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Sanfe
11-11-2015, 04:00 AM
So I have (and I'll confess) paid for some borderline-toy ukuleles. They have been great for my kids to take to school and my wife to keep in her office.

As much as I want to hate them, they're almost 100% functional. The Kala is quiet and less complicated in tone, but it has the "plink." The Ohana, probably the worst I own, sounds pretty lifeless, but it looks great. And this recent blue-colored Kukui, it sort of has the "plink" too but is almost crap: there's something wrong with the neck and its frets, it buzzes on specific frets.

But man, I can coax music out of all of them. When I play before people, they smile and seemed delighted by the "happy sounds from my yuki-lay-lay."

John Hiatt had a song called "Perfectly Good Guitar," and I'm reminded of this song when I play these ukuleles.

So I've changed my perspective on music playing. My goal is to coax some sort of positive emotional reaction from myself and/or from anyone listening when I play. It's not about what instrument I'm playing anymore, but what emotional connection I can make.

For this, I can set aside any superficial, material, pecuniary, etc. snobbery and let the song do its thing: make an emotional connection.

And I have to admit, I wouldn't have been able to come to this concept had it not been for my crappiest ukuleles (the irony). At one point, I thought a "better" or a more expensive ukulele would have made me a better player. But it turns out, playing the song better made me a better player. I've realized playing a song better overrides the crappiness of any ukulele.

It feels good to come to this understanding. Now I know what to focus on which doesn't cost money and doesn't take up more space.

Freeda
11-11-2015, 04:37 AM
Amen brother. The instruments are awesome. But the music, the connection... That's what it's all about, imo.

actadh
11-11-2015, 04:45 AM
Glad you get a lot of joy from your "lesser" ukuleles.

I have a lot of fun playing my "toy" ukuleles.

My little yellow First Act went on many fishing trips before I got my OU tenor. I would pull it out and play while waiting our turn to launch at the boat ramp or while waiting to pick up our catch at the fish cleaning stations. I got three more First Acts for grandkids to play along with me when I visit them. So far, a yellow Aloha with flowers, a Mickey, a Minnie, and a Hello Kitty are at various houses.

My two Zither Heaven ukuleles are also classified as kids toys or sometimes just folk instruments. They have a unique sound and are really easy on the fingers. They have introduced several people to the idea of taking up the ukulele. I like that they are made in the U.S. One stays in my office. One stays in my travel trailer along with my Canjo, which is a one-string-diatonic-scale made-with-a-spinach-can version of a Merlin.

70sSanO
11-11-2015, 04:46 AM
Who woulda thunk it... Moore Bettah and $25 uke threads going on at the same time.

I agree with you about the connection. And it probably does take a better technique to work tone out of an inexpensive "almost " functional instrument.

But... I'm less convinced that there isn't probably a happy medium somewhere between $25 and $$$$ that will provide as much if not more of a connection.

Never-the-less good for you.

John

Rllink
11-11-2015, 05:44 AM
In everything ukulele, I ask myself, is this about music, or is it just about the ukulele? Myself, I'm in it for the music. I'm glad to hear that you are making music with them.

rappsy
11-11-2015, 06:48 AM
John Hiatt had a song called "Perfectly Good Guitar," and I'm reminded of this song when I play these ukuleles.

There is very little in this world that is much better than listening to John Hiatt. Excellent example.

Inksplosive AL
11-11-2015, 06:55 AM
But... I'm less convinced that there isn't probably a happy medium somewhere between $25 and $$$$ that will provide as much if not more of a connection.

Never-the-less good for you.

Yeah I cannot but agree with this and cannot advocate such thinking in public where another might be swayed to buy cheap over inexpensive. Having documented blueprinting my smiley ukulele in these forums hes now a player and sounds fine. Until you listen to the $85 KA-SEM bought from the marketplace setup with 3 sets of extra strings and a road runner case. After listening/playing the SEM well smileys sound or lack of a good sound really shows and there is no amount of technique that will add the sonics the plywood body just doesn't produce. Sadly a new player who had zero music training and no ability to work well with their hands or a parent buying a gift for a child would have wasted $30-$40 and quite possibly lost interest with playing any instrument.

We all see different we all hear and taste differently. Sure you think about it when you hear someone is colorblind but many do not ever have to think about the subtle differences in everyone perception. Working as a tattoo artist I learned early on just because I see a color doesn't mean you see anything much less the same color. Hell watch a few youtube videos many people dont have the ear to tell they are playing way out of tune. Its just possible your ear hears all music the same. Unlike our eyes though it might just be possible your ear needs training to hear the difference like comparison to a slightly better ukulele.

