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View Full Version : NYC music stores don't give no respect to UKES



ed531
10-22-2009, 10:49 AM
So I was walking around Midtown Manhattan around lunchtime and decided to go to the only two music stores left on 48th St. I entered one of the stores and headed towards the acoustic guitar section. I've never really pay attention to ukes when I go to these stores, they never seem to have any available. But today there were a few hanging behind the counter. There were a few Oscar Schmidt and Lanikai ukes and I've seen these ukes on the web but never hands on so I was curious. But even better there was a tenor uke that looked nice and I didn't know what it was.

There was a salesman standing right next to the ukes tuning a guitar. I ask him what uke that was by the corner, he tells me it's a ukulele. I tell him yes I know but what kind is it, he says it's like the other ones but a little bigger. So I say, no I get that it's a tenor, but what model is it. Then he says it's a Cordoba.

After the confusion I ask him if I could see it. He shows it to me and the uke was set up like it was just taken out of the box and never tuned. So I try to tune it but as new strings are, it takes forever. So I get frustrated, hand him the uke back and say thanks.

You'd think that if you are selling something it might be good if someone tuned it before putting it out on the showroom floor. They seem to do it with all the other stringed instruments.

bt93
10-22-2009, 11:05 AM
i have been in that exact same store in that exact same situation. it was the cordoba cutaway tenor with the pickup. its at the new samash that took over mannys...go across the street to rudys they have fleas, flukes, kala, lanikai, and occasionally national resonators. also the guy who works up there keeps them in great shape and always tuned

ed531
10-22-2009, 11:42 AM
i have been in that exact same store in that exact same situation. it was the cordoba cutaway tenor with the pickup. its at the new samash that took over mannys...go across the street to rudys they have fleas, flukes, kala, lanikai, and occasionally national resonators. also the guy who works up there keeps them in great shape and always tuned

Yeah that guy at Rudy's is really nice. They didn't have as many ukes but they keep all their stringed instruments humidified and tuned. I don't remember his name but we were talking and he was telling me that Rudy has a luthier friend that is making some concert ukes which they will sell around Christmas. I'm waiting for that.

haole
10-22-2009, 11:43 AM
You're not kidding. I have the same experience at nearly every music store around here. My local music chain store stocks one or two laminate Oscar Schmidts, an Applause, a Cordoba (with a bone-dry fretboard), and an overpriced Martin S-O. Nobody bothers to tune them or even keep them in a humidified environment. Either the staff doesn't know how a uke is tuned, or they just don't care to go out of their way because they sell maybe one uke every couple months. If you dare pick one up off the wall, better hope you brought a screwdriver to work those friction pegs. I wouldn't be surprised if they've lost ukulele sales simply because the ones on the wall weren't playable right off the bat, and it would take maybe 30 seconds of an employee's time to get them ready to go. I know that these stores are focused on selling guitars and drums and pro audio rather than ukes, but it wouldn't kill them to try.

As much as I'd love to support a local music store instead of buying from out of state, the lack of knowledge and service is inexcusable. I'd much rather give my money to someone who knows what they're selling and tries to keep the customer happy.

Not bashing the quality of the ukes being sold, though; I've seen some great players rock Oscar Schmidts and Applauses!

Agree with Brad that Rudy's is a great store. The less conventional stringed instruments are still properly humidified and maintained well, and the folks there know their stuff. Other good places for ukes in the NYC area include Mandolin Bros. in Staten Island (Flukes/Fleas, Kamaka, old Martins), Matt Umanov Guitars in the West Village (Kamaka, Collings, Koloa, Ohana, vintage Matins and Gibsons), and East Village Music in, well, the East Village (Ko'olau, Pono, Mainland, Kala). You'll always find at least one person working in any of those stores that knows ukes.

JBennett
10-22-2009, 11:59 AM
You should go down to Matt Umanov (http://www.umanovguitars.com/) guitars in the West Village if you want to try out some nice, well maintained ukulele's in NYC. They don't come cheap, but they do take care of their instruments and usually have a good assortment of high end new Ukes (Martin, Collings and Kamaka) and vintage beauties (Martin/Gibson) etc.

existence
10-22-2009, 12:01 PM
You're not kidding. I have the same experience at nearly every music store around here. My local music chain store stocks one or two laminate Oscar Schmidts, an Applause, a Cordoba (with a bone-dry fretboard), and an overpriced Martin S-O. Nobody bothers to tune them or even keep them in a humidified environment. Either the staff doesn't know how a uke is tuned, or they just don't care to go out of their way because they sell maybe one uke every couple months. If you dare pick one up off the wall, better hope you brought a screwdriver to work those friction pegs. I wouldn't be surprised if they've lost ukulele sales simply because the ones on the wall weren't playable right off the bat, and it would take maybe 30 seconds of an employee's time to get them ready to go. I know that these stores are focused on selling guitars and drums and pro audio rather than ukes, but it wouldn't kill them to try.

