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View Full Version : Looking to buy more Ukes for kids. Soprano and Tenor



edsdds
03-30-2016, 08:25 AM
Hello new guy here looking for your recommendations.

I play mostly guitar and my daughter plays Uke and wants another. I bought her a Luna Tattoo concert. Plays and sounds great and looks cool.

My son also now wants to start playing. So I was thinking since we already have a concert, why not get a Tenor and a Soprano.

There are sooooo many options out there and so many different types of woods too.

I know a Tenor and Soprano will sounds different just based on size. I am not gigging with these things so I was wondering if it is worth it to pay the extra money for solid woods? I live in MN and winters are dry as it comes. I have an Alvarez acoustic and noticed they have reasonably priced solid top Ukes.

So does a solid top make that much of a difference?

Since the Luna is a mahogany what would be the best Tenor and Soprano woods so they are not all the same material you guys can recommend? I think $200 and under each is about all I can spend now.

Thanks for any input

LarryS
03-30-2016, 09:00 AM
My son has a spongebob uke, soprano size,shaped like a pineapple. I didnt think it would be any good but you know it aint bad at all. But then again they are made by JHS who own the Vintage brand

actadh
03-30-2016, 09:21 AM
I have the Luna solid spruce top concert and I am a fan of that brand. They only make the spruce top in concert, though, so that does not help your search. A solid top will usually have more sustain. This solid spruce top/willow sides soprano Ohana from Uke Republic will come with a great setup, which is another consideration when purchasing.
http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/ohana-sk-70wg-solid-spruce-willow-soprano-ukulele-w-bag

You might want to consider an Outdoor Ukulele for the tenor or the soprano. My OU tenor has been a real go-to ukulele for me this winter. No worries about cold or dry air. They are reasonably priced and come well set up.
http://www.outdoorukulele.com/

Ukejenny
03-30-2016, 01:53 PM
Some in our group have the etched Luna and they are sweet!!!

The brands I own and love are Ohana and Gretsch. I also have a KPK tenor that I love. KPK may be a little over $200.00, but Ohana and Gretsch should have things to offer in that price range. I also like Kala - very nicely done and they are priced very well.

LarryS
03-30-2016, 01:57 PM
How about this

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B019XMTT8O?psc=1

Peace Train
03-30-2016, 02:04 PM
The Gretsch G9120 isn't an all solid tenor, but it gets great reviews, and with the money you save, you'll be able to get a nicer soprano if you go that route.

What HMS has to say about the Gretsch along with a sound sample: http://www.theukulelesite.com/gretsch-mahogany-tenor-g9120.html

A NUD thread here on the forum: http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?119621-NUD-Gretsch-G9120-tenor-ukulele

JackLuis
03-30-2016, 04:10 PM
Caramel makes some nice ukes and very inexpensive,

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_15?url=search-alias%3Dmi&field-keywords=caramel+ukulele&sprefix=caramel+ukulele%2Cmi%2C874

Soprano Solid Topped acacia $55
http://www.amazon.com/Caramel-CS200A-Soprano-Acoustic-Ukulele/dp/B01B5H7DMY/ref=sr_1_16?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1459386285&sr=1-16&keywords=caramel+ukulele

I've got six of them.:rolleyes:

cpmusic
03-30-2016, 05:34 PM
For quality and consistency at the low end, I think Kala is a tough brand to beat. For the soprano, I recommend the KA-SLNG, which is a long-neck soprano (soprano body with concert scale). It's nicely finished and to my ear it sounds better than Kala's standard sopranos in the same price range.

Ohana is also a good choice. Mim of Mim's Ukes likes the brand and sells a lot of them.

Gretsch is another good brand. Quality varies more than I'd like to see, but buying from a reputable dealer covers any problems that may arise.

Caramel gets a lot of good notices on this forum, but I'm 1 for 3 on the brand.

ZappCatt
03-30-2016, 05:43 PM
I am just wondering what you mean when you say "my daughter plays Uke and wants another"? Is she interested in a different size, as you have mentioned getting, or does she feel she has outgrown the Luna and wants a "step up" Ukulele?

