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View Full Version : If the instrument is good, does the maker matter to you?



jer
03-30-2017, 01:18 PM
This is just something I've been thinking and wondering about. Other than selling points of an instrument itself (materials used, workmanship, sound, playability, etc. etc.) what other things, if any, play a role in your purchase of an instrument? What could keep you from buying an instrument?
Lets put price aside too.

Here's one example:
I know of a uke company who had a politician from a certain party at their offices for an event. If you were solidly involved in the other party, would you avoid buying from this maker or would it simply not matter so long as their product was good?

Here's another example, that is a personal one:
I've e-mailed a certain ukulele manufacturer (not one of the largest ones, but not one of the custom builders either) and never even got a simple reply back. For me, if a company can't at least acknowledge and answer some simple questions with the e-mail address they've provided it's a no-go.

What if the company has religious affiliations that you strongly agree or disagree with? Does that sway you one way or the other?

These are just some examples.

This thread is not meant to be a political or religious debate, but more just asking if these types of things do indeed have an effect on you as a buyer or do you simply not care so long as you're getting a quality product?

Choirguy
03-30-2017, 02:17 PM
This is a really good question. I am sure there are bad examples of any ukulele. In my second year of playing, I am finding that I want to buy ukuleles from people that I know. Some examples of this would be wanting to buy a Mainland from Mike IN Indiana, and my recent purchase of a Bonanza from Pete and Shelley Mai.

But I have also fallen in love with KoAloha, partially because of their sound, and partially because of the story of the company along with its outstanding customer service (stories are legendary here on UU).

I would instantly accept any Kamaka, Kaniel'a, Moore Bettah, Mya Moe, Pete Howlett, Da Silva, etc., as I would hope that anyone else would.

But what seems to happen as you play longer is that you learn what you really like and that becomes your dream ukulele or a target ukulele. You can appreciate nearly any ukulele, but have your own preference.

Sort of like riding motorcycles...you're just glad any time you see another rider on two motorized wheels.

Ukecaster
03-30-2017, 02:32 PM
Nah, it just gets in the way of the music, for me. I'll try any uke, if it sounds and plays good, I'll consider buying it. I've had the email example happen to me, kinda pissed me off, but stuff happens, and I'd still buy their uke, if I really liked it, and the price was right. If not, it's their loss, forget em. I go to ukes for peace and relaxation, and to escape all the political stuff in the media.

MananAtma
03-30-2017, 03:10 PM
For political or religious views? Would not matter in the slightest to me, I might debate with them, but if they make a good product I'd even go so far as to recommend them. Now, moral issues, say a rapist, or someone who sells drugs to children, or some other extreme behavior that harms another, no matter how good the product I could not finance thier behavior. Basically, anyone continuing felonious behavior, I would have to walk away.

derbyhat
03-30-2017, 03:32 PM
Yes, the maker matters to me because I buy items with sentimental value (like ukuleles) based on relationships. When or not the maker matters enough to sway a purchase is another story, though. Even though I buy with relationships in mind, I tend to be fairly pragmatic.

That said, I'm also imperfect. :) Hopefully all of these make sense.

Regarding your examples:
Political affiliation: Wouldn't affect my decision unless the politics were extreme. If the person shoved their politics in my face when we talked about the sale, then I'd probably go elsewhere.

Religious affiliations: Wouldn't affect my decision unless the religious display was extreme. If the person shoved their religion in my face when we talked about the sale, then I'd probably go elsewhere.

Perceived skill: I hate braggarts and people with low self-esteem. If the conversation spent a majority of time about how they're way better better than KoAloha or worse, if how they aspired to be KoAloha one day, then I'd probably go elsewhere.

Customer service: If a luthier didn't respond to my email, I'd call. If they didn't respond to my call, I'd try again in a month. Some people are just disorganized, others take vacations, many think that getting back to an inquiry within a week is acceptable. Just because I live online and demand instant gratification, doesn't mean that I'll always get it. The longer they take to get back to me, the more likely they'll lose the sale. In my view, it's a ukulele, not a 911 call...y'know? :)

Trustworthy?: If the person isn't trustworthy, I'm not giving them my money.

Jerk: If the person is a jerk, I won't give them my money. If the person was a jerk to me or my family, I will encourage others to follow my example.

spookelele
03-30-2017, 04:34 PM
interesting question, one that I haven't considered before.

In the end though, it's an instrument. If I like an instrument I'd buy it because it's not what the maker does with the instrument, its what I do.

If the maker was, say.... anti gay. I'd buy it anyway, and make a donation to a lbgtq cause in their name, and hope that counters the karma.

As a liberal, I believe in everyone's freedom to choose what they believe.
I just don't support their need to force a belief on someone else, just as I don't believe I should force mine on someone else.

kohanmike
03-30-2017, 05:21 PM
The knowledge I have of any of the companies or luthiers where I buy has only been about the instruments, so I have no other criteria on which to judge. I wouldn't even think about delving into their political, religious or personal details. But the way they conduct their business is another matter.

A few years ago I contacted three luthiers here in North America for feedback on a custom I wanted, two took a few days to respond and only gave me limited feedback, one did not return my contact. The only other one I contacted was Bruce Wei in Asia and he responded within hours with details about how he would do the build. I was impressed and went with him, he was also the lowest price. About 6 months later I got an email from the one who didn't respond asking if I was still interested in a build. If he took that long to respond, I figured he'd take forever to do a build (Bruce took only five months).

actadh
03-30-2017, 05:38 PM
I chose my first uke because of the co-founder of the company - Yvonne de Villiers of Luna, who was still with the company at the time. Most of what I was looking at in the $150-ish price range was pretty similar (Luna, Kala, Ohana etc.) for a laminate solid top uke. I chose Luna partly because of what Ms De Villiers accomplished in a mostly male-ownership world and I admired her vision, and partly because HMS was running a deal for $139. It is a pretty nice uke that will be passed down to my granddaughter.

