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View Full Version : What's the starting price for a custom tenor?



onlyablur
12-26-2015, 10:42 PM
I'm not looking to commission a tenor now, but I'm just curious: do they generally start from at least $1000? or $2000? Would you say anything less than that wouldn't be worth the wait?

Thanks

DownUpDave
12-27-2015, 12:00 AM
Starting price can vary a lot depeding on the builder of course. A few great builders that are on the "reasonable" spectrum of starting prices are Ono at $1000.00 and Barron River at $1400.00. I think Willy Wixom is around $1000.00 and I am pretty sure that Covered Bridge are under $1000.00

hollisdwyer
12-27-2015, 01:21 AM
Starting price can vary a lot depeding on the builder of course. A few great builders that are on the "reasonable" spectrum of starting prices are Ono at $1000.00 and Barron River at $1400.00. I think Willy Wixom is around $1000.00 and I am pretty sure that Covered Bridge are under $1000.00
Dave forgot to mention that Barron River Ukes are quoted in Australian dollars. So about $1050-1100 US plus shipping.

Jim Hanks
12-27-2015, 02:18 AM
Starting price can vary a lot depeding on the builder of course.
A couple others to consider would be Spruce House and Cocobolo Ukulele. Price also depends on what features you want your "custom" to have.

Rakelele
12-27-2015, 05:24 AM
Another name worth mentioning here is Beau Hannam. His ukes usually sell for more than 3K, but he also has a Player's model starting around 1600 USD.

In addition to the fine makers already mentioned in this thread, I think you could get a custom made Ukulele for <1K from David Iriguchi or Gary Gill. Also within that range (considering the exchange rate) might be some Canadian luthiers like David Webber or Shelley Park of Moodyville. A lot of custom options to chose from are offered from Asian makers like Maestro and perhaps Rebel.

M3Ukulele
12-27-2015, 06:17 AM
+1 for Moodyville and Shelly Park. At $1300 Canadian that is under a grand $USD for quality work. Check out Shelly's Facebook page and Blue Dog Music in North Vancouver. I have a Sitka Spruce /Black Walnut Very light build, responsive and lots of projection.

Baron River and Ono are others that are great value and builds.

Have fun figuring it out. The pre buy can be lots of fun. Talk to your builder they will help you a lot.

Good luck.

onlyablur
12-27-2015, 08:03 AM
Thank you all for your replies! I shall check out the builders you mentioned - there are so many whom I haven't heard of!

By the way, do you think there exists such a price point for custom tenor, beyond which the sound quality would be equally high, and you would just be paying the extra for the inlay arts, finishes, or even just the brand name? if so, what would you say such a price point is?

kohanmike
12-27-2015, 08:07 AM
To save money, I ordered from Bruce Wei Arts in Vietnam. He's made me three custom tenor ukes, I sent him detailed drawings of what I wanted; a mahogany mandolele for $360 (came out nice, I sold it), a black mandolele for $420 (also came out nice) and a gypsy jazz for $780 (does not have the projection or sustain I was hoping for. It seems to me the solid top flame maple is too thick).

For the sake of full disclosure, I also had him make a custom bass uke that came out nice, with one caveat; during the build, I asked him if he hadn't done the frets yet, not to do them and make it a fretless, but if the frets were already done, to leave them. He didn't listen and decided on his own to pull the frets that were already done. When I received it, the lower edge of the fretboard was rough at each fret location, so I had to return it for him to correct that.

Ukulele Eddie
12-27-2015, 08:44 AM
Around $1k to $1,500. Covered Bridge and Ono are two at the lower end of this price range and both make some exceptional sounding ukes that compare favorably to any price range. Beau Hannam offers a Players Model at $1,650 as a non-bling version of his beautiful $3k plus highly appointed customs. The Players Model has same bracing and attention to voicing as his more blinged Ukes.

the flat tire
12-27-2015, 01:26 PM
Thank you all for your replies! I shall check out the builders you mentioned - there are so many whom I haven't heard of!

By the way, do you think there exists such a price point for custom tenor, beyond which the sound quality would be equally high, and you would just be paying the extra for the inlay arts, finishes, or even just the brand name? if so, what would you say such a price point is?