Now having said all that after purchasing my well played well loved Koahola for a song the sound which comes from this ukulele makes my SEM sound as flat as smiley. I still play my SEM mostly but I know the Koahola has a much better sound. I should note the SEM came setup by ukegirl and needed very little tweaking to set to my liking. Any ukulele will benefit from a setup as it is easier to play a well setup instrument and that is where cheap instruments and those bought online may suffer. Sorry if this is a bit long winded and rambling I just took a break from Fallout4.

Inksplosive AL
11-11-2015, 06:59 AM
Damn thinking is all over the place today I was supposed to mention something about people making music with fence wire a bottle and a couple of nails, playing spoons, washboards and such other things. Just cant remember where!

BTW: What model Kala sells for $25?

Back off to the wasteland! Wheres muh baby!

~AL~

70sSanO
11-11-2015, 07:12 AM
I was supposed to mention something about people making music with fence wire a bottle and a couple of nails, playing spoons, washboards and such other things.

Kind of reminds me of Lee Trevino hustling with a Dr. Pepper bottle, shovel, or what-have-you. Great folklore, but he actually used clubs when he won his PGA tournaments.

But I still applaud Sanfe for getting the most out of his ukuleles. I had a $30 freight damaged classical guitar in college, so I do know that music can be made on a lot of different level instruments. I still have that guitar and it has been loaned out to countless people and has brought a ton of joy. Added... It was also the only instrument I had in some later lean years when my life would fit into a box.

John

JustinJ
11-11-2015, 07:22 AM
There is often an implicit assumption that a better uke will make me a better player. I would venture to guess that many people upgrade a ukulele with the idea that it will change their playing. They may not even realize this. A little more work in technique may be the answer they are looking for instead of purchasing a new uke.

I agree about a happy medium. There are benefits to having a solid wood instrument. I try to reach a middle ground with instruments. I want the construction and setup to be good enough that it will not hinder my playing. Ponos are my middle ground uke.

In the end, it's the player that makes the instrument. I take lessons from my barber in Jazz guitar. The guy has been playing for 70 years. He keeps an old Yamaha acoustic in the corner. I still do not know how he coaxes the sounds he gets out of it. I pick it up and it sounds nowhere near the same.

spookelele
11-11-2015, 07:47 AM
There is often an implicit assumption that a better uke will make me a better player.

I think the assumption is that a better uke will make a better sound.
You play a C chord on shoenhut, and then play a C chord on a Pono, and it's going to sound better on the better uke.
$$$ doesn't always mean better uke, but there's usually some correlation up to a diminishing return .

I think the implicit, is that if you enjoy the music you're making, you play more, and then you play better because you're playing more.

For some people, the purchase of a $$$ instrument is the commitment to playing more.
That's not necessary, but I think it is also something that happens for some people.

Other people.. will just play anything because they love it. That's great too.

Instruments make sounds.. people make music.

RichM
11-11-2015, 07:50 AM
I think the assumption is that a better uke will make a better sound.
You play a C chord on shoenhut, and then play a C chord on a Pono, and it's going to sound better on the better uke.
$$$ doesn't always mean better uke, but there's usually some correlation up to a diminishing return .

I think the implicit, is that if you enjoy the music you're making, you play more, and then you play better because you're playing more.

For some people, the purchase of a $$$ instrument is the commitment to playing more.
That's not necessary, but I think it is also something that happens for some people.

Other people.. will just play anything because they love it. That's great too.

Instruments make sounds.. people make music.

Nicely said. Play what you like. Like what you play.

strumsilly
11-11-2015, 07:54 AM
Who woulda thunk it... Moore Bettah and $25 uke threads going on at the same time.

I agree with you about the connection. And it probably does take a better technique to work tone out of an inexpensive "almost " functional instrument.

But... I'm less convinced that there isn't probably a happy medium somewhere between $25 and $$$$ that will provide as much if not more of a connection.

Never-the-less good for you.