I have purchased because of being made in America - Zither Heaven & Outdoor Ukulele, for example. I also admire Outdoor Ukulele because they refunded my money when it was apparent that the first tenor was not going to meet expected production schedules. Many of us who were in on that first attempt offered to let them keep the money (we had pre-ordered) as seed money until they got things worked out, but they said no and refunded. That impressed me. Some also were not happy about what was perceived as slow response to emails, but it is pretty much a two person operation, and what was posted above by derbyhat on customer service was my take on it, too.

70sSanO
03-30-2017, 06:33 PM
Hmmm... a thread that talks about political and religious affiliations and how it may effect a ukulele purchase. I wonder how long it will take to get out of control and be locked? ...lol.

John

Croaky Keith
03-30-2017, 11:40 PM
All my uke purchases have been by sound samples online, not a clue about their affiliations, I was after getting a new uke! :rolleyes:

Louis0815
03-31-2017, 01:10 AM
I just don't support their need to force a belief on someone else, just as I don't believe I should force mine on someone else.
:agree:
To each his own. My views are mine, the vendor's are his. We might be on the same page or not, as long as each other accepts this as a fact we could get along nicely.
The instrument trade as such has to be strictly neutral for me (apart from the usual UAS emotions :drool: :love:), otherwise I am likely to refrain from the purchase and spend my money elsewhere. If the purchase already has a bad karma this will probably stick to the ukulele...

Mivo
03-31-2017, 01:13 AM
The reputation of a company may to a degree affect my purchase decisions, as will customer support (reputed or first hand experience), personalities of the company representatives, and company ethics (if known).

For example, Kanile'a puts resources into reforestation efforts, which positively influences my perception of the company and makes them my first choice if I were to add a Hawaiian uke to my collection. Other examples: If a spokesperson of a company doesn't strike me as likable, it will also affect my view. Poor experiences with a company's other products, even entry ones, will definitely impact further purchase decisions even if they are for products in a higher price league (this is why I would probably not buy a Kala instrument). I choose vendors in the same way.

Political and religious, well, I can't think of political examples (unless we consider the political climate in the countries of manufacture), and religious, I think there's only KoAloha that sparked debate (the headstock and logo design being influenced by Christian symbolism), and I felt that was really minor as it was rather subtle.

So for me, it's not only the sound and craftsmanship that matter, though they are the primary criteria. There is so much choice for ukuleles now that are in the same price and quality category that these other aspects are the distinguishing factors, so I loosely (and no doubt partially subconsciously) consider them, if everything else is roughly equal.

Rob Uker
03-31-2017, 02:44 AM
I don't concern my self with the politics or religious beliefs of a ukulele maker. If in your email to them you were questioning there religious or political inclinations, I wouldn't reply back to you either.

kkimura
03-31-2017, 02:48 AM
Didn't Neil Young say, "it's all about the music"?

Mivo
03-31-2017, 03:05 AM
Customer service: If a luthier didn't respond to my email, I'd call. If they didn't respond to my call, I'd try again in a month. Some people are just disorganized, others take vacations, many think that getting back to an inquiry within a week is acceptable. Just because I live online and demand instant gratification, doesn't mean that I'll always get it. The longer they take to get back to me, the more likely they'll lose the sale. In my view, it's a ukulele, not a 911 call...y'know? :)

You are a lot more persistent and forgiving than me. :) If a manufacturer, luthier or vendor doesn't respond in a timely fashion already before I have bought something, I won't try again and buy elsewhere, unless I'm firmly set on wanting a product from them and there is no equal alternative. But even then it would give me pause. (But all my ukulele-related experiences have been positive, in most cases outstanding even, regarding customer service and responsiveness, including after purchases.)

SteveZ
03-31-2017, 03:18 AM
If I only did business with folk who agreed with me on everything, I'd have very little of anything.

Osprey
03-31-2017, 03:24 AM
I would not make a decision about an ukulele based on religion or politics. If ukuleles appeal to me by how they sound, play and look I would buy from any dealer or maker. Now I would be drawn to those companies that demonstrate public service such as supporting music education and provide good customer service.

Rllink
03-31-2017, 03:29 AM
Politics and religion, I mean, how would one even get there in the course of buying a ukulele? I guess that if I went to a store to buy a ukulele and the sales person started talking politics or religion, I would just leave. I guess if I went in to a store to buy a ukulele and they wanted to talk about their pets instead, I would probably leave too.

I can't ever see me buying a ukulele from a luthier.

I like to buy my ukuleles from a person, even it it is just a sales person at some on line music store. I bought my first Makala from a guy named Ian at Sweetwater. I don't know Ian from Jack, and I don't know how much he knows about ukuleles, but there is an actual person at Sweetwater named Ian, and I contact him when I want to buy something. I also bought an amp later on from Ian. That is why I do not do business on Amazon.

When I bought my Mainland I liked that if there was any problem I could call and talk to Mike.

Brand does make a difference to me. But in the sense that I won't buy a brand that has a bad reputation. So for me, if it sounds good, and the company does not have a bad reputation for service or workmanship, I'm good with it, regardless.

