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View Full Version : Uke for a location that isn't climate-controlled



mikhou
10-11-2017, 03:23 AM
Hey there. I have a question for you guys. I've been playing guitar for about 15 years and uke for less than a year. (Being a UU+ member for the last year has really helped me along in learning.) I really enjoy the uke. It's so accessible that you just want to pick it up and play! It's such an intimate little instrument as opposed to my guitar. Anyway, I have been playing an Ohana CK-10 for the last year (a concert-sized uke with solid mahogany top and laminated mahogany back and sides). I really love this little uke. Anyway, I am an American living and working in a 3rd world country in the humanitarian aid sector. Where I live it's cold in the winter and hot and dry in the summer with no climate control indoors. We heat with a woodstove heater, and we cool with fans. So here's the question. I'd like to get a nicer tenor as I'll be back in the States in a few months. But with the plans to come back over here, I am wondering if I should go with something cheaper and laminated for stability, or should I go ahead and get something nicer and take the risk that the lack of climate control could harm it. FYI, I am considering the Pono AT, Pono MGT, Mainland Red Cedar Tenor, or Mainland Mango Tenor. These are all solid wood, but if you think they wouldn't survive the environment, I'd consider going with another Ohana laminate. Thoughts?

mikhou

kkimura
10-11-2017, 03:51 AM
Islander makes a nice laminate tenor.

actadh
10-11-2017, 04:02 AM
Your location sound like my house here in the states :) as until recently we heated with wood, and use fans in the summer. Now we heat with natural gas space heaters. The house often gets in the low sixties or upper fifties in winter and in the nineties in the summer.

A warm house does not seem to bother my ukes - I keep them year-round next to an inside wall in cases/gig bags and away from direct sunlight. I usually don't humidify them in summer as we have high humidity anyway - our climate is a match for Washington D. C..

For me, the tuners are the issue in cold weather more than cracking or drying out of wood. I love my OXK (which is high pressure laminate) that I got as a less climate-picky uke, but I need to really crank down on the little screws on the tuners to keep it tight enough so the strings don't back off when it is cold. Truly, the best winter uke for me is my Outdoor Ukulele tenor.

IMHO, if the Ohana CK- 10 is working for you now, I would get another Ohana solid/laminate in tenor size.

Mivo
10-11-2017, 04:46 AM
At the high end, there's the Blackbird Farallon.

Croaky Keith
10-11-2017, 05:37 AM
I think I'd stick with a laminate (or solid top) in your situation, or maybe the Outdoor tenor, they seem to play well.
If you want to spend some money there are some middle to higher end laminate ukes that appear to be liked by some.

Down Up Dick
10-11-2017, 05:38 AM
All my ukes, except my spruce topped baritone, are plywood, and they all sound good enough for my playing level.

I don’t like all that humidity bother. A few small cracks might even give a uke character. :old:

Cornfield
10-11-2017, 07:50 AM
Fluke Fluke Fluke. I took one on a tour of Australia and Tasmania. We were in deserts rain forest and snow. No problem.

hendulele
10-11-2017, 07:54 AM
Mim says solid-topped ukes normally don't need humidification, but an all-laminate would be safer.

I've got a cedar-topped concert Ohana and a Koa Flea (Dale Webb says don't leave it near forced-air heating vents). No problems.

I keep my two solid Ohanas in humidified cases during the winter, because I did get a crack in one a couple of years back.

I really like the way Ohanas play, but I'm a Flea/Fluke fan, too, and they're pretty indestructible.

My Islander tenor is really cool, too.

jer
10-11-2017, 08:21 AM
You could get an Outdoor Ukulele tenor for $145 (Do plan ahead though by getting in touch with them as they run out of stock sometimes and there is usually a wait regardless). That's the most worry free instrument I know of. I also think it sounds good and plays well. Intonation is good too. It's not as loud as some ukes, if that is of concern.
Then you could get another good Ohana too to go along with it, if you really wanted....and still stay under $500 total probably. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm thinking one Pono is in the 400-500 range... Just a thought.
I've only recently had an experience with Ohana and I'm very impressed, especially at the price points they come in at.

As for what needs humidification or not.... It totally depends on your environment. It's not just the tops or other body wood to consider. The neck wood and fretboard can also shrink exposing fret ends, etc. Also, even laminated instruments are braced with solid wood braces usually, so they can be damaged too....they're just tougher than all solid. I'd say it comes down to the individual instrument too. One instrument may have problems and another not so much. Part of it is just luck of the draw probably. The main thing you want to watch out for is rapid changes in temperature and humidity. That puts your instrument at the highest risk.
You just have to decide how much risk and how much care you take. These days I'm perfectly happy with some decent lower cost instruments that I don't worry over so much.

dinghy
10-11-2017, 09:05 AM
ahoy

Outdoor Ukulele, very sturdy
Fluke sounds better almost as sturdy

yours truly
mac

DownUpDave
10-11-2017, 10:02 AM
If you are really set on taking an all solid wood uke it will be ok with the right treatment. Get a good hard case and keep in it there unless playing it. Put a D'Addario humidipak in the case, its a two way system that will keep the humidity level inside the case at approx 45%. It release moisture when levels are low and absorbs when high. They need replacing every three months or so.

