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Steedy
04-17-2016, 07:15 AM
Today was such a beautiful morning that I decided to sit outside and do a little front porch picking. I was sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee and a metallic blue Makala Dolphin, and I realized that little uke has an amazingly sweet tone. I thought "this is really all you need." :)

gyosh
04-17-2016, 07:16 AM
Today was such a beautiful morning that I decided to sit outside and do a little front porch picking. I was sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee and a metallic blue Makala Dolphin, and I realized that little uke has an amazingly sweet tone. I thought "this is really all you need." :)

Very True.





Now "want" is an entirely different beast! :)

Croaky Keith
04-17-2016, 07:38 AM
(Staying on theme), I find my SLNG (Kala long neck soprano) is my go to uke, (& I have more expensive ones to choose from as well). :)

Mivo
04-17-2016, 07:49 AM
But are you going to sell the fancy ukes that you do have? :)

My most frequently played ukulele is also my cheapest, the concert Stagg that I bought as my first real uke. The reason is that it doesn't live in a hardshell case, so it's always available to be grabbed and played, even if it's just for a couple of minutes. It has a solid top and laminate sides, so I'm not overly worried about it and just take it with me around the house. I'd probably be fine with just that one uke, because the bottleneck isn't the uke for me, but my ability to play really well, but would I sell my fancy (mostly just expensive, heh, none of them have bling) ukuleles? I doubt it.

Steedy
04-17-2016, 09:00 AM
Well, I do like my fancy ukuleles as well, but truth be told, I've got too many ukes. It's about time for me to start downsizing. :(

cml
04-17-2016, 09:28 AM
My most played uke is my plastic one, as I have a one year old daughter who LOVES to try and pull the uke out of my hands...

Mivo
04-17-2016, 09:59 AM
Well, I do like my fancy ukuleles as well, but truth be told, I've got too many ukes. It's about time for me to start downsizing. :(

How do you decide which to keep?

I do feel that I have too many, too (seven), and I could probably narrow it down to three if I really had to, but I don't know how I'd go about downsizing further than this. The three I'd keep are the KoAloha LN pineapple soprano and the Black Bear koa soprano (just got it on Friday, and it's amazing), plus possibly the 1920s Washburn (it's at the luthier right now, will get it back in ten-ish days). And that assumes I'd even bring myself to rehome the four others I have, nor does it address the issue of me really wanting to try a KoAloha concert. :) At least I'm off the tenor train for now!

plunker
04-17-2016, 10:12 AM
[QUOTE=gyosh;1839530]Very True.
Ditto to your very true. For me the coffee is a very important part of the mix. Please post a pic of the compass rose tenor.

raduray
04-17-2016, 12:14 PM
It's the Indian, not the arrow.
True story: As a youth, I studied the violin. I was very bad at it. I have a cousin who was on scholarship studying cello at Julliard. We were fooling around one day and he picked up my fiddle, placed it between his knees, and proceeded to play it as if it were a cello. I could not believe the sound he teased out of that beater, it was gorgeous.

mikelz777
04-17-2016, 12:35 PM
It's true, you don't need a fancy uke. I love the feel/action on my starter Lanikai and it sounds pretty good as well. If I'm honest with myself, I almost prefer the feel of the Lanikai over my other ukes which cost around 3x and 5x as much. (Though they all play well.) I don't know how much of that has to do with the sentimentality of it being my first uke.

DownUpDave
04-17-2016, 01:33 PM
Ok this thread motivated me. I was reading it just as I was having my post dinner coffee. A friend lent me the new soprano Outdoor Uke to test drive. I grabbed the uke, my coffee and out the door I went. We finally have some nice weather so it was a pure joy to play a little soprano on the back deck. Really enjoyed the soprano sound, which I don't indulge in very much. But I think I will do more of it this summer.

Thanks " Steedy" for sharing and moving me to just grab and go. That is a big component of what the uke is all about :music:

Trader Todd
04-17-2016, 02:07 PM
I was strumming my daughters pink Makala dolphin at the beach today. I have to admit, it has a very sweet tone. I've been impressed since day one with this uke.