I don't spend a lot of time agonizing over a purchase. If I contact someone and they don't get back to me in a reasonable amount of time, they lost a sale. I don't want anything exotic or hard to get. It is a competitive market out there for what I want, and there are plenty of people out there who want my money. I don't have to wait on someone to get back to me.

lfoo6952
03-31-2017, 04:05 AM
I have no problem buying from a manufacturer or an individual luthier, regardless of political or religious views. But I would not buy from them if they were jerks.

bearbike137
03-31-2017, 04:24 AM
Honestly, I have a hard time separating my feelings for a ukulele and its builder (just like I do with some artist's political views and their art!).

There are a couple brands of ukulele that I have no interest in buying simply because of what I have experienced (or learned) regarding the builder.

I feel the same way about music stores. I don't care how great the uke is - if the store/seller is disreputable or dislikable - I can't do it. I once called a fairly well-known uke store to ask about a G-String tenor ukulele they had in stock. During my conversation with the store owner, he began to bash Collings ukuleles. He ridiculed Bill Collings and ukuleles themselves. I happen to think very highly of Collings and I was instantly turned off. There is no way I would ever buy a ukulele from that guy.

Maybe I should be able to put that stuff aside for the sake of a great uke, but I can't. Ideally, I love finding great ukes, by respectable builders, at honorable music stores.

jer
03-31-2017, 05:19 AM
Great responses. I've enjoyed reading these.

As someone noted, there's a lot of good ukes in the market these days, so it would seem like other factors would come into play more often as to which instrument is chosen.
For me, other factors do come into play. Reputation of the company and more importantly my personal dealings with them absolutely do influence my purchases as well as my support or lack thereof for them.


If in your email to them you were questioning there religious or political inclinations, I wouldn't reply back to you either.
Nope. I wasn't. It was simple product questions that could've been answered in a sentence of two.

jer
03-31-2017, 05:22 AM
Ideally, I love finding great ukes, by respectable builders, at honorable music stores.
:agree: Absolutely.

bikemech
03-31-2017, 06:05 AM
My reply will be a bit off-the-wall here as I took the title question of the thread to have a different meaning then how it was proposed in your opening post. In other words, I am responding to the title of the thread as I understood it before reading the content of the opening post. So I submit this with deference.

Yes. The make does matter to me. My first uke was a Chinese-made Teton solid-wood concert uke. It was a good uke. The intonation was excellent. It was not loud, but not overly quiet either. The action was fantastic and it was eminently playable. But I never really bonded to it and gave it away. It is gathering dust in my son's closet now. I always had it in the back of my mind that it was a cheap, made-in-china ukulele. And I wanted a Martin.

So I bought a Martin. It is loud and very woody sounding, much more of what I like than the Teton. The intonation however, is not as good as the Teton was. The action is a bit high but I play pretty hard so I'm ok with that. And it's a Martin, what else can I say?

In some ways the Teton is the better ukulele. In other ways the Martin is a better ukulele. But the Teton could never be a Martin. The maker does matter to me.

janeray1940
03-31-2017, 06:23 AM
Here's another example, that is a personal one:
I've e-mailed a certain ukulele manufacturer (not one of the largest ones, but not one of the custom builders either) and never even got a simple reply back. For me, if a company can't at least acknowledge and answer some simple questions with the e-mail address they've provided it's a no-go.

What if the company has religious affiliations that you strongly agree or disagree with? Does that sway you one way or the other?

These are just some examples.


Great question!

I've encountered both of those issues. The first one did NOT affect my support for the brand - full disclosure, Kamaka's email customer service has been pretty sub-par (although it's been a few years since I've emailed them and I certainly hope things have improved) and while it did put me off a bit, the customer service I got a bit later via a phone call was enough to set things right. I'm still a loyal fan.

As for the latter issue - there's a very good, very popular ukulele manufacturer that incorporates elements of a religion into their design. While it's not overt - I certainly was not aware of it when I bought one of their ukes - once I heard an explanation of it in a documentary about the maker, I couldn't un-hear it, and every time I picked up that uke I was a bit uncomfortable. So, in the end I opted to re-home it, and would probably not buy from them again.

As for politics - if I found out that one of my preferred uke brands supported something or someone I was opposed to, I'd hesitate to buy from them again but would probably still keep any uke I already owned that they made. I'm dealing with this exact thing with my preferred brand of running shoes right now - the company's founder donated an enormous amount of money to a candidate I vehemently opposed. When the time comes to replace those shoes, I'll try to find another option.

jer
03-31-2017, 06:23 AM
bikemech,
I think that fits in just fine with this discussion actually.

cml
03-31-2017, 08:55 AM
But janeray, their headstock design looks cool doesn't it :)? Not something that bothers me, the sound and playability are great.

Twibbly
03-31-2017, 09:10 AM
I don't give a crap about their politics or religion, but if they're jerks, ain't going to happen.

There's a company (un-uke-related) that I've spend hundreds, maybe even thousands with, but they decided that if you didn't agree with them in this last election, you HAVE to apologize to everybody (in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner, no less), or you're a crappy excuse for a human being.

Y'know, even if I agreed with their politics, that's got nothing to do with what I buy from them, and if they think anybody who doesn't agree is a ____ and feel the need to send that to their customers, I'm done with them.

janeray1940
03-31-2017, 10:38 AM
But janeray, their headstock design looks cool doesn't it :)? Not something that bothers me, the sound and playability are great.

