View Full Version : Best Uke? Recommend

05-11-2009, 02:23 PM
I prefer concert sized ukes and my Aunt wants to get me one for graduation but the one i orignally wanted turned out to suck.

So does anyone have any suggestions.
not going over $240

thanks :)

Ahnko Honu
05-11-2009, 02:30 PM
KALA KA-SC Nice quality, great sound, setup, and hard case included.
http://cgi.ebay.com/KALA-KA-SC-solid-sprucetop-Concert-Ukulele-w-case-SETUP_W0QQitemZ250421062524QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_D efaultDomain_0?hash=item3a4e422b7c&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C 240%3A1318%7C301%3A1%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50
Best ukulele seller, best deal. :shaka:

05-11-2009, 02:37 PM
yeah thats a great deal there!

05-11-2009, 02:37 PM
what was the "suckie" uke so we have a point of reference?

05-11-2009, 04:34 PM
Jenny concert...

05-11-2009, 04:45 PM
Mainland makes a nice all-solid-wood concert in your price range: http://ukeunderground.bigcartel.com/product/mainland-ukes-mahogany-concert-ukulele

The Kala's nice too. Also consider a Fluke or Flea.

05-11-2009, 05:03 PM
Jenny concert...

Well, if a Jenny concert sucks, then I don't think the Kala or Mainland going to cut it unless your Jenny is an especially bad one. You'll need something like a Kanile'a or KoAloha concert. Unfortunately, you're not likely to find even a used one for $240.

05-11-2009, 05:18 PM
Well, if a Jenny concert sucks, then I don't think the Kala or Mainland going to cut it unless your Jenny is an especially bad one. You'll need something like a Kanile'a or KoAloha concert. Unfortunately, you're not likely to find even a used one for $240.

I love my Jenny soprano.:shaka:

kim jorgensen
05-11-2009, 05:31 PM
i have an ohana with a plastic ovation like back; i use it daily at lunch hour. it's a champ with a loud and clear sound,m very sturdy. i got it from musicguymic; basically, i'm a tenor/baritone sort of fellow, but this concert is charming.

i do respect kala, bushman, and mainland, but check out the ohanas.

05-11-2009, 05:34 PM
Bushmans and Mainland ukes are made in the same factory. The Jenny should be decent quality.

What's wrong with it? If the action is too high or something along those lines, you might take it to a guitar tech and make sure it's set up correctly. My Bushman Cedar Tone had high action and the nut was uneven on the bottom. Once I fixed that, both the sound and playability improved.

05-11-2009, 05:57 PM
I hear the Koa Pili Koko ukes are a great deal for the price. Solid wood for under $300, can't go wrong!

05-11-2009, 06:36 PM
I agree with gx9901 Unless you had an extremely badlu setup Jenny you would need to really start looking at professional ukuleles such as koaloha, Kamaka, Kanilea etc as is why I suggested a point of reference. Now we need to know exactly why you thought it was "sucks".. Playability the tone The intonatioon etc.

05-11-2009, 07:08 PM
I have the Kala SC. You can't go wrong. I love the sound quality.

05-11-2009, 10:31 PM
Although a lot of the accessibly priced ukuleles are made in the same Chinese factories, there are differences in the specs required by the different brands who place orders. There are also differences in quality control.

Kala seem to have a very good rep for quality control. Certainly the one I just received had no faults at all that I could find, beyond the need for a setup tweak - and that is usual on inexpensive instruments. Kalas seem a little different to the other Chinese ukes - headstock and body shape don't conform to the otherwise ubiquitous design. I think they may not come from exactly the same factory, although they look like they might come from the same one as Lanikai.

Mainland also has a fine QC reputation so far.

Ohana has a pretty good rep, with a few minor blips.

Stagg, another one on the Ohana/Mainland/Bushman/Leader/Westfield etc pattern, is much less consistent. I have two - a good soprano and a Stagg solid mahogany concert that needed a significant bridge modification to get intonation right.

Some Bushmans do seem to have had their share of quality control issues in the past, judging by forum anecdotes. I don't know how things stand currently. Another well known uke forum had a substantial thread wherein a Bushman customer related his experiences. That may or may not be informative if you feel inclined to track it down.

I have seen this same variation in QC with guitars, banjos and mandolins made in the same factories and then branded Trinity College, Ozark, Ashbury, Richwood, etc.

From what I have seen empirically, and the impressions I get from reading other people's experiences here, I would suggest that Kala and Mainland seem amongst the best bets in the modestly priced Chinese instruments, with Ohana also being pretty safe. All the better if one buys from a supplier whose reputation is similarly solid. MGM is, of course, the name that springs to mind.

