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View Full Version : What am I missing? About Flea/Fluke



Witters
05-05-2009, 03:26 AM
Sorry, but am I missing something?
I will rephrase that. What am I missing because for the life of me I canít see it?

I am referring to the difference between an ordinary Flea Uke and a solid $1000 Uke.

Before the arguments start - and it is not my intention to start one anyway, I will explain just what I mean.

I have owned and played (although I am not or ever will be anything more than a fun player - as in non pro or anything like a pro) quite a few really good Ukeís now in the price range I mentioned above. Yet, I have not found any of them with as good an action as a Flea, or sound that much better.

Sound, like everything else is subjective to the person listening. And I am not suggesting for one minute that a Kanelia for example is not as good as a Flea. What I am saying is that to me, it is not that much better purely because I like the sound of a Flea, so much so that I judge everything else by that standard.

Am I wrong, or am I missing something?

Then as I mentioned, the playability of a Flea. I have yet to find anything better in this regard. I have a Kiwaya that equals a Flea in this area, and would be interested to know if there is any other makes out there with the same action.

So in short, I am a huge fan of the Flea. If I were to criticize anything about it, that would be the cost because it is a little too high. Then again, it isnít if I stick to what I already said, and that it to me it equals Ukeís double the price.

UkeNinja
05-05-2009, 03:34 AM
Perhaps you chose/ ended up with the wrong expensive ukuleles and/or did not get them set up well? Or you just like the Flea sound, and there is nothing wrong with that. For you, and other people feel different. That's how it goes. What do you miss? Nothing, you have your Flea.

My more expensive ukulele rewards me with whispering voices if I caress it, singing overtones when I pick single notes, and it starts screaming if I slide a chord down from the 12th fret. That gives me shivers every time I hear it. My Fluke has these aspect in a lesser amount. Still, I like it and it is very capable in itself.

Still not sure what your point is though...

deach
05-05-2009, 03:37 AM
If you like it, it shouldn't matter how much it costs or how much it doesn't cost.

hoosierhiver
05-05-2009, 03:46 AM
Fleas and flukes are great. Jim Beloff is sure to go down in uke history. They are durable, very playable, come with alot of options and consistantly have great sound and action.
They are clearly different from wooden ukes in appearance and sound. It really can't be said that they are better than a good wooden uke, but hey certainly have their place in the uke world.

UKISOCIETY
05-05-2009, 03:51 AM
Strings make a difference too. I put Aquilas on my Flea and I didn't like the sound as much as Hilo strings.

I'm not a fan of the Flea neck, which is a bit thick and square to my taste. I like a thinner, smoother neck. And out of all my ukes, I like the sound that the Flea produces the least.

But I still like it. It's just not my favorite to play. It's all about your personal preference. If you think it's the best, cool! :shaka:

Lanark
05-05-2009, 03:56 AM
Frankly, I'd just play what you like and consider yourself lucky to have found an instrument that satisfies you at an entirely reasonable price.

Personally speaking though, I'm not a Flea/Fluke fan in terms of aesthetics for starters. I'm really turned off by all the plastic and the shape. It just doesn't have the same feel and smell of solid wood. Just doesn't feel good in my hands.
I also find the sound a little weak. Just this past Sunday I was sitting next to a woman who was playing a nice bright pink Flea and I have to say next to my Koaloha concert it did sound kind of dull. (Which may have been as much about her string choice as the instrument.)

but as always YMMV. They certainly have their place in world and their admirers and I can't knock them for the niche they fill (and what seems to be near indestructibility), but they also don't appeal to me on most levels.

Witters
05-05-2009, 04:23 AM
Hi Ninja,

I think the main point in posting was to pick the brains of everyone here to discover which Ukeís have the playability of a Flea in terms of action. There could even be someone who posts saying, well if you like a Flea, you will certainly like X.

Sound is subjective I know, and as I like the Flea I donít think anything else can compare because it is different.

