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luvdat
02-03-2010, 01:07 AM
Recently a great thread about the need for better sound samples. Agreed. But have made a new resolution: no more "just by samples." Frankly, this early on I won't buy it if I can't play it first. Why?

Even in modest price ukes, quality control issues, "variances" that for me even in a $90 uke are unacceptable.

In upper end solid woods, there is considerable variance in tone projection between instruments...

I also think the whole sound sample thing perpetuates the sale of ukes which would otherwise be more critically judged and rejected.

I can understand that someone would putchase a Flea or a Kiwaya based on reputation. But I could not apply this approach to relatively new companies that experiment, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

deach
02-03-2010, 01:14 AM
Enjoy your trip to Hawaii.

luvdat
02-03-2010, 01:36 AM
Enjoy your trip to Hawaii.

Believe me I get it. But I'm also not a huge fan of Hawaiian paternalism esp. in the sale and manufacturing (in China?) of modest priced ukes. Since the 1920's the uke has been played all over the world. It's time that in 2010 it's more readily available vs. distributors which have semi-monopolies with preorders and then bestow a seal of approval on what's good, etc.. Last time I looked Hawaii is also one of the 50 states. The fact that the uke is more popular in Hawaii than in the mainland as well as the distinctive history of Hawaiian luthiers, companies...I appreciate. I also appreciate the luthiers of Japan, Germany and yes, Martins of years gone by.

What this view perputates in particular is a relative trickle of options in stores and allows companies even of which I'm a fan of (Kala) to almost blind buy- sell some relative duds.

As an aside, I think the most particularly Hawaiian uke is a pineapple more than simply koa. In some ways there's more money to be made in the selling of modest priced ukes over the net because then things get less critical and people can easily "learn to love it."

micromue
02-03-2010, 02:50 AM
Taking the risk is part of the fun :D

Tigeralum2001
02-03-2010, 03:02 AM
Frankly, this early on I won't buy it if I can't play it first.
If I had that attitude my choices would be 2 cheap Hilos or 1 decent Cordoba, all carried by Guitar Center. Their lack of knowledge is almost shocking.

Sorry, but I am extremely happy with the internet and that I have a choice to buy sight unseen & sound unheard (at least in person). Are my ukes set up like MGM would do it? I doubt it, but then again, I don't know the difference! :o

euchre
02-03-2010, 03:16 AM
If I had that attitude my choices would be 2 cheap Hilos or 1 decent Cordoba, all carried by Guitar Center. Their lack of knowledge is almost shocking.

Sorry, but I am extremely happy with the internet and that I have a choice to buy sight unseen & sound unheard (at least in person). Are my ukes set up like MGM would do it? I doubt it, but then again, I don't know the difference! :o

My sentiments exactly. Too many ukes out there to limit myself to only those I can try first.

buddhuu
02-03-2010, 03:23 AM
I would very much like to see manufacturers/sellers do good quality video/sound clips for comparison. Nevertheless, I have no prob with buying online.

If I don't like what arrives I send it back and try something else. OK, I take the hit on shipping costs, but that's fair. The seller shouldn't have to pay returns unless the instrument is faulty.

Playing before buying is certainly the best way. Unfortunately, it's not always possible and it can limit your choices, as has already been observed.

On the other hand, an excuse for a trip to Hawaii can't be a bad thing.

Er... except it costs more than returning a uke.

greg_usa
02-03-2010, 05:05 AM
I have to agree - I don't really feel comfortable buying an instrument over the internet. I lucked out and there's a shop in NYC that has a good selection and I bought my Mainland there... but I guess the reality is that Ukulele's are still pretty niche to an extent, and that the internet is the only option for many people to get access to any kind of selection. I didn't buy from him - but from what I hear - it helps to have resellers like MGM, who people have confidence in his quality control and set up.

SweetWaterBlue
02-03-2010, 05:39 AM
On the other hand, an excuse for a trip to Hawaii can't be a bad thing.
.