Nickie
04-17-2016, 04:03 PM
Fancy, I guess, is in the eye or ear of the beholder. A lot of folks might not think so, but my newest uke, my Cocobolo concert is pretty darn fancy to me. Do I need it? Heck no. But - I play more now than I did before I got it. If I didn't have it, would I still play more? I dunno....I don't want to find out either, I love my fancy uke!

igorthebarbarian
04-17-2016, 05:37 PM
Good thread and good to think about "value" too.

Croaky Keith
04-17-2016, 09:54 PM
A little bit off topic, but in answer to....


.......which to keep?

In my case, easy, it would be my Kala KA-SLNG, RISA solid/stick, & my Baton Rouge thinline cutaway spruce, these are my favourites in my collection


At least I'm off the tenor train for now!

Never got on that one. ;)

hollisdwyer
04-18-2016, 12:06 AM
I don't think anyone 'needs' a fancy Uke. My top priorities are playability and tone, in that order. High quality craftsmanship is, for me, highly desirable but not a mandatory.

Soundbored
04-18-2016, 12:31 AM
Fancy? No. But there is a good deal of difference in tone and playability up the neck between a $1000 uke and a $100 uke.

DownUpDave
04-18-2016, 12:36 AM
I don't think anyone 'needs' a fancy Uke. My top priorities are playability and tone, in that order. High quality craftsmanship is, for me, highly desirable but not a mandatory.

Well said Hollis, it is fun just making music. But once you have played a great instrument you always desire to hear that sound and experience the effortlessness of it's playability. It is certainly not neccassary and lots of good music has been made on "non-fancy" ukuleles, but there is a difference.

anthonyg
04-18-2016, 02:31 AM
It doesn't HAVE to be a fancy ukulele. As long as the instrument has a good action, decent intonation and a nice tone then its a great instrument to play.

For a long time my best ukulele was a bruceweiart ukulele that cost me $30 pus $80 shipping. Still cheap. It a STUNNING instrument. It still sounds great but it needs a little fret work now 5-6 years later.

It took some nice Luthier built instruments to beat it. Sure. Cheap instruments can be nice to play. If your a gambler however the odds that a more expensive instrument is nicer to play is higher.

Anthony

Twibbly
04-18-2016, 02:44 AM
The quality of instruments has, unfortunately, always mattered to me. When I played oboe, I was playing on a crappy plastic school loaner. When I got to play on the LaRae, I suddenly started willingly practicing an hour a day because I wasn't working against the instrument itself and it was suddenly a lot more FUN.

If I don't like the sound of something, I won't play it. I've played various other wind instruments, but I don't end up playing them that much because it always feels like I'm fighting against them instead of playing with them (I can't afford a LaRae oboe right now...).

My first uke, it felt like I was fighting against it. I'm blessed/cursed with perfect pitch, and if something is out of tune, I'm going to notice. One of these days, I'll take it somewhere that can do a proper setup and it will probably be just fine, but until then, it annoys me to play because it's out of tune once you fret anything.

My second uke, still rather inexpensive (~$70, including shipping), was setup (thanks, Mim!) before it came to me. I don't have to fight with it, so it's more fun for me to play.

Quality is important, but quality isn't always what you see on the price tag. Sometimes, it's just whether the instrument suits you.

Rllink
04-18-2016, 04:48 AM
I don't think that we always have to rationalize everything. I see people making arguments all the time that don't need to be made. Sometimes it isn't just tone, intonation, and playablity. A lot of times it is just wanting to play something nice. You can go to the internet and find comparison videos of any number of cheap and expensive musical instruments that you will not be able to tell the difference, ukuleles included. But while a more expensive ukulele may not play or sound better, the fact that it isn't just a plain jane ukulele makes it more fun to play, and when it is more fun to play you are going to play it better.