jer
10-11-2017, 11:54 AM
If you are really set on taking an all solid wood uke it will be ok with the right treatment. Get a good hard case and keep in it there unless playing it. Put a D'Addario humidipak in the case, its a two way system that will keep the humidity level inside the case at approx 45%. It release moisture when levels are low and absorbs when high. They need replacing every three months or so.
I'll second the Humidipaks. I'm a fan of those too. However, how long they last depends.... Just replace it when they dry out whether that is one week or three months. It'd get pretty expensive for someone to have to replace them often. I have heard of that happening in harsh conditions.

DownUpDave
10-11-2017, 12:08 PM
I'll second the Humidipaks. I'm a fan of those too. However, how long they last depends.... Just replace it when they dry out whether that is one week or three months. It'd get pretty expensive for someone to have to replace them often. I have hard of that happening in harsh conditions.

Yes very true. A flea, fluke or all laminate would be much more worry free for sure.

Choirguy
10-11-2017, 02:52 PM
And I’m not sure when they are coming out, but I would definitely recommend the Orca after owning a prototype for under a week.

mikhou
10-11-2017, 04:56 PM
Thanks for all of the replies. So it sounds like either go with a plastic uke (ala Flea, ODU), a laminate that might hold up better, or be willing to take a risk on a higher quality tenor while constantly monitoring humidity levels. I'm still unsure, but we'll see.

neo1022
10-11-2017, 08:40 PM
I second the Blackbird Farallon or Clara. Exceptional instruments, and they don't care about ambient humidity, heat, or much of anything. Can get a used one at a good price... (~$750-850 Clara, $1000-$1150 Farallon)

mikhou
10-11-2017, 09:24 PM
I second the Blackbird Farallon or Clara. Exceptional instruments, and they don't care about ambient humidity, heat, or much of anything. Can get a used one at a good price... (~$750-850 Clara, $1000-$1150 Farallon)

Yeah, that's probably out of my price range, but I'll check them out to see what I am missing. :D

Graham Greenbag
10-11-2017, 11:48 PM
Hey there. I have a question for you guys. I've been playing guitar for about 15 years and uke for less than a year. (Being a UU+ member for the last year has really helped me along in learning.) I really enjoy the uke. It's so accessible that you just want to pick it up and play! It's such an intimate little instrument as opposed to my guitar. Anyway, I have been playing an Ohana CK-10 for the last year (a concert-sized uke with solid mahogany top and laminated mahogany back and sides). I really love this little uke. Anyway, I am an American living and working in a 3rd world country in the humanitarian aid sector. Where I live it's cold in the winter and hot and dry in the summer with no climate control indoors. We heat with a woodstove heater, and we cool with fans. So here's the question. I'd like to get a nicer tenor as I'll be back in the States in a few months. But with the plans to come back over here, I am wondering if I should go with something cheaper and laminated for stability, or should I go ahead and get something nicer and take the risk that the lack of climate control could harm it. FYI, I am considering the Pono AT, Pono MGT, Mainland Red Cedar Tenor, or Mainland Mango Tenor. These are all solid wood, but if you think they wouldn't survive the environment, I'd consider going with another Ohana laminate. Thoughts?

mikhou

With you being a long term Guitar player I guess that you have picked up skills on the Uke quite quickly and have an ear for the sounds that you are producing. If that’s the case then you’re not a typical second time buyer but still have problems in common with the more experienced players here. As I understand it you are currently playing an all laminated concert Uke that might be fairly described as a good (for) beginners model - https://ohana-music.com/product/ck-10-mahogany-concert/ . As I understand things your Uke is relatively affordable, I believe that some more expensive laminates perform significantly better than the CK10 and so justify their higher price tag.

The questions that I think you need to be asking are what do you want to achieve musically; are your perceptions of laminate and solid Ukes correct; in what ways does your current Uke not meet your needs; what Calander time span do you actually need to buy for; and in practice how much care would you find restrictive.

YMMV but to me the answers point away from the expensive solid wood models that you have suggested and towards a better quality laminate that’s built for sound and durability.

Booli
10-12-2017, 07:22 AM
I will put in my vote for the Fluke or Flea, there's a megthread you can get to from clicking here (http://goo.gl/MYu6WV), with lots of previous discussion on their merits.

mikhou
10-14-2017, 01:48 AM
With you being a long term Guitar player I guess that you have picked up skills on the Uke quite quickly and have an ear for the sounds that you are producing. If that’s the case then you’re not a typical second time buyer but still have problems in common with the more experienced players here. As I understand it you are currently playing an all laminated concert Uke that might be fairly described as a good (for) beginners model - https://ohana-music.com/product/ck-10-mahogany-concert/ . As I understand things your Uke is relatively affordable, I believe that some more expensive laminates perform significantly better than the CK10 and so justify their higher price tag.