But I do like Koa, so other than a Flea, an ideal instrument for me would be a Concert Koa with a nice low easy action. The Fleaís have this, and as I said earlier, the Kiwaya.

dominicfoundthemooon
05-05-2009, 04:34 AM
i would not get rid of my flea for ANYTHING.. okay.. well i would.. for a Koaloha and then just buy another FLEA! i have dropped my flea a few times.. and guess what.. it takes a licking and keeps on ticking!! to me.. that is the main point of the flea.. last week end i took my flea out to some drinking establishments... you can see the footage in my last video.. and i was not worried about it at all..

a lot of people wanted to look at it.. talk about it.. and i was able to spread the uke love around!! i will anyone play any of my ukes.. i like to share.. but i would not take some of my others out on the street... i let people play the Kolaoha at my house.. and at open mic.. but not in a bar!

so that is my take on the FLEA.. i call it the indestructi-uke!

love it!!

ukeatan
05-05-2009, 04:48 AM
I may be wrong about this, but... The lowness of Fluke/Flea action might be helped by the zero fret they feature and, on the molded fretboarded, the fret "wire" seems quite thin and low.

This is also personal preference, btw, I prefer the action a little higher than on my Fluke.

dnewton2
05-05-2009, 05:23 AM
I see a question, does any other uke have the same playability as a flea in terms of action?

As I understand it action is adjustable on almost every ukulele out there. So yes if it is set up correctly how you like it almost every uke can have the same playablitly as a flea in terms of action. unless it has to do with the zero fret then there are not as many.

I have never played a flea or fluke. They seem pretty ok from what I hear but I have never seen one in a store or really had a desire to but one.

PoisonDart
05-05-2009, 05:31 AM
I love my flea!

bbycrts
05-05-2009, 05:52 AM
... I like the sound of a Flea, so much so that I judge everything else by that standard.

You answered your question right there! Personally, I don't especially like the sound or appearance of the flea/fluke. The great thing is, there's something for everyone!

dominicfoundthemooon
05-05-2009, 06:44 AM
i love love love my flea!! i just had to say that again!

sukie
05-05-2009, 06:49 AM
i love love love my flea!! i just had to say that again!

That is some fine PW'ing. :D

bbycrts
05-05-2009, 07:24 AM
That is some fine PW'ing. :D

So is that!

Wait...so is this!

deach
05-05-2009, 07:25 AM
So is that!

Wait...so is this!

lolz !

Witters
05-05-2009, 08:26 AM
Sorry, but why does everyone not have a zero fret?

I know Iím going to look stupid here but after doing a google the explanation seems logical.


Also, concerning playability/action, where again this is subjective to what a players needs are or likes, but surely everyone agrees that some Ukeís come unplayable high.

rossjr
05-05-2009, 10:32 AM
Play what you like, Like what you play! Everyone has their own tastes and preferences. I play for fun myself but like Lanark I thought the the ones I heard sounded a little flat. I was at the same session as he and sat about as far from the other one that he did. He might be right, it could be string selection as the one I sat next two was a new acquisition, so it might benefit from an investment in strings.

I would even go so far as saying I prefer the sound of solid wood instrument to laminants, but that is just to my ear. Of course my wife tells me I am tone deaf so what does that tell you....

grappler
05-05-2009, 10:44 AM
i guess it does come down to personal preference

ukeatan
05-05-2009, 10:46 AM
Sorry, but why does everyone not have a zero fret?


For one thing, a zero fret isn't adjustable like a nut is. Also, some people might claim the material of the nut (like bone) can affect the sound -- but I can't tell the difference.

Ahnko Honu
05-05-2009, 10:50 AM
I am flealess at the moment but my 2 "dream" Fleas on my bucket list are a standard pineapple paint job Flea with plastic fretboard, and a concert neck Koa Flea. :D

grappler
05-05-2009, 10:54 AM
i'd love to get a Flea one day, I've played one before but unfortunately it doesn't suit my style of playing.

