PDA

View Full Version : first uke - which brand to go with?



shores&hammocks
06-25-2009, 02:03 PM
i'm jumped the bandwagon for ukes, but i'm very captivated by the chill-vibe instrument. so i decided to buy one. man, choosing an ukulele is very hard! :p

so i chose a tenor, straight off the bat. i listend to my friend play it, and i really enjoy the full sound (but i'm definitley looking in the future to acquire a soprano).

i buy things online, but i wasn't to excited about buying an instrument online. i really need the hands on factor. but living in san diego, it's hard to find a dedicated uke shop. i first went to guitar center, and ugh - they had like 3 chocies. but then i found this really nice shop at carlsbad and they had a good wall of ukes. ultimatley, i chose a kala ka-t tenor with guitar strings. after playing it (which was heavenly being my first time :D), i realized that aquila strings were in need, so i went back, and the guy replaced my kala ka-t tenor uke with a lanikai lu-21t tenor uke with aquila strings. it was great! sounded beautiful! but over the course of 1 hour, it got REALLY out of tune!

so i'm really, really, really skeptical of which brand to go with? lanikai or kala? also ohana (the majority of ukes there were ohana). also, i'm considering kamoa ukes (i saw aldrine's comparison video - awesome). or is kamoa to high end for the novice? sorry for the long post, but please, replies would be greatly appreicated.

so, of the two, which? lanikai or kala for the beginner? and is kamoa an okay ukulele to start off with? which brand offers a great build quality (not some china/mexican made uke), and etc. is ohana good also?

HaileISela
06-25-2009, 02:16 PM
Hey, I'm not very fond of the Lanikai I once bought, but I would go for another Kala anytime (already have two...).

If you had problems with it staying in tune, that's normal. strings do need a few days (usually) to set. after that, they will stay in tune pretty good.

no idea about the Kamoa, but as you already played that Kala, I'd say: go for it! You won't be disappointed.

HaileISela
06-25-2009, 02:16 PM
Oh, and welcome to the Underground!:nana:

shores&hammocks
06-25-2009, 02:27 PM
ah, okay, so maybe i'll just go back and ask the guy to replace my lanikai with my old kala, but with aquila strings? thanks.

and thank you for the welcome!

also - ohana? any good? their soprano's look nice.

Lori
06-25-2009, 02:39 PM
Don't worry about being a beginner, and getting an instrument that's too nice. If you have the interest and the budget, you will save yourself money in the long run if you get something good.

I would say, for a beginner, get geared tuners (instead of friction tuners). They are way easier for beginners, and tuning is much quicker with the geared tuners.

I have several Kalas, and feel the quality is very good. I have an Ohana too, nice quality, but the friction tuners on that are harder to use.

–Lori

nukealaily
06-25-2009, 02:47 PM
whatever you purchase in life - just get the best you can afford and then you will have few regrets .

DogBisquit
06-25-2009, 02:57 PM
I've been lurking around this site for a couple of days. My (ex)girlfriend mentioned this site.

I'm actually going to be in Carlsbad tomorrow to give her a Ohana baritone I just picked-up this afternoon (she doesn't know it yet). So, I may run into you at the shop. Is it Buffalo Bros or Gialoletti?

I have heard really good things about the Ohanas and this one looks very nice. I tried playing it, but because the strings are new it would not keep in key. It usually takes a few days of constant tuning before they settle.

I've bought a couple of Kalas, very similar in price and quality as the Lanakai (which I used to have). But, and I hate to tell you this, unless you're going high-end, they are ALL made in China. There isn't even a Martin made in the states anymore!

That said, I love my Kala concert. I've only been playing for a couple years, so I still consider myself a beginner, and I think it's more than adequate. I also like the concert (as opposed to a tenor) because of the high G. Sounds more ukelele-like.

shores&hammocks
06-25-2009, 03:10 PM
ah, i went to both, but purchased my uke at gialoetti at state st. the guy is really straight forward, but helpful and nice. and informational.

built
06-25-2009, 04:57 PM
my first is pono ohai concert; just got it yesterday. :nana:
it :music: pertty good.

Russ Sonny Kemner
06-25-2009, 07:03 PM
I replied with a video. Still not too keen on how my son's video camera works, so it is a little blurry.

