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View Full Version : Have you ever purchased a uke based on looks alone?



mikelz777
09-19-2018, 04:47 PM
The thread about ukulele bling has me wondering how many people out there have purchased ukes based on looks alone. With so many people having to rely on the internet for uke purchases I'm guessing that it is probably fairly common. When I think of my own experience, 2 of my 3 ukes were purchased based on looks alone. (Though one of those was a solid acacia and I kinda wanted an acacia uke so that was a bonus.) Granted, both were purchased from a reliable seller so returns wouldn't have been an issue and both were from respected brands so I was reasonably assured that the uke would sound at least good if not great. One of those I didn't even know I wanted until I saw it and it burrowed itself into my mind until I had to buy it! ;) Now I have another uke I didn't know I wanted calling my name. My resistance is waning by the hour.........

How many of you have purchased a uke based on looks alone?

Bill Sheehan
09-19-2018, 05:05 PM
I recently bought the orange colored soprano travel uke made by the Flight company, very inexpensive (which didn't hurt), but primarily based on its "cuteness"!
Turned out to be a very serviceable instrument too!

besley
09-19-2018, 05:49 PM
.......How many of you have purchased a uke based on looks alone?

Well, maybe not looks alone.....but as Choirguy knows I'm a sucker for carbon (or linen..) fiber instruments, owning a Composite Acoustics GX, an Emerald X7, Blackbird Farallon, and most recently a Klos Tenor Ukulele. So I didn't get the Klos just based on looks, but I wouldn't have jumped on it if the body had been painted solid brown or white.

DownUpDave
09-19-2018, 06:06 PM
Yes...........most time I am not so shallow but I just couldn't resist. I love curly koa and I love flamed maple. I saw a used Kimo tenor for sale on FFM with a koa top and maple back and sides that i just had to have. It did possess two key playing components that I insist on in a custom, radius fret board and side sound port. But I had no idea if it would sound any good........got lucky, it sounds great. Good thing as it would have been an expensive wall hanger:p

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Kenn2018
09-19-2018, 06:15 PM
Yes, my first was a Fender NoHea tenor. I had two $100 gift cards from Amazon and my wife suggested that I buy my uke from them. I had read that the best wood for ukuleles was koa. The description said that it was "all koa". I liked the fender-style headstock. The reviews were good. And since I knew nothing about ukuleles, I decided to buy it.

Because I liked its looks in the Amazon pictures. I decided I could live with the faux abalone rosette.

I have chosen one ukulele over another because I liked the looks of one more than I liked the other. But it was a choice between the same model, or similar ukuleles from two different makers.

UkingViking
09-19-2018, 07:33 PM
Yeah, once bougth a Luna Tattoo.
Sold it again.

raffrox
09-19-2018, 07:36 PM
Yep. I bought a blingy Bruce Wei off ebay once. Had the resonance of a piece of 2x4.

kohanmike
09-19-2018, 08:39 PM
Yes, in my first year of playing uke five years ago, I went thorough 16 mainly for looks, but I culled them to four that played and sounded best. I had Bruce Wei make me a really good custom uke back then, and I've had four more made for a certain look knowing they would be really good, and they have been. I've even bought a couple off his eBay store that are also really good. Before then he let other builders sell through his eBay store that were not very good, which gave him bad reviews, so he stopped doing that a few years ago.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 9 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos

kerneltime
09-19-2018, 08:57 PM
No.. but on brand alone a few times.. did not know what the uke will sound nor was it custom ordered... but went with the brand (Mya Moe/beansprout, MBU, Ono, Cocobolo, National resonator).

Croaky Keith
09-19-2018, 10:10 PM
When I first started out, I tried a tenor (too big, at that time), a soprano (pineapple, because it looked different, but too small), a concert (because it was the inbetween size) - & then I saw a long neck soprano with a concert scale neck, which I had found to be comfortable for me to learn on.

