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View Full Version : Soprano Ukulele in the $150-$250 price range



bliss_street
10-15-2009, 01:05 PM
I'm a beginner ukulele player looking for a soprano ukulele in the $150-$250 price range.

I see that musicguymic on eBay has a KoAlana by Koaloha Solid Koa Soprano with case for $244.95, but I haven't seen it anywhere else.

Does anyone have any experience with this instrument?

And given a choice between that and the Ohana Sopranos (SK-25, SK-35, SK-35G), the Flea, and the Hamano H-100, which would you choose?

Thanks in advance for all your help.

lefty dan
10-15-2009, 01:16 PM
I have a Pono pss spruce top soprano with case. I just bought but would sell for what I payed. 159.00 you pay shipping. It was a great price when I bought it. About a month ago. Still like new and cheapest Ive found them is 399.00.

Im thinking about spending a little more and getting a Martin to try.
Dan

existence
10-15-2009, 01:35 PM
I'm a beginner ukulele player looking for a soprano ukulele in the $150-$250 price range.

I see that musicguymic on eBay has a KoAlana by Koaloha Solid Koa Soprano with case for $244.95, but I haven't seen it anywhere else.

Does anyone have any experience with this instrument?

And given a choice between that and the Ohana Sopranos (SK-25, SK-35, SK-35G), the Flea, and the Hamano H-100, which would you choose?

Thanks in advance for all your help.


The Ohanas are solid instruments (literally and figuratively!) but I have heard the action on them can be a tad high sometimes...that's something you might want to consider as a beginner. Fleas are the easiest playing ukes I have tried....the action is low, so holding down chords is pretty easy. Plus, they probably have the best intonation of any ukulele in that $200-ish price range. I think they make great starter ukes.

I have never played the Hamano, but I have heard very good things about it. It has a street price of about 275, so it's really in a slightly higher bracket than the Ohanas and Fleas.

Another option you might consider is the Kiwaya KS-1. It is a Japanese-built soprano made of ultra-thin laminate mahogany. They are built very light, and have a punchy, clear tone. Cool vintage looks too.

Happy hunting!

shimpiphany
10-15-2009, 01:41 PM
fleas are great ukes to learn on, the action is great and they hold a tune forever.

plus, you can get a blemished one from magic fluke directly for less than 150. i bought a concert neck flea natural with a small nick for about 155 shipped.

great people, great ukes.

spots
10-15-2009, 01:41 PM
I went with the Flea, because I wanted the following:
- very durable construction (camping, changes in humidity, being outside, etc.).
- decent sound and volume
- something made close to where I live (could contact the maker easily)
- fairly affordable

The Flea meets those requirements perfectly, and I really enjoy it. However, there are some things about it which I wish I could change.

I didn't care for the stock friction tuning pegs. The couple of the metal washers on the outside of the headstock spun when the pegs were turned. I also found they didn't hold their position as well as I liked. For $12 I upgraded to the beefier Grover 4B pegs, and have been extremely pleased with them. I don't mind friction pegs. They work well once you get used to them.

The headstock (where the tuning pegs are) is not angled. It is straight. Not a big deal but I've gotten used to headstocks being angled and like the feel of it.

The very center of the back of the neck is flat for the length of the neck, and not rounded like most necks. There are times this makes forming chords a challenge for me because the neck does not always have support in the crook of my palm between the thumb and index finger.

I love that the Flea is basically no maintenance. I like the sound. It's comfortable to hold against the body, and it travels extrememly well.

Almost forgot...
My Flea came with Hilo strings. I found that the intonation (the accuracy of the scale) going up the fretboard was off. The strings were always a tad sharp.

I changed the strings to Worth Clear Mediums and the intonation has been spot on accurate. The sound is also much nicer with the Worths.

uke552
10-15-2009, 01:52 PM
You can't go wrong with the Flea for all the reasons mentioned above. I love mine and above all, it sounds great! You also can't go wrong with MGM. Check out his ukes in your price range and then look on You Tube for sound examples. MGM even has sound bites on some of his listings. Good Luck and welcome to UU!

bliss_street
10-15-2009, 02:28 PM
Another option you might consider is the Kiwaya KS-1. It is a Japanese-built soprano made of ultra-thin laminate mahogany. They are built very light, and have a punchy, clear tone. Cool vintage looks too.

Happy hunting!

Thanks for pointing out the Kiwaya. I completely missed it during my research. I like the look of it. It's definitely a contender.

KC8AFW
10-15-2009, 02:48 PM
I'm gonna have to recommend Mainland. I own two (soprano and concert) and can't say enough good things about them. http://shop.mainlandukuleles.com/category.sc;jsessionid=667861F949D0F90BC130308C892 5FABD.qscstrfrnt01?categoryId=3.

Here's a couple of videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovc4MsISep4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Frpdhf6Le0&feature=channel_page

And how about a gratuitous photo of my honeybee:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=405&pictureid=3605

existence
10-15-2009, 02:49 PM
Thanks for pointing out the Kiwaya. I completely missed it during my research. I like the look of it. It's definitely a contender.