Depends on your perspective, and where you live, I suppose. I used to travel a lot for business and have been to Hawaii about 5 times for work, and once on a long family vacation. As nice as Hawaii is, I now have absolutely no desire to spend 8 hours in a long metal tube with stale air and peanuts, although I still do it for money occasionally. Now maybe if they made ukes in the Florida Keys or the Caribbean I could endure the 2 hour flight.

devilishlypure
02-03-2010, 06:05 AM
I have a hard time with this kind of thing too... I've been lucky that all of the ukes I've ordered online have been great, but I can't help wondering if I would have chosen differently if I could actually play all of the ukes I was thinking about getting. I mean, I drove from NJ to CT over Thanksgiving break so I could try out Flukes and Fleas, which wasn't so bad, but I might have to wait until my family wants to take a trip to Hawaii before I could get all the way there. And then restrain myself from buying more than one or two once I get there.

The good news is that we have YouTube. I tend to research like crazy on there before I buy instruments, to get a feel for different people's playing styles and hear what different kinds of strings sound like. If I didn't have that, I probably would have a hard time deciding which ukes to get.

Maybe someday a few more stores out here will carry a slightly better selection of ukes. Until then, the internet is pretty much all I've got to go on.

haole
02-03-2010, 06:22 AM
I agree with the OP a little about samples. Sound samples don't really help me much, to be honest, unless I listen to a bunch of them in a row. And even then, not everyone uses the same recording equipment in the same room and sits the same distance from the mic, so anything could happen. If you use performers' YouTube videos to get the idea of what an instrument sounds like, you're definitely going to find one person with a Makala dolphin who recorded their sample under optimal conditions, and then another person with a $2500 Ko'olau custom who used a crappy mic that fails to capture the true sound. MGM does his best to make the sound samples under uniform conditions, but even then, you're not guaranteed to get the same sound in person.

I wholeheartedly agree with Tigeralum2001 concerning how sucky it is to have limited choices. Even the flagship ukulele at Guitar Center might have a dry fretboard and protruding frets that do to your hands what stepping on a Lego block does to your bare feet. Oh, and you'll have to tune it and retune it a few times in the store, because nobody else had bothered to break in the strings. ;)

Buying sight-unseen is iffy, but several internet resellers are fully aware of that and do everything in their power to make sure the customer will be satisfied. There's a chance you won't like the way it's set up, or maybe the color doesn't look the same in person, but that's why they have return policies. Should you settle for one of the two or three ukes in your local chain store, or take a chance on a reputable internet seller who will give you advice, set up the uke and restring it for you before you receive it, and will take it back if it sucks? I think I'd go with the latter. If you try to return a uke you're not happy with to Guitar Center, you'll have the choice of swapping it for the other uke on the wall, or taking your money back and then trying to find another dealer in your area (this is not easy for many people!).

If you live in a uke-deprived region, you're almost definitely better off buying from MGM or Uke Republic or Bounty or Elderly or someone else who knows ukes and wants you to be happy. If you're not satisfied, the minor inconvenience of return shipping and waiting a few days for a replacement is, for most of us, a lot easier than trying to find time and money to travel across the country to play some ukes in person!

casarole45
02-03-2010, 06:29 AM
If I don't like what arrives I send it back and try something else. OK, I take the hit on shipping costs, but that's fair. The seller shouldn't have to pay returns unless the instrument is faulty.


Do companies let you do this in the UK? I don't know if I would be able to do it without feeling like I've taken advantage of them.

micromue
02-03-2010, 06:45 AM
Do companies let you do this in the UK? I don't know if I would be able to do it without feeling like I've taken advantage of them.

In the UK you have the right to cancel your order at least seven working days after recieving the goods. You donīt have to give reasons when doing this.

Distance selling regulations (http://www.out-law.com/page-430)

Mim
02-03-2010, 08:52 AM
I too have to buy sight un-seen unless I go to guitar center. My shop is literally 5 min from guitar center... but last I looked there was a few Oscar Schmitts and I forget the other one... it was that memorable. It was around Christmas though and he said they usually have more selection, but of cheaper ukes. And that would be cheaper than a sitka spruce top Oscar.