You know, honestly - call me boring, but I prefer a more traditional headstock design :) It did look kinda cool on my longneck pineapple though, and yeah - the sound was what won me over.

Rllink
04-01-2017, 05:12 AM
There are enough choices that I don't have to give my business to jerks, and there are several makers and vendors who have worked their way onto my offal-list.

.I agree with that. Every once in a while I'll run into someone who acts like they are doing me a favor by selling me something. I just move on down the road to someone who appreciates my business.

Choirguy
04-01-2017, 02:42 PM
There's a very good, very popular ukulele manufacturer that incorporates elements of a religion into their design. While it's not overt - I certainly was not aware of it when I bought one of their ukes - once I heard an explanation of it in a documentary about the maker, I couldn't un-hear it, and every time I picked up that uke I was a bit uncomfortable. So, in the end I opted to re-home it, and would probably not buy from them again.

On the other side, if this is the manufacturer that I think you are talking about, that information deepened my appreciation for the brand, which I already liked. Another major manufacturer talked about their personal background in an interview, and that also deepened my appreciation for that brand, too.

That said, most of these ukuleles are made in China, whose companies (not the actual brand) should have no religious affiliation.

On another note, I plan to buy a Mainland just because of a long conversation with Mike at the Milwaukee Ukulele Festival...great guy, great supporter of the ukulele community, and he's getting my business, too.

As a music educator, however, I have never considered religion or politics with any instrument before these situations...it has been price and quality, which are not always related to each other.

Nickie
04-01-2017, 07:05 PM
There is only one manufacturer whose uke I wouldn't own. I love its sound, but no thank you. It's because of their religion. There is only one builder I wouldn't buy from, he made a complete ass of himself here on UU a while back. I wouldn't buy a uke off Amazon, it has nothing to do with politics or religion, it's just not a good idea.
I have had nothing but a joyous experience buying from Mim, and from Cocobolo Ukuleles. Cocobolo is concerned about the environment, and the plant and care for a new tree for every one that is used in the construction of their ukes.
I don't know the politics or religion of either Mim or Kevin (Cocobolo Ukuleles), and it probably isn't any of my business. But I bet I can guess.
We all like to be treated well, and affiliate ourselves with people who are like us. It's only natural.
There are some very interesting and intelligent, well thought out replies here, folks. Congrats for keeping it real.

cml
04-01-2017, 11:15 PM
On the other side, if this is the manufacturer that I think you are talking about, that information deepened my appreciation for the brand, which I already liked. Another major manufacturer talked about their personal background in an interview, and that also deepened my appreciation for that brand, too.

That said, most of these ukuleles are made in China, whose companies (not the actual brand) should have no religious affiliation.

On another note, I plan to buy a Mainland just because of a long conversation with Mike at the Milwaukee Ukulele Festival...great guy, great supporter of the ukulele community, and he's getting my business, too.

As a music educator, however, I have never considered religion or politics with any instrument before these situations...it has been price and quality, which are not always related to each other.

Tbh, ay first I was a little annoyed. Incorporating religious design without telling consumers? Bad mojo in my book. But, the sound and playability are great and the headstock looks like a pineapple. That's a neat design. I could do without the king of kings reference though.

All in all, I love it, religious design or not.

janeray1940
04-02-2017, 07:04 AM
On the other side, if this is the manufacturer that I think you are talking about, that information deepened my appreciation for the brand, which I already liked.


Tbh, at first I was a little annoyed. Incorporating religious design without telling consumers? Bad mojo in my book.

Agree about the disclosure from the start - I was more put off by the lack of disclosure than the actual reference. The fact that it may put one consumer off (me) but may encourage interest from another consumer (Choirguy) makes me think the market is large enough to be open about that sort of thing. I'd prefer to make an informed decision rather than learn of it after the fact.

TopDog
04-02-2017, 07:46 AM
I own two luthier built ukuleles and a batch of cheap/middle range,and
I use each one to suit a particular song or style, which suits the uke
to what I am playing, to my ears.Whether anyone would agree is a
different matter! It works for me, and that's good enough!

LimuHead
04-02-2017, 06:09 PM
Nope. Quality is quality. If I find the instrument hard to set down after I've played it I'll be sorely tempted to buy it.

I buy the instrument, not the maker.

One of my most prized ukes is made by Lehua. It's a tenor that I bought 17 years ago from Grypon strings in Palo Alto, CA. It is one that was made in Mexico (before they moved production to somewhere else) and it outshines any Martin or 'K' uke I've ever played. The intonation is spot-on, the sustain is amazing, and the depth, punch and clarity of tone will make you think it cost thousands of dollars.

I paid $169 +tax for it.

Joyful Uke
04-03-2017, 01:56 PM
" I know of a uke company who had a politician from a certain party at their offices for an event. If you were solidly involved in the other party, would you avoid buying from this maker"

Depends on a lot of things. Was the uke company - as a company - making a political statement? That might make me see what my other options are. It might also depend on who the politician was. Just political party alone doesn't mean I'd be for or against someone.

"I've e-mailed a certain ukulele manufacturer (not one of the largest ones, but not one of the custom builders either) and never even got a simple reply back. For me, if a company can't at least acknowledge and answer some simple questions with the e-mail address they've provided it's a no-go."

One of the most popular places for UU people to buy ukes didn't respond to email, their customer contact form, or a phone message. I tried all the options, and then moved on. I'm not saying I'd never buy from them, but I'd look elsewhere first in the future. It appears to me, from threads on the forum, that this place is trying to correct this customer service problem, (someone else noted it, and the owner responded here), so I give them credit for acknowledging a problem and trying to correct it. That deserves another chance, if they should have something I'd like to purchase. But if it's between them and some place that has provided good customer service for me in the past, I'd go with the previous positive experience.