Steedy
04-18-2016, 05:05 AM
It is nice to sit on the porch and pick away on a sunny morning. But the proof of the pudding is the audience, was there an appreciative audience sitting on the porch singing along, or an appreciative audience on the other side of the house, avoiding the porch, appreciating the lack of noise? Sometimes it is not really as good sounding as it feels.

Actually, there was an appreciative audience. My ladyfriend has a little long-haired chihuahua named Sweetie, who normally spends her outdoor time sniffing around, chasing cats, and barking at passers-by. But as soon as I sat down on the porch step and started playing, Sweetie came close by, laid down on the grass, and didn't move until I stopped. Then she got up and stretched and followed me back inside. She even gave me a little "yip" that sounded like a canine version of "mahalo". Her's a good puppy! :)

Rllink
04-18-2016, 05:22 AM
Actually, there was an appreciative audience. My ladyfriend has a little long-haired chihuahua named Sweetie, who normally spends her outdoor time sniffing around, chasing cats, and barking at passers-by. But as soon as I sat down on the porch step and started playing, Sweetie came close by, laid down on the grass, and didn't move until I stopped. Then she got up and stretched and followed me back inside. She even gave me a little "yip" that sounded like a canine version of "mahalo". Her's a good puppy! :)I've yet to have an audience walk away because of the ukulele that I was playing.

farmerjones
04-18-2016, 06:16 AM
One of my cats is my best audience at home. I think it's more of a pavlovian response though as he usually gets to eat when I'm done playing.

None of my uke cost any more than $250. The first one I got, a tenor, is still all solid woods and even has a fancy-pants rosette. Just pulled it out after a few months of baritone and loving it all over again.

hollisdwyer
04-18-2016, 06:43 AM
.....Quality is important, but quality isn't always what you see on the price tag. Sometimes, it's just whether the instrument suits you.

Well said Twibbly!

Tootler
04-18-2016, 07:04 AM
Fancy? No. But there is a good deal of difference in tone and playability up the neck between a $1000 uke and a $100 uke.

True, but somewhere between those two prices, you will probably hit the point of diminishing returns.

spookelele
04-18-2016, 07:20 AM
need.. is like... food, water, shelter, companionship..

A uke is a luxury no matter how much or little you paid.

hollisdwyer
04-18-2016, 07:46 AM
need.. is like... food, water, shelter, companionship..

A uke is a luxury no matter how much or little you paid.

I disagree IMO. Making music can be for some a major element of self actualisation. On top of the 'needs' triangle for sure but it is the need that fulfills us as human beings. Maslow may be turning in his grave because of my paraphrase.

70sSanO
04-18-2016, 08:41 AM
Fancy? No. But there is a good deal of difference in tone and playability up the neck between a $1000 uke and a $100 uke.

While I may not agree with that range, I do agree with the differences in playability up the neck. Even more so with a soprano.

Fancy has no sonic value.

John

Tootler
04-19-2016, 05:39 AM
Fancy has no sonic value.

John

I don't think that the OP was necessarily referring to the bling that some of the more up market makers put on their instruments but just to up market brands in general as opposed to the basic mass produced instruments that most people buy to start out with and which many continue to use.

hollisdwyer
04-19-2016, 05:49 AM
I don't think that the OP was necessarily referring to the bling that some of the more up market makers put on their instruments but just to up market brands in general as opposed to the basic mass produced instruments that most people buy to start out with and which many continue to use.

I think you're right but it did generate a good discussion.

LarryS
04-19-2016, 06:26 AM
I find my son's Spongebob uke surprisingly playable, and its small size and pineapple shape makes it feel more 'authentic' if that makes sense!

drbekken
04-19-2016, 09:16 AM
I love the rare occasions when I can sit outdoors up here in the almost-arctic and play my Rogue soprano or my Rogue baritone. They are sometimes all I need. I don't know why I often prefer them over way better ukuleles; I guess it has something to do with the carefree, no-stress feeling I get...plus the downhome funky sound. Cheap, in a good way.

cml
04-19-2016, 10:18 AM
I love the rare occasions when I can sit outdoors up here in the almost-arctic and play my Rogue soprano or my Rogue baritone. They are sometimes all I need. I don't know why I often prefer them over way better ukuleles; I guess it has something to do with the carefree, no-stress feeling I get...plus the downhome funky sound. Cheap, in a good way.
I've already been playing on the patio twice this year :), the spring has been nice in Sweden but bit of a backlash now though...