Anyway, if anyone has a Sam Ash close by : SamAshmusic.com , they had a lot more selection. They have some Kala, Makalas, Fender, Ibenez, and a few others in a variety of price ranges. And you can try them out. They must not be as common though because I hear Guitar Center spoken of a lot, but I was impressed by Sam Ash's selection. And they seem to always be able to tweak the price a bit.

That being said... I am unpicky and have yet to buy a high end uke... but when I do I am sure I will pour a lot of time and attention into the perfect sound and intonation.

paraclete
02-03-2010, 09:04 AM
I don't have the time or money to go to Hawaii (or even Seattle) to try out ukes. The only ones in shops around here right now are low-end Kalas, Makalas, and low end Oscar Schmidts.

But, as I've mentioned in other threads, I spent quite a bit of time talking on the phone with Music Guy Mike, and after he got an idea of what I was looking for in a uke, he helped me figure out what would be best. I was not at all disappointed in his recommendation.

Yes, I would like to be able to sit down and play a couple dozen ukes before I lay down my money. But it just isn't going to happen any time soon. So for me it's order something blind or talk to someone over the phone who knows ukes and can help me select the right one.

Plainsong
02-03-2010, 09:16 AM
Okiedokie, I'll just wait for the big huge Ukulele Megastore to open in Helsinki...

I'll be waiting a long time, but at least there are some local builds to try in the meantime.

But at least I've gotten to play ukes I never would have otherwise by meeting other players. It has helped shaped what my preferences are, so I like to think that even if I buy one online, I can tell when I play it if I like it or not and am able to judge it based on the other ukes I've played.

I agree that ukes don't begin and end in Hawaii, but otherwise I can't really figure what the OP is on about, other than I think we'd all agree that distribution sucks and that we'd all prefer to audition ukes before buying.

I like the sound clips, but of course they're not the be-all end-all. They just give a VERY general idea, and yeah there's some hopeful listening going on, but as you gain experience with ukes you like and ukes you don't, you can use it as a bit of a guideline. I think we all accept that it's not a perfect science. You have variences in the ukes themselves, the style of the player, the quality of the recording equipment, and then your own audio setup coloring the sound.

But what else can we do? Still waiting for that Ukulele Megastore. Don't think it's happening anytime soon.

rogue_wave
02-03-2010, 09:55 AM
While I totally feel the desire / wish to be able to monkey around with a selection of ukuleles before buying, and possibly stumbling onto a surprise, for the most part I think that the online opportunity seems to fill the bill. I purchased my Kala via MGM and felt as though his (and his crew's) standards would be kept high. Sure, I would love to be able to pick out the exact ukulele, but I knew from everyone'e reviews and raves here that MGM would be a high quality purchase experience.

I do feel that when/if I am ever looking at a really big boy ukulele, I will want to play it first. For the time being, I imagine the process as if I have purchased a custom.

As a side opportunity, I would keep a close eye out for ukulele festivals. The one in NYC in the spring often has some beautiful instruments from all over and you can touch and play as many as you can get your hands on.

clayton56
02-03-2010, 10:57 AM
You can't really tell even from playing it in the store, you need more time, may have to try some different strings, etc. If you're really dedicated, as I used to be with clarinets, you go to several stores that have 10-12 of the same model in stock, and you try them all for minute differences. For ukes that might mean a trip to the factory.

I've done well on the internet, and non-favorites are resaleable on Ebay, so I say, why wait? Give it a shot and make your decision.

I also think sound samples are useful because it shows how the uke sounds recorded, played back on cheap equipment, which is how everyone but you will be hearing your uke.

SweetWaterBlue
02-03-2010, 11:07 AM
I agree that you may not be able to tell in a music store, unless they have a quiet room where you play. Even then, I find that my favorite sounding uke changes over time. I might like one this week, and another next week. I sometimes find myself getting into a zone where I think my playing sounds really good to me. Then, I record it and find out it doesn't sound good at all.

