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View Full Version : Can we talk plastic ukes again? Or very cheap laminates perhaps?



Griffis
06-30-2016, 07:15 AM
Folks, I am sure this same thread has been posted before, so I apologize for beating an already beaten horse.

I did do a search, incidentally, prior to posting this.

I don't want to own a boatload of ukuleles. I keep all possessions to a minimum as much as possible.

Under the right circumstances I'd be overjoyed to own 300 ukuleles, but that's not the world I live in.

At any rate, the one type of uke I feel I lack is something very inexpensive yet durable. A beater. One that can sit in the car at times, go from hot and humid climes to cold and dry.

I'm looking for a soprano specifically.

This would really need to be cheap, cheap, cheap. As in, I would love to keep it under $50.

I am thinking plastic because if I was, say, at the beach and it managed to get a bit wet, it would likely still be fine.

I am okay with a cheap laminate wood soprano as well, but it may live pretty rough. And I think this is where plastic may take the lead.

I have poked around online and looked at some options, but would love to hear from people in the know, actual owners, those with experience with different possible instruments that fit this bill.

I really prefer the classic "figure 8" shape, but I'm not totally married to that at the exclusion of all else.

Just cheap, durable, something with decent intonation and ability to hold tune, hopefully some volume...

Can anyone make recommendations on this for me? It may be several weeks before I could pull this off anyway, but I envision a day when I will be spending a lot of time outdoors around the ocean and I'd like to have something I can toss in the car, throw over my shoulder, pull out whilst sitting in the sand...something that would be okay with some saltwater air, or even be fine if it started to get rained on a little.

I appreciate any input, advice, suggestions, etc.

The ukes I already own are far from expensive or precious, but they are precious to me and I want to protect them because it would be difficult to replace them.

Thanks again, and sorry again if this has come up a million times...

Griffis
06-30-2016, 07:19 AM
PS-- So far, from my searches, the Kala /Makala Waterman is the frontrunner. How do you all feel about these? those who own or have played them?

Soundbored
06-30-2016, 07:34 AM
I know you said $50, but these are just too cool:
http://www.outdoorukulele.com/collections/ukuleles

pbagley
06-30-2016, 07:36 AM
We have a Makala Waterman and an BugsGear soprano, both solid color plastic. With the original strings there is not a lot of difference. The strings feel the same on both ukes, and I have not taken time to change them yet. The BugsGear has been played a little more and is a little louder I think. Both seem to have OK intonation, fine for open position chording and lower fret runs. Things are a little off above the 7th fret, but not that bad really. I like the BugsGear case a little better than the Waterman bag. You can order a case similar to the BugsGear for around $5 so it's not a deal breaker. Neither of these will be mistaken for a ukulele made of wood, but they are rather resilient to unfriendly conditions. One local music shop has a clear Waterman that sounds better than either of these two, but the strings are definitely different.

I hope that helps.

Booli
06-30-2016, 07:38 AM
I seem to recall that prior to the Waterman, the Woodi and BugsGear plastic ukes, that this forum was simply ga-ga over the Makala Dolphins and Sharks ukes.

Wood neck, wood top and molded ABS plastic back/sides. Can be had for $50 including expert setup from Uke Republic still as of now.

http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/

Aside from that, if your budget was closer to $200, I'd say to get a soprano Flea:

http://www.magicfluke.com/The-Flea-Ukulele-s/1513.htm

I have a concert and 2 tenor Flea ukes as well as a tenor Fluke with a solid koa top. The fit and finish is perfect. All locally sourced by MFC and made-in-MAINLAND-USA...

I would caution you to AVOID the $20 Vorson plastic concert ukes, which I posted a thread about in the beginning of Dec 2015. I bought one. Intonation is great, and it 'sounds like a ukulele' but even with the lightest/thinnest/least-tension fluoro strings (WORTH CL) there is flex in the neck when you simply PLUCK the string that causes the initial sound of the note to ring about 10 cents sharp, and then 10 cents flat, and then after 2-3 oscillations like this, just before the note dies out from the 8 seconds of sustain, it rings true to pitch. Most folks simply lack the acute hearing perception to notice this, but it bugs me to no end, and I cannot play it.

orange. plastic. wallhanger.

Were I to be buying a uke to take abuse, that was NOT a Fluke or Flea, likely it would be the ODU or OUTDOOR UKULELE, IIRC the Tenor was $150 and soprano $99.

http://www.outdoorukulele.com/

Other than that I'd be looking at the EKOA Blackbird Clara uke which is made from all natural flax plant fibers that are molded into shape similar to the carbon-fiber protective monocoque 'cockpit' shell of 'Formula 1' race cars, but then your low budget is lost since IIRC the Clara is ~$1,300.

https://www.blackbirdguitar.com/collections/ukuleles/products/clara-concert-ukulele

Fellow brother BazMaz has video reviews of most of these ukes on his site - http://gotaukulele.com

Fellow UU brother Petey Forrest, Peter Mack, Ukester Brown have video reviews of the ODU, and both Peter Mack and Ukester Brown have video reviews also of the Woodi, Korala Explorer and BugGear plastic ukes, all on YOUTUBE, which should be easy to find but sadly I do not have the links.