1931jim
04-21-2016, 10:43 AM
Actually, there was an appreciative audience. My ladyfriend has a little long-haired chihuahua named Sweetie, who normally spends her outdoor time sniffing around, chasing cats, and barking at passers-by. But as soon as I sat down on the porch step and started playing, Sweetie came close by, laid down on the grass, and didn't move until I stopped. Then she got up and stretched and followed me back inside. She even gave me a little "yip" that sounded like a canine version of "mahalo". Her's a good puppy! :)

"Mahalo" That's the word Steedy. I like playing my little soprano Mahalo UK-51 natural finish ukulele. It just works for me nicely. Of course I took 1mm off the bridge and set up the action to solve the intonation. Playing outside in the sunshine out of the wind sure is nice.

strumsilly
04-21-2016, 11:00 AM
Today was such a beautiful morning that I decided to sit outside and do a little front porch picking. I was sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee and a metallic blue Makala Dolphin, and I realized that little uke has an amazingly sweet tone. I thought "this is really all you need." :)
maybe, but they don't sound so great low g

mmfitzsimons
04-21-2016, 11:19 AM
Prior to 1879, the entirety of humanity trudged along without a single ukulele between them. Crazy, I know.

But I get what you mean. I already owned three solid koa ukes when I bought my plastic Dolphin—what's that tell you? :) I think this is unique to the ukulele world—is there any other instrument where the low-end and the high-end mingle freely, without judgment or bias? World-class uke players will happily pick up a Dolphin and absolutely jam on it. And why not? It's fun! It's musical! I don't imagine too many top guitarists or pianists having the same attitude, which is a shame for them.

1931jim
04-21-2016, 01:04 PM
I love the rare occasions when I can sit outdoors up here in the almost-arctic and play my Rogue soprano or my Rogue baritone. They are sometimes all I need. I don't know why I often prefer them over way better ukuleles; I guess it has something to do with the carefree, no-stress feeling I get...plus the downhome funky sound. Cheap, in a good way.

Carefree, no stress feeling if you should accidently hit the corner of the outdoor furniture with your inexpensive (cheap) ukulele treasure.
My Mahalo soprano has such a dip in the sound board it is getting close to alarming. Maybe that is why it sounds so nice. Plus the .024 fishing line that I used to replace the g string whenever it broke. giggle. I might have to cut a window in the back to get at the bridge if I should need a reinforcement.

Pueo
04-21-2016, 01:17 PM
I was fortunate enough to be one of the participants of the Little White Ukulele around the world project. That little ukulele played really well! I know it was a very inexpensive uke, but still it was a pleasure to play. I have a cheap uke or two myself, but neither one plays as well as that particular uke.
I have a low-end Kala that plays well, well enough that I don't mind playing it at all.
I also have an entry-level Lanikai, the first ukulele I purchased, and I find that when I pick that one up the intonation and playability are just not pleasant. I use it to collect autographs now.

What I do notice in my higher-end ukuleles, in addition to obvious things like improved fit and finish and build quality, is the resonance and bell tones and sustain. Those are often missing on the cheaper ukuleles.

So yes, I agree, you don't need a fancy ukulele to enjoy yourself!

farmerjones
04-21-2016, 05:29 PM
Carefree, no stress feeling if you should accidently hit the corner of the outdoor furniture with your inexpensive (cheap) ukulele treasure.
My Mahalo soprano has such a dip in the sound board it is getting close to alarming. Maybe that is why it sounds so nice. Plus the .024 fishing line that I used to replace the g string whenever it broke. giggle. I might have to cut a window in the back to get at the bridge if I should need a reinforcement.

