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S11LKO
09-29-2018, 05:57 AM
Today I visited a guitar shop and spent an hour with a Taylor PS14ce. At nearly 8k (Stirling) it was certainly a nicely built and good looking guitar, but to be honest, for ME, it neither played or sounded any better than my 350 Freshman Apollo - in fact, I found the action up at the dusty end to be quite off-puttingly high!

I suppose someone who could REALLY play - as opposed to MY humble efforts - may appreciate the difference, but I certainly couldn't. I am very happy with my Freshman and, apart from just the pleasure of being able to say I owned the Taylor, it certainly didn't justify the 7.5k price difference.

Have others found this or is it just me with my limited knowledge/experience/ability not being able to appreciate the subtleties?

kohanmike
09-29-2018, 06:27 AM
The action is not an inherent issue, it can be easily adjusted with a proper setup, but I do agree that lower cost instruments can be very good. I've told this story many times; when I first started playing ukulele five years ago, I went through 16 ukes in the first year, having fun buying different styles and woods, but towards the end of the year I bought a $370 Kala cedar top that was so good, I culled down my collection to 4 of my best sounding most comfortable. At the time I actually did a side-by-side comparison with two $1200 K brand ukes and found the Kala was at least 90% as good, if not more. It became my go to gig uke.

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
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DownUpDave
09-29-2018, 06:57 AM
I think it boils down to personal taste in tone and if looks or bling is important to you. I have played some $5000 guitars that were worth the price from a tone point of view and others that were not, someone might like the one I didn't. But if I play an entry level Martin dreadnaught with spruce top and laminate back and sides then I play a Martin D18 the difference is huge.

I will get a bit personal and discuss instruments that are expensive......at the risk of sounding like I am bragging, which I am not. I have guitars ranging in price from $500 to $3000 and the quality of sound does improve with price. My Taylor 512e 12 fret cedar mahogany sounds the best out of everything I own, its the most expensive. But the $500 Taylor GS mini sounds great and I am happy playing that when it is in my hand. But if I then grab the Taylor 512 the difference is obvious

My ukulele collection is the same, my best sounding ukes are the most expensive but it is not propotional in price. The $3600 LfdM does not sound 3 times better than the $1200 Kimo. Here is the rub and most people don't get this unless they have owned multiple good sounding instruments. The difference between very good and excellent is about 10% same from excellent to great and great to amazing. I little bit more sustain or projection or clarity makes the difference between good and amazing. Just my personal thoughts from experiences with a house full and ukuleles and guitars.

S11LKO
09-29-2018, 07:07 AM
Thanks for the input Mike. You obviously subscribe to the 'If it suits you and you like the sound of it, go with it!' train of thought then? I think I'm beginning to...

S11LKO
09-29-2018, 07:12 AM
I think it boils down to personal taste in tone and if looks or bling is important to you. I have played some $5000 guitars that were worth the price from a tone point of view and others that were not, someone might like the one I didn't. But if I play an entry level Martin dreadnaught with spruce top and laminate back and sides then I play a Martin D18 the difference is huge.

I will get a bit personal and discuss instruments that are expensive......at the risk of sounding like I am bragging, which I am not. I have guitars ranging in price from $500 to $3000 and the quality of sound does improve with price. My Taylor 512e 12 fret cedar mahogany sounds the best out of everything I own, its the most expensive. But the $500 Taylor GS mini sounds great and I am happy playing that when it is in my hand. But if I then grab the Taylor 512 the difference is obvious

My ukulele collection is the same, my best sounding ukes are the most expensive but it is not propotional in price. The $3600 LfdM does not sound 3 times better than the $1200 Kimo. Here is the rub and most people don't get this unless they have owned multiple good sounding instruments. The difference between very good and excellent is about 10% same from excellent to great and great to amazing. I little bit more sustain or projection or clarity makes the difference between good and amazing. Just my personal thoughts from experiences with a house full and ukuleles and guitars.

Thanks Dave. I DO see where you're coming from. I think the weak part of the equation is my ability and experience (or more accurately, my LACK of both). For ME, I can't notice a considerable difference, but so many far better players than I use expensive guitars like Taylors, Martins, and the like, that they must offer benefits I can't currently appreciate.
Maybe one day...sigh! lol x

DownUpDave
09-29-2018, 08:05 AM
Thanks Dave. I DO see where you're coming from. I think the weak part of the equation is my ability and experience (or more accurately, my LACK of both). For ME, I can't notice a considerable difference, but so many far better players than I use expensive guitars like Taylors, Martins, and the like, that they must offer benefits I can't currently appreciate.
Maybe one day...sigh! lol x

I have heard you play and sing and you are much better than me. This is all a fun debate but at the end of the day as long as we make music we enjoy the cost of the instrument doesnt matter one bit. The old cheap depression era guitars made some great music and still do. You have the right formula.......love what you have and love making music with it.

Croaky Keith
09-29-2018, 08:33 AM
I think after a certain price point, gains become so small compared to the rising cost, that I stick with what sounds good to me, too. :)

My best & most expensive uke is what some call an intermediate uke, but I won't be looking for anything else. ;)

And, whilst slightly off topic, I'm having great fun with some (tin) whistles, & they only cost from 5. :cheers:

ampeep
09-29-2018, 11:18 AM
In the late 70's my friends & I bought cheap acoustic guitars, like Carlos, Suzuki & Terada. Next, they upgraded to Yamahas which sounded noticeably better. As they improved, over the years, most ended up with Martins & Taylors. Around that time, I tried their Yamahas & Martins. Noticed that it took more effort to play the Martins if you wanted to get good sound from them. In my case, the older Yamahas sounded better when I played them.

