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View Full Version : Cheap Ukes on ebay etc.



Still Water Weapons
12-03-2015, 02:24 PM
I'm sure this has been discussed before but...

What's with the cheap ukes I'm seeing on ebay that seem to mostly be Chinese? Are they worth the money? Total crap shoot?

I'm looking for an inexpensive tenor to keep at the office, that's where I do most of my practice anyway. One of these that are $60-$80 just might fit the bill, but only if they are not garbage. Some say they have solid tops, hmmm.

So what do you guys think of them? Anybody here have any experience with them? Suggestions of brands that are a better bet than others? I have seen a discussion on here about the Caramel brand, I think I understood that they are worth the money. I don't really need electronics.

Thanks for your insight.
Chris

Freeda
12-03-2015, 02:33 PM
Why buy a piece of crap when 80 bucks can buy you something reliable and set up from Mim, Uke Republic, or HMS?

Still Water Weapons
12-03-2015, 02:51 PM
I was on HMS earlier and their least expensive Tenor is $119. I'm not knocking them at all, I bought my Kala from them. But that's double the cost, of some of these other ukes. If they are 80% of the sound, it could be good economics for the purpose I have in mind.

Brian1
12-03-2015, 03:11 PM
If you get a cheep uke o e-bay get a caramel. THey are pretty good. Smooth frets great intonation and can be had with a pick up for under 100 bucks.

THey used to be known as Rubin you can hear many people singing their praises here with a search for Rubin or Caramel.

JackLuis
12-03-2015, 05:52 PM
If you get a cheep uke o e-bay get a caramel. THey are pretty good. Smooth frets great intonation and can be had with a pick up for under 100 bucks.

They used to be known as Rubin you can hear many people singing their praises here with a search for Rubin or Caramel.

+1 for Caramel
I've bought six of them, three to give away. All of them were pretty good and since they changed to Caramel, the setup was better than good. Although I did have the set up by my local Uke shop. The last two were only $10 to adjust for Low G and touch up. I have noticed that they are raising their prices, so maybe they were 'loss leading' to get a marketing position. My neighbor bought one of the spruce top tenors and it is very bright, the Zebra wood ones are mellower laminates.

Right now they have some of the earlier non electric sopranos still listed for real cheap ~$32-40.

The Gloss Zebra wood Thin line tenor for $65 is a good deal. I have one and other than being kind of quiet sounds good and is very well made

Still Water Weapons
12-04-2015, 12:55 PM
Wow, thanks for all that info on the Caramel, I will have to look closer at those. Have you noticed any differences in prices on ebay vs amazon?

Rllink
12-04-2015, 01:30 PM
I'm sure this has been discussed before but...

What's with the cheap ukes I'm seeing on ebay that seem to mostly be Chinese? Are they worth the money? Total crap shoot?

I'm looking for an inexpensive tenor to keep at the office, that's where I do most of my practice anyway. One of these that are $60-$80 just might fit the bill, but only if they are not garbage. Some say they have solid tops, hmmm.

So what do you guys think of them? Anybody here have any experience with them? Suggestions of brands that are a better bet than others? I have seen a discussion on here about the Caramel brand, I think I understood that they are worth the money. I don't really need electronics.

Thanks for your insight.
ChrisAren't most ukuleles made in China?

Fuzzface
12-04-2015, 01:44 PM
Aren't most ukuleles made in China?

Ah, the still small voice of reasoned calm.

Brian1
12-04-2015, 02:35 PM
Wow, thanks for all that info on the Caramel, I will have to look closer at those. Have you noticed any differences in prices on ebay vs amazon?
I have three Rubins (now Caramel) they all came from E-bay and from the Rubin e-bay account it had free shipping Amazon probably would as well. Amazon just has so many different prices for the same thing I never know which to click on.


Aren't most ukuleles made in China?

Not as much anymore. They say there are really only a handful of companies that make guitars (some say 4) and everyone uses the same factory. THat may be true but if you compare a Kohala with a Kala you will find that they are very different even though both are made in China. THere are also big differneces in some brands like Lanakai. Although they may come from the same factory that does not mean that the factory has the same specifications. If you get a Peavy soprano from China unless you really like the design silkscreened onto it you are probably not going to be as satisfied as you would be with a Tom soprano. But everyone I know who bought a Peavy "Composer" or Jack Daniels model concert ukulele (not guitarlele) has been very satisfied.

But many "low end ukes" come from Indonesia (Mahalo used to be made in China and now in Indonesia) I think the Les Paul Guitar Ukes come from Indonesia I have a Dean ML made in Indonesia I think Ibanez is as well. Mitchell is made in Mexico. And the Romaro "tiny tenor" ukes I think are made in Vietnam.

ZappCatt
12-04-2015, 08:08 PM
I am not sure I would call it a "low end Uke" but the $450 Lanikai NKTU-T Solid Koa has Indonesia as it's country of origin.

Still Water Weapons
12-05-2015, 09:58 AM
LOL, yeah that's not very low end. At least not low end for my check book!:D

Brian1
12-05-2015, 11:31 AM
I am not sure I would call it a "low end Uke" but the $450 Lanikai NKTU-T Solid Koa has Indonesia as it's country of origin.


My LU 21CE still has its made in china sticker on it and came to me shipped for $63.00

So like I said Lanikia has a lot of differences in their own brand.