I think as far as sound goes, you should decide what kind of wood you want, as that affects cost.
You want koa or curly koa? Spruce or bear claw? etc.
I think the tone woods make as much difference in sound as does the luthier.

I've been looking at some local builders, and here (HI) basic seems to be in the 1-2k range (again, depends on the wood and builder).

I gotta say though, an 'off the shelf' KoAloha or Kanilea in the 1k range will sound great and you'll still be in an 'exclusive' club.
What I mean is in the 1k range, your custom choices may be limited while I'm sure there are many different instruments at say, HMS, in the 1k range that would make you happy too.

Kiwiohana
12-27-2015, 01:36 PM
I would add Fidra to this list: http://www.fidraukulele.co.uk

I learnt about them from a recent UU post, and am about to order my first custom made instrument from him. Such beautiful craftsmanship, and from the video posted on here, fantastic sound. I love the Celtic design options. After that, I'm thinking of a Barron River, based on feedback in this forum.

Remember, most luthiers have a waiting list. Sometimes years. So get your homework done and then secure a place on the waiting list

pritch
12-27-2015, 03:08 PM
By the way, do you think there exists such a price point for custom tenor, beyond which the sound quality would be equally high, and you would just be paying the extra for the inlay arts, finishes, or even just the brand name? if so, what would you say such a price point is?

Hard to say as it would vary according to individual perception but it seems that peope are happy to pay $7,000, $9,000 or even $13,000+ for a Moore Bettah.

To give you some idea Ko'olau have a price list on the HMS web site. The list starts with the price for a basic concert (if a Ko'olau can be called basic?) and goes up according to the options you select. If you add up the cost of the options you want, without asking for the price for mother of pearl vine leaves up the fretboard, that'd give one answer to your question.
http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/brand/koolau/koolau-100-custom-build.html

hollisdwyer
12-27-2015, 09:35 PM
You may like to consider buying a custom 2nd hand before you commission one. My last 7 ukes have been customs but I have only commissioned 3. I have never been able to restrict myself to the starting price. I blink and I add 1k worth of extras.
It's a great exercise to commission an instrument just for you but you have to have deep pockets.
I think I should also add the suggestion to look at what new instruments Mya Moe have 'available now ' if you like the combination of features you can save yourself a 6 to 20 months wait from many builders for a built to your specs one.

Rakelele
12-27-2015, 11:05 PM
Do you think there exists such a price point for custom tenor, beyond which the sound quality would be equally high, and you would just be paying the extra for the inlay arts, finishes, or even just the brand name? if so, what would you say such a price point is?

In my limited experience, I tend to think that a perfect sounding Ukulele from a well renowned luthier with some of the finest tonewoods, elaborate bracing and a nicely executed finish, but no extra bling would figure in a range of about 1500 to 3000 USD. What goes beyond is for added options and visual details, which I understand can be even more time-consuming than building the actual instrument. Of course, a highly appraised luthier with a full schedule will be able to charge a higher rate for his work than an unknown part-time garage builder. Also, the range suggested above will depend on the country or region of the builder, as costs of living vary widely. Again, these are just my own personal speculations.

coolkayaker1
12-27-2015, 11:48 PM
I second what Hollis suggested. (He would know, scoring a half-off-new deal on a superb custom DaSilva not too long ago). If you are open to someone else's custom choices, and a patient buggah, fantastic deals can be had. I've bought several custom, one-of-a-kind ukes for 30%-50% off the price of new, on eBay and UU Marketplace, over the years, not only saving money up front, but i resold without a significant loss (the first guy took the skinning..lol).

Keep in mind, if you are the original ordering buyer, that, while there are tons of people lusting for a Kamaka, KoAloha, etc., that sound indistinguishable when blindfolded from a custom, there exists far fewer that have heard of, or will want to pay a premium for, a custom by many of the custom names that often come-and-go. Just a few years back, the ultimate customs--top shelf all the way, everyone drooling for them--included Glyph and King and Kawika. I'll bet the vast majority of the people on UU now never even heard of those amazing luthiers; their willingness to pony up thousands for one of these luthiers' ukes: zilch. (Those ever-diminishing numbers who recognize their work as legendary would, though). There are many customs (DaSilva, Barron River recently) that have languished through many price reductions on UU Marketplace before finally selling.

