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View Full Version : Need a new uke, better than my backpacker



Invader_Quirk
07-03-2009, 02:37 PM
I've been playing on a Martin&Co. backpacker uke for several years now. It has developed a crack. It hasn't affected the sound, but it keeps growing. I'm going to need a new ukulele soon and I want to make sure I don't ignorantly take a step down from my old uke quality-wise. I've been doing tons of searches, and I'm currently looking into the Flea. I know my local music shops won't have them, so I'd be ordering it online without trying it. Is it a step up from my backpacker? Any other suggestions? I'm looking at spending around 200$, no more than 300$.

Thanks!

Johnny Elsewhere
07-03-2009, 02:41 PM
I have a Kala tenor that I don't really need anymore.

It's got a few nicks at the headstock, but it's very playable!

haole
07-03-2009, 02:41 PM
The Flea is a definite step up from the backpacker. Louder, less neck-heavy, and super durable. I play my Flea as often as I play my Kamaka, if that says anything.

Ahnko Honu
07-03-2009, 02:44 PM
You cannot go wrong with a FLEA or FLUKE though in your price range the FLEA is more feasible. I LOVE my FLUKE it is now my official camping, and canoe fishing 'ukulele. I'd recommend you stick with the basic entry level plastic fret board FLEA as they play very nicely and are practically indestructible. The quality of sound belies it's laminate top. You won't be disappointed. :shaka:

Invader_Quirk
07-03-2009, 02:49 PM
Thanks for the quick replies, guys! I'm definitely leaning toward the flea now. I just discovered a nearby music store that might have ukuleles to try out. I'll likely head out there and see what they have to offer before I make my decision.

grappler
07-03-2009, 03:00 PM
Yep flea or fluke would be great for that price range

uke552
07-03-2009, 03:05 PM
I'll chime in too...."I love my Flea"....and I do! One of the best sounding uke's that I own.

Craig
07-03-2009, 04:40 PM
You cannot go wrong with a FLEA or FLUKE though in your price range the FLEA is more feasible. I LOVE my FLUKE it is now my official camping, and canoe fishing 'ukulele. I'd recommend you stick with the basic entry level plastic fret board FLEA as they play very nicely and are practically indestructible. The quality of sound belies it's laminate top. You won't be disappointed. :shaka:
I keep a Flea and or Fluke at school (work) at all times. They're 15-year old proof!

dnt.thnk.twce
07-03-2009, 06:30 PM
My Flea gets a lot of love! It just spent the week with me on vacation - on two airplanes, a car, a golf cart, a mountain bike - hours and hours on the beach and at the pool. Been with me to Moscow and is going again in a few weeks, then along to Geneva.

I just bought a Mainland uke and love it's sweet sounds when I am comfy at home - but for on the road and potentially hazardous situations - the Flea wins hands down!! I just throw it in my computer bag (or beach bag!) and away we go...

I have the plastic fretboard and like it - but have worn grooves in the frets. Will probably have it replaced (for free by the company) with plastic rather than rosewood - just for durability. Plus, since I have been playing longer I don't think I'll be as rough on a new one.

Link
07-03-2009, 07:11 PM
My Fleais fantastic.. in fact I have a video review for it uploading right now to my YT channel. Couldn't love it more.

It's actually up for trade in the ukulele marketplace section... if you have a Fluke concert that is :)

Anyways, get a Flea. I pretty much guarantee that you'll be pleased, and play it more than any of your ukes.

experimentjon
07-03-2009, 08:50 PM
Well, seeing as to how you're a Backpacker owner, you're clearly not adverse to non-traditional ukes. So the Flea and Fluke would be good choices. Personally, I reccomend any of the tenor Flukes with plastic fretboards. I've actually never tried a flea, but I love my concert and tenor flukes. They are bulletproof. And in that price range, the Fluke definitely gets my reccomendation.

jkevinwolfe
07-04-2009, 02:33 AM
Looks to be near unanimous. The flea is good little soldier.

spots
07-04-2009, 06:55 AM
Fleas are nice and sturdy, but consider some upgrades. Should still keep you below $300.