This is the same concert model sold at Guitar Center for $100 or more but Guitar Center is a different model # with gold colored tuners (I assume so they don't have to price match it)

Rllink
12-06-2015, 04:12 AM
I think as well, that some ukuleles are built in China, or somewhere in the pacific far east for those who want to differentiate between Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian, or whatever other third world dirt cheap country where they make them, and then they are assembled here in the US. I would guess that means that the tuners and strings are put on them here. I think Mainlands are that way, but I'm sure that they are not the only ones.

actadh
12-06-2015, 06:20 AM
Came across this today - the lowest price for a ukulele I have seen at $2.71 for an ABS plastic one.

http://www.gearbest.com/musical-instruments/pp_247426.html

Brian1
12-06-2015, 02:35 PM
Came across this today - the lowest price for a ukulele I have seen at $2.71 for an ABS plastic one.

http://www.gearbest.com/musical-instruments/pp_247426.html

I just checked to see what shipping was... $35 to the US. LOL

strumsilly
12-06-2015, 03:02 PM
cheapest I've seen is the $9.99 Disney 4 string "guitar" in Walgreens . the tax will bring it to almost $11 though. Doesn't look like it's even worth that. I could be wrong.

Still Water Weapons
12-06-2015, 04:42 PM
How shall I say....... Not "exactly" what I was getting at with the original post. :wallbash:

UkieOkie
12-06-2015, 04:56 PM
+1 on the Caramels. I and friends have now bought, and owned for a while, several Caramel ukes and they have all been surprisingly good. We all went with amazon. They have free shipping on most. I have been noticing some significant price increases on some models. I want to by several more to be honest with you. They are just such a great value.

Brian1
12-06-2015, 06:53 PM
cheapest I've seen is the $9.99 Disney 4 string "guitar" in Walgreens . the tax will bring it to almost $11 though. Doesn't look like it's even worth that. I could be wrong.

I bought that one at walgreens... I bought it to take it apart. And taking it apart is much easier than taking apart the micky/minnie mouse first act ukes from last christmas but the tuners are not as good - the walgreens uke is even less playable but I wanted to see if I could put a real fret board on it and put a wood top on... It might be possible but you'd have to find some sort or glue that would stick to wood and plastic and put in some pufling. It ended up being more than I wanted to deal with before the holidays :)

The 4 strings are really only two pieces of fishing line and looped over they are all just line (not leader) the tuners won't hold tension (not that I planned for them to) but the thing is not playable.

Still Water Weapons
12-07-2015, 01:52 PM
Thanks UkieOkie, I can't believe how popular those Caramels are! It seems everyone has one, and more importantly seem happy with the purchase.

Brian - LOL that seems like a big project with minimal, if any, reward. Almost seems easier to build one from scratch. I admit I laughed when you described the strings being looped over and not individual strings. :D

JackLuis
12-07-2015, 08:12 PM
Take a look at this Caramel CC500 Rosewood Concert Acoustic Electric Ukulele on Amazon. ~$65

I bought a similar Tenor when they were Rubins and gave it to my daughter. If you like odd ones, it might be good for you. The Tenor had marginally better sound than my Zebra wood, with the Aquilia strings, and was beautify made. I wrote to them about when they wold have more Zebra Elect/Tenors available and they said 'next week". That was last week so maybe soon they will have more stock. It looks to me like they do a run of a bunch of Uke's and then sell them off before running another batch.

Still Water Weapons
12-08-2015, 08:20 AM
Not really a fan of the odd "lizard" hole or whatever that is.:eek:

I'm kind of leaning toward the Caramel with solid spruce top and quilted ash. Do any of you guys have experience with ash as a tone wood? I have none.

Chuditch
12-08-2015, 03:35 PM
Another supporter of the Caramel ukes. I have two and they are the lower end of the range. My go to travel uke is a pink Makala Dolphin.... a $60 blem I bought online for my then 4 year old daughter to bash around.

Lo and behold, it is a solid player and easily tough enough for most travelling. I liked it so much I bought another, however this was a great dissapointment. I will not go in to detail but essentially it was made of the same materials but not made well at all. So my first and only bad uke experience...

The Caramels represent excellent value for money. Very well made with the only issue perhaps is that the action might need adjustment. My sopranino needed lowering at both the nut and the saddle but turned out very well. My Butterfly mahogany laminate played great out of the box.

For quite a well made uke with or without live preamp pickup you cant really beat them. I was surprised because the quality surpassed the $ by a good margin. I see the prices are going up on them so grab one now before they are priced like Kala ukes.

I live in a remote area so all my ukes are bought online unseen. So far been very fortunate with one bad egg and another requiring a little work.

Depending on your price range you could do worse than check out Jack at the Ukulele Place. Australian supplier who does free setups with every uke sold. He only handles a limited range but every thing is good. The exchange rate would make it an attractive option for a US or EU buyer.

strumsilly
12-08-2015, 04:13 PM
I'm visiting my grandkids and have been playing the Makala Dolphin I gifted them awhile ago. It's lost some of it's white paint and is plastered in stickers, but all in all it's playable all the way up the neck and sounds pretty good too.Maybe it's just a "good" one. I don't know how the new ones sound but I think I only paid about $35 for it and it is much more a uke than a toy. Looks like they are about $10 more online now.

JackLuis
12-09-2015, 12:47 PM
I know what you mean. ;) I think it is supposed to be a leaf pattern. If it was a round sound hole, I'd buy the concert as I really like the rosewood.

My neighbor bought a Caramel willow, spruce top Tenor and it is nice a bright. I'm not sure the laminate Ash or Willow makes much difference in tone.