View Full Version : Good starter uke

04-20-2008, 09:58 AM
Since I really rambled on this post, I'll put the question first, and if you really want to read my ramble, you can scroll down:

Any suggestions for a uke that:

-Is 300 bucks or less.

-Has good intonation all the way up the neck-- This trumps everything for me- I'm not particular about wood and such. I know so little anyways, I'm not sure what type of wood I would like.

-Is a tenor or concert (I'm leaning towards tenor because I love finger-picking and am guessing that the wider neck of a tenor will make that easier)

-Has good set-up: no fret buzz or positions that don't sound (don't know the right word for that- when a fretted position just thunks/ is really hard to sound unless you place your finger just so.) Otherwise: sound is very forgiving to beginners.

-And this is just a glamor thing really, but I like wood instruments to look like wood- not painted pink and stuff.

And here's my rant-like background...

Alright, so I ordered my first uke (it's still in the mail) before I joined this site (wish I had found you guys sooner...)

Anyways... I bought a lanikai lu-21 standard. I paid about 55 bucks for it plus s/h. At my local music store there was a uke for about 12 bucks that sounded like a toy and I figured if I spent about four times (around 50 bucks) I'd be getting a good beginners instrument that has good intonation, maybe not the best sound and tonal range- but far better than the tinky toy sounding uke at the music store.

But now I realize that 50 bucks is still rather cheap, and I'm afraid it's going to sound cheap, and make playing on it a real pain. I don't have perfect pitch or anything, but I can tell when something isn't in tune and when it's out of tune I go a bit crazy. I've this really cheap guitar that has horrible intonation and I played it for all of 20 minutes before it became perminant wall decoration (it does look pretty hanging there...)

Further, I didn't really understand the different sizes of ukuleles when I bought the LU-21 and now kind of wish I had gotten one with more frets (either a concert or a tenor).

I don't want to jump the gun or anything... But I'm getting one of those Bush stimulus checks, and am thinking that maybe I'll use it to buy a good starter uke. Cause I've got this sinking feeling of buyers remorse that I just bought something I'm not going to be able to play.

04-20-2008, 10:08 AM
Well the Lanika LU-21 is a 12-fret correct? I've been playing Soprano's my whole 'uke career' since I never got the chance to purchase my own concert/tenor. The soprano' alright, until you start picking high notes which are impossible.

A lot of ukes fill your needs under 300. Tenors should do the deed for picking. I've heard that Pono's and Kala's are good. MusicGuyMic on ebay has a lot as well. I've never bought anything from him nor owned a Tenor but I did plan to. You can't go wrong with a concert as well.

04-20-2008, 10:16 AM
still using my LU21T, never lets me down.

04-20-2008, 10:21 AM
If it's your first ukulele ever, theres nothing wrong with the Lanikai. You can use it to learn all the chords and stuff.

04-20-2008, 11:26 AM
I noticed in your Introduce Yourself post that you're in Hampton Roads. Hey from up in NoVa.

Just drive over to Midlothian and check out The Ukulele Shop (http://www.theukuleleshop.net/). Play a few and see what you like.

04-20-2008, 11:39 AM
Wow, thanks! It's a bit of a drive, but it would definetly be worth it. Who knows, maybe after all this worry I'll end up loving the soprano one I bought :P

It will be interesting to compare different sizes, brands, and soundwoods, at least.

04-20-2008, 11:46 AM
Wow, thanks! It's a bit of a drive, but it would definetly be worth it. Who knows, maybe after all this worry I'll end up loving the soprano one I bought :P

It will be interesting to compare different sizes, brands, and soundwoods, at least.

Yeah, I wanna make the trip down from the DC area one of those days... it's a bit of a schlep, but I think it'd awesome just for the chance to "test drive" some ukes.

The guy who runs the place claims it's the only ukulele specialty shop on the Mainland. I don't know if that's true, but it's definitely the only one in Virginia! An hour or so drive is a pain, but think of it this way-- up here, an hour's drive only gets you ten-fifteen miles!

04-20-2008, 10:03 PM
still using my LU21T, never lets me down.

yeah this is a pretty sweet uke... im still using it and i haven't had a problem with it yet :D

04-21-2008, 11:29 AM
Well my LU-21 came in today. I tuned it up and was horribly disapointed. The 3rd string had a horrible buzz, and while the intonation was good (a bit sharp as you move up the kneck- but not noticable to my ears- only the tuners) when comparing frets across the same string- it was horribly way off when comparing between strings- making chords sound horrible!

I was just about to pack it back into the box to ship it back to whence it came, when I decided to try changing out the strings.

What a difference a set of strings makes!

The intonation problem between strings was instantly solved, and while the third string does still buzz- it isn't nearly as noticable as it was with the factory strings.

The instrument itself is cheaply made- but not badly. Instead of smelling nicely like wood- as my guitar does- it smells like school glue.

The only true fault I can find is that the neck hasn't been put on quite right, and there is already some pulling apart from the body.

But, for 50 bucks I think it will do really nicely to, as someone said, allow me to learn chords and things.

I'm in love already with how insainly easy it is to make chords on this thing.

I've always had trouble with bar chords (my hand cramps really easily cause I'm anemic) but with this uke- I've barely got to apply any pressure at all to get a bar chord to play.

Now if only I can stop over-reaching when I try and play, I'll be grand.