View Full Version : Lanikai BB-T tenor.

07-14-2017, 05:47 AM
I ended up with a Lanikai BB-T laminate bubinga wood ukulele recently, so I thought I'd write a little review on it. I don't recall seeing much talk about these yet.

I'm not sure how much their quality control varies, and of course every instrument is different when you're dealing with wood. So this is for the specific one I got.

First off, the build quality is top notch. It is very well put together, and I don't even see any stray glue drops inside or anything like that.

It also looks amazing to my eyes. I really like the grain of the bubinga wood in the particular one I have. The maple binding on the body and sides of the fretboard, along with the maple soundhole rosette and fretboard markers really add something to the looks as well.
Judging by looks and cleanliness of build alone, this rivals expensive ukuleles.

As far as sound goes, I'm pleased with that as well. I'm not a person who believes "solid tops (or solid wood) always sounds better!". I don't think that's true at all. It depends completely on the instrument and more importantly the player/listener. Some laminate instruments sound better than some solids and vice versa to my ears. I just look for something that works for me, and this uke can accomplish what I want. Sound is just such a personal thing...

Mine came with a good setup by the seller. No problems there. Also, the neck feels silky smooth. I love the way it feels. It looks to be solid mahogany, but I don't have the specs in front of me right now. I don't even think these were on Lanikai's website the last time I checked.

These ukes come with two strap buttons installed form the factory. One in the end of the instrument and the other at the heel cap (base of the neck). That 2nd button faces out the same direction as the back of the instrument. I decided to take it out because I'd rather tie onto the headstock if using a strap. I'm not a fan of that particular position anyway, even though it is really popular and common. At any rate, I thought this was a nice touch because there are a lot of people who want them.

The included case/gigbag is very nice. It has a good amount of padding, and seems quite durable. It has a blue Lanikai logo embroidered onto the front, which looks nice. If I were buying this bag alone, I'd expect to pay around $40-$50 USD for it. I think it's a good idea to include these with the ukes. So another nice touch by Lanikai.

The uke and bag were had for $199 USD and shipped for free (Elderly Instruments). Do I think it's a good deal? Yes, I do. Considering the quality, it's like getting a nice uke at a reasonable price and then having a nice case thrown in for free.

Any negatives? Just one minor problem that I've already addressed with the tuning machines. The buttons on the tuner machines just press fit on instead of having a screw in the end of them. One of the was a bit loose and was causing a rattle when playing some. This was a very simple fix. I just pulled the button off and put a little super glue inside of it and on the shaft and pushed it back on. Problem solved. The others are all a tight fit. I'm just mentioning that, in case anyone else ever comes across this problem. The quality of the tuning machines themselves are fine. They look to be a 14:1 gear ratio, which works very well.

Stock strings are advertised as just D'addario. That said, they have to be Nyltechs because there's nothing else they make that looks like this. I haven't settled on a string just yet...I think I have settled on dGBE tuning though.

Based on the instrument I received alone, I would recommend these to anyone they're a good fit for.

07-14-2017, 09:47 AM
The entire Lanikai line was revamped, and aside from the videos from winter NAMM, there has been little to no discussion about this new generation of Lanikai. The old models (I have 2) were okay, but you could definitely purchase better ukuleles in the same price range. Lanikai also tried things such as the UkeSB (I have one, on which I do most of my ukulele recording on my iPad) and the TunaUke. Lanikai was also the place where Mike Upton (Kala) started before opening his own business (Kala).

My local music store doesn't carry Lanikai any more...and I think Lanikai also makes Korala.

So...thanks for the review. If you get a chance, could you post a demo video?

P.S. I would reach out to Lanikai about the tuner head. They are trying to change their perception with a whole new line, and I am sure this is feedback they would like to have.

07-14-2017, 10:23 AM
I think my second uke ever, which was probably somewhere around 15 years ago (not sure), was a Lanikai concert with solid spruce top ($99 and one heck of a good deal. I just did a little setup work to it and it was good to go.). It was a fine instrument, without issue. That uke is long gone, and I haven't really played on any of their stuff after that time period years ago. So there's a big gap for me in experience with their instruments. Back then there wasn't nearly as much choice in ukes. I mostly remember Magic Fluke (my first uke was one of their concerts and they were good back then too, but I liked the Lanikai better), Oscar Schmidt had some too I think....Now there are so many choices.
Oh and I thought the tuna-uke was a cool idea.

I don't do the whole youtube or video thing, but I did record a quick random sound sample of D'addario Pro Arte strings in dGBE tuning. This was done with one of those digital recorders with built in mics, then put into the computer and converted to MP3. So that said, it does lessen the quality. It's just some random strumming type stuff. I have some Martin M620 strings on order that I think I'm going to like a bit better...but I don't dislike these.
You can listen at the following link (Be sure to scroll down to the "download this file" button, NOT the download button that may appear above that):

Of course that's just how I sound on it, at that time...and everyone is listening through computer speakers or various headphones etc...It can give an idea at least though I guess.

As for the tuning machine: Just to be clear....They really are fine machines. It's just the way they're made where the button presses on. I don't perceive it as a lack of quality, just a bit different way of doing things.

One of their reps, Leon, used to post here some I know. I'm not sure if he's still with them or not.

Btw, this is my one and only uke right now. I think I'll be getting one back that I left with a family member that didn't take to it though..Then I'll decide about keeping two or selling one.