This is one reason I have no desire to own a uke that costs more than, say, $1000. I'd be scared to take the thing out of the case for fear of damage! A couple of the 'high-end' (to me, at least) baritones I'm ogling are less than $500... costs enough to be well made, cheap enough to actually play.

Griffis
05-30-2016, 11:06 AM
I'm happy to have found this thread...I nearly started a similar one. Some great discussion here.I'd like to preface my two cents with the following:

1. I've been making music for 40 years, on several different instruments, guitar among them. I started on uke in 2000. In my life I've owned very low-end, budget instruments, high-end production instruments, custom built guitars handcrafted by world class luthiers, and plenty of vintage pieces. I feel I know and can discern the differences and nuances between levels of quality.

2. None of this means I claim to be a great musician, and it most certainly doesn't mean my opinion counts for more than anyone else's.

3. None of what I say is meant to come off as reverse snobbery, or as any kind of judgment of anyone else. As players, we each have our own likes, dislikes, goals and philosophies. People should feel free to spend their money how they want on whatever they want; it's nobody else's business.

That said, some of what I quote below really resonated with me:


I don't think anyone 'needs' a fancy Uke. My top priorities are playability and tone, in that order. High quality craftsmanship is, for me, highly desirable but not a mandatory.


It doesn't HAVE to be a fancy ukulele. As long as the instrument has a good action, decent intonation and a nice tone then its a great instrument to play...


I love the rare occasions when I can sit outdoors up here in the almost-arctic and play my Rogue soprano or my Rogue baritone. They are sometimes all I need. I don't know why I often prefer them over way better ukuleles; I guess it has something to do with the carefree, no-stress feeling I get...plus the downhome funky sound. Cheap, in a good way.


Prior to 1879, the entirety of humanity trudged along without a single ukulele between them. Crazy, I know.

But I get what you mean. I already owned three solid koa ukes when I bought my plastic Dolphin—what's that tell you? :) I think this is unique to the ukulele world—is there any other instrument where the low-end and the high-end mingle freely, without judgment or bias? World-class uke players will happily pick up a Dolphin and absolutely jam on it. And why not? It's fun! It's musical! I don't imagine too many top guitarists or pianists having the same attitude, which is a shame for them.


This is one reason I have no desire to own a uke that costs more than, say, $1000. I'd be scared to take the thing out of the case for fear of damage! A couple of the 'high-end' (to me, at least) baritones I'm ogling are less than $500... costs enough to be well made, cheap enough to actually play.

After decades of live gigging in rock bands (mostly as a bass player) and being on the instrument roller coaster of constantly buying, selling, swapping, etc., I have gotten off that bandwagon. I am selling off everything musical I own, save for a couple ukuleles and a few harmonicas (at which I am a novice.) It feels good. No regrets.

The peace of mind and sheer unadulterated human pleasure I get from the ease of just having a simple instrument to grab and play...no cords, effects pedals, EQ settings, huge amps to haul around and adjust settings on, etc. If you've ever played loud rock and roll live onstage for an appreciative audience, well, that's a hard addiction to kick. But I did my bit, had my fun, have countless great memories (some very fuzzy!) and, now pushing 50 and living with chronic pain, time to leave that all behind.

One of the most appealing things, for me, about the uke is its history as a populist instrument. One many people could get their hands on even during the Great Depression.

These days you can really get a decent instrument for low money, regardless of what the instrument is. For me, having a high-quality uke of solid woods might be nice, but it makes no sense. Laminate ukes may not be as resonant or sonically gorgeous as more finely crafted ones (in general, at least) but hey--essentially they are little boxes with strings. The fact ukes are, fundamentally, not really fancy is part of their charm for me.

People truly should play whatever they want...whatever makes them happy, with whatever appointments they desire and at whatever price point. For me and my needs, I prefer laminated ukes, in part because they are less delicate and less prone to changes in weather, and this leaves aside price.