As much as I'd love to support a local music store instead of buying from out of state, the lack of knowledge and service is inexcusable. I'd much rather give my money to someone who knows what they're selling and tries to keep the customer happy.

Not bashing the quality of the ukes being sold, though; I've seen some great players rock Oscar Schmidts and Applauses!

Agree with Brad that Rudy's is a great store. The less conventional stringed instruments are still properly humidified and maintained well, and the folks there know their stuff. Other good places for ukes in the NYC area include Mandolin Bros. in Staten Island (Flukes/Fleas, Kamaka, old Martins), Matt Umanov Guitars in the West Village (Kamaka, Collings, Koloa, Ohana, vintage Matins and Gibsons), and East Village Music in, well, the East Village (Ko'olau, Pono, Mainland, Kala). You'll always find at least one person working in any of those stores that knows ukes.

You NYC folks are lucky to have all those ukulele shops...here in Tampa, there is one shop, and it's nearly an hour away from me, across the bay in St. Pete.

bt93
10-22-2009, 12:26 PM
also there is a small little place upstairs right between sam ash and rudys called like alex's accordians or in that building that has some luthiers in there with ukuleles and charrangos

DeG
10-22-2009, 12:42 PM
I have never come across a uke in an Atlanta store that was tuned GCEA, I always have to tune them if if I want to try them out.

:(

Nuprin
10-22-2009, 12:51 PM
The music store I work at has a few different ukuleles (by Ibanez, Fender, and Oscar Schmidt). Before I started working there they would just pull the ukes out of the box, make sure there was no shipping damage, and then display them. Since I started working there I've been designated the "ukulele expert." Every morning I take a few minutes to make sure they're in tune and have doubled our store's uke sales.

My boss was recently getting a new pair of glasses and the optometrist he went to had a Fluke in the waiting room. After playing with it a bit, he's thinking of getting some for the store. I just need to talk him into getting some more high-end ukes in stock!

jenford
10-22-2009, 01:04 PM
Ha!
I'm headed to NYC on Saturday - hunting for a new uke :-)
This thread is just in time.:D

Best,
Jen Ford

scottie
10-22-2009, 01:19 PM
I understand the economics but I think that, to a degree, attitude informs the economics. It's the part of our culture that I constantly have to struggle to deal with, the bottom line mentality that means that it's not worth it for many music stores to properly humidify their environment and keep the instruments cared for, they become shopworn, perhaps dry out a bit (or a lot).

Some builders, Collings for instance, insist that dealers keep their stores properly humidified, keep the instruments in cases, or if they're hung or on stands, that they're in a humidified display case. Bill Collings knows that people will get impressions of the quality of his instruments not understanding what the store has to do to make them saleable. . . they make dealers sign contracts that if instruments are not properly cared for they'll no longer be a Collings dealer.

Anyone who knows what they're doing when buying decent wooden acoustic instruments knows that the money saved in time not spent caring for instruments in the shop translates into guitars that have one or more "birthdays". I know I'd rather pay closer to MSRP for a good Martin 000 16 that's well cared for than pay $100.00 less for one that sucks because it's either dry, not set up, cruddy tarnished (even rusty) strings, dirty and unattractive, or any combination thereof.

but perhaps the silver lining is that those most desirous will seek the best instruments they can and will eventually find them.

scottie
10-22-2009, 01:24 PM
and I'm one of those people who makes every attempt to only buy instruments I can play in a store first. Sure, it's nice to know that I have a week or so to decide whether or not to return it, but once I've paid out a few hundred in shipping to return online items I decide I don't want, it starts to become problematic because now I've effectively paid much more for the guitar I may eventually choose.

ukecantdothat
10-22-2009, 01:52 PM
Same thing here on the left coast. I tell ya, we get no respect! The culprits here are Guitar Center and Sam Ash (Sorry to hear Manny's is an SA, now). I was at GC recently, in the acoustic room, and it's like, "Hello? Can I get some help here?" I start asking some ?s about a uke that was locked up behind glass, and he says "Sure, I'll be right back..." and goes over to some guy who just walked in, eyeing a fine Taylor dreadnaught. OK, maybe he was in there earlier or something, I dunno, but how long would it take to unlock the case? So I look over at the guy while this dude is noodling around with the Taylor, and he looks at me standing at the uke coffin and then looks away back to Taylor guy. So I walked past the "salesman" with a look like, "Just lost a potential sale, bub." There was a guy behind the register, who may or may not have caught any of that, but did nothing. So I'm thinking, "Wow. Guitar sales are down something like 15% and uke sales are up, from what I understand. Maybe that's why the push on the expensive Taylor"

