PDA

View Full Version : Baton Rouge, Bonanza and Good Laminates



13down
01-18-2018, 05:11 PM
I'm exploring the world of good laminates right now.

Just ordered a Kiwaya Ks5 (or technically a Famous Ks5, from Japan).

Interested in tenors and/or baritones, which Kiwaya doesn't make.

So far, Bonanzas and Baton Rouges sound promising. Curious if anyone has thoughts on them in comparison to each other. Particularly curious about intonation and weight, as laminates can vary in weight. Curious about general sound, too, of course!

Nickie
01-18-2018, 05:21 PM
I don't know your budget, but I saw another Donner uke last evening, and it was pretty darn nice for a low priced laminate uke.

13down
01-18-2018, 05:38 PM
Budget's honestly not a big issue here - I did just get a Kiwaya/Famous, which is more expensive than many decent solid wood instruments!

13down
01-18-2018, 05:41 PM
Also want to add that, while I do like the value of laminates, my interest also has to do with the sound. I've found that I've liked the sound of some laminates a whole lot (particularly my Johnson uke) but the lower-end ones tend to have intonation and other issues. So I'm very intrigued by the idea of a good laminate for reasons that go beyond budget.

igorthebarbarian
01-18-2018, 05:48 PM
The Famous FS-5 is awesome. Great choice on a soprano

Croaky Keith
01-18-2018, 10:01 PM
I don't have any expensive laminates, but have had a few of the cheaper ones that I bought in my first year learning to play. :)

These, I still have.
Kala KA-CEME - a bit heavy, has a good tone
Baton Rouge Hot Rod - quite light, good tone
Kala KA-SLNG - light, not a bad tone, (this one I really liked when starting out).

These, I gave away.
Makala MK-P - (pineapple soprano) had a good sound, louder than a regular soprano, & pretty good tone; I just didn't like the shape.
Makala MK-C - (concert) good beginner, but not the best tone
Makala MK-T - (tenor) good beginner/intermediate, quite a good tone
Kala KA-S - (soprano) quite a good tone

(I found out that soprano just isn't my scale.)

DownUpDave
01-18-2018, 10:52 PM
What type of laminate you are talking about, do you mean wood laminate or "formica laminate. The Bonaza is made from countertop formica type laminate. I own three Enya X1 ukes, camp style round bodied soprano, pineapple soprano and a concert, all formica laminates. Although not expensive they all sound very good, sweet and musical. Martin makes the oxy series with the same material and Bazmaz was very impressed with them. I have played them and so was I.

13down
01-19-2018, 11:15 AM
What type of laminate you are talking about, do you mean wood laminate or "formica laminate.

I actually hadn't thought of that & had been taking for granted the idea that they're all the same. Wondering if anyone has any insight into the differences in sound and feel.

Also: does anyone know if Kiwaya/Famous laminates are laminate wood? Or are they another material with wood printed on them, like the Martins are?

RafterGirl
01-19-2018, 11:59 AM
I actually hadn't thought of that & had been taking for granted the idea that they're all the same. Wondering if anyone has any insight into the differences in sound and feel.

Also: does anyone know if Kiwaya/Famous laminates are laminate wood? Or are they another material with wood printed on them, like the Martins are?
I had a solid wood top/laminate back & sides Famous. I sold it because I didnít care for the neck shape. Otherwise it was a well made & lovely sounding uke. Kiwaya/Famous laminates are wood. Very high quality and very light.

I also had an all HPL Bonanza. Fun sound but a little quiet. Southcoast strings helped with that. Definitely heavier than my solid wood or wood laminate ukes. Sold because I had two other concert sized ukes and switched to soprano for my camping uke.

DownUpDave
01-19-2018, 12:33 PM
I actually hadn't thought of that & had been taking for granted the idea that they're all the same. Wondering if anyone has any insight into the differences in sound and feel.

Also: does anyone know if Kiwaya/Famous laminates are laminate wood? Or are they another material with wood printed on them, like the Martins are?

Most all laminates are a wood sandwich composition from companies like Kala, Kiwaya, Gretsch, Cordoba, Islander etc. etc. The only formica type manufactures that I am aware of are Bonanza, Martin and Enya.

As a generalization wood laminate ukes tend to be louder and have a better or more familiar sound. That being said everyone that have played my Enyas liked that sound, nothing weird, nice and musical. They are on the quieter side but not dull or muted. Hope that helps. Your Kiwaya is arguably the best Laminate uke made.

Nickie
01-19-2018, 02:07 PM
A friend of ours got a Bonanza. Great tone, plays nicely, and she can flip it over and make a samwich on the back!

Jim Hanks
01-19-2018, 03:35 PM
and she can flip it over and make a samwich on the back!
Haha! Not that you would, but I guess it's good to know you could. :biglaugh:

bsfloyd
01-20-2018, 12:52 AM
This is a good topic. In my opinion, laminates are marketed in two ways - first, to keep costs down for potential new players. Second, to be used as a less worry travel and/or climate resistant instrument. True, the prices on laminate vary widely, as do the materials used.

Having just recently entered the ukulele world, coming from the guitar world, my only experience with laminate ukuleles is a Makala baritone that I purchased new for under a hundred. I new what I was getting from my experience in playing guitars. I wanted something that didn't cost a lot and wanted it quick to get my feet wet. After a little setup work, it turned out to be very much worth the money. This example (IMHO) falls in the first purpose I mentioned.

I am intrigued by the HPL's out there. I know the Martin HPL guitars are quite nice. Their ukuleles appear to be relatively nice as well, though I never played one yet. However, as mentioned above, the cost for these are entering all solid wood ukulele prices - this example (IMHO) falls in the second purpose I mentioned.

What is not a laminate, though has my high interest as of late, are the instruments made by Outdoor Ukulele. Molded polycarbonate, quite affordable, very durable for all climates - seems to fit both examples I listed above.... IMHO of course :)

actadh
01-20-2018, 01:11 AM
I have an Outdoor Ukulele, Martin Oxk, and my grandkids have the Enya X1.

The Martin is comparable to any wood uke, in my opinion. Remember that the inner bracing is wood and it is, of course, made to Martin specs. My only issue is the Stratabond neck irritates the thumb of my fretting hand. I have figured out that I am allergic to that material.

The Outdoor ukulele is pretty much indestructible for a uke. Has a sweet sound, and needs a light strum/finger pick to avoid a "slapping" sound of the strings hitting the fretboard.

The Enya's are nice. I did not change the strings, so it is a little underwhelming, but does have a nice sustain. The fretboard is radiused, so for me it took a bit to get used to it.

All descend in price, so the best sounding Oxk is the most expensive, not surprisingly.

Tootler
01-20-2018, 09:41 AM
I have Baton Rouge 6 & 8 string tenors both came with excellent setup and are very nicely finish with no sharp edges on the frets. I don't play much up the neck so I can't comment on intonation up the neck. Bazmaz has reviewed a few of them and he seems to rate them. They came with Aquila strings with a wound low A (6 str.) and wound low G (8 str.). I changed both for Living Water Fluorocarbons but they sounded very good with either set of strings.

I understand that Baton Rouge is a German company and they have the instruments made in China but they both keep tabs on the factory and check them over and set them up on receipt before sending them out. That way you get you get a decent instrument but properly finished and set up for a very reasonable price. Both mimwe cost me £120GB though they will have gone up here because of fall in the pound.

buddhuu
01-20-2018, 02:03 PM
Snail's laminates are amazingly lightly built. They have decent tone, good volume and good build quality for the price.

Just don't buy without checking the intonation first. It can sometimes be a bit too far off to fix with saddle intonation.