As someone above noted, really as long as your instrument has decent action, intonates and has reliable components, that's 90% of the battle right there.

I will always sincerely congratulate a person for a NUD, whether they had to scape and save for a $40 Mahalo or they buy a new boutique $3000 ukulele every month.

But I honestly have zero interest in owning multiple ukes, or high-dollar ones. I don't care to have something so nice and valuable I have to worry about. Just wanna have fun and play it into the ground. Right now my most expensive uke cost $110. New Gretsch G9100 soprano. It's all I need, quality-wise (though I do have an incoming used concert uke I scored for $50.) The Gretsch is actually nicer than a vintage Gretsch I used to own.

I don't intend to end up with a bunch of ukes, but if I ever buy more, I seriously doubt I'll ever feel the need to spend more than $150 or so on another ukulele. And I love this instrument.

JessicaM
05-30-2016, 03:11 PM
I'm too much of a beginner to know for uke, but on guitar I always felt like there were great, inexpensive, mass produced finds to be had, but you had to play 6 or 20 mass-produced guitars with your ears ON and pick the one that had a really sweet tone. The rest ranged from fine to bad. So for someone who is willing to try on a bunch, the cheapies can be awesome. But if you're new, don't have a good ear, or don't care to hunt, the finer instruments are a more sure thing.

That said, rarely is my playing good enough that it really matters all that much!

Ukejenny
05-30-2016, 03:53 PM
My Blackbird Clara sure isn't fancy, but it sings! It is my main player.

Nickie
05-30-2016, 04:38 PM
I recently acquired another reason for not wanting a very fancy uke. We had moved the piano from the dining room to the music room to keep our cats from roosting on it. We placed the uke table where it was. Our smallest cat, Goofball, thinking she was jumping on the piano, jumped up there and missed, dragging my new cocobolo ukulele to the floor with her. It now has a knick on the edge of the top. If that were a $3K uke, I probably would have tossed my cookies right there. But then again, a uke that fancy should be in its case.
I have little use, however, for a uke that has to be kept in a case.

2manistrings
05-30-2016, 04:54 PM
Fancy, I guess, is in the eye or ear of the beholder. A lot of folks might not think so, but my newest uke, my Cocobolo concert is pretty darn fancy to me. Do I need it? Heck no. But - I play more now than I did before I got it. If I didn't have it, would I still play more? I dunno....I don't want to find out either, I love my fancy uke!

Agree Nickie, my Mainland red cedar concert is fancy to me, too. It offers the sound I want. The gloss finish bugs me, but there's nothing in my budget to do anything about that. Still, it's the best sounding uke for what I play, and that makes me play it more than any other uke I've had - and I've had many over 13-14-ish years of playing! This one is my only now, and aside from the gloss issue, I wouldn't change a thing about it.

1931jim
05-31-2016, 02:11 AM
Agree Nickie, my Mainland red cedar concert is fancy to me, too. It offers the sound I want. The gloss finish bugs me, but there's nothing in my budget to do anything about that. Still, it's the best sounding uke for what I play, and that makes me play it more than any other uke I've had - and I've had many over 13-14-ish years of playing! This one is my only now, and aside from the gloss issue, I wouldn't change a thing about it.

If the gloss really gets to you just remove the strings and hardware and patiently work on it with 1000 grit crocus cloth or something similar. When that is done and you have restrung and are back to playing, just rub your palms on it for a few years and you get the most beautiful patina. Like the arms of your favourite chair that takes on an exquisite finish over the years.

Steedy
05-31-2016, 06:17 AM
Yah, I've been playing my Mainland ukes this week, a Cedar/Rosewood Tenor and a Mango Concert. They're great ukes for leaving out of the case and having nearby ready to pick up and play. Plus, they play and sound really sweet. I don't think there's a better value in solid wood ukuleles! :cool:

I also pulled my Kanile'a Concert from its case and practiced with it for awhile, and was reminded why it's my favorite uke. That Hawaiian feel and sound is incredible!