Another place didn't respond for a month. I tried again, and got a response, with an explanation of what happened, and an offer of a great deal on the ukulele I wanted. Purchase was made.

"What if the company has religious affiliations that you strongly agree or disagree with? Does that sway you one way or the other?"

Yes. I shouldn't even know anything about religious affiliations for a ukulele related company, so if they're so loud about it that I become aware of it, it would make me uncomfortable, whether I agree with their affiliation or not. We're all welcome to our religious affiliations, but for a non-religious product, it shouldn't be part of the package.

I recall someone here saying that they sold a custom ukulele because they had a less-than-positive interaction with the builder about some issues with the ukulele. IIRC, they liked the ukulele, but it also reminded them of the negative experience, so they moved on from it. That makes sense to me.

Since this is just a hobby for me, it should be fun and about music, and not tied in to politics or religion. Bad customer service takes away the fun, too.

bborzell
04-03-2017, 02:25 PM
This question can be applied to any decision to part with hard earned (or otherwise obtained) money in exchange for goods or services.

It's not a simple proposition. On one hand, many of us don't have an opportunity to effect change other than voting or speaking out and both of those options are only effective if you are lucky enough to jump aboard a movement at the right time.

Voting with one's pocketbook by boycotting a vendor who displays attitudes or positions that offend me as a buyer will not typically lead to an outcome of change on the vendor's part, but it will underscore my view that I refuse to contribute to the financial well being of someone who harbors views or behaves in a manner that I find objectionable.

While I can appreciate the view that a fine instrument is a fine instrument whether it was built by great humanitarian or a soulless predator, the reality is that we are rarely limited to such extreme choices. For every person who wraps their products with a veil of religion or politics, there are scores more who don't add that kind of baggage to their wares.

The bottom line for me is whether the builder/vendor is simply selling a product or are they using the product to promote a view of the world and how they believe others should behave relative to their viewpoint. If it's clear that the latter is what is going on, I simply move on to other options.

janeray1940
04-03-2017, 03:43 PM
I recall someone here saying that they sold a custom ukulele because they had a less-than-positive interaction with the builder about some issues with the ukulele. IIRC, they liked the ukulele, but it also reminded them of the negative experience, so they moved on from it. That makes sense to me.


*raises hand* I believe that may have been me! And I considered bringing that up when I first responded to this thread, but I wasn't quite sure it was relevant. On second thought, perhaps it is.

I don't have a lot of money to begin with, so I consider purchases really carefully before committing. Once I have committed, I tend to take into account the whole experience: do I like the product, do I like the service, does owning or using it make me feel like it was money well spent? Once I find something unsettling about the experience, whether it's a quality control issue, a customer service issue, or the knowledge that the profits from my hard-earned money might be something I really disagree with (be it politics, religion, or general attitude issues, as in the case of that custom uke) I will absolutely avoid spending money with that person or company again. Moreover, I will be pretty open about my experiences, whether positive and negative, online and in person.

There are *so many* options out there for just about everything, including ukes. When I can opt for the one that excels all around - quality of product, quality of service, and, ideally, a politically and religiously neutral stance - I will always choose that one over any other.

janeray1940
04-03-2017, 03:46 PM
Voting with one's pocketbook by boycotting a vendor who displays attitudes or positions that offend me as a buyer will not typically lead to an outcome of change on the vendor's part, but it will underscore my view that I refuse to contribute to the financial well being of someone who harbors views or behaves in a manner that I find objectionable.


That was really well stated. I've been a vote-with-my-wallet person for a very long time - as I have very little time and even less money, I think of it as a way of making the best choices I can. No, I don't expect that the company I am avoiding will change their ways, but at least I can have a clear conscience that I made a decision that doesn't leave me feeling like I'm part of the problem.

bearbike137
04-04-2017, 04:40 AM
There is only one builder I wouldn't buy from, he made a complete ass of himself here on UU a while back.

Its funny you should post that. I nearly posted a similar feeling about a builder who participates here on UU. I had an interaction with him that really rubbed me the wrong way (he responded to one of my posts in a snide and condescending manner - and my post had nothing to do with him! When I tried to be conciliatory in my follow-up, he doubled down on his criticism) and it has colored my view of him ever since. Supposedly he is a great guy and a great builder, but I struggle with the notion of buying one of his ukes.

spookelele
04-04-2017, 10:59 AM
hmm... if there was a uke maker then, that was a jerk but made great instruments. and then later repented and starting doing great things for the environment and to support the community, would you buy a uke made during the black period?

bearbike137
04-04-2017, 11:08 AM
hmm... if there was a uke maker then, that was a jerk but made great instruments. and then later repented and starting doing great things for the environment and to support the community, would you buy a uke made during the black period?

Lol. Sure. Of course. (Are we talking about anyone specific here, or is this a theoretical question? :))

Tootler
04-04-2017, 12:01 PM
I'm buying a musical instrument not someone's politics or religious affiliation. I want an instrument that sounds good and does the job I'm buying it for. If they give poor service in any way - including making snide comments about others, then I might think twice about buying from them. All my instruments are mid price so I'm buying from retailers rather than makers - with one exception, a certain small German maker who makes modestly priced good quality instruments. If I was buying a luthier made instrument, then my choice would depend on the quality of their instruments but also their approach to me as a potential customer.