So glad I got that long neck, as it was the one I most used in my first 6 months of learning. :)

So, yes, that pineapple soprano & my first long neck soprano were mainly bought on what they looked like.

(Since then it has been a combination of price, sound quality, & then looks - but I'm not one for bling.)

TopDog
09-19-2018, 10:44 PM
I haven't myself, but I have a friend who did. I gave him a painted Mahalo cheapie to start him off; he had been a guitarist once so the basic principles were already in place. He wanted a better instrument, having mastered the basics on the Mahalo, so his wife (A non player,and non musical) decided to treat him to a 'better one'. She bought online; the uke he got was from a well-ish known manufacturer and was more bling than sound!
Thick with varnish and over braced to death, it is a good looking, but very poor sounding instrument. The body has no resonance whatsoever, just a dull thudding sound when plucked.And no set up, of course,from a mass produced thing; (I had set up the cheap Mahalo prior to giving it to him.)
I got my first luthier built uke about the same time, and I opted for build quality and good sound,so it is a plain looking thing that sings like a bird. He disparages mine as being 'a cheap looking thing' whilst trying to coax a decent sound from his overbuilt thud box of an instrument. But he insists that his 'looks like a good instrument' and mine 'looks cheap and nasty'. Oh well, each to their own!

Iulia
09-20-2018, 12:17 AM
not necessarily about 'bling' as some of the plain instruments look fantastic if its a good bit of wood, but yeah appearance is important.

I think for every price point/size/wood variable there are now so many instruments to chose from looks are going to factor in. If its a choice of looks OR sound then it should be a no-brainer, but usually you can get both. So why not get something you enjoy looking at as well.

Jerryc41
09-20-2018, 01:49 AM
Yes and no. I bought a beautiful Kanile'a Honu because 1) it was beautiful; 2) it was a Kanile'a. So, that wasn't actually on looks alone, but I would not have bought it without the great looks. I also bought a beautiful Tikan spalted mango concert uke I saw on eBay for $90. It looked flashy and sounded nice, but after a while, I realized it was just a bit too much "flash" for me. I bought it from a man in FL who I think imported them and sold them on.

mikelz777
09-20-2018, 02:19 AM
not necessarily about 'bling' as some of the plain instruments look fantastic if its a good bit of wood, but yeah appearance is important.

I think for every price point/size/wood variable there are now so many instruments to chose from looks are going to factor in. If its a choice of looks OR sound then it should be a no-brainer, but usually you can get both. So why not get something you enjoy looking at as well.

This post sums things up nicely for me. Recently I've been interested in a solid mahogany concert but I couldn't find one with a look that I liked. My now gone first uke was a mahogany laminate with a satin finish and I think mahogany looks better with a satin finish. That automatically eliminated all glossy ukes. The one I liked most had a faux tortoise binding which I couldn't get past. I just didn't like the look. Another had beautiful looking wood but it had zero adornments so it was too plain. Another looked great in every way but it had friction tuners which was a deal breaker for me. I considered a custom build by a builder who sells on Ebay so I could get a look that I would really like and he came back with a price I would be willing to pay but when I listened to sound samples of ukes that were sold under his name, about 8 out of 10 had a sub-par sound I wouldn't be happy with so with those odds I didn't want to take the risk. I was coming to the conclusion that I'd forgo a uke (I don't need :)) before settling for a look I didn't love when I found a totally different beauty I didn't know I wanted that's now calling my name. I'm still on the fence about it. It's a nice sounding laminate which would be a new type of addition to my current collection (2 all solids and a solid top laminate) and the wood grain is stunning. My PayPal balance from selling some of my old junk would cover most of the cost so I'm tipping towards a buy. It's at a small town music store about 45 minutes away from me so I would be able to go there and hear it in person before a buy decision if it gets to that point. I'm asking for some additional pictures which I should be getting later today. If it happens, this would be another buy based only on looks (but a respected brand) for me.