Hope this helps! :music:

dkp
06-30-2016, 07:50 AM
I have an Outdoor Ukulele made in Bend, Oregon. It is definitely rugged. I have a tenor and the sound is amazing. Intonation is very good which is nice because there's not much one can do to fix that. The action is sub-optimal - at the 10 fret you can park a bus under the strings. The plastic edges need attention - out of the box it will eat up Aquila Red strings as fast as you can put them on. The nut and frets are unforgiving. If I were to do this again, and I do recommend them, I'd get a natural finish - unpainted.

Mine has a piezo button pickup that is useless and there is something in the jack, wire, or button that buzzes. It picks up noise from moving your hand as you strum and fret the strings and feedback is significant. This doesn't matter too much to me because for my needs I wouldn't want this amplified anyway.

I like it because it fills a niche nicely, and acoustically it sounds great and projects well. And I don't mind passing it around for others to play with.

JessicaM
06-30-2016, 07:53 AM
I bought my kid a Mitchell uke from Guitar Center -- it's their proprietary brand, I'm not sure who really makes them. It was $30. It's plastic w a laminate top. With new strings it sounds decent. And for $8 you can get the 2 year protection plan which supposedly means they'll replace the instrument if anything happens to it, including life. So far my 3 year old hasn't been able to scratch it despite her best efforts. It might be worth playing one if you're near to a Guitar Center.

Mivo
06-30-2016, 07:56 AM
My Kala Waterman has very poor intonation, starting in the third fret already. There is a recent thread about this, and most people who have commented encountered the same problem. I'd honestly rule it out. For me, it felt like a complete waste of money. The Bugsgear plastic uke and the Outdoor one both seem to have been received favorably by those who have them, but I have no experience with either.

Rob Uker
06-30-2016, 07:56 AM
I have a Waterman that I keep under an awning in my backyard. I like it but my all time favorite beater uke is a Lanikai LU11 soprano with low G stings.
I did have to sand down the saddle a little bit to improve the action and intonation.
It sounds and plays as good a some $1000.00 ukes I've tried.

Choirguy
06-30-2016, 08:00 AM
I have an Outdoor Ukulele made in Bend, Oregon. It is definitely rugged. I have a tenor and the sound is amazing. Intonation is very good which is nice because there's not much one can do to fix that. The action is sub-optimal - at the 10 fret you can park a bus under the strings.

My vote is for an Outdoor Ukulele, too--although I haven't played the Bugsgear (Mim sells those). The Outdoor soprano can be purchased for $99, the tenor for $149 (if memory serves). Kala donated 30 Waterman ukuleles to my middle school program (very grateful for it and have posted about that), but you get what you pay for with the extra cost of the Outdoor Ukulele.

As for the set-up, I like the Outdoor Ukuele a lot...but I don't have any issues with the action. At the 10th fret I am reading .08 inches, at the 12th fret I am reading somewhere between .08 and .09 inches (I bought a String Action Ruler based on the recommendation of Barry Maz). dkp, perhaps you have a faulty model and should contact Outdoor Ukulele for customer service? They have been great.

There was an earlier, crowdfunded version of the Outdoor Ukulele that was available--the company went back to the drawing board for the current models.

I have been dragging the tenor Oudoor Ukulele (it is "rawhide" or "natural") this summer on our family's various camping and outdoor activities. I'm not sure the family is always glad that I have it.

JackLuis
06-30-2016, 08:00 AM
Good cheap Soprano? Caramel CS-100 zebra wood laminate is about $45 delivered to the US. (Amazon or E-Bay) Comes with a pickup and tuner, not sure how waterproof it is but cheap to replace, but may need some bridge and nut work to be really good. Caramel is getting better about their setups though.

Mivo
06-30-2016, 08:03 AM
It sounds and plays as good a some $1000.00 ukes I've tried.

Would you mind recording it?

Mivo
06-30-2016, 08:05 AM
Griffis, here's the thread about the Waterman intonation issues that I had mentioned: http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?120866-Kala-Waterman-Intonation-Issues

Croaky Keith
06-30-2016, 08:19 AM
This is one of the threads about cheap ukes that may interest you.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?47595-cheapo-ukes/page5&highlight=cheap+ukes

Griffis
06-30-2016, 08:19 AM
I know you said $50, but these are just too cool:
http://www.outdoorukulele.com/collections/ukuleles

I agree. Love the looks of those and would love to have one, but while I think the price is incredibly fair, really it is more than I want to pay (or could easily afford) and it is enough that it kind of defeats my purposes. Someday I'd dig one though! I learned about these on this very forum. Possibly from you even.


We have a Makala Waterman and an BugsGear soprano...

I leaned about the BugsGear on this forum as well. I have looked into them a bit, but should investigate more. They look to be fun, decently-engineered little instruments, and thank you for your input.

One aspect of this is it is very likely I won't be able to try any of these in person, and I don't like to buy online without having some firsthand experience with a brand or model, but sometimes this can't be helped and I've been fortunate to have not been burned too often just buying online.

I live in Oklahoma for the time being, so shops that carry much by way of ukes are scarce, as you may imagine.


...if your budget was closer to $200, I'd say to get a soprano Flea...

I actually have owned a couple of Fleas and a Fluke. I have a lot of respect for Jim and that company. I was a very active early poster on the FMM bulletin board back around 2000-2003. I do like these instruments but they are a bit out of my range at the moment and they are, to me, really too nice for what I need a beater for.

To give you an idea of what a cheapskate I am, my current uke stable consists of a Gretsch laminate soprano (which I love) that cost $109 new, a used Mitchell concert uke (cost me $65) a cigar box uke a friend made me as a gift and a nice but inexpensive baritone that same friend gave me for free. So I have under $200 invested in all my players put together. I plan to get nice cases for them, but I have to be very judicious about spending and acquiring anything.

There was a time in my life when I owned 15 ukuleles, some very nice, even custom builds, as well as a host of vintage or luthier-built electric and acoustic guitars and electric basses, but those days are over for me, in part because a flood destroyed all my instruments a few years back, in part because all I play now are acoustic ukes and in part because my economic circumstances have changed a great deal, for the worse unfortunately, over the past several years.


I would caution you to AVOID the $20 Vorson plastic concert ukes, which I posted a thread about in the beginning of Dec 2015...

This is very good intel and I appreciate it. that is one brand/model that I have come across in my research, and I believe I even stumbled upon your thread from last December you mentioned.

I sincerely appreciate everyone's thoughts and contributions to this thread.

jollyboy
06-30-2016, 08:50 AM
I would take a look at what is on offer on ebay, if you are comfortable with doing so. I know people occasionally have bad experiences but over the years I've managed to pick up a few bargains. I think it's a good way to go when you're working to a tight budget (I usually am for most things :)) and there always seem to be plenty of "only-played-a-couple-of-times" entry-level Kalas and the like up for grabs. You might need to adjust the action and change the strings... but then you're good to go.

spookelele
06-30-2016, 10:21 AM
Does a makala dolphin count as a plastic uke? I think the back/side is plastic now.
If you're in europe, maybe check out alic too.

cml
06-30-2016, 10:55 AM
I have the Korala version of the Vorson Booli is talking about here...I must say I'm really happy with it. It's been my beater for 4 months and it's been dropped, dragged and played on and with by a 1 year old. That's tough :)!
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?120346-Why-I-love-my-plastic-uke&highlight=korala

I'll try intonation on mine tomorrow, with a Snark. It hasnt been a top priority with this uke. Will report back!

Captain Simian
06-30-2016, 12:17 PM
I have two Waterman's both strung with Martin flurocarbons. The stiffer tension helps with driving the top and better intonation. As a matter of fact almost all my plastic ukes are strung with fluros except for my Flamingo and Lisa ukes; they have Aquilas.

thaidye39
06-30-2016, 12:48 PM
I don't work for or have any affiliation with CME other than being a happy customer.

With that being said, there is a used Makala shark up for sale for $25.99 and they do set-up the instruments before they're shipped. I love the Makala dolphins/sharks and think this might be a wonderful deal for you given your financial/durability/playability requirements.

Link (I apologize if giving a link is against the rules. I'm honestly just trying to help):

http://www.chicagomusicexchange.com/products/makala-shark-composite-soprano-ukulele-blue-used

jollyboy
06-30-2016, 02:21 PM
How many cases of beer do you buy and just drink it and have nothing to show for it afterwards?

Did you just finish one?

bonesigh
06-30-2016, 02:49 PM
I did not take the time to read all the other posts. Perhaps this is redundant info. I like to collect plastic uke just for the sheer joy and interest of which ones are worth their salt. My most recent purchase is the waterman. Perhaps with a string change I might like it but while the intonation on my particular one is pretty good it is not comfortable to play. The strings at the first fret are very hard on your fingers. You must push hard. The sound is very plasticy and muted sounding to me. I'd let this one go.

I bought 2 of the KeAloha's from Amazon because I was very impressed with it. Price is right too at 45 bucks. The first one is great (its blue). The second one however (pink) is not as great, just okay. So bulk manufacturing has its downfall.

I have 2 of the older model Bugs Gears. One I let sit out in the gazebo for a whole year. Played it from time to time. Zero degrees up to 100 plus. While the gears got a bit rusty (I believe they have fixed that now). She is always in tune even after all that weather! I decorated one all over with window cling paint and she is very unique. The other (the gazebo one) sits around lonely as can be.

With what you are looking for I would only go with a plastic uke. The laminates will survive the outdoors but NOT the heat of the car in my experience. I have a ruined Les Paul Mahalo that was going to be my car uke (:

Soundbored
06-30-2016, 02:54 PM
Did you just finish one?

LOL. He said "case of beer" four times in one paragraph.

Trader Todd
06-30-2016, 04:30 PM
My wife has a Waterman, my son has a Bugsgear and my daughter has a Dolphin. I love the Dolphin, plays great, sweet tone a bit quiet. The Bugsgear is the winner for plastic - much easier to play than the Waterman, louder and better intonation. The Waterman never gets played. I've had the same intonation others have reported. Past the third fret, mine is unlistenable. Good luck.

curlyuke
06-30-2016, 05:16 PM
I know some have had bad luck with theirs, but I've never been anything but happy with my Waterman! I think it sounds great for what it is and it brings me a lot of joy.

Booli
06-30-2016, 05:23 PM
I don't work for or have any affiliation with CME other than being a happy customer.

With that being said, there is a used Makala shark up for sale for $25.99 and they do set-up the instruments before they're shipped. I love the Makala dolphins/sharks and think this might be a wonderful deal for you given your financial/durability/playability requirements.

Link (I apologize if giving a link is against the rules. I'm honestly just trying to help):

http://www.chicagomusicexchange.com/products/makala-shark-composite-soprano-ukulele-blue-used

Links are BOTH encouraged AND appreciated here on UU since I been here in April 2013.

WHY oh WHY would you be afeared to post a link?

WCBarnes
06-30-2016, 06:22 PM
I don't work for or have any affiliation with CME other than being a happy customer.

With that being said, there is a used Makala shark up for sale for $25.99 and they do set-up the instruments before they're shipped. I love the Makala dolphins/sharks and think this might be a wonderful deal for you given your financial/durability/playability requirements.

Link (I apologize if giving a link is against the rules. I'm honestly just trying to help):

http://www.chicagomusicexchange.com/products/makala-shark-composite-soprano-ukulele-blue-used

This right here!!! :agree:

I just got a new OU soprano and it is really nice, but given your comments my thoughts went straight to the dolphin/shark. I got one for my daughter and it is a really nice uke! An absolute blast to play. I got hers from Uke Republic for $50, but if you can get one for half that I would be all over it!! I almost got another one for me instead of the OU, but I wanted to try something different and see what the plastic was all about. If I had it to do again I would probably get a shark. Not because the OU is bad or I dislike it, but the shark is that good!

Tootler
06-30-2016, 10:25 PM
There was a thread earlier about the intonation of the Kala Waterman and most were complaining that it was significantly off.

As a result, I thought I would check the intonation of the cheap plastic ukes I have. They are a Korala Explore concert and an Alic Soprano. Both have their original strings, Aquila. I don't see the point in changing the original strings unnecessarily unless they are truly crap.

The Korala Explore is all plastic and, if an earlier post is correct, is the same as a Vorson in the USA. It's true the neck is a bit flexible but I haven't found it a particular problem. Barry Maz on his Got A Ukulele site has reviewed one and he has it pretty much spot on from my experience. I tested the intonation at the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th and 12th frets. I found if I fretted a bit firmly - pressed the string right down to the fretboard, the intonation tended to go way out ~20 cents but if you were more gentle and just fretted to touch the fret so that the string rang the intonation was acceptable. It wandered a bit but did stay close to +/- 5 cents. The message is play gently with this one and if you want to change to fluorocarbons then use light tension ones - Worth CL or equivalent from other brands.

The Alic is constructed much like the Flea - Plastic body with a laminate top and plastic fretboard on a wood neck. Not as well finished as the Flea but you get what you pay for and it's perfectly acceptable. The fretboard looks as if it was based on the Flea design and the body looks a bit like a scaled down version of the Ovation guitar. It sounds way much better than you might expect from a cheap ukulele. I bought mine direct from Germany off the Risa website at the same time as I was ordering a Risa solid uke and it cost me 50 Euros which came out at a little over 40GB. The intonation was spot on all the way up the neck and overall it represents excellent value for money. The price is right for a beginner and the low setup and accurate intonation means they will not be put off because of the instrument. I would recommend this ukulele to anyone looking for a beginner uke or for a beater to take out on a day out or to keep in the car - with the usual "health" warning for those who live in much hotter regions than the UK.

For checking this I used a Korg tuner with a clip on mic. The Korg tuner has a scale calibrated in cents which my clipons don't. The just have dashes either side of the in tune mark.

Mivo
06-30-2016, 11:34 PM
I can never understand the fuss over ukuleles which cost around the same price as a case of beer(3). Just buy one and see if you like it. Give it away or throw it away and get another one if you don't like it. Keep it if you do like it. It is only the same money as a case of beer (4).

You'd still have had a decent or even splendid time with the 45 worth of beer (here in Germany, that is about 30 liters of bottled beer, and more if you buy a small barrel). That is more than can be said for my experience with that "instrument" (I use the term loosely).

Why waste money on something that is likely to be junk when you could save the money and put it toward something else of better quality? Griffis had mentioned that money is tight at present, so even spending $10, let alone $40+, on a Waterman would be wasteful, I feel.

cml
06-30-2016, 11:54 PM
As a result, I thought I would check the intonation of the cheap plastic ukes I have. They are a Korala Explore concert and an Alic Soprano. Both have their original strings, Aquila. I don't see the point in changing the original strings unnecessarily unless they are truly crap.

The Korala Explore is all plastic and, if an earlier post is correct, is the same as a Vorson in the USA. It's true the neck is a bit flexible but I haven't found it a particular problem. Barry Maz on his Got A Ukulele site has reviewed one and he has it pretty much spot on from my experience. I tested the intonation at the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th and 12th frets. I found if I fretted a bit firmly - pressed the string right down to the fretboard, the intonation tended to go way out ~20 cents but if you were more gentle and just fretted to touch the fret so that the string rang the intonation was acceptable. It wandered a bit but did stay close to +/- 5 cents. The message is play gently with this one and if you want to change to fluorocarbons then use light tension ones - Worth CL or equivalent from other brands.

I can only echo your post mate, I tried my Korala today and had very similar results. I dont think it's Aquila strings on it though, these sound a bit different to my ear (more like a washboard). The Korala isnt a fantastic uke build wise and doesnt have the best tone out there. Niether does it have the best intonation. BUT, it's a fantastic uke in its own right as you dont have to worry squat about it :)!
Here's a few chords on it :):

https://youtu.be/qzMjs6Jc-_o

Inksplosive AL
07-01-2016, 12:20 AM
I can never understand the fuss over ukuleles which cost around the same price as a case of beer(3). Just buy one and see if you like it. Give it away or throw it away and get another one if you don't like it. Keep it if you do like it. It is only the same money as a case of beer (4).

Why waste money on something that is likely to be junk when you could save the money and put it toward something else of better quality?

Like a case of beer! Hehe

jollyboy
07-01-2016, 01:23 AM
But there is no point in feeling sorry for people if you want to help them, you need to have empathy not sympathy if you want to help them.

You see, that there is completely my issue with your previous 'case of beer' analogy. When someone posts that they want to buy a cheap uke and that they have only a limited budget and your response is basically "just buy whatever cos, if you don't like it, you can always just give it away and buy another one" that really doesn't seem very empathic to me. In fact, it kind of seems like the opposite of empathy - like you're almost wilfully ignoring what the other person is telling you.

Edit: Griffis posted elsewhere that he has certain financial commitments, to family etc. Sometimes what might seem like a trivial sum of money to one person isn't so trivial to another. With stuff like ukes I find it's often about how much you can justify setting aside for personal 'fun money' when there are other people in your life that you need to consider.

As well as having a price in mind, Griffis has also asked for specific recommendations because he has some specific requirements - "...and I'd like to have something I can toss in the car, throw over my shoulder, pull out whilst sitting in the sand...something that would be okay with some saltwater air, or even be fine if it started to get rained on a little." So, it's not exactly a case (:rolleyes:) of one size fits all.

OhioBelle
07-01-2016, 02:11 AM
I bought a Waterman for the same reason as the OP. Car uke. I need to have a uke at hand for whenever the muse strikes. The review on Gotaukulele was so positive, I went for it. It's a very cute uke. I love the idea of it. But I HATE and despise the feel.

I wouldn't care so much about intonation, as I mostly play first-position chords anyway. But the dang thing is uncomfortable as heck! Action way high at the nut and zero fret I guess. Changing to Oasis didn't help.

I wouldn't even give it away to a kid, for fear it might scare 'em off ukuleles forever.

So I'm anxiously awaiting our OP's decision.

wayfarer75
07-01-2016, 02:37 AM
I think I'd buy a Shark/Dolphin over a Waterman, just so I could tinker with the setup more easily, if I were buying something new. In the meantime, I'd scour Craigslist or eBay for something used, to buy something nicer with my money. The marketplace here doesn't have too many under-$100 ukes for sale.

Rllink
07-01-2016, 03:42 AM
I bought a Waterman for the same reason as the OP. Car uke. I need to have a uke at hand for whenever the muse strikes. The review on Gotaukulele was so positive, I went for it. It's a very cute uke. I love the idea of it. But I HATE and despise the feel.

I wouldn't care so much about intonation, as I mostly play first-position chords anyway. But the dang thing is uncomfortable as heck! Action way high at the nut and zero fret I guess. Changing to Oasis didn't help.

I wouldn't even give it away to a kid, for fear it might scare 'em off ukuleles forever.

So I'm anxiously awaiting our OP's decision.Lots of internet experts out there who don't know what they are talking about.

Mivo
07-01-2016, 04:48 AM
His reviews are usually critical, so I'm confident that he fairly reviewed what he had. I do wonder if the reviewed Waterman ukes were provided by Kala or a music store, and whether they may have been particularly well-intoned, hand-picked specimen.

I think the best reviews are those of people who bought something a year or two before they review it, but this is admittedly difficult for magazines, review sites, etc.

OhioBelle
07-01-2016, 07:47 AM
I don't blame the reviewer. I bet mivo is right - he just got a particularly good example. And in his defense, he does go back and post updates for instruments he's had long-term, or "stop the press" announcements if he has additional info. And some folks ARE happy with their Watermans. I haven't entirely given up on it. May try to file that plastic nut. May try some different strings, or even a different tuning. Do folks ever tune their sopranos DOWN? If it doesn't work, I shall put lights in it and call it a lamp!

