View Full Version : Uke recommendations??????

07-17-2009, 02:55 PM
I am going to buy a new uke very soon. I currently have a cheap soprano. It doesnt project sound well at all. I want to get a concert because I heard they are much louder. I want to spend $200-$300 and preferably want a KALA. I have a few questions that hopefully you guys can answer.
1.) Does having a pickup ruin the sound when playing without an amp? Does a uke sound good on an amp anyway?
2.) I'm not sure which type of wood to choose. I am deciding between koa, mahogany, and maybe mango. What is the main difference in woods? Are certain woods louder/project sound better?
3.) Are there disadvantages to a 200-300$ koa uke? Why is Koa the usually the choice of pro uke players. I dont know anything about mango, but it looks really cool.
4.) Do all uke's basically sound the same? (I'm not an experienced player)

You would really help me out if you could answer these questions or recommend a kala that fits my description. Thanks

07-17-2009, 03:03 PM
Before you buy a new instrument, what kind of strings are on your soprano? Have you tried Aquila? They seem to work magic on inexpensive ukes - they sound WAY better than the thin black strings that come on most budget ukes.

07-17-2009, 03:05 PM
i would go for a kala .. and try to get koa wood.. concerts are nice i have a tenor kala and it sounds beautiful ! you should try to get one from mgm on ebay he has good deals and is amazing at getting them to you fast and in good shape i would go for a kala .. and try to get koa wood.. concerts are nice i have a tenor kala and it sounds beautiful ! you should try to get one from mgm on ebay he has good deals and is amazing at getting them to you fast and in good shape ! and my kala ka-tg is the only one ive ever played but if you wanna hear how it sounds you can click the link in my signature and i play it in there.. koa is usually picked i think because it brings out the sound more and gives it a warmer tone

07-17-2009, 03:06 PM
i have the cheap stock strings. I want to buy a concert uke though. MGM store on ebay provides aquila strings with all ukes.

07-17-2009, 03:08 PM
he has concerts too

07-17-2009, 03:14 PM
I plan on buying it from MGM, I just need to figure out which kind of concert to purchase. (wood, etc.)

07-17-2009, 03:20 PM
well i dont know about mango since ive never played on one .. but koa and mahogany are good .. i personally like koa.. but its whatever you like better... as for acoustic electric.. no it doesnt take away fro the acoustic sound.. and yes ukes sound pretty cool amped up .. again i personally like them acoustic.. but im also in the process of getting a custom acoustic electric built right now lol .. so yea lol

07-17-2009, 03:21 PM
If I couldn't have a Mainland uke (hint, hint)...I would like the Kala Mango:

http://cgi.ebay.com/SETUP-MANGO-KALA-CONCERT-UKULELE-AQUILAS-CASE-ka-mc-o_W0QQitemZ250466135561QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_Defau ltDomain_0?hash=item3a50f1ee09&_trksid=p4634.c0.m14.l1262&_trkparms=%7C293%3A2%7C294%3A30

Did I mention Mainland Ukes.

07-17-2009, 03:21 PM
i live on the east coast so there arent many places to try out ukes. i have never tried or even seen a concert or tenor uke in person. So i am basically relying on the answers I receive on this thread. How much different is the sound for a concert and tenor (besides how loud it is)?

07-17-2009, 03:25 PM
its not that much of a difference .. a tenor just has a little bit of a deeper warmer tone .. they are both pretty loud.. i would check out youtube.. just well hold on ill get you a link ...



these are both good links that show the different sizes and sounds

07-17-2009, 03:39 PM
Thanks. the links helped a lot!

07-17-2009, 03:39 PM
no problem glad i could help

07-17-2009, 03:41 PM
Is the Kala koa made of solid koa or is there some kind of catch.

07-17-2009, 03:44 PM
Thought I would through my thoughts out there. A koa and mango kala have been reccomended. I had a kala mango tenor and it was a fine instrument but it was a laminate, I believe the kala koa is lamanite as well. If you want to spend $200-$300 I would reccomend getting something with at least a solid top if not an all solid body. If you are getting a concert you should be able to find something solid in this price point. I would also suggest not limiting yourself to one brand. Kala does make some fine instruments but so do some other companies. Mainland, Ohana, Lanaki, ....