Pono, another reasonably priced brand, is made in a different factory, and the company owner takes a personal interest in the quality control of all output.

05-12-2009, 12:42 AM
That’s an interesting post Buddhu.
Which leads me to ask what can a buyer expect when buying blind?

I always thought that a “cheap” Uke was that way because of the quality of wood it was made of - even laminate. But I didn’t expect that a cheaply made Uke would also be made in a fashion of bad craftsmanship?

Is it a fact then that when considering a Uke in the lower price range, one can expect after receiving it, to take it elsewhere to have it altered?
And if that is the case, why are they still selling?

I know quite a lot about quality control. I do accept therefore that some things slip through the net and the consumer is sometimes left with a product that does not do what it was intended for.
It could be my imagination but in the world of Uke’s, it seems that rather than the odd 1 or 2 slipping through the net, it looks like the majority.

This then leads me to ask if the higher price Uke’s sometimes get to the consumer that are constructed badly?

05-12-2009, 01:14 AM
I think the size of a company and its focus all have a bearing.

Mainland and Ohana, although apparently made in the same Chinese mass production location (please correct me if that isn't the case) are very much ukulele-focused. Their quality control is reputed to be good.

Brands such as Leader, Vintage, Westfield and Stagg buy and badge guitars, ukes, mandolins as well as often also doing cases and accessories (even amplifiers) for all these and more. They are larger operations whose appeal is in offering a wide variety of budget products to people who are used to buying cheaper instruments - and who presumably accept that one does not get great quality at very low prices.

People like Ohana, Mainland, Kala etc specialise. They occupy a middle ground where the basic instruments may be made in the same locations as the bulk-shifters, but operations are at such a scale that quality control is still important. Reputation still plays a part.

Stagg products turn up in music stores all over. To an extent they will sell simply because of their visibility. Ukes in general are not as widely distributed. People will go hunting, they will research, ask questions etc etc. Feedback from places such as UU will have a larger impact. Therefore reputation will have a larger effect on sales.

I would expect that the publicity MGM gets here has done a huge amount for his business. He ensures that continues by feeding back into the positive loop by providing good service, which is then reported here etc etc. The uke brand owners will see the same thing.

The basic instruments are probably sound enough, whichever of the cookie cutter brands one chooses, but quality control can, and in my experience does, make a huge difference. My Stagg concert, for example, should never have left the factory with the bridge crooked by about 3mm as it obviously affected intonation. Other details such as poorly cut nuts etc should be caught by decent QC. Once I fixed my Stagg's bridge and made a decent nut for it it became a very nice uke. Out of the box though? Sub-standard. Not in tune and a poor player.

If a rebranding distributor takes any crap that the factory produces there is little incentive for the factory to make any reall effort. If the brand owner refuses to accept sub-standard QC the factory has the choice of shaping up or losing the order.

Other variables between brands will be things such as the hardware and strings selected for fitting as standard.

I don't think it's really a question of bad craftsmanship. I'd say that quality control is the biggest thing. The more brands that keep a close eye on it, and that refuse to take poorly finished product, the better the overall level of quality will be.

In the last 10 years, the quality of Chinese and Korean instruments in general has improved by a fantastic degree. I have had some great Chinese mandolins (Eastman and J Bovier) and I have friends who own a couple of real great-value Chinese fiddles (Eastman). My own new Kala ukulele seems to be very well made and finished.

Some of these cheaper Chinese ukuleles are terrific. Don't dismiss them all in a bunch.

Quality control is a huge factor. IMHO, It's what separates the good from the crap, even more than a different design or a different factory.

YMMV, of course.

05-12-2009, 01:19 AM
Oh, and of course the customer service one receives if things do go wrong pretty much makes the rest of the difference, IMO.

A quick and efficient fix with a courteous and sincere apology sometimes leaves me with as good an impression of a company as a flawless product.

05-12-2009, 02:55 AM
I had a bushman for about 6 months. it sounded nice. it was a total step up from my Makala.. once i found myself wanting more... i was lucky... i had the chance to take a trip to hawaii where i could play SO many ukes. in hawaii i played 100's of ukes and the Koaloha stood out the most. at the time i did not have the funds to buy one. if you indeed have a bushman you can do what i did. i sold the bushman online for around 250 and i used that money to spend on a used koaloha concert for 380 USED on ebay.. i am happy with the trade off. just an idea..