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snowy_zoe
09-29-2009, 11:35 PM
hi all,
here is the back story
I decided last week to get a better uke than the little purple one given to me, I researched all I could on the internet and felt I had a good idea of what was out there. I travelled to Edinburgh with all my smug knowledge in my smug head, had a look round the music shops and all my smug feelings left and I was back at square one.
The brands I had reviewed were Kala, Pono, Flea, Fluke etc
The brands I had a choice from was Stagg, Tanglewood, Lanikai, Kaloa and others
I now had no clue, so I took a few into the practice room, tried to forget all I knew and just went for the one one which I thought sounded the best and looked like it had a good quality build.
I bought the Lanikai LU-21P I also had no plans of buying a pineapple before but I fell in love with how sweet it sounded.

The Lanikai came with aquila string which are supposed to be good right? What I was wondering was - If the other ukes in the shop had better strings on them would it make so much of a difference to the sound?

I wasn't going to buy a laminate as I'd read solid wood tops are better but I bought one because it sounded better than the others in my price range.

So can strings make that big a difference?
Should I have bought a solid top and a pack of aquila strings?

any opinions welcome, I'm still learning
Zoe

ukantor
09-30-2009, 02:24 AM
Hi Zoe,

It sounds as though you chose a nice uke. The important thing now is to enjoy playing it. You obviously like the way your new uke sounds, plays, and looks, so don't worry about what else you MIGHT have bought. In that price range, there are a number of very similar instruments. I suspect a lot of them are from the same factory, with different brand names on.

Have an enjoyable uking experience!

Ukantor.

Ken Middleton
09-30-2009, 02:26 AM
So can strings make that big a difference?
Should I have bought a solid top and a pack of aquila strings?

any opinions welcome, I'm still learning
Zoe

Strings make a big difference on all ukuleles. Poor quality strings sound horrible on any ukulele at any price. Good strings sound good on all ukes. They can even make an inexpensive ukulele sound better.

Strings like Aquila and Worth are both excellent, but very different from each other.

A all-laminate instrument is always going to sound like a laminate instrument. That often means it will be rather quiet and lacking in tone (a rather dead uninteresting sound).

Good quality laminate back and sides and a solid top can sometimes sound great. It is the top that is mainly responsible for the tone.

An all-solid instrument will usually sound really great. The wood that it is made from will usually give a particular character to the sound. Excellent tone woods, like mahogany or koa, have been used for many years and sound different from each other.

Should you have bought a better instrument? It really does depend on your budget. You will probably eventually want a better one anyway.

Let me ask you some questions. If you answer "yes" to any of these, then maybe you should have paid a bit more.

1. Have you ever bought a more expensive mobile phone than you intended because you liked it better?

2. Have you ever bought a frock from somewhere other than Matalan because you liked the styling more?

3. Do you buy your make-up from Aldi or would you prefer something better?

Always buy the best you can afford, even if it means sacrificing something else.

Hope this helps.

KEN

Greeno
09-30-2009, 03:02 AM
I'm having a similar problem - there's just not much choice here. I'm guessing you bought from Scayles, which seems to have the biggest choice. If it's any concellation, from what I've seen locally in this price range, I don't think you could have done any better.

seeso
09-30-2009, 03:40 AM
Strings do make a big difference, but don't discount the lovely sound from those nato wood Lanikais. I think you got a great starter ukulele.

Always trust your ears over your research and price.

snowy_zoe
09-30-2009, 03:46 AM
thanks for the responses,
Ukantor - Thanks, I'm really enjoying my little pinapple and wouldn't trade it for anything.

Ken - thanks, this helps me understand the differences, I'm not convinced the price tag and the quality of uke are always in line. I had 100 to spend and could have spent that, there were a couple priced at 99.99 but they just didn't sound as good and this was the problem,was it just the strings?

I'd buy a more expensive dress if it looked better and was better quality but if the cheaper dress had potential and was better quality I'd buy that one and modify it myself.

I want to know as I'm looking to get a good quality uke for christmas

Greeno - yes it was from scayles, mev taylors website said they had a few in but didn't in reality, red dog in the grassmarket have a few staggs too and were willing to come down on the price of them (always good to ask). The guy at Scayles said they get a bigger range in late nov early dec for christmas so that might be the time to go.

Thanks all
Zoe

snowy_zoe
09-30-2009, 03:54 AM
Thanks Seeso
I appreciate your response, I spent far too long in the shop as it was and I wasn't about to leave edinburgh that day ukuleleless

zoe

RevWill
09-30-2009, 04:04 AM
Musicguymic put us all to the test recently and we all looked like fools. He did a series of recordings with a bunch of ukes and challenged us to tell which were solid and which were laminate. We could not reliably do it.

Don't get hung up on the "solid sounds better than laminate" thing - the laminate you picked out sounds sweet to your ears and that's what matters. If you fell in love with its sound as you said, then just play it and enjoy it.

snowy_zoe
09-30-2009, 04:20 AM
Musicguymic put us all to the test recently and we all looked like fools. He did a series of recordings with a bunch of ukes and challenged us to tell which were solid and which were laminate. We could not reliably do it.

is that on UU I'd be interested to hear itif it is, any links?

seeso
09-30-2009, 04:25 AM
is that on UU I'd be interested to hear itif it is, any links?

Here you go:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17055

Doctroid
09-30-2009, 04:44 AM
Always buy the best you can afford, even if it means sacrificing something else.

If it were only this simple.

Sometimes the best you can afford is junk. Then the best course may be to NOT buy the best you can afford, or anything else: save up until you can afford better.