If you go with MGM try and give him a call and speak with him. He won't steer you wrong.

07-17-2009, 03:46 PM
that im not sure about ... theres all kinds of wood they use.. mgm also has a youtube with sounclips of his ukes for sale btw..

07-17-2009, 03:47 PM
which model kala are you looking at ?

07-17-2009, 03:58 PM
Here are a few solid top or all solid concert ukes MGM has

Solid Acacia (http://cgi.ebay.com/Just-In-SOLID-ACACIA-KALA-CONCERT-Ukulele-w-case_W0QQitemZ370229301994QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_De faultDomain_0?hash=item563362d2ea&_trksid=p4634.c0.m14.l1262&_trkparms=%7C293%3A2%7C294%3A30) - Similar to koa.

Solid Lacewood with spruce top (http://cgi.ebay.com/LACEWOOD-SPRUCE-KALA-SOLID-LACEWOOD-CONCERT-UKULELE_W0QQitemZ250463469724QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH _DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3a50c9409c&_trksid=p4634.c0.m14.l1262&_trkparms=%7C293%3A2%7C294%3A30)

Solid Maple w/sprucetop (http://cgi.ebay.com/Limited-edition-OHANA-CONCERT-dlx-Maple-Spruce-Ukulele_W0QQitemZ370228654445QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH _DefaultDomain_0?hash=item563358f16d&_trksid=p4634.c0.m14.l1262&_trkparms=%7C293%3A2%7C294%3A30)

Tangi Solid mango (http://cgi.ebay.com/Tangi-of-Hawaii-solid-Mango-Concert-ukulele_W0QQitemZ250467064535QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH _DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3a51001ad7&_trksid=p4634.c0.m14.l1262&_trkparms=%7C293%3A2%7C294%3A30)

Solid Mahogany Ohana (http://cgi.ebay.com/Ohana-CONCERT-solid-Mahogany-CK-35G-gloss-ukulele-w-cs_W0QQitemZ370228224838QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_Defa ultDomain_0?hash=item5633526346&_trksid=p4634.c0.m14.l1262&_trkparms=%7C293%3A2%7C294%3A30)

Mainland ukuleles (http://shop.mainlandukuleles.com/category.sc?categoryId=3) I don't think I have heard one bad thing yet about these.

I haven't played any of these but they are all respected brands.

07-17-2009, 04:06 PM
Kala ka kc ct looks/sounds pretty nice.

07-17-2009, 04:08 PM
why do you recommend solids instead of laminates?

07-17-2009, 04:14 PM
why do you recommend solids instead of laminates?

In short because the sound will generally be better. ichadwick did a good job explaining the difference in This thread. (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9989&highlight=laminate+vs+solid) 4th post down.

07-17-2009, 04:15 PM
better quality

07-17-2009, 04:42 PM


Tell which one you guys like better?

07-17-2009, 04:51 PM
Check out www.meleukulele.com for an excellent uke in your price range.

Solid wood uke sound way better than a laminate but they generally cost more. I have owned a kala mango and it was a great uke. I just prefer solid wood. I am a fan of kala but as a last resort. I would recommend mainland as well. Ultimately you make the decision but there are better options out there. I have bought from Mele and I received my uke in 2 days. Since you live on east coast check out www.ukerepublic.com he has some sweet deals and he's on east coast.

Às far as woods go... Each wood has it's own sound. Koa is traditional hawaiian ukulele wood. It is a beautiful wood that is pretty expensive. Mahaghany might be the best all around wood. Mango is becoming ever the most popular because it is sweet. I own three solid koa ukes, two solid mahaghany ukes, one spruce top, and two laminates. I'm saving for either an 8 string or a solid mango.

07-17-2009, 04:55 PM
i agree.. id get a mainland for that price ! mainland you cant go wrong with ! theyre beautiful and beautiful sounding

07-17-2009, 05:03 PM
Mele has a solid koa top solid mahaghany back and sides for $329. That will kick any other imports butt.