John
yep, a pro can make even crap sound good, but Mr. Hiatt's song tag line is ," It breaks my heart to see those stars, smashing a perfectly good guitar." I don't think he was implying you go out and buy a cheap guitar, he was pointing to the idiocy of some musicians to smash up their instruments onstage, or at least poking fun at it. Mr Hiatt prefers vintage Gibsons, they ain't perfect, but they ain't $25 junk either. I have some ukes I paid less than $40 for, they are playable. What do I play the most, my Koaloha tenor, it ain't perfect, but it's perfectly good.

Sanfe
11-11-2015, 08:41 AM
BTW: What model Kala sells for $25?

~AL~

Looking inside, the label says "EA-P" or "KA-P." It's a pineapple-shaped one.

A kid saw me playing and so he gave me this Kala (wtf, right?). I couldn't take it being that he was like a young college kid and I was a working adult, so I gave him $20. It sounds pretty thin with no bottom-end response. Man, I attack those strings and the thing just doesn't get any louder either. Whereas I have one that really barks when I hit the strings and almost gets too loud.

But, when this Kala is the only ukulele I have access to, my ears adjust, and it sounds fine. I can still make myself and others smile with it.

bonesigh
11-11-2015, 01:23 PM
There definitely is....and it's called, making your own (: It's some work but satisfying in the extreme. I made one out of a plastic ham box a 2X1 and some leftover siding. The only money I spent was super cheap guitar tuners and fret wire. She plays very nice!



Who woulda thunk it... Moore Bettah and $25 uke threads going on at the same time.

I agree with you about the connection. And it probably does take a better technique to work tone out of an inexpensive "almost " functional instrument.

But... I'm less convinced that there isn't probably a happy medium somewhere between $25 and $$$$ that will provide as much if not more of a connection.

Never-the-less good for you.

John

Inksplosive AL
11-11-2015, 01:42 PM
Thank you for replying. The reality is you own a $70-$90 Kala with the KA-P you just got a great deal on it. My SEM was a very quiet ukulele for the first year or so, yet I can swear that recently it has opened up in volume. I know I didn't think laminate ukuleles would change much from playing but it is louder.

I put on a reentrant set of Aquila reds a year ago and haven't looked back. Best $5-$6 spent and they make the white Aquila strings feel/sound odd once you get used to them.

bonesigh
11-11-2015, 01:56 PM
A lot of what you say is so true. But then again...sometimes it's just darn fun to make a cheap uke sing. Plus, as you said, we all have different likes. I had a Koaloha pineapple, really did NOT like the sound at all. Now I love the sound of my Moodyville Tenor and my Gary Gill Tenor and my super cheap Lanikai with low GCEA Guadalupe strings. Sounds like a bass (:


Yeah I cannot but agree with this and cannot advocate such thinking in public where another might be swayed to buy cheap over inexpensive. Having documented blueprinting my smiley ukulele in these forums hes now a player and sounds fine. Until you listen to the $85 KA-SEM bought from the marketplace setup with 3 sets of extra strings and a road runner case. After listening/playing the SEM well smileys sound or lack of a good sound really shows and there is no amount of technique that will add the sonics the plywood body just doesn't produce. Sadly a new player who had zero music training and no ability to work well with their hands or a parent buying a gift for a child would have wasted $30-$40 and quite possibly lost interest with playing any instrument.

We all see different we all hear and taste differently. Sure you think about it when you hear someone is colorblind but many do not ever have to think about the subtle differences in everyone perception. Working as a tattoo artist I learned early on just because I see a color doesn't mean you see anything much less the same color. Hell watch a few youtube videos many people dont have the ear to tell they are playing way out of tune. Its just possible your ear hears all music the same. Unlike our eyes though it might just be possible your ear needs training to hear the difference like comparison to a slightly better ukulele.

Now having said all that after purchasing my well played well loved Koahola for a song the sound which comes from this ukulele makes my SEM sound as flat as smiley. I still play my SEM mostly but I know the Koahola has a much better sound. I should note the SEM came setup by ukegirl and needed very little tweaking to set to my liking. Any ukulele will benefit from a setup as it is easier to play a well setup instrument and that is where cheap instruments and those bought online may suffer. Sorry if this is a bit long winded and rambling I just took a break from Fallout4.

bman40
11-11-2015, 02:25 PM
This reminds me of the debate on various straight razor shaving sites about the ability to work your butt off on getting a good shave from a $12 chinese razor (the infamous Gold Dollar razor) vs a decent $100 Dovo or Broker razor. Yes, the Gold Dollar will work - with lots of effort on the user's part to grind / hone etc to get the razor to work, vs a 'ready to use' razor from a good vendor.

