange rates suck, import duties suck (I've just paid $120 on top of $450 for some claro walnut making the purchase $570. By the time I have had it re-sawn it will have doubled the raw cost), shipping insurance and charges suck - it all sucks so just suck it up. If you want to buy foreign and the chips are stacked against you either wait, go for it or walk away. Just don't whine about it - it won't change anything. Believe me, I know. I've been doing it for years and stopped whining some time ago - I note that still nothing has changed :)

DownUpDave
10-10-2015, 04:07 PM
So Pete, you enjoy calling all of us Canadians a bunch of whiners do you. Oh and I guess the Australians are whiners and the Germans are whiners and the New Zealanders are whiners. Pretty much anyone that responded to this thread......other than you of course.

Brian1
10-10-2015, 04:44 PM
Well I appreciate this thread. I am sure those who build ukuleles in the US and the US retailers who sell them internationally are glad to know of this growing concern.

mountain goat
10-10-2015, 04:51 PM
This is a case of 'it is what it is!'. The fact is exchange rates suck, import duties suck (I've just paid $120 on top of $450 for some claro walnut making the purchase $570. By the time I have had it re-sawn it will have doubled the raw cost), shipping insurance and charges suck - it all sucks so just suck it up. If you want to buy foreign and the chips are stacked against you either wait, go for it or walk away. Just don't whine about it - it won't change anything. Believe me, I know. I've been doing it for years and stopped whining some time ago - I note that still nothing has changed :)
Having a discussion about the altered economic horizon isn't whining. But thanks for your knowing, clear-eyed collective slap in the face, Grumpy Bum.

hawaii 50
10-10-2015, 05:02 PM
Have you checked their sites? Most if not all local builders quote prices in USD not CDN $ since their customers are largely in the US. I can guarantee they are not giving back this windfall change in rates.


Luis(LFDM) let me pay for my uke directly from him in CDN last year....i thank him for that....i am sure most countries have great builders too...good luck in finding them... I just met Scott Wise from Australia...great guy ,i am sure he builds nice sounding ukes...

SoloRule
10-10-2015, 05:15 PM
Good god, you bloody Canadians, complain, complain, complain. Us Aussies are another 10% worse off than you. Our dollar is worth only 68-72 cents US. I better have a good garage sale to finish paying for my Beau Hannam that is on his build list.
PS. Only kidding about Canadians. Some of my best friends are Canadians. Lol

Don't you know that we complain when is cold. We complain when is hot.
We complain even louder when we can't afford to order another uke from the U.S.

SoloRule
10-10-2015, 05:21 PM
Luis(LFDM) let me pay for my uke directly from him in CDN last year....i thank him for that....i am sure most countries have great builders too...good luck in finding them... I just met Scott Wise from Australia...great guy ,i am sure he builds nice sounding ukes...

I am waiting for Luis to take me on his order list. Wonder if he will build one that is not so masculine looking!

mountain goat
10-10-2015, 05:24 PM
Don't you know that we complain when is cold. We complain when is hot.
We complain even louder when we can't afford to order another uke from the U.S.

Just wait till I start telling y'all about my childhood. Dontcha know we had to walk 5 miles to and from school through metre-deep snow drifts in the dark with no shoes and etc. It goes on like this for days... :)

hollisdwyer
10-10-2015, 09:32 PM
So you enjoy calling all of us Canadians a bunch of whiners do you. Oh and I guess the Australians are whiners and the Germans are whiners and the New Zealanders are whiners. Pretty much anyone that responded to this thread......other than you of course.

Dave,
Was just kidding I hope you know. But really when I look at the exchange rate between the Australian dollar and just about any other country that I would care to go or buy from, we're really in the basement.
But as Pete Howllett said, suck it up if you really want it.
Only last October our $ was almost par with the US and much better against the Pound and Euro. I was in the US then and I picked up 2 MM and my boat paddle. I have to consider myself lucky that I got them for a good exchange rate.

AJ Hill
10-10-2015, 09:58 PM
I've come to the end of uas and now have the ukes I want to keep I've had Mya Moe's Koaloha,s that I have sold on I've still got a tenor Kamaka advertised for $650 Australian ,,as good as new,,but no takers ,,oh well

mountain goat
10-10-2015, 10:01 PM
I've come to the end of uas and now have the ukes I want to keep I've had Mya Moe's Koaloha,s that I have sold on I've still got a tenor Kamaka advertised for $650 Australian ,,as good as new,,but no takers ,,oh well

Interested to know the ones you're keeping AJ. And do you know any Aust builders worth checking out? Thanks mate.

