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veniceUke
08-30-2009, 12:45 PM
I've been obsessing over buying a Soprano Uke for a month now and I've had trouble deciding on the right one. I have a $200 - $300 budget, less is great if it covers all the bases.

My main things are that I want it to have a nice mellow, warm (not tinny) sound, stays in tune, and is built well.

Have been listening to some different Ukes on YouTube and searching the forum. Looked at the Ohana SK-25Z and Kala KA-KS Soprano, heard mostly positive and some negative reviews... do these fit my specs? I came very close to buying a Flea with a Rosewood Fretboard, but wasn't sure it would sound warm with the plastic back.

Any recs for specific models? Opinions on what's best for the budget? Please help! Thanks!

KC8AFW
08-30-2009, 12:59 PM
Welcome to UU! For your budget...I'd recommend Mainland Ukuleles (http://www.mainlandukes.com/). Because you wanted a more mellow sound, I would probably go with the mahogany model (just a hair under $200). Here's a video from UKISOCIETY: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovc4MsISep4

franulele
08-30-2009, 01:00 PM
Hi Venice,

You appear to have the classic symptoms of the dreaded UAS, a chronic condition for which there is no cure, only temporary remedies...

One possible remedy: Maybe a vintage Gretsch mahogany soprano? While not Martins, the ones I've tried have been really nice. I also tried an old Solid Mahogany Roy Smeck that had a great sound too.

If you prefer a new uke, a solid wood uke such as mahogany will mellow over the years. I really like my Mainland COncert Mahogany. Here's a review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0j4lCNoba0&feature=channel_page

How about a pineapple or concert uke? The larger body size will have an effect on the tone. Just an idea.

haolejohn
08-30-2009, 01:48 PM
In your price range for a new uke I recommend two companies. The first is www.meleukulele.com or mainland ukulele www.ukerepublic.com seems to have the best prices on the mainlands. I currently own three meles and want to get a mahghany soprano pineapple from them next. Good luck.

Matt Clara
08-30-2009, 01:52 PM
I've been obsessing over buying a Soprano Uke for a month now and I've had trouble deciding on the right one. I have a $200 - $300 budget, less is great if it covers all the bases.

My main things are that I want it to have a nice mellow, warm (not tinny) sound, stays in tune, and is built well.

Have been listening to some different Ukes on YouTube and searching the forum. Looked at the Ohana SK-25Z and Kala KA-KS Soprano, heard mostly positive and some negative reviews... do these fit my specs? I came very close to buying a Flea with a Rosewood Fretboard, but wasn't sure it would sound warm with the plastic back.

Any recs for specific models? Opinions on what's best for the budget? Please help! Thanks!

I've not been doing this for a long time, but I have tried several different types of wood, and as others have said, you may be wanting a mahogany uke. I've settled on one myself, an Ohana CK-25. Another one you may want to look for is a cedar topped uke. Mine, a Kala, is similar to my mahogany Ohana, but with a bit of warm fuzz thrown in. Those cost a little more, but can still be found within your budget. I prefer the mahogany, and am thinking about dumping the cedar top. Watch the market place page for that!

Also, I suggest you look into concert or tenor ukes, as they have a more resonant, deeper tone, and may therefore avoid what you're describing as "tinny".

veniceUke
08-30-2009, 03:55 PM
Thanks so much for all of the responses, can't wait to sneak my future Uke into work! Ahh, and for weekend beach days. Glad I posted here before buying.

I'm really liking the sound of the Mainland Mahoganey Sopranos, Jenny's, and love the sound of the Gretsch Uke. Cheapest Gretsch I could find is $450 ($600 buy it now) on ebay so I'm priced out there. Are there any credible places that have Gretsch's within my budget?

Also, what's the difference between the Mainland and Jenny Ukes in sound, quality, and how well it holds tune? I found the below Curly on Craigslist, how does that stack up against the Mainland and Jenny's? And any drawbacks to a Matte finish?

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv/msg/1349528522.html

Getting ready to buy and fearing that I'll want a second one soon. I'm guessing I end up with a Concert or Tenor next time or something older, can't believe I'm already thinking about the next one.

Matt Clara
08-30-2009, 04:03 PM
Thanks so much for all of the responses, can't wait to sneak my future Uke into work! Ahh, and for weekend beach days. Glad I posted here before buying.