In my experience with ukuleles (I started with a plywood Kala, then a Martin CK1 and a Mainland, now on the build list for a May Moe) you DO need to pay a bit more. the Kalas we have around the house are still fun, and sound decent, but my Martin and the Mainland (especially my wife's Rosewood / Cedar concert) are leagues different. I still pull an el-cheapo Kala laminate soprano off the shelf once in a while....but our better ukes make us smile more....

I DO agree with RichM above - play what you like and like what you play. Spending more will get you a better sound....but its diminishing returns. My wife's Mainland is probably the sweetest sounding concert uke I have EVER heard... its hard to beat the sound for why we paid for it. Will my May Moe be xx times better? Hard to say.... but it will be built to my specs, and I am anticipating the 'inspiration' to play more than ever.

Bman

Pueo
11-11-2015, 02:28 PM
I have some fairly spendy ukuleles and some inexpensive ones. I will admit that the nicer ones are easier to play well, and I think that makes them sound better.
My $99 Les Paul does not sound anywhere near as pleasant as my Pono, but I still enjoy playing it!
And here in Hawaii that Les Paul is pretty rare so even folks with their high dollar customs get a smile out of it.
Nice thread, it is all about creating joy for others.

Chopped Liver
11-11-2015, 02:49 PM
So I have (and I'll confess) paid for some borderline-toy ukuleles. They have been great for my kids to take to school and my wife to keep in her office.

As much as I want to hate them, they're almost 100% functional. The Kala is quiet and less complicated in tone, but it has the "plink." The Ohana, probably the worst I own, sounds pretty lifeless, but it looks great. And this recent blue-colored Kukui, it sort of has the "plink" too but is almost crap: there's something wrong with the neck and its frets, it buzzes on specific frets.

But man, I can coax music out of all of them. When I play before people, they smile and seemed delighted by the "happy sounds from my yuki-lay-lay."

John Hiatt had a song called "Perfectly Good Guitar," and I'm reminded of this song when I play these ukuleles.

So I've changed my perspective on music playing. My goal is to coax some sort of positive emotional reaction from myself and/or from anyone listening when I play. It's not about what instrument I'm playing anymore, but what emotional connection I can make.

For this, I can set aside any superficial, material, pecuniary, etc. snobbery and let the song do its thing: make an emotional connection.

And I have to admit, I wouldn't have been able to come to this concept had it not been for my crappiest ukuleles (the irony). At one point, I thought a "better" or a more expensive ukulele would have made me a better player. But it turns out, playing the song better made me a better player. I've realized playing a song better overrides the crappiness of any ukulele.

It feels good to come to this understanding. Now I know what to focus on which doesn't cost money and doesn't take up more space.

Yes! This is important! You can make lemonade from lemons!

That doesn't mean you never get a really good uke, but it means that each uke gets a chance to sing and be loved. We don't all have great singing voices, but we still should be allowed to sing if we want to!

Yeah, weird maybe, but if it brings joy to folks, that's what matters.

Sanfe
11-11-2015, 04:43 PM
Thank you for replying. The reality is you own a $70-$90 Kala with the KA-P you just got a great deal on it. My SEM was a very quiet ukulele for the first year or so, yet I can swear that recently it has opened up in volume. I know I didn't think laminate ukuleles would change much from playing but it is louder.

I put on a reentrant set of Aquila reds a year ago and haven't looked back. Best $5-$6 spent and they make the white Aquila strings feel/sound odd once you get used to them.

Yeah, in an attempt to suppress snobbery, I'm going to say I would never pay $70 for my Kala. See, I can be a Craigslist whore and I love love scouring it for good deals. For this, I'm accustomed to relatively low prices and this likely heavily influences my perception of price-to-value.

I bought the Ohana and Kukui on Craigslist for $25 each. But the Kukui came with a tweed case, so I really bought a case for $25 that came with a free ukulele.

So when I say "<$25 ukulele," I'm likely thinking of a different quality than someone else. I never thought about that: that price-to-value can be just as subjective as "tone" and playability. Hmm . . .

In terms of changing the strings on these ukuleles, I don't want to put more money into these ukuleles. As far as the Kala goes, I've had it for a few years and it's withstood some heavy playing, and I haven't noticed it opening up or changing in tone. If the tone opened up, it happened before it got to me. I changed the stock strings to a set of Guitar Center D'Addario strings, and it still sounds wimpy to me.