The questions that I think you need to be asking are what do you want to achieve musically; are your perceptions of laminate and solid Ukes correct; in what ways does your current Uke not meet your needs; what Calander time span do you actually need to buy for; and in practice how much care would you find restrictive.

YMMV but to me the answers point away from the expensive solid wood models that you have suggested and towards a better quality laminate that’s built for sound and durability.

I don't disagree with you on your last sentence. What would you expect to pay for a "better quality laminate that's built for sound and durability." Any suggestions?


I will put in my vote for the Fluke or Flea, there's a megthread you can get to from clicking here (http://goo.gl/MYu6WV), with lots of previous discussion on their merits.

Thanks for the suggestions, but I just can't seem to get my head around the idea of a Fluke. The body shape just doesn't seem right to me.

M3Ukulele
10-14-2017, 05:53 AM
If you want to step up to an instrument that plays better, a Pono AT is a good choice. I use the humidipak system but also use an Oasis in the sound hole. Keep it in a good hard case as DUD suggests and you will be fine. One little know fact is tha you can re charge the humidipak pouches when they start to dry out. Put them in a Tupperware ware container with a lid. In side the container have another small plastic container to keep packs off the water in the bottom. You basically have two containers. Himidipack re absorb the water from inside the closed tupper ware and you are set.

I have a Fluke. It is bullet proof. I did add pegheds because friction were a joke to me. Neck is only so so but it is bullet proof and has good intonation. Sound is very good for what is is. I agree on the shape thing.

I've played the Outdoor tenor. Plays nice. Bullet proof. Good Grover geared tuners. Intonation is spot on. Not as loud as a Fluke but nicer neck. At $145 US$ you would never worry about it.

Finally Ohana has a tenor, solid spruce top, laminate rosewood sides, slotted headstock. Aldrine said in a NAMM video he highly recommended it and he would buy it if he was just starting to play. I think Uke Republic has them for about $210.

So, lots of choices for you. I would look to what works for your highest priority. Better playing, tenor for greater musical experience or easy to maintain. All suggestion so far give you a blend of this.

That being said, for travel, I'm saving up for a Blackbird Farallon, so I can get the best of both worlds.

Good luck.

hendulele
10-14-2017, 06:06 AM
Thanks for the suggestions, but I just can't seem to get my head around the idea of a Fluke. The body shape just doesn't seem right to me.[/QUOTE]

It is a matter of aesthetics. There are plenty of oddly shaped ukes (banjos, bells, pineapples, Vitas, camp-styles), so if you feel most comfortable with the traditional double-bout shape, then you may never warm to the Fluke products. For sound, playability, and durability, they're hard to beat.

Graham Greenbag
10-14-2017, 06:41 AM
I don't disagree with you on your last sentence. What would you expect to pay for a "better quality laminate that's built for sound and durability." Any suggestions?


Sorry not to have responded to you earlier.

Your question has so many answers, there are so many valid suggestions. Though there are cheaper options which might be just as good I prefer to spend a little extra for reputation and certainty. As such I’m a fan of Kala laminates and would point you in the direction of their Exotic Mahogony range. Hawaii Music Supply posted these videos of the CEM some while back: https://vimeo.com/23230837 , https://vimeo.com/117250942 . There is a tenor in the range too and prices are affordable, I hope that that helps.

As I live in the U.K. rather than the USA it’s hard to be definitive on price, but Uke Republic sell the CEM for $120 so a budget a little above that (say $150) should get you something worthwhile from an established brand and maybe leave you a little change too.

kkimura
10-14-2017, 07:29 AM
Here's an interesting comparison of the Islander MT4 and the Kala KA-TEM laminate tenors:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r879qv9pLQk

Tootler
10-14-2017, 11:33 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, but I just can't seem to get my head around the idea of a Fluke. The body shape just doesn't seem right to me.

It is a matter of aesthetics. There are plenty of oddly shaped ukes (banjos, bells, pineapples, Vitas, camp-styles), so if you feel most comfortable with the traditional double-bout shape, then you may never warm to the Fluke products. For sound, playability, and durability, they're hard to beat.[/QUOTE]

+1 for Fluke. The body shape may look a bit odd but they are surprisingly comfortable to play. Given your circumstances and comments above, stick with the plastic fretboard and consider paying extra for peghead tuners.

mikhou
10-18-2017, 03:38 PM
Hey guys. Thanks for the input. I think that I am leaning toward a higher quality laminate. Right now, I am considering the Kala KA-ATP-CTG or the Kala KA-ZTP-CTG. We'll see! Thanks.

igorthebarbarian
10-18-2017, 07:24 PM
Hey guys. Thanks for the input. I think that I am leaning toward a higher quality laminate. Right now, I am considering the Kala KA-ATP-CTG or the Kala KA-ZTP-CTG. We'll see! Thanks.

Those Kala KA-ATP-CTG line seem to be well-reviewed here and good value. I believe they're solid cedar-topped and laminate sides/back. They're certainly beautiful looking.