Of course, if one keeps the uke forever, it's a nonissue. I'll add that, in my experience of buying and selling many, many ukes, one thousand dollars is a magic price point. Easier to sell ukuleles below that four-digit number than above it; this is particularly true with the softening enthusiasm for the instrument recently (I would know; I have four ukes eating dirt on eBay right now...lol).

Like anything custom, it's yours if you buy a new custom uke. Too quiet? You think it's overbuilt? You find the finish too heavy, or the tuners unsmooth? Well, it's yours regardless. No play before buy, generally no returns (especially if you order your nickname in abalone inlay down the fretboard...lol).

Those are just things to keep in mind. The best custom I've personally ever owned? Agree with mountain goat: my PoHaku. Amazing intonation, workmanship, and tone. It was superb in every way. And, like a ninny, I sold it--at a loss--to afford some other custom that I've long since forgotten.

It is fun to order a custom, though. Everyone should try it once.

Once. ;)

wayfarer75
12-28-2015, 03:00 AM
I think I should also add the suggestion to look at what new instruments Mya Moe have 'available now ' if you like the combination of features you can save yourself a 6 to 20 months wait from many builders for a built to your specs one.

I agree--there are builders who do make "spec" instruments available. That's how I got my Barron River without a wait. Sometimes they're available in shops and sometimes on the luthier's website. Other builders who offer unique non-commissioned ukes would be Compass Rose, Lichty, Luis Feu de Mesquita, Koolau, LoPrinzi, and honestly the list goes on. Even Moore Bettahs--if you want to pay the price. It just depends what one is looking for.

mm stan
12-28-2015, 03:39 AM
You can get base models customs if price is a factor for you, what is your budget range
In order to help you, you must give more specfic information to guide you. Choose your
Luthier to what you want in a uke, do your research on them and listen to what people
Reponses to them good luck
If youre just intrested in how it works and not buying and just wanted to post something
Thats cool too.

Woody Ukepicker
12-28-2015, 03:47 AM
For 400-500 € you can get a nice custom BRÜKO.

Stevelele
12-28-2015, 04:23 AM
just remember that custom doesn't automatically mean that it'll sound better. The benefit is that you can sometimes get all the features that you want together, e.g. sound port, the type of finish, radius on fretboard, etc. But not all luthiers will customize everything for you--some have certain standards they abide by. As far as sound goes, you shouldn't presume that a custom will sound better to your ears than a production uke. I've played a lot of instruments, and my favorites are customs, but I've also heard some wonderful production ukes that I liked even better than some of the customs that i've heard.

onlyablur
12-28-2015, 04:27 AM
You may like to consider buying a custom 2nd hand before you commission one. My last 7 ukes have been customs but I have only commissioned 3. I have never been able to restrict myself to the starting price. I blink and I add 1k worth of extras.
It's a great exercise to commission an instrument just for you but you have to have deep pockets.
I think I should also add the suggestion to look at what new instruments Mya Moe have 'available now ' if you like the combination of features you can save yourself a 6 to 20 months wait from many builders for a built to your specs one.

Thanks for the suggestion! I don't have deep pockets, and pre-owned custom might just be the way to go! :)

onlyablur
12-28-2015, 04:33 AM
If youre just intrested in how it works and not buying and just wanted to post something
Thats cool too.

Yes, I'm just interested in how it works, and not buying now. I'd only consider spending 1k+ when I can play better...

katysax
12-28-2015, 05:33 AM
You don't necessarily get better when you get a custom. I have and have had many customs - most of which were not commissioned by me.

What I like about a custom, or a uke made by a small luthier, is that it represents someone's personal work and style. However, it may or may not be better from a player's perspective. You do get tremendous consistency from some builders like Moore Bettah. But some of the lesser known builders who sell their ukes cheaper may not be as experienced or as consistent or as skilled.

I don't want to name names or call people out because a lot of quality is in the perception of the beholder. There are some phenomenal values in a custom uke but there is a lot of variation and inconsistency.