One of my friends added several custom made guitars including a James Taylor model Olson & a nylon string McGill. These are absolutely beautiful guitars which sound great, even when I play them. My friend is a much better guitar player than me - I'd never consider getting one of these instruments (plus I couldn't afford 'em).

I guess you should stick to whatever sounds good & makes you happy.

S11LKO
09-29-2018, 02:05 PM
I have heard you play and sing and you are much better than me.

Thanks guys for all your responses which I read with great interest.

Also Dave, thank you for your above comment which I doubt is true but I love you for saying it. lol

Patrick Madsen
09-29-2018, 06:49 PM
For me, it's all about the shape and feel of the neck. I like a thin, fast, low action neck. Cost is secondary... to a point. I've been playing guitar for 61 years and ukes for close to 7. With the commercial instruments, there was always some nuance that was missing. Therefore, I buy mostly customs now because I can order exactly how I want it. I do have a Dolphin and a cheap Mainland that sounds really nice. I play them regularly.

String choice makes a big difference also. It's been a bear finding a replacement for Dirk's strings but finally think I've found a combination that works for me. Nylon strings seem harder to find a great set vs. steel strings are all closely sound the same.

Lately I've been playing with a flat pick again. Just found out there is a subculture on custom picks. I just received a few of Bill Stokes (Showcase) flat picks. They aren't cheap but really make a difference compared to the cheaper Dunlop that are available in stores. A Wegen flat pick sells for thirty-five dollars. Capos are another sub culture. Big difference in regular sold ones and custom ones though they both do the same function.

I care less about how cheap an instrument is over how it plays in my hands; not some one else's'.

ampeep
09-29-2018, 10:18 PM
Haven't used a pick since the 70's. Amazing - $35 for ONE pick??? I'd need a leash to tie it to my wrist or guitar to keep from losing it! 🤤

Croaky Keith
09-29-2018, 10:32 PM
Capos are another sub culture. Big difference in regular sold ones and custom ones though they both do the same function.

What's wrong with an old Biro/pen & an elastic band........... ;)

Rakelele
09-30-2018, 01:43 AM
To me, the answer to the question in the title has to do with realistic expectations. Yes, you can and should expect more from an expensive item over its cheaper counterpart. On the other hand, just how much better it will be cannot be measured linearly: A uke or guitar that costs 10 times more will hardly sound 10 times better, as there are only so many strings, a defined scale length and a relatively limited body volume to work with. An inexpensive uke or guitar roughly has the same specs as an expensive one. However, in my experience, an expensive instrument from an acclaimed luthier like, say, Beau Hannam, Chuck Moore or Luis Feu de Mesquita will definitely have more resonance and sustain and these are factors that can even be measured scientifically. The relatively high price gives these luthiers the time to dial in and fine-tune everything perfectly, whereas the workers in the line of a Chinese factory can only spend a very limited amount of time on each step it takes to build an instrument. Also, the luthiers can take the time to experiment with bracings, top thickness, different pieces of woods etc., while the factory workers are merely trained to execute the same operation over and over again. With all of this, like I mentioned initially, there is good reason to expect an expensive instrument to be "better". But that doesn't mean that you like it better, or that you couldn't be happy with a very inexpensive instrument.

DownUpDave
09-30-2018, 02:07 AM
Speaking of acoustic guitars only there are so many good brands with models under say $700. It is easy now a days to find a good sounding and playing guitar from Yamaha, Alvarez, Seagull, Cort, Simon and Patrick, Recording King, Eastman, etc etc. Much much better selection then the junk available in the 60s and 70s.

Graham Greenbag
09-30-2018, 02:21 AM
“Is expensive always better?” That looks like a simple question but I think it a rather complex one.

With the caveat that you sometimes get less than what you expected my own rule of thumb is that the higher the price is the better the possible quality of the product (typically you don’t get what you don’t pay for, and sometimes you don’t get what you do pay for). When buying things now I look at what quality and utility I actually need from a product and then try to neither significantly under or over buy - but better to slightly over buy than to under buy. So for me expensive isn’t always better because (both) it isn’t always money well spent and (being a tight Northerner) I have an inbuilt dislike of spending noticeably more money than is necessary, as ever YMMV.

As for instruments I was long ago told that ‘a pro will always play better on a student instrument that a student will play on a pro instrument ment’. Of course pro’s play more expensive instruments for reasons that are applicable to them but for the rest of us practice is probably the best investment we can make. IMHO, the OP sounds pretty dammed good on what might be considered a lower cost instrument.

From another thread I notce that the well respected Uncle Rod has recently taken to a basic laminate Uke for leading Uke sessions. If less expensive Ukes are good enough for him then they’re good good enough for the vast bulk of people: https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?135372-Ohana-Willow-Laminate-Soprano-arrived. Sometimes things are just better than they need to be, but if you have the money to spend then potentially wasting it or not is the buyers decision.

S11LKO
09-30-2018, 08:30 AM
So many interesting responses. Thank you chaps.

tigersister
09-30-2018, 12:19 PM
The one you take out to play often and it brings you joy is the better uke. If that’s an inexpensive instrument, that’s wonderful. If that’s an expensive one with a ton of upgrades and customization, that’s wonderful too. So no, expensive is not automatically going to be better.

S11LKO
10-02-2018, 07:41 AM
Thanks Soo. A great way of looking at it.