Brian1
10-10-2015, 10:59 PM
I've come to the end of uas and now have the ukes I want to keep I've had Mya Moe's Koaloha,s that I have sold on I've still got a tenor Kamaka advertised for $650 Australian ,,as good as new,,but no takers ,,oh well

You might want to tell people that is about 475 US Dollars. And I don't think the US has import tax on ukuleles from Australia. (today's exchange rate is $0.73) I understand it is hard to buy from the US, but if you have ukuleles it should be a seller's market for you here. You'd think that someone would want a Tenor Kamaka for < US$500. when they have advertised they plan to raise prices in 2016.

AJ Hill
10-11-2015, 12:07 AM
Barron River ukuleles up in Cairns are very good indeed ,,,,the ukes I am keeping ,,,My Rob Collins Taropatch ,,my very old Martin soprano,,Deering Banjo ukulele,,,,Vox ukelectric ,,,,oh and that Kamaka

DownUpDave
10-11-2015, 12:55 AM
Dave,
Was just kidding I hope you know. But really when I look at the exchange rate between the Australian dollar and just about any other country that I would care to go or buy from, we're really in the basement.
But as Pete Howllett said, suck it up if you really want it.
Only last October our $ was almost par with the US and much better against the Pound and Euro. I was in the US then and I picked up 2 MM and my boat paddle. I have to consider myself lucky that I got them for a good exchange rate.

Hollis, my comment was meant for Pete and I have added to the post to reflect that. No issue with what you said mate.

I guess we are whining about it in a way and yes if we want to buy something just suck it up. Only thing is nobody likes to be insulted, certainly not me, you or other posters here. I have just recently committed to something from the U.S. so I am sucking it up and buying it anyway.

It's all good.......only money.......they print lots of it everyday

hollisdwyer
10-11-2015, 01:13 AM
Interested to know the ones you're keeping AJ. And do you know any Aust builders worth checking out? Thanks mate.

These names have been said before but I'll put my thumbs up for both Barron River (Allen McFarlen) in Queensland and Scott Wise in Western Australia. Looks wise they are at opposite ends of the spectrum but both are high quality.

I don't own any of Scott's instruments but I have a Barron River eight string tenor in construction right now. Attached are two of the build photos. I highly recommend that all those whose currencies are worth something check out their web sites.
http://www.brguitars.com/ , http://wiseukulele.com/
8429584296

hollisdwyer
10-11-2015, 01:22 AM
Hollis, my comment was meant for Pete and I have added to the post to reflect that. No issue with what you said mate.

I guess we are whining about it in a way and yes if we want to buy something just suck it up. Only thing is nobody likes to be insulted. I have just recently committed to something from the U.S. so I am sucking it up and buying it anyway

I'M in the same boat as you with my Beau Hannam coming up for build late next year. But I have some funds squirrelled away in US dollars in PayPal and I have a committed sale coming up in December in US$ which should see me right. When I retire next year all of this madness will have to stop for me so I'm getting while the getting is good.

PS. Every time I look at your location it triggers a memory. Some of my Irish ancestors first emigrated to Canada before finally settling in New York City (guess they wanted a warmer winter) and I think it was Pickering in Ont. that they settled in. Small world eh?

SoloRule
10-11-2015, 02:40 AM
I wonder how many of us poor folks will be checking HMS Black Friday sales ( if there is one ) and forget everything we whined here. :drool:

mountain goat
10-11-2015, 02:42 AM
I wonder how many of us poor folks will be checking HMS Black Friday sales ( if there is one ) and forget everything we whined here. :drool:
Na. I love whining. It's my plight. Suck it up Howlett. :cheers:

(no worries brus, it's my shout when I get to the ol dart)

M3Ukulele
10-11-2015, 08:47 AM
HMS sales on BF and Memorial Day have been good in the past. I'm putting my name in cue on a US$ ukulele and hoping exchange gets better and I can line up a trip to coincide with pick up. If it works out......

First ukulele was from HMS , Pono AT and it was purchases when exchange more favourable and since I was in Hawaii at time it came back in luggage at no additional cost. It's all timing sometimes and I like to think it as cost averaging over time!

