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View Full Version : Baritone ukulele purchase help.



Derecola
10-16-2015, 01:00 PM
Looking to get into a nice baritone ukulele looking to spend around $1200 to 1500 max. What do you guys and gals recommend!

mds725
10-16-2015, 01:21 PM
It depends on what sort of tone and what ukulele "feel" (neck thickness, fretboard width, radiused or flat fretboard, etc.) you prefer, but in your price range I would suggest the following:

-- A used custom that you get to play before buying (for example, you might be able to buy a plainer Mya-Moe used at a price like that) or a Kamaka baritone.

-- Kamaka. I have a few baritones and recently started playing baritone in my Wednesday evening ukulele class whenever it performs, and I love the sound and feel of my Kamaka baritone. Kamaka baritones sell new for $1,495. Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto has a 2013 Kamaka baritone for $1,150 and a 2003 Kamaka baritone for $1,125.
https://shop.gryphonstrings.com/products?utf8=%E2%9C%93&view=&taxonomy=instruments&grid=grid&sort=up&price_sort=down&type=instruments&filter%5Binstrument%5D=115531&filter%5Btaxon_second_children%5D=116941
Kamakas are production ukes and while they're all well made, there are variances from one to another, so if you can, play one first, or at least listen to a sound sample, or get a full refund return guarantee.

-- Kanile'a. Kanile'as are wonderful instruments and have a sound I like as much as Kamaka's sound. I find, however, that the fretboard is a little wider than I like it, which is the only reason I don't own a Kanile'a instrument. Depending on the model K-1, K-2, K-3, or K-4), Kanile'as sell from between approximately $1,000 - $2,600.
http://kanileaukulele.com/k-2_baritone.php?osCsid=99900289ee6c0f96491673c592d9 7af0

-- Pono. When I had a Pono baritone (my first) they were not very expensive and although they were well made, they didn't compare with higher end baritones. Pono now has a higher end line that I hear are wonderful instruments that sell for prices up to just below your minimum, aroudn $800-$1,000. They're incredible values, though, and I've been told that they sound as good as their more expensive rivals. Ponos' necks are thick (measured from the fretboard to the back of the neck), and you should play one first to see if a thick neck is comfortable for you.

It would help, in getting advice about your purchase, for you to determine and articulate what you're looking for in a baritone ukulele. In your price range, there are baritones with different choices (I can tell the difference between, for example, a Kamaka and a Mya-Moe by ear) and what physical features, like neck thickness and fredboard width) you prefer. UIf you live near a store that sells ukuleles, go there and play all the baritones they have, regardless of the price, to develop a feel for similarities and differences. Good luck and be sure to post what you decide!

MARKbOC
10-16-2015, 03:52 PM
I saw this one recently and thought it was a good deal on a nice uke. Non blingy Kanilea bari for under $1070 http://elderly.com/new_instruments/items/K1B.htm

NewKid
10-16-2015, 04:47 PM
For the best baritone ukulele, I always recommend a vintage Favilla that you can usually buy from $350 - $500. I had a very clean and wonderful Harmony baritone as well that I bought for $250. Both had 19" scale and were joys to play.

John Kinnard made me a modern Favilla, but it is more guitar than ukulele. To me it's the ultimate baritone. Quite a bit more in terms of price and quality when you're ready.

Ukulele Eddie
10-16-2015, 05:05 PM
You can get a world class baritone in that price range. In fact, you can get a Series 1 Kinnard. John makes an amazing baritone (I've played two of them -- both absolutely stellar). I've also watched a number of exceptionally good musicians pick up his baritone and watched their faces as they played it. Invariably they were very effusive on its tone and playability.

I'm not sure if you already have a baritone and have full confidence in ponying up for one in the world class price range. As you probably know, the baritone market is smaller and I would be prepared to take a bigger hit and/or more time to sell than on a smaller size if you later decide to sell. With that in mind, you can also get a perfectly nice baritone for far less than your range if you want to having something now and make sure you really love it before ponying up to the big leagues. Your ear may vary, but I think for $400 the Pono Mango baritone is hard to beat. It's quite the buy.

Let us know what you decide!!!

Derecola
10-16-2015, 05:15 PM
where can i get one of these old favillas you speak of?

bnolsen
10-16-2015, 05:32 PM
On the total opposite end of the spectrum are the butler music lanikai gambler's specials:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lanikai-Model-LU-21B-Baritone-Ukulele-Gamblers-Special-Well-worth-the-deal-/252000187360

Ukulele Eddie
10-16-2015, 06:04 PM
where can i get one of these old favillas you speak of?

Watch ebay and Craig's list. I had one and they are very nice but can be a bit boomy.

Do you primarily strum or do fingerstyle?