Awesome, be sure to let us know what you decide to get. I just got one of these Kiwayas from MGM and it's pretty darn cool. I'd say if you like a bright, clear, snappy classic soprano sound, it's a great choice. Lots of volume too. If you prefer a slightly fatter sound, an Ohana or a Mainland might be better (they're built heavier than the Kiwayas.)

If you value playability first, the Flea is definitely your best choice. The only thing you sacrifice with a Flea is the traditional ukulele looks, and to some extent, the traditional sound of an all-wood instrument. They have their own distinct voice, which I like a lot, but some will naturally disagree.

bliss_street
10-15-2009, 03:11 PM
The problem I have with the Mainland instruments is purely aesthetic. I really don't like rope binding. Just a personal preference.

KC8AFW
10-15-2009, 03:55 PM
Here's a video comparison of some Ohana ukes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YatHdcIy6A. I'm diggin' the willow and cedar. I'm also a fan of the Kiwaya. Bottom line...for the price point you've mentioned, all the ones listed so far are quality instruments. Now it's a matter of what you like. Good luck. :D

GX9901
10-15-2009, 05:19 PM
I believe MGM currently have a couple of Kelii sopranos that are just a little bit beyond your budget. If you can stretch it, I'd recommend Kelii. They are pretty much in the same league as the other Hawaii "K" brands (afterall, they ARE a Hawaiian "K" brand), but at a much lower price.

haolejohn
10-15-2009, 07:41 PM
Ok here is my opinion. I think that the koalana will be good b/c it is a koaloha technically. However with your budget I would visit www.meleukulele.com these ukes are hand made and you can get a solid mahghany for 200. Meles are better than these others IMO even though the ohanas are good, kiwayas are great, mainlands are excellent, ponos are ok, and fleas are really good. Meles are just a little bit better. But I'm not the one buying. You are. Anxious to see what you get.

smithpaul60
10-16-2009, 03:11 AM
I have an ohana sg-35g. You won't do better (I might be a little biased). It is built solid, intonated almost prefectly, easy to fret, a beautiful little instrument. so much fun to play. I highly recommend it.

Uke-lahoma
10-16-2009, 03:13 AM
I've been very happy with my Kala solid acacia soprano.

buddhuu
10-16-2009, 04:01 AM
I've been very happy with my Kala solid acacia soprano.

Ooh, I'd be tempted by one of those! :D

Matt Clara
10-16-2009, 04:18 AM
I have an all mahogany ohana CK-25, and I think it's great.

bliss_street
10-16-2009, 05:16 AM
I went with the Kiwaya KS-1.

Thanks for all your input. It was quite helpful.

existence
10-16-2009, 07:03 AM
Here's a video comparison of some Ohana ukes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YatHdcIy6A. I'm diggin' the willow and cedar. I'm also a fan of the Kiwaya. Bottom line...for the price point you've mentioned, all the ones listed so far are quality instruments. Now it's a matter of what you like. Good luck. :D


I've been eyeing the willow/cedar soprano myself. Looks pretty yummy.

Bliss Street, write up a quick post when you get the Kiwaya. Curious to know whether you like it or not. If you ordered it from MGM, it will probably come strung with Fremont Blacklines, which sound pretty good on the KS-1.

Lanark
10-16-2009, 09:49 AM
I believe MGM currently have a couple of Kelii sopranos that are just a little bit beyond your budget. If you can stretch it, I'd recommend Kelii. They are pretty much in the same league as the other Hawaii "K" brands (afterall, they ARE a Hawaiian "K" brand), but at a much lower price.

I popped in to say the same thing. It looks like he's making solid koa tops with mahogany back and sides (http://cgi.ebay.com/KELII-KOA-Mahogany-Solid-Soprano-UKULELE-w-case_W0QQitemZ330368827798QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_De faultDomain_0?hash=item4ceb844196) these days. (I believe that the one I picked up a couple years back was all koa but also a little bit more expensive.) This combo seems like really a good value for the money.

It is certainly a favorite player of mine and one that I reach for as often as one of the Koalohas when I'm playing around the house.

Kelii definitely deserves a look if you can swing that extra cash. They're really kind of underappreciated as a player's instrument. Simple design, but great bright sound with plenty of volume.

Ahnko Honu could probably tell you more about these, but there's also the ukes made by Emil Bader at Global Creations (http://www.globalcreationscart.com/hawaiian-ukulele.html) that are really underpriced and in some very interesting woods. (I've been sorely tempted myself, but times is tight.)

Ahnko Honu
10-16-2009, 11:28 AM
I have a Keli'i Pineapple on my wish list of local made 'ukuleles but same as you my funding has dried up due to unforseen medical expenses. At least my custom from Emil Bader was paid in full up front so looking forward to that. Global Creations has been out of stock of 'ukuleles for several weeks now I think allot having to do with sales related to UU posts. ;)

PS. The Melokia solid mahogany soprano pineapple is very intriguing at $100 locally ($115 on eBay including shipping). I don't have a mahogany pineapple 'ukulele yet, and my Koa Pili Koko I'm very happy with even if not a pineapple. May sell off a few non-pineapples to finance more pineapples. May sell my Roy Smeck, Bader Guava soprano, my KPK, and my 1915 Kumalae.