Still for Canadians look at Moodyville , Webber both North Vancouner and in Ontario LdFM...... All making some excellent ukulele.

Pete Howlett
10-11-2015, 09:19 AM
I've been sucking it up for 21 years :deadhorse:- over time, it all evens out. Strange thing is there is never so much fuss when it is in our favour.

Mivo
10-11-2015, 09:28 AM
Strange thing is there is never so much fuss when it is in our favour.

There would be, if HMS, Mim's, Uke Republic, etc. were located in Europe, Canada, or Australia.

sam13
10-11-2015, 09:48 AM
[QUOTE=M3Ukulele; Still for Canadians look at Moodyville , Webber both North Vancouner and in Ontario LdFM...... All making some excellent ukulele.[/QUOTE]

I agree with you ... timing is the key to the currency game. I have tried Dave's Webber and own an LFdM ... excellent luthiers. I hear tremendous things from Shelley Park as well with Moodyville Ukes.

hollisdwyer
10-11-2015, 09:50 AM
It's rarely in our favour and when it is it is for a very short time.

sam13
10-11-2015, 09:58 AM
As the OP, I was not whining but posting my thoughts regarding the effect of the USD and my UAS.

I have great Ukes ... won't bother listing them ... just great quality for my level of playing. For me, it had better be a really great Uke or great deal to entice money out of my pocket.

For years the CDA was on par or higher than the USD, so we could buy with abandon and enjoy the trip. Not so any longer.

I had no idea the AUD was on par with the CDA or a bit less ... which makes interesting opportunities for Ukes from Australia.

For those who say "Suck it up" ... well, take your own advice.

Also, for those reading the post and wanting to sell something ... they might consider that 20-30% on the forum are international buyers and Ukesters who are facing the international exchange.

For a quicker sale, adjusting their pricing a little lower could entice more buyers from abroad to pick up another Uke for their stash.

Pete Howlett
10-11-2015, 10:02 AM
I think my point is buy local... you will find a great ukulele maker in your own country. I never have understood the obsession to buy American as good as it always has been when there is equally as good often on your own doorstep.

sam13
10-11-2015, 10:13 AM
I think my point is buy local... you will find a great ukulele maker in your own country. I never have understood the obsession to buy American as good as it always has been when there is equally as good often on your own doorstep.

This is a good point.

However, K brands are from Hawaii. Kiwaya are from Japan and Howlett's and Simms are from the UK.

It is fun to have different Ukes from around the world.

macfish
10-11-2015, 12:29 PM
I think it is also an emotional/personal connection. We visited Australia, Perth, Margaret River, etc long before a uke was on my radar. But when I started with a Pono MT, I knew I'd end up with something more special. So reading about Scott Wise clicked with me. An instrument hand-built, of largely native woods, in a deeply traditional style, absent elaborate decoration, inlay, etc. but built for tone, resonated (pardon the pun) with me. I wasn't particularly aware of exchange rates, etc. but I now have an instrument that I'm very pleased with, at a price that (to me) is reasonable without paying for high gloss bling. YMMV, that's why there are a plethora of options in the world.
Every instrument I've kept (and kept playing) is due to both a desire to have a great instrument at a non-ridiculous price, but that also had a story or meaning or memory. Thus my Wise tenor and an A Tempo Peruvian cajon.
If it came at a price somewhat less than a US builder, so much the better.

AJ Hill
10-11-2015, 07:01 PM
There is only one luthier I would go with no matter what the exchange rate and that's Rob Collins of Tinguitar.com from England

Mivo
10-11-2015, 07:18 PM
I never have understood the obsession to buy American as good as it always has been when there is equally as good often on your own doorstep.

There's something special about a ukulele that was built in Hawaii. I guess it is "just color" and "just flavor" to a degree, though I think it goes a little beyond that. I bought my KoAloha in Germany (I was lucky that Andreas David had a few left from his Hawaiian shipment in spring), and I would buy a Kamaka in Germany (since their one European distributor is located here), but that's not the norm for Hawaiian ukuleles.

That doesn't mean that local luthiers don't build instruments as good as elsewhere in the world, so it's not about quality, but about flair, history, and emotional connection. Perhaps authenticity too, but I'm two minds about that. Individual ukuleles are great for different reasons.

hollisdwyer
10-11-2015, 10:16 PM
Mivo, I agree that the Hawaiian ukes are very popular and it's probably that zeitgeist thing you mentioned. I must be a heretic because those k brands just don't speak to me. The more trad looking instruments that say anything to me would be a style 1,2 or 3 Martin. I guess too many years as a guitarist has formed a design imperative so that I prefer the MB, BH, BR, HIVE, JK, etc look.