That would of course determine your options.

I am another who "took a risk" on Caramel (Solid Acacia Top Concert) and have been very pleased with it. For the price, I think it is really hard to beat. I had to make some slight adjustments to the saddle, but very easy to do. They only have Solid Top and All Solid in Concert and Soprano right now. They said their Tenor would be out a bit ago.

Peace Train
03-30-2016, 05:53 PM
Since the Luna is a mahogany what would be the best Tenor and Soprano woods so they are not all the same material you guys can recommend?

Koa, acacia, or mango soprano along with a spruce top tenor would mix things up nicely.



For quality and consistency at the low end, I think Kala is a tough brand to beat.

I second the nod for Kala for any price range. I play a mid-priced Kala and love it!

spookelele
03-30-2016, 06:21 PM
I am not gigging with these things so I was wondering if it is worth it to pay the extra money for solid woods?

I think a solid top makes a pretty big difference.
You can probably get away with laminate back and sides and not lose too much.
Not familiar with Alvarez ukes, but they look not too bad. Not a fan of the slot bridge though. The slot head is a nice bonus. Not knowing alvarez, if you're looking at a spruce top, maybe look at Kala KA-STG? Street price is $185 so its in your range.

The Gretsch seems popular. But get it from a reputable source that will back it up if you go that route, or better yet if you can try/buy. The internet is full of complaints about that one having fret issues with buzz and sharp edges, which is too bad, because for a laminate, it sounds pretty good, so if you can get a good one, you're probably golden.

Kids.. so yeah... might not want to go too deep into the wallet.

edsdds
03-31-2016, 05:06 AM
Wow thanks for the replies guys. So many nice options you have recommended. My daughter is 14 and has really picked it up pretty well. I judge not by how many songs she can play but her timing, strumming and fingerpicking. She has not really outgrown the Luna it's just that she wants a different sound. So I was thinking if I get her another ukulele it should sound different and she has been aching to try a soprano and tenor.

I think after all the recommendations I want to go with solid tops on these two. I really like the idea of a solid top spruce tenor and a solid top acacia soprano.

Now the only thing is going to be getting it from a real ukulele dealer that actually touches these things before shipping them out. I wish I lived in Hawaii and could walk in to a store that had hundreds of these.

Is the ukulelesite.com the only online dealer that carries pretty much every brand and actually sets them up?

Soundbored
03-31-2016, 04:15 PM
...So does a solid top make that much of a difference?

Yes. And solid wood sides and back make a difference too. A uke is not a guitar, with a baritone register and huge volume to make up for lost resonance and clarity. Actually guitars have no clarity to speak of, IMO.

For just a bit over $200, you can get an all-solid mahogany Kala soprano. Then you'll have an actual ukulele in your collection, to go with that concert thing. :rolleyes:

spookelele
03-31-2016, 04:32 PM
That might be going a bit far.
There are some excellent sounding laminates.
But they do tend to lose something in tone, even though its definitely possible to make a loud laminate.

Like.. the kala cedar top, if you didn't look inside to see the inside surface was different from the outside, I'm not sure you'd honestly know the body was laminate from the sound.

But like... when you listen the gretsch 9120 vs the old 9120-sm, you can hear the difference in the solid wood. Even the cutaway model, you can still hear the solid top, even though the sides and back on it are laminate. But.. even the laminate one.. sounds better than the luna's imho.

spookelele
03-31-2016, 04:59 PM
Is the ukulelesite.com the only online dealer that carries pretty much every brand and actually sets them up?

There's Mim and Uke Republic too. None of them carries everything, but between the 3 you can get almost anything.

cpmusic
03-31-2016, 05:08 PM
I agree that a solid-top ukulele will tend to sound better, but for kids I'd stay away from solid wood because it needs regular care that kids are unlikely to give it. That's not a knock on kids, just an acknowledgement that they're kids.

