View Full Version : Have you ever returned a new ukulele?

03-18-2017, 02:17 AM
I'm not big on returning stuff, mostly because of the hassle of having to deal with shipping, explaining, waiting for the money or replacement, etc.

But just this past week, I returned a ukulele for the first time, and it took me a few days to make up my mind, with a lot of back and forth on my part. In the past, I had kept two ukes (since then re-homed/sold) that I honestly wanted to return, but I ended up keeping them because the main issue was that I just didn't like them as much as I thought I would, and I felt bad for sending them back for that reason.

I'm curious what your experiences have been. Did you return ukes you bought new? What were your reasons? Or did you keep something you wish you had sent back? Why didn't you?

I'll attach a poll, though I'm sure there are possible return reasons that I didn't include. Pick something that's close and elaborate in a comment, if you'd like. :) I also just realized that options #1-3 may seemingly overlap with #5. #1-3 apply if you returned the uke for a cash refund, #5 if you kept it and got a discount or exchanged it for a different instrument. (Wish we could edit polls!)

03-18-2017, 03:17 AM
I returned a soprano to SUS because I decided I wanted a concert instead. Here in the U.K. you get a 14 day cooling off period during which you can return an item for any reason. SUS were totally cool about it and as helpful as ever :)

Edit: It's pretty handy to have this option when you live out in the sticks and you're not able to 'try before you buy'.

03-18-2017, 03:17 AM
I have returned one new instrument only. I just couldn't fall in love with the sound. When I look back on all the instruments I have bought it is suprising only one has gone back. Because 99% of my purchases are sight unseen bought on line.

03-18-2017, 03:24 AM
If the return policy is one of those "If for any reason" policies, and it is worth the hassle, I don't see a problem with it. My wife returns stuff all the time.

Down Up Dick
03-18-2017, 03:24 AM
Yeah, I kept a concert Flea that I don't like and almost never play. I bought it when everyone was going on and on about humidity problems, and I didn't want to be bothered with all that stuff. I got it at a store that's a bit far from where I live, and I didn't want the hassle of taking it back. I seldom return things. So the time went by while I was trying to decide. I changed the tuning a few times and messed with it a bit, and, then it was too late, so I just kept it.

It looks cheap to me though it wasn't, and it doesn't even make a good wallhanger. I play it once in a while because it's close by on a bookcase shelf near my chair.

Selling it's another hassle, but it's too expensive to give away. Well, maybe someday I'll find a use for it. :old:

03-18-2017, 03:27 AM
Reading Jollyboy's post, I did the exact opposite and returned a concert to SUS because I decided I wanted a soprano instead. Again, SUS were totally understanding and helped me as much as they could. Will certainly buy from them again!

03-18-2017, 03:32 AM
I've returned ukes with unexpected damage or finish problems. What was difficult for me was returning an instrument that sounded great, but had serious undisclosed issues. In the final analysis a damaged instrument should not be accepted as it has diminished value.

03-18-2017, 03:42 AM
I've done it twice, out of many purchases

The first one was a bubinga concert, purchased from, shall we say, a non-preferred dealer. I had seen and played the same model while on vacation in Florida a month earlier, but the shop owner had talked me out of it at the time. I was obsessed by it, and so when I found it available from someone else, I snapped it up. It was awful; it appeared to be B stock (or C or D if there are such things), and it sounded dreadful. It went back immediately. I purchased the same model at a festival about two months later.

The second one was a limited-edition soprano from a well-known relatively new manufacturer, purchased directly from their website. I didn't even get it out of the box: I opened the end of the box and saw immediately that the top was separated from the body. I sealed the box, took it right to the post office, and emailed them to say it was on its way back, why it was coming back, and that I'd like a replacement. When they hadn't responded within 24 hours, I emailed again, and this time got a response along the lines of (paraphrasing here) "how do you know it was defective if you didn't take it out if the box? We'll judge whether it was defective or not." I still wanted a replacement, but by the time they got it back and saw that, yes, a customer could tell when there was a huge gap between the soundboard and the body, they had sold all of the other ones. I was very disappointed at the time, but I've survived quite nicely without it. :)

I've received a fair number that didn't quite measure up to my expectations, including every one of two different brands that everyone here loves, but I've never felt right about moving them along.