Patrick Madsen
10-16-2015, 06:48 PM
Where do you live? I may be selling my pristine "62 vintage Martin.

tangimango
10-16-2015, 11:43 PM
man you can probably find a good used custom for that budget.

i have 4 baris

1 Kamaka, 1 Kanilea K1, One Pono Custom and Kala SMHB.

Ranking. Kamaka 4th, Pono 3rd, the thick glossy finish kinda dims the volume., 2nd Kanilea (great looking koa, nice size and sound, but comes second because it cost $1100) 1st place will be Kala SMHB only $300 at HMS with setup and i trip out how good this thing sounds. all solid hog. My favorite Bari so far.

strumsilly
10-17-2015, 04:56 AM
where can i get one of these old favillas you speak of?They come up once in a while on ebay. I have 2, I'll sell you one. I'll put it up in the marketplace and give you first dibs.

Derecola
10-17-2015, 05:15 AM
Let me know when it is up.

iDavid
10-17-2015, 05:21 AM
For the best baritone ukulele, I always recommend a vintage Favilla that you can usually buy from $350 - $500. I had a very clean and wonderful Harmony baritone as well that I bought for $250. Both had 19" scale and were joys to play.

John Kinnard made me a modern Favilla, but it is more guitar than ukulele. To me it's the ultimate baritone. Quite a bit more in terms of price and quality when you're ready.

Do you have picture of the baritone you could share?

Jim Hanks
10-17-2015, 10:24 AM
Did you see it? http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?113892-FS-Favilla-vintage-Baritone-Ukulele

Patrick Madsen
10-17-2015, 02:37 PM
Strums Favillia is one of the better deals I've seen for a Favillia.

It was a toss up when I sold mine; the F. or the '62 Martin. Sound wise the Favilla had a deeper more bluesy sound but the slim Martin neck was the decider.

strumsilly
10-17-2015, 03:13 PM
I sold my Martin because I liked the /favillas more

Patrick Madsen
10-17-2015, 06:35 PM
I hear ya Strum; I miss my Favilla big time.

mm stan
10-18-2015, 01:42 AM
I sold my Martin because I liked the /favillas more
even your Gibson? :)

Farp
10-18-2015, 03:36 AM
Don't overlook a Giannini baritone. Folks rank them right up there with the Favilla and Martin. The average price for a Giannini on the 'bay (per a quick look about a month ago) was around $175, with $225 on the top end for a beautiful instrument. I stumbled into a Giannini from 1977 a couple of weeks ago and am very impressed with the remarkable tone and intonation. It's definitely a keeper. Good luck in your search.

JustinJ
10-18-2015, 03:53 AM
I thought about purchasing a Baritone for a long time, but ended up learning guitar. I thought if I'm going to put the effort to learn the DGBE tuning than why not add the two extra strings. Also playing the guitar adds to the ukulele playing. I love playing both of them.

My thoughts about a Baritone is why not just play guitar. I know the guitar has two extra bass strings, but you could also learn guitar. You can also just play the first four strings of the guitar. You would have a baritone.

I would definitely try a less expensive baritone and see if you like it.

I'm always a little nervous about buying older instruments. A lot of times they have been kept in less than optimum condition. Usually you end up spending money for a luthier to fix problems.

Also for the price of used instrument, you could purchase a nice basic Pono Baritone. The instrument could be setup for you.

johnson430
10-18-2015, 05:50 AM
I thought about purchasing a Baritone for a long time, but ended up learning guitar.

I thought about a bari for a long time too but just recently picked up a 7/8 size classical instead.
It was also cheaper than a new bari.
And I really like the slightly smaller size of a 7/8 guitar without compromising deep bass notes. It is much easier to manage than a full-sized.

I agree with Justin about learning to improve other instruments. I have the video "Pumping Nylon" and I can take what I learn and apply to the uke. The same with the Classical Guitar Shed website tutorials and lessons.
The information transcends beyond merely a technique for a specific instrument.
Good luck with whatever you choose to play and enjoy it.
Johnson

Patrick Madsen
10-18-2015, 05:54 AM
No comparison at all between an old Favilla or Giannini with a basic Pono baritone for sound and feel. Just my opinion.

DaveY
10-18-2015, 05:55 AM
My thoughts about a Baritone is why not just play guitar.

I felt the same way. Every once in a while I’d try a baritone in a store, and I’d think “This is a poor compromise between a real ukulele and a guitar.” A month ago I played a baritone in a store, and thought “Hey . . . I like this.” What had happened to me?

I bought a baritone (instead of another tenor, which I’d had to return for defects) and I love it. It’s a whole (well, partial) new world and sound, and it forces me to work on my transposing skills. And I think $295 for the one I got (Kala solid cedar top) is a great deal.

Not disagreeing here . . . just saying that you never know. Or at least I didn’t.

Kimosabe
10-18-2015, 06:54 AM
Go to Humblebaritonics blog and scroll down to see Jon doing Fine and Mellow on either a Favila, Harmony or Giannini.

They're all about the same and are killer. I have a Giannini and chose it over a Kamaka for its better tone. My only gripe is the tuners, but that's no big deal. I'm going to have them replaced.

Yes, I love my Kanilea tenor and have for years, but when it comes to baritones, give me one of the good old fashioned solid ones. Doesn't matter if they're solid or laminate. They sound great.

