View Full Version : What not to buy

08-05-2009, 10:44 PM
Why don't we post a 'what not to buy'. Giving three good reasons a ukulele has been found to be of no use for a beginner. There are loads of good instruments out there but we should seek out and highlight 'what not to buy' as a public duty. I am sure that the various opinions will create informed debate from catastrophic first experiences.

08-06-2009, 04:26 AM
Why don't we post a 'what not to buy'. Giving three good reasons a ukulele has been found to be of no use for a beginner. There are loads of good instruments out there but we should seek out and highlight 'what not to buy' as a public duty. I am sure that the various opinions will create informed debate from catastrophic first experiences.

The worst example of a uke brand I've encountered is Mahalo, however, I have found some nice ones too. I won't say "don't ever buy a Mahalo" but rather, know what to look for when buying a uke.

08-06-2009, 04:39 AM
I think Mike, MGM made a point in an early thread. With a good set of strings, and in the hands of a skiled player. Just about any uke sounds good.

08-06-2009, 04:48 AM
I think there are more recommendations on what to buy instead of what not to buy. It's kinda somewhat being done when someone asks "Which of these 3 would you recommend?" Responses will be uke A because it's bla - bla - bla and uke B has had these issues and so on and so forth. Most of the peeps here tend to start off on an inexpensive instrument to learn and then upgrade to a better quality instrument in a couple of months. Usually UAS will set in and then a monster is unleashed. Another factor to consider is the individual's budget. If all one can afford at the time of purchase, for example, $75 - $100. It's often suggested to purchase Uke B and the reasons are stated. A good example would be this recent thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17194). Just my $.02 . . .

08-06-2009, 05:06 AM
I'd kind of shy away from the Ebay "no name" east asia made ukes, only because I bought one for my first uke (yeah, I know!), and it took me forever (and some practical luthiering skills) to get it to sound even half way decent! I've since heard some real horror stories! *shudder* Now I am deep in the thrall of UAS, so I've learned about what TO buy!

08-06-2009, 08:11 AM
I am sure that the various opinions will create informed debate from catastrophic first experiences.[/QUOTE]

Mine was a Stagg US 40
It looked really nice.
It sounded really bad.
And the price might have gone towards a better instrument. But strangely enough the Stagg US 10 made of plywood and poorly finished and 15 (yes 15) is a beautiful little ukulele that any street corner musician could earn a few $$$ with. Life is strange.

08-06-2009, 05:16 PM
I have yet to meet a uke that I didn't like. I am a sick, sick man...:D

08-07-2009, 05:04 AM
I have the same problem Tim.

08-07-2009, 09:53 AM
Right. You are both very very poorly. My Doctor says she has never seen such severe Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome. It seems to be in North America at the moment but might spread. Here are a few tips in working with your weakness.
Never be afraid to turn your back on a Ukulele.
You can admire one but don't touch it and never ever try to stroke a fully strung and untended Ukulele.
Remember where you last saw one and try if possible to avoid that direction.
If you are handed a Ukulele by any one politely hand it back and decline the offer to strum.
Stay away from internet sites that offer stray Ukuleles for sale.
Never be afraid to say no I do not like the look of that one.
Consider wearing heavy leather gloves when mixing with musicians you don't know.
Never go to a music shop with out responsible well meaning friends.
I did not spend months in my monastery cell contemplating UAS, cold bathing and self flagellating with a handful of C strings etc. not to be aware of the full horror of your predicament.

08-09-2009, 10:50 AM
I know you are still out there thinking of an answer. I can feel it. UAS sufferers feel the pain others, In the mean while back to the purpose of the thread.

I once was handed a Harley Benson Ukulele (Thormanns Germany) the cheapest on offer. It was nice to look at and easy to handle but when my eager little paws tickled the strings I felt compelled to drop it there and then. I walked away and didn't even say OOPs.

08-09-2009, 12:24 PM
I got my first Uke for 6 in some little cheap shop. I figured it would be okay to grasp the fundamentals. I gave up on it because it played abysmal, then I picked it up again last week and I decided I would use it until I can buy a better made instrument. I grasped the Uke very quickly, I would confidently call myself a ukulele player to anybody.
Now I just need to know what to buy. I'm really broke, but I need a Uke, at least until christmas. So would these be any good, just for a newbie who can't afford much more till winter;

Vintage has become quite well known for its guitars recently around here



I listed these 3 purely because they are definitely buyable by me and they are from shops I have been going to for a long time, where I have purchased guitars etc.
I know its a long shot looking for a playable uke for cheap but i really cant see how i could justify to my family, spending money when everybody is struggling to get by with this 'economic crisis'

08-09-2009, 02:06 PM
mahaloooo's.. no good. imo

Ahnko Honu
08-09-2009, 08:41 PM
I have a Mahalo Mahogany (Nato?) laminate pineapple I bought over 10 years ago to get back into 'ukuleles, and this thing had great action, nice build quality, fine intonation, and decent sound even with stock GHS string which got better when I switched to Hilos, then a few years later to Aquilas which really made hear sing. Maybe the Mahalos from 10 years ago better? Maybe the pineapples better? I dunno but I'd recommend a Mahalo pineapple without hesitation.

I would never recommend a coconut shell 'ukulele, the one I bought was crap even after I replaced the strings and tuners (which I had lying around from another 'ukulele). Terrible HIGH action, and zero intonation, not one chord.

08-10-2009, 01:02 AM
There is quite a lot of good advice about buying a new ukulele on this site. Have a look in 'Beginners' and 'Ukulele reviews'. In the UK I got hold of a Stagg US 10 the cheapest of cheap from Normans music they cost 13.20 but with good strings and when played in and messed about with sound really good. I swear by them but you only have my word for it.
Nice Bob Marley quote.

08-10-2009, 02:30 AM
Thanks man I'll have a look.
I've heard a few people say that the Stagg is a good instrument. So I will definitely look further into that one, especially seeing as it is so cheap. I kinda wish these local shops did one for like £32 or something, rather than what it seems to be a jump from 20 to like 50 and no inbetweens.

08-10-2009, 05:49 AM
Some times a good uke comes cheap and will sound better than a mid range one. The mid range might be a better quality but falls short on sound. Expensive instruments are usually very good. I have a Carvalho and it's with me for life (DJMMUSIC) I wrote a review. I love the Stagg US10 first thing I did with mine was de-string and then polish the uke with duraglit or brasso cotton wading, sand paper the head at the front to take the logo off, rip the label out and replace with the label from a wine bottle. Buff the whole thing up with pledge and re-string with Worth strings. Then I showed it to a couple of friends and got offered 30 for it but declined to sell. I then bought 5 more and sold them at a small profit to those that took an interest.
Let me know how you get on and what you decide to buy.