I think your tastes may improve over time, as well. Your ear just gets better at hearing the good from the bad. I know I used to enjoy dropping by Sam Ash and playing all the ukes there. I did that a few days ago, and they all stunk. Granted, they are all low-end models, but they sounded pretty good to me a month ago. I think it may be unrealistic for a beginner to think he or she is going to buy the uke to last a lifetime on the first time out of the box.

buddhuu
02-03-2010, 11:08 AM
Do companies let you do this in the UK? I don't know if I would be able to do it without feeling like I've taken advantage of them.
Don't feel that way. Many stores actually emphasise it as a selling point. The places I buy from are always fine about it. I cover the cost of the instrument's journey both ways - they lose nothing, but they make a friend out of me and I go back in the future and buy stuff because I know they are helpful.

luvdat
02-03-2010, 11:16 AM
I have a hard time with this kind of thing too... I've been lucky that all of the ukes I've ordered online have been great, but I can't help wondering if I would have chosen differently if I could actually play all of the ukes I was thinking about getting. I mean, I drove from NJ to CT over Thanksgiving break so I could try out Flukes and Fleas, which wasn't so bad, but I might have to wait until my family wants to take a trip to Hawaii before I could get all the way there. And then restrain myself from buying more than one or two once I get there.

The good news is that we have YouTube. I tend to research like crazy on there before I buy instruments, to get a feel for different people's playing styles and hear what different kinds of strings sound like. If I didn't have that, I probably would have a hard time deciding which ukes to get.

Maybe someday a few more stores out here will carry a slightly better selection of ukes. Until then, the internet is pretty much all I've got to go on.

Here's the deal: you were never given the opportunity in most cases to do a side-by-side. Are retailers so afraid that they won't move ukes? No. Why then even when uke sales take off and they have to keep reordering (even to the point of hardly having any supply and leaving people waiting or making special orders) aren't there more available for such side-by-sides? Because companies can make more money selling ukes that way, especially modest priced uke companies (or what they consider modest priced). it especially allows companies developing a reputation to do so with less true scrutiny, side by side comparisons, even while they turn out some sort-of-duds among some good offerings as they "experiment."

Companies with established reputations, reviews etc, not much afraid of sound sample blind buys...but I think $90 wonders and yes IMO some pretty yet not much of anything really $250 solids don't deserve that trust...that leap.

Why talk about the ignorance of people who work at Guitar Center about ukes when many are willing to buy a uke without ever having played it. IMO, this whole situation is very much intentional, and based on market studies.
And BTW, I've grown tired of looking down at the folks at Guitar Center. Even if they do look down here and there themselves on customers...this has become a stale internet forum "acceptable" jab at people who live and will someday die just like all of us.

Minus a sound sample most will probably "learn to love" their long awaited rarely seen elsewhere yet more abundant in Hawaiian music shops (maintains the mystique) uke that arrived and return it less readily than when doing a side-by-side? I think so. hey, what better way to keep UAS going?

I can think of no other stringed instrument the distribution of which is so manipulated. Could someone please tell me what's so "Hawaiian" about the ukes made by Ohana? They're good, BTW.

SweetWaterBlue
02-03-2010, 11:24 AM
Don't feel that way. Many stores actually emphasise it as a selling point. The places I buy from are always fine about it. I cover the cost of the instrument's journey both ways - they lose nothing, but they make a friend out of me and I go back in the future and buy stuff because I know they are helpful.

My wife buys a lot of casual clothes from online stores. Most of them make a big deal out of telling to you that if you don't like them, or they don't fit to send them back and they will either exchange them or give you your money back. She doesn't hesitate to send them back, and it seems to be part of the whole way of doing business with them. I guess its hard to compete with brick and mortar clothing stores, otherwise.

