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HelloChips
12-13-2018, 09:29 AM
Hello everyone. I don't know anything about Ukuleles but I have been researching them online and been watching lots of youtube videos to educate myself. I need this forum's help purchasing a nice ukulele for a close friend of mine (as a surprise) who plays a lot of bluegrass, folk, country type of music.

price range of $500-600

I have some questions.

•how much does brand play into the quality/ sound quality of these instruments at that price range? Does a specific brand makes better models at my price range than others?


•what do I need to watch out when buying expensive uk?


•is Amazon really a NO-NO store to buy?


•what bells and whistles companies try to sell you to add cost to the uk but irrelevant to the sound quality and feel of the uk? *How does Martin Uk compare to some of the Hawaii an brand names?


•what up with Ohana All Solid Models? are these all solid wood or some are spruce tops?


Here are some ukuleles on my list. Concert or Tenor( prefer)

•Cordoba 35T-CE Tenor Acoustic-Electric Ukulele


*Lanikai Manana-T Hawaiian Solid Body Acoustic-Electric Tenor Ukulele *T1K Koa Tenor Ukulele

*Ohana TK-35GCE

*Ohana Ukuleles BK-35G (baritone)

*Pono ATD - Gloss Acacia Tenor

*Cordoba 30T-CE Solid Mahogany

*Koaloha Opio Concert Long Neck Ukulele Package (KCO-02)

•any KoAloha ( how do they compare with other brands?)


I would appreciate suggestions, please.

lastly, any good place to purchase these instruments. preferable a place that offers good pricing :)

thank you all for looking into this! your replies are greatly appreciated :)

Graham Greenbag
12-13-2018, 10:09 AM
My advice. Simply do not do this as any purchase you make is 99% likely to not be what your friend would like or buy for themselves with the same funds. You have as much chance of getting this purchase right as you do just throwing a dart at a dart board and getting a Bullseye (basically no chance). Would I go out and buy my wife a dress? Not a chance ‘cause I’d get the wrong size, the wrong colours and the wrong style ...... she’d probably have preferred a skirt and blouse instead too.

Nice to have a friend like you though .......... Wish mine were as generous!

I wonder if Uke Republic do gift vouchers?

Photodan
12-13-2018, 10:20 AM
I agree that a gift certificate might be the best way to go. Having said that, I bought my Martin T1-K from Musician's Friend and had a real good experience. I have bought one from Uke Republic and one from Mim also and the setup is worth something too.

RafterGirl
12-13-2018, 11:00 AM
Where are you located? You mentioned UK, are you in the UK or US? World of Ukes and Southern Music Store are two in the UK that I’ve heard good things about. Does your friend already play the ukulele? What size are they playing? Size, brand, wood, and design features are very personal. We all like different things. In general I love KoAloha and have heard very things about their more affordable Opio line. I’d go along with what others have suggested with a gift certificate to a reputable dealer.

besley
12-13-2018, 11:23 AM
Sorry to be a downer here, but I absolutely agree that getting this right, without LOTS of hints from your friend, is going to be pretty tough. So while it won't be nearly as exciting an unboxing experience, I agree with the gift certificate idea. If in the UK Southern Ukulele Store perhaps, while in the US either Uke Republic or The Ukulele Site will be sure to have a great instrument available for your friend, with the all important setup as well.

merlin666
12-13-2018, 11:43 AM
The Koaloha brand is definitely way more than a notch above the rest of the list. I was at their factory tour last month and had a chance to compare their various levels of models. While the Opio models are quite nice and great value for the money, I find their choice of Sapele fretboards a bit odd. What I find the most interesting of the new Kaloha model line-up is their Acacia Series - the body is made in Thailand but then they put it together in Honolulu so it gets a stamp "Assembled in Hawaii". It has a nice Koa fretboard and some cool Ebony ornamentation, so it really stands out as a unique looking instrument.

https://store.ukelikethepros.com/products/honeysuckle-koaloha-rosette-concert-acacia-kcr-10ac

robinboyd
12-13-2018, 11:50 AM
I don't have any work yet today, so I'll write out a long(ish) reply.

1. A gift voucher is definitely the safest way to go, but it doesn't have the same personal touch, does it?

2. "how much does brand play into the quality" - somewhat, but at that price point, you will find that any brand you get will be pretty good. The store you buy it at is probably more important. Mim's Ukes (https://www.mimsukes.com/), HMS (http://theukulelesite.com/), and Uke Republic (http://www.ukerepublic.com/) all have good reputations.

3. "what do I need to watch out when buying expensive uk?" - The same thing to watch out for with any uke. Is the intonation OK and is it set up properly, etc. If you buy from a reputable dealer, they will make sure of this for you. Also, just look for any defects such as warping of the neck or cracking of the body. This will be grounds for returning it as long as you haven't bought from somebody dodgy.

4. "is Amazon really a NO-NO store to buy?" - well I've heard people have got some quite good deals on Amazon, but it's totally pot luck. They probably won't do a setup and they may not take it back if it's defective (see number 3). Anyway, I wouldn't take the risk.

5. "what bells and whistles companies try to sell you to add cost to the uk but irrelevant to the sound quality and feel of the uk?" - Anything that's decorative, such as inlay, etc. It's not necessarily a bad thing to have it, but it's purely decorative. Also, slotted headstocks are mostly for looks and some people find their heaviness unbalances the uke.

6. "what up with Ohana All Solid Models? are these all solid wood or some are spruce tops?" Ohana all solids are all solid, but your question is a bit wrong. All solid means that no part of the body is made from laminate. This means that a uke can have a spruce top and still be all solid because the spruce is solid wood (not laminate). If it's spruce top (and you don't like that for whatever reason) it will say it in the description.

7. I will only comment on a few of the specific models

*Lanikai Manana-T Hawaiian Solid Body Acoustic-Electric Tenor Ukulele *T1K Koa Tenor Ukulele - I haven't played this and have no experience with it, but Lanikai is not a brand I would associate with a ukulele at this price point.

*Ohana Ukuleles BK-35G (baritone) - Baritone ukes have a different tuning. Unless you are absolutely sure that this is what your friend wants, then I would steer clear of them.

*Pono ATD - Gloss Acacia Tenor - Pono has a good reputation. This is probably a safe bet.

*any KoAloha (how do they compare with other brands?) - Koaloha's (including Opios) have excellent sound and playability. The reason I don't own one is because I personally don't like the aesthetics of the triangular sound hole and spiky headstock. Otherwise, they are great.

8. Other ukes to consider.
* When I had a similar budget for a uke, I ended up getting a Mele (https://meleukulele.com/) They aren't everyone's cup of tea, but it suited me.
* Otherwise, at your price range, I'd be looking at a Pono, Opio, or possibly a Romero Creations (I've heard good things, but haven't actually played one). You will find them at the sites I posted above.

HelloChips
12-13-2018, 01:25 PM
Wow! thank you everyone for responding! I appreciate all the reply!!





My advice. Simply do not do this as any purchase you make is 99% likely to not be what your friend would like or buy for themselves with the same funds. You have as much chance of getting this purchase right as you do just throwing a dart at a dart board and getting a Bullseye (basically no chance). Would I go out and buy my wife a dress? Not a chance ‘cause I’d get the wrong size, the wrong colours and the wrong style ...... she’d probably have preferred a skirt and blouse instead too.

Nice to have a friend like you though .......... Wish mine were as generous!

I wonder if Uke Republic do gift vouchers?

Yeah I understand the concept. But it so impersonal to get a gift card and I want to surprise her. She currently has a cheap ukulele right now and I would like to get her something nice.


I agree that a gift certificate might be the best way to go. Having said that, I bought my Martin T1-K from Musician's Friend and had a real good experience. I have bought one from Uke Republic and one from Mim also and the setup is worth something too.

which one is your favorite? out of the three in all around feel and sound?


Where are you located? You mentioned UK, are you in the UK or US? World of Ukes and Southern Music Store are two in the UK that I’ve heard good things about. Does your friend already play the ukulele? What size are they playing? Size, brand, wood, and design features are very personal. We all like different things. In general I love KoAloha and have heard very things about their more affordable Opio line. I’d go along with what others have suggested with a gift certificate to a reputable dealer.

I actually live in the US I tried to abbreviate ukulele, I should have been more clear :(

Yes! she plays a lot. I know she has some cheap ukuleles and would like to get her something nice. I figure at that price range she would appreciate anything? maybe? she plays a tenor? I actually may need help identifying the ukulele she currently has. I only have pictures of her with it. low res pics



Sorry to be a downer here, but I absolutely agree that getting this right, without LOTS of hints from your friend, is going to be pretty tough. So while it won't be nearly as exciting an unboxing experience, I agree with the gift certificate idea. If in the UK Southern Ukulele Store perhaps, while in the US either Uke Republic or The Ukulele Site will be sure to have a great instrument available for your friend, with the all important setup as well.

how competitive are the prices with these websites? have you heard about buying things from amazon?


The Koaloha brand is definitely way more than a notch above the rest of the list. I was at their factory tour last month and had a chance to compare their various levels of models. While the Opio models are quite nice and great value for the money, I find their choice of Sapele fretboards a bit odd. What I find the most interesting of the new Kaloha model line-up is their Acacia Series - the body is made in Thailand but then they put it together in Honolulu so it gets a stamp "Assembled in Hawaii". It has a nice Koa fretboard and some cool Ebony ornamentation, so it really stands out as a unique looking instrument.

https://store.ukelikethepros.com/products/honeysuckle-koaloha-rosette-concert-acacia-kcr-10ac

thank you for sharing your experience. sounds like you got some first hand experience on checking out their manufacturing and assembly? I will look into this more tonight when im out from work.


I don't have any work yet today, so I'll write out a long(ish) reply.

1. A gift voucher is definitely the safest way to go, but it doesn't have the same personal touch, does it?

2. "how much does brand play into the quality" - somewhat, but at that price point, you will find that any brand you get will be pretty good. The store you buy it at is probably more important. Mim's Ukes (https://www.mimsukes.com/), HMS (http://theukulelesite.com/), and Uke Republic (http://www.ukerepublic.com/) all have good reputations.

3. "what do I need to watch out when buying expensive uk?" - The same thing to watch out for with any uke. Is the intonation OK and is it set up properly, etc. If you buy from a reputable dealer, they will make sure of this for you. Also, just look for any defects such as warping of the neck or cracking of the body. This will be grounds for returning it as long as you haven't bought from somebody dodgy.

4. "is Amazon really a NO-NO store to buy?" - well I've heard people have got some quite good deals on Amazon, but it's totally pot luck. They probably won't do a setup and they may not take it back if it's defective (see number 3). Anyway, I wouldn't take the risk.

5. "what bells and whistles companies try to sell you to add cost to the uk but irrelevant to the sound quality and feel of the uk?" - Anything that's decorative, such as inlay, etc. It's not necessarily a bad thing to have it, but it's purely decorative. Also, slotted headstocks are mostly for looks and some people find their heaviness unbalances the uke.

6. "what up with Ohana All Solid Models? are these all solid wood or some are spruce tops?" Ohana all solids are all solid, but your question is a bit wrong. All solid means that no part of the body is made from laminate. This means that a uke can have a spruce top and still be all solid because the spruce is solid wood (not laminate). If it's spruce top (and you don't like that for whatever reason) it will say it in the description.

7. I will only comment on a few of the specific models

*Lanikai Manana-T Hawaiian Solid Body Acoustic-Electric Tenor Ukulele *T1K Koa Tenor Ukulele - I haven't played this and have no experience with it, but Lanikai is not a brand I would associate with a ukulele at this price point.

*Ohana Ukuleles BK-35G (baritone) - Baritone ukes have a different tuning. Unless you are absolutely sure that this is what your friend wants, then I would steer clear of them.

*Pono ATD - Gloss Acacia Tenor - Pono has a good reputation. This is probably a safe bet.

*any KoAloha (how do they compare with other brands?) - Koaloha's (including Opios) have excellent sound and playability. The reason I don't own one is because I personally don't like the aesthetics of the triangular sound hole and spiky headstock. Otherwise, they are great.

8. Other ukes to consider.
* When I had a similar budget for a uke, I ended up getting a Mele (https://meleukulele.com/) They aren't everyone's cup of tea, but it suited me.
* Otherwise, at your price range, I'd be looking at a Pono, Opio, or possibly a Romero Creations (I've heard good things, but haven't actually played one). You will find them at the sites I posted above.

thank you so much for taking your time to tackle every single one of my questions. I will go over them one by one tonight.

robinboyd
12-13-2018, 01:38 PM
I forgot to answer your question about Martin Ukes. Yes, they have a good reputation and would be a perfectly reasonable choice.

mingus
12-13-2018, 02:45 PM
So...totally understand the caution flag everyone is flying, BUT:

I say go for it!! There is nothing like a wonderful surprise from a friend!

I’d go for something consistent like Pono or KoAloha Opio from a good retailer like HMS, MIM, or UkeRepublic!

ghostrdr
12-13-2018, 07:24 PM
First, you are an amazing friend! We all need more friends like you!

Second, it kind of depends on you, your friend, and your relationship. To better make suggestions for you, it will be helpful to know a little more about your friend and the type of music that she/he plays. Does the person play guitar or only ukulele? Does the person currently have a ukulele? what kind? what size (tenor, concert, etc.).