I also don't want to, for give me, "obsess" over technical details. I've done that before with other interests and, from my experience, that just lead me to pretentious and ignorant snobbery. I don't want to cork-sniff this one. I just "make-do" and want to enjoy.

I have a somewhat older Kamaka whose sound I used to not like. It lacks bass and has a papery and raspy sound to it. But now, I don't complain. If it's there, I play it and enjoy the music I can play on it. I'm grateful for its unique voice.

With ukuleles, I want to (however cheesy this sounds) celebrate music, and not turn it into something whose details I scrutinize to no end, and waste time and money not doing what ukuleles are meant to do - make music.

Nickie
11-11-2015, 07:11 PM
The best sounding soprano I ever played was a $70 Makala. It had plenty of gumption, I might have bought it, but we have no more room for instruments!

ukulelekarcsi
11-11-2015, 09:05 PM
I take lessons from my barber in Jazz guitar. The guy has been playing for 70 years. He keeps an old Yamaha acoustic in the corner. I still do not know how he coaxes the sounds he gets out of it. I pick it up and it sounds nowhere near the same.

Reminds me of the advice of a gypsy jazz guitar teacher: 'First learn it on a crappy spanish guitar with high action. Only then switch to a really nice and easy playing one. You'll be amazed.'

AussieUku
11-11-2015, 11:20 PM
Yep I am sure there are some great players out there playing on cheap ukes.

Myself I am not a great player only been playing for about five months but when I bought a more expensive solid top uke it put me in a better frame of mind with the quality of sound I was getting and also makes me try harder to be that better player where I feel I might of gave up trying to play on a cheaper uke.

Cheaper ukes do have there place but I would say to everyone here that reads this thread when you can afford it upgrade to a better uke it will build up your confidence to keep playing to become that better player cheers.

spookelele
11-12-2015, 01:41 AM
These days you should not be paying more than $50 for a Kala or similar.

you realize that Kala makes more than just low end stuff right?

Ukejenny
11-12-2015, 04:30 AM
As long as you have joy and are sharing that joy, the instrument you play is the one that works, whatever the price.

Pukulele Pete
11-12-2015, 04:42 AM
I put ukes in 3 categories . Some ukes are toys , some ukes are playable toys , and some ukes are musical instruments. They all are fun , and they all sound like ukuleles.

JustinJ
11-12-2015, 05:48 AM
I think once you get above a certain point, you're paying for the bling on an instrument. Also the subtle differences that an higher end instrument may have need a good player to bring them out.

If you're an average player then you're still going to sound average on an expensive uke. Your timing will still be off and chords made poorly. In fact, you may sound worse, if the instrument is more responsive.

I would argue to get a mid level uke to start. You have enough of an investment to encourage playing but if you do not like it, then you can quit without too much of an investment. If you buy a cheap one then you have to deal with poor setup or bad playability.

I would like to know from those people who constantly upgrade ukes, what they are trying to accomplish?

It seems a better use of time and money may be musical lessons.

RichM
11-12-2015, 06:17 AM
I would like to know from those people who constantly upgrade ukes, what they are trying to accomplish?



I've collected musical instruments most of my adult life. I get enormous pleasure from playing a quality instrument, and feel quite blessed by some of the beautiful instrument I own. I also don't believe a great instrument needs to cost a fortune-- I have many wonderful instruments that were quite reasonably priced.

What am I trying to accomplish? Having a wonderful, joyful musical life. And it's working!

Pukulele Pete
11-12-2015, 06:25 AM
I've collected musical instruments most of my adult life. I get enormous pleasure from playing a quality instrument, and feel quite blessed by some of the beautiful instrument I own. I also don't believe a great instrument needs to cost a fortune-- I have many wonderful instruments that were quite reasonably priced.

What am I trying to accomplish? Having a wonderful, joyful musical life. And it's working!

Amen Brother .:agree:

JustinJ
11-12-2015, 05:09 PM
I play instruments myself for the love of music. I've always liked music and often times if it's really good, it takes me away.

I found that when I'm looking for an instrument that music looses some of its fun for me. When I was upgrading my uke, it became something that was stressful. When I'm upgrading, I find myself playing music less while trying to find the instrument. I'm sure that most play an instrument for the joy of it. I'm not sure why people get caught up buying multiple instruments.

I get so much more joy out of playing my instruments than searching for a new one.