Am I just as happy playing my Mainland ukes? Sure, they're great and I don't have to worry so much about dents, dings, or other hazards. They're the ukes I take to UWC while the Kanile'a stays home. But in the unlikely event I ever record a ukulele album, I'll want my Kanile'a in the studio. ;)

Ukejenny
06-01-2016, 06:08 AM
Am I just as happy playing my Mainland ukes? Sure, they're great and I don't have to worry so much about dents, dings, or other hazards. They're the ukes I take to UWC while the Kanile'a stays home. But in the unlikely event I ever record a ukulele album, I'll want my Kanile'a in the studio. ;)

My uke kind of blends these two worlds - I had my Clara outside, playing for a while, then did some yard work. I was watering my plants, when the hose sprung a hole and water spurted out with quite a bit of pressure, right in the direction of my patio set, where my uke was sitting. I moved the hose so the hole was aimed at the pool and let my uke sit out and dry. No harm no foul. But it plays, sounds and feels like a dream. I knew I needed a ukulele that could take a little bit of "the elements" with my two boys, all the wrestling, all the pets, and all the playing I like to do outdoors.

Griffis
06-01-2016, 11:32 AM
I'm too much of a beginner to know for uke, but on guitar I always felt like there were great, inexpensive, mass produced finds to be had, but you had to play 6 or 20 mass-produced guitars with your ears ON and pick the one that had a really sweet tone. The rest ranged from fine to bad. So for someone who is willing to try on a bunch, the cheapies can be awesome. But if you're new, don't have a good ear, or don't care to hunt, the finer instruments are a more sure thing.

I agree with a lot of what you say here, but disagree with some as well. I also come from Guitar World and obviously there are going to be differences--in sound, feel, everything--between two instruments even if they are identical instruments from the same manufacturer that rolled out of the same plant the same day with sequential serial numbers.

For whatever reasons, one might be a lemon and in the other, some mystical alignment happens which makes it THE best example of that specific instrument.

But the past couple of decades with CNC machines becoming the norm, I find it less and less true. With good specs and some decent components (many of which can be modified/swapped for others anyway) the consistency in quality is pretty phenomenal these days, at whatever price point/quality level.

It's true though, that I could play a whole wall of identical Mahalo uke cheapies and from them find a couple that just really sing and play and feel better to me. This is one reason why it's always preferable to play an instrument before you buy it whenever possible.

One thing is, I think the idea that a beginner has to have a certain brand or spend a certain amount of money can be dissuasive. I don't think that's necessarily what you are saying, but I think it happens a lot in the world of electric guitars. Some kid wants to play guitar and idolizes Clapton, for instance. He goes to the store and instead of being put together with a perfectly decent, completely serviceable $200 Squier Strat, a salesperson tries to convince him: "Oh, you're a fan of Slowhand? He'd never be caught dead with this. You wanna be able to play like Eric Clapton, you'll need the $3000 Eric Clapton signature Strat model!" and so on. Another thing I see a lot from guitar world is the attitude that you aren't a "real" musician unless you play a certain brand, or have dropped a certain amount of money on your gear and what have you. It's dispiriting and petty.

Again--not saying you are doing anything like that--I'm just ranting!

Which brings me back to one of the things I adore about my favorite instrument. Easy to learn a clutch of songs on--almost immediately rewarding in small ways--but difficult to master. It can be as simple or complex as you want. You can spend as much or as little as you want. And I see very, very little of the same sort of "My toys cost more than your toys!" type of attitude in Ukulele World. People generally seem more supportive and helpful than in most musician forums I've spent time on.


I recently acquired another reason for not wanting a very fancy uke. We had moved the piano from the dining room to the music room to keep our cats from roosting on it. We placed the uke table where it was. Our smallest cat, Goofball, thinking she was jumping on the piano, jumped up there and missed, dragging my new cocobolo ukulele to the floor with her. It now has a knick on the edge of the top. If that were a $3K uke, I probably would have tossed my cookies right there. But then again, a uke that fancy should be in its case.
I have little use, however, for a uke that has to be kept in a case.