On the other hand none of the K brands are really mass manufactured. Kamaka, Kanilea and Koaloha are really small builders with a bit more output. They all make excellent ukes. (I don't include Ko'olau here because it is really more of a custom brand - they are also excellent though). On the whole in the range of $1000 I'd say a K brand is probably a better choice.

Joyful Uke
12-28-2015, 06:11 AM
I enjoy browsing HMS, looking at and listening to ukuleles that they have for sale. Since you're just interested, and not buying, you might consider doing something like that, which might give you an idea of what woods sound best to you, and whose sound you like. You can search the site for "custom", which currently brings up a range for ukuleles from $99 (are those Kalas custom?) to $4,995. If something catches your ears/eyes, you can go to the luthier's website for details on their pricing. From what I've seen, luthier's have a range of pricing, depending on the woods and features chosen, so even if a ukulele on HMS is out of your price range, they might still offer an option for you in your price range.

johnson430
12-28-2015, 06:29 AM
You don't necessarily get better when you get a custom. I have and have had many customs - most of which were not commissioned by me.

What I like about a custom, or a uke made by a small luthier, is that it represents someone's personal work and style. However, it may or may not be better from a player's perspective. You do get tremendous consistency from some builders like Moore Bettah. But some of the lesser known builders who sell their ukes cheaper may not be as experienced or as consistent or as skilled.

I don't want to name names or call people out because a lot of quality is in the perception of the beholder. There are some phenomenal values in a custom uke but there is a lot of variation and inconsistency.

On the other hand none of the K brands are really mass manufactured. Kamaka, Kanilea and Koaloha are really small builders with a bit more output. They all make excellent ukes. (I don't include Ko'olau here because it is really more of a custom brand - they are also excellent though). On the whole in the range of $1000 I'd say a K brand is probably a better choice.

Katysax,
This is a great post. Thanks for your honesty.
Back in April of 2015 I got a few feathers ruffled when I asserted something very similar about 'some' (I have to be very careful around here with my word choice) custom ukes being overpriced.
Like you said, there are consistent quality builders out there, this is obvious by the beautiful work we see in the photos and the sounds that those ukes produce.

I would also agree with your thoughts about getting a K brand for consistency of a quality build for around 1k.

On that note, I heard of one uke player who waited patiently and was able to procure a used "played once" custom that was $2500USD new; they scored it for $1k only a month after the original owner purchased it.
Long story short: the original owner came into financial hardship and the buyer was in the right place at the right time.
Perhaps that is how I would buy a custom, just wait for a second-hand to come up so I could hear how it sounds and see how it looks.

70sSanO
12-28-2015, 08:41 AM
How long is a piece of string?

There are 'custom' builders you can buy from under 500...

I really like this response because there are ukuleles you can have built for you for under $500.

I do not own a production ukulele. You have been given some great advice. In my opinion, you have to ask yourself what exactly are you trying to get by going with a non-production ukulele. I like the term non-production or semi-custom.

Is it a specific sound? A specific look? Specific features? Something different than what everyone else has?

Once you know exactly what you want, you need to do the research to get the right sound and playability in your price range. Listen to sound samples, check reviews, contact the luthier and ask questions. Find one that you feel is really good at doing the stuff you want. It is important that you go to someone who is not being pushed beyond his/her comfort zone. Few luthiers do everything great and those that do may be out of your price range.

John

Jon Moody
12-28-2015, 09:26 AM
You don't necessarily get better when you get a custom.

I agree. If anything, I find with a really nice custom (or production, for that matter) instrument, it's going to highlight your flaws more clearly than a lower level instrument will.



On that note, I heard of one uke player who waited patiently and was able to procure a used "played once" custom that was $2500USD new; they scored it for $1k only a month after the original owner purchased it.
Long story short: the original owner came into financial hardship and the buyer was in the right place at the right time.
Perhaps that is how I would buy a custom, just wait for a second-hand to come up so I could hear how it sounds and see how it looks.

That is the downside to ordering a custom ukulele (or any custom instrument); the resale is usually far less than what you paid. Sure, there are those custom ukes from brands that can sell at or above your cost, but the because the custom instrument was made with someone's particular ideas in mind, it becomes a bit more difficult to find a particular buyer than just a made-to-order or more production-like instrument.