Soundbored
03-31-2016, 05:12 PM
I agree that a solid-top ukulele will tend to sound better, but for kids I'd stay away from solid wood because it needs regular care that kids are unlikely to give it.

What 'regular care' does it need? School violins are all solid woods, no?

cpmusic
03-31-2016, 07:06 PM
What 'regular care' does it need? School violins are all solid woods, no?

I don't think anyone makes laminated violins, but to the question:

The ukulele is an instrument that lends itself to casual playing more than a violin, at least to kids, so there's a good chance it will be left wherever a kid puts it down, just as kids leave their bicycles in the driveway and their other belongings on the floor. Again, this is not criticism of children; rather, it's a reality of childhood.

Laminated wood is less sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity than solid wood, so it will withstand more abuse and neglect. Since there are several laminated ukes that sound good and play well, I think laminated wood makes more sense for a child's uke.

Just my two cents. As with most things, YMMV.

joneo
04-01-2016, 05:49 AM
Now the only thing is going to be getting it from a real ukulele dealer that actually touches these things before shipping them out. I wish I lived in Hawaii and could walk in to a store that had hundreds of these.

Is the ukulelesite.com the only online dealer that carries pretty much every brand and actually sets them up?

Riff City Guitar in Minnesota offers a free pro setup with every stringed instrument priced over $99. I bought a Kala KTG tenor in laminate koa from them and it arrived with perfect intonation. Shipping was free too. I would happily do business wih them again if I was looking to buy. Here's a link: https://www.riffcityguitaroutlet.com/pages/why-buy-here

edsdds
04-01-2016, 07:13 AM
Cool thanks I had no idea we had this place in Minnesota. Its 90 miles away so not that bad.

I do agree that with kids, especially when they are barely learning, are not always going to be extra careful. That is why I don't really want to go crazy on the price range. But on the other hand my daughter is starting to notice what sounds she likes and doesn't like. For example, we went to Guitar Center yesterday to check out their ukes. They had quite a few tenors and concerts. Right away she was able to narrow down what feel and sound she liked. But after being in their for a while she was not really impressed by the sound of any of those in stock. I was actually very proud that she instantly tunes the thing first. She brought in her own Snark and just like at home, she can tell right away if tuning is off.

Anyway I "took the risk" last night and ordered a Caramel solid top Acacia for $55. I figure that is what a horrible meal at Applebees cost or two junk food drive thru trips.

I hope the guitar sounds and plays decent out of the box or I am going to have to really learn how to properly setup my own ukes. I can't justify paying $35 for a setup on a $55 uke.

If this plan fails I think I am going to go with a higher price range from a dealer like MIM. I think based on what I am seeing is that a uke being such a small delicate instrument really needs to be setup properly, even more than a guitar in my opinion, to get the most out of it.

edsdds
04-12-2016, 04:52 AM
Well the Caramel came in. Not a bad soprano at all. The build quality is not perfect but for what you pay its great. Action is a little higher than I would want but that's an easy fix. Sopranos are so tiny it's amazing how some people with big hands can play these. The sound on this is much more focused put actually pretty punchy. I noticed the Luna which is laminate mahogany sounds better now after months of playing. Does laminate wood on a ukulele actually get better or could that just be the strings loosening up?

The funniest thing is how small it looks next to my daughters Luna concert. Well we looked inside and noticed the model number and its because it's not a concert. She has a Luna tenor lol.

So now the fun begins looking for a concert lol

At least from what I can tell concert sizes are the most plentiful.

JackLuis
04-12-2016, 06:30 AM
Look at the Ohana CK-22 spruce topped Mahogany Lam concert. It is a very light weight instrument that has the volume of a tenor. Would be great for finger picking and maybe I'll learn how someday. It was ~$150 at my local store, who made sure it was set up. I like Fremont Black lines on it. I'm sure Mim can get you one.

Croaky Keith
04-12-2016, 08:41 AM
For a concert, don't ignore Baton Rouge, I just got one & they are as good as Kala, & probably Ohana. :)