I was only looking anyway, but how could they know? Then it hit me, "These guys are good."

benmealer
10-22-2009, 02:04 PM
they have some ukes at East Village Music at 21 East 3rd Street. they even had a few mainlands when i was there.

devilishlypure
10-22-2009, 02:14 PM
I feel your pain. I can't find any stores in NJ or PA with ukuleles, and even when I do occasionally find them in random music stores while touring across the country, more often than not, nobody has any idea how to tune them or take care of them.

Half the comments abusing my "Guacamole Ukulele" video are people telling us to learn how to tune. Unfortunately, nobody in that store we had just bought them from knew how to tune them. We just tuned them like guitars so we could play them until we were able to get online and find out the correct tuning for concert ukes. Sigh.

I've pretty much given up hope as far as buying ukuleles from stores goes. People online are much more helpful... though I am taking a trip up to CT over Thanksgiving break so I can check out some flukes and fleas from the Magic Fluke store. I definitely want to see how they feel and play, to try both the plastic and the rosewood fretboards, and to be able to ask questions to people who will actually know the answers. Very excited about that, actually. :D

bt93
10-22-2009, 02:35 PM
they have some ukes at East Village Music at 21 East 3rd Street. they even had a few mainlands when i was there.

thats where i get all my ukes from. they also are koaloha dealers according to the koaloha website but i have never seen them there

Doctroid
10-22-2009, 03:04 PM
My boss was recently getting a new pair of glasses and the optometrist he went to had a Fluke in the waiting room.

That's great!

Ahnko Honu
10-22-2009, 05:27 PM
That's exactly why I have never moved from Hawai'i to New York. ;)

haolejohn
10-22-2009, 05:29 PM
I have never come across a uke in an Atlanta store that was tuned GCEA, I always have to tune them if if I want to try them out.

:(

Unless you go to ukerepublics:)

Hobgoblin Steve
10-22-2009, 07:30 PM
If I/you can find my rant on Mannys you should read it. Sam Ash is no better. Most people who work there are a bunch of jerks who wont help you, ESPECIALLY if you mention anything that isnt guitar.
to make a long story short, buy online. From MGM. Every Time.

Pippin
10-22-2009, 08:50 PM
There was a guy at Sam Ash in Columbus, Ohio that really liked ukuleles and he was an enthusiastic acoustic guitarist. He quit. Lucky for us, though, there is a new guy at Guitar Center that loves acoustic guitar and took an interest in ukulele after they received a new Cordoba solid mahogany tenor with cut-away and pickup. That uke actually is nicely made, sounds great, and the neck is perfect. He told me that he wants to buy it himself.

existence
10-23-2009, 10:58 AM
There was a guy at Sam Ash in Columbus, Ohio that really liked ukuleles and he was an enthusiastic acoustic guitarist. He quit. Lucky for us, though, there is a new guy at Guitar Center that loves acoustic guitar and took an interest in ukulele after they received a new Cordoba solid mahogany tenor with cut-away and pickup. That uke actually is nicely made, sounds great, and the neck is perfect. He told me that he wants to buy it himself.

Yeah, even at the megastores you'll occasionally find a good employee who really wants to help you. I've never had terrible service at GC or SA, but I have had indifferent. It's an impersonal, Wal-Mart style shopping environment and the salespeople don't always have a vested interest in the quality of the store's service. Plus, there's always the guy with an electric guitar playing some riff way too loud, over and over again. Or the show-offs playing as fast as they possible can, so that you might marvel at their blazing fingerspeed.

Ugh, sorry, got off on a rant there!

ed531
10-23-2009, 11:09 AM
If I/you can find my rant on Mannys you should read it. Sam Ash is no better. Most people who work there are a bunch of jerks who wont help you, ESPECIALLY if you mention anything that isnt guitar.
to make a long story short, buy online. From MGM. Every Time.


Are you talking about this Rant ???

http://www.edroman.com/rants/mannys.htm

gioconbrio
10-23-2009, 01:20 PM
First Flight music on 1st Ave and 10th. Usually five or six brands and the place has a good vibe.

Hobgoblin Steve
10-23-2009, 04:48 PM
Are you talking about this Rant ???

http://www.edroman.com/rants/mannys.htm

heh, no, its on UU somewhere