Allen
12-28-2015, 11:42 AM
As I've been mentioned in this thread I'll chime in about my instruments.

The only difference in my base price and fully custom are the choice of timbers, trim, tuners and finish. All things that take time to add, are harder to work with, or cost me more due to market forces, exchange rates etc. Insignificant changes like nut with, left handed etc. do not cost anything extra.

Otherwise each and every instrument is built with the same bracing patterns and individually voiced.

hollisdwyer
12-29-2015, 01:31 AM
As I've been mentioned in this thread I'll chime in about my instruments.

The only difference in my base price and fully custom are the choice of timbers, trim, tuners and finish. All things that take time to add, are harder to work with, or cost me more due to market forces, exchange rates etc. Insignificant changes like nut with, left handed etc. do not cost anything extra.

Otherwise each and every instrument is built with the same bracing patterns and individually voiced.

Allen brings up another point of difference between customs and most of the K brands that I've seen. That is that you will see a greater variety of woods from custom builders. The instruments that I own have very nice wood sets that have been voiced with great skill. The 'extras' (pickups, bindings, finish, higher quality wood sets, etc) that I included, I am sure, did nothing to make the instrument sound any better. It was the skills of the luthier that achieved that. It did go to allowing the craftsman to produce an object of visual beauty, which was important to me and was something I was willing to pay for. Many people don't value that aspect of an instrument build. Some even think it foolish. To each their own.

Brian1
12-30-2015, 05:20 AM
Its already been mentioned that some can be had for under $500 and Bruce Wei has already been mentioned.

I have talked to a few guitar builders (professional and amateur) locally that find the idea of building a ukulele "a fun idea". I've had the chance to ask some who have good reputations what they would charge to build a uke. The highest estimate I got was $800-$900. On the low end $400.

Granted there are some differences in building ukuleles and buying someone's "first" has its risks.

I believe there is a builder on the website "Custom Made (dot) com" who offers a ukulele for $350.

MtBoy
03-06-2016, 12:38 PM
I would like to hear more about this question. I feel like I have exhausted my desires in the $1200 and under catagory. I haven't seen/heard anything that I give a rip about until the $4000+ zone. It seems like to get a "better" sound you also have to buy into the art collector catagory.
I get it. I mean if I were a builder and could chose wether to build for players for $1500 a unit or build for art collectors for $5000 a unit, I am going to build for the artists and let the production people pick up the slack.
But damn! Sure wish I could buy some of that sound.

ProfChris
03-06-2016, 01:01 PM
Its already been mentioned that some can be had for under $500 and Bruce Wei has already been mentioned.

I have talked to a few guitar builders (professional and amateur) locally that find the idea of building a ukulele "a fun idea". I've had the chance to ask some who have good reputations what they would charge to build a uke. The highest estimate I got was $800-$900. On the low end $400.

I've played a few of these - all very disappointing, built like tanks and very muted in sound. Guitar builders tend to build small guitars, rather than ukes, and they're not synonymous.

That's not to say a guitar builder wouldn't research uke building and make a good one, just that they may not realise this is necessary.

However, the ones I saw all *looked* very good.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
03-06-2016, 01:29 PM
Some bargains can be had if you find a talented person who is starting out in the trade- ie they have a "real" job and are making at night/weekends etc


Guitar builders tend to build small guitars, rather than ukes, and they're not synonymous.

That's not to say a guitar builder wouldn't research uke building and make a good one, just that they may not realise this is necessary.
.

Actually, guitars and uke are just vibrating surfaces and are indeed the same in this regard and any luthier will brace and thin accordingly.

However, If you build/brace a uke as heavily as a guitar then I agree with you, they are not synonymous in this regard.