03-18-2017, 03:44 AM
Every ukulele I have purchased was from a local music store. I have spent some quality time with each one before purchasing. I have been happy with each one. I have reached a point of having the top of the line of what they carry so my next ukulele will have to be ordered.

Croaky Keith
03-18-2017, 03:46 AM
I've been very lucky, I think, as I haven't had any issues with any of the ukes that I have bought online.
There are 2 places that I normally buy from, but I have bought from others.
(Southern Ukulele Store & Omega Music)

03-18-2017, 04:32 AM
Yeah, my first online order had several minor flaws as though the builder was in a hurry assembling and finishing the ukulele. Lucky for me the vendor was very understanding and accepted the return and reimbursement.

03-18-2017, 05:04 AM
The only new ukuleles I have purchased on-line without trying first came from MGM and Mim. I don't need to say how satisfied I am with both of those experiences, because I've said it many times.

I didn't play my Firefly before I got it, but I played two prototypes before it was in production. I have S/N 22. I enthusiastically recommend this model.

With the exception of what I've noted, the Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects, and my Custom Built Donaldson, I have played every new instrument I have prior to buying it. The rest I have bought 2nd or 3rd hand.

(And, of course, the Ohana Vita Uke I won from Making Music Magazine, but that didn't cost a penny.)

Nothing has ever been returned, or sold. I keep them, I play them - some more than others, but I play them all.


03-18-2017, 06:17 AM
Sure. I've returned two new ukuleles.

The first was a Martin C1k that had intonation problems. It turned out that the bridge was glued on in the wrong place. It went back to Guitar Center. I did not repurchase a C1k at that time but later did buy another because I just loved the tone and resonance of the first.

The second return was a Kiwaya KS-5. I did not get along with the soprano scale and the friction tuners, or so I thought at the time. In addition, I did not care for the shiny, gloss finish and the wood was a bit yellow for my taste. Now, with the experience of other ukes under my belt, including a soprano flea, I might not return the Kiwaya today. I would not purchase one today though, I am hankering for a Martin S-1.

03-18-2017, 07:06 AM
I actually had two experiences, a return for something wrong and a keep for something wrong that was discounted, but I marked the survey for the one I returned, an Oscar Schmidt Comfort Series bass uke which I opened and played for a few minutes when the preamp died. Sent it back for refund with no issues from the seller.

03-18-2017, 07:17 AM
I've sent one back. Issues with the ukulele were present when I got it. I tried to overlook. They got worse. I could live with it. To me the key thing to remember are two fold. First, always buy from a reputable, stand up dealer when buying without playing first. Second, if it comes out of the box and it's not immediately what you wanted send it back. A good dealer, with proper return policy will understand. Don't feel bad about it. If you were in the store and could play a bunch of ukuleles you would narrow down your selection that way. Where I live, buying on line in only option to get a good ukulele. So, comes back to #1 one. Pick a good dealer.

03-18-2017, 07:20 AM
I bought a Kala Concert and it's C string boomed so bad I took it back to the Strum Shop. They were happy to let me find an Ohana to swap for it, (and ~$40). It has taken me about a year to fully appreciate the Ohana spruce top. It is easy to fret and has good intonation, it just sounds so brittle and high to me. I'm more happy with G tuning that doesn't hurt my ears.

03-18-2017, 07:26 AM
I've returned for the top two reasons, and was treated very well, those stores have gotten more of my business. I am glad I did. The momentary hassle is nothing compared to how I'd feel essentially throwing money away, either from the partial loss through a sale or the total loss of keeping it around and not using it. I did have to pay return postage on one I just didn't like, even though was a beautiful, flawless, instrument, so that was an expense, but I'd have paid that if I kept it and sold it at a loss.

03-18-2017, 07:56 AM
Over the years I have returned one for a refund and one for repair.

