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View Full Version : Lanikai Blems at Ebay (& shoot the zebra)



bellgamin
10-29-2015, 12:42 AM
When I do a search at ebay for any given type of ukulele, the results are almost always dominated by Lanikais, many of them categorized as "blem" or "AS-IS". I now add "-lanikai" (w/o quotes) to all my searches so that the results will make it easier to consider other makes.

I wonder -- why is the Laniikai make so dominant at ebay, & why so many blems? I get the feeling that Lanikai is NOT a very good quality outfit. Am I wrong? Why (or why not)?

Is it just me or does zebra wood look hideous to some other folks as well?

N.T. - I just bought a Pono solid spruce top & solid rosewood body. It is altogether lovely to see & hear. From HMS

Pirate Jim
10-29-2015, 02:14 AM
Having read this I went on eBay and searched "ukulele blem". Of 171 results, over 90% were Lanikais - you weren't wrong! They all appear to be being sold by the same seller, so my guess is he's bought a job lot of blemmed Lanikais and put them all up at once. Whether other far-eastern manufacturers have the same blemish rate or not I have no idea. I've always liked getting a good blemished or ex-display deal on an expensive brand, owned a few guitars out of my price range that way.

bnolsen
10-29-2015, 02:44 AM
butler music. a couple of years ago lanikai rejected a whole palette of chinese made ukuleles and butler music picked it up. maybe they have some deal going for clearing them out in general.

mikelz777
10-29-2015, 03:17 AM
You're not alone in your opinion on zebra wood, I think it's hideous as well. They don't look any better in person.

My first uke was a Lanikai. I bought it online as a package deal from one of those big box music stores. I'm pretty certain most reputable places would consider it a 2nd or a blem. There's a little glue on the top just south of the saddle and a blemish in the stain on the head. Did it bother me? Not for what I paid for it. The action was horrendously high so I had to take it to a guitar shop to get it lowered. Now it plays like a breeze. I've since picked up two better ukes but I can't seem to bring myself to letting the Lanikai go. I love the feel of playing it.

My impression is that Lanikai doesn't have as stringent quality control as other manufacturers and that they probably cater more to the entry level market. I went to a music store when I was comparing concerts and tenors and every Lanikai I touched sounded pretty bad. They didn't even remotely come into contention or consideration with the other ukes there.

kissing
10-29-2015, 04:03 AM
I think the Lanikai blems are sold specifically by one eBay seller - Butler's music:
http://stores.ebay.com/Butler-Music

He's actually not a bad seller. I haven't bought a blem uke, but I have bought new ukes from him before without issues.

He literally has hundreds of Blem Lanikai ukulele for sale on his eBay store, and it's probably his listings that are dominating your searches.

The story on his product description is that he bought a humungous shipment of Lanikai factory blem models for a cheap price.
Hence he has a huge inventory of them to sell through!

This doesn't necessarily mean Lanikai are badly made. They're pretty much on par with other reputable makers like Kala and Oscar Schmidt.
They have cheap models as well as more costly models.
In fact, I think that knowing that they rejected so many ukuleles as "blem" from the factory shows that their quality control is actually quite good.
Butler music re-sells these blem and factory seconds as playable bargain instruments. A company of lower standards may have just sold such blem ukes as production models (eg: Mahalo).

Rllink
10-29-2015, 04:24 AM
I have no experience with Lanikai, except that I was at a ukulele festival where a guy was doing open mike, and he had one. He was pretty good. But I have done business with Butler Music, and they have always been good to order from. I've never bought a uke from them, but I have bought strings and other accessories, and I've called them a number of times and talked to someone there, and I've gotten along well with them. But I always go straight to Butler Music, and not through Ebay when I am dealing with them.

sonomajazz
10-29-2015, 04:58 AM
My first uke was a "blem" baritone spruce top Lanikai from Butler Music, ebay, for about $80. Still have it. Very nice uke. Glad I bought an inexpensive uke because I discovered I didn't like baritones. Too close to the guitar sound.

hollisdwyer
10-29-2015, 05:17 AM
I bought three Lanikai blems from Butler Music on eBay a few Xmas' ago. The blems were very hard to find and I considered them to be good value (after having them properly set up locally). They were 'first' ukes for family and are still enjoyed to this day. I did examine the photos on the eBay auctions that Butler posted very closely to choose the best of the lot. Butler was very up front showing what the blemishes were. They sure had a lot of them though.

bunnyrawr
10-29-2015, 05:47 AM
My first uke since emigrating was a lanikai that had been lying around in a music store for god knows how long, and it would probably be considered a 'blem' as it had a few scratches and what looks like a flaw beneath the bridge, but I love it it's really a great little uke.

kissing
10-29-2015, 09:49 AM
On the subject of Zebrawood, I don't think it looks particularly ugly. I had a Luna Zebrawood baritone, and I thought it looked quite exotic:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRjMF4s522Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRjMF4s522Q


It didn't have particularly outstanding acoustic properties... I haven't tried a solid zebrawood ukulele yet though.

kohanmike
10-29-2015, 10:57 AM
I bought a blem solid top zebra and monkey pod from Butler a couple years ago, I very much liked the looks of both and the blems were very hard to see. When I changed the strings, to fluorocarbon, they both sounded much better. The monkey pod cracked from the bridge to the tail when I left it out during a few very dry days, so I gifted it to my cousins young son. The zebra I traded in with an Oscar Schmidt spalted maple for my Kala (very happy with that).