Ukejenny
10-12-2015, 06:50 AM
I say whine all you want, or suffer in silence, or have a pint or four... whatever it takes to weather the storm! For me it always has been and always will be instrument driven. I find what it is that makes my heart sing - regardless of where or how much. I set my sights on that holy grail, and then beg, borrow, steal or save until I can have it. It is a long, painstaking process, but it seems to cure UAS or any other AS I've had. I haven't purchased a clarinet in over 20 years. My flute has always been a sell and purchase up situation, so I've never had more than one or two at a time (I now have one). I wanted a ukulele that could sing to the heavens and stand up to the elements, and the Blackbird Clara became my holy grail. I saved and waited and got one. I'm done for now. The "need" isn't there. My perspective is that of a player (a non-pro player) and not one of a collector. If I were a player/collector, I would feel the burn for sure.

CdnSouthpaw
10-12-2015, 07:33 AM
I bought my ukes when the rates were much more reasonable. Would I have still purchased them if the exchange had been the same as today's?...quite likely. Ukes (and most guitars) still pale in price to classical instruments so I try to view the bigger picture, the exchange rate sucks but the overall investment is still well worth it.

It's also an extreme buyers market especially for used ukes. I would bet if you compared the savings in that area vs how much extra the exchange is costing, it's still more affordable than when the used market was hotter.

JustinJ
10-12-2015, 07:42 AM
I'm not sure what is going on with the used market. The used market just dropped quickly. I've seen some customs sitting on flea market not to mention a lot of mya moes coming up. They were selling quickly when I first joined. Now they sit unsold.

Perhaps the sellers are expecting too high of a used price.

Where are the buyers of the ukes?


Are less people playing the uke?

Is it the people playing already have enough ukes?

My thought is maybe people spending above a $1000 or going to the customs. The influx of new players is becoming less, so that there are no longer buyers to pick up these ukes. Of course this is just opinion.


I would be interested to hear other's thoughts on the used market.


I bought my ukes when the rates were much more reasonable. Would I have still purchased them if the exchange had been the same as today's?...quite likely. Ukes (and most guitars) still pale in price to classical instruments so I try to view the bigger picture, the exchange rate sucks but the overall investment is still well worth it.

It's also an extreme buyers market especially for used ukes. I would bet if you compared the savings in that area vs how much extra the exchange is costing, it's still more affordable than when the used market was hotter.

hawaii 50
10-12-2015, 07:55 AM
I'm not sure what is going on with the used market. The used market just dropped quickly. I've seen some customs sitting on flea market not to mention a lot of mya moes coming up. They were selling quickly when I first joined. Now they sit unsold.

Perhaps the sellers are expecting too high of a used price.

Where are the buyers of the ukes?


Are less people playing the uke?

Is it the people playing already have enough ukes?

My thought is maybe people spending above a $1000 or going to the customs. The influx of new players is becoming less, so that there are no longer buyers to pick up these ukes. Of course this is just opinion.


I would be interested to hear other's thoughts on the used market.


I think the used uke market is slow.....but new uke sales seem about the same to me.....and the UU buyers have tried most of everyones uke by now....new Kamaka's still sell as soon as some shops get them...and many of the newer ukes are getting better and nicer....Ko'aloha has a better finish then before and more models(better grade of Koa etc..) same with Kanile'a...nicer Koa on most of their new ukes than before on their standard and their deluxe and premium ukes....I am lucky I get to see many new ukes that come through HMS

my 2 cents..sorry Simon about the bad exchange rate,now back to the main subject of this thread...:)

MARKbOC
10-12-2015, 08:29 AM
its interesting, i find myself looking at the marketplace almost daily but the two ukes that i purchased have been from online stores (one new and one very lightly used).

for me as a relative beginner who isn't rich, the extra $ that I paid for new felt like an investment in (a) getting exactly what I wanted and (b) a LITTLE more 'buyer protection'. To be clear, everyone I've come across here on UU seems awesome and trustworthy so PLEASE don't take 'buyer protection' the wrong way. In one case I was a little turned off by someone that was (in my opinion) overly adamant that a paypal payment was in "gift" format rather than a "purchase" even when I suggested paying a little more, which didn't invoke a great feeling.

