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View Full Version : Difference between each uke made by same manufacturer?



Faricelli
04-12-2009, 02:45 PM
Going to Maui in May. I am planning on playing a bunch of ukes. Specifically high end models. If I find a uke I like, should I buy that specific one or can I order it from another dealer who is cheaper? The other dealer would be MGM. I have had good luck through him and like to cater to people who have befriended me. But MGM isn't on Maui.

scooterguitar
04-12-2009, 02:57 PM
Tough call, but every instrument is different, even with the best of the best. A top luthier was just telling me about a big name boutique guitar maker, same day/run of acoustics, eveen see the same grain structure from one guitar to the next...2 were phenominal, a few ere horrible, and the rest were average. This goes for any wooden instrument, so if you find one that speaks to you and seems superb, go for it, if they are average in your opinion, order up from MGM who's befriended you, it is important to buy from those dealers who help us whenever we can.

Good luck and have fun!

haole
04-12-2009, 03:04 PM
There's going to be some differences between ukes of the same make and model, most of the time. Some of the cheaper instruments (Kala, and Fluke/Flea especially) are pretty consistent in terms of setup and sound quality. Some others (Oscar Schmidt, Mahalo) can be either pretty solid or pretty awful, so you're better off playing them first. As you go up the price/quality scale, it becomes less about one uke being "better" than the other and more about subtle differences due to the wood and the general handcrafting process. You can play two seemingly identical Kamakas and they'll probably each have their own tonal character.

Also depends on how well they're set up. Some sellers will take their ukes out of the box and put them on the wall without even tuning them; others (like MGM) make sure they are intonated properly before they're sold.

Best way to buy is to try first, if you can. Haven't been to Maui, but Bounty Music (ukes.com) in Kahului has a good reputation and I've bought from their old store on Kaua'i. Mele is located on Maui (their ukes are all set up there), and they seem to be a good bet as well. Don't get me wrong; MGM is great! But if you have the option of trying something out in person, go for it.

Faricelli
04-12-2009, 03:22 PM
I was thinking pretty much along the same lines. Thanks guys.

psesinkclee
04-13-2009, 03:22 AM
Yep, I'd stick with one that you can try out before purchasing it.

I've heard terrble things about Cordoba ukuleles, and played some in small music shops that has really big flaws, but I played a concert one in a Guitar Center of all places and its beautiful. I bought it the next day :p

allinfun
04-13-2009, 05:18 AM
In higher end (over 1K) I have noticed that most brands are consistent in quality (some exceptions apply) however, each instrument differs slightly in sound. I like to call it personality. :)

I sat down with 3 different pineapple sundays last january, and all 3 were quite lovely but there was one that just sounded "right". the same thing happened with Ko'olau.

Harold O.
04-13-2009, 05:34 AM
As a matter of courtesy, taking up a store's time only to walk out and buy a similar piece online is rude. Not liking the instrument or finding some flaw is a deal breaker anyway. But the store guy's knowledge is part of why you typically pay more at an actual store.

Quality will always be an issue, but with musical instruments your wishes will also include sound properties. And only you can decide what sounds best to you.

Top end instruments often have a story to go along, be it a special tree, special inlay, or special trip made to visit the guy who made it. There's value in there.

I wonder how many instruments MGM tries and rejects before setting up and shipping one out...

GX9901
04-13-2009, 05:35 AM
I was in Maui in February and visited LaHaina Music (didn't get a chance to go to Bounty Music) while I was there. I tried out about 10 Kamaka tenors and they definitely did not all sound the same. Here's a writeup (http://gx9901ukes.blogspot.com/2009/02/got-kamaka.html)I did on that experience.

Ukulele Friend
04-13-2009, 07:02 AM
Aloha Faricelli,

Best of luck on your quest for the right uke. MGM is a GREAT guy and you can't go wrong with ukes from him, trust me I'm on the same island. But I do also agree with Scooter as well.

The builders themselves will be the first to tell you they don't know why but some instruments just really "pop" whereas others are reasonable in tone. That being said, I would play as many as you can find and see if one separates itself from the pack. If so, I'd go for it as well.

best,
Shawn

haolejohn
04-13-2009, 11:56 AM
While on Maui visit the Mele store by Baldwin Highschool on sandhill. They are great and when you are in person cash talks. Bounty music was good when i lived there but their prices are slightly raised. You'll love maui just don't do the bike down volcano tours.

SuperSecretBETA
04-13-2009, 04:09 PM
But the store guy's knowledge is part of why you typically pay more at an actual store.

If that's true, given the knowledge of the employees at my local music shop, prices there should be way lower. :p

scooterguitar
04-13-2009, 04:32 PM
If that's true, given the knowledge of the employees at my local music shop, prices there should be way lower. :p

That store must be Guitar Center;)
"Excuse me, do you have(insert something other than popular brand)....?"
"No, never heard of that but we do have this great package deal that's awesome!"
:D

SuperSecretBETA
04-13-2009, 08:38 PM
That store must be Guitar Center;)
"Excuse me, do you have(insert something other than popular brand)....?"
"No, never heard of that but we do have this great package deal that's awesome!"
:D

Actually, it's not Guitar Center; it's worse.

"Do you have _____? (insert ANYTHING)"
"Nah, sorry."