Jim Hanks
03-06-2016, 01:58 PM
I feel like I have exhausted my desires in the $1200 and under catagory. I haven't seen/heard anything that I give a rip about until the $4000+ zone. It seems like to get a "better" sound you also have to buy into the art collector catagory.
Uh, with all due respect, you have got to be joking. There are many,many good, even great, sounding ukes for less than $1000 and certainly less than $2000. If you have $4000 to spend on a uke, more power to you, but if you think that's what it takes to get a "better sound", you are fooling yourself

natchez
03-06-2016, 02:39 PM
Kevin at Kepasa Ukuleles builds a really nice instrument for fairly reasonable prices. I have one of his Madeira mahogany sopranos purchased used from a UU member and it is a great little soprano. Since I like the Kepasa ukulele so much, he is building me a Josephine Koa soprano now. I think his tenors now start at $1,250 US.

Mivo
03-06-2016, 05:22 PM
Uh, with all due respect, you have got to be joking. There are many,many good, even great, sounding ukes for less than $1000 and certainly less than $2000. If you have $4000 to spend on a uke, more power to you, but if you think that's what it takes to get a "better sound", you are fooling yourself

I'm with Jim on this.

This past week, I picked up a KoAloha Opio concert, because I wanted to explore that size a bit more. I've been playing it daily since, trying to find something about its mahogany sound that I feel could be "better". And I can't find anything. Sure, it looks plain. Seriously plain. There is no bling of any kind, and it barely even looks like it has a finish (it does), but we're talking sound here, not aesthetics. It's a $400 instrument and I cannot see what sound-wise a $2000 or $4000 instrument could possibly deliver that the Opio doesn't do as well, if not, in fact, better. (And a reality check here: I mention $400 as if that was an insubstantial amount of money. It's easy to overlook in these discussions, and in light of the NUDs we see often, that by most people's standards this a fair amount of cash.)

What the $2000 and up instruments I see do better is the bling and the customization, plus a few (what I feel are) convenience features, such as bevels, radiused fretboard), and they are often made of more expensive wood. If you want the sound of koa (which I feel the vast majority of people might not be able to distinguish from acacia in general, in a blind test), you pay more. If you want a beautiful piece of koa, you pay even more. But that doesn't necessarily give you better sound. It gives you a prettier instrument. It's just like you don't have to be a twenty-year old model with perfect measurements, dressed in designer clothes, to be a nice and beautiful person.

After the Opio experience I now find the thought of spending more than five, six hundred on a ukulele much harder to justify. I can't, right now, see myself doing it unless it is for a koa instrument, where, as mentioned, you have the higher material costs to take into account, and the wages of where something was built, if you want it in koa and from a specific manufacturer. (Wages are relative and don't necessarily reflect on the quality of the work they pay for; someone in a low-cost country can be just as skilled and proud of their work as someone in a country with high average wages.)

All of this is different if you value bling, inlays, personalizations and customizations, precious materials, unique aspects that only one or a few builders offer (shape, for example), emotional connection (to a builder, their philosophy, their personality), and perhaps prestige. But sound? You may well get "better sound" (it's subjective anyway) from so-called "cheap" instruments (which in this discussion means "under $1200") than those costing thousands. The biggest bottleneck when aiming for "good sound" is often the player anyway, not the instrument. Corey is the obvious example, but we also have members here who have shown over and over what amazing sound you can get from genuinely cheap instruments (WS64, Drbekken, etc.).

Done ranting! :p Sorry about that. It's a topic that has been on my mind lately, and how it affects the ukulele community and, in particular, this forum's community. If I was just now embarking on the ukulele journey, checked out this forum, and was instantly struck with the mindset that unless you drop $1200+, you will probably be hindered or burdened by your instrument, and can't possibly hope to get "good sound" unless you drop that much money, I'd probably have just walked away from it all because I'd have felt that this hobby is too expensive for me.

Nickie
03-06-2016, 06:01 PM
Mivo, I totally agree. I cannot for the life of me justify spending thousands of dollars on an ukulele, any ukulele.
That doesn't mean I'm not okay with other people doing it, I just think its a bit frivolous.
I just spent hard earned money for the 2nd most expensive uke I've ever had, and I don't think I'll ever go over a grand for a uke.
I dont need to.

mm stan
03-06-2016, 07:06 PM
Most high end luthiers you will get a good sounding ukulele, as most have been building for a while and know how to make them sound amazing...consistancy may be better..
but that doesn't mean there won't be lemons or ones that may not sound as good as others.. at this level, if he or she is a respected luthier, they wont send a Uke with their name out that sounds less,
they do treasure their reputation too much which they have built up to...