With that said, there are a couple past marketplace posts that I can think of that wish I had jumped at now that i've learned a little more. just wasn't familiar with certain brand or looking at different size at the time. so timing is a factor, too.

there are SO many options available online, it comes down to standard risk/reward/value. I guess the operative question is: if a uke costs $1000 new, what amount would motivate someone to purchase that same instrument used (given the aforementioned potential drawbacks)? 900? 750? 500? Probably different for everyone and varying on a million factors but that's the math that's likely driving a shortage of sales here.

MARKbOC
10-12-2015, 08:32 AM
just clarifying my previous post: by online store i meant legit music/uke stores that most of you would recognize with an online component to their business. not amazon or something.

Pete Howlett
10-12-2015, 10:59 AM
I expect to see my work come up for resale... however I would really worry if I saw a lot of it hitting then sitting on the marketplace. Fortunately, I am still receiving enquiries as there is a healthy marketplace for high end instruments here in the UK. It's like most things, you have to find your niche by providing something that could not be got easily elsewhere. Stores in the UK have to really wait for their K brand deliveries so if I am there nipping at their heels it works well for me :)

Nickie
10-12-2015, 11:23 AM
I find it hard to believe that "new ukers are tapering off". That's not the case here, not at all. TBUS (our local group, Tampa Bay Ukulele Society) went from just under 900 members to well over 1000 members in a little less than 4 months. Innovative things like our Library Lending Program/Workshops brings curious would be musicians out of the woods. People who never thought they could play an instrument are learning that they can, indeed! That doesn't count the ukers that aren't members, from the numbers I've spoken to, I'd say about 100 to 120 more in our area alone. Most people around here do not want to acquire better ukes, or else they do and don't have the cash flow, like yours truly. A good friend of ours just got a Pinol custom valued at 3 grand, and told me I should have a custom built. I said "sure soon as I hit the Lottery!" Last year he bought a MM, but I don't expect to see it on the market, it's a twin of one of Lil Rev's resonator ukes. But I digress, or highjack, or some such dribble.

Andy Chen
10-12-2015, 03:00 PM
Perhaps the slower resale market is a reaction to the economic slowdown many countries are experiencing at the moment. This would mean we UAS sufferers are still somewhat sane?

Tigeralum2001
10-12-2015, 05:36 PM
Barron River ukuleles up in Cairns are very good indeed ,,,,the ukes I am keeping ,,,My Rob Collins Taropatch ,,my very old Martin soprano,,Deering Banjo ukulele,,,,Vox ukelectric ,,,,oh and that Kamaka
I was going to say, on the flip side of the exchange rate, it is a GREAT time to buy a Barron River, Howlett,a Timbuck, or any of our international luthiers...

johnson430
10-12-2015, 06:29 PM
Perhaps this Google Trends for searches containing the word "ukulele" might be of interest to some reading this thread:
https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=ukulele

I was surprised at the "Regional Interest" data.
New Z, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Philippines are above the UK and USA in interest. (it has been that way for some months)

Another Google trends to ponder- Custom Ukulele:
https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=custom%20ukulele

et al:

Koaloha Ukelele:
https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=koaloha%20ukulele

Kamaka Ukulele:
https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=kamaka%20ukulele

Kanile'a 'Ukulele:
https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=Kanile'a%20'Ukulele

Kala Ukulele:
https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=Kala%20'Ukulele

Ohana ukulele:
https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=Ohana%20Ukulele

Any thoughts on these stats?

Mivo
10-12-2015, 07:46 PM
Any thoughts on these stats?

Interesting, but probably not surprising, how the queries for "ukulele" reliably spike every December. I wonder if it's chiefly from people looking for a gift, or from people who just received a ukulele.

The substantially higher interest in North America, Asia, Australia, and England, compared to the interest in continental Europe also stood out to me (I wonder if Google considers foreign language equivalents, though: "ukulele" is "Ukulele" in German, but that may not be the same for all non-English languages).

My impression was that interest had cooled down between 2011 and now, but according to those stats that's not the case. I'd love to know if sales figures for instruments and books reflect the search engine statistics. Are there any sources?