Buying a ukulele is sometimes very personal, but if you buy it as a gift, that adds to the sentimental value of it, so I'm also of the opinion that you should go for it! Of your list, the KoAloha is the most "Hawaiian" of that group, even though the ones you are looking at are made in their factory in Thailand. They are a terrific company, with the best warranty in the business. They also happen to be very nice people. Also, if you are in a shop, and you play ukuleles back to back, many times people choose the KoAloha, because something about how they make them, or their unique uni-brace, gives them a very full and deep sound that projects very loudly. Some people may think it is a bit much, but most people prefer it.

Any of the instruments on your list can play the type of music you indicated. For example, here is Jason Arimoto who plays a bit more of the genre that you referenced, on a KoAloha. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DgnjsTtmcM

On this forum, I would say people prefer KoAloha and Pono. People like Ohana also, but they have so many different models and styles, they sort of cater to everyone's individual tastes. I might email or call Mim's. She's super helpful and if you talk to her, she might be able to do make some recommendations for you.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!
Good luck!

Graham Greenbag
12-13-2018, 07:27 PM
Wow! thank you everyone for responding! I appreciate all the reply!!

Yeah I understand the concept. But it so impersonal to get a gift card and I want to surprise her. She currently has a cheap ukulele right now and I would like to get her something nice.



Yes, gift cards don’t do it for me either but on the other hand I have many items cluttering up my cupboards that were bought for me as gifts but don’t match my needs. One thing you could do is get a Uke box, put a cut-out of a Uke within it and tape the gift card or voucher to it. It’s a sensible way forward but you’ll have your various thoughts to balance. The size of the gift you propose is a very positive statement but buying the wrong thing will say some negative things about how much in tune you are with your friend - sorry to say that I’ve learned such things the hard way.

Most Uke players play on a particular size of Uke, you need to get hold of some of the Uke’s that she plays and identify the size by either measuring their overall length or taking photos of the labels within their sound holes (the label usually has the model details as well as the makers details on it). Tenor and Concert sizes typically have 14 frets to the neck and Sopranos have 12 frets to the neck. Overall lengths are typically 26, 24 and 21 inches for Tenor, Concert and Soprano Ukes respectively; if still in doubt then the Concert size is the safest bet (IMHO). I don’t play Tenor ‘cause my fingers aren’t long enough for that larger scale, Concert works for me and it is a popular choice, I prefer Soprano but some folk find the scale and/instrument too small. In terms of quality your purchase will target the next step-up or two on her current instrument. If you could post some photos of your friend’s Uke here then it would likely be quickly identified by some reader. Who does your friend play Uke with and what can they tell you about the instrument that she currently plays? Do you have names for the songs and tunes that she plays? Do you have names for any Ukes players that she listens too? All those details will help someone guide you towards a reasonable purchase that’s more likely to be right for your friend.

The budget that you have is way more than is needed to buy a nice instrument. Use one of the recommended suppliers and don’t look at Amazon’s bargain prices ‘cause they will lead you to a poor purchase - maybe a good price but on the wrong item for her. If I lived in the US then I’d call both Uke Republic and Mim’s Ukes to speak with them about my friend and what they had to offer you as a suitable instrument plus other ways in which they might be able to help you. Pick something as mainstream as is possible and don’t get any fancy features - keeping it simple typically works best. Don’t get hung up on the brand or make of Uke, at this price point and from those dealers you’ll be getting something good regardless of the name on the headstock.

I don’t use hard cases for my instruments but do use gig bags. None of my instruments would cost more than $150 to replace so an expensive hard case isn’t warranted. If someone was spending up to $600 on a Uke for me then I think that part of that budget would be well spent on a reasonable case and humidifier to go in it.

Good luck.

RafterGirl
12-14-2018, 03:00 AM
Ask your friend a few casual questions about her ukulele playing so that you can confirm whether she indeed plays tenor, and if she likes that size. Then go to the HMS website and click on their holiday specials. They have a variety of nice ukuleles on sale in all sizes. Many of the ones on sale are Pono deluxe models that include a hard case. Pono is a well respected brand, and HMS will do an excellent set-up on the ukulele.

hendulele
12-14-2018, 04:05 AM
Yes, gift cards don’t do it for me either but on the other hand I have many items cluttering up my cupboards that were bought for me as gifts but don’t match my needs. One thing you could do is get a Uke box, put a cut-out of a Uke within it and tape the gift card or voucher to it. It’s a sensible way forward but you’ll have your various thoughts to balance. The size of the gift you propose is a very positive statement but buying the wrong thing will say some negative things about how much in tune you are with your friend - sorry to say that I’ve learned such things the hard way.

Most Uke players play on a particular size of Uke, you need to get hold of some of the Uke’s that she plays and identify the size by either measuring their overall length or taking photos of the labels within their sound holes (the label usually has the model details as well as the makers details on it). Tenor and Concert sizes typically have 14 frets to the neck and Sopranos have 12 frets to the neck. Overall lengths are typically 26, 24 and 21 inches for Tenor, Concert and Soprano Ukes respectively; if still in doubt then the Concert size is the safest bet (IMHO). I don’t play Tenor ‘cause my fingers aren’t long enough for that larger scale, Concert works for me and it is a popular choice, I prefer Soprano but some folk find the scale and/instrument too small. In terms of quality your purchase will target the next step-up or two on her current instrument. If you could post some photos of your friend’s Uke here then it would likely be quickly identified by some reader. Who does your friend play Uke with and what can they tell you about the instrument that she currently plays? Do you have names for the songs and tunes that she plays? Do you have names for any Ukes players that she listens too? All those details will help someone guide you towards a reasonable purchase that’s more likely to be right for your friend.

The budget that you have is way more than is needed to buy a nice instrument. Use one of the recommended suppliers and don’t look at Amazon’s bargain prices ‘cause they will lead you to a poor purchase - maybe a good price but on the wrong item for her. If I lived in the US then I’d call both Uke Republic and Mim’s Ukes to speak with them about my friend and what they had to offer you as a suitable instrument plus other ways in which they might be able to help you. Pick something as mainstream as is possible and don’t get any fancy features - keeping it simple typically works best. Don’t get hung up on the brand or make of Uke, at this price point and from those dealers you’ll be getting something good regardless of the name on the headstock.

I don’t use hard cases for my instruments but do use gig bags. None of my instruments would cost more than $150 to replace so an expensive hard case isn’t warranted. If someone was spending up to $600 on a Uke for me then I think that part of that budget would be well spent on a reasonable case and humidifier to go in it.

Good luck.

I love the idea of the cutout with gift card attached!

Ukes tend to be very personal, and if your friend hasn't experienced a really good one, if you're set on buying one, I'd go with a Martin. Just be sure you know what scale she plays (soprano/standard, concert, or tenor). They tend to be set up perfectly out of the box (meaning, the ukulele will play in tune, the frets won't be rough, the strings will be high-quality, and the like). If you want to do the surprise with the uke-size cutout, My favorite uke vendor is MIM, but I hear great things about HMS (The Ukulele Site) and Uke Republic. They offer different brands, but anyone should be very helpful. They can also suggest nice accessories, such as tuners, bags/cases, etc.

What a great friend you are!

RafterGirl
12-14-2018, 05:22 AM
HMS just added some KoAloha Opio ukes today. Tenor with KoAloha deluxe gig bag for $655.

merlin666
12-14-2018, 05:37 AM
HMS just added some KoAloha Opio ukes today. Tenor with KoAloha deluxe gig bag for $655.

Inded good to see they have more stock, including two Acacia Series concerts with special discounts. As for the Opio Series, they also have the new spruce topped models which I did not care for when I was at the factory due to their plain looks, but they "made me" play one and yeah ... I was impressed by the punch this little thing packed.

Rakelele
12-14-2018, 06:21 AM
I agree that it is pretty though to pick a uke for someone else, but on the other hand, it's sooo romantic and much, much nicer to get a real instrument, especially one that will clearly be on a much higher level. I'll bet your friend will REALLY appreciate the sheer thought, let alone an instrument of such a calibre. So I'd encourage you to go for it. 500-600 Dollars will buy a REALLY nice instrument that is way above others, so I'd let aside all the Kalas and Ohanas that are mostly known for entry level and get a brand that spells value:

- KoAloha (including their imported Opio line) if you want to be close to the Hawaiian origins of the instrument
- Pono as a brand well known for value, and also closely linked to a Hawaiian company
- Martin for guitarists and the like who know and appreciate the brand name
- Or how about Romero Creations for something slightly different, but associated to a well-known luthier (Pepe Romero) and a very famous uke player (Daniel Ho)? IMO, the best value in your price range right now is the all solid "Replica" model at Uke Republic (https://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/romero-creations-the-replica-all-solid-spruce-mahogany-tenor-ukulele).

Do not buy from Amazon; instread order from Hawaii Music Supply (The Ukulele Site), Uke Republic, or Mim. Your friend will appreciate this origin just as much as the uke itself, as it will show once again how very thoughtful you are. These stores are specialized on ukulele and will prepare each instrument for optimal playabilty.

Let us know how this all turns out, such a wonderful idea. Congratulations on being such a great friend!

HelloChips
12-14-2018, 08:32 AM
I forgot to answer your question about Martin Ukes. Yes, they have a good reputation and would be a perfectly reasonable choice.

yeah. I hear nothing but good things with Martin, even though they don't manufacture everything in the US. you think the uke models they offer are good for folk?

also, whats your opinion on Theukulelesite.com as a seller? they seem to have good pricing on their products.


So...totally understand the caution flag everyone is flying, BUT:

I say go for it!! There is nothing like a wonderful surprise from a friend!

I’d go for something consistent like Pono or KoAloha Opio from a good retailer like HMS, MIM, or UkeRepublic!

heard of the ukulelesite.com? any sites that offers good deals?

Rakelele
12-14-2018, 09:16 AM
The Ukulele Site is the best store by far and extremely popular among UU members (see my comment above). Great selection, setup and quality control. Plus free shipping on orders over 400 Dollars.

robinboyd
12-14-2018, 09:30 AM
yeah. I hear nothing but good things with Martin, even though they don't manufacture everything in the US. you think the uke models they offer are good for folk?

also, whats your opinion on Theukulelesite.com as a seller? they seem to have good pricing on their products.



When you say good for "folk" are you talking about being good for folk music or good for people? Either way, the answer is yes. My impression of Martins (keep in mind that I haven't actually played one) is that they sound and feel great, but look kind of boring.

The ukulele site is the web presence of HMS, which we were all talking about above. It's got an impeccable reputation.

Kenn2018
12-14-2018, 09:40 AM
If she already has an inexpensive uke, and she enjoys playing, then I think you will be safe getting her a better quality ukulele as a gift. And she will really appreciate your thoughtfulness. If it isn't the perfect uke for her, she will still be amazed that you bought it for her. A gift certificate just doesn't cut it.

You absolutely need to have the uke properly setup. Mim's, Uke Republic, The Ukulele Site are all safe bets. All include a setup in the price. However, if you are trying to get it to her for Christmas, you may not make it. Call and ask. TheUkuleleSite.com takes at least 2 weeks to do a "full" setup. Mim's is usually quicker, but this is the peak season so contact her and ask. Uke Republic was usually a week. Plus there is shipping time for all of these mail order stores.

A consideration is how diminutive or tall your friend is.
The Pono has a fairly deep neck. Some people with smaller hands find them more difficult to play. The deluxe is a Gloss finish, the base model is satin. That's the only difference. I can't hear a difference in the sound between the two models. Both are very good.
The Martins in your price range are made in Mexico. I've read pretty good reviews about them. But also couple of poor reviews about the quality. If you buy from any of these dealers they usually will reject a poor quality instrument when they do the setup. They seem to have an average sized neck. My 1T's neck is pretty average and comfortable. Average width.
The Opio/KoAloha Tenor necks are pretty easy to play. Not as deep as the Pono. About the same width. Very nice sound. You can easily strum or pick on them. Great all around ukes. In any size.

The problem with buying a uke from Amazon is that they don't open the box. They ship what they get. No setup, no inspection. So a real crapshoot. Unless she has an instrument store near her that can do a setup, I'd avoid Amazon.

Make sure the instrument's description says: "Solid Wood" Top, back and sides. Or solid "body". Laminates can be great. Especially with a solid top. But some sound kind of dead. The makes and models people have suggested are all nice sounding.

Acacia wood is closely related to koa. Koa is regarded as one of the better woods to use in making ukes and has a very warm and very balanced sound. Spruce tops are generally louder than the same instrument with only one wood construction. Mahogany is also a good all-around wood. The woods of the "body" aren't as important as the wood in the top (soundboard).

Traditional construction uses mahogany for the neck with rosewood or ebony for the fingerboard. You can't go wrong with either one. (Others are fine, but have a different aesthetic.)

I'd suggest that you go for a traditional design and construction. Koa, Acacia, Mahogany. They are popular for a reason. I bought an Ohana tenor with a solid rosewood body & cedar top for under $400. It played nice and sounded very good. Kala has similar tenors in that price range. IMHO they don't sound quite as good as my solid Pono Acacia or Mango tenors. (All have mahogany necks, rosewood fretboards and geared tuners.)

Go for it. She'll be bowled over by your gesture.

Photodan
12-14-2018, 10:01 AM
yeah. I hear nothing but good things with Martin, even though they don't manufacture everything in the US. you think the uke models they offer are good for folk?

also, whats your opinion on Theukulelesite.com as a seller? they seem to have good pricing on their products.



heard of the ukulelesite.com? any sites that offers good deals?