Denigrating a wood like you did to me falls under, "if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all." How about this, is it just me or does spruce and rosewood look hideous to some other folks as well?

Tootler
10-29-2015, 11:44 AM
Denigrating a wood like you did to me falls under, "if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all." How about this, is it just me or does spruce and rosewood look hideous to some other folks as well?

I think you're overreacting here. I see no harm, if you don't like the look of a wood there's no harm in saying so as long as you are making it clear it's a personal opinion which is what I understood earlier posters were saying.

Booli
10-29-2015, 01:43 PM
I know this is an uneducated opinion as to the merits of each, but I was originally put off of 'Zebrawood' and 'Monky Pod' ANYTHING because of the NAMES.

To me it has the stink of over-the-top marketing nonsense, which I have a knee-jerk reaction of rejecting post-haste, no matter what it is.

Maybe it's just me, and I am fully aware that this is a parochial view, but I have no desire to demo or own an instrument made from such woods.

Likely this view will narrow my choices for an instrument, but I would not enjoy, nor value such an instrument.

As this is my own opinion, I am not telling others what to do.

If it works for YOU, and you LOVE it, then go for it. To each his own. :)

:shaka:

mikelz777
10-29-2015, 05:10 PM
There's a lot of variety in wood which can tip things one way or another. I have an acacia uke which I love but I've seen a lot of acacia ukes I thought were hideous. Maybe I haven't seen enough zebrawood ukes but the ones I have seen I didn't like at all.

Dearman
10-29-2015, 05:58 PM
I bought a new lanikai on sale from butler on eBay and have been very happy with it. My friend missed the sale and picked up the blem version. I looked over it and couldn't find the blemish. My friend thinks it has to do with some of the grain pattern on the bottom. It was less attractive than the rest. So, I would say butler prices and represents them fairly. As for my Lanikai, it is a good player worth more than I paid.

bellgamin
10-29-2015, 07:41 PM
As for my Lanikai, it is a good player worth more than I paid.Good to know. I shall add Butler to my "follow" list at ebay. Mayhaps I can some day score a bargain such as thine.

Off-topic a bit: When I bought my spruce/rosewood Pono, the HMS guy also showed me a cedar/rosewood. It was an identical uke except for the top wood, but it cost ~$200 more. With my tin ear I couldn't tell any significant difference in sound or playability, so I took the spruce top. The seller said he heard/felt a lot of difference, but then he's an real player whereas I mostly hammer. Why buy a Rolls Royce to plow the south 40?

Farp
10-30-2015, 03:48 AM
I purchased 2 "blem" baritone Lanikai's from Butler, and they both play well. What surprises me, though, is that Lanikai isn't afraid to show they have factory blems and ukuleles with defects. One would think that all of the less expensive models/brands have blem instruments; yet we see very few of the other brands' blem ukes on the market (Pono is another brand who has had a number of seconds show up).

What this says to me, among other things, is that consumers can have greater faith in the Lanikai and Pono ukuleles that are marketed as first shelf products.

RichM
10-30-2015, 03:55 AM
I purchased 2 "blem" baritone Lanikai's from Butler, and they both play well. What surprises me, though, is that Lanikai isn't afraid to show they have factory blems and ukuleles with defects. One would think that all of the less expensive models/brands have blem instruments; yet we see very few of the other brands' blem ukes on the market (Pono is another brand who has had a number of seconds show up).

What this says to me, among other things, is that consumers can have greater faith in the Lanikai and Pono ukuleles that are marketed as first shelf products.

I'm not sure how you reach that conclusion-- I'm sure many builders simply choose not to market their blem instruments. For example, the OP of this thread called Lanikai's QC into question because he had seen so many blems. While I don't really agree with that assessment, it's an example of how marketing blems can cause concern, rather than confidence.

While hardly a "less expensive" brand, Martin famously destroys instruments that don't meet their requirements. If you take their factory tour, you can watch in horror as they bandsaw instruments that look wonderful to you or I, but not to Martin. Not sure if they still do it, but they used to sell bits of these cut-up instruments in their gift shop. I once bought half a headstock for a friend of mine, who'd always wanted a Martin. :)

Farp
10-30-2015, 06:28 AM
Rich, I appreciate your points and you are correct regarding Martin. However, they are a unique manufacturer with a reputation to match. On the other hand, I have seen many ukuleles on the shelf from other brands that should have been marked "blem" or "second." It's just that I've seen Lanikai and Pono are honest enough to not dump the instruments that do not meet their quality standards without the proper label and I give them credit for their integrity.

bellgamin
10-30-2015, 07:53 AM
It's just that I've seen Lanikai and Pono are honest enough to not dump the instruments that do not meet their quality standards without the proper label and I give them credit for their integrity.Ah... you have given me a new & useful point of view. 10 Q

(Based on the large number of Lanikai blems on ebay, the Lanikai folks maybe ought to fire their supplier, hmmm?)