Ukulele Eddie
10-12-2015, 08:05 PM
My impression was that interest had cooled down between 2011 and now, but according to those stats that's not the case. I'd love to know if sales figures for instruments and books reflect the search engine statistics. Are there any sources?

I previously posted NAMM data (this only reflects data for units sold through stores; "custom" units sold direct would not be captured, but that's a tiny part of the market in terms of volume):

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?106489-The-Current-Uke-Market-An-honest-and-open-minded-discussion&p=1678896#post1678896

Teek
10-12-2015, 08:28 PM
Also we who live next to the Indian Ocean have much better surf and can complain and whine much better than all of you who live near a Pacific coast or Atlantic coast, even if the $AU is a bit low.

Yeah but your sharks are HUGE and hungry and you have sea snakes and poisonous octopi! :eek:

Mivo
10-12-2015, 08:41 PM
I previously posted NAMM data (this only reflects data for units sold through stores; "custom" units sold direct would not be captured, but that's a tiny part of the market in terms of volume):

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?106489-The-Current-Uke-Market-An-honest-and-open-minded-discussion&p=1678896#post1678896

Thanks! Interesting post, and an insightful thread that I had missed before.

Teek
10-12-2015, 08:48 PM
Also I had some great ukes up for sale, only a few were on UU because it's pointless, and not even a nibble. If I'm going to get offers of $150 for a used uke that's a steal at $600 for which I asked $800, figuring I'd get ground down to $650, with a nice case included, then big fat nope. It won't break my heart to keep any of them.

Brian1
10-13-2015, 12:18 AM
Perhaps this Google Trends for searches containing the word "ukulele" might be of interest to some reading this thread:
https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=ukulele


Any thoughts on these stats?

Well I am a little curious as to how the data is gathered. For example there is a huge spike since 2005 which happens to be the year You Tube was founded. So as ukulele related videos are watched and searched for and shared am I wrong that, that alone might account for quite a large part of the bump even if people are not necessarily interested in buying ? Then came blogs and websites that create multiple pages on something that was rather obscure a few years prior each of these pages use the word quite often and lead to its spike almost 8 years ago in 2008. Then there were some rather popular songs like Soul Sister released in 2009 where quite a few people may have wanted find out more about the instrument and probably googled it a lot just to find out how to spell it.

When you move over to the word "Custom Ukulele" that had a huge spike (5x) in 2010. And in following years it seems like a bouncing ball running out of energy and seems to be dribbling down at a steady pace an equal amount every year.
https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=custom%20ukulele

Is that how others are looking at this information ?

Mivo
10-13-2015, 12:43 AM
On the Google Trends page, you can select the source data, e.g. Web Search, YouTube Search, etc., so the Web Search graph is based on people typing "ukulele" into the search bar. The graphs are also relative (https://support.google.com/trends/answer/4355164?hl=en-GB&rd=1), not absolute.

I think it's a decent enough way to gauge interest. Not flawless or uncontroversial, but since it's based on billions of searches of the by far largest search engine, it's probably as good of a popular interest (for any given topic) meter as we'll get.

tbeltrans
10-13-2015, 01:49 AM
I have to agree our sharks do bite more often. Someone was bitten about 1km south of my local beach just last week. The tooth they pulled out proved it was a grey nurse, thankfully the victim is still alive. The sharks follow the whales. I have stopped fishing from my kayak in the ocean.
Back to exchange rates. The last custom uke I bought arrived in March this year. I ordered it when the $AU was high and I sent a 100% deposit, so when it arrived it actually appreciated in the post. If I take into account taxes and exchange rates, and even with the seemingly slow market, I think I could easily get all my money back plus a small profit if I decided to sell it. The maker never mentioned a price variation for the exchange rates and never complained about a price difference. If you are ordering a uke from overseas and there is going to be a waiting period, make sure you discuss exchange rates when the deposit is due.
This is a lesson for USA based buyers, take advantage of the high exchange rates. The USA has high debt and the $US may not be strong forever.

This is a very good point. Both individuals and the government here in the US seem to accept debt as a necessary part of life. I talk often about living debt free, which we have done (except for our mortgage which we paid off early) and more often than not, get the "deer in headlights" looks and the insistence that debt is a necessary part of everyday life. As my wife is fond of saying, "sooner or later, somebody has to actually pay somebody and then we will see how strong the economy really is".