I mentioned above that I have a Martin T1-K tenor that I love that is in that price range. They also make the concert sized C1-K as well. Both are solid koa and priced really well for one of those. They are built in Martin's factory in Mexico and are really nice. One thing the American models have over the Mexican ones is premium stripe on the koa wood but the sound is great. All koa ukes are not very numerous in that price range.

lfoo6952
12-14-2018, 10:30 AM
Hi Chips:

Lots of great advice. I agree that Koaloha is the best of the bunch, and that the UkuleleSite or Mims are the better sites to buy. At your price range, it deserves a nice hard shell case. The UkuleleSite has nice ABS cases made by Oahu for about $60.By the way, I am in Oahu right now and plan on visiting the UkuleleSite shop later today. Let me know if you want me to check anything out.

One important thing that has not been mentioned is the neck width. Ask your friend what neck width she prefers. If she has large hands, get a ukulele with at least a 1 1/2" neck.

HelloChips
12-14-2018, 10:32 AM
Thank you for all the replies! You guy have been so kind and helpful! I don't even play the uke and I feel the love in this forum.

I am having problem with my work computer so the replies are going to be random short and probably wont make sense since im trying to stealth answer.

Sorry in advance if I am spamming or breaking forum rules.

HelloChips
12-14-2018, 10:38 AM
wow! thank you for the insight. I really appreciate more info than specs about the Koaloha brand. sound projection is a definite must since she plays concert and I figure with other instruments in the background its good to have a small instrument stand out.

She plays allot of bluegrass and she plays the tenor. I need to post pics of what she plays but they are hard to find.

she only plays the Uke.

would mims personally pick up the call? because I feel like that just gave me an idea.

do you also know if she price match? most of the Koaloha models are the 1k price range on her site.



yeah. I want it to be personal and I want something that will make her feel special.

it looks like KoAloha is a really good brand. I like that kind of business practice.

HelloChips
12-14-2018, 10:56 AM
Yes, gift cards don’t do it for me either but on the other hand I have many items cluttering up my cupboards that were bought for me as gifts but don’t match my needs. One thing you could do is get a Uke box, put a cut-out of a Uke within it and tape the gift card or voucher to it. It’s a sensible way forward but you’ll have your various thoughts to balance. The size of the gift you propose is a very positive statement but buying the wrong thing will say some negative things about how much in tune you are with your friend - sorry to say that I’ve learned such things the hard way.

I really like this idea. maybe ill make a life size one and go from there. something to think about.

Most Uke players play on a particular size of Uke, you need to get hold of some of the Uke’s that she plays and identify the size by either measuring their overall length or taking photos of the labels within their sound holes (the label usually has the model details as well as the makers details on it). Tenor and Concert sizes typically have 14 frets to the neck and Sopranos have 12 frets to the neck. Overall lengths are typically 26, 24 and 21 inches for Tenor, Concert and Soprano Ukes respectively; if still in doubt then the Concert size is the safest bet (IMHO). I don’t play Tenor ‘cause my fingers aren’t long enough for that larger scale, Concert works for me and it is a popular choice, I prefer Soprano but some folk find the scale and/instrument too small. In terms of quality your purchase will target the next step-up or two on her current instrument. If you could post some photos of your friend’s Uke here then it would likely be quickly identified by some reader. Who does your friend play Uke with and what can they tell you about the instrument that she currently plays? Do you have names for the songs and tunes that she plays? Do you have names for any Ukes players that she listens too? All those details will help someone guide you towards a reasonable purchase that’s more likely to be right for your friend.

she plays the Tenor for sure. but I think she also has a soprano?

I will def look for this pictures and post them. unfortunately shes out of the country and I will have to stalk her FB to get some pics. they maybe super low rez but im pretty sure you guys can recognize it :)

man. I really want this to be a surprise so I don't want to ask anyone in her family/ band anything. shes really good at reading me and she will know that im up to something.

I would post her band but I kinda want this to be anonymous. sorry :(

The budget that you have is way more than is needed to buy a nice instrument. Use one of the recommended suppliers and don’t look at Amazon’s bargain prices ‘cause they will lead you to a poor purchase - maybe a good price but on the wrong item for her. If I lived in the US then I’d call both Uke Republic and Mim’s Ukes to speak with them about my friend and what they had to offer you as a suitable instrument plus other ways in which they might be able to help you. Pick something as mainstream as is possible and don’t get any fancy features - keeping it simple typically works best. Don’t get hung up on the brand or make of Uke, at this price point and from those dealers you’ll be getting something good regardless of the name on the headstock.

good info!

I don’t use hard cases for my instruments but do use gig bags. None of my instruments would cost more than $150 to replace so an expensive hard case isn’t warranted. If someone was spending up to $600 on a Uke for me then I think that part of that budget would be well spent on a reasonable case and humidifier to go in it.

Good luck.

how important is the humidifier?

HelloChips
12-14-2018, 11:03 AM
Ask your friend a few casual questions about her ukulele playing so that you can confirm whether she indeed plays tenor, and if she likes that size. Then go to the HMS website and click on their holiday specials. They have a variety of nice ukuleles on sale in all sizes. Many of the ones on sale are Pono deluxe models that include a hard case. Pono is a well respected brand, and HMS will do an excellent set-up on the ukulele.

unfortunately, shes out of the country and she is pretty good at guessing things. if I start asking question. she would pick up on my plan :/

I like the pricing on that website :) ive been browsing it.

HelloChips
12-14-2018, 11:05 AM
I love the idea of the cutout with gift card attached!

Ukes tend to be very personal, and if your friend hasn't experienced a really good one, if you're set on buying one, I'd go with a Martin. Just be sure you know what scale she plays (soprano/standard, concert, or tenor). They tend to be set up perfectly out of the box (meaning, the ukulele will play in tune, the frets won't be rough, the strings will be high-quality, and the like). If you want to do the surprise with the uke-size cutout, My favorite uke vendor is MIM, but I hear great things about HMS (The Ukulele Site) and Uke Republic. They offer different brands, but anyone should be very helpful. They can also suggest nice accessories, such as tuners, bags/cases, etc.

What a great friend you are!

thank you for suggestion. do you have favorite ? or top 3 ukes?

merlin666
12-14-2018, 11:05 AM
how important is the humidifier?

Depends on where you live. Most stringed instruments are happy around 45 to 55% humidity, if it's much lower (below 30%) then the solid wood can shrink so much that it cracks, if it's much higher (more than 65%) then the wood can swell so much that the action gets too low and it sounds tubby. Most problems occur in the winter when the outside temperatures drop below about -10C, then the heated inside air tends to go below 30% and you need a humidifier. They are cheap and can be picked up in any music store or make your own with a sponge.

HelloChips
12-14-2018, 11:06 AM
HMS just added some KoAloha Opio ukes today. Tenor with KoAloha deluxe gig bag for $655.

checking.

which of your ukes you like the most?

HelloChips
12-14-2018, 11:11 AM
I agree that it is pretty though to pick a uke for someone else, but on the other hand, it's sooo romantic and much, much nicer to get a real instrument, especially one that will clearly be on a much higher level. I'll bet your friend will REALLY appreciate the sheer thought, let alone an instrument of such a calibre. So I'd encourage you to go for it. 500-600 Dollars will buy a REALLY nice instrument that is way above others, so I'd let aside all the Kalas and Ohanas that are mostly known for entry level and get a brand that spells value:

- KoAloha (including their imported Opio line) if you want to be close to the Hawaiian origins of the instrument
- Pono as a brand well known for value, and also closely linked to a Hawaiian company
- Martin for guitarists and the like who know and appreciate the brand name
- Or how about Romero Creations for something slightly different, but associated to a well-known luthier (Pepe Romero) and a very famous uke player (Daniel Ho)? IMO, the best value in your price range right now is the all solid "Replica" model at Uke Republic (https://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/romero-creations-the-replica-all-solid-spruce-mahogany-tenor-ukulele).

Do not buy from Amazon; instread order from Hawaii Music Supply (The Ukulele Site), Uke Republic, or Mim. Your friend will appreciate this origin just as much as the uke itself, as it will show once again how very thoughtful you are. These stores are specialized on ukulele and will prepare each instrument for optimal playabilty.

Let us know how this all turns out, such a wonderful idea. Congratulations on being such a great friend!

thank you very much. I appreciate you understand what im aiming for as far as the sentiment. I really want to make this special for her.

I will def let you guys know how it turns out. but it will have to be by march since that the time when she will be back in the US.

HelloChips
12-14-2018, 11:13 AM
When you say good for "folk" are you talking about being good for folk music or good for people? Either way, the answer is yes. My impression of Martins (keep in mind that I haven't actually played one) is that they sound and feel great, but look kind of boring.

The ukulele site is the web presence of HMS, which we were all talking about above. It's got an impeccable reputation.


sorry. I meant folk music? is that the correct term?


and thank for the clarification.

merlin666
12-14-2018, 11:16 AM
checking.

which of your ukes you like the most?

I like to use different ukes for different songs and different moods. My basic one is a tenor, but I also wanted a concert so I picked an old KoAloha which is very sweet and the size is perfect for lounging on the couch and relaxing. But it also shines in a performance for strumming. Either of the two HMS deeply discounted Acacia Rosettes is probably a very sweet deal, but if they are out your budget then the acacia or spruce top opios are also great choices. They play and sound very similar, so it's mainly a matter of what look is preferred. In specs on paper and in price the difference between the various KoAloha levels seems big, but in practice not very noticeable.

Davoravo
12-14-2018, 12:06 PM
Gosh, great idea for a gift. I agree if she only has a cheap instrument now she probably will really appreciate any uke in that price range.

Unless she has particularly mentioned upsizing to tenor then concert size is a safe bet. If she currently has a soprano she will be happy with a concert and if she currently has a cheap tenor then she would still appreciate a concert if it is an upgrade in quality. Dont buy a baritone.

In your OP for the price you mentioned I would look at pono, opio, Ohana or all solid wood Kala (not laminate). Personally, I think Koaloha or Kanile’a would be too much unless you are planning on asking her to move in with you when you give this to her. I am not female but It would make me uncomfortable receiving those as a gift from someone I was not in a long term relationship with. Even pono and opio are very generous.

To echo everyone else, Amazon is too risky in that price range. I would buy amazon if I was looking for a $100-200 bargain.

Good luck and I hope she doesn’t browse these forums :-)

Graham Greenbag
12-14-2018, 12:17 PM
thank you very much. I appreciate you understand what im aiming for as far as the sentiment. I really want to make this special for her.

I will def let you guys know how it turns out. but it will have to be by march since that the time when she will be back in the US.

Just checking my understanding here. With Christmas coming up fast and a present being given I associated the two but perhaps that is not correct? If you plan to give this to your friend in March then there is plenty of time to get all the information you need and to select something at your leisure.

You asked (me) about a humidifier but the answer has been supplied by others already, good. Here in the U.K. it’s always humid but in the US that is not so. Ukes are basically fragile things made out of thin wood, when wood shrinks due to moisture loss the shrinkage can cause damage and the way around that is to stop the moisture loss with a humidifier. Ukes made of laminate don’t suffer in the way that Ukes made of solid wood do, but they typically don’t sound as good either - good enough for me though and I like maintenance free.

Kenn2018
12-14-2018, 12:55 PM
You have until march, so you can take your time.

I think at your price point, the Opio line by KoAloha or the Martin Mexican-made line will give you the biggest "Wow!" factor. With Pono by Ko'olau only slightly behind. Their brand names are known for high quality for a medium budget price, by ukulele players worldwide. You won't go wrong with any of these lines. Concert or Tenor sizes from them are well-regarded.

She will know you did your research if you go with any of them.

I wouldn't worry about a case or humidifiers. She'll be happy to accessorize it herself. For instance: a UkeCrazy canvas & hard foam is a good case for about $49-tenor size. Oasis humidifiers are about $20. Strap pins (buttons) are $10-ish. If you are good with a drill and screwdriver, you can install the pins for her. (Uke straps are a very personal choice.) A set of strings about $15. She'll have fun getting these things herself. There are other accessories that you can get her for gifts in the future.

Yes, often Mim answers the phone herself.

You may want to wait until after Xmas for sales. And so the seller can take more time with your order or answer any questions.

Best of luck!

robinboyd
12-14-2018, 05:13 PM
how important is the humidifier?

It really depends on where you live. I bought a humidifier at one point, but I never use it because the humidity never drops low enough here. If you lived in Arizona, it would be absolutely essential. As someone else said, she can always get a humidifier later. They are cheap.

UkingViking
12-15-2018, 01:31 AM
Edit:
Sorry, posted something that was allready posted, hadnt seen that there were more than one page in this thread and didnt read it all.
Disregard this post.

dgame
12-15-2018, 03:30 AM
Get the same size she plays now. I would not consider a change in size as an upgrade. Crop a photo of her current ukulele if you want help identifying the size.

70sSanO
12-15-2018, 04:25 AM
Would she ever believe you if you told her you were thinking about learning to play the ukulele? If the answer is yes, then ask her for advice. She would probably be more than willing to give you all the information you need under the guise of helping to pick out a uke for you. Stuff like I bought a concert, tenor, etc. but I wish I got a ??? Or, one of these days I’ll going to buy a better uke like a ??? Make it more about something for you and then take that info buy something for her.

I agree with so many other posts that suggest getting more information about what she wants and not just base it on what she plays now. I watch the Christmas car commercials where someone spends $40k on a new car as a surprise. While they are just ads, I wonder if in a real situation, after the initial wow and excitement, if there wouldn’t be a bit of... before you spent all that money, I really wanted a... Hard to respond with yeah but you have a mini van now.

John

rainbow21
12-15-2018, 07:00 AM
Sounds like there is time to do this without rushing.

You do have a list of potential ukes and when you get size and preferences down, opinions will abound as to which is better.

I recommend researching a few places that you might purchase it from. Price is not the main concern (most are similar or exactly the same price for the same uke). You want to find out about the return policy if the one you get is not the one she prefers. For example, a well used site has a seven day return policy. Cost to you is the return shipping. This way you decrease the risk greatly... others say think of it as about a $30 insurance policy. You can receive full credit or apply it toward another uke.

Timing here is key and you might want to contact the site directly regarding your needs so that arrival, gifting, and the return window match up.

hendulele
12-15-2018, 12:42 PM
thank you for suggestion. do you have favorite ? or top 3 ukes?

My favorites are Martin, Ohana and Fluke. I’ve also owned a KoAloha and it was great.

Tenors: The Flukes are an unusual design and might not be a good gift unless you know she wants one. It may be hard to find a Martin in your price range. So of the group, Ohana and KoAloha would be my choices. Good luck!

HelloChips
12-17-2018, 07:32 AM
GOOOOOOD MORNING, good people of Uke Undergound. HAPPY MONDAY!:cool:

Once again, I am very grateful from all the help that you all have given me.

I wasnt able to get online though the weekend but I am back( using my crappy windows 98 work computer) to reply to your replies.

HelloChips
12-17-2018, 07:54 AM
If she already has an inexpensive uke, and she enjoys playing, then I think you will be safe getting her a better quality ukulele as a gift. And she will really appreciate your thoughtfulness. If it isn't the perfect uke for her, she will still be amazed that you bought it for her. A gift certificate just doesn't cut it.

You absolutely need to have the uke properly setup. Mim's, Uke Republic, The Ukulele Site are all safe bets. All include a setup in the price. However, if you are trying to get it to her for Christmas, you may not make it. Call and ask. TheUkuleleSite.com takes at least 2 weeks to do a "full" setup. Mim's is usually quicker, but this is the peak season so contact her and ask. Uke Republic was usually a week. Plus there is shipping time for all of these mail order stores.

A consideration is how diminutive or tall your friend is.
The Pono has a fairly deep neck. Some people with smaller hands find them more difficult to play. The deluxe is a Gloss finish, the base model is satin. That's the only difference. I can't hear a difference in the sound between the two models. Both are very good.
The Martins in your price range are made in Mexico. I've read pretty good reviews about them. But also couple of poor reviews about the quality. If you buy from any of these dealers they usually will reject a poor quality instrument when they do the setup. They seem to have an average sized neck. My 1T's neck is pretty average and comfortable. Average width.
The Opio/KoAloha Tenor necks are pretty easy to play. Not as deep as the Pono. About the same width. Very nice sound. You can easily strum or pick on them. Great all around ukes. In any size.

The problem with buying a uke from Amazon is that they don't open the box. They ship what they get. No setup, no inspection. So a real crapshoot. Unless she has an instrument store near her that can do a setup, I'd avoid Amazon.

Make sure the instrument's description says: "Solid Wood" Top, back and sides. Or solid "body". Laminates can be great. Especially with a solid top. But some sound kind of dead. The makes and models people have suggested are all nice sounding.

Acacia wood is closely related to koa. Koa is regarded as one of the better woods to use in making ukes and has a very warm and very balanced sound. Spruce tops are generally louder than the same instrument with only one wood construction. Mahogany is also a good all-around wood. The woods of the "body" aren't as important as the wood in the top (soundboard).

Traditional construction uses mahogany for the neck with rosewood or ebony for the fingerboard. You can't go wrong with either one. (Others are fine, but have a different aesthetic.)

I'd suggest that you go for a traditional design and construction. Koa, Acacia, Mahogany. They are popular for a reason. I bought an Ohana tenor with a solid rosewood body & cedar top for under $400. It played nice and sounded very good. Kala has similar tenors in that price range. IMHO they don't sound quite as good as my solid Pono Acacia or Mango tenors. (All have mahogany necks, rosewood fretboards and geared tuners.)

Go for it. She'll be bowled over by your gesture.


Really, really good info. thanks for educating with me about the construction and material use( this really helps a lot) . Also, thank you for explaining the downside of ordering from amazon.



what does set up means? how do they set up the uke?

Thanks again!

HelloChips
12-17-2018, 08:03 AM
I mentioned above that I have a Martin T1-K tenor that I love that is in that price range. They also make the concert sized C1-K as well. Both are solid koa and priced really well for one of those. They are built in Martin's factory in Mexico and are really nice. One thing the American models have over the Mexican ones is premium stripe on the koa wood but the sound is great. All koa ukes are not very numerous in that price range.

thank you for the reply. what is a premium stripe of a Koa wood? is this like picking up the best wood by hand kind of process?


Hi Chips:

Lots of great advice. I agree that Koaloha is the best of the bunch, and that the UkuleleSite or Mims are the better sites to buy. At your price range, it deserves a nice hard shell case. The UkuleleSite has nice ABS cases made by Oahu for about $60.By the way, I am in Oahu right now and plan on visiting the UkuleleSite shop later today. Let me know if you want me to check anything out.

One important thing that has not been mentioned is the neck width. Ask your friend what neck width she prefers. If she has large hands, get a ukulele with at least a 1 1/2" neck.

thanks brotha. How was the visit? could you share your experience?

she definitely have small hands. shes about 5'2


Depends on where you live. Most stringed instruments are happy around 45 to 55% humidity, if it's much lower (below 30%) then the solid wood can shrink so much that it cracks, if it's much higher (more than 65%) then the wood can swell so much that the action gets too low and it sounds tubby. Most problems occur in the winter when the outside temperatures drop below about -10C, then the heated inside air tends to go below 30% and you need a humidifier. They are cheap and can be picked up in any music store or make your own with a sponge.

she will be going back home in the Midwest. any other suggestions for accessories?

HelloChips
12-17-2018, 09:03 AM
I like to use different ukes for different songs and different moods. My basic one is a tenor, but I also wanted a concert so I picked an old KoAloha which is very sweet and the size is perfect for lounging on the couch and relaxing. But it also shines in a performance for strumming. Either of the two HMS deeply discounted Acacia Rosettes is probably a very sweet deal, but if they are out your budget then the acacia or spruce top opios are also great choices. They play and sound very similar, so it's mainly a matter of what look is preferred. In specs on paper and in price the difference between the various KoAloha levels seems big, but in practice not very noticeable.

good Input! I think I do want something for her to play when she performs



Gosh, great idea for a gift. I agree if she only has a cheap instrument now she probably will really appreciate any uke in that price range.

Unless she has particularly mentioned upsizing to tenor then concert size is a safe bet. If she currently has a soprano she will be happy with a concert and if she currently has a cheap tenor then she would still appreciate a concert if it is an upgrade in quality. Dont buy a baritone.

In your OP for the price you mentioned I would look at pono, opio, Ohana or all solid wood Kala (not laminate). Personally, I think Koaloha or Kanile’a would be too much unless you are planning on asking her to move in with you when you give this to her. I am not female but It would make me uncomfortable receiving those as a gift from someone I was not in a long term relationship with. Even pono and opio are very generous.

To echo everyone else, Amazon is too risky in that price range. I would buy amazon if I was looking for a $100-200 bargain.

Good luck and I hope she doesn’t browse these forums :-)

thank you for the input. She wont see this forum. I don't think shes the internet kind of person, lol.

and im ok with giving her something nice. she gives me nice things too so its not a big deal. I do like that suggestion though. don't invest in uncertain things. appreciate that advice!




Just checking my understanding here. With Christmas coming up fast and a present being given I associated the two but perhaps that is not correct? If you plan to give this to your friend in March then there is plenty of time to get all the information you need and to select something at your leisure.

You asked (me) about a humidifier but the answer has been supplied by others already, good. Here in the U.K. it’s always humid but in the US that is not so. Ukes are basically fragile things made out of thin wood, when wood shrinks due to moisture loss the shrinkage can cause damage and the way around that is to stop the moisture loss with a humidifier. Ukes made of laminate don’t suffer in the way that Ukes made of solid wood do, but they typically don’t sound as good either - good enough for me though and I like maintenance free.


oh! makes perfect sense. thank you for the input.

I am trying to get this to her by march but I am also trying to ride the Christmas discounts. do you think these sites will have discounts after the holidays?


You have until march, so you can take your time.

I think at your price point, the Opio line by KoAloha or the Martin Mexican-made line will give you the biggest "Wow!" factor. With Pono by Ko'olau only slightly behind. Their brand names are known for high quality for a medium budget price, by ukulele players worldwide. You won't go wrong with any of these lines. Concert or Tenor sizes from them are well-regarded.

She will know you did your research if you go with any of them.

I wouldn't worry about a case or humidifiers. She'll be happy to accessorize it herself. For instance: a UkeCrazy canvas & hard foam is a good case for about $49-tenor size. Oasis humidifiers are about $20. Strap pins (buttons) are $10-ish. If you are good with a drill and screwdriver, you can install the pins for her. (Uke straps are a very personal choice.) A set of strings about $15. She'll have fun getting these things herself. There are other accessories that you can get her for gifts in the future.

Yes, often Mim answers the phone herself.

You may want to wait until after Xmas for sales. And so the seller can take more time with your order or answer any questions.

Best of luck!


I really like that idea that she can accessorize it her self. I think one of the fun thing about owning an instrument is to be able to buy accessories to compliment instrument.

I definitely need the wow factor since this gift is mainly to show her how much ive appreciate all the things that she has done for me.


It really depends on where you live. I bought a humidifier at one point, but I never use it because the humidity never drops low enough here. If you lived in Arizona, it would be absolutely essential. As someone else said, she can always get a humidifier later. They are cheap.

true.


Get the same size she plays now. I would not consider a change in size as an upgrade. Crop a photo of her current ukulele if you want help identifying the size.


Would she ever believe you if you told her you were thinking about learning to play the ukulele? If the answer is yes, then ask her for advice. She would probably be more than willing to give you all the information you need under the guise of helping to pick out a uke for you. Stuff like I bought a concert, tenor, etc. but I wish I got a ??? Or, one of these days I’ll going to buy a better uke like a ??? Make it more about something for you and then take that info buy something for her.

I agree with so many other posts that suggest getting more information about what she wants and not just base it on what she plays now. I watch the Christmas car commercials where someone spends $40k on a new car as a surprise. While they are just ads, I wonder if in a real situation, after the initial wow and excitement, if there wouldn’t be a bit of... before you spent all that money, I really wanted a... Hard to respond with yeah but you have a mini van now.

John+

hey John. Thanks for your input. She is very sharp and she will know that I would never pick up a uke and she will know its for her. we tend to understand each other in that level, hahaha.

its really hard to get info since shes not in the country and I have very limited contact with her. and I don't want to ask the band members since they might spill the beans.


Sounds like there is time to do this without rushing.

You do have a list of potential ukes and when you get size and preferences down, opinions will abound as to which is better.

I recommend researching a few places that you might purchase it from. Price is not the main concern (most are similar or exactly the same price for the same uke). You want to find out about the return policy if the one you get is not the one she prefers. For example, a well used site has a seven day return policy. Cost to you is the return shipping. This way you decrease the risk greatly... others say think of it as about a $30 insurance policy. You can receive full credit or apply it toward another uke.

Timing here is key and you might want to contact the site directly regarding your needs so that arrival, gifting, and the return window match up.

very good point. that's why I was thinking amazon since they have a pretty good return policy. that is def something to look into with these other companies.


My favorites are Martin, Ohana and Fluke. I’ve also owned a KoAloha and it was great.

Tenors: The Flukes are an unusual design and might not be a good gift unless you know she wants one. It may be hard to find a Martin in your price range. So of the group, Ohana and KoAloha would be my choices. Good luck!

could you explain a little bit more about tenors and flukes?

hendulele
12-17-2018, 09:28 AM
Re: The Flukes. Perhaps the best thing to do is check out the website: https://www.magicfluke.com/Fluke-s/1477.htm

I own a soprano-scale Flea (a uke from the same maker with a smaller body). It's a wonderful instrument, but it's different, as you can see. Some people don't like the molded plastic back and others prefer a more traditional shape. You'll be hard-pressed to find something that is more durable or easier to play, however. It's just a little weird. I also prefer the wood fretboard after owning a couple with the plastic fretboard and finding it less comfortable. Wood costs more, but the price difference is worth it.

Wukulele
12-17-2018, 09:44 AM
Not sure if this was covered but may want to keep in mind that solid wood ukes require a bit of maintenance & can be sensitive to temp/humidity changes.

There are also lower maintenance ukes out there that IMO make awesome presents because 1) Low maintenance 2) can take ANYWHERE.
I personally love my
Magic Fluke Concert Flea Surf (WITH their velcro strap), Outdoor Ukulele Moonlight Tenor & Kala Waterman Concert
as much as I love my Pono Pro Classic Cedar/Rosewood Cutaway & Kamaka Tenor.

The Magic Fluke Concert Flea Surf, Outdoor Ukulele Moonlight Tenor & Kala Waterman Concert get played the most by far.
My Flea gets MUCH more play time than all the other ~10. If I had to play in public, this may be my go-to.
Magic Fluke has some really fun graphics on their tops. Their solid top Koa & solid top Spruce, unlike the others, have solid fretboards w/ metal frets. Frankly, the standard fretboard/fret are more than good enough for me.

I would never buy a uke from Amazon for a whole host of reasons... Some include set-up, quality, intonation - not worth sending back, repurchasing, etc.
It's unlikely I'll ever get another "serious" soprano uke, not even a Kamaka/KoAloha/Kanilea/Ko'Olau... would consider Magic Fluke or Outdoor Ukulele (because intonation).

Edit to add: Another source of Magic Flukes I'd consider is Tiki King.
"The Tiki Fluke tops are Individually hand painted, signed and numbered, and as such and may vary slightly in color from photo shown here" http://www.tikiking.com/shopping_cart2/pagesix.html

114197

Rakelele
12-17-2018, 12:18 PM
If a good return policy is important - which it might well be in this special case -, then you should definitely consider Hawaii Music Supply (HMS) AKA The Ukulele Site. They let you return any instrument within a certain period of time. I think in your case, they would even be more generous with taking an instrument back if it turns out your friend really doesn't bond with it. In this case, you could refer them to this thread to show them how things came about.

Joyful Uke
12-17-2018, 03:26 PM
Probably should never jump into a thread without reading it all, but if she is 5'2" with small hands, and is currently comfortable with a concert, I highly recommend sticking with the concert size, speaking as another petite person.

Another factor to consider is the neck itself. Even on concerts, they can vary considerably, and she might find some hard to play and others very comfortable. I personally find the 35 mm nut width comfortable, and have had to sell some with wider nut widths because they didn't work for my hands. Then there are thin necks vs. thicker necks, necks with a radius, and more to consider. Lots of factors that can possibly make a beautiful ukulele hard to play for some of us.

UkingViking
12-17-2018, 08:13 PM
Probably should never jump into a thread without reading it all, but if she is 5'2" with small hands, and is currently comfortable with a concert, I highly recommend sticking with the concert size, speaking as another petite person.

Another factor to consider is the neck itself. Even on concerts, they can vary considerably, and she might find some hard to play and others very comfortable. I personally find the 35 mm nut width comfortable, and have had to sell some with wider nut widths because they didn't work for my hands. Then there are thin necks vs. thicker necks, necks with a radius, and more to consider. Lots of factors that can possibly make a beautiful ukulele hard to play for some of us.

If you read post #25, it looks she plays "concert"-gigs on an tenor-ukulele.

I agree with everyone who suggest to stick with something similar to what she has, in a higher quality. Also in terms of aestetics.

Some people suggest the Fluke. While it sounds great, the neck is not for small hands and the looks are not necessarily for everyone. I would advice against it as a surprise for someone who didn't pick it themselves.

robinboyd
12-17-2018, 09:05 PM
If you read post #25, it looks she plays "concert"-gigs on an tenor-ukulele.

I agree with everyone who suggest to stick with something similar to what she has, in a higher quality. Also in terms of aestetics.

Some people suggest the Fluke. While it sounds great, the neck is not for small hands and the looks are not necessarily for everyone. I would advice against it as a surprise for someone who didn't pick it themselves.

Well picked up! Like UkingViking said, if she plays a tenor, get her a tenor!

HelloChips
12-17-2018, 10:14 PM
alright Ladies and Gents. Here are the two that im considering getting for her.


what are the pros and cons, and your thoughts?

for someone who has small hands, which one would be better?

im curious about the price drop of the Ohana? what gives?

im also leaning towards ohana because of the special edition but im not sure of how the sound quality.

Ohana
TK-350G Limited Edition Solid Koa Gloss Tenor Ukulele

VS


Koaloha Tenor Acacia Opio Ukulele Package (KTO-10)




also, everyone seems to have the same return policy. idont want to miss out on the sales. so i want to get it soon. im just not sure what would happen is return or exhange needs to happen...

mims doesnt have her return policy on the website.

Graham Greenbag
12-17-2018, 10:54 PM
Rather than specifically answer the above I comment in more general ways.

I don’t understand what is ment by the price drop on the Ohana but typically retailers offer them for much less than the price on Ohana’s website.

If I were to buy a Uke in this price range then I’d steer away from the Ohana brand as I think that their products are typically selected for and targeted at a lower price band. As far as I can tell they don’t build anything themselves and either have their name added to decent Ukes already in production made in China or have batches made to their specifications. The Koaloha will, I believe, have a better cashet (mark of prestige) than the Ohana.

It is far better to mis-out on the current sales and possibly pay a bit more later than to buy in haste.

I would strongly suggest that you ring Mim (and the other good suppliers mentioned elsewhere) rather than just look on websites. After Christmas they will have all the time in the world to speak to you and answer all your questions, they will likely also have a slow sales patch and be happy to work out a deal with you.

UkingViking
12-17-2018, 11:31 PM
I havent heard sound samples of those.
The opio sound samples I have heard online previously have sounded amazing, which annoys me since I dont like the look.
You write that she plays in a group with buegrass like instruments. I would think that the more traditional old timey look of the Ohana would fit better in.

But looks are not all.

robinboyd
12-18-2018, 12:01 AM
Rather than specifically answer the above I comment in more general ways.

I don’t understand what is ment by the price drop on the Ohana but typically retailers offer them for much less than the price on Ohana’s website.

If I were to buy a Uke in this price range then I’d steer away from the Ohana brand as I think that their products are typically selected for and targeted at a lower price band. As far as I can tell they don’t build anything themselves and either have their name added to decent Ukes already in production made in China or have batches made to their specifications. The Koaloha will, I believe, have a better cashet (mark of prestige) than the Ohana.

It is far better to mis-out on the current sales and possibly pay a bit more later than to buy in haste.

I would strongly suggest that you ring Mim (and the other good suppliers mentioned elsewhere) rather than just look on websites. After Christmas they will have all the time in the world to speak to you and answer all your questions, they will likely also have a slow sales patch and be happy to work out a deal with you.

The man talks sense. One thing you can judge from photos is the looks, and if you like the styling of the Opio, I say go for it. I can attest to the fact that they have excellent sound and playability.

robinboyd
12-18-2018, 12:07 AM
And here is someone else's impression: https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?136861-NUD-Koaloha-Opio

merlin666
12-18-2018, 03:46 AM
for someone who has small hands, which one would be better?


All ukuleles have relatively (to guitars) tiny necks and are suitable for children even younger than 10 years old. It's mainly for people with huge and chubby hands where it can feel very crowded on an uke neck. I have very small hands for a guy and my two main guitars are a jumbo with a very long neck, and a 12 string with an extremely fat neck and I am comfortable with both. But with my KoAloha concert I actually had to change my gripping style and figure out how to press multiple strings with one finger because the neck is so small.

70sSanO
12-18-2018, 05:50 AM
All ukuleles have relatively (to guitars) tiny necks and are suitable for children even younger than 10 years old. It's mainly for people with huge and chubby hands where it can feel very crowded on an uke neck. I have very small hands for a guy and my two main guitars are a jumbo with a very long neck, and a 12 string with an extremely fat neck and I am comfortable with both. But with my KoAloha concert I actually had to change my gripping style and figure out how to press multiple strings with one finger because the neck is so small.

^ This. A lot of people with small hands can play a guitar. Ukulele size really shouldn’t be an issue unless a person is playing instrumentals that require long fret stretches. But for playing and singing, it doesn’t matter. The tenor should technically be louder, but that is a little off topic.

If those are your choices, get the KoAloha. The company family has a true vested interest in what they offer. They also have great reviews and probably better resale if she ever parts with it.

John

HelloChips
12-18-2018, 07:11 AM
Rather than specifically answer the above I comment in more general ways.

I don’t understand what is ment by the price drop on the Ohana but typically retailers offer them for much less than the price on Ohana’s website.

If I were to buy a Uke in this price range then I’d steer away from the Ohana brand as I think that their products are typically selected for and targeted at a lower price band. As far as I can tell they don’t build anything themselves and either have their name added to decent Ukes already in production made in China or have batches made to their specifications. The Koaloha will, I believe, have a better cashet (mark of prestige) than the Ohana.

It is far better to mis-out on the current sales and possibly pay a bit more later than to buy in haste.

I would strongly suggest that you ring Mim (and the other good suppliers mentioned elsewhere) rather than just look on websites. After Christmas they will have all the time in the world to speak to you and answer all your questions, they will likely also have a slow sales patch and be happy to work out a deal with you.

thanks for the advice. its good to know about how Ohana manufactures their ukes. have you heard or had any experience working out a deal with mims?


I havent heard sound samples of those.
The opio sound samples I have heard online previously have sounded amazing, which annoys me since I dont like the look.
You write that she plays in a group with buegrass like instruments. I would think that the more traditional old timey look of the Ohana would fit better in.

But looks are not all.

I agree. but the look is so tempting!


The man talks sense. One thing you can judge from photos is the looks, and if you like the styling of the Opio, I say go for it. I can attest to the fact that they have excellent sound and playability.


And here is someone else's impression: https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?136861-NUD-Koaloha-Opio

interesting read.


All ukuleles have relatively (to guitars) tiny necks and are suitable for children even younger than 10 years old. It's mainly for people with huge and chubby hands where it can feel very crowded on an uke neck. I have very small hands for a guy and my two main guitars are a jumbo with a very long neck, and a 12 string with an extremely fat neck and I am comfortable with both. But with my KoAloha concert I actually had to change my gripping style and figure out how to press multiple strings with one finger because the neck is so small.

make sense.


^ This. A lot of people with small hands can play a guitar. Ukulele size really shouldn’t be an issue unless a person is playing instrumentals that require long fret stretches. But for playing and singing, it doesn’t matter. The tenor should technically be louder, but that is a little off topic.

If those are your choices, get the KoAloha. The company family has a true vested interest in what they offer. They also have great reviews and probably better resale if she ever parts with it.

John

thanks john! are all of their ukes hand crafted?

HelloChips
12-18-2018, 08:31 AM
Posted a pic of the Uke that she currently has on another thread. :)

70sSanO
12-18-2018, 10:25 AM
thanks john! are all of their ukes hand crafted?

I believe that the Hawaiian KoAloha ukuleles are hand made, at least they were a decade ago when I had one. From what I have read the Opio line is made in Thailand using the same manufacturing processes as their Hawaiian ukuleles.

John

merlin666
12-18-2018, 11:20 AM
I believe that the Hawaiian KoAloha ukuleles are hand made, at least they were a decade ago when I had one. From what I have read the Opio line is made in Thailand using the same manufacturing processes as their Hawaiian ukuleles.

John

The necks are machined by CNC in California, Koa and Mango bodies hand assembled in Honolulu, acacia bodies hand assembled in Thailand. Final hand construction of Koa, Mango, and Acacia Series in Honolulu, and of Opio Series in Thailand.

HelloChips
12-18-2018, 12:13 PM
I believe that the Hawaiian KoAloha ukuleles are hand made, at least they were a decade ago when I had one. From what I have read the Opio line is made in Thailand using the same manufacturing processes as their Hawaiian ukuleles.

so with the Ohana ukes made from china. is this still a better process?

John


The necks are machined by CNC in California, Koa and Mango bodies hand assembled in Honolulu, acacia bodies hand assembled in Thailand. Final hand construction of Koa, Mango, and Acacia Series in Honolulu, and of Opio Series in Thailand.

thanks for the reply. it helps knowing the process.

HelloChips
12-18-2018, 12:14 PM
well shit.... it looks like Shes got a pretty nice Uke already. how do I top this uke now?

Kala KA-SPMT-TRI All Solid Spruce/ Pau Ferro/ Mango Tenor

im still willing to stick with my price but which uke will be the destroyer of her current uke?

robinboyd
12-18-2018, 12:33 PM
well shit.... it looks like Shes got a pretty nice Uke already. how do I top this uke now?

Kala KA-SPMT-TRI All Solid Spruce/ Pau Ferro/ Mango Tenor

im still willing to stick with my price but which uke will be the destroyer of her current uke?

Well, on the other thread I talked about getting something different to what she already has. I've attached a picture of my ukes. They range in price from US$100 to US$450. The most expensive one is the second from the left. They all offer something different. I'll talk about each one below

Far left: Luna Tattoo Pineapple - This is a laminate soprano, so it is durable and portable. I don't like playing it at all, but my wife does. It is our first uke, so it holds some sentimental value.
Second from left: Mele Mango Concert - It took me a while to work out that I like playing concert sized ukes best. This was purchased on our trip to Maui a few years ago and we splurged a bit.
Middle: S&J Crafts Milo Concert Pineapple - I got this one because I wanted a concert uke strung with a low G. The different tone wood and shape, etc., also give this quite a different sound to the other concert uke.
Second from right: KPK Acacia Tenor - This one was the first uke we got when I decided I didn't like the Luna. I keep it strung with a low G and it has a few more frets than the Milo uke and a bit more space between strings, so it works in some instances where the other doesn't. It is a bit of a stretch to finger some chords, though, so I often prefer the concert.
Far right: Bruce Wei Koa Guitarlele - This one has 2 extra strings and arguably isn't a ukulele at all. It allows me to play a few things that wouldn't be possible on a normal uke, but chords are a lot more difficult.

114201

As you can see, there is a good reason to own all of those ukes (except maybe the Luna but don't tell my wife that). See if you can get her something that she doesn't have that she will use. Does she play with a high G (re-entrant tuning) or a low G (linear tuning)? Would she like to try the other one? A baritone would have different tuning altogether. Would she like that? A soprano would give a distinct sound, but might not have enough room on the fretboard for her. Another way to go would be to get a different sounding tonewood. She currently has a spruce top, which sounds very bright, so how about something made from mahogany, which sounds warm and mellow? Of course, this all depends on her preferences, but personally, I like to have a variety.

merlin666
12-18-2018, 01:24 PM
well shit.... it looks like Shes got a pretty nice Uke already. how do I top this uke now?

Kala KA-SPMT-TRI All Solid Spruce/ Pau Ferro/ Mango Tenor

im still willing to stick with my price but which uke will be the destroyer of her current uke?

Well just because an uke looks nice does not necessarily mean it will also be a good uke. You could still step it up by getting a US made that has more focus and is not all over the place like the Kala. Also it is a step up to have a different sized uke so a concert sized one may be a nice complement. I certainly have no interest in having similar instruments around. The koaloha acacia rosette would be a big step up in that direction.

70sSanO
12-18-2018, 02:17 PM
The KoAloha Opio acacia ukulele would definitely be a different animal for her. But it may have a bit more Hawaiian sound than spruce for folk music.

John

ghostrdr
12-18-2018, 03:06 PM
Ok. I've changed my thinking. Not that anyone cares. She has a pretty nice instrument. In your price range, I don't think you're going to find anything that "destroys" her other ukulele. My vote is for you to buy a nice ukulele strap and have a gift card to the Ukulele Site. Have the gift card in the amount that you would want to give. Tell her that you wanted to get her an amazing ukulele, but that you don't know enough about it and that everyone seems to say that the Ukulele Site is a great place so you got a gift card there. She can then find the ukulele that really calls out to her, and if it costs a bit more, she can pay the difference. You'll still get credit and you can have fun picking it out with her.

I think Mims and Uke Republic are also good choices, but I think Ukulele Site will have a bigger selection for the type and price ranges that you will be in.

At that level of ukulele, I tend to agree with the opinions that she will probably want to pick her own out. Who knows, maybe she finds one that "destroys" her first one, though I'm not sure that should be the objective.

Another idea is for you to buy one of those DIY uke kits or one of those super cheap ones on Wish.com or amazon (like $12.00). Have the gift card taped to the back of the cheap one. That way, you get to give a fun souvenir, and you get credit for an amazing instrument.

good luck.

ProfChris
12-19-2018, 03:31 AM
A different approach would be to give her something totally different, rather than looking for a better version of her tenor. Two thoughts:

1 A vintage uke, a piece of history. An old Martin Style 0 never offends! Or even a Kumalae, a piece of 20s/30s Hawaii. For this you'd need help from someone with experience, or buy from a known dealer like Elderly.

2 A banjo uke. So dramatically different from what she has that it could give her new options for her performing.

What I'd do is invent a hypothetical niece who has just bought a tenor and wants a second uke to add variety. Then ask what would your friend treat herself to? You can throw in some of the options here ... "Do you think she'd like a ...?"

If she knows you don't have a niece, it's a friend's niece.

plunker
12-19-2018, 04:10 AM
I could be your friend. I think you could listen and see if in conversation if any particular models are discussed as desires. Maybe you could ask about a particular model like I saw an Oscar Schmidt xxx what do you think of it. Most people love talking about what they love. Might not be too hard getting some clues.

RafterGirl
12-19-2018, 05:50 AM
Response to this thread & the other one you started to identify your friend's current ukulele.....

If the uke that your friend now owns is indeed the one in the link that mingus provided, then it appears to be a pretty decent ukulele. Solid spruce top with laminate back & sides. You mentioned in your OP that you wanted to get her a much better ukulele from the one she has......one that would be a big step up. However, the price range you mentioned was $500 - $600. If the one she has cost $400, and if it sounds as nice as that video on the HMS website, then you may have to up your price range a little if you really want to knock her socks off.

You definitely want to go with an all solid wood uke. Since she has a spruce top already, then maybe solid Koa this time. Or maybe solid mahogany. Something that would give her a different sound from the spruce. On HMS, there are several choices from Romero, Kanilea, KoAloha and Pono that are in the $700-$1000 range. One choice in your price range that jumps out at me is this Pono. Solid cedar top, solid mahogany back & sides, and includes a hard case. That would be a mellower sound and a nice uke at a nice price. However, Pono is said to have a thicker neck profile & it has a radiused fret board that she may or may not like.
https://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/size/tenor/pono-mtd-2-cedar-top-mahogany-tenor-deluxe.html

I think in the end, the first advice many of us gave you is best.....just give her some money to buy what she wants. Who knows, she may already have her eye on something that's just out of her reach financially, and your generous gift of $$$ might make her dream uke a reality.

merlin666
12-19-2018, 06:17 AM
Or maybe solid mahogany. Something that would give her a different sound from the spruce. On HMS, there are several choices from Romero, Kanilea, KoAloha and Pono that are in the $700-$1000 range. One choice in your price range that jumps out at me is this Pono.

Indeed Pono is a fascinating brand and although I don't have much experience with them I have contemplated buying one. The Mango and Mahogany Deluxe models on the HMS site sure look very appealing in both tenor and concert sizes, even the pineapple shaped one. If I received one of these as a gift it would make me VERY happy and each time I play it I remember the person who made effort to give it.

ghostrdr
12-19-2018, 06:22 AM
Response to this thread & the other one you started to identify your friend's current ukulele.....

If the uke that your friend now owns is indeed the one in the link that mingus provided, then it appears to be a pretty decent ukulele. Solid spruce top with laminate back & sides. You mentioned in your OP that you wanted to get her a much better ukulele from the one she has......one that would be a big step up. However, the price range you mentioned was $500 - $600. If the one she has cost $400, and if it sounds as nice as that video on the HMS website, then you may have to up your price range a little if you really want to knock her socks off.

You definitely want to go with an all solid wood uke. Since she has a spruce top already, then maybe solid Koa this time. Or maybe solid mahogany. Something that would give her a different sound from the spruce. On HMS, there are several choices from Romero, Kanilea, KoAloha and Pono that are in the $700-$1000 range. One choice in your price range that jumps out at me is this Pono. Solid cedar top, solid mahogany back & sides, and includes a hard case. That would be a mellower sound and a nice uke at a nice price. However, Pono's a said to have a thicker neck profile & it has a radiuses fret board that she may or may not like.
https://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/size/tenor/pono-mtd-2-cedar-top-mahogany-tenor-deluxe.html

I think in the end, the first advice many of us gave you is best.....just give her some money to buy what she wants. Who knows, she may already have her eye on something that's just out of her reach financially, and your generous gift of $$$ might make her dream uke a reality.

I have this one! It is very nice. The radius fingerboard is subtle. It has more of a classical guitar type sound than my all koa ukes. The lower bout is a little bigger which I think helps with the sound. Fluorocarbons sound great and it is currently strung with Pepe Romero strings which also are very nice. Cedar has a little different sound than Koa. I’ve been on the fence as to whether to sell it because I keep acquiring new ukes. Sigh. I’m almost up to double digits now in terms of instruments. I probably need professional help. All in all great uke

Graham Greenbag
12-19-2018, 06:35 AM
Response to this thread & the other one you started to identify your friend's current ukulele.....

I think in the end, the first advice many of us gave you is best.....just give her some money to buy what she wants. Who knows, she may already have her eye on something that's just out of her reach financially, and your generous gift of $$$ might make her dream uke a reality.

:agree:

If that’s not what you want to do then I’d go for the different and complementary to what she already has, perhaps something that might act as a backup in case her Uke got damaged too. You might be well served by listening to others who play similarly to her and your options on what might be useful are manyfold.

Personally I like Sopranos and Concerts, but mostly Sopranos. Sopranos are so handy and some are quite loud too - easy to take anywhere, they don’t cost the earth and they can be tough too. A vintage Soprano doesn’t need to cost a vast amount, could give her new options and might give her a lot of fun ........ just a different angle and you might have some change left to help her buy another Tenor too, if that’s her hope.

HelloChips
12-19-2018, 07:42 AM
Good morning everyone! thanks for all the suggestions and replies.

here is what I have in mind.

*Im changing the price range to 750 bucks. I feel like I need to up the game.

*if I stick with original price range. I will have to GO for a martin. they seem to have a good line of ukes. I remember I was joking with her awhile back about buying a martin guitar and she was shocked that I would spend that much money on a guitar. even though she thinks that they are awesome instruments. (she just cant afford them.)

* I really, really like what raftergirl idea ofgetting a different kind of wood? I feel like that would give her a different tone even at the same price range. I guess, the downside would be that manufacturing? tell me if im wrong. I keep seeing solid Koa on ukes from 400-1000+k. The main difference seems to be the manufacturing?

* im really considering the Ohana TK-350G Limited Edition Solid Koa Gloss Tenor Ukulele at this point.
just for the beauty and the type of material used. im just not sure how the sound quality is on that uke. im not sure how much of an upgrade this is for her current set up.










Well just because an uke looks nice does not necessarily mean it will also be a good uke. You could still step it up by getting a US made that has more focus and is not all over the place like the Kala. Also it is a step up to have a different sized uke so a concert sized one may be a nice complement. I certainly have no interest in having similar instruments around. The koaloha acacia rosette would be a big step up in that direction.

Def, out of the price range.


The KoAloha Opio acacia ukulele would definitely be a different animal for her. But it may have a bit more Hawaiian sound than spruce for folk music.

John

I wonder if she would like having a Hawaiian sounding uke?



Ok. I've changed my thinking. Not that anyone cares. She has a pretty nice instrument. In your price range, I don't think you're going to find anything that "destroys" her other ukulele. My vote is for you to buy a nice ukulele strap and have a gift card to the Ukulele Site. Have the gift card in the amount that you would want to give. Tell her that you wanted to get her an amazing ukulele, but that you don't know enough about it and that everyone seems to say that the Ukulele Site is a great place so you got a gift card there. She can then find the ukulele that really calls out to her, and if it costs a bit more, she can pay the difference. You'll still get credit and you can have fun picking it out with her.

I think Mims and Uke Republic are also good choices, but I think Ukulele Site will have a bigger selection for the type and price ranges that you will be in.

At that level of ukulele, I tend to agree with the opinions that she will probably want to pick her own out. Who knows, maybe she finds one that "destroys" her first one, though I'm not sure that should be the objective.

Another idea is for you to buy one of those DIY uke kits or one of those super cheap ones on Wish.com or amazon (like $12.00). Have the gift card taped to the back of the cheap one. That way, you get to give a fun souvenir, and you get credit for an amazing instrument.

good luck.

I really like this idea too. this might have given me and idea... I will share this idea if I end up using it :)




A different approach would be to give her something totally different, rather than looking for a better version of her tenor. Two thoughts:

1 A vintage uke, a piece of history. An old Martin Style 0 never offends! Or even a Kumalae, a piece of 20s/30s Hawaii. For this you'd need help from someone with experience, or buy from a known dealer like Elderly.

2 A banjo uke. So dramatically different from what she has that it could give her new options for her performing.

What I'd do is invent a hypothetical niece who has just bought a tenor and wants a second uke to add variety. Then ask what would your friend treat herself to? You can throw in some of the options here ... "Do you think she'd like a ...?"

If she knows you don't have a niece, it's a friend's niece.


I cant lie to her. she knows that im a horrible liar. she would pick on to something and she will know the surprise.


I could be your friend. I think you could listen and see if in conversation if any particular models are discussed as desires. Maybe you could ask about a particular model like I saw an Oscar Schmidt xxx what do you think of it. Most people love talking about what they love. Might not be too hard getting some clues.

I don't play, kind sir.


Response to this thread & the other one you started to identify your friend's current ukulele.....

If the uke that your friend now owns is indeed the one in the link that mingus provided, then it appears to be a pretty decent ukulele. Solid spruce top with laminate back & sides. You mentioned in your OP that you wanted to get her a much better ukulele from the one she has......one that would be a big step up. However, the price range you mentioned was $500 - $600. If the one she has cost $400, and if it sounds as nice as that video on the HMS website, then you may have to up your price range a little if you really want to knock her socks off.

You definitely want to go with an all solid wood uke. Since she has a spruce top already, then maybe solid Koa this time. Or maybe solid mahogany. Something that would give her a different sound from the spruce. On HMS, there are several choices from Romero, Kanilea, KoAloha and Pono that are in the $700-$1000 range. One choice in your price range that jumps out at me is this Pono. Solid cedar top, solid mahogany back & sides, and includes a hard case. That would be a mellower sound and a nice uke at a nice price. However, Pono is said to have a thicker neck profile & it has a radiused fret board that she may or may not like.
https://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/size/tenor/pono-mtd-2-cedar-top-mahogany-tenor-deluxe.html

I think in the end, the first advice many of us gave you is best.....just give her some money to buy what she wants. Who knows, she may already have her eye on something that's just out of her reach financially, and your generous gift of $$$ might make her dream uke a reality.


Indeed Pono is a fascinating brand and although I don't have much experience with them I have contemplated buying one. The Mango and Mahogany Deluxe models on the HMS site sure look very appealing in both tenor and concert sizes, even the pineapple shaped one. If I received one of these as a gift it would make me VERY happy and each time I play it I remember the person who made effort to give it.


:agree:

If that’s not what you want to do then I’d go for the different and complementary to what she already has, perhaps something that might act as a backup in case her Uke got damaged too. You might be well served by listening to others who play similarly to her and your options on what might be useful are manyfold.

Personally I like Sopranos and Concerts, but mostly Sopranos. Sopranos are so handy and some are quite loud too - easy to take anywhere, they don’t cost the earth and they can be tough too. A vintage Soprano doesn’t need to cost a vast amount and might give her a lot of fun ........ just a different angle and you might have some change left to help her buy another Tenor if that’s her hope.

I like the back up idea

HelloChips
12-19-2018, 07:48 AM
Well, on the other thread I talked about getting something different to what she already has. I've attached a picture of my ukes. They range in price from US$100 to US$450. The most expensive one is the second from the left. They all offer something different. I'll talk about each one below

Far left: Luna Tattoo Pineapple - This is a laminate soprano, so it is durable and portable. I don't like playing it at all, but my wife does. It is our first uke, so it holds some sentimental value.
Second from left: Mele Mango Concert - It took me a while to work out that I like playing concert sized ukes best. This was purchased on our trip to Maui a few years ago and we splurged a bit.
Middle: S&J Crafts Milo Concert Pineapple - I got this one because I wanted a concert uke strung with a low G. The different tone wood and shape, etc., also give this quite a different sound to the other concert uke.
Second from right: KPK Acacia Tenor - This one was the first uke we got when I decided I didn't like the Luna. I keep it strung with a low G and it has a few more frets than the Milo uke and a bit more space between strings, so it works in some instances where the other doesn't. It is a bit of a stretch to finger some chords, though, so I often prefer the concert.
Far right: Bruce Wei Koa Guitarlele - This one has 2 extra strings and arguably isn't a ukulele at all. It allows me to play a few things that wouldn't be possible on a normal uke, but chords are a lot more difficult.

114201

As you can see, there is a good reason to own all of those ukes (except maybe the Luna but don't tell my wife that). See if you can get her something that she doesn't have that she will use. Does she play with a high G (re-entrant tuning) or a low G (linear tuning)? Would she like to try the other one? A baritone would have different tuning altogether. Would she like that? A soprano would give a distinct sound, but might not have enough room on the fretboard for her. Another way to go would be to get a different sounding tonewood. She currently has a spruce top, which sounds very bright, so how about something made from mahogany, which sounds warm and mellow? Of course, this all depends on her preferences, but personally, I like to have a variety.

I cant see the link :(

70sSanO
12-19-2018, 07:53 AM
At this point, I would agree with a gift card/money towards a better ukulele that is beyond what you can/want to spend. I think for most people, at least for me, there is one ukulele I own that gets played the most. Others are just as nice, one that is nicer, and I play them all, but that ukulele has been my go to uke for more than 10 years.

If what you want is to get her that go to ukulele, it may not happen, even with more dollars. It is just so personal between sound, how it would plays, and just being comfortable taking it wherever you go.

My only other thought would be if she performs in a band setting, an earlier post mentioned other instruments, is to get her an electric ukulele, such as a Godin Multiuke or a Pono TE that can be used on stage through an amp or a PA system without the feedback issues of an acoustic uke. The sunburst Godin with onboard eq would be especially nice and be my choice.

John

HelloChips
12-19-2018, 08:45 AM
At this point, I would agree with a gift card/money towards a better ukulele that is beyond what you can/want to spend. I think for most people, at least for me, there is one ukulele I own that gets played the most. Others are just as nice, one that is nicer, and I play them all, but that ukulele has been my go to uke for more than 10 years.

If what you want is to get her that go to ukulele, it may not happen, even with more dollars. It is just so personal between sound, how it would plays, and just being comfortable taking it wherever you go.

My only other thought would be if she performs in a band setting, an earlier post mentioned other instruments, is to get her an electric ukulele, such as a Godin Multiuke or a Pono TE that can be used on stage through an amp or a PA system without the feedback issues of an acoustic uke. The sunburst Godin with onboard eq would be especially nice and be my choice.

John

I just remembered talking to her along time ago about an electric uke and she did get excited. how does that compare to a regular uke? and what are some good electric Uke?

merlin666
12-19-2018, 08:55 AM
*if I stick with original price range. I will have to GO for a martin. they seem to have a good line of ukes. I remember I was joking with her awhile back about buying a martin guitar and she was shocked that I would spend that much money on a guitar. even though she thinks that they are awesome instruments. (she just cant afford them.)

* I really, really like what raftergirl idea ofgetting a different kind of wood? I feel like that would give her a different tone even at the same price range. I guess, the downside would be that manufacturing? tell me if im wrong. I keep seeing solid Koa on ukes from 400-1000+k. The main difference seems to be the manufacturing?

* im really considering the Ohana TK-350G Limited Edition Solid Koa Gloss Tenor Ukulele at this point.
just for the beauty and the type of material used. im just not sure how the sound quality is on that uke. im not sure how much of an upgrade this is for her current set up.


You certainly are putting a lot of thought into this. For Martin ukuleles, you should keep in mind that they were the top of the about 100 years ago, and many Martins from the 20s and 30s still sound magical. But with the new ones produced in Mexico, you have to be careful about the lower end ones that are made of "composite" materials and straddle a fine line between toy and instrument. Some people like them, but .... As for Koa - this is the wood that traditional Hawaiian ukes were built from, and the Hawaiian makers still know how to make great sounding ukes with it. But I find that if Koa is used for mass production in Asia the resulting instruments often sound lifeless - it's just a marketing gadget and does not add real value.

Though I liked the Kala Elite Koas that I tried, and this one seems to be at a very sweet price point: https://www.theukulelesite.com/kala-usa-elite-1koa-concert-pack-2.html

RafterGirl
12-19-2018, 09:14 AM
You certainly are putting a lot of thought into this. For Martin ukuleles, you should keep in mind that they were the top of the about 100 years ago, and many Martins from the 20s and 30s still sound magical. But with the new ones produced in Mexico, you have to be careful about the lower end ones that are made of "composite" materials and straddle a fine line between toy and instrument. Some people like them, but .... As for Koa - this is the wood that traditional Hawaiian ukes were built from, and the Hawaiian makers still know how to make great sounding ukes with it. But I find that if Koa is used for mass production in Asia the resulting instruments often sound lifeless - it's just a marketing gadget and does not add real value.

Though I liked the Kala Elite Koas that I tried, and this one seems to be at a very sweet price point: https://www.theukulelesite.com/kala-usa-elite-1koa-concert-pack-2.html
That's a nice looking Kala Elite concert at a nice price. Kala Elite are a step up in quality over the regular import Kala line. The Kala Elites are made in the USA.

Rakelele
12-19-2018, 09:28 AM
That she already has a pretty nice uke does make it a bit harder to find something that will really blow her mind. I still feel that you should go with a real instrument instead of a gift card. And I agree with those who suggested something complementary to what she already has. Although not as different as a vintage or a banjo uke. Those are very different animals altogether.

I'd stay away from Kala and Ohana, as these would only be a lateral move instead of a step up (except for the Kala Elite someone brought up). And I agree that Martins are not to everyone's taste. My suggestion would still lean towards a KoAloha Opio, because it is made of totally different wood, has a different look and the whole Hawaiian style to it. Or something like the Romero Creations Tiny Tenor (https://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/brand/romero-creations/romero-creations-koa-tiny-tenor.html) in all solid Koa wood? That one has a totally different look, is somewhat more portable, and many players swear by them. Other than that, I agree that the Cedar top Pono mentioned by others is a big step above the Kalas and Ohanas (I have owned several of each).

Again, if you buy it from The Ukulele Site, they will let you return it in case your friend won't like the one you got. This way, you can give her a real instrument, but have a backup plan to replace it with something she'd prefer over the one you picked. All your considerations and your willingness to raise your budget show that you greatly care about your friend. That alone would make me very, very happy as your friend.

Another thought: As mentioned above, I feel that a gift card is not the same as a real instrument. But how about inviting her on a date without telling her what it is, and then take a trip to one of the fine music stores - depending on where you are located, e.g. Uke Republic, Mim's, Elderly in Michigan, or U-Space L.A. in California -, where she can pick the uke she likes best (within a given budget)…? The trip alone would probably make for some pretty good memories.

robinboyd
12-19-2018, 10:10 AM
I cant see the link :(

Oh, weird. It's not working anymore, huh. Try this.

114235

Joyful Uke
12-19-2018, 10:45 AM
That's a nice looking Kala Elite concert at a nice price. Kala Elite are a step up in quality over the regular import Kala line. The Kala Elites are made in the USA.

If this site is correct, the Elites have a wider nut width. She may not care, but since some people do, it could makae a difference for her. Or not.

https://ukenut.com/comparison-of-ukulele-nut-widths/

merlin666
12-19-2018, 11:20 AM
If this site is correct, the Elites have a wider nut width. She may not care, but since some people do, it could makae a difference for her. Or not.

https://ukenut.com/comparison-of-ukulele-nut-widths/

I have Kamaka and Gretsch tenors, and a KoAloha concert and have not measured the nut width, but the two tenors feel more comfortable and I think their nuts are wider. So if this is relatively wide for a concert, it's likely an advantage to be more similar to a tenor width.

Joyful Uke
12-19-2018, 11:29 AM
I have Kamaka and Gretsch tenors, and a KoAloha concert and have not measured the nut width, but the two tenors feel more comfortable and I think their nuts are wider. So if this is relatively wide for a concert, it's likely an advantage to be more similar to a tenor width.

It wouldn't an advantage for me, so it may or may not matter to the person who will receive the ukulele, who we were told has small hands. It's one of those individual things - some people prefer wider nut widths, some of us need the opposite. So, just pointing it out as something to consider.

merlin666
12-19-2018, 12:08 PM
HMS just added some KoAloha Opio ukes today. Tenor with KoAloha deluxe gig bag for $655.

Wow they are already out of koa and mango concert sized ones and only two concert opios left. They sell crazy fast it seems.

HelloChips
12-19-2018, 01:18 PM
Im most likely going to buy soon just to ride the sale season. im highly considering KoAloha brand since its seems to have the most recommendations. im still open for suggestions though.... my only concern with the KoAloha is the design. im not sure If its something that would bother her or not... that neck design is weird, even for my taste,lol

any US Made ukes with reputable name for my price range?





You certainly are putting a lot of thought into this. For Martin ukuleles, you should keep in mind that they were the top of the about 100 years ago, and many Martins from the 20s and 30s still sound magical. But with the new ones produced in Mexico, you have to be careful about the lower end ones that are made of "composite" materials and straddle a fine line between toy and instrument. Some people like them, but .... As for Koa - this is the wood that traditional Hawaiian ukes were built from, and the Hawaiian makers still know how to make great sounding ukes with it. But I find that if Koa is used for mass production in Asia the resulting instruments often sound lifeless - it's just a marketing gadget and does not add real value.

Though I liked the Kala Elite Koas that I tried, and this one seems to be at a very sweet price point: https://www.theukulelesite.com/kala-usa-elite-1koa-concert-pack-2.html

thank you for clarifying this.


That's a nice looking Kala Elite concert at a nice price. Kala Elite are a step up in quality over the regular import Kala line. The Kala Elites are made in the USA.

HMS doesn't seem to have a tenor version. have you seen anything or am I missing it?


That she already has a pretty nice uke does make it a bit harder to find something that will really blow her mind. I still feel that you should go with a real instrument instead of a gift card. And I agree with those who suggested something complementary to what she already has. Although not as different as a vintage or a banjo uke. Those are very different animals altogether.

I'd stay away from Kala and Ohana, as these would only be a lateral move instead of a step up (except for the Kala Elite someone brought up). And I agree that Martins are not to everyone's taste. My suggestion would still lean towards a KoAloha Opio, because it is made of totally different wood, has a different look and the whole Hawaiian style to it. Or something like the Romero Creations Tiny Tenor (https://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/brand/romero-creations/romero-creations-koa-tiny-tenor.html) in all solid Koa wood? That one has a totally different look, is somewhat more portable, and many players swear by them. Other than that, I agree that the Cedar top Pono mentioned by others is a big step above the Kalas and Ohanas (I have owned several of each).

Again, if you buy it from The Ukulele Site, they will let you return it in case your friend won't like the one you got. This way, you can give her a real instrument, but have a backup plan to replace it with something she'd prefer over the one you picked. All your considerations and your willingness to raise your budget show that you greatly care about your friend. That alone would make me very, very happy as your friend.

Another thought: As mentioned above, I feel that a gift card is not the same as a real instrument. But how about inviting her on a date without telling her what it is, and then take a trip to one of the fine music stores - depending on where you are located, e.g. Uke Republic, Mim's, Elderly in Michigan, or U-Space L.A. in California -, where she can pick the uke she likes best (within a given budget)…? The trip alone would probably make for some pretty good memories.

I really like what you said. and the way you think. I feel like you really understand what im trying to achieve. I agree with the lateral movement. want a step up.


unfortunately shes not around so Im also making this gift as a welcome home gift for her.


Oh, weird. It's not working anymore, huh. Try this.

