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Ukecaster
07-14-2017, 05:53 PM
How long does it take you to decide whether you like a new uke, and decide to keep it? As a long time guitarist, I can usually tell after a few strums if I like a guitar. If it's not the tone I like, it goes back on the shop wall quickly. I know all about instruments "opening up" after a period of time/play, but I usually just don't have the patience to wait months or years for that. I know strings can make a difference too, but overall, if I don't like the volume or tone right off the bat, or within a week or two at most, it's not a keeper for me. How about you?

Pippin
07-14-2017, 06:04 PM
I've been playing ukulele and guitar since the 1960s. I can determine quickly whether an instrument is a quality build, if the intonation is good, if the fit and finish are good, etc. There are lots of variables to consider with the tone of an instrument. I once posted a list of tone woods and their respective sounds so that people could know what to expect as a general rule when choosing a solid wood constructed instrument. Humidity, altitude, and other factors influence tone with age, but, I am able to predict an instrument's tone as it ages based on the wood, construction, and over-all climate. I don't generally buy an instrument without knowing what to expect.

janeray1940
07-14-2017, 06:09 PM
... overall, if I don't like the volume or tone right off the bat, or within a week or two at most, it's not a keeper for me. How about you?


... I don't generally buy an instrument without knowing what to expect.

Yes, and yes! I pretty much know right away, usually before committing to buy.

Croaky Keith
07-14-2017, 09:56 PM
Being unable to buy locally, all my ukes have had to come via the internet, & my assessment of them from online videos.
Maybe luck or down to my judgement, but with this method of purchase, I have been OK, & have received what I expected.

spookelele
07-15-2017, 04:05 AM
Ive never had a uke get better. Either its good, or its not. "Patience" is a ploy to hope you convince yourself not to return it.

jer
07-15-2017, 05:51 AM
"Keep it" for how long? If "keep it" means planning on never letting it go, I would never say that about any uke I've ever owned.

Thinking more short term though.....
I have to do all my buying online. I usually research as best I can, and then buy from a seller that I have a lot of experience with and trust. Also, one that has a good return policy is important. I usually have an idea of what I'm getting, but nothing can replace having the instrument in hand.
I have taken in instruments and known within minutes I wouldn't keep them, for various reasons, and others within a day or so. Beyond that initial period: The majority of the time I let an instrument go, it's because I want to try something else and gain some cash back or I'm simply downsizing and can live without it. I'm more of a minimalist, so I just don't like having a lot around.

bratsche
07-15-2017, 06:28 AM
My Ponos have both noticeably improved in sound, both were bought early this year. The tenor (from the Marketplace) was almost new when I got it, and the baritone (eBay) had hardly been played, but sat in the seller's closet. I've been giving them a real workout, though.

bratsche

acmespaceship
07-15-2017, 09:57 AM
I'd never buy or keep a uke I didn't like right away. But my opinion does change over time. Usually it's not the uke that changes; it's me. Can't strum the metal-body resonator the same way I strum a Flea. (Or rather: I could but I wouldn't like the sound.) Can't strum a banjo uke the same as a wood-body concert. Baritone's a whole other thing entirely.

I have to sing differently if I'm playing the Flea vs. the Fluke. A little more nasal with the Flea to blend with its plunkier tone.

You have to listen to the uke and it will tell you how to play it. Sometimes that takes a while.

Also, strings. Strings make a big difference (much more than on steel-string guitars in my experience).

Also, situation. Who are you playing with, and what do their instruments sound like? Are you in a small room? Outside? The uke you needed last year might not be the one you need today. Of course, the uke you needed at last night's gig might be different from the one you need this morning, which is my excuse for having more than one uke. :)

So if I like a uke enough to buy it, I do expect to spend some time working on our relationship.