I'm really liking the sound of the Mainland Mahoganey Sopranos, Jenny's, and love the sound of the Gretsch Uke. Cheapest Gretsch I could find is $450 ($600 buy it now) on ebay so I'm priced out there. Are there any credible places that have Gretsch's within my budget?

Also, what's the difference between the Mainland and Jenny Ukes in sound, quality, and how well it holds tune? I found the below Curly on Craigslist, how does that stack up against the Mainland and Jenny's? And any drawbacks to a Matte finish?

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv/msg/1349528522.html

Getting ready to buy and fearing that I'll want a second one soon. I'm guessing I end up with a Concert or Tenor next time or something older, can't believe I'm already thinking about the next one.

I can't tell the brand from the image, but it's almost certainly made from a laminate rather than solid wood. Solid curly koa costs a minimum of $500 new, maybe more. There are new ukes out made of acacia, a close relative of the koa, and they cost less, but not this much less. Ask the seller before buying. If it's solid wood, it's almost certainly worth buying at that price. Koa is the traditional Hawaiian ukulele wood, though, and will likely be bright sounding, but with good mid range.

KC8AFW
08-30-2009, 04:33 PM
...what's the difference between the Mainland and Jenny Ukes in sound, quality, and how well it holds tune?


I haven't tuned my Mainland concert in a month (after the strings settled in). Just checked it yesterday and it is still in tune. The Mainlands and Jennys are very similar...the service from Mainland is exceptional. You can always give Mike at Mainland a call tomorrow and he'll be happy to help you out.


I can't tell the brand from the image, but it's almost certainly made from a laminate rather than solid wood. Solid curly koa costs a minimum of $500 new, maybe more. There are new ukes out made of acacia, a close relative of the koa, and they cost less, but not this much less. Ask the seller before buying. If it's solid wood, it's almost certainly worth buying at that price. Koa is the traditional Hawaiian ukulele wood, though, and will likely be bright sounding, but with good mid range.

The craigslist uke is mahogany, not koa. Given I can't recognize the brand, I don't know if its a good deal or not.

Matt Clara
08-30-2009, 04:39 PM
I haven't tuned my Mainland concert in a month (after the strings settled in). Just checked it yesterday and it is still in tune. The Mainlands and Jennys are very similar...the service from Mainland is exceptional. You can always give Mike at Mainland a call tomorrow and he'll be happy to help you out.



The craigslist uke is mahogany, not koa. Given I can't recognize the brand, I don't know if its a good deal or not.

Either way, I wrote the guy and he said it's a laminate by leolani.

KC8AFW
08-30-2009, 04:52 PM
Either way, I wrote the guy and he said it's a laminate by leolani.

I guess its a good deal...I found a new one at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001RVEL4W?ie=UTF8&seller=A3CU1341CO7EIN&sn=Leolani%20Incorporated) for $300.

Matt Clara
08-30-2009, 04:56 PM
I guess its a good deal...I found a new one at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001RVEL4W?ie=UTF8&seller=A3CU1341CO7EIN&sn=Leolani%20Incorporated) for $300.

I'm tempted to buy one and turn around and sell it...
;-)

veniceUke
08-30-2009, 05:05 PM
Very cool, thanks for checking on the Craigslister! I would think there's more Uke's on Craigslist in LA, crazy that there's so few:

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/search/msg?query=ukulele&catAbbreviation=msg&minAsk=min&maxAsk=max

I'm thinking I should just fork over the dough for a solid wood one, the laminate won't be as warm, right? Mainland, Jenny, or a cool vintage Uke if I can find one that legit.

Also saw this which seems like a good deal, just not sure what condition it's in, though:

http://www.musicgoround.com/detail.aspx?id=853090

chrisg14mac
08-31-2009, 08:22 AM
I am a big fan of the Flea/Fluke for a cheap priced uke that gives off a great sound. The plastic back also makes it very durable. It's not giong to sound as rich as something in a more expensive price range, but it definitely serves its purpose well for me.

Another good option is Mainland. They are made in the US, but I think it's slightly more expensive that the Flea/Fluke.

I've had a bad experience with foreign factory-made imports, so these two were the ones I narrowed my search down to - and I chose teh Fluke.

Good luck!