Rllink
09-20-2018, 03:37 AM
No, that would be dangerous for me. There are just too many beautiful ukuleles out there. I would never stop if I started buying them just because I liked how they look. But the looks is my first consideration when I am buying. Then I have to do some research, read some reviews, ask the seller a bunch of questions, wait for a month to see if I really want it or if it is just a passing thing, so never based on looks alone. I would not buy a ukulele that I didn't like the looks of though. I don't care how great it is, or how much people rave about it, how prestigious the maker, if I don't think it looks good, I'm not buying it.

Down Up Dick
09-20-2018, 04:02 AM
See my comment (#35) in “Bling.” :old:

Lacole
09-20-2018, 05:28 AM
Yes. I have bought two online. Locally the choice is limited.
LaCole

Snargle
09-20-2018, 05:52 AM
I would have no problem buying a Kinnard, a Beau Hannam, or a Moore Bettah ukulele based on looks alone (assuming I had just won the lottery, of course)! ;)

Rllink
09-20-2018, 07:29 AM
Yes. I have bought two online. Locally the choice is limited.
LaCole

I didn't know that buying by looks alone meant buying on line. Because I've bought all of mine on line, but not just because of the looks. There were other factors.

ripock
09-20-2018, 07:48 AM
I didn't know there was any other way. I always buy for looks. What else is there? A ukulele is a ukulele. They all play the same notes. Even when I went to Elderly Instruments, I hardly touched the ukuleles. I just looked and said "I'll take that cedar baritone." And when I ordered a bespoke ukulele from a luthier, I just specified what look I wanted it to have and I left all the other aspects of it to the craftsmanship of the builder.

Down Up Dick
09-20-2018, 07:56 AM
I didn't know there was any other way. I always buy for looks. What else is there? A ukulele is a ukulele. They all play the same notes. Even when I went to Elderly Instruments, I hardly touched the ukuleles. I just looked and said "I'll take that cedar baritone." And when I ordered a bespoke ukulele from a luthier, I just specified what look I wanted it to have and I left all the other aspects of it to the craftsmanship of the builder.

Right on! I agree whole heartedly. :old:

Uncle Rod Higuchi
09-20-2018, 09:29 AM
When I can do it, I prefer to play the ukulele for myself - sound, feel, etc.

However, I do purchase online (Ebay) and most of those purchases are based
on what the uke looks like.

That's how I now have an Ohana Willow soprano on its way. I'm going by brand
reputation so I hope it sounds good to me.

I recently tried purchasing 2 Koloa Concerts on Ebay since I had such good success
with a couple of Koloa Sopranos. However, although offered by 2 sellers, each had
to inform me that they cancelled the orders because they did not have the ukes on
hand. That was OK. It got me thinking about the made in Mexico Martin CK1.

Then, last night, local luthier Kerry Bannister showed me a concert uke he had built from
1800s Mahogany and it sounded so good I asked him to lower the action, apply a
couple of transparent strum guards (my thumb and index fingernails are rough on the
upper bouts of my ukes). If all goes well, I should have the uke in hand
tonight! Yay!

as an aside, I've been looking for the ONE Uke to rule them All, and I think I'm coming
to the realization that I may actually need TWO Ukes as co-Regents to rule the Kingdom :)
that said, I'll be looking for a double-tennis racket bag to hold both so I can have a
reentrant Soprano and a low-G Concert for gigs and lessons and song circles :)

keep uke'in',

Iulia
09-20-2018, 09:49 AM
That's how I now have an Ohana Willow soprano on its way. I'm going by brand
reputation so I hope it sounds good to me.



I have the willow with cedar top (I think they do a spruce as well so dunno which is yours) but mine is excellent!

Uncle Rod Higuchi
09-20-2018, 11:11 AM
the one I've ordered is all Willow laminate. Very striking appearance as the grain is very pronounced!
I also like the look of the Ginko grain and the color of the Padauk and Colobolo.

Anyway, with the coming of the Mahogany Concert, I think my UAS has to be on hold for a while.