Camsuke
07-15-2017, 12:09 PM
I've been playing ukulele and guitar since the 1960s. I can determine quickly whether an instrument is a quality build, if the intonation is good, if the fit and finish are good, etc. There are lots of variables to consider with the tone of an instrument. I once posted a list of tone woods and their respective sounds so that people could know what to expect as a general rule when choosing a solid wood constructed instrument. Humidity, altitude, and other factors influence tone with age, but, I am able to predict an instrument's tone as it ages based on the wood, construction, and over-all climate. I don't generally buy an instrument without knowing what to expect.

Be careful if you go out in the wind, some of those tickets might blow off. :biglaugh:

Booli
07-15-2017, 03:30 PM
I have some experience over the past 35 yrs with many different instruments, and lots of times have been of the mind like Pippin, janeray and Dean above, but lately I am more open and patient to look for and find something special in a particular instrument, and most of the time I have an idea of what I am looking for, but other times I do not, and having more than a dozen ukes now allows me to play the one with the sound I want 'at that moment in time'. I doubt I would ever be happy with just one uke. This also plays into WHY I play, and it is mostly for myself and for my songwriting.

I've become more of a purist in my recording endeavors, and while you can EQ and fiddle with knobs to make things sound different, I prefer to start with something that sounds different 'in the air' or feels different in the hands, rather than molest the sound all fubar in the computer...and then capture, as accurately as possible that natural sound into the recording.

I dont much play in public or in groups, so that is not a big concern for me now, however in the future that may change depending upon the issues that arise when that happens...

However, lately I am more open and in agreement with acme and Bill as per below, and have often been rewarded with more patience by finding new things to enjoy in the sounds and playability.


...So if I like a uke enough to buy it, I do expect to spend some time working on our relationship.


I'd never make a blanket statement about buying a uke. Each buying experience is different.

That's not to say that if an instrument sounds bad to me, as soon as it's in my hands that I will keep it or buy it, for if it sounds dead, lacks resonance or has little sustain, likely I will pass, and I can tell right away and thus will not waste more time on the instrument since we have such a wide plethora of choices. We truly have an embarrassment of riches with all the different makes and models available to us, from worldwide vendors and makers now, so it makes no sense to buy or keep something that is 'less than'.

Further it does take some experience to KNOW an instrument that is 'less than' another, which most newbies lack completely, and later on this plants the seeds for UAS...

70sSanO
07-15-2017, 07:38 PM
I can tell right away if it is not a good sounding quality ukulele. However, I have had instruments grow on me and I'm not opposed to tweaking nuts, saddles, strings, setups, etc. to fine tune an instrument. Humidity, temperature, and whatever forces of nature make a big difference on how a ukulele sounds from time to time. It can be love-hate when it goes from grail to meh.

I have one ukulele that has a chunky neck and the C string booms a little. Also, I didn't care for the string spacing. Tried a number of different strings and even fishing line. Tuned it low G. Even tried steel strings before shipping it off to my brother. Got it back, re-strung it, did a few tweaks, and now I really enjoy playing it. It's funny... I got it back to take on a trip in case something happened to it, it wouldn't bother me as much as one of my other ukes. Now I'm not sure if I want to risk taking it... lol.

John

DownUpDave
07-16-2017, 01:23 AM
I buy just about everything on line, either here in the Market Place or from a trusted retailer like HMS. I have only sent one ukulele back that I just didn't like. I can usually tell with in the first week if it will be a long time keeper or not. I like to give it a full week minimum because being shipped from "where ever" to Canada places strusses on the wood and I want it to normalize before making any judgement.

I have fallen in and out of love with some very fine instruments. Knowing that my moods and tastes can change over time if I think it is a great uke with in the first month it is a keeper. Sometimes it takes a few string changes so I try to be patient.