Plainsong
02-03-2010, 11:25 AM
You can't really tell even from playing it in the store, you need more time, may have to try some different strings, etc. If you're really dedicated, as I used to be with clarinets, you go to several stores that have 10-12 of the same model in stock, and you try them all for minute differences. For ukes that might mean a trip to the factory.

I've done well on the internet, and non-favorites are resaleable on Ebay, so I say, why wait? Give it a shot and make your decision.

I also think sound samples are useful because it shows how the uke sounds recorded, played back on cheap equipment, which is how everyone but you will be hearing your uke.

I bought my main driver clarinet the same way, by getting to take lots of different ones home. I still ended up with an R13 but that's not the point. :)

Oh for us all to have MGM and other great music store owners like him within driving distance.

rpeters
02-03-2010, 11:25 AM
I agree completely. While "sound samples" is better than nothing for most of us, actually playing the instrument is by far the most accurate way of experiencing the instrument.

Think about it, many of us only know the instruments that we purchased online. While we may be satisfied by the sound they produce, it is impossible to accurately compare them to all of our other options since they are scattered around the world. Luvdatuke is at the point where being satisfied is not enough, and that finding the perfect uke requires much more than sound samples.

luvdat
02-03-2010, 11:37 AM
Do companies let you do this in the UK? I don't know if I would be able to do it without feeling like I've taken advantage of them.

Let me cure you of that feeling with a simple saying: You didn't wake up owing them money.

More people should do just that.

And BTW, not looking for the perfect uke, but simply a meaningful HONEST context to choose a uke I really like. Is most of the rest of the world living in the provinces of Hawaii? Ukes were probably more readily available in the 1920's? This situation is not only tolerated but even idealized to some extent, esp in that magical $200-300 category of factories...I mean companies.

Tigeralum2001
02-03-2010, 12:30 PM
H
Why talk about the ignorance of people who work out Guitar Center about ukes when many are willing to buy a uke without ever having played it. IMO, this whole situation is very much intentional, and based on market studies.

I think you miss my point. I either HAVE to buy sight unseen or play 2 Hilos or a Cordoba. Want a K-brand... tough, want a Kala or Oscar Schmidt... tough! I would rather buy from a reputable online music store than have my choice of 3 ukes only. Sure, ideally I would want to play them.

Like others, I wait for the uke superstore. Until then I will buy from reputable online dealer. I would go to Hawai'i to pick it out, but I could buy 2-3 more if I just order them online! ;)

luvdat
02-03-2010, 12:36 PM
Does it have to be a superstore? Why not 10-15 ukes? 15-20? This situation"sucks" because it depends on the overall good nature of uke players? too nice? need to be "part of something?" It goes on because no one complains directly to the companies/factories which distribute these products. Please don't tell me that all guitar models sell better when in the same store one can see the same Fender there for more than 6 months, even more than a year or 2...even in a superstore, not just Mom and Pop.

I see your point better Tigeralum...and have to laugh at your accurate reference..."Here's our uke department...2 Hilos and a Cordoba." NJ's got 2 Lanikais more: would you consider relocating? LOL

paraclete
02-03-2010, 12:38 PM
Here's the deal: you were never given the opportunity in most cases to do a side-by-side. Are retailers so afraid that they won't move ukes? No. Why then even when uke sales take off and they have to keep reordering (even to the point of hardly having any supply and leaving people waiting or making special orders) aren't there more available for such side-by-sides? Because companies can make more money selling ukes that way, especially modest priced uke companies (or what they consider modest priced). it especially allows companies developing a reputation to do so with less true scrutiny, side by side comparisons, even while they turn out some sort-of-duds among some good offerings as they "experiment."

Companies with established reputations, reviews etc, not much afraid of sound sample blind buys...but I think $90 wonders and yes IMO some pretty yet not much of anything really $250 solids don't deserve that trust...that leap.

Why talk about the ignorance of people who work at Guitar Center about ukes when many are willing to buy a uke without ever having played it. IMO, this whole situation is very much intentional, and based on market studies.
And BTW, I've grