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View Full Version : What does the choice of ukes say about the chooser?



PTOEguy
08-11-2016, 03:40 PM
I took stock of my ukulele situation recently and found that I was tending towards ukuleles made in the United States by Magic Fluke, Deering and Blackbird. The outliers are my Pono baritone and the Hadean Uke Bass.

There is nothing ideological about this, but it may be a taste thing. I've enjoyed getting ukes that have a tech edge to them. I like how my ukes all have some kind of technological trick to make the great.

For my flea it is how the plastic fingerboard could be cheap and cheesy, but it ensures intonation and great action.

For my Deering banjo and banjo-uke, it is how Deering makes manufacturing shortcuts work. Their necks are a single piece of wood - no separate fingerboard. This reduces the chance of a neck changing profile over time as the fretboard and neck react differently to changes in weather/moisture and reduces cost. Plus my banjo-uke uses the same maple rim as my banjo - reducing manufacturing cost while making a more complex toned banjo-uke.

For the Blackbird I love how ekoa makes a "plastic" uke that sounds as good as any solid wood uke I've ever encountered.

I'm wondering though - does this indicate a coherent musical taste, or just an engineer's love of tech gadgets?

Nickie
08-11-2016, 03:45 PM
Well, I could be wrong (I often am) but it seems to me that you could answer this question better than anyone.
Remember, though, it takes guts to look in the mirror and tell the truth about your ukulele choices!

stevejfc
08-11-2016, 03:55 PM
Nothing wrong with living on the "cutting edge".............or as the cliché goes: "Whatever gets you through the night.........it's alright".

Booli
08-11-2016, 04:19 PM
I dunno if there is a real material answer to this question, and maybe it is more rhetorical or a 'thought experiment'...

and I would also be cautious about making generalizations or stereotypes, which most of the time are going to be so filled with 'exceptions' that they look more like Swiss Cheese Logic....

However, for entertainment purposes, it's ALL good.

and all of the above is just my own humble opinion...feel free to ignore...

kohanmike
08-11-2016, 08:39 PM
I buy because I'm a gadget freak and also because of a look. One of my firsts ukes was a two hole acacia koa direct from China, which plays and sounds great. My first custom was a gypsy jazz Django Selmer/Maccaferri style because I always loved the look of those guitars, my second custom was a glossy black mandolele, looks like a mandolin but is a uke. I also bought a Kala cedar top because it sounded so good to me. Then not long ago I bought a uke on eBay from the company that made my customs, it had a brown burst color that I had never seen before. And at the moment, I have an eBay bid on an Ovation Applause because my first 6 string acoustic guitar in 1975 was an Ovation Applause, which I traded in a few years ago, and because I still have the 12 string Ovation Applause I bought in 1980. But my defining element is that I only choose tenor cutaway with electronics, either that came with it or I added.

Croaky Keith
08-11-2016, 08:55 PM
I'm wondering though - does this indicate a coherent musical taste, or just an engineer's love of tech gadgets?

I think you love innovation, something different, & don't want the normal - & why not! :)

Myself - I seem to collect things. ;)

Choirguy
08-11-2016, 09:19 PM
Don't all three of those ukuleles have a good sound? That must be the answer, as otherwise you would have to have another reason to keep them.

Tootler
08-12-2016, 12:21 AM
Most of mine are European and that's because, living in the UK, they are accessible. Those that are not made somewhere in Europe have been bought from UK dealers. It's a matter of what's available.

When I follow threads on UU about various brands, I find most of those mentioned are not readily available over here and it means importing so I go for what's available.

SteveZ
08-12-2016, 03:18 AM
My uke acquisitions have all been about experimenting with different sizes, shapes, number of strings, et cetera to find that "sound" which my ears like best. The goal has always been to find that 4F combination (form, fit, function and fun) which makes the instrument one that I grab unconsciously. The instrument price has been kept low for two reasons: 1) the number of times I change stock; and 2) having some tech ability to do my own setups and modifications.

The "go to" ukes have evolved into two groups: 1) the backyard players which include three - an eight-string, a six-string and a banjo-uke; and 2) the suitcased traveler - a solid "stick." Since I mainly play "Gulf & Western," some classic rock and up-tempo folk, the playing style leans more to guitar/banjo-like picking than "traditional" uke strumming, That probably explains why the six-string and eight-string get more playing time than anything else.

UkerDanno
08-12-2016, 03:25 AM
I got rid of a perfectly good Martin C1K and got a Kanile'a because I wanted a Hawaiian made instrument. I guess that says...I wanted a Hawaiian made instrument.

AndieZ
08-12-2016, 03:51 AM
This will sound fairly judgmental but try not to take it too hard. It seems to me that people who can't stop themselves buying more and more instruments have too much money/more money than is good for them/ are consumeristic and should consider more worthwhile ways to spend their spare cash.

When I read about all the people on this site who can't resist buying yet another ukulele, I wonder, don't you care that the world is full of hungry people, animals on the edge of extinction, environments falling into degradation, suffering, injustice, exploitation and so on. I think it would be worth while spending more spare cash trying to alleviate some of these problems and less cluttering up your homes with more and more ukuleles than you can't possibly need.

Suffice to say, i don't get it - the reason why people can't be happy with one or even two.

Rllink
08-12-2016, 04:02 AM
This will sound fairly judgmental but try not to take it too hard. It seems to me that people who can't stop themselves buying more and more instruments have too much money/more money than is good for them/ are consumeristic and should consider more worthwhile ways to spend their spare cash.

When I read about all the people on this site who can't resist buying yet another ukulele, I wonder, don't you care that the world is full of hungry people, animals on the edge of extinction, environments falling into degradation, suffering, injustice, exploitation and so on. I think it would be worth while spending more spare cash trying to alleviate some of these problems and less cluttering up your homes with more and more ukuleles than you can't possibly need.

Suffice to say, i don't get it - the reason why people can't be happy with one or even two.
Well, I'll bet this is going to get interesting, again. :)

I don't need to look into the mirror to know that I am a traditionalist and that I'm a minimalist. I knew that before I even bought my first ukulele. But I do agree, and I think that the ukuleles that people choose, and the number of ukuleles they choose, reflect their personalities to a large extent. I think that you can throw strings, methods, and any number of other factors into that as well.

SteveZ
08-12-2016, 04:26 AM
This will sound fairly judgmental but try not to take it too hard. It seems to me that people who can't stop themselves buying more and more instruments have too much money/more money than is good for them/ are consumeristic and should consider more worthwhile ways to spend their spare cash.

When I read about all the people on this site who can't resist buying yet another ukulele, I wonder, don't you care that the world is full of hungry people, animals on the edge of extinction, environments falling into degradation, suffering, injustice, exploitation and so on. I think it would be worth while spending more spare cash trying to alleviate some of these problems and less cluttering up your homes with more and more ukuleles than you can't possibly need.

Suffice to say, i don't get it - the reason why people can't be happy with one or even two.

Over the years have lived the Spartan life, done a fair amount of "save society" stuff and seen the best/worst of what mankind can do. Have learned two thing these past seven decades: 1) consumerism creates jobs where none would otherwise exist; and 2) life is not fair.

As far as having a number of instruments, why not? Consumerism drives economies, and the more that is wanted, the more that is made, and that means more folk gainfully employed rather than on the dole or starving. Reduced consumerism means greater unemployment, which itself is a crisis-maker.

Keeping this on a ukulele theme - a sizable number of the instruments discussed here either are made all over Southeast Asia or the wood for them is harvested there and shipped elsewhere. A cut in ukulele demand would negatively affect many families there since job opportunities in a lot of these places are few.

So, I have no problem acquiring more instruments and no guilt over it. They all end up recycled in the end in some manner anyway, going to someone else who appreciates them or salvaged for parts.

Now, still am looking for another eight-string to eventually replace the OS OU28T which I've reworked a couple times...

Croaky Keith
08-12-2016, 04:34 AM
This will sound fairly judgmental but try not to take it too hard.
Suffice to say, i don't get it - the reason why people can't be happy with one or even two.

How many pairs of shoes do you have - you only have a left & a right foot, (if you're normal).:biglaugh:

How many skirts, dresses, pairs of trousers..........

People buy things because they can, as a child I had nothing, I used to have to wear my brothers's hand me downs. Now I have a little cash to spare, I intend to enjoy it! :)

Doc_J
08-12-2016, 04:49 AM
This will sound fairly judgmental but try not to take it too hard. It seems to me that people who can't stop themselves buying more and more instruments have too much money/more money than is good for them/ are consumeristic and should consider more worthwhile ways to spend their spare cash.

When I read about all the people on this site who can't resist buying yet another ukulele, I wonder, don't you care that the world is full of hungry people, animals on the edge of extinction, environments falling into degradation, suffering, injustice, exploitation and so on. I think it would be worth while spending more spare cash trying to alleviate some of these problems and less cluttering up your homes with more and more ukuleles than you can't possibly need.

Suffice to say, i don't get it - the reason why people can't be happy with one or even two.

Often acquiring (usually temporary) ukes is not about having too much money, as some may suggest. Some folks here, including myself, view it as education: knowing and playing different ukes as exploring and learning the instrument. It takes me some time to really find out about an instrument, rather than just playing a friend's instrument (assuming my friends have a I'm interested in exploring). I've been totally surprised at the effect of a different tuning, a good setup, or new strings on a uke, to make it shine. Sometimes a new nut or saddle is required, others need a fret dressing.

I've caught and released over 100 different ukes, and I've learned something from each one.
Let me try to summarize what my exploring has taught me (to my eyes, ears, and fingers).


You generally get what you pay for.
Always start with a good setup (learn how to do setup if possible).
Every uke sounds different to me (sound, looks, playability)
Experience matters in building good ukes
Some ukes sound better on certain songs

cml
08-12-2016, 04:55 AM
How many pairs of shoes do you have - you only have a left & a right foot, (if you're normal).:biglaugh:

How many skirts, dresses, pairs of trousers..........

People buy things because they can, as a child I had nothing, I used to have to wear my brothers's hand me downs. Now I have a little cash to spare, I intend to enjoy it! :)
Hah! I have one pair of shoes I use daily (until they break beyond repair, then they get replaced), one pair of heavy duty boots for snowy conditions and one pair of nice black leather shoes for work, when important meetings etc call for it. That gets me by :).

Without being judgemental, I think people of the opposite sex (females) will have more shoes in general than men? My wife does anyway, and she's in no way extreme, I think she has like 5-10 (I dont know for sure...) pairs.
Or is that a controversial statement haha?

I actually have more ukes than shoes! Priorities :D!

EDIT: I forgot, I have 2 pairs of running shoes as well...so that brings it up to 5 pair of shoes and I also have 5 ukes!

kohanmike
08-12-2016, 05:49 AM
This will sound fairly judgmental but try not to take it too hard. It seems to me that people who can't stop themselves buying more and more instruments have too much money/more money than is good for them/ are consumeristic and should consider more worthwhile ways to spend their spare cash.

When I read about all the people on this site who can't resist buying yet another ukulele, I wonder, don't you care that the world is full of hungry people, animals on the edge of extinction, environments falling into degradation, suffering, injustice, exploitation and so on. I think it would be worth while spending more spare cash trying to alleviate some of these problems and less cluttering up your homes with more and more ukuleles than you can't possibly need.

Suffice to say, i don't get it - the reason why people can't be happy with one or even two.

Maybe we do care about hungry and needy people. You preclude that the person does nothing else but spend their money on themselves, without allowing that there could be more to them. I have disposable income and since becoming aware of The Ukulele Kids Club (see my signature), every time I buy a uke, I donate the same amount to the organization. I also donate to a variety of other charities throughout the year. I like to look for the best in people.

actadh
08-12-2016, 07:03 AM
I learned something from every ukulele that I own. Nearly all fill a niche. Some are for fun such as my little plastic ukuleles that I play with the grandkids. The two Zither Heaven are very quiet - one is in my office so I can stealth-uke. The Outdoor Ukulele stays in my car for spur of the moment times. The OXK can be handed off to a person new to ukuleles with little fear of damage. My vintage ones are a homage to the history of the ukulele. The rest are different tonewoods and sounds for different songs.

I have more than one TV and more than one laptop, too.

Nickie
08-12-2016, 07:26 AM
I mostly only play my Cocobolo Ukulele, and refuse to buy any more.
What does that say about me?
Come on, let me have it.

JJFN
08-12-2016, 08:04 AM
I mostly only play my Cocobolo Ukulele, and refuse to buy any more.
What does that say about me?
Come on, let me have it.

It says you will probably change your mind and buy another ukulele! LOL

janeray1940
08-12-2016, 08:22 AM
My three are Kamakas, because I like the sound and design but also because when I first started buying, I intentionally wanted to support a USA-based company with a solid history. While I'm not especially concerned with what that says about me, if people perceive it as a reflection of values such as buy local, buy the best you can afford, and only buy what you need, well - that wouldn't be too far from what I strive to do.

And yes, I have (and need) three - one reentrant, one low G, one backup/travel. No more, no less. But then, I'm probably the only woman on the planet who is perfectly happy with a single 27" wide closet and fewer than a dozen pairs of shoes... :)

sukie
08-12-2016, 09:23 AM
I mostly only play my Cocobolo Ukulele, and refuse to buy any more.
What does that say about me?
Come on, let me have it.

I think it says you are the kind of person who can be satisfied with what you have. It's a good thing.

cml
08-12-2016, 09:30 AM
I think it says you are the kind of person who can be satisfied with what you have. It's a good thing.
I think your uke says you like flamingos :D!

sukie
08-12-2016, 12:01 PM
I think your uke says you like flamingos :D!

Pretty much.

Our house has been on the market. About 2 months in our realtor mentioned I had "quite a few flamingo things". I told her I had removed over half of them. I MAY have FAS.


Sorry. It is very easy for me to go off-topic.....

pritch
08-12-2016, 12:54 PM
I liked the shoe analogy although I've never had as many pairs of shoes as I have now. There is a good shoe shop locally and before I retired I'd buy a couple of pairs each time they had a sale.

There are half a dozen ukulele in the house, different sizes and different tunings: low G, High G, B, or Bb, (the jury is still out), and one specifically for finger picking. No plans to buy any more, but as always Plan A is subject to change to plan B.

mds725
08-12-2016, 01:23 PM
This will sound fairly judgmental but try not to take it too hard. It seems to me that people who can't stop themselves buying more and more instruments have too much money/more money than is good for them/ are consumeristic and should consider more worthwhile ways to spend their spare cash.

When I read about all the people on this site who can't resist buying yet another ukulele, I wonder, don't you care that the world is full of hungry people, animals on the edge of extinction, environments falling into degradation, suffering, injustice, exploitation and so on. I think it would be worth while spending more spare cash trying to alleviate some of these problems and less cluttering up your homes with more and more ukuleles than you can't possibly need.

Suffice to say, i don't get it - the reason why people can't be happy with one or even two.

I have been using the shoe analogy for a long time. I have different ukuleles because they serve different purposes, just like I have running shoes and dress shoes and wouldn't wear my dress shoes to run or my running shoes to a wedding. I play baritone ukulele with one group I play and sometimes perform with and I play tenor ukulele with other groups. Eight strings sound different than four strings, and because I like the sound of both, I have both. I have a few tenor guitars because I like steel strings and the bigger voice of a bigger body, and I tune them differently. I play them all and I enjoy them all.

It's hard for me to believe that you, and everyone, really, doesn't have more of at least one thing than someone else might think they need. Maybe it's clothing, or cars, or watches, the square footage of a dwelling, or the number of dwellings or bathrooms in them, or even spoons or kitchen sponges. Why do you have more of XXXX than I have, or than I think you need? I don't know. I don't care.

I adopted a policy for myself years ago to occasionally buy ukuleles for other people, precisely because I feel privileged to be able to buy some for myself. This manifests itself mostly by my donating ukuleles to be raffled off at the annual fundraiser held by a Hawaiian music organization run by one of my ukulele instructors, but I've also been known to just send ukuleles to people sometimes. I also donate every year to an organization that buys holiday presents for kids whose families can't afford to. Everyone has different priorities, and if I drive a cheaper car than I could really afford, or than other people drive, because I have more ukuleles than some people think I need, that's just a reflection of how I prioritize my disposable income, not a reflection on some disinterest in the suffering, injustice, and exploitation in this world.

CeeJay
08-12-2016, 02:05 PM
I have been using the shoe analogy for a long time. I have different ukuleles because they serve different purposes, just like I have running shoes

It's those damned running shoes ...I never to get to wear them....I can never catch the little buggers to get into them !!!;)

Joyful Uke
08-12-2016, 02:13 PM
It's those damned running shoes ...I never to get to wear them....I can never catch the little buggers to get into them !!!;)

That's how you get your exercise when you have running shoes. It works!

Joyful Uke
08-12-2016, 02:18 PM
Everyone has different priorities, and if I drive a cheaper car than I could really afford, or than other people drive, because I have more ukuleles than some people think I need, that's just a reflection of how I prioritize my disposable income, not a reflection on some disinterest in the suffering, injustice, and exploitation in this world.

Well put. Some of us don't have smart phones, cable, Netflix, a flat screen TV, (I still use my analog TV with a converter box and rabbit ears), a new car, eat out, and so on. It's all how we choose to spend our disposable income, and we certainly may also be donating time, money, and more to others as well. We can play ukulele and still do for others.

Nickie
08-12-2016, 03:23 PM
I think it says you are the kind of person who can be satisfied with what you have. It's a good thing.

Thank you Sukie! We have too many possessions, so I am talking Tammy (and myself) into parting with a lot of things. The shed we built last year is full, the store room is full, and our 2nd bedroom is full of musical instruments we either don't or can' play. We don't have TV cable, don't take vacations (except for TBUG and the Dances of Universal Peace Retreat). My clothes are 90% pre-loved, and my car is a gasping, heaving 14 yrs old. We do eat out some, we eat 90% organic foods ($$$$) and we did buy two ukes this year, one was a used Tiny Tenor, for playing lo G things. I have about 6 pairs of shoes that I wear. I have 2 pair that are worn out, and I'm too cheap to throw them out.
My goal is to have a yard sale this fall, and NOT blow the money. Then give away what we don't sell. Too much is too much.
Sorry, thread waaaay highjacked. Geez.
(I'm not conservative with words)

AndieZ
08-12-2016, 03:47 PM
Thanks for all the answers.

On shoes. I love them as much as the next woman but I don't have many pairs. Some are even second hand like the pair i had to buy for one performance of our opera coming up.

I don't want to set off a debate about economics but I do want to say that I don't buy the argument that economic growth and consumerism is good. Its equivalent to saying that unrestrained eating is good. In both cases, they ultimately lead to crisis.


If you have to do a clear out, and find it hard to get round to it, a great book on the subject is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo though the first 38 pages are a boring. I used it to help me clear up all my shit. Minimisalist living is so liberating. I love it.

Nickie
08-12-2016, 03:52 PM
Thanks for all the answers.

On shoes. I love them as much as the next woman but I don't have many pairs. Some are even second hand like the pair i had to buy for one performance of our opera coming up.

I don't want to set off a debate about economics but I do want to say that I don't buy the argument that economic growth and consumerism is good. Its equivalent to saying that unrestrained eating is good. In both cases, they ultimately lead to crisis.


If you have to do a clear out, and find it hard to get round to it, a great book on the subject is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo though the first 38 pages are a boring. I used it to help me clear up all my shit. Minimisalist living is so liberating. I love it.

Ha ha Andie, if I get that book, I'll give away the 1st 38 pages.
Viva liberacion!

Griffis
08-12-2016, 04:19 PM
My choices indicate that I am cheap and poor. But I'm happy with them!

Mivo
08-12-2016, 04:22 PM
If you have to do a clear out, and find it hard to get round to it, a great book on the subject is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo though the first 38 pages are a boring. I used it to help me clear up all my shit. Minimisalist living is so liberating. I love it.

There is some irony in buying books that preach getting less stuff.

Nickie
08-12-2016, 04:45 PM
There is some irony in buying books that preach getting less stuff.

Gee, Mivo, LOL, it's only one book. Plus, if it works, she'll get rid of the book, too!

janeray1940
08-12-2016, 04:53 PM
There is some irony in buying books that preach getting less stuff.


Gee, Mivo, LOL, it's only one book. Plus, if it works, she'll get rid of the book, too!

Funny, both of you :)

The book is actually more about parting with stuff that is cluttering up your space that doesn't (in the author's words, as translated from Japanese) "spark joy." I bought it, read it, and passed it on to a friend. Parting with stuff one doesn't use seems to be a concept that a lot of people struggle with - I'm not one of them, as is evidenced by the half-dozen-plus ukuleles I've rehomed over the years. But I certainly know a few people who have ukuleles on hand that they never play, but have trouble parting with!

stevejfc
08-12-2016, 04:54 PM
Gee, Mivo, LOL, it's only one book. Plus, if it works, she'll get rid of the book, too!
At least she should get rid of the first 38 pages

Mivo
08-12-2016, 05:00 PM
Gee, Mivo, LOL, it's only one book. Plus, if it works, she'll get rid of the book, too!

If I buy dead tree stuff, I may as well buy another ukulele. :( I guess I could buy an e-book, though. Then I can feel minimalist because it doesn't take up space, but I still get to consume.

(Kidding aside, though, I have my own definition of minimalism that I live. I aim to only have and keep stuff that actively contributes to my life experience. I don't keep things for years that I do not use and that add nothing to my life. But I don't see much wrong with having multiple ukuleles if I use them frequently and they enhance my life experience in one way or another. So my brand of minimalism is primarily concerned with the relevance of stuff to my life, but not with the amount of stuff in my life, though the former automatically leads to a reduction of the latter.)

AndieZ
08-12-2016, 06:02 PM
There is some irony in buying books that preach getting less stuff.

The book is not preaching buying lesss stuff. It teaches you how to declutter.

The irony you might be thinking is me recommending a book (buying anything at all) whilst preaching getting less stuff. I don't think its a sustainable argument. I'm not against buying stuff that you need or which you use. I'm just against collecting lots of the same thing which just sits around your house gathering dust, clogging up you garage and spare rooms and consumerism in general when there are so many important things to spend spare cash on. And I only brought it up because so much of the conversation on this forum seems to be about acquiring more ukuleles and having lots of them.

AndieZ
08-12-2016, 06:10 PM
Gee, Mivo, LOL, it's only one book. Plus, if it works, she'll get rid of the book, too!

LOL I haven't got rid of the book yet because I want to read the last half again but I have lent it to others and also, I give most of my fiction books away after reading them because I almost never read fiction twice. And if its a good book, i want others to get the benefit of it. They make good presents. And i give them to the library. I don't buy many new books though. Can't afford to anyway. I usually use the library. Meanwhile, my dad has a big library of garbage books that he refuses to let me cull or do himself.

Yes its a pity that the first 38 pages couldn't be removed from the book but better done at the source.

Mivo
08-12-2016, 07:42 PM
And I only brought it up because so much of the conversation on this forum seems to be about acquiring more ukuleles and having lots of them.

I rambled some about that in the past, so I won't completely disagree and feel like a hypocrite, though I understand better now that the collecting and the experiencing of different and new ukuleles is part of the journey for (some) people, and it makes sense to me. There's a lot of excitement to be had from anticipating a new ukulele and then exploring it. They are really very different from each other. It's a bit like a new relationship, and it also improves one's knowledge. People who have twenty ukuleles or have played a hundred are really excellent sources of information, and they have the experience to compare. There's value in that when you are trying to narrow down your own options without taking the same path.

Personally, I still plan to eventually only have three, maybe four, fundamentally different ukuleles for different ways of playing. I'll buy one more this year to answer an open question (Kanilea GL6 guitarlele), which I just let a synthesizer (https://www.elektron.se/products/analog-rytm/)go for, so I trade one instrument for another, and then start selling those I decided I no longer need and that only duplicate what I keep. But I can honestly say that I feel that I would probably never have been able to sort out what I like and want if I had not gone through a dozen instruments (in three and a half years, not all at once). I might just be as happy if I only ever tried and played one ukulele, though, and perhaps I'd be a better player now if I had focused sooner. Hard to say. Perhaps I'd also have lost interest if I had not explored my preferences.

bacchettadavid
08-12-2016, 08:21 PM
Instead of contributing my thoughts on what the ukulele might/might not say about the chooser or becoming entrenched in a debate about the haves and haves not (I'm somewhere in between the two), I have posted below my reasons for selecting the ukuleles I have (and thus given you all something to criticize, lol).

I bought my first uke, a Kala cedar & acacia tenor, because it was the cheapest ukulele I could find that was nice enough to entice me to practice. Typical entry-level ukes sound like toys to me. I am accustomed to much more expensive woodwind instruments, which I pay off and profit on through performance. The Kala continues to serve me well as a low G option for when I want the extended range.

After becoming more disciplined in my approach to the ukulele, I yearned for an instrument I could really pour myself into. I purchased a Kanile'a super concert, which has become one of the few instruments I truly treasure. I keep it strung to accentuate the darker side of its timbre, and I could not want for a better instrument when it comes to my contemporary jazz repertoire.

I bought my third ukulele, a Koaloha soprano, to play baroque music (a significant part of my repertoire on woodwinds). The Koaloha, with its bright, strident sound, excels in the adapted performance of baroque music.

The total purchase price for these three instruments is $1713.20 (yes, I track my expenditures to the cent). I suppose that could be considered extravagant, but like most humans, I am sensate and crave aesthetic pleasure. Ukuleles have become one of my primary channels to satisfy this craving, so I have invested in them. I expect they will repay my investment many-fold in the years to come.

Each of us sets out priorities differently. What can you say about me based on these ukes? If you didn't know the above, I suppose you would think think I like pretty ukes made in Hawai'i but keep a cheaper uke around for low G tuning (what you would make of the Koaloha, with its A=415 Hz tuning, I'm not really sure...that I never play the Koaloha?).

AndieZ
08-12-2016, 08:37 PM
Its not a debate about the haves and havenots. It was a question about how people spend their excess cash. Whether they spending it wisely or fritter it away on unnecessary stuff. I don't think its wrong to have more than one uke if you are using it and appreciate it. I think its wrong if you are buying them the way some women buy shoes and handbags and some men buy workshop tools and still others who are into bushwalking buy tents.


On the point of tools - if you can tolerate another digression. My father builds a new extension on his shed every so often in order to accommodate his ever enlarging stock of shed stuff. Unfortunately, he has a large block of land.

bacchettadavid
08-12-2016, 09:01 PM
Thanks for the clarification, AndieZ.

Sorry if I offended anyone with my mistaken characterization of the thread. I did not mean to insinuate that this thread in particular had devolved into non-constructive debate but to refer to an ongoing debate in our general society. Upon rereading my post, I can see why that intent may not have come across clearly.

kkimura
08-13-2016, 02:12 AM
I'd allow that every ukulele purchased benefits the world in many ways. It supports music in a general way and we all must agree that is a good thing. It puts food into the mouths of every person along the supply chain from felling the tree to shipping the final instrument. It is, perhaps, one of the better uses for wood (which is by the way a renewable resource). And, it brings a smile to my face when I'm able to "get it right" playing a song.

That said, we have made in; Mexico, US and China. Out of; HPL, Hawaiian koa and mahogany. Low, high and medium costs. Dunno what that all means.

SteveZ
08-13-2016, 02:23 AM
Its not a debate about the haves and havenots. It was a question about how people spend their excess cash. Whether they spending it wisely or fritter it away on unnecessary stuff. I don't think its wrong to have more than one uke if you are using it and appreciate it. I think its wrong if you are buying them the way some women buy shoes and handbags and some men buy workshop tools and still others who are into bushwalking buy tents.

On the point of tools - if you can tolerate another digression. My father builds a new extension on his shed every so often in order to accommodate his ever enlarging stock of shed stuff. Unfortunately, he has a large block of land.

Perhaps the problem is in the "wisely" comment. Who is to say what is "wisely" or not? What I do with my hard-earned money is my own business. If I want to spend it on ukuleles, concert tickets, pizza or objects d'art, that's my call. I don't tell anyone else that what they do with their resources is "unwise," as that would be self-righteous and judgmental. If someone's choice is to take all their income (excess or otherwise) and spend it on a vintage Martin D-18, a Bugatti Vaeron or the funding of a halfway house for wayward ukulele players, that's what freedom-of-choice is all about.

I can appreciate folk's passion about social issues. However, rebuke of players' acquisition of ukuleles on a ukulele forum is a bit much. Forums like this one are all about acquisition and use of stuff, and the sharing of knowledge and experiences throughout the process. Personally, I'm grateful for what I've learned here from several players who have extensive experience developed through ownership (temporary and lasting) of many instruments. Their knowledge-sharing has benefitted me a lot, financially and musically, and there's still a lot to learn.

Rllink
08-13-2016, 03:19 AM
And I only brought it up because so much of the conversation on this forum seems to be about acquiring more ukuleles and having lots of them.Yes, there is a lot of talk about buying ukuleles, and a lot of people who spend a lot of time defending and justifying it. It comes up all the time. But if it weren't for UAS, there wouldn't be much to talk about evidently. So hooray for ukes. Didn't you like show and tell in grade school? It was my favorite part, after recess of course.

hucklelele
08-13-2016, 04:24 AM
About the acquiring of tools comments: There is unfortunately always a large marketing drive behind this- both in the constant redesigning of things that need to be serviced with tools, and with the selling of tools themselves that really keeps one having to buy more tools, and others constantly going out of date or of less use. Marketing drives everything these days.

Regarding ukuleles- it might say something about the level of skill- someone may have said this- I haven't read all the comments but of course a more refined player always starts looking for a better sound, while novices tend to be satisfied sonically at least. I buy cheap instruments- so sue me- but I try to find the level of viability before buying most of them even though I may start terribly cheap- I did this with violin-


with ukes I bought cheaply a model on every size, but knowing something of guitars and acoustics, I knew that Id have a good viable sound with mahogany/ sapelle that was unfinished- so that's what I did- I have a uke in all four sizes in mahogany or sapelle, ad several painted ones I got more early on and even cheaper.

Rllink
08-13-2016, 05:16 AM
But I do have a few questions, and the first would be who determines what spending is wise, and what spending isn't wise, and from where does that authority come from? My second question, I guess, is just what is money and what gives it value? It is just an artificial system that is set in place to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. Really nothing more. So if someone buys a ukulele, they have not lost or spent anything. They have only exchanged something that represents value for something that actually has value. Granted, we all need to eat and have a roof over our head, but beyond that, money is just a ukulele that hasn't been bought yet. I think that I'm turning into a philosopher.

Mivo
08-13-2016, 05:59 AM
So if someone buys a ukulele, they have not lost or spent anything. They have only exchanged something that represents value for something that actually has value. Granted, we all need to eat and have a roof over our head, but beyond that, money is just a ukulele that hasn't been bought yet. I think that I'm turning into a philosopher.

It's all that porch time!

I agree with you on your take on money and its abstractness (increasingly more so with credit cards, PayPal, etc. where you don't even get a physical representation anymore). I trade my time and expertise for a standardized pseudo-good (money), which I then use to trade for someone else's time and expertise or a physical product. It's just easier than trying to trade a chair for a loaf of bread or a sack of fertilizer for winter tires.

I also agree with Steve on money being spent anyway, it's just a matter of what it buys. There is no shortage of things, both physical and non-physical (like vacation trips) I could buy and would otherwise buy. Even if I put it away for later use, I, or someone else, eventually will spend it on something. A lot of those "somethings" are no different from a ukulele insofar that they are also non-essential, and a great number of them are "worse" than a ukulele because they'll end up in a landfill, were manufactured in a country with questionable labor laws and sub-standard living and working conditions, or consume (and inefficiently so) electricity or other resources, becoming a constant drain on one's wallet and the environment.

A good number of them will also have no resell value. We think $3000 for a ukulele is a lot of money, but that's an amount I spend on a new computer every few years, and the moment I do buy one, the money is mostly just gone. Five years later, I would probably get 10% of what I paid, if that. Not so with a $3000 ukulele. I'd get a good chunk of that back, even if I used it daily in those five years. The difference between what I paid and what I get is a low rental fee. There aren't many consumer things money can buy that retain a decent recent value and that don't end up in a landfill or keep sapping resources.

The more expensive ukuleles also come from small or tiny businesses, made and sold by people who only have jobs because there's an enthusiastic group that spends money. From an "ethical" vantage point, I feel that spending $1500 on a Hawaiian made instrument that is sold by a small vendor with identifiable employees (who may even have patiently answered my questions and contribute to the community) is "wiser" than buying a $100 mass-produced ukulele that was built in an unknown place where dumping toxic production waste into the closest river is perfectly fine. I much rather support companies or individuals who do business in a way that I find agreeable. For the same reason I try to buy locally grown vegetables and fruit, eggs from a farmer in the next village, and meat from a local butchery. That's not economical in most cases if I only look at what I spend, but if I look at the larger picture, I find it more sensible.

Of course, I could spend any and all surplus money on feeding starving children, but that gets us into topical waters that are way beyond the scope of this forum, and I don't know that I would be able to discuss it with any kind of credibility from the soft seat of my armchair while sipping a cup of coffee and nibbling on a snack.

Down Up Dick
08-13-2016, 06:33 AM
I like to buy musical instruments. If I was young, I would buy and learn even more (oboe for one), but I no longer seem able to learn and remember information easily. My banjos are a real struggle.

Anyway, it's a hobby! Hobbies are often expensive. And, we who have the money, usually spend it on the things we want. Some buy cars or motorcycles or boats or TV/Hi-Fi/Computer stuff. Most people, who can, buy stuff that they like. So what if it's bunches of ukuleles . . .

I also like to wear nice boots and hats, and there's a bunch of other stuff that I'd like to buy if I could use it anymore--ahhh, well . . .
:old:

Griffis
08-13-2016, 11:59 AM
It's a completely subjective thing--what "value" people find in possessions, what they are seeking in an instrument, what they might consider a substantial outlay of money.

It's true that it is nobody else's business what someone decides to purchase. In 40 years of making music, I have spent a ridiculous amount, mainly on electric basses and accompanying gear.

I've become a minimalist nowadays. Maybe it's just being older, having a family, losing most of our belongings in a flood...don't know all the reasons. But if a thing doesn't serve a purpose, I don't keep it around. Ideally, I'd like to get down to where my family had everything pared down enough so we could toss all we own in a van and just travel. We're not there yet.

I've owned incredibly nice, pricey instruments in my day, including ukuleles. Now, though, I haven't the interest or the means. I can get a perfectly good sounding, good playing laminate ukulele for 100 clams or less, and that's all I need or want. They aren't as fussy, and a heck of a lot easier to replace than a high end custom or something. They suit my needs and lifestyle. I have no shame.

But if someone is inclined, and is able, to buy a new $3000 ukulele every week, more power to them. It does help the economy and ukuleles are wonderful things. I wouldn't do that even if I could. I'd sooner donate to the less fortunate if I could, but the fact is, you can't deny yourself so much that you can help everyone...you can't starve yourself enough to feed everyone who is hungry.

As others have said, there are FAR more expensive musical roads to take, not to mention other hobbies. Heck, a minor repair alone on the violin played by a working concert violinist could easily cost thousands and thousands of dollars.



And even though my economic situation is precarious and we live very frugally and own very little (relatively speaking) I know my family lives like kings compared to most people in the world.

I sincerely enjoy seeing people's NUD posts and pics of their uke stables. I am sincerely happy for them. I feel no bitterness or resentfulness at all. They have acquired something which will hopefully bring them some joy. I've already found much of my happiness and joy. It just doesn't happen to involve "getting stuff." But that's me, personally...has nothing to do with what brings happiness to anyone else...has nothing to do with judging others or getting into their business.

As for ukes, I lean towards sopranos, but I do have a concert I string low G and a baritone (a gift from a wonderful friend) on which I like to play fingerstyle jazz and attempt classical pieces. Three inexpensive ukes that feel and play and sound just fine...they hold tune, I set them up where I like the action, etc. and they more than serve their purpose. (I also have an old No Name soprano that needs work and a handmade cigar box uke, made by the same friend who gave me the baritone, but these two are more decorative at the moment.)

I hope to be living on Florida's Gulf Coast soon, so I may score a plastic uke for beach fun. But three playable ukes in different sizes, however humble they might be? From my perspective, that is an embarrassment of riches.

As they say so often in the Digital Age, YMMV. And that's just fine. There is no right and no wrong to this. Now, I need an extra 45 minutes of practice tonight!

Dan Gleibitz
08-13-2016, 09:36 PM
What does the choice of ukes say about the chooser?


Ehm... I guess mine say that I'm cheap? ;)

I have a Caramel tenor with pickup that cost $115 AUD delivered from China. And I've got a Kaka solid Koa en route that cost $250 delivered. That's about US$25 and US$60 at current exchange (kidding, but yeah).

Sure, I salivate over some of the lovely but expensive ukes people here have, but then I watch another YouTube clip where an amazingly talented youngster is making beautiful music on a cheapo plywood tub... and I put down the iPad and go back to practicing on the Caramel (which I love).

The main reason I bought the Kaka was because I'd finished inlaying the fretboard on the Caramel with metal and needed a new project base for some timber inlay I want to do in memory of a recently departed friend. Plus I want to play high G without constantly restringing.

The other part of this is that I actually have a thing for good cheap Chinese instruments. That might curl a few toes, but there has been a marked increase in quality from China over the last 2 years. Not just instruments either, it's very apparent in electronics, from simple industrial gear to the most sophisticated devices. Mark my words: within the next 2 years, China will be producing the highest quality goods at prices 50% to 75% below current.

On the excess/environmental/charity debate, my position is mixed. I have no children, which is the most environmentally friendly decision any adult can make so I've done my bit there. But I do try to limit my excesses, and give away all my surplus electronics/instruments/gizmos to local kids who need them.

Ukejenny
08-14-2016, 06:00 AM
I believe perception is in the eye of the beholder. So, what you see in yourself when you look at yourself and your instrument choices, is yours. What we think when we look at your instrument choices is ours. What you see and think is all that matters for yourself.

PTOEguy
08-15-2016, 05:34 AM
I have been using the shoe analogy for a long time. I have different ukuleles because they serve different purposes, just like I have running shoes and dress shoes and wouldn't wear my dress shoes to run or my running shoes to a wedding. I play baritone ukulele with one group I play and sometimes perform with and I play tenor ukulele with other groups. Eight strings sound different than four strings, and because I like the sound of both, I have both. I have a few tenor guitars because I like steel strings and the bigger voice of a bigger body, and I tune them differently. I play them all and I enjoy them all.

It's hard for me to believe that you, and everyone, really, doesn't have more of at least one thing than someone else might think they need. Maybe it's clothing, or cars, or watches, the square footage of a dwelling, or the number of dwellings or bathrooms in them, or even spoons or kitchen sponges. Why do you have more of XXXX than I have, or than I think you need? I don't know. I don't care.

I adopted a policy for myself years ago to occasionally buy ukuleles for other people, precisely because I feel privileged to be able to buy some for myself. This manifests itself mostly by my donating ukuleles to be raffled off at the annual fundraiser held by a Hawaiian music organization run by one of my ukulele instructors, but I've also been known to just send ukuleles to people sometimes. I also donate every year to an organization that buys holiday presents for kids whose families can't afford to. Everyone has different priorities, and if I drive a cheaper car than I could really afford, or than other people drive, because I have more ukuleles than some people think I need, that's just a reflection of how I prioritize my disposable income, not a reflection on some disinterest in the suffering, injustice, and exploitation in this world.

I like what you've said here and how you say it. I also like the buying of ukes for others.

Nickie
08-15-2016, 11:01 AM
I like what you've said here and how you say it. I also like the buying of ukes for others.

Me too. I've done it 4 times. Plus a UBass for my spouse.

Ukejenny
08-18-2016, 12:31 PM
I don't want to set off a debate about economics but I do want to say that I don't buy the argument that economic growth and consumerism is good. Its equivalent to saying that unrestrained eating is good. In both cases, they ultimately lead to crisis.


If you have to do a clear out, and find it hard to get round to it, a great book on the subject is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo though the first 38 pages are a boring. I used it to help me clear up all my shit. Minimisalist living is so liberating. I love it.

So, I need to skip to page 39, because I got bogged down before page 20. I will try to muscle through! My husband is a clutter person, and we are living a cluttered life. I'm ready to detox the house.

Steveperrywriter
08-19-2016, 05:02 PM
This will sound fairly judgmental but ...

What a great understatement.