MGM
05-05-2009, 10:56 AM
Hey if the fluke or flea rocks your world better than a 10000 ukulele play it keep it and cherish it...In these days of forums like this where this and that is compared and opinions laid out on every different ukulele out there it still comes down to personal preference and what is pleasing to your ear...same with strings....Its something about the particular ukulele that just makes it the magical one...no one can define it, explain it, or rationalize it. I still say blind test is the way to go...not knowing brand ,size ,wood ,string, and pick your favorite that is what you should play even if it is a 30.00 uke

uke4all
05-05-2009, 11:24 AM
Hey if the fluke or flea rocks your world better than a 10000 ukulele play it keep it and cherish it...In these days of forums like this where this and that is compared and opinions laid out on every different ukulele out there it still comes down to personal preference and what is pleasing to your ear...same with strings....Its something about the particular ukulele that just makes it the magical one...no one can define it, explain it, or rationalize it. I still say blind test is the way to go...not knowing brand ,size ,wood ,string, and pick your favorite that is what you should play even if it is a 30.00 uke
I second that!! Well put!

Link
05-05-2009, 11:52 AM
I looooove my Flea. Amazing sound, and perfect action.

haole
05-05-2009, 12:57 PM
Frankly, I'd just play what you like and consider yourself lucky to have found an instrument that satisfies you at an entirely reasonable price.


This is truth! It's all a matter of personal taste. If the Flea has the sound/feel you're looking for, then there's nothing wrong with you for not wanting to "move up" to a Kanile'a or something similar. Heck, some people are perfectly happy playing a bright yellow Makala with a dolphin bridge and wouldn't have it any other way. So congrats! You've achieved personal ukulele nirvana! Most players will never overcome UAS and find "the one," so you're a rare breed. :D

I love my Flea. Some might question my taste/maturity/sanity, but I honestly prefer the sound, feel, and look of my half-plastic, $250 pineapple Flea over the vintage Martin 5K with the five-figure price tag. It just sings. :D

Not to say I wouldn't want a KoAloha or a Moore Bettah somewhere down the line (I do!), but the Flea does exactly what I need it to do for now.

Ahnko Honu
05-05-2009, 02:01 PM
I own over a dozen ukuleles and they all sound different from each other and I love them all for their individual sounds, sopraninos thru tenors, Koa, Mahogany, even Fir, they all have a unique enjoyable voice even though no two alike.

grappler
05-05-2009, 02:23 PM
That was well said mike.

experimentjon
05-05-2009, 02:39 PM
I love my flukes. I do think that in some ways they sound better than more expensive solid-koa instruments. And they're much better in that I can just leave it out without worrying too much about it because it's very durable. They take much more of a beating than my solid-wood instruments.

The only downside to the fluke that I can acknowledge is that its tone is not as round and full as for other solid wood, traditional shaped ukes. It is very loud, but to me, the tone isn't quite as...idk, elegant or refined, as that of say a KoAloha.

I would still reccomend flukes to anyone who is just starting uke though, over Kala or Lanikai, or any of those other lower-end brands.

Witters
05-05-2009, 03:07 PM
Thanks for all the opinions and well said MGM and Haole.

I would just like to add that my search is not finished - not by a long way - because there is so much out there for me to discover.
Yes, up till now, I love the Flea above all else, and if it ever came to recommending a Uke to anyone, I would start there, especially someone new.

My ideal goal is to visit Hawaii one day and go see Mike and come away with a gem. I wonder if the irony will be that I buy another Flea???:)

Bradford
05-05-2009, 06:00 PM
Proper action on any instrument is largely determined by the playing style of the musician. As mentioned before, a zero fret cannot be adjusted like a nut can. Here is a little luthiers secret. Many of us purposely set the action a little high. The reason being, if a potential customer takes it down and strums hard and it buzzes, it will immediately go back up on the wall regardless of how it sounded otherwise. I learned this from David Weber, a guitar maker in Canada. Most quality instruments need to be set up for the individual player, and the set up shound occur at least a month or so after the instrument was purchased and it has had a chance to settle in to its location and strings.

Brad