NewKid
03-06-2016, 08:39 PM
Rather than a starting price I would research great builders and the see if they had a model I could afford.

Not in any particular order, here are the builders I would like to order from ASAP:

1. Pete Howlett
2. Shelley Park
3. Toni Maloon
4. Joel Eckhaus
5. Peter Hurney

janeray1940
03-07-2016, 04:55 AM
Uh, with all due respect, you have got to be joking. There are many,many good, even great, sounding ukes for less than $1000 and certainly less than $2000. If you have $4000 to spend on a uke, more power to you, but if you think that's what it takes to get a "better sound", you are fooling yourself

I've got to agree with this. I've had plenty of opportunities to hear and play $2000-$4000 ukes, including those of the art collector category, and - unless you're in it for the bling, I just don't get it. In fact, I tend to prefer the sound of really plain, straight-grained ukes with no frills - if I were looking for a *player* tenor, I'd start with Kamaka, Koaloha and Kanile'a in the under-$2000 category, maybe Ko'olau if willing to spend a bit more.

Pete Howlett
03-10-2016, 09:21 AM
I shy away from making custom ukes. I just carefully make 'expensive' ukes - that is moderately priced for hand built in the US, beyond your pocket here in the UK! Anyone charging less than $1800 for a hand built tenor either has an independent income or a spouse that works.

Mivo
03-10-2016, 07:04 PM
Anyone charging less than $1800 for a hand built tenor either has an independent income or a spouse that works.

I think it depends on one's lifestyle and location, perhaps one's efficiency, too. There are plenty of people in the world who make less than $1800 a month, and plenty of quality luthiers who charge substantially less than $1800 for their excellent instruments without having additional income sources.

hollisdwyer
03-10-2016, 07:45 PM
I think it depends on one's lifestyle and location, perhaps one's efficiency, too. There are plenty of people in the world who make less than $1800 a month, and plenty of quality luthiers who charge substantially less than $1800 for their excellent instruments without having additional income sources.

Mivo, I think that people who make less than $1800/month are not buyers of custom ukes (unless having one is very important to them and they have saved for a very long time). Re Luthiers, I wonder how many years it takes to amortise the set up costs for even small to medium sized operations. Considering most custom builds incorporate high quality components, the cost of manufacture, even minus labour, must be a large fraction of the sell price.

Somehow I think that even a luthier selling in the $1500-$2000 range would have to have a healthy order book to make a living (own a house, educate their children, provide for their health, eat, have fun, etc).

I consider myself lucky that there are so many crazy wonderful artists/craftsmen & women who dedicate their lives to the creation of beautiful musical instruments because I have the opportunity to be the custodian of some.

Mivo
03-10-2016, 08:01 PM
Not disagreeing with these points, Hollis. What I was getting at is that there are professional luthiers with plenty of experience that build high-quality instruments and that do not ("need" to) charge $1800+ for a tenor in order to survive without having other income sources. I didn't pay $1800 USD for my Barron River, and Black Bear builds great instruments at a much lower prices than what Pete stated, to name two examples. I felt, and it may not have been intended that way, that the comment was a touch dismissive and a little debased. If he "needs" to charge $1800 minimum for every tenor he builds, and if the market is willing to pay these prices and more (which it is, in his case), more power to him. There is not a thing wrong with it. What I didn't agree with was the generalization.

hollisdwyer
03-10-2016, 08:08 PM
Not disagreeing with these points, Hollis. What I was getting at is that there are professional luthiers with plenty of experience that build high-quality instruments and that do not ("need" to) charge $1800+ for a tenor in order to survive without having other income sources. I didn't pay $1800 USD for my Barron River, and Black Bear builds great instruments at a much lower prices than what Pete stated, to name two examples. I felt, and it may not have been intended that way, that the comment was a touch dismissive and a little debased. If he "needs" to charge $1800 minimum for every tenor he builds, and if the market is willing to pay these prices and more (which it is, in his case), more power to him. There is not a thing wrong with it. What I didn't agree with was the generalization.

Yes generalisations always seem to fit but somehow never do.