Meanwhile, the search for the perfect "car uke" continues. I'm hesitant to use my Lanikai for that job. Even though it's laminate, it IS lovely.

Perhaps the way to go is to buy a nice-playing USED laminate for cheap. Then if and when the glue fails from the environmental stress, buy another nice-playing USED laminate for cheap.

cml
07-01-2016, 07:52 AM
Lots of internet experts out there who don't know what they are talking about.
Did you check gotaukulele before saying this? I reckon Baz knows what he's talking about...

Rllink
07-01-2016, 08:10 AM
Did you check gotaukulele before saying this? I reckon Baz knows what he's talking about...Was I talking about Baz?

Soundbored
07-01-2016, 08:23 AM
Was I talking about Baz?

You specifically highlighted the line about gotaukulele in your reply.

Mivo
07-01-2016, 08:34 AM
Perhaps the way to go is to buy a nice-playing USED laminate for cheap. Then if and when the glue fails from the environmental stress, buy another nice-playing USED laminate for cheap.

For myself, I think I'm somewhat decided to give up that quest. I have a number of good quality ukuleles that I enjoy playing, and I don't actually want to spend recreation time on ukes that are just about adequate, but that don't really speak to me. I mean, I don't have to have a ukulele sitting around wherever I am. There is plenty of other things I could do that'll help my ukulele playing, e.g. rhythm practice with a metronome app, visualizing the fretboard, finger stretching exercises, etc.).

But I also don't travel much, so I spend a great deal of time at the house where the good quality ukuleles are. If I did spend a lot of time away from home (my office is in my house, so no commuting), I'd either get a mid-range uke with a solid top and laminate side, pretty much what you plan, or I'd go overboard and buy a Blackbird Clara as you get high quality and high resilience in one package.

jollyboy
07-01-2016, 09:10 AM
... or I'd go overboard and buy a Blackbird Clara as you get high quality and high resilience in one package.

Honestly, if I bought a Clara I would never let it out of the house :p

All of this has got me itching to buy a beater myself now. I live right by the ocean and keep saying that I should take a uke with me down to the beach. I'm thinking a Kala long-neck soprano...

Rllink
07-01-2016, 09:56 AM
You specifically highlighted the line about gotaukulele in your reply.So I did, my bad. Didn't intend to point my finger at anyone in particular. All the same, there are a lot of internet experts that don't know what they are talking about.

igorthebarbarian
07-01-2016, 10:25 AM
It's the Internet - we're all Experts! haha!


So I did, my bad. Didn't intend to point my finger at anyone in particular. All the same, there are a lot of internet experts that don't know what they are talking about.

Booli
07-02-2016, 02:09 AM
So I did, my bad. Didn't intend to point my finger at anyone in particular. All the same, there are a lot of internet experts that don't know what they are talking about.

Methinks that hands-on with over 200 ukes, spanning across at least a 10 yr period, it is IMHO that Baz has the qualifications and experience to tell us if a uke is junk or worth our time and money.

I find his reviews balanced and informative.

Maybe your own personal bias is completely opposed to his and that is why you cannot appreciate his reviews?

Booli
07-02-2016, 02:14 AM
It's the Internet - we're all Experts! haha!

It's all fun and games until someone's good reputation gets damaged by a careless off-hand comment.

Then it becomes a war-zone. :)

As UU members age into-and-beyond elderly status, I am more frequently seeing signs of dementia here and there. Not a pandemic, but the edges are starting to fray...:old:

Mivo
07-02-2016, 02:22 AM
Methinks that hands-on with over 200 ukes, spanning across at least a 10 yr period, it is IMHO that Baz has the qualifications and experience to tell us if a uke is junk or worth our time and money.

I'm sure the Waterman that he reviewed would have been worth my time and money. The Waterman I bought after watching the review however was utter junk and not worth my money and time. Referring to the previously linked thread, that wasn't an isolated experience.

I don't blame Baz for this, since it's clear that the instrument he played in the review was usable. But what I take from this is that I can't use other people's reviews to base purchase decisions on, especially if the reviewed instruments were supplied by the manufacturer or a store (I don't know if that's the case, here).

Booli
07-02-2016, 02:39 AM
... But what I take from this is that I can't use other people's reviews to base purchase decisions on...


For me, a review is merely one of several data points. If it is your ONLY data point, then methinks you'll be dissatisfied more often than not.


...especially if the reviewed instruments were supplied by the manufacturer or a store (I don't know if that's the case, here).

Baz has openly stated that he refuses compensation or to give shill reviews. Some ukes he reviews he has purchased himself, others are on loan from a local store, such as Omega Music or SUS, and others are sent directly from a distributor/manufacturer...

it's all a mixture, there's no conspiracy afoot that I can tell, in order to send him 'perfect specimens' all the time

- what he DOES say all the time, is that with CHEAPO ukes, and those that are never touched by human hands after sealed at the factory, is that quality control varies WIDELY...and that the unit in HIS hands may NOT be indicative of the unit sent to YOU...(or something to that effect)

He has said this more times than I can count since watching his reviews going back as far as 2012.