70sSanO
04-04-2017, 05:12 PM
I suspect some makers are reading this thread and noting some techniques to use to get certain annoying customers to go away. Maybe publishing a religious or political affiliation is a great way to narrow the potential buyers down to people who are actually interested in buying a musical instrument to play, and get rid of all the people who want a pretty wooden box or to add on a lot more baggage into the sale?
Maybe that example of lousy service is a subtle hint that they don't need or want your business, or your time wasting comments and questions?
The buying process has two sides a buyer and a seller. Sellers have as many negative opinions about buyers as is the reverse. Buyers who don't pay on time, who have no idea what they are trying to buy, who have unrealistic expectations? Often the religion and politics aspect is just an excuse to hide a huge mistake or error or example of being rude perpetrated by the buyer, and the real reason for a failed transaction is never fully disclosed in a forum like UU. So you really do need to take most of the comments in this thread with a grain of salt and do your own research and put in some effort as a buyer to be polite and respectful and pay on time, to get the best deals you will ever find in buying a musical instrument.

I may not agree with all of this, but I would venture to say that when a buyer says they will take their business elsewhere some luthiers are more than happy. I have talked to more than one luthier who will not commission custom instruments anymore. I understand that it can be a no win situation for the seller as no matter what they build, it may never meet some people's expectations. And as the price goes up so do the expectations.

I would think the happiest/most satisfied luthiers are those that build what they want to build and still have enough of a market base to be profitable.

John

spookelele
04-05-2017, 03:45 AM
Lol. Sure. Of course. (Are we talking about anyone specific here, or is this a theoretical question? :))

Ha! No. Just stirring the pot of thought.

Joyful Uke
04-05-2017, 08:22 AM
*raises hand* I believe that may have been me! And I considered bringing that up when I first responded to this thread, but I wasn't quite sure it was relevant. On second thought, perhaps it is.

I hope that you don't mind me bringing it up, and I hope that I haven't misrepresented anything. When quickly retelling someone else's story, you never know what could get mixed up in the retelling.

Joyful Uke
04-05-2017, 08:33 AM
I suspect some makers are reading this thread and noting some techniques to use to get certain annoying customers to go away. Maybe publishing a religious or political affiliation is a great way to narrow the potential buyers down to people who are actually interested in buying a musical instrument to play, and get rid of all the people who want a pretty wooden box or to add on a lot more baggage into the sale?
Maybe that example of lousy service is a subtle hint that they don't need or want your business, or your time wasting comments and questions?
The buying process has two sides a buyer and a seller.

Yes, there are 2 sides, (or more, LOL), and I'm sure that a seller might at times prefer to lose a sale than to deal with certain people.

I'm not sure whose example of lousy service you were referring to, (and maybe not to any specific one), but in my case, when I never heard back after emailing, using the website contact form, and leaving a phone message, (all very polite), I had one simple question, (neck width), and was ready to purchase, paying in full for an expensive instrument. If that was wasting the seller's time, then it's just as well that I didn't hear back.

IMO, the ukulele market is too small for narrowing down buyers to those who are in agreement with your religious or political affiliations, but perhaps some sellers would agree with you that there is reason to do that to get rid of the pesky "other" possible buyers.

I agree, the ukuleles are a musical instrument to play. But they shouldn't carry the baggage of someone else's religious or political views when I buy them, IMO.

It's always interesting to hear other points of view, though.

Twibbly
04-06-2017, 11:52 AM
I agree, the ukuleles are a musical instrument to play. But they shouldn't carry the baggage of someone else's religious or political views when I buy them, IMO.

I quite agree...and if your product makes me immediately think of your religious or political views when I didn't want to, it's not something I'm going to purchase (or purchase again).

Pete Howlett
04-08-2017, 01:36 PM
I couldn't buy anything from someone I didn't get on with...

bborzell
04-09-2017, 05:45 AM
I couldn't buy anything from someone I didn't get on with...

That's pretty much it. The question that arises is what does it take for someone to decide that the seller is someone they don't get along with.

Virtually every one of us buy stuff from people who, if we knew who or what they were about in their life outside retail sales, we would head for the exit in a hot second. Where it begins to hit at home is when the seller/builder makes it a point to use our transaction as a platform to further an agenda that should be otherwise unrelated to the building/selling/buying dynamics.

I bought a custom mandolin from a fellow who I knew was a devout religious person who spent a fair amount of his waking hours trying to convert people from who they were to how he is. Perhaps he devined, in some manner, that I was not someone who would take to being "saved", but he did not thrust any part of his belief system on me and we got along well.

OTOH, my wife paid for the services of a massage therapist for several months until the therapist began introducing her approval of a reality TV actor as leader of the free world. My wife decided that she was paying for services that were intended to induce a relaxed state and that the sudden addition of background musings that were anything but relaxing to her crossed a very clear line in the sand. She announced, at the conclusion of the session, that she would no longer seek the massage therapist's services. The therapist couldn't understand what she might have done that could be a problem.

I pay for goods and services. If I want opinions or suggestions on how to view the world or live my life, I will seek them out on my own.

jer
04-11-2017, 11:02 AM
This thread has gotten a lot of responses, and I've enjoyed reading them all. There are some really interesting points and views being made here. Of course we don't all agree, but all of you have done a good job explaining your position and I can see where you're coming from.