Sometimes the best you can afford is just slightly better than something half the price. If the difference in quality is small -- or if it's a difference in something that matters little to you -- then you might be happier with the almost-best and something else bought with the cash you saved.

I'm a firm believer in not falling for cheap instruments -- unless you know enough to be able to sort the amazing quality bargain instruments from the bottom-end junk. But "the best you can afford" may or may not be the wisest choice.

Ken Middleton
09-30-2009, 05:07 AM
If it were only this simple.

Sometimes the best you can afford is junk. Then the best course may be to NOT buy the best you can afford, or anything else: save up until you can afford better.

Sometimes the best you can afford is just slightly better than something half the price. If the difference in quality is small -- or if it's a difference in something that matters little to you -- then you might be happier with the almost-best and something else bought with the cash you saved.

I'm a firm believer in not falling for cheap instruments -- unless you know enough to be able to sort the amazing quality bargain instruments from the bottom-end junk. But "the best you can afford" may or may not be the wisest choice.


What a load of twaddle!

My advice: buy the best instrument you can, because you may not be satisfied with a cheap one.

Some people spend huge amounts of money on cell phones, Playstations, iPods and other electronic gadgets. Why not save up and spend a little more on a good ukulele? Even if it means foregoing something else.

RevWill
09-30-2009, 05:08 AM
I'm a firm believer in trusting your ears. If it sounds good it is good. My first acoustic guitar was a super-cheap Yamaha that my dad bought for my 9th birthday. By all rights it should be a piece of junk. And the action is a bit too high.

But I've used it for open G tuning at gigs and even experienced acoustic players will come up to me and say, "your Taylor is fabulous but that Yamaha just has a sound!"

Yep, it's a cheap laminate. I think it cost my dad $75 in 1977. Won't get rid of it.

Skrik
09-30-2009, 05:42 AM
I took a few into the practice room, tried to forget all I knew and just went for the one one which I thought sounded the best and looked like it had a good quality build.

This is the best way to buy any kind of musical instrument.

Of course, your ear should develop in time, and you may find that you want something a little different after a while; but buying more and more ukuleles is something we all understand and encourage.

ukantor
09-30-2009, 06:09 AM
Don't forget that ukes are very individual things. Two ukes of the same make and model may sound quite different. A friend bought a new uke recently, (solid front, 99 inc P&P, and soft case). I was so impressed with it, that I bought one. Then another friend also had to have one - so far, so good. We were all delighted with our new ukes. Then another friend caught the bug, but when his arrived, it did not sound as loud, or as sweet, as he was expecting. His is a perfectly respectable uke, and if you heard it on its own, you'd think, "Yeah, that's OK", but in comparison to the other three (plus another one I've heard), its voice doesn't measure up.

Ukantor.

the.ronin
09-30-2009, 06:13 AM
You liked the sound check.

You liked the feel check.

You liked the price check.

Yup. Sounds like you bought your perfect uke! :D

Everything else is just ancillary.

RevWill
09-30-2009, 06:37 AM
Do you have any idea how many folks have upgraded to what conventional wisdom dictates would be superior gear, only to return to Old Faithful? More than you can count.

All of Clapton's new Strats were painstakingly and meticulously built by Fender's Custom Shop to feel exactly like Blackie. Heck, Brian May still records and tours with his homemade Red Special, and Willie apparently will never retire Trigger. And Hot Time Harv records and tours with ukes that most here would write off as pure junk.

HaileISela
09-30-2009, 06:39 AM
But "the best you can afford" may or may not be the wisest choice.

but actually you said sort of the same^^

I got to say that Ken's definition was correct, since "the best" does not mean "the most expensive", but the best.;)

keep it friendly guys

oh, and Zoe, welcome and congrats on your new Uke!

Doctroid
09-30-2009, 06:49 AM
What a load of twaddle!

Thank you for that cogent and enlightening rebuttal.

Doctroid
09-30-2009, 07:01 AM
I got to say that Ken's definition was correct, since "the best" does not mean "the most expensive", but the best.;)

Agreed, and I didn't say otherwise. But I do believe that to say that one should ALWAYS go for the best uke (or anything else) one can afford regardless of all other circumstances is to oversimplify to the point of absurdity.

To take it to an extreme, suppose you have a choice of two instruments, nearly identical in all respects, but one has a tiny, nearly invisible scratch on the back and is priced at $700 less than the other. Which do you buy? I'd take the "second" and pocket the difference, even if I could afford the flawless one. Sure, that's a preposterous example, but it differs only in degree from the kinds of decisions one often is faced with.

snowy_zoe
09-30-2009, 09:23 AM
thanks for all the responses guys, I appreciate it

I think Skrik may be right and I have to develop my ear, but that will come with time. I listened to MGM's blind ukulele test and I could tell they were all ukuleles:D some sounded better than others but I couldn't put my finger on why. Hopefully I'll have a better idea in time for Christmas, it's not long now, the shop around the corner from me is already selling mince pies:eek:


Until then I'll work with what I've got - my beautiful pineapple and try to improve.

Thanks again
mince pie anyone?

zoe

ukantor
09-30-2009, 12:14 PM
I LURVE mince pies!

In GB there are lots of different makes of ukes available. The choice is so wide, that I can well understand folk having difficulty in making up their minds. Personally, for a well made instrument at a fair price I would look no further than two of the leading brands - Kala and Ohana. That simplifies the decision. Within those two ranges you will almost certainly find the uke (or ukes) for you, at the price your budget will allow. I've got four Ohanas and three (soon to be four) Kalas. They are all excellent.

Now, back to the mince pies..................................

Ukantor.