Peace Train
11-13-2015, 12:19 AM
I read through this thread, enjoying the cost vs quality debates early on, but the way I interpreted the OP had to do more with feeling and emotion, and less to do with the technical details like standardized "quality" of the instrument per se. In other words, sound is in the ear of the beholder, and a song played technically perfect will never be heard and/or felt as profoundly as the same song played with heart.

As an example, I watched a PBS special years ago about a prodigy violinist moving up the ranks from high-level teacher to high-level teacher until he was able to get an interview with this much sought-after grand-master instructor. While the prodigy's audition was technically perfect, the instructor was less than thrilled. The rest of the program showed the instructor coaxing emotion from the prodigy and then imparting it into his playing. Comparing the before and after results was like night and day, the latter performance being quite moving.

Now, I don't think the OP was necessarily saying that a "cheap" instrument will be just as good for everyone, but that playing these instruments has been far more valuable in what he was taught by them, that he's able to find the intrinsic value in their beauty, and that he's becoming a more proficient player by his increasing ability to make these so-called inferior instruments sing.


The Ohana, probably the worst I own, sounds pretty lifeless, but it looks great. And this recent blue-colored Kukui, it sort of has the "plink" too but is almost crap: there's something wrong with the neck and its frets, it buzzes on specific frets.


So I've changed my perspective on music playing. My goal is to coax some sort of positive emotional reaction from myself and/or from anyone listening when I play. It's not about what instrument I'm playing anymore, but what emotional connection I can make.

While I personally feel the "quality" of the instrument is important in my enjoyment level as a performer, I do understand what the OP is saying and was able to achieve.


Myself I am not a great player only been playing for about five months but when I bought a more expensive solid top uke it put me in a better frame of mind with the quality of sound I was getting and also makes me try harder to be that better player where I feel I might of gave up trying to play on a cheaper uke.

I'm in agreement with AussieUku with where I'm at. But I also feel what's particularly significant--in addition to the performer's ability to convey emotion--relates more to the player's comfort with the instrument. As Glen Hansard said with respect to his 20 yr old, beat-up Takamin NP15 boasting a gaping hole in the soundboard, "It's not a very good guitar...it's like an old pair of boots, when you put it on it feels comfortable and you know how to walk in it."


With ukuleles, I want to (however cheesy this sounds) celebrate music, and not turn it into something whose details I scrutinize to no end, and waste time and money not doing what ukuleles are meant to do - make music.

I spent some time in several hi-fi music forums where music was almost always, but not surprisingly, the least important factor of what was being focused upon. A sweeping majority were chasing highs--the high of the next best sound their ears had yet to adjust to, or the high of keeping up with the Jones', or the high of what that ever-changing perfect set-up could, would, or should be.

When you consider that one pair of speakers can cost more than an average home, it makes ukuleles seem relatively benign by comparison. Of course, many of us do this to one degree or another in our daily lives. There are many shades of UAS, whether it's a uke, guitar, or something else entirely.


For this, I can set aside any superficial, material, pecuniary, etc. snobbery and let the song do its thing: make an emotional connection.


I wouldn't have been able to come to this concept had it not been for my crappiest ukuleles (the irony). At one point, I thought a "better" or a more expensive ukulele would have made me a better player. But it turns out, playing the song better made me a better player.

The Pashmeister
11-13-2015, 01:40 AM
I'm a newcomer to the ukulele world. I've bought a 19 Rubin off ebay and I'm happy with it. Ok, I'm only learning, but I think it sounds great.

I would liken this to owning a car.
If you've only driven a 10 year old VW Golf you'll think it's a great car.
If you then drive a 5 year old BMW, you realise that the Golf isn't as good so you covet the Beemer.
If you then drive a brand new Ferrari, you're in real trouble.

My advice would be to stick with the cheap ukuleles and don't even look at an expensive one. You won't know any better and it'll save you a fortune.

bunnyrawr
11-13-2015, 05:02 AM
You know without my crappy purple mahalo I never would have started playing the ukulele, so I'm grateful for it tbh.

greenie44
11-13-2015, 05:51 AM
I have a few ukes - not any that cost $25, but several that were $100 or less - and some that retail for thousands. My feeling is that the discussion is really two separate questions.

I don't really believe that the $25 uke is equal to the $1000 uke. The more expensive uke is inevitably easier to play and sounds better. The question is whether it is "worth" the extra money to gain those advantages. A great player can make a cheap uke sound great - or an expensive uke sound great. And the corollary is also correct - a less talented player will not necessarily sound much better on a great uke.