On a personal level, I just made a purchase yesterday that brought some things into consideration that fit this thread.
I just bought my first Chinese made instrument in a long while (Cordoba). I avoided them for quite some time. I'm usually uncertain about the labor conditions and worrying if they're bad, and certainly don't approve of all of the rules, regulations and politics in China.. I won't go into detail there since we're not supposed to be discussing those kinds of things here.
Ultimately, I realize that I'll never know the individuals who made that uke. Really though, I'd guess they're just like me in the sense they're just trying to do what they need to do to get through life. Those people may or may not agree with the politics and such in their own country and don't have any control over it.. I don't always agree with what is going on here in the USA, but I don't have any individual control over that either...As for the company itself, I don't know much about them...but they seem decent. The seller I used (Elderly Instruments) is trusted as I've dealt with them many times.
My 2nd choice was an Ohana instrument. I didn't know anything about them previously, but after looking into their website and company I was at least impressed with what they had to say and what they were supposed to be about. Plus, their instruments seem to be a great value for what you get. If I had read something legit that disturbed me, I doubt I would've considered them.. So, for me, the maker, company selling, place I buy it from all do play some role.. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. I don't want to make a purchase that has some sort of negative feelings attached to it for whatever reason.
This is probably something I'll continue to ponder some, and the posts here have definitely spurred on some thought.

Lastly, I'd just like to say it is pretty cool how we've been able to discuss this here without things turning ugly so far....Maybe I should've left the thread alone and let it rest...haha. ..Hopefully not.

70sSanO
04-11-2017, 03:56 PM
The problem with a brand like Ohana or most of the other made in China ukuleles is that there is no way to know who in China made the ukulele. It could be a single source or multiple sources. It is a factory. Do you know who exactly who in the factory made that particular Taylor or Gibson guitar? I'm sure it was a number of people and anyone, or all of them, could be right wing, left wing, religious, agnostic, gay, straight, druggie, or clean. I think factory production ukuleles do not fit this question.

John

Edit Added: Sent from my iphone that was made in China by who knows... or cares.

Pete Howlett
04-19-2017, 11:48 AM
Hmmm... who here believes that any of the big brands have a 'luthier' behind an instrument? Furthermore, does it really matter as long as it is fit for purpose and you like it? Buying from an individual is a completely different vibe and one that is transacted for totally different reasons than buying from a company however big or small. I doubt if the same questions are asked of the suppliers of top of the range cars.... like "Who was the upholsterer who did the seat work 'cos I heard that Joe has good and bad days and I don't want one that was punched out on one of his bad days....." Quite frankly, it's not how we contract business in the retail realm with large scale manufacturers.

Mivo
04-19-2017, 01:40 PM
Hmmm... who here believes that any of the big brands have a 'luthier' behind an instrument? Furthermore, does it really matter as long as it is fit for purpose and you like it? Buying from an individual is a completely different vibe and one that is transacted for totally different reasons than buying from a company however big or small.

Companies have public faces, philosophies, and they sometimes support causes, projects, and parties. Take Kanile'a, for example. I like Joe, and I think their reforestation efforts are noteworthy. Both aspects affect how I feel about the company and their products, and if I were to buy a Hawaiian K brand uke, I'd take this into consideration. If a company or their representatives support causes or projects that I disagree with, or they don't have pleasant personalities (which is of course subjective and also prone to misconceptions since there is no personal relationship with them involved), I am less likely to buy from them.

It's fundamentally the same with a one-person business: If an individual luthier expresses views I share, or they display an admirable attitude, there's a better chance I'll commission them when I look for a custom builder than a luthier who may make equally as good instruments but whose personality or attitude is less compatible with me (all provided I actually have an opinion of someone, which in many cases I don't).

My take on this isn't ukulele-specific. I'm generally more likely to buy from people or companies that appeal to me in some way, and less likely to buy from companies or people that don't. Often, though, I'm indifferent in the sense that I have no positive or negative views on people or companies. But when I do, it impacts how and where I spend money.

Ukecaster
04-19-2017, 03:06 PM
.....I pay for goods and services. If I want opinions or suggestions on how to view the world or live my life, I will seek them out on my own.

I apply that logic to musical and screen artists..too much political spout just turns me off. Just play!

Ukulele Eddie
04-19-2017, 06:42 PM
(snipped) I think factory production ukuleles do not fit this question.



I think it does. For example, one might choose to support a factory producer because of their corporate culture, such as Taylor with its contributions to more sustainable forestry. And Kanile'a for similar, more Hawaii-local impact. Or because they have earned a reputation to consistently excellent factory quality (e.g., Taylor, Collings, etc.).

By the same token, somebody might choose to avoid a factory producer because of certain corporate culture (e.g., overtly promoting a particular religion).

And to the original question, it does matter to me in several ways. There are a few luthiers that I have seen be very rude to people and I would not buy their instrument first or second hand, regardless of how good it sounds. And there are luthiers who I consider friends that I will continue to buy from because they make nice instruments and I think highly of them as people.

acmespaceship
04-20-2017, 09:55 AM
This has been a thoughtful and civilized discussion. If only the entire world were run by uke players, we'd all be better off.

When I was young, I realized that money buys a certain degree of freedom. If you have some money saved up, you can quit a job you hate. Move to a new place. Never get stuck somewhere (or with someone) because you can't afford to move on.

Now that I am (ahem) older, I realize that money also buys power. I can choose to put my hard-earned money where it supports people and organizations I want to thrive.

Does this mean I research every purchase? No. Sometimes I see something I want and buy it without worrying about the epic global consequences. Sometimes I'd rather save a few bucks even if that hurts small businesses that really need the money. But when I'm given a choice and some time to consider (and heaven knows, I am always considering more ukuleles) I certainly do prefer to buy from an individual luthier or a company that I admire.