- rosewood fretboard with metal frets: you won't have to worry if different brands of strings may wear grooves in the frets.

- Grover 4B friction tuners: these are a tad larger and heavier than the stock tuners but they "grip" better. They are a drop in replacement (no enlarging of holes in the headstock). The stock tuners have thin stamped metal bushings and the thin edge can gouge the headstock if they spin/rotate while you tune. The Grover 4B tuners have larger flat bushings that won't gouge the headstock.

The stock strings are soft, and over time the "C" can sound a little "plunky". To my ears the C string is the least musical sounding in the set.

I purchased the Flea because I wanted a nice sounding uke that didn't have to be babied when traveling. For me, after these upgrades, it fits the bill perfectly.

Enjoy.

Ukulele JJ
07-04-2009, 11:02 AM
Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea Flea!

And, in closing.. Flea!

JJ

Skottoman
07-04-2009, 01:38 PM
Another FLEA fan! I've taken my concert flea to mexico, and 3 or 4 roadtrips here in the US. I got another FLEA for my bday, and took it to Ireland, Spain and France!

GO FLEA!
My concert is with the rosewood fretboard, and is a little nicer than my Soprano all plastic FLEA. But I'd say the soprano basic plastic flea is AWESOME for travelling with!
Cheers,
Skottoman

Invader_Quirk
07-04-2009, 02:02 PM
Well, that music store I mentioned, they have apparently been known to have Fleas! BUT! They were shut down by the IRS...

Sooo I have to get one online. I'm looking around for a place with the "natural" flea with free shipping. I found one place that has free shipping on all the fleas that are in stock. The "natural" one is on order, and I'm hoping that when it gets in on the 10th, it will have free shipping too. In the meantime, if you know of anywhere else with the natural flea with free or low shipping, please let me know.

CoffeeMate
07-04-2009, 02:25 PM
Buy a Flea, Buy it asap, I just got mine 3 day ago and I CAN NOT put it down. It is by far the easiest uke I have ever played. The action is perfection, the tone is amazing! I :love: it!!!!
Check out http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/store/Scripts/prodList.asp?idcategory=6&curPage=2&sortField=sort+desc shipping was very reasonable. The natural flea is 169, concert neck will cost you 15 bucks more, upgraded fretboard w/ aquilas will cost you 75. FYI, the concert flea is more like in between a soprano size and concert size. Compared to our other concert size ukes the flea is about 2 inches shorter. If you want something closer to actual concert size get a fluke.

Invader_Quirk
07-04-2009, 04:43 PM
Quick question about concert size: does it simply have more frets or does it sound different from the regular?

EDIT: Another question... on one site, the "natural" flea looked like it had a wood grain pattern, but on Flea Market Music, it looks like a solid color.
http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/store/prodimages/fmme103-lg.jpg
Flat color....
http://elderly.com/images/new_instruments/180N/FLEA-NAT_front.jpg
Wood pattern(?)

Anybody know what it really looks like? Thanks for all your help.

Ahnko Honu
07-04-2009, 05:25 PM
The natural is just that the natural Australian Hoop Pine laminate veneer which is a solid straight grained wood which is great for sound but not that great to look at. Yup, wood pattern though faint and unspectacular.

Ahnko Honu
07-04-2009, 05:27 PM
Absolutely nothing wrong with the plastic fret board especially ona rough and tumble camping 'ukulele, just stay away from wire wound string when it comes replacement time. The nylon wrapped KALA Reds work great though. ;)

Ahnko Honu
07-04-2009, 05:28 PM
if you know of anywhere else with the natural flea with free or low shipping, please let me know.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&Item=360166252768&Category=16224&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26its%3DI%26otn%3D2

spots
07-04-2009, 05:28 PM
The picture on Elderly's website is closer to being accurate.