Sheesh, what a terrible story. It's one of those situations where to some players, a sub-$150 uke may be all they can afford (like me!) and so if something bad like that happens it still hurts. I just shelled out $110 for a Gretsch soprano (actually, I bought the Gretsch concert first, but took it back a couple days later and swapped for the soprano) and to me that is a significant purchase. To others, the same uke at the same price might be something they pay little mind to and just toss in the back of the car...they might consider it a toy.

But yes--there are many reasons I no longer care to own things that have a lot of perceived value. I don't want to own stuff I have to worry about. If something happens to one of my ukes, it would hurt, and I might not be able to replace it quickly, but I COULD replace it. It would be much harder to replace a 1920s Martin Style 0 or a custom-built Black Bear.

JackLuis
06-01-2016, 01:50 PM
I have seven Ukuleles ( Ukuleli?) and none of them cost more than $160 individually, all but one under $90. In point of fact I spent less on them in aggregate than the cost of 1/2 a "quality" instrument. Now I generally play only three or four a day, to hear their individual voices, but I do get a kick out of them and feel I have not touched their potential for making music. They are all laminates and I have them next to me hanging on the wall.

I go by my local Uke shop often, sometimes I buy strings or whatever, but I play the K's and KK's and Emerald Bays and lots of Very Expensive ukes, but have yet to find one that is $1000 better than my $65 Rubin Travel Tenor, to me.

I'd need to be 100X better player to get 10X the fun out of my cheap herd of Zebrawoods.

actadh
06-01-2016, 02:21 PM
My Outdoor Ukulele tenor has brightened my trips. I can bring it along in the car and always have something to play at my destination.

This trip was a lot of fishing and campfire watching, and even though I am covered in woodsmoke and bug spray, the uke cleans up just fine. The 17 year cicada hatch was a great background orchestra.

Griffis
06-15-2016, 08:31 AM
need.. is like... food, water, shelter, companionship..

A uke is a luxury no matter how much or little you paid.


I disagree IMO. Making music can be for some a major element of self actualisation. On top of the 'needs' triangle for sure but it is the need that fulfills us as human beings. Maslow may be turning in his grave because of my paraphrase.

True "needs" are the things that allow us to survive and keep going. True needs are few: air, food, water, shelter.

But beyond that, there are things I believe most people do need: companionship, some kind of mental engagement, if for no other reason than to keep your brain from atrophying...some form of fun & pleasure...

And beyond those things, I feel there are certain people who may legitimately NEED to create...through whatever medium. Some people (I feel this way myself) feel as though writing, painting, making music, etc. are not choices but things that compel them. I don't think I could ever NOT make music and be happy or fulfilled. It feels like something I HAVE to do. Would I survive if I could no longer play any instrument or make music? Yes. But life would be much darker.

For me that would be like living without companionship. You can survive it, but is it really "living?"

IMO, our humanity comes, in part, from our interactions with others. And, for some--most of us here, I'd reckon--from our creative outlets. So, I may not strictly HAVE to play an instrument or make music in order to survive physically, but it would have an immeasurable negative impact on what you might call my soul or spirit and I feel it would make me less of a real human being.

I realize not everyone feels this way, and that doesn't make them wrong, or lesser beings or anything. But some people are just called to be creative.


My Outdoor Ukulele tenor has brightened my trips. I can bring it along in the car and always have something to play at my destination.

This trip was a lot of fishing and campfire watching, and even though I am covered in woodsmoke and bug spray, the uke cleans up just fine. The 17 year cicada hatch was a great background orchestra.

I am increasingly interested in a plastic uke. Even though my wood ukes are, by most standards, cheap laminates and I don't have much (relatively speaking) invested in them, it would hurt if they were damaged and difficult for me to replace.

the idea of a cheap plastic uke is very appealing. something that would be fine outside, that can be cleaned easily, that can easily withstand changes in temp and other climate variations...