Your money is powerful. It's going to go somewhere and do things. Where do you want it to go?

captain-janeway
07-26-2019, 12:41 PM
The knowledge I have of any of the companies or luthiers where I buy has only been about the instruments, so I have no other criteria on which to judge. I wouldn't even think about delving into their political, religious or personal details. But the way they conduct their business is another matter.

A few years ago I contacted three luthiers here in North America for feedback on a custom I wanted, two took a few days to respond and only gave me limited feedback, one did not return my contact. The only other one I contacted was Bruce Wei in Asia and he responded within hours with details about how he would do the build. I was impressed and went with him, he was also the lowest price. About 6 months later I got an email from the one who didn't respond asking if I was still interested in a build. If he took that long to respond, I figured he'd take forever to do a build (Bruce took only five months).

I know this is an old thread, but how did you like the uke? The current running thread doesn't seem positive, but I'm still curious about your experience.

rainbow21
07-26-2019, 01:09 PM
I know this is an old thread, but how did you like the uke? The current running thread doesn't seem positive, but I'm still curious about your experience.

Many of his opinions on the B Wei ukes here :

https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?137094-Updated-Bruce-Wei-Consensus

anthonyg
07-26-2019, 01:59 PM
I know this is an old thread, but how did you like the uke? The current running thread doesn't seem positive, but I'm still curious about your experience.

Old thread, yet I agree with the sentiment entirely. If the instrument is good then I don't care who made it.

I have bought quite a few Brucewei instruments over the years too. They were a little hit and miss. Some of them are very, very fine instruments right up there will high dollar customs. Some had serious faults.

I've been doing some fretwork on a couple of them and a little filing of fretboard ends and some unorthodox bridge adjustments. They're coming good again and play and sound very good. They're just not always perfect as you receive them.

Brucewei quality has definitely picked up lately and I haven't bought a new one for a couple of years either. My two bobs worth is that if you want a good player then buy one that LOOKS like a good player. The Hawaii Island sound hole instruments may look fantastic yet seem to be a little problematic as players.

AQUATOPAZ
07-26-2019, 02:23 PM
This is just something I've been thinking and wondering about. Other than selling points of an instrument itself (materials used, workmanship, sound, playability, etc. etc.) what other things, if any, play a role in your purchase of an instrument? What could keep you from buying an instrument?
Lets put price aside too.

Here's one example:
I know of a uke company who had a politician from a certain party at their offices for an event. If you were solidly involved in the other party, would you avoid buying from this maker or would it simply not matter so long as their product was good?

Here's another example, that is a personal one:
I've e-mailed a certain ukulele manufacturer (not one of the largest ones, but not one of the custom builders either) and never even got a simple reply back. For me, if a company can't at least acknowledge and answer some simple questions with the e-mail address they've provided it's a no-go.

What if the company has religious affiliations that you strongly agree or disagree with? Does that sway you one way or the other?

These are just some examples.

This thread is not meant to be a political or religious debate, but more just asking if these types of things do indeed have an effect on you as a buyer or do you simply not care so long as you're getting a quality product?

I tend to need a reason to buy an instrument, rather than a reason not to. If more than one ukulele fit my needs and was a possibility, politics might break the tie, but honestly most of us settle and never find a politician we are completely behind, so why penalize on that? Poor customer service would definitely have me look for alternatives, though if there weren't one, it would boil down to an assessment of how their service would affect that purchase. I could care less about religious affiliations. Since most ukuleles can be purchased from multiple sources, if I felt uncomfortable about one, there is always another. My only absolute would be no business with ecological or human abusers. Otherwise, if I feel that I will receive what I order in perfect condition, and it is what I want, I will purchase it, barring previous bad experiences with that vendor.

AQUATOPAZ
07-26-2019, 02:33 PM
I know this is an old thread, but how did you like the uke? The current running thread doesn't seem positive, but I'm still curious about your experience.

I purchased one for my son almost a year ago, though he didn't get it 'til Christmas. No cracks have developed. It sounds great. I did have the action lowered at USpace, along with a string change and look over. I didn't go for one of the cheap auctions but a BIN at a higher price.

PetalumaRescuke
07-26-2019, 02:54 PM
Missed this on the first go round. I'm reading it a bit different. It reminded me of my search for the "no name player". Obviously the maker couldn't and wouldn't matter.
I actually found one after many duds. Put in coffee shop for customers to play with a ridicules price tag. It sold in a week. My bad.

kohanmike
07-26-2019, 06:48 PM
I know this is an old thread, but how did you like the uke? The current running thread doesn't seem positive, but I'm still curious about your experience.

Only one of my ukes bought from Bruce Wei was no good, over five years ago, which turned out to be made by one of the builders he used to allow to sell in his eBay store, he no longer does that and is the reason for Anthony's note that Bruce's stuff is better lately. I have 4 custom ukes, 1 off the shelf, and a custom bass uke, which I made the mistake of asking to be fretless, which I eventually shelved, not comfortable with it.


I purchased one for my son almost a year ago, though he didn't get it 'til Christmas. No cracks have developed. It sounds great. I did have the action lowered at USpace, along with a string change and look over. I didn't go for one of the cheap auctions but a BIN at a higher price.

Bruce told me the lower price ones are made of lesser materials and simpler construction. The ones with a higher starting price, over $275 are the better ones and can include fancy inlay work. I really like my custom paddle style with the island sound holes.

This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers