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View Full Version : Help me price my new uke design (Orca Ukulele)



robedney
04-30-2019, 02:51 PM
Hi All,

It's been awhile since I posted! Some of you will remember that I've been developing a carbon fiber hybrid uke over the last few years. I've finally arrived at a final design and I'm ready to start making them to order, on the bench, one at a time. I'd love to get a sense of what the community thinks a reasonable price would be, as well as what you think of the final model. You may remember that we had a contest and I gave away a prototype here on UU!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2Q4vUiMG0E

More info at http://www.orcaukuleles.com

keenonuke
04-30-2019, 03:42 PM
They look great. I do like the current final iteration better than the two earlier versions. The rosette really makes it stand out. The ukulele really has a great loud voice. Great going.

robinboyd
04-30-2019, 04:04 PM
Well, I can't help with what I would pay because I know I couldn't afford it.

However, I'd start my calculations by working out the cost of materials and how many hours of work it takes to build one. Then I'd decide how much I'd like to earn per hour, and also how much is the bare minimum I'd accept per hour. Your answer probably lies somewhere in between.

70sSanO
04-30-2019, 04:21 PM
I’ll kind of cut to the chase. Your competition is probably the KLOS carbon fiber ukulele (recent start-up) and with the one piece ABS back and neck, maybe the carbon Outdoor uke on the low side. If you check these ukes out it will give you an idea where your pricing might be. Blackbird might be a tough comparison to command their pricing.

I would also look into the Graphtech Ratio Tune-a-lele tuners. Carbon fiber and friction tuners would probably equate to a carbon fiber road bike with downtube friction shifters; not a good 50+ year technology gap.

I like the way your ukulele sounds, the biggest attribute would be making it as impervious to the elements as possible. This is where these ukuleles shine.

John

besley
04-30-2019, 04:23 PM
As to the price, we're clearly talking more like the $500 KLOS than the $1500 Blackbird Farallon. I guess the real question would be whether having the ABS back and sides is considered a step down or up from the KLOS. I rather like the idea of ABS for the body and neck, but mostly because of the possibility of making the uke even more affordable, much like the Fluke and Flight ukuleles. My expectation would be for this to cost less than the KLOS since only the top is carbon fiber, not the whole body.

Jim Hanks
04-30-2019, 05:11 PM
"Perfectly sound, looks nice, and I won't be doing it again." :biglaugh:
Sorry, that just struck me funny. :rofl:

Kenn2018
04-30-2019, 05:38 PM
Some thoughts:

IMHO, I'd position this, at least initially, so that the things that Farallon as extra cost options as standard on your instrument. (Within reason.)

You already have a side sound port. I don't know if it has a radiused fretboard. Fretwire size & dressed ends. Quality tuners. Etc.

You will have to offer a high quality pickup option. As well as strap buttons and something so that the smooth back stays in place when you play.

Ebony headstock veneer is the hot design clue for higher-quality instruments.

All-black will appeal to some people. The softer wood accents will appeal to others. A black-on-black logo could be really classy.

The carbon fiber top is a great high-tech look. It would be a great veneer on the headstock.

I'd price it lower than the Farallon. $1000 is a pretty important price point separating the "elite" higher quality instruments. How much higher or lower will impact sales a lot.

robedney
04-30-2019, 05:42 PM
"Perfectly sound, looks nice, and I won't be doing it again." :biglaugh:
Sorry, that just struck me funny. :rofl:

Yup, I'm old enough to know when I don't want to do something twice!

robedney
04-30-2019, 06:07 PM
Great input! Keep it coming please!

A few points: I make these, myself, one at a time. This isn't a factory operation. So, despite the other particulars about the instrument each one gets a good setup by someone who knows what they are doing and really cares. Quality fret wire, carefully leveled, re-crowned and ends polished smooth. I cannot abide high action on a uke, or buzzing, so every uke is set at the nut and 12th for play-ability. By the way, all the bits are glued together with West System G/flex epoxy. It's pricey but the best I've found for extreme conditions. Someone mentioned Klos as a price point to compare to. The Klos ukes have a wooden neck and that -- for a play anywhere instrument -- is an issue in my humble opinion. Even well finished wood suffers in temperature and humidity variations, and I've seen even high quality wooden ukes with warped necks. So far as I know they make a fine instrument, but I've also read of growing pains, particularly with setup and bridges coming unglued.

I'll order a set of Graphtech Ratio tuners and check them out. Other input on tuners???

I'm not trying to compete with Blackbird. They make very cool instruments and I suspect they are not getting rich on the ukes. I have made four all carbon fiber ukes and have a real appreciation for how much work is entailed. Thus the ABS to get the price well below Blackbird's offerings. Sound-wise, however, I don't thing a Farallon owner would be disapointed in an Orca :)

I've tried both the Outdoor and Waterman ukes. Great cheap bang around ukes but lacking to my ears. It all depends on what you're looking for. The main thing is to have fun and play!

More input please!

derbyhat
04-30-2019, 06:33 PM
This might sound weird, but stick with me. :)

As it stands right now, I probably wouldn’t buy it at any price. I’m a researcher and I’d need reviews to justify any purchase based on the crowdthink. I agonized over videos and reviews before buying my first uke: a Luna that was like $200 and included a case and strings. Seems silly now - but it meant a lot then.

And so I really dig the video. Thank you. It’s a great start. And I suggest you see if you could get a regular reviewer to give it a whirl. Bazmaz comes to mind.

When you settle on a price, please sell it with a case.

And since you’re building them one at a time, I think you should decide how much you want your brand to be worth in the ukulele world. Do you want to be a Moore Bettah, a Hive, or a Black Bear? Watching your video and reading your responses above, it feels like you’re doing this because you love the work, not because you want to make money at it.

You might also consider the Cocobolo lesson: a good price could lead to a lottery. Unless you want to get slammed with orders, you might jack the price a bit to slow em down.

Thanks for including us in the conversation. I look forward to learning where you land.

robedney
04-30-2019, 06:48 PM
This might sound weird, but stick with me. :)

As it stands right now, I probably wouldn’t buy it at any price. I’m a researcher and I’d need reviews to justify any purchase based on the crowdthink. I agonized over videos and reviews before buying my first uke: a Luna that was like $200 and included a case and strings. Seems silly now - but it meant a lot then.

And so I really dig the video. Thank you. It’s a great start. And I suggest you see if you could get a regular reviewer to give it a whirl. Bazmaz comes to mind.

When you settle on a price, please sell it with a case.

And since you’re building them one at a time, I think you should decide how much you want your brand to be worth in the ukulele world. Do you want to be a Moore Bettah, a Hive, or a Black Bear? Watching your video and reading your responses above, it feels like you’re doing this because you love the work, not because you want to make money at it.

You might also consider the Cocobolo lesson: a good price could lead to a lottery. Unless you want to get slammed with orders, you might jack the price a bit to slow em down.

Thanks for including us in the conversation. I look forward to learning where you land.

Great response! Yes, I need to get an instrument out to some regular reviewers. I need more hours in the day!

besley
04-30-2019, 06:53 PM
Great input! Keep it coming please!

A few points: I make these, myself, one at a time. This isn't a factory operation. So, despite the other particulars about the instrument each one gets a good setup by someone who knows what they are doing and really cares. Quality fret wire, carefully leveled, re-crowned and ends polished smooth. I cannot abide high action on a uke, or buzzing, so every uke is set at the nut and 12th for play-ability. By the way, all the bits are glued together with West System G/flex epoxy. It's pricey but the best I've found for extreme conditions. Someone mentioned Klos as a price point to compare to. The Klos ukes have a wooden neck and that -- for a play anywhere instrument -- is an issue in my humble opinion. Even well finished wood suffers in temperature and humidity variations, and I've seen even high quality wooden ukes with warped necks. So far as I know they make a fine instrument, but I've also read of growing pains, particularly with setup and bridges coming unglued.

I'll order a set of Graphtech Ratio tuners and check them out. Other input on tuners???

I'm not trying to compete with Blackbird. They make very cool instruments and I suspect they are not getting rich on the ukes. I have made four all carbon fiber ukes and have a real appreciation for how much work is entailed. Thus the ABS to get the price well below Blackbird's offerings. Sound-wise, however, I don't thing a Farallon owner would be disapointed in an Orca :)

I've tried both the Outdoor and Waterman ukes. Great cheap bang around ukes but lacking to my ears. It all depends on what you're looking for. The main thing is to have fun and play!

More input please!

I certainly appreciate your comments about the drawbacks of wood necks, and I do consider that to be the weak point of a wood and composite instrument such as a KLOS. But the KLOS ukes address neck stability with carbon fiber rods inserted into the wood neck. In contrast I would be concerned about the long term stability of an ABS neck, since you don't seem to have anything comparable. Another comparison might be with the Fluke, which has a similar plastic body, a wood neck, and can be had with a wood fretboard too for under $350. So in this case you would have to decide how much of an upcharge is it worth to have a carbon fiber top over a wood top.

Jerryc41
05-01-2019, 02:11 AM
It's nice of you to ask for suggestions for pricing, but that's always tough. Naturally, you have to cover material costs. As for time, design, and labor, that's completely up in the air. You would have to figure material costs over a certain number of units and divide by that number to get a cost for each piece. Then you would add how much you would like to make on each unit.

Simple example: $1,000 for 100 units = $10 cost per unit + $25 profit = $35 per unit. I'm not suggesting you sell these for that price, but you need some sort of system to determine a price. If the price is too low, you won't keep up with demand. If the price is too high - for an unknown start-up - you won't sell enough.

I wish you luck with this, and I hope I can own one in the future.

Jerryc41
05-01-2019, 02:19 AM
As to the price, we're clearly talking more like the $500 KLOS than the $1500 Blackbird Farallon. I guess the real question would be whether having the ABS back and sides is considered a step down or up from the KLOS.

I wondered about that, too. Why use both materials, rather than building it out of just one or the other? I suspect the cost/price would be lower if it were all ABS, but then, what about the appearance of that ABS top? It could be too plain.

keenonuke
05-01-2019, 03:08 AM
Hi
Thanks for your great videos. I do prefer version 3 from a sound a visual standpoint.

I looked over your website and wonder about the size of the nut. Is it a radiused fretboard? Although I'm guessing a case is not really needed, does it include a case? And shipping is that extra for the US?

Jerryc41
05-01-2019, 03:13 AM
...does it include a case?

An included case is nice, but it has to add to the price. Nice cases can be had for $25 and up, and I sometimes have an empty case I could use, rather than buying one or having the cost added to the price of the uke. Making a case an optional extra would work for me.

UkerDanno
05-01-2019, 04:32 AM
I wish you luck with this, and I hope I can own one in the future.

You can own one now, Jerry! Be the first...:D:shaka:

Rob,
I like the rosette, hope you can make something work, also hope the RATIO TUNE-A-LELE tuners will work out, they would be cool on that not a fan of friction tuners. Personally, I would order with Gotoh planetaries...(if I was ordering).

Jerryc41
05-01-2019, 06:13 AM
You can own one now, Jerry! Be the first...:D:shaka:

"Be not the first by whom the new are tried, nor yet the last to lay the old aside." :)

robedney
05-01-2019, 06:27 AM
I certainly appreciate your comments about the drawbacks of wood necks, and I do consider that to be the weak point of a wood and composite instrument such as a KLOS. But the KLOS ukes address neck stability with carbon fiber rods inserted into the wood neck. In contrast I would be concerned about the long term stability of an ABS neck, since you don't seem to have anything comparable. Another comparison might be with the Fluke, which has a similar plastic body, a wood neck, and can be had with a wood fretboard too for under $350. So in this case you would have to decide how much of an upcharge is it worth to have a carbon fiber top over a wood top.

The Orca neck is completely filled with an epoxy/phenolic micro-balloon mix that is quite rigid and impervious to water and water vapor. Just to be on the safe side, there is also a carbon fiber rib that runs down the center, all topped with carbon fiber over the top (under the fingerboard) forming a T beam. You could probably hit a home run out of Fenwick Park with it :)

70sSanO
05-01-2019, 07:15 AM
I decided to check out your website for Elixir violins. You obviously understand acoustic instruments and how to produce them out of synthetic materials. My suggestion, which was alluded to in an earlier post, is to put together some videos that highlight how the Orca really sounds. Don’t be offended, but your playing does not inspire someone to want to buy your ukulele.

I own a KLOS. The deciding factor was seeing Jake Shimabukuro play one. Not that I can play like him, but I could hear the potential of the instrument. You need to check out the videos on The Ukulele Site and see how they present their ukuleles for sale.

I like the wood, or brown, accents on your violins. I think it enhances the appearance. I believe Blackbird has discontinued their carbon fiber ukulele in favor of their Ekoa with a more “woody” appearance. The ABS screams plastic Ovation or Fluke, where just the one piece back and neck Clara does not (I realize different materials). Your job is to get enough separation from a KLOS to make it a good less expensive alternative to a Farallon.

John

robedney
05-01-2019, 07:26 AM
I decided to check out your website for Elixir violins. You obviously understand acoustic instruments and how to produce them out of synthetic materials. My suggestion, which was alluded to in an earlier post, is to put together some videos that highlight how the Orca really sounds. Don’t be offended, but your playing does not inspire someone to want to buy your ukulele.

I own a KLOS. The deciding factor was seeing Jake Shimabukuro play one. Not that I can play like him, but I could hear the potential of the instrument. You need to check out the videos on The Ukulele Site and see how they present their ukuleles for sale.

I like the wood, or brown, accents on your violins. I think it enhances the appearance. I believe Blackbird has discontinued their carbon fiber ukulele in favor of their Ekoa with a more “woody” appearance. The ABS screams plastic Ovation or Fluke, where just the one piece back and neck Clara does not (I realize different materials). Your job is to get enough separation from a KLOS to make it a good less expensive alternative to a Farallon.

John

Excellent thoughts. And you're right, my playing doesn't even inspire me!

keenonuke
05-01-2019, 08:25 PM
I own a KLOS. The deciding factor was seeing Jake Shimabukuro play one. Not that I can play like him, but I could hear the potential of the instrument. You need to check out the videos on The Ukulele Site and see how they present their ukuleles for sale.Excellent thoughts. And you're right, my playing doesn't even inspire me!

Yes great playing does help sway purchasing decisions. Look at theukulelesite com. That being said, I've bought two ukes based upon reviews and the playing was far from Jake Shimabakuro's. But maybe I'm an easy touch. I even considered buying one of the Ukuleles. However I decided against it.
I think if the Ukulele landed in gotaukulele it would be a big success.

Jerryc41
05-02-2019, 12:56 AM
Yes great playing does help sway purchasing decisions. Look at theukulelesite com. That being said, I've bought two ukes based upon reviews and the playing was far from Jake Shimabakuro's. But maybe I'm an easy touch. I even considered buying one of the Ukuleles. However I decided against it.
I think if the Ukulele landed in gotaukulele it would be a big success.

I would never buy a uke based on what I heard online. I don't know how the sound was recorded, and I have a pair of 2" speakers. They all sound about the same to me. Hearing them n person is a different thing all together. All my ukes have a unique sound. I base my purchasing on multiple online reviews - and that goes for just about everything I buy.

robedney
05-02-2019, 12:55 PM
This is great information. I hadn't asked how you all decide to buy and instrument, but I realize now that's even more valuable information that a guess at a price! Keep it coming please!

Nickie
05-02-2019, 03:54 PM
Robert,
I like the tonal qualities, regardless of your playing. The side sound hole is a nice touch.
IF you wanted to make this uke out of all carbon, and it has Gotoh planetary tuners,
I would think it would be worth at least 800 for a concert scale, which I the size I play.
I'd like to see it have a chamfered armrest....just for comfort. And to add icing to the cake, give buyers a choice of strings, and bridge type.
I think it's pretty cool that you think enough of UU readers to ask our opinion!