I play my less expensive ukes more than my more expensive ukes, because they are handier (on some floors of my house, while my good ones are all in one room) and they sound fine. But if I was going to do a recording, or play out, I would always use the more expensive ukes.

I am lucky enough to be able to have some expensive ukes (although I always buy them used, which makes them more reasonable) and, if I was less lucky, would still love playing less expensive ukes. But I feel pretty strongly that at the ends of the spectrum, there is a noticeable difference in quality. Whether an MB is orders of magnitude better than a $25 uke, or one custom uke is twice as good as another, has as much to do with the resources a person has and their feelings about those resources. But the MB is better, and probably both those custom ukes are both better than the $25 and great.

uke-garou
11-13-2015, 06:13 PM
My take on the OP is this... have some fun with what you've got. Plinky but playable is OK as long as you are having fun. There is no debate that an expensive well-made instrument will out-play a cheap one made of plywood. Both would sound like crap in my hands, though.

I saw this video, and thought...."these guys know how to have fun". It isn't a ukulele, but it gets the point across. I don't mind listening to this cheap out of tune instrument, and no. I couldn't make it sound like that. Walmart Rockstars (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zJoyLEOEGQM)

I just looked this guy up, and he is playing an acoustic set not in the next town over from me tomorrow. (He plays ukulele as well.)

coolkayaker1
11-13-2015, 06:29 PM
http://youtu.be/0nf4BiossT8

Croaky Keith
11-14-2015, 12:16 AM
They sounded the same to me! :shock:

Edit: Likely I won't need to buy another uke, as I am getting a Makala Tenor. :lol:

Sanfe
11-14-2015, 06:10 AM
They sounded the same to me! :shock:


I'm not trying to start an argument, but I can hear the difference (through my laptop speakers and later through headphones). The first one is louder and I hear more - it sounds at least brighter, and I hear more "colors." The second one has a duller "boxier" sound to it.

It's like watching an HDTV, and then watching it with a thin layer of clear kitchen wrap over the screen.

But it doesn't matter, the dude can play.

Inksplosive AL
11-14-2015, 07:47 AM
Funny I just posted this to my shop page on facebook just 4 hours ago. It has to do with color and how color is an experience of the mind. Much like sound all our ears and eyes are slightly different like random computer parts, perhaps a better example for this forum would be how multiple ukuleles built by the same hand are all slightly different.

The real interesting part happens when you realize we are all but slaves to our brains interpretations of everything around us. So not only are the parts all slightly different but the processor can vary wildly, err same ukulele different wood?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evQsOFQju08

Rllink
11-14-2015, 08:10 AM
http://youtu.be/0nf4BiossT8When we start out, I think that most of us say to ourselves, which sounds better? And we watch it with that in mind. Then we get into this comparative discussion about the expensive one sounds better, no the cheap one sounds just as good as the expensive one, the expensive one doesn't sound $980 better than the cheap one, and on and on and on, and really, it seems to me that in this case, it is subjective. But when I watched it the third or fourth time, I changed my way of thinking. Because, I did noticed the difference, but I thought that they both sounded good in their own way. As so often I wonder, and not just about which ukulele sounds better, why do we always have to pick one? Why can't they both be good? So I asked myself instead, which one sounded bad? Well, neither sounded bad, so there you are.

Sanfe
11-14-2015, 04:52 PM
Funny I just posted this to my shop page on facebook just 4 hours ago. It has to do with color and how color is an experience of the mind. Much like sound all our ears and eyes are slightly different like random computer parts, perhaps a better example for this forum would be how multiple ukuleles built by the same hand are all slightly different.

The real interesting part happens when you realize we are all but slaves to our brains interpretations of everything around us. So not only are the parts all slightly different but the processor can vary wildly, err same ukulele different wood?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evQsOFQju08

Mr. Al, I wished you lived closer so we could hang out and talk. Thank you for sharing the video.

Sanfe
11-14-2015, 04:54 PM
When we start out, I think that most of us say to ourselves, which sounds better? And we watch it with that in mind. Then we get into this comparative discussion about the expensive one sounds better, no the cheap one sounds just as good as the expensive one, the expensive one doesn't sound $980 better than the cheap one, and on and on and on, and really, it seems to me that in this case, it is subjective. But when I watched it the third or fourth time, I changed my way of thinking. Because, I did noticed the difference, but I thought that they both sounded good in their own way. As so often I wonder, and not just about which ukulele sounds better, why do we always have to pick one? Why can't they both be good? So I asked myself instead, which one sounded bad? Well, neither sounded bad, so there you are.