The first one was a well known Hawaiian made tenor and the bridge was off to where the strings were at an angle to the fretboard. I had purchased it through a reputable dealer and had no problems returning it. In all honesty, if it had sounded great I may have had it repaired, but it lacked the tone And volume I had anticipated.

The second one I sent back to the luthier, in Hawaii, because it had a mis-placed fret. The luthier replaced the fretboard and everything was dialed in. That one was a keeper from day one.


03-18-2017, 07:59 AM
I purchased a very popular brand from a very reputable dealer. Got charged twice on my credit card because of dealer ineptitude, cost me extra $$. Ukulele was clearly a "second", at best. I was dealing with family issues at the time, so couldn't be bothered with dealing with this chump. The uke sounded good, but the cosmetics just pissed me off every time, so I gave it away. NEVER AGAIN on the dealer and the manufacturer.

Caveat Emptor

03-23-2017, 07:36 PM
I got shipped the wrong instrument once... :) The seller beat themselves up about it and made everything right in no time.
I didn't even have to ship the wrong instrument back until the right one arrived.

-- Gary

03-23-2017, 09:02 PM
I ordered an 8-string taropatch from a small luthier that I saw on his FB page. When it arrived I was a little disappointed in some sloppy details. The finish had streaks, there was finish splotches on the fretboard, and it was overall sloppy. I decided to tune it up, sleep on it and make a decision in the morning. When I took it out of its case the next morning the soundboard was visibly bowed below the bridge. I thought it was going to pull the bridge off. I sent him an email with pictures. He felt he could fix it with better bracing if I wanted to keep it. If it didn't have he finish flaws I would have had him fix it and return it, but I lost confidence and didn't want finish flaws on a brand new instrument, so I sent it back and got a refund.

03-23-2017, 10:56 PM
I too, have returned instruments that were not right, and quite sadly this has been from some highly regarded luthiers. We should always expect a quality product.

Pirate Jim
03-24-2017, 01:33 AM
I once bought an expensive baritone that was listed at significantly less than half price on Amazon, safe in the knowledge that returning it would be easy. The saying "if something's too good to be true it usually is" really applied here. Razor sharp fret edges visibly sticking out, incredibly thickly applied finish with pooling at various points, tonally dead - this was quite obviously a factory reject that Amazon had snapped up to sell cheap. Part of me didn't want to send it back in case they shipped it to someone else who would be put off playing the uke by it but I couldn't keep it. I've not tried that particular experiment again, I've stuck to trusted retailers!

03-24-2017, 08:23 AM
I purchased 3 Martin ukuleles in a short time. One OXK first, then a C1K and finally a S1. I loved the S1 so much that I returned the OXK to GuitarGuitar uk. They were fine with it and sent a courier next day. The C1K was a bit plane Jane imo so it went back to SUS who were very helpful. Also sent a courier next day to pick it up. My S1 came from Red Cow Music. It's staying. Other than that I've kept what I have bought till the eBay listing. :p

03-24-2017, 11:44 AM
A number, all sopranos, most notably a Hamano because it was filthy, I mean actually scrape-down dirty.

03-24-2017, 12:00 PM
Yes, I have...for flaws and just because I didn't like them. If a place doesn't have a good return policy I won't buy from them.

03-28-2017, 04:23 AM
I'm surprised at the zero votes for buyer's remorse, but then again, it probably overlaps a bit with not liking the new uke.

03-28-2017, 05:45 AM
I wish I'd have had the guts to return a uke. Got a brand that everyone raves about from an online retailer that everyone raves about. It was a solid wood tenor and the tone was thin and dead compared to my concert flea. I talked to the retailer and was given the option to return, but also some discussion of getting acclimatized and how solid wood can open up. I had also hear how strings make a difference. I tried several different strings and discovered it went from awful to mediocre if you put on high tension strings - which I didn't much like the feel of. A year or so later I sold it for less than half what I had in it.

My takeaway is that if you should return a uke if it doesn't work for you and you can. I didn't do it in part because I didn't want to bother the retailer. I'm certain that if I had returned it, I would have bought more ukuleles from them. As it is, I haven't bought from that retailer again - and am unlikely to do so in the future.