View Full Version : Advice on buying for a friend

One Wheeled Stallion
11-07-2009, 09:42 AM
Hi all,

I've had a flick through the sticky threads for beginners, though I'm still at a bit of a loss as I'm have little - read 'zero'! - knowledge of music (beyond listening to it) nor instruments, so apologies for posting something that perhaps has been posted a million and one times previously!

I live in the UK and am in the market for a ukulele as a gift for a close friend, though she doesn't currently play or own one. She is, however, a good guitar and bass player and tends to pick these sorts of things up quickly. She also plays small gigs with her band and other friends in pubs etc, something I know she would also like to do with a ukulele in time.

Can anybody suggest a good do-it-all model for me to purchase? I don't know how realistic this is, but my budget is between 100-150 ($160-$250) and I'd like one of reasonable quality that won't quickly need to be upgraded. It must also be able to be plugged into an amp. One that is handsome would be nice too!

Any advice and/or links to websites (preferrably UK ones) would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in anticipation,

11-07-2009, 09:48 AM
Hi James.
I am a raw beginner too. I just got myself a Kala KA-FMS , which I have to say I am delighted with. I have seen them selling for 126 which is inside your budget and leaves a bit over for bits and bobs.
I too looked for advice and got the advice to look at the Kala and the Mainlands. Lot's of people here seem to like both so I think you would be safe with either.

I am no experts although I have been playing guitar for a long time with serious top end Gibsons etc and I have to say that the quality of the little Kala is really good for the money.
Hope this helps a bit, I'm sure lot's of people will also help, they seem a friendly bunch here!:)

11-07-2009, 10:26 AM
Kala are good (go Kala, not Makala)

Try to ensure you get a solid top (at least) on the instrument for that sort of money. There are a couple of solid top Ohanas too for that money.

All of that said, I will surprise no-one by saying that... if you can stretch to the 150 end, go for a Mainland - (speak to Eagle Music - Huddersfield, and on the web). Brilliant, assembled in the US - ALL solid wood instruments.

Alternatively, you may prefer to go kooky - have a look at the Flea instruments by the Fluke Company - in UK, I believe Gamlins in Cardiff amongst others sell em.

Im a bit out of touch on new price for a Flea Soprano (I have one), but fairly sure you should get one for 150 with change. They are plastic backed, wooden topped - very cool. Not sure what music your friend likes, but the warranty that was "good enough for me" is that Loudon Wainwright (what a songwriter) plays a Flea for his Uke bits live.

11-07-2009, 10:26 AM
Hi James

Welcome to UU.

I am in agreement with Kluson that you can't really go wrong with a Kala or Mainland or Ohana in your price range. You may however need to spend a little more if you actually want an electro acoustic that you can plug straight in. You will also find that it is generally the bigger sizes of uke that are available with onboard electrics
Kala do a couple of nice tenors close to your price range both sold by the following online music store in the UK


I have ordered from them before and been very please with their service. Another UK store I can recommend is

http://www.musicislife.co.uk/products.php?ID=dUP80|4gkUcExtgLvqdRcifwhKSIPbA|Cf EXyI8kD-^mkeI4tlhB

I have again ordered form them in the past and they have been helpful and reliable.

Another electro accoustic route you could go down is the Ovation Applause Ukes. Not my cup of tea, but a lot of folks like them. A quick search found this in your budget


Probably the best thing is to have look out there find a few models you think you like, then come back here and see what the folks on UU think. There is normally reviews of most ukes on here or Youtube.

Best of luck


One Wheeled Stallion
11-07-2009, 11:37 AM
Marvellous, thank you all very much for your help so far! I've had a look at the suggested sites and there seems (at least to my untrained eye!) to be a few that fit the bill, so I'll try and come up with a shortlist this week and see what the concensus is here.

Forgive my ignorance, but I don't know what the difference between the types (tenor, soprano and concert etc) are. Which is the "generic" type? The buddy I'm looking to get this for was playing around on one that looked to be around 20" or so from top-to-bottom, which category does that fall into? Assuming that's how one tells, of course :-P

Many thanks indeed,

11-07-2009, 11:43 AM
Here you go


Hope it helps.


One Wheeled Stallion
11-07-2009, 11:49 AM
Much appreciated John :-)

11-07-2009, 11:57 AM
(just my two cents, but not best pleased with Musiclife or Reidys myself - but there you go - thats what reviews and personal opinions are all about)

For me - Go to Eagle, possibly Forysyths (Manchester), or see what Dolphin have.

Duke Of Uke have good supplies, but in my view are expensive.

Also, def try Southern Ukulele Store on Ebay - very very good stockist - very reliable - great range of instruments from bargain basement to the very expensive.

11-07-2009, 12:17 PM
Hi Paul

Just to clarify I wasn't recommending Reidys, it was just the first one that came up on a search for the Ovation Applause.

Also I think you will find that Musicislife and The Southern Ukulele Store are one and the same. I realised this when emailing TSUS the reply came back from Musicislife.

Cheers John

11-07-2009, 12:40 PM
I really like my Lanikai LU21-TE. Great price, great sound.

11-07-2009, 12:56 PM
Also I think you will find that Musicislife and The Southern Ukulele Store are one and the same. I realised this when emailing TSUS the reply came back from Musicislife.

Cheers John

Thanks John - didnt know that - strangely, I had bad experience with Musiclife and great one with SUS. didnt know they were the same. Luck of draw on orders I suppose.

My recommendations are mixed- Frailers really need a visit (great shop) - their online and telephone not so good. Eagle though is a brilliant folky acoustic store - run by a musician for musicians. Always friendly and helpful.


11-07-2009, 10:12 PM
Hi Paul

Thanks for that, I've not heard of Frailers but will check them out when I am up that way.
Eagle Music I already know of as currently the only UK stockist of Mainland Ukes. I so nearly bought one recently, but ended up with an Ohana which I am well pleased with. Maybe a Mainland for my next uke eh!

Cheers John

11-07-2009, 11:29 PM
"MAYBE" a Mainland next? You need to re-think- make that "DEFINITELY" a Mainland next!

11-07-2009, 11:44 PM
Yeah I know, but I'm wondering about saving up for a while as those Kanile'a ukes look and sound real sweat.

One Wheeled Stallion
11-11-2009, 08:59 AM
Hello there chaps, between your knowledgeable comments and my opinion of what makes a good looking ukulele, I think I'll be going for the £143 Kala mango soprano from courtneyandwalker.co.uk (third one down from the link kindly provided by John Caudrey).

Does this seem like a good choice or would I be getting more bang for my buck with something else?

Many thanks.