My natural top appears to have a very light stain to it but the wood grain is still very visible. Each top will have a different grain pattern. Mine has a nice swirl pattern and a couple of birls which reflect the light nicely.

Invader_Quirk
07-04-2009, 05:50 PM
Ok, thanks a bundle!

Ahnko Honu
07-04-2009, 06:05 PM
Ok, thanks a bundle!

Didja get the ebay Flea? :confused::shaka::D

Invader_Quirk
07-04-2009, 06:09 PM
Yeah, I just committed to buy. I had to send him a message, though, because it's trying to get me to pay for shipping even though the description said it was free. I'm assuming he just forgot to set it. :confused: Anyway, I have to wait for a reply. Thanks for that link, BTW. :D

Ahnko Honu
07-04-2009, 06:38 PM
Even with shipping it's an unbeatable price for a new Flea, I hope details get worked out quick, and you are playing your new Flea sooner than later. :shaka:

Invader_Quirk
07-04-2009, 06:45 PM
Yeah, it is a great price. But when I've got about 400 dollars in my bank account, I'm going to whittle down the price any way I can. ;)

spots
07-04-2009, 07:14 PM
Congrats on the purchase.

FYI, Grover 4B tuners can be ordered direct from The Magic Fluke for about $16-$17 (for a set of four) including shipping. Well worth the price.

Enjoy!

CoffeeMate
07-05-2009, 06:05 AM
Yeah, I just committed to buy. I had to send him a message, though, because it's trying to get me to pay for shipping even though the description said it was free. I'm assuming he just forgot to set it. :confused: Anyway, I have to wait for a reply. Thanks for that link, BTW. :D

The descriptions is showing 14.95 S/H, still a great price :)

congrats on the flea, you will adore it

Invader_Quirk
07-05-2009, 07:16 AM
Yeah, but right under the title it says "Authorized Dealer - New with Warranty - Free Shipping!" I dunno. If I end up paying the shipping, it's not a big deal, but we'll see.

csr5z
07-06-2009, 11:54 AM
Invader_Quirk asked: Quick question about concert size: does it simply have more frets or does it sound different from the regular?

I don't think anyone has answered him so far. I have the same question, and also a related one: is the flea concert neck merely longer than the soprano neck (thus having some additional frets) or are there other differences? For examples, are the frets differently spaced than on a concert than on a the soprano?

Thanks! This board is so great!

Invader_Quirk
07-06-2009, 12:51 PM
I am still curious about that, although I went ahead and ordered soprano size, simply to save money.

Just got the shipping notice, by the way. I'm pretty stoked. :D

Skottoman
07-06-2009, 02:11 PM
Hi, I have both a concert and soprano Flea. My concert has the upgraded rosewood fretboard/bridge etc. My Soprano is basic plastic.

The bodies are identical, so to me they sound basically the same. There is a slightly "lower" tone to the concert because the strings are longer. Maybe a little more sustain. But they are *very* similar. You can't go wrong.

As far as frets go... The Concert has only 1 more fret than the soprano. The fret spacing on the soprano is closer together. You can see in the pic the 5th, 7th, and 12th fret dots and how different they are placed.

Cheers,
Skottoman

http://www.baileymusic.com/ukulele/fleas.jpg

Invader_Quirk
07-08-2009, 07:24 AM
It's here! I just got it and it's great! It's somehow... easier to play. Maybe the action's just better than my old one (yeah, I totally looked up "action" a few days ago) but it's very nice to play!

RevWill
07-08-2009, 07:30 AM
Ain't the Flea just the cat's pajamas? I love mine!

Ahnko Honu
07-08-2009, 10:37 AM
SO great to hear you finally got it, nice deal too. The Flukes and Fleas have a nice low action and the playability is so nice. Since I bought my Fluke I play no other 'ukulele.

Skottoman
07-08-2009, 10:41 AM
Need pictures!!! :)