I know, and thank you all for wishing me "Good Luck!" on that one :)

keep uke'in',

acmespaceship
09-20-2018, 12:35 PM
I buy paintings to hang on the wall and look nice. I buy ukuleles to play music.

bratsche
09-20-2018, 01:04 PM
I didn't know there was any other way. I always buy for looks. What else is there? A ukulele is a ukulele. They all play the same notes. Even when I went to Elderly Instruments, I hardly touched the ukuleles. I just looked and said "I'll take that cedar baritone."

If they all sounded the same, I'd only choose to have one baritone and one tenor. The three tenors I have could not possibly sound more different from one another, or feel more different to play. I enjoy the variety of voices. I've bought them all online and pre-owned, but not without studying as many sound samples as I could first.

There was only one time that I was moved to look up more about an instrument based on its looks, or to be specific, the type and pattern of the wood that was used on the back and sides. In that case, when I expressed interest, the seller was gracious enough to make a specific video for me, giving me a closer look as well as sound samples, which ultimately convinced me to buy it. But the sound is what makes or breaks a deal, as far as I'm concerned.


I buy paintings to hang on the wall and look nice. I buy ukuleles to play music.

This.:agree:


bratsche

Nickie
09-20-2018, 02:38 PM
Kinda, sorta. That got me to pick it up. It was beautiful. Then I strummed it and was knocked for a loop. No bling, just a really pretty reddish koa wood. And a neck so thin, it warped. UGH!

Pueo
09-20-2018, 04:12 PM
Normally I play the instrument before I purchase it. There have been exactly three that I did not play, or even see (the exact one) that I purchased.
My Mainland Gecko, I bought as a factory second to re-finish myself. It was inexpensive, and really just a goof so no need to try before I bought it. I still have it.
My Epiphone Les Paul I bought just for the looks alone. I played one at Guitar Center, knew it did not sound that great, but sill bought one anyway. Only they did not have the "Vintage" color in stock, only the "Cherry" so I had them order one and drop-ship it to my door. You know what? I really like it. I play it quite often. I just got lucky on that one? Who knows. I paid less than $100 for it and it has given me at least that much enjoyment.
My Purple Kamoa GC-700 tiger maple concert.
I wanted one from the first time I saw one.
I played an example at a festival and liked it well enough.
Ordered one online sight unseen.
When I received it, it had some QC issues, but played well and sounded nice. I just never really bonded with it fully.
I wanted to like it so much, I kept it for a few years, but when the opportunity arose for me to purchase a Compass Rose, I sold it to help defray the expense.
I sold it for roughly half of what it cost new.

Like someone posted earlier, if it were an ukulele brand I knew well like Ko`olau or Moore Bettah or LFdM or Beau Hannam, I would have no reservations buying based on a photo.
Everything else, I think I would still want to play it first.

70sSanO
09-20-2018, 06:44 PM
I generally purchase based on trying the ukulele first, or reviews (KoAloha), or personal experience with the builder (Fred Shields). But my first tenor (Keith Ogata) was more about the way it looked, conversations with Keith, and having something few people would know about. It turned out to be my most played ukulele, but not without some degree of tweaking.

The one ukulele I bought purely on looks was for my wife. It was a Kala cedar/koa concert with abolone purfling, rosette, and headstock trim that was for sale on the Marketplace. My wife had talked about learning to play and that ukulele definitely had the looks. My wife plays occasionally and it was perfect for her... I did show her the posted pictures before buying it.

John

Joyful Uke
09-21-2018, 06:07 AM
I buy after listening to sound samples and reading reviews. If it looks extra pretty, that's nice, but I buy them to play, and don't pay attention to the looks when I'm playing.

I actually don't particularly like the looks of one of my ukuleles, but love playing it. I bought it knowing I wouldn't be looking at it much, but with the expectation that I would enjoy the sound and feel of it, which I do.