114235

wow! those are some beautiful ukes! I like the furtherst one to the right


If this site is correct, the Elites have a wider nut width. She may not care, but since some people do, it could makae a difference for her. Or not.

https://ukenut.com/comparison-of-ukulele-nut-widths/


It wouldn't an advantage for me, so it may or may not matter to the person who will receive the ukulele, who we were told has small hands. It's one of those individual things - some people prefer wider nut widths, some of us need the opposite. So, just pointing it out as something to consider.


thank you for the input



Wow they are already out of koa and mango concert sized ones and only two concert opios left. They sell crazy fast it seems.

man! I had my one on one of the KoAloha ukes and its gone now! things are selling like hot cakes!

robinboyd
12-19-2018, 01:21 PM
wow! those are some beautiful ukes! I like the furtherst one to the right



A new one of those would be well within your price range. I got mine second hand and it was ultra cheap because it's got a few small cracks. Here is a link to the builder's ebay.

https://www.ebay.com/b/Bruce-Wei-Ukuleles/16224/bn_3118967

Rakelele
12-19-2018, 01:44 PM
Any US Made ukes with reputable name for my price range?

The Kala Elite models which have been mentioned are made in California. She already knows the brand and would know that it is a big step up from a Chinese import to one made in the U.S. Another brand that is made entirely in the U.S. within reach of your budget is Larrivee. Their guitars are well-known among musicians, one of their ukes would fit well into a bluegrass band. The least expensive Hawaiian made tenor is Kanilea K1-T (https://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/brand/kanile-a-k-1-koa-natural-finish-tenor-3.html), starting at $972 USD. Might be worth the extra stretch...

HelloChips
12-19-2018, 01:50 PM
just got off the phone with eric from HMS. great dude and he has given me some great advice! shout out to him!


im thinking of getting this for her

Koaloha Tenor Acacia Opio Ukulele Package (KTO-10)

my plan is have it shipped when she gets back in the US so that she can try it out or exchange it for something she likes better. within that 7 day period.

robinboyd
12-19-2018, 01:53 PM
just got off the phone with eric from HMS. great dude and he has given me some great advice! shout out to him!


im thinking of getting this for her

Koaloha Tenor Acacia Opio Ukulele Package (KTO-10)

my plan is have it shipped when she gets back in the US so that she can try it out or exchange it for something she likes better. within that 7 day period.

Sounds like a great plan :)

RafterGirl
12-19-2018, 01:58 PM
just got off the phone with eric from HMS. great dude and he has given me some great advice! shout out to him!


im thinking of getting this for her

Koaloha Tenor Acacia Opio Ukulele Package (KTO-10)

my plan is have it shipped when she gets back in the US so that she can try it out or exchange it for something she likes better. within that 7 day period.
Great choice. My KoAloha is a much loved member of my little ukulele family. The neck profile & nut size are very comfortable for me to play. The lovely Acacia sound of the KoAloha Opio will be a nice compliment to her other uke. You've definitely done your research & picked a winner. I think she's going to love it! Let us know how it all turns out.

70sSanO
12-19-2018, 05:54 PM
I just remembered talking to her along time ago about an electric uke and she did get excited. how does that compare to a regular uke? and what are some good electric Uke?

It looks like you have decided on the KoAloha Opio, which is great and I don't want to dissuade you. To answer your question... the electric ukulele I'm referring to is more like a solid body, no sound hole. The Godin Multiuke is actually chambered which means there are areas that are not solid wood and the uke is has a soundboard type of top.. cedar, spruce etc. It really needs to be plugged into an amp or PA to really hear it. There is some acoustic sound so it can be played to practice without amplification but it has little volume compared to a true acoustic ukulele. It uses nylon/fluorocarbon strings just like a traditional ukulele and plays the same. The main strength of the uke is as a stage/live performing instrument because the sound is transferred from a pickup under the saddle and run through a pre-amp where you can adjust the bass/mid/treble and output volume. Because there is no soundhole there is less chance to get feedback so she can run it through a Marshall stack set at 11 and not worry about any other instruments around her. It would probably never be a uke that she would just pick up and play as a favorite, but it may be the one she would use to perform on stage.

John

jelow1966
12-19-2018, 06:50 PM
Having read this whole thread I have to say that in general I don't think it is a good idea at all to buy any musician an instrument that they didn't ask for. All my accoustic ukes have Spruce tops, if someone saw that and thought what I needed was a nice, more expensive Mahogany tenor to compliment them I'd end up with a really nice uke that never got played. Even if they saw that I liked Spruce tops the chances of them buying a uke that I would buy myself are slim. That said, I have two questions for HelloChips:

How did your friend get her current uke?

Unless she bought literally the only uke she could find I have to think she sunk $400 into one she really likes the sound and playability of. If she is playing folk and bluegrass style music on a Spruce topped uke then I'm not really seeing how buying a Hawaiian sounding Koa uke is a good idea. Like I said above, just because it's different and more expensive doesn't mean it'll be liked or wanted. My most expensive uke sits in the closet because I never really bonded with it.


Is she willing to risk hurting your feelings and sending what you buy back? And are you willing to do all the work to return it if the answer is yes?

If she isn't the type who will flat out tell you, thanks but no thanks, then she might end up with a really nice uke that was a great gesture but just never gets played much. That would be a waste of a gift and a uke.

Anyway, that's just my two cents. Perhaps I'm jaded from having 'great ideas' that really weren't so great :)

John

PS If you really have to buy her a uke I'd second the idea of the other John and get her a Multiuke or Pono TE. They would at least have the possibility of being just what she needs.

Graham Greenbag
12-19-2018, 11:05 PM
Hello everyone. I don't know anything about Ukuleles but I have been researching them online and been watching lots of youtube videos to educate myself. I need this forum's help purchasing a nice ukulele for a close friend of mine (as a surprise) who plays a lot of bluegrass, folk, country type of music.

price range of $500-600



Going right back to the original question and with what we now know.

You now know that your friend already has a very good Uke for her performance work. You also have been advised how personal the choice of a Uke is and particularly so for something expensive to be (hopefully) treasured.

Others have pointed out ‘think alternative’ rather than throwing money at something and, even with your best efforts, hoping to come up with the perfect gift that’s a step up from what she already has. IMHO, at this price level hope isn’t enough. I wouldn’t want to be remembered as the guy who spent mega bucks and still bought the wrong thing, so overall I suggest that it really is best to let her choose for herself and contribute what you feel you can afford to the bill. If you must buy something then a back-up Tenor Ukulele could serve her well and a Soprano (something much more compact) could be played on the tour bus and in hotel bedrooms (for fun, practice or working something out) or even on stage as an alternative (Ukulele) voice.

Pardon my comments, they are not ment to offend but rather to be just an invitation to review where you are going with your gift now that you have additional information.

As an aside when I got married I bought my wife a Piano for our home. I paid but she selected what she wanted and for many decades she’s had daily pleasure from her choice. Over those decades I have been very glad that I was wise enough to let her choose such a personal item for herself.

HelloChips
12-21-2018, 07:44 AM
Sounds like a great plan :)

its what im planning to do but things might change. Im planning to contact MIMS to see what she can do with returns. if she offers a better return policy, I may end up going with her with a different plan.


Great choice. My KoAloha is a much loved member of my little ukulele family. The neck profile & nut size are very comfortable for me to play. The lovely Acacia sound of the KoAloha Opio will be a nice compliment to her other uke. You've definitely done your research & picked a winner. I think she's going to love it! Let us know how it all turns out.

Thank you for your support. It seems like a all around good instrument. worst case scenario, she can return it and pick something else that she wants.


It looks like you have decided on the KoAloha Opio, which is great and I don't want to dissuade you. To answer your question... the electric ukulele I'm referring to is more like a solid body, no sound hole. The Godin Multiuke is actually chambered which means there are areas that are not solid wood and the uke is has a soundboard type of top.. cedar, spruce etc. It really needs to be plugged into an amp or PA to really hear it. There is some acoustic sound so it can be played to practice without amplification but it has little volume compared to a true acoustic ukulele. It uses nylon/fluorocarbon strings just like a traditional ukulele and plays the same. The main strength of the uke is as a stage/live performing instrument because the sound is transferred from a pickup under the saddle and run through a pre-amp where you can adjust the bass/mid/treble and output volume. Because there is no soundhole there is less chance to get feedback so she can run it through a Marshall stack set at 11 and not worry about any other instruments around her. It would probably never be a uke that she would just pick up and play as a favorite, but it may be the one she would use to perform on stage.

John

really, really good info. I like the feedback comment. I was wondering why not just get a one of those pick ups that you install manually. make sense for shows.

im still open for suggestions since I still have time.


Having read this whole thread I have to say that in general I don't think it is a good idea at all to buy any musician an instrument that they didn't ask for. All my accoustic ukes have Spruce tops, if someone saw that and thought what I needed was a nice, more expensive Mahogany tenor to compliment them I'd end up with a really nice uke that never got played. Even if they saw that I liked Spruce tops the chances of them buying a uke that I would buy myself are slim. That said, I have two questions for HelloChips:

How did your friend get her current uke?

Unless she bought literally the only uke she could find I have to think she sunk $400 into one she really likes the sound and playability of. If she is playing folk and bluegrass style music on a Spruce topped uke then I'm not really seeing how buying a Hawaiian sounding Koa uke is a good idea. Like I said above, just because it's different and more expensive doesn't mean it'll be liked or wanted. My most expensive uke sits in the closet because I never really bonded with it.


Is she willing to risk hurting your feelings and sending what you buy back? And are you willing to do all the work to return it if the answer is yes?

If she isn't the type who will flat out tell you, thanks but no thanks, then she might end up with a really nice uke that was a great gesture but just never gets played much. That would be a waste of a gift and a uke.

Anyway, that's just my two cents. Perhaps I'm jaded from having 'great ideas' that really weren't so great :)

John

PS If you really have to buy her a uke I'd second the idea of the other John and get her a Multiuke or Pono TE. They would at least have the possibility of being just what she needs.


Thank you John( there seem to be a lot of johns in the forum :) )

you know what. I often wonder how she got her ukes. she lives in a really small town and when I googled it, the closest music store was about an hour away.... im pretty sure her parents bought her uke for her. ( we really don't talk much about music )

I want to say that she may not have much of a choice picking her uke because I don't think she would have been able to afford it and im not sure if the city where she got the uke would have the inventory or selection for her to try out.

also, this is why the return policy is important because if she doesn't like the uke then she can return it with no problem.



Going right back to the original question and with what we now know.

You now know that your friend already has a very good Uke for her performance work. You also have been advised how personal the choice of a Uke is and particularly so for something expensive to be (hopefully) treasured.

Others have pointed out ‘think alternative’ rather than throwing money at something and, even with your best efforts, hoping to come up with the perfect gift that’s a step up from what she already has. IMHO, at this price level hope isn’t enough. I wouldn’t want to be remembered as the guy who spent mega bucks and still bought the wrong thing, so overall I suggest that it really is best to let her choose for herself and contribute what you feel you can afford to the bill. If you must buy something then a back-up Tenor Ukulele could serve her well and a Soprano (something much more compact) could be played on the tour bus and in hotel bedrooms (for fun, practice or working something out) or even on stage as an alternative (Ukulele) voice.

Pardon my comments, they are not ment to offend but rather to be just an invitation to review where you are going with your gift now that you have additional information.

As an aside when I got married I bought my wife a Piano for our home. I paid but she selected what she wanted and for many decades she’s had daily pleasure from her choice. Over those decades I have been very glad that I was wise enough to let her choose such a personal item for herself.

I appreciate the comment and suggestion. that's why the return policy is VERY important. if she doesn't like the instrument she can pick something else. but at least she got something rather than a gift card. and the value of the instrument will give her more purchasing power.

Kyle23
12-21-2018, 01:55 PM
Can I be your friend?

HelloChips
12-21-2018, 02:42 PM
Can I be your friend?

Of course you can.

merlin666
12-28-2018, 05:13 AM
So what did you get her?

Patrick Madsen
12-28-2018, 08:27 AM
What uke brand is she playing now and size? When I was younger and playing professionally, a woman bought me a 3,000 dollar guitar (Gibson Les Paul) without my input or knowledge she was going to do it. I never did bond with it and only played it once. Instead, I played the guitars I chose.

I trust she is fully aware of your intentions. If not, you could ruin the relationship as it kind of forces her to play something she'd never consider if it were up to her.

Bill Sheehan
12-30-2018, 03:08 AM
I'm really late to this thread, but I would offer that I have been on the receiving end of guitar gifts on two different occasions. Neither was to my liking, although they were both very nice instruments. And although I very much appreciated the generosity of the giver (same person in both situations), I can honestly say that I would have been more thrilled with a gift certificate to the store where the guitars came from, knowing that I'd be able to look forward to enjoying the fun of taking my time, browsing the selection, and finally deciding on what I'd go with-- like a kid in a candy store, as they say. But every situation is different, and these are just my thoughts, for what they may be worth...

HelloChips
02-09-2019, 08:17 AM
Hello everyone!

Update: I contacted MiMs and we worked out a plan. I will let you know as soon as I execute the plan. :)

Kenn2018
02-09-2019, 08:49 AM
Cool! Eager to find out how everything turns out. Best of luck.

HelloChips
02-11-2019, 12:21 PM
thank you. I will let everyone know of the result.