And don't let people get to you about it being a wanna be guitar. Four strings simplify things and permit simple elegance. Listen to Mel Torme playing Corcovado on a baritone. Are there any musicians on this website as good as Mel?

Jim Hanks
10-18-2015, 08:23 AM
My thoughts about a Baritone is why not just play guitar. I know the guitar has two extra bass strings, but you could also learn guitar. You can also just play the first four strings of the guitar. You would have a baritone.

Where do I start? Not that there is anything wrong with playing guitar, but baritone uke is *quite* different - smaller body, narrower fretboard, shorter scale, option of unwound strings, lower string tension, easy to try different tunings (low d, high d, low G, slack key, etc.). I could probably go on but you get the idea. Just because it's the same notes (and again, it doesn't have to be) does not mean it is the same experience.

iDavid
10-18-2015, 08:48 AM
I highly recommend a Pono Mango High-gloss uke. I have a few high end ukes and the Pono is up there with them. I truly sounds amazing, the low D is solid. http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/size/baritone/pono-mgbd-mango-baritone-deluxe.html

igorthebarbarian
10-18-2015, 12:27 PM
Where do I start? Not that there is anything wrong with playing guitar, but baritone uke is *quite* different - smaller body, narrower fretboard, shorter scale, option of unwound strings, lower string tension, easy to try different tunings (low d, high d, low G, slack key, etc.). I could probably go on but you get the idea. Just because it's the same notes (and again, it doesn't have to be) does not mean it is the same experience.

This ^^^ also the ability to go with a multitude of tunings. High D dgbe or linear low dgbe. Also you can do gcea. Or Bb. I almost want MORE baritones just to have multiple tunings on-hand, but I've been trying to downsize lately.
I like the vintage Giannini laminate that I have.

mds725
10-18-2015, 07:15 PM
Where do I start? Not that there is anything wrong with playing guitar, but baritone uke is *quite* different - smaller body, narrower fretboard, shorter scale, option of unwound strings, lower string tension, easy to try different tunings (low d, high d, low G, slack key, etc.). I could probably go on but you get the idea. Just because it's the same notes (and again, it doesn't have to be) does not mean it is the same experience.

For me, accounting for the two additional strings is no small thing. I've tried. Also, in my opinion, ukuleles -- even baritone ukuleles -- have a more percussive sound that guitars do. I hear a sort of "whomp" percussive noise with each strum of an ukulele that I don't hear quite as much, if at all, with guitars. YMMV.

70sSanO
10-20-2015, 04:56 AM
You know... there is a pretty nice looking Boat Paddle baritone on FMM. It is a 5 string, but I would imagine it could be strung as a 4. Hopefully someone else can provide better info on that.

John

earljam
10-20-2015, 05:17 AM
Go to Humblebaritonics blog and scroll down to see Jon doing Fine and Mellow on either a Favila, Harmony or Giannini.

They're all about the same and are killer. I have a Giannini and chose it over a Kamaka for its better tone. My only gripe is the tuners, but that's no big deal. I'm going to have them replaced.

Yes, I love my Kanilea tenor and have for years, but when it comes to baritones, give me one of the good old fashioned solid ones. Doesn't matter if they're solid or laminate. They sound great.

And don't let people get to you about it being a wanna be guitar. Four strings simplify things and permit simple elegance. Listen to Mel Torme playing Corcovado on a baritone. Are there any musicians on this website as good as Mel?

Agree on the old baritones. I have a great-sounding Vega baritone, Arthur
Godfrey model that I tune linear. It does sound more guitarish than ukish.
Right now I'm playing in a set of reentrant DGBE on a Gibson tenor, a la Lyle Ritz, another option..

Kimosabe
10-20-2015, 07:01 AM
Vega, hadn't heard of it but will check it out.

Someday people will ask why didn't I buy one of those old baritones while they were dirt cheap. Van Gogh never sold a painting or maybe only one.
Good old Arthur Godfrey, a man ahead of his times. He was very kind and helpful to Duke Kahanamoku in Hawaii.

Kimosabe
10-20-2015, 07:16 AM
When I went to school in Santa Barbara in the very late Sixties and very early Seventies, there was a local band that was called the Yazoo City Rhythm Kings. The band members were guys who were into the first Ry Cooder albums, the first The Band records. They knew the Arhoolie record catalogue. White Boys with deep roots taste. They looked like the picture of The Band on the back of Big Pink. What kind of guitars did they play? Gibsons? Fender Strats? Hell, no!
They played Silvertones! You think those poor boys down south had money for expensive show off machines?
I'm
These guys sounded great and included mandolins in the mix. If you can't make a Silvertone sound good with out an amplifier you're not really a musician, just a wannabe. Even Keith Richards emphasizes that time is well spent on an acoustic. People spend too much time buying instruments and not enough time practicing. Get a great inexpensive Vega, Favilla, Giannini, Harmony and get ahead of the game and get some good books, lessons, whatever and put in the time.

Thanks for hearing me out. I'm going to go practice now. I spend at least two hours a day learning. After that I let loose and jam to my heart's content.

There are some great looking Vegas on line for sale. Grab one. I would If I didn't already have a great Giannini.