Oldtoolie
09-24-2018, 02:26 AM
Looking at my ukes, I guess I bought these for the way they look. The Fender 52 and the Mahalo surfboard electric actually sound ok. The Mahalo USA not so good.112296

ukuleleabe
09-24-2018, 03:05 AM
I'm currently waiting for a custom uke to be built by Jay Lichty.

So I'm buying it based on conceptual looks alone.

And yes I'm dying with anticipation.

Jerryc41
09-24-2018, 06:41 AM
Looking at my ukes, I guess I bought these for the way they look. The Fender 52 and the Mahalo surfboard electric actually sound ok. The Mahalo USA not so good.112296

I'm just the same. If it catches my eye, there's a good chance I'll buy it.

mikelz777
10-05-2018, 05:59 PM
This is the uke that inspired this thread, a Kala KA-ZCT-C. (Ziricote laminate front, back and sides. Walnut fretboard and a satin finished neck which I love and wish I had it on my other ukes.) I couldn't resist it!

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TobyDog
10-06-2018, 01:47 PM
112562
I'm waiting for Fred Shields to build my concert mahogany backpacker - order based on looks and all the folks here who rave about Mr. Shields work.

kerneltime
10-06-2018, 04:37 PM
Bought a rip tide US-11NS on looks and a good price

BBQUKER
10-07-2018, 02:39 AM
An Oreo from Bonanza.

kohanmike
10-07-2018, 06:30 AM
This is the uke that inspired this thread, a Kala KA-ZCT-C. (Ziricote laminate front, back and sides. Walnut fretboard and a satin finished neck which I love and wish I had it on my other ukes.) I couldn't resist it!
I would have done the same.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos

mikelz777
10-07-2018, 02:40 PM
I would have done the same.

Now I need to quit looking at ukes that I don't already own!

Ziret
10-08-2018, 05:00 AM
This is the uke that inspired this thread, a Kala KA-ZCT-C. (Ziricote laminate front, back and sides. Walnut fretboard and a satin finished neck which I love and wish I had it on my other ukes.) I couldn't resist it!

112548112549

That's beautiful wood.

mikelz777
10-08-2018, 06:42 AM
That's beautiful wood.

The wood grain was so striking on this one I fell in love with it almost as soon as I saw it. I bought it without ever having touched it trusting the Kala name to deliver a nice sounding uke. I wasn't disappointed when I got my hands on it so I'm very pleased with the purchase.

frets alot
10-08-2018, 11:41 AM
This is the uke that inspired this thread, a Kala KA-ZCT-C. (Ziricote laminate front, back and sides. Walnut fretboard and a satin finished neck which I love and wish I had it on my other ukes.) I couldn't resist it!

112548112549
I think like you! Mine is the tenor version.
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Kenn2018
10-09-2018, 07:38 PM
I have to modify my answer. I did buy a gorgeous Kanile'a K-1T Premium curly koa tenor. But i am very familiar with the K-1T and knew it would sound as good as it looks.

These are the seller's photos and they don't do it justice. The colors shimmer and change. It's an orange-brown golden tiger striped effect that changes in the light and angle you're looking at it.

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frets alot
10-10-2018, 12:40 AM
I have to modify my answer. I did buy a gorgeous Kanile'a K-1T Premium curly koa tenor. But i am very familiar with the K-1T and knew it would sound as good as it looks.

These are the seller's photos and they don't do it justice. The colors shimmer and change. It's an orange-brown golden tiger striped effect that changes in the light and angle you're looking at it.

112620112621112622112623

Gorgeous! Congrats!

bkrownd
10-10-2018, 11:01 AM
How many of you have purchased a uke based on looks alone?

How about 80% "looks"? Price and size/scale and availability are limitations that have to be considered. Beyond that, as a beginner I don't really have an "ear" for quality, and the people doing the demo videos for HMS make everything sound spectacular. So after clearing the hurdle of "reputation" we get to desire: beautiful woods and inlays and proportions and details are what makes the money jump out of the wallet. ;)