I only owned one ukulele that I didn't build. It was crap. I broke the neck off and mounted it to a cigar box. Got lucky in that it sounded o.k. Since then I have built several more and gotten better at it, but if the first one would have turned out terrible, I never would have gotten into building or playing ukulele. Sometimes you just get a break.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khxdstpFCx4

LazyRiver
06-26-2009, 11:02 AM
Uke's are relatively cheap and, it seems, most people have more than one before long. I got my first a month or so ago. It's an Oscar Schmidt OU2 concert. I changed the strings to Acquila and noticed an immediate improvement. The other thing I did was to get a clip-on digital tuner. At last the instrument is truly in tune. Big difference.

The OU2 wasn't the cheapest around, but it cost just enough to qualify for free shipping. The cheaper one's didn't.

I have nothing to compare the OU2 against, but so far am happy. Meanwhile I can look around for something better or in a different size, but am under no pressure.

BTW - I also play sax. My approach there was entirely different, since woodwinds and brass are expensive at all levels, I decided to get the best I could afford and hopefully avoid costly future upgrades.

-- Al

ichadwick
06-29-2009, 01:29 AM
Read my review page for more details.

Ohana, Kala, Lanikai, Mainland - all have models in similar price ranges and build quality. Which one you should get depends on what you want from it, how you feel about the look and whether you want electronics or not.

Personally, I would look seriously at Kala and Mainland first. Don't buy the least expensive - buy the best you can afford and buy a solid wood top. That doesn't mean you need to spend $1,000 or more; just don't waste your time and money with the inexpensive laminates. They will only leave you wanting more and better very, very soon.

No, they're NOT all made in China. Some are made in the Philippines or Indonesia. But that should not matter. For the price, the quality of all these brands is quite good.

ichadwick
06-29-2009, 01:33 AM
Uke's are relatively cheap...
Compared to, say, SUVS, for sure they are inexpensive. But I can buy guitars of the same or better build quality for less. My Takamine guitar with active pickup cost me $100 less than most of my ukuleles! And I have a superb American-made Strat copy electric that cost me $99! For their size, ukuleles are rather expensive.

Cheap suggests poor quality, and shoddy build. None of the ukuleles I've bought qualify for that adjective. Inexpensive, perhaps, but not cheap. I've only seen a few 'cheap' ukes - those $30 toys hanging in many music shops. I have, however, seen some relatively inexpensive models.

MangoMon
06-29-2009, 02:06 AM
When I was looking to step up from my first uke, I drove around playing as many as I could. Most music stores here had Kalas and Lanikais. Based on reviews from this site, I bought a Mainland. It blew the others away (in my opinion). Also, checkout more online reveiws and sound samples.

gheepn
06-29-2009, 06:31 AM
Just got a Kamoa tenor. What can I say but "holy crap" prob the best sounding uke under 4-500 dollars. the curved back really gives it nice projection and loudness. Plus it's super light weight, nice friction tuners, you cant beat it for the price. :shaka:Get the Kamoa!!! you can pick one up at the UU store or call Sam at larry's music in Ka'paa, both can ship them to you.

DogBisquit
07-01-2009, 11:25 AM
No, they're NOT all made in China. Some are made in the Philippines or Indonesia. But that should not matter. For the price, the quality of all these brands is quite good.

That's sort of what I meant. Philippines, Indonesia, China - same same. Even the less expensive Martins are made in Mexico. It's contract manufacturing in a developing country, not individually made by a luthier.

My Kala concert will be with me for a lot of years (even though I'm plotting my next acquisition). For my level of expertise it serves me very nicely. I've strummed some very fine instruments, but this one has great tone and I'm comfortable with the action and playability. In other words: I have not outgrown it yet.

As for my weekend, the surprise baritone caught her totally off-guard. Imagine sitting at the beach during sunset. I hand her a gig bag she's seen a hundred times before, and she opens it to find her very own ukulele.

The Ohana baritone impressed both of us with it's voice and sustain. Much brighter and louder than the Martin, though less warm. The overall workmanship was very good. I would definitely give this brand high marks for the price point.

And you're right about the guys at Giacoletti Music. Very helpful with a great selection of instruments in-stock. They said there's a ukulele night at the old victorian restaurant (Ocean House?) down the street from the shop on Thursdays. Or, there's one tonight (Wednesday) at Today's Pizza in Encinitas.

ukulelebadass
07-01-2009, 11:31 AM
Hey, I'm not very fond of the Lanikai I once bought, but I would go for another Kala anytime (already have two...).

If you had problems with it staying in tune, that's normal. strings do need a few days (usually) to set. after that, they will stay in tune pretty good.

no idea about the Kamoa, but as you already played that Kala, I'd say: go for it! You won't be disappointed.

Ditto, I have had issues with Lanikai, but I love my KALA's and btw GHS Blacks really sound great on a KA-T.