07-17-2009, 05:19 PM
where can i find mainlands? I dont think mgm sells them?

07-17-2009, 05:20 PM

07-17-2009, 05:49 PM
Gratuitous photo op...


Check out Link's review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07LtDYWiNAs

07-17-2009, 05:52 PM
i think koa for $300 you'll end up with a koa laminate which means thin koa on top but mahogany inside. solid koa is the only koa to get but it's prohibitively expensive, $800 and up.

07-17-2009, 06:03 PM
If you can wait a little while longer, you could hold out for a Mainland Mango solid wood uke. Expected to be available in August.

I still love my Kala Tenor Mango laminate. If you get a mango, put clear Worth's Strings on it to bring up the treble.


07-18-2009, 01:37 AM
1.) Does having a pickup ruin the sound when playing without an amp? Does a uke sound good on an amp anyway?

No. A pickup is neutral and doesn't affect the sound when unplugged. Yes, a uke sounds good through an amp. How good depends in great part on the quality and settings of your amp.

2.)I am deciding between koa, mahogany, and maybe mango. What is the main difference in woods? Are certain woods louder/project sound better?

For that price range, you won't find much, if any, koa and the mangos will all be laminates. Look at mahogany, spruce and cedar. Get a solid wood top, not a laminate. Spruce and cedar are bright, with good projection. Mango tends to be more mellow.

3.) Are there disadvantages to a 200-300$ koa uke?

The only disadvantage is that you'll start wanting a $300-$500 uke afterwards. Then a $500-$750 uke. Then a $750-$1,000 uke and so on.

4.) Do all uke's basically sound the same? (I'm not an experienced player)

Yes, in the same way all cars drive the same. But in that same metaphor, even though they share similarities in physics (as do all ukuleles), there are great differences in style, handling and performance between, say, a sprightly Toyota Yaris, a luxurious Audi, a lumbering SUV, and a sporty Corvette. So it is with ukuleles.

Kala makes nice ukuleles in that price range. Give Mainland a look, too. They won't disappoint you.

07-18-2009, 01:48 AM
Ian is correct in this. Koa and Mango are laminated in Kala's lineup and in that price-range, it is the same with just about every maker. You should look at the solid mahogany ukes from Kala if you want a more traditional uke sound. If you like bright, loud ukes, look at the solid spruce-topped ukes. If you want a mellower, sweet tone that will get sweeter with age and has good volume (not as loud as mahogany or spruce, but loud enough), look at the solid cedar-topped Kala ukes.

Kala has several models that are in your price-range.

07-18-2009, 07:38 AM
Everyone has given you great advice but biased. We tell you to get what we have or want. You can get solid koa under $800. As stated earlier in a post a solid koa top solid mahaghany handmade mele ukulele is $329. That is an anniversery sale price. There are different classes of imports and the high level imports imo are honu, pono, and mele, there is a japanese import too but not sure of name but it might be kiwaya. Anyways the whole purpose of the uke is to be different right? Getting a kala is ok. Getting a mainland is better but getting a mele is the best in your price range. Btw uke republic carries mnainland.

08-24-2009, 03:07 AM
I'm planning my next purchase once the Fall semester gets going and paychecks start coming in again. I've made some decisions (at least about this purchase) but still have some to make. In short, I need some suggestions.

Decisions: Solid wood, Concert size, probably a Kala (trim and wood selection have driven this decision)

Help needed: Which wood? I'm leaning toward mahogany or lacewood but could be convinced otherwise (price is a consideration). Mahogany is traditional, known to be stable, and not flashy. Lacewood is attractive, but I don't know much more about it. The spruce tops on the Kala lacewood models appeal to the guitar player in me. Can anyone help me with information on stability and tonal quality, especially in comparison to mahogany? Acacia is also a possibility, but I'm sort of holding that for an eventual tenor (no, I don't really have a good reason for that, it just seems right at the moment). I'm also open to other suggestions if anyone has a favorite wood that I haven't thought of.