You are right. I have to agree. Why can't things exist as what they are and not as which is better or worse?

I'm learning a lot tonight.

Thanks.

LDS714
11-15-2015, 12:07 AM
Funny I just posted this to my shop page on facebook just 4 hours ago. It has to do with color and how color is an experience of the mind. Much like sound all our ears and eyes are slightly different like random computer parts, perhaps a better example for this forum would be how multiple ukuleles built by the same hand are all slightly different.

The real interesting part happens when you realize we are all but slaves to our brains interpretations of everything around us. So not only are the parts all slightly different but the processor can vary wildly, err same ukulele different wood?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evQsOFQju08

LOL! I asked my dad when I was 7 or 8, "What if the color I see and call red is the same color you see as blue and the color you see as blue I see as red, and we don't know so we just call them red and blue?"

Couple this with synesthesia, and there's no wonder there are so many different types of music and instruments...

stevepetergal
11-15-2015, 05:24 AM
Well, here goes: I have trouble playing a really cheap ukulele. Can't take the harsh, brittle sound of them. I'm the snob many responding to this thread are thinking of. I hope I won't be judged too harshly. A finely made, warm sounding instrument gives me great pleasure. A poorly made one gives me nothing but disappointment. Do I have to analyze it? I don't think so, but the fact is that I worked on acoustic instruments for a long time and always strove to extract the very best sound I could get from them. It was my life's work for decades. Certain sounds are offensive to my ears and I don't think I'd try to change that about myself if I thought I could. It's almost as if it's in my DNA.
I'll give you this: I don't expect or even ask anyone else to share my opinion. And, I celebrate the pleasure any and all people get from the instruments they play.

Croaky Keith
11-15-2015, 06:00 AM
When I made my post, I was on my computer but doing other things at the same time, I didn't notice the change of instrument by the sounds I was hearing.

Be that the computer speakers or the instruments themselves, but I was surprised at how little difference there was to me personally. ;)

I quite like a mellow toned instrument, but understand that I'm not likely to get one unless I find the right strings for me. :)

70sSanO
11-15-2015, 06:24 AM
The Mahalo vs Kiwaya is an interesting comparison. And although the person plays quite well, I would not consider that style of music the defining test of the sound quality of each ukulele.

Go listen to a what John King is able to do on a soprano. I highly doubt the ability of the Mahalo to replicate the texture and tone of the individual notes of a quality ukulele. In fact, it is possible that it may actually sound bad further up the fretboard.

I think a lot comes down to how a ukulele, or any instrument is played. A cheap ukulele is not that bad for the purpose it was intended... strumming chords at the nut and having fun. And that is where most of the fun happens. And then the extra $980 is not worth it. But if a person is trying to play melodies and notes up the neck, then the $980 may be well spent. It is what separates higher end instruments from cheap ones.

John

zztush
11-15-2015, 08:28 PM
There are expensive wood and inexpesive wood.
There are expensive handiwork and inexpensive handiwork.
But there might be no expensive sound or inexpensive sound.

UkieOkie
11-16-2015, 11:53 AM
There are expensive wood and inexpesive wood.
There are expensive handiwork and inexpensive handiwork.
But there might be no expensive sound or inexpensive sound.

Interesting point.

NewKid
11-16-2015, 12:55 PM
This thread brought me back down to earth about a excellent ukulele I have that I have not been playing. It is more than perfectly good, but I have two others that are much better.

Thanks to the OP for reminding me that its what we put into the music that counts and the instrument is secondary.

Fleacia
11-16-2015, 01:36 PM
I play instruments myself for the love of music. I've always liked music and often times if it's really good, it takes me away.

I found that when I'm looking for an instrument that music looses some of its fun for me. When I was upgrading my uke, it became something that was stressful. When I'm upgrading, I find myself playing music less while trying to find the instrument. I'm sure that most play an instrument for the joy of it. I'm not sure why people get caught up buying multiple instruments.

I get so much more joy out of playing my instruments than searching for a new one.

Agree 100% that's me. I hate the "upgrade" process!

Yet, it takes all kinds! As you were. :)