While the US dollar is strong relative to other currencies, our exports will be weak as this thread clearly shows. That is bad for the US because trade deficits mount. Though I hope our economy doesn't completely crash and burn, I do think that some severe corrections will happen eventually, and our products will become more affordable for the rest of the world, which will help our trade deficit. Right now, whatever strength our economy has is being propped up artificially by government intervention for the most part and that can't go on forever. The news always reports that our economy is getting stronger, but a closer look at the details of that supposed growth tell a different story (i.e. job growth is for jobs that don't pay very well, stronger sales figures are achieved with debt as banks loosen their requirements for lending, etc.). From what I have read about Germany, I think they will really fare better with more overall stability in the long run, and will most likely serve as a model for us when we have to deal with the financial realities of what we have been doing so far.

Oh, with regard to ukuleles, I only wanted one each of soprano, concert, and tenor. I have one of each and have not had tinges of UAS since. I sympathize with those who experience frequent bouts of UAS. I have had that with guitars, but fortunately that seems to have slowed over time too. I learned some valuable lessons about GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome) that really helped to avoid ongoing UAS. One of the main lessons learned was to buy right the first time instead of going cheap and then constantly churning to eventually get there. I have a Ko'olau tenor, a Kamaka Ohta-San concert, and a 1925 Martin 2k soprano. Rather than going through 20 or more ukuleles to eventually get there, I just dove in and it has worked out well. All are a joy to play, and no regrets. It usually costs a lot more to churn my way to what I really want than to simply just get it the first time and do it just once. Many people enjoy the churn process, so that is a completely different thing from what I am talking about here. I just want to play these instruments I already have.

Tony

sam13
10-13-2015, 12:02 PM
Also I had some great ukes up for sale, only a few were on UU because it's pointless, and not even a nibble. If I'm going to get offers of $150 for a used uke that's a steal at $600 for which I asked $800, figuring I'd get ground down to $650, with a nice case included, then big fat nope. It won't break my heart to keep any of them.

To my point ... $800 + 40% ... $1,132 CDA at least ...

But $600 + 40% ... $840 CDA ... um, HECK YA!!!

What beauties do you speak of, Teak?

sam13
10-13-2015, 12:05 PM
I was going to say, on the flip side of the exchange rate, it is a GREAT time to buy a Barron River, Howlett,a Timbuck, or any of our international luthiers...

Great time to buy them ... and still for the US Luthiers for my American friends ...

I see it as a buyers market for gently loved, carefully strummed USED UKES ...

Dan Uke
10-13-2015, 12:11 PM
I guess it's all about timing.

Also, I believe the Asian market is relatively strong so builders and international used uke sellers have little incentive to lower prices. On the flip side, I wonder if International builders quote prices in U.S. dollars? If they do, then some of them are doing better.

sam13
10-13-2015, 12:36 PM
I guess it's all about timing.

Also, I believe the Asian market is relatively strong so builders and international used uke sellers have little incentive to lower prices. On the flip side, I wonder if International builders quote prices in U.S. dollars? If they do, then some of them are doing better.

True ... like in anything timing is everything ... I would have bought more US manufacturer Ukes had I thought about it.

However, there are some excellent International options available for consideration ... so it is all good.

sam13
10-18-2015, 02:39 PM
In a follow up to this I have started looking into a few custom builders in Canada and Australia. And will be happy to add them to the fold next year.

M3Ukulele
10-18-2015, 03:34 PM
Sam13
Which builders are you looking at? Just curious in case I ve missed any. So many good builders but with Doug dollar the way it is I have to check out all Canadian and Australia builders.

macfish
10-31-2015, 10:18 AM
One potential effect of the exchange rate is some builders might cut some costs? I just received a Scott Wise tenor, which is a fantastic sounding uke. Getting used to a narrower and thinner neck than the Pono MT I started with, etc.
So NO complaints about the instrument. But in comparison to some Wise ukes here, I notice:
Mine came in the Uke Crazy hard foam case, not a higher end case.
I was under the impression that the headstock logo was an inlay, it's now a pearlescent decal kind of thingy.
The bridge is a tie, whereas all the others I've seen are a slot. Not sure if he's changed or whether a slot is easier to build or buy from a supplier? I thought the slot bridge was to keep things as light as possible.
As stated, the build and tone are most important, and I have no issues there. I also use the Mono M80 case, so the Uke Crazy went with the Pono. Just reinforces the importance of communicating all the details in advance as much as possible.