SoloRule
07-16-2017, 04:01 AM
I have had the privilege of trying and purchasing two ukes at HMS and Elderly . I ended up selling both before their one year old birthday therefore I don't think trying it in person at the store helps me much!
I need to be in my own environment and play for over an hour to judge the uke.
I also learned different set of strings often change your opinion of the uke.
However, I do own one uke that I never tried before buying yet it's exceeded all my expectations! I love it more each day. This one uke will be forever by my side till death do us part! That remind me , I need to include this in my will so my children know who is the beneficiary ! ;)

Martinlover
07-16-2017, 04:21 AM
However, I do own one uke that I never tried before buying yet it's exceeded all my expectations! I love it more each day. This one uke will be forever by my side till death do us part! That remind me , I need to include this in my will so my children know who is the beneficiary ! ;)

What is this mighty uku you speak of?

SoloRule
07-16-2017, 05:41 AM
What is this mighty uku you speak of?

Ha ha. Here is my mighty uke
http://youtu.be/D8CH5pIHhsk

bariukish
07-16-2017, 07:45 AM
Ha ha. Here is my mighty uke
http://youtu.be/D8CH5pIHhsk

That would have been my guess, Brenda. You make her sing beautifully.

Tenor
07-16-2017, 08:28 AM
Indeed. Excellent performance, beautiful uke.

Uk3player78
07-16-2017, 03:39 PM
I have a 2 week 'honey moon period' with everything. Be it guitars, tech, ukulele's or watches. Sometimes the ukulele or - inset hobby item - i truly go crazy about for the first 2 weeks is the one that goes back/gets sold first. The one that is a slow grower can be the keeper.

Otherwise if it survives 6 month to a year plus then goes its because something else arrived and eclipsed it.

I am an ex guitarist although i still have a rare rosewood/spruce dreadnought for once or twice a year play. I find i had to learn what i like with ukulele... Still learning... :) Enjoying the process tho. I research deep and view youtube videos then make sure there is a return if new or a good resale if used. I have been lucky and haven't bought anything i really dislike.

I have bad UAS atm... My only safe ones are the Timms for obvious reasons and the Ohana SK38, the supplies of the SK38 have dried up. Mine is 340 grams and with Martin M600's is a beaut!

Big signature changes this week. ;)

TopDog
07-16-2017, 11:13 PM
As a one time guitarist (for many,many years!) I can usually tell
when I play an instrument, if it 'feels right' to me, or not. Some
instruments just call out to you that they are 'the one'. Others
not so much, but can still make satisfying beater ukes, or work
horses for all occasions!

bearbike137
07-18-2017, 10:50 AM
I have learned not to trust my first impressions of any instrument. It takes time for me to truly assess an instrument's potential.

In fact, I initially had mixed feelings about every instrument that has turned out to be lifetime keeper for me. I struggled with each for a period of time before I came to understand the instrument and appreciated what it had to offer. Usually the problem was rooted in difference between my preconceived notions and reality. Even when I was holding a great one - like my Collings I-35 - I was focused on what it wasn't ("Hmm, the in-between sound isn't as 'quacky' as I had hoped it would be"), instead of what it was. Occasionally, it has taken a bit of work with the instrument: the set-up, finding the right combination of strings, best gauge of strings, new electronics, pickups, etc - in order for me to truly appreciate the instrument. In any case, it took time. A 48 hour trial period? Heck, I need a 48 day trial period! Andrew, you cool with that?? :)

The funny thing is, I think I have sold every instrument that initially blew me away - so, as I said, I don't trust my first impressions at all. (Clearly, I like an instrument that plays "hard to get".... lol.)

Ukulele Eddie
07-18-2017, 12:12 PM
While I have never gone from "don't like" to "it's a keeper" (or vice-versa), I've had some cases where my immediate favorable inclination waned the more time I spent with an instrument. I also have had some cases where it has taken me a while to fully bond with an instrument. It might be finding the right string combination.

PTOEguy
07-18-2017, 12:46 PM
Ive never had a uke get better. Either its good, or its not. "Patience" is a ploy to hope you convince yourself not to return it.

Amen to that - I waited on my first solid uke to open up. I never liked the sound and it never sounded good to me.