The take-away is CAVEAT EMPTOR.

I personally would never buy a Waterman or any other uke that has only 12 frets. I have songs I've written that require at least 16 frets, and would be unable to play them with a shorter fretboard.

I played a Waterman last year and was unimpressed. Other than the so-called 'tribute' that Kala has done to the Macaferri and TV Pal plastic ukes of yesterday, I dont see the point other than as a throw-away for a toddler to bash around with and MAYBE be somewhat playable.

For the same money the Makala Dolphin and Shark ukes have been getting much better feedback, ONLY after the proper setup such as provided by Uke Republic and others.

Another member also previously said here in this thread how the Dolphin/Shark ukes allow the end-user to tweak the nut and saddle, and like you and other said previously the Waterman, being all-plastic, not so much.

So, instead of preaching to the choir, or regurgitating what others have said...I'll just let this be. :shaka:

Mivo
07-02-2016, 03:02 AM
But I'm not accusing him of being a shill or being compensated by those supplying the instruments. I like Baz, I enjoy his videos, and I appreciate the work he puts into the site. He's also entertaining and fun.

What I do consider is that companies might have a vested interest in providing him, or any reviewer, with properly set up instruments or ukes of a production model that were handpicked. It could have been luck, but I find that less likely an explanation for the rather glaring discrepancy between what he reviewed and what I, and apparently others, bought. To me, this isn't about Baz, but about reviews of instruments that weren't bought in a random store. The review just didn't tell me what is worth my money or time, but it's really a general issue with reviews of "things" whose quality may differ from item to item.

I wasn't disappointed with Baz, just with Kala -- and I won't buy or recommend their products again. In the end, it was just a loss of €45, which isn't a terrible price for a lesson that may save me much more down the road. (And I knew better than buying a plastic uke anyway.)

manfromtexas
07-02-2016, 03:14 AM
I also have a Waterman that was tossed aside in frustration sitting in my closet right now.

The Bugsgear concert ended up being the eventual replacement and it's been everything that I was hoping the Waterman was going to be. It's a good un for its purpose.

The Kala Ukadelic series is another good beater laminate option along the lines of the Shark/Dolphin. I have a well traveled one that I would pick up and play just as readily as the Bugsgear.

Booli
07-02-2016, 04:14 AM
But I'm not accusing him of being a shill or being compensated by those supplying the instruments....

Sorry if what I had said inferred or made you think that this was how I read your previous comment. I do not have the opinion that you called him a shill, but I was just putting it out there (and shooting it down) since it's not too far a leap...

I agree with most of what you had said above, with the exception about Kala in general.

My first uke that I 'bought' was a Kala KA-T that I got at local retail. It was fine out of the box, save for the action being a bit high, which I remedied by replacing the saddle with a shorter one. Intonation was +/- 5 cents which until I got a Flea, had no idea was bad. After the Flea with it's near-perfect intonation and getting my ear used to that, I could not play the KA-T as it was shipped. It was like nails on a chalkboard with the intonation being off.

I adjusted the nut slots each individually LOWER with a hacksaw blade, and ever since (this was over 2 yrs ago) the intonation's perfect up to the 10th fret, and +/- 1 cent beyond that. Now very close to my Flea and Fluke ukes.

Later on, I even installed a Mi-Si pickup in the KA-T. I've had no issues with it whatsoever. Now, nearly 3 yrs later it seems to have 'opened up'. This was my ONLY uke for about 6 months, and I played on that thing for at LEAST 2 hrs per day for those 6 months.

Also MANY other folks, who are not professional reviewers, but mere plebian UU brothers & sister here have bought plenty of $100+ Kala ukes and been VERY happy with them. most notable are the Cedar/Acacia/Padauk models 'KA-ATP-xx', which coincidentally are purchased from HMS, Mim, Uke Republic, and do a full inspection and setup before shipping of each instrument 'for free'. Folks have consistently said that these ukes both sound and play WAY above their pay-grade.

I played the tenor version of the KA-ATP last year, and if I had the cash I would have taken it home with me right at that moment.

SO, my point is that there may be a difference between lets say a random Kala bought off ebay or Amazon vs. one of the aforementioned vendors, vs. one that was cherry-picked and sent to someone famous for doing reviews, but I think it's unfair to write-off the entire brand when there is tons of evidence that in fact MOST of their ukes are not a waste of time and money.

Sorry you got burned on your Waterman. But to me, buying such a non-adjustable uke is truly the luck of the draw - no different than playing blackjack at a Casino. Some you win, some you lose. I dont enjoy such risks where total failure has a 50% or greater chance of kicking my ar$e. YMMV :)

Rllink
07-02-2016, 06:09 AM
Methinks that hands-on with over 200 ukes, spanning across at least a 10 yr period, it is IMHO that Baz has the qualifications and experience to tell us if a uke is junk or worth our time and money.

I find his reviews balanced and informative.

Maybe your own personal bias is completely opposed to his and that is why you cannot appreciate his reviews?Booli, I said that I did not intend to point the finger at anyone in particular. What else do you want me to say? Sorry I got mixed up and highlighted his site. It was a mistake. But that does not change my opinion that there are a lot of people on the internet who claim to be experts, who don't know what they are talking about. Do you disagree? So you think that anyone and everyone who gets on the internet knows what they are talking about and we should blindly accept them as experts in whatever field they chose to pontificate on?

Booli
07-02-2016, 06:26 AM
Booli, I said that I did not intend to point the finger at anyone in particular. What else do you want me to say? Sorry I got mixed up and highlighted his site. It was a mistake. But that does not change my opinion that there are a lot of people on the internet who claim to be experts, who don't know what they are talking about. Do you disagree? So you think that anyone and everyone who gets on the internet knows what they are talking about and we should blindly accept them as experts in whatever field they chose to pontificate on?

No, in general I do not disagree with you. I did not mean to put too fine a point on this topic and sorry if it came across that way. Please accept my apology, I do not want to create friction here.

I think that Baz is 'one of the good guys' and since all his effort is due to his love of ukulele, and he makes consistent and meaningful contributions to the ukulele community.

It upsets me when some folks seem to misunderstand him or say bad things about him and his contributions.

I feel that he deserves some merit and recognition without being lumped in with the 'so-called' or 'self-proclaimed' experts who have in fact done little-to-nothing to have such a label.

Yes there are many folks on YT that will speak for 45 minutes or more, pretending to be 'experts' but after watching said videos, the take-away is nothing more than feeling like you got sucked into a black hole, with nothing to show for it but lost time, and no education or information that is actually useful.

I wont name names, but there are many more of these folks than there are 'actual' qualified experts, so I can truly see where you are coming from...

So Rollie...I am grateful for the civilized discussion, but I have no intent of further harping on this point. No worries, ok brother?. :)

jollyboy
07-02-2016, 08:41 AM
On the subject of Baz - has anyone else noticed that he has exactly the same voice as James May?

cml
07-02-2016, 08:43 AM
On the subject of Baz - has anyone else noticed that he has exactly the same voice as James May?
Captain Slowkulele? :D:D:D

TheCraftedCow
07-03-2016, 01:51 PM
Is this thread about different plastic ukuleles or about different raters of plastic ukuleles? Both? Eddy Finn is about to unleash two different sizes in four different colours upon the world . The soprano will have a semi cut away body and the sound hole off centered so the A string has no hole under it and is fretted up to a 19th fret. They also have a padded nylon gig bag. I would imagine the back view to show an open backed geared tuner set. My dealer's introductory price is $25 each for four at a time in one of each colour. The slot headed concerts have the same cutaway body shape, but the sound holes are really differently shaped and placed. There is a very gracefully shaped violin-like F hole on the G string side from the pinch of the waist to almost the front of the bridge saddle..... except for the muted orange on which is shown with the entire f further down the G string s ide so that the bottom curl of the design is even with the bottom of the bridge saddle. The other side of them has a sound hole shape which looks like a pick guard. My into price is one of each colour for $160,plus shipping to me. The colours are a dark blue; a pretty sort of lime green; a subdued orange that does NOT look like a roadside caution sign and a nice darker shade of red which is what looks like the red lines running above and below the box I am writing in my "quick reply". How's the sound-fit-finish? I will let you know when I get them They are pitched to me as Plastic and Fantastic. We shall see soon, they say.

Booli
07-03-2016, 02:52 PM
Is this thread about different plastic ukuleles or about different raters of plastic ukuleles? Both? Eddy Finn is about to unleash two different sizes in four different colours upon the world . The soprano will have a semi cut away body and the sound hole off centered so the A string has no hole under it and is fretted up to a 19th fret. They also have a padded nylon gig bag. I would imagine the back view to show an open backed geared tuner set. My dealer's introductory price is $25 each for four at a time in one of each colour. The slot headed concerts have the same cutaway body shape, but the sound holes are really differently shaped and placed. There is a very gracefully shaped violin-like F hole on the G string side from the pinch of the waist to almost the front of the bridge saddle..... except for the muted orange on which is shown with the entire f further down the G string s ide so that the bottom curl of the design is even with the bottom of the bridge saddle. The other side of them has a sound hole shape which looks like a pick guard. My into price is one of each colour for $160,plus shipping to me. The colours are a dark blue; a pretty sort of lime green; a subdued orange that does NOT look like a roadside caution sign and a nice darker shade of red which is what looks like the red lines running above and below the box I am writing in my "quick reply". How's the sound-fit-finish? I will let you know when I get them They are pitched to me as Plastic and Fantastic. We shall see soon, they say.

Sorry, but

- got a photo?

- got a link?

thaidye39
07-03-2016, 04:00 PM
Sorry, but

- got a photo?

- got a link?

From a quick look on their website, they look strangely similar to the bugs gear ukes:

http://www.eddyfinn.com

VoiceofTJ
07-03-2016, 07:18 PM
I have a Waterman. Bought it on Amazon, one of the clear ones, paid $49. Great little beater, played it in the shower just because I could. Made $90 in 3 hours of busking with it, put a glow stick inside, and everyone was fascinated. Love it!