macfish
10-31-2015, 02:47 PM
Well said. And yes I sought out Scott solely due to our stay in WA three years ago ( and the reputation of his ukes).
Perth is a very big city in comparison to Margaret River. But then one has to consider that Australia is a huge continent similar in size to the US that has the population of Texas sprinkled here and there. With most of the worlds most poisonous/deadly beasts roaming the land and sea. Gotta love it!!

hollisdwyer
10-31-2015, 03:24 PM
Bill does make a good point. I have the pleasure of playing some of Bill's ukes as we attend the same Saturday farmers market jam. It's all his fault that I now own a Barron River and I will thank him forever.
But back to the point of my reply, I currently have a National Style O that belongs to a mutual friend who is overseas.
This is a US$2700(list) instrument. Yet it too has a decal on the head stock and the case, while sturdy, is not flash.
I see this as an example of how builders in general and why luthiers of customs, in particular, offer a very long list of options that you can have for extra $ on top of a base price. Those options rarely, if ever, make the Uke sound better. They're offered for a different reason. We, the buyer can personalise but at a cost in expensive foreign currency.
I have now commissioned 3 customs now so I know how the base prices jumps when I make the choice to add what many people would say was just bling.
PS. And Bill, watch what you say about my "dulcimer thing".

JustinJ
10-31-2015, 03:42 PM
If you're spending $2000.00 on a uke. There should not be a decal on the headstock. This would be a deal breaker for me.

sam13
10-31-2015, 04:13 PM
I am looking at a Barron River Uke. What kinds of BR Ukes do you have?

hollisdwyer
10-31-2015, 06:14 PM
I am looking at a Barron River Uke. What kinds of BR Ukes do you have?

I have a 8 string tenor in the mail at this moment. Others that I know have; a taropatch and some tenors. Look at the gallery on the BR website to see what Allen has been crafting.

HUygbjfd
10-31-2015, 11:39 PM
+1 from me on this, the tenor guitar ourcase.co.uk (http://www.ourcase.co.uk) i had planned to order this year has accelerated in real cost faster than my ability to save for it. I'm still wanting it, just having to wait casesam.co.uk (http://www.casesam.co.uk) longer...

That's right. But i bought one a few month ago. It's awesome.

Andy Chen
11-01-2015, 01:43 PM
I am looking at a Barron River Uke. What kinds of BR Ukes do you have?

I have a tenor with Huon Pine top and Aussie Blackwood back/sides. Great mid-range snap. Very punchy.

jollyboy
11-01-2015, 04:42 PM
I'm not sure what is going on with the used market. The used market just dropped quickly. I've seen some customs sitting on flea market not to mention a lot of mya moes coming up. They were selling quickly when I first joined. Now they sit unsold.

Perhaps the sellers are expecting too high of a used price.

I would be interested to hear other's thoughts on the used market.



for me as a relative beginner who isn't rich, the extra $ that I paid for new felt like an investment in (a) getting exactly what I wanted and (b) a LITTLE more 'buyer protection'.

Not exactly a custom - I just bought a used Kala KA-ACP-CT via eBay. The seller had it listed at a fixed price that was approx. 90% of the price to buy new. I was, however, able to negotiate and ended up paying around 67%. I do feel that preowned items sold online are often over-priced. I remember 'back-in-the-day' when you would expect to pay about half-price for anything bought second-hand. Even if it was in 'as new' condition.

Buying brand new does offer certain extra 'reassurances' that buying used does not and I feel that this should be reflected in the price difference.

Lately, I've noticed more private sales of decent instruments on eBay.uk. There's usually hardly anything worth getting excited about - currently there are about four or five ukes that I'm tempted to bid on.

sam13
12-08-2015, 04:25 AM
Okay. Now this sucks.

CDA dollar is headed to $.73 due to oil slide. Thanks to OPEC!!!! :mad:

I will focus locally or AUSTRALIA.

DownUpDave
12-08-2015, 04:49 AM
Okay. Now this sucks.

CDA dollar is headed to $.73 due to oil slide. Thanks to OPEC!!!! :mad:

I will focus locally or AUSTRALIA.


The most expensive uke.......even in USD currency is much less money then the cheapest Porsche. We are in a relatively inexpensive hobby compared to Bass Fishing, Motorcycling, Car Restoration etc. etc.

Just keep buying what you want. In five years from now it won't matter what they cost you today.