Croaky Keith
07-18-2017, 10:26 PM
I've never really liked the term 'opening up', it rather suggests that it will suddenly be a much better, as in louder more resonant, uke.

However, a new uke will 'settle in', just like strings do. :)

vinceherman
07-19-2017, 02:48 AM
My non-expert experience:
I loved every Uke I have ever played, except the ones I did not like. And I recognized those immediately.
(similar to your "few strums and back on the wall")

bearbike137
07-19-2017, 04:13 AM
Acoustic instruments do "open up". One reasons is that the stiffness-to-weight ratio of the wood increases over time:

https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/19720-acoustic-soundboard-the-sonic-effect-of-time-and-vibration

My 20 year old Collings dreadnought is one example. The guitar is noticeably fuller, more open sounding, warmer, and even louder than it was when I first received it 1997. Its not just my impression - you can hear it in the stuff I recorded back then. In fact, I have to EQ out more bass when recording than I used to - using same exact microphones and room I used 20 years ago.

That said - a uke has a lot smaller soundboard than an acoustic guitar. There is no way I would buy a tight sounding uke with the hope that it will open up someday.

Uk3player78
07-19-2017, 05:50 AM
Opening up and the break in period are different things. I use to buy Martin guitars, even when I sampled them in shops recently they sound tight. This goes away relatively quick after purchase. Any changes after that come slow are are less obvious.

With ukuleles I can't say I've heard any drastic changes. I just acquired a new Pono and I heard they do have a break in period. Time will tell.

Doc_J
07-19-2017, 06:01 AM
How long does it take you to decide whether you like a new uke, and decide to keep it? As a long time guitarist, I can usually tell after a few strums if I like a guitar. If it's not the tone I like, it goes back on the shop wall quickly. I know all about instruments "opening up" after a period of time/play, but I usually just don't have the patience to wait months or years for that. I know strings can make a difference too, but overall, if I don't like the volume or tone right off the bat, or within a week or two at most, it's not a keeper for me. How about you?

I agree with you. After few strums, a little picking I pretty much know if it is a keeper for me.
If you don't love a uke on day 1, you probably never will.

The hard task is figuring out which one of my 'keepers' to sell when I'm slimming down my number of instruments.

deznuchs
07-24-2017, 12:22 PM
Interesting topic on being patient with Ukes. I for one don't always go on 1st impressions with the uke. I have always purchased my ukes brand new (Kamaka HF-3, Pono MHTSH, Kala KA-ZTP-CTG) and have not been impressed right when I get them. How did I pick them? Well I did research on this forum and then was superfisical with what looks nice, good quality, sounds good (from peoples opinion), and asking the HMS crew their opinion when I order them.

If I went off my innitial impressions I would not have ANY ukes at all. For example my Kamaka HF-3 sounded way to mellow and didn't have a lot of volume (IMO) with the stock Kamaka strings, so I switched them out with some worth clears. My Pono MHTSH sounded super tight, had pretty low volume, and did not project well with the Kooalau Golds so I swapped them out with some Worth clears. The changing of strings of both ukes made a world of difference, for my taste, in making the uke sing! with time and a lot of playing I could hear the both ukes become more full and resonate much better. I know that I became more accustom to the sound but I really believe that time and playing really "opened" them up, especially with my MHTSH.

My opinion is that make a choice on the new baby and work it (them).

Funny, I had just posted on a thread getting peoples opinion on if my new solid top Kala would also "open up" with time. First time with a laminate but I was planning on keeping it and nurturing my new baby:) I gave the stock Aquila's a try and didn't like how twangy they could be, so of course I swapped them out with some new strings (Freemont Blacklines).

deznuchs
07-24-2017, 01:06 PM
I just acquired a new Pono and I heard they do have a break in period. Time will tell.

I'm not sure about the new Pono's (Ive heard that they are lighter and built better) but my 2010 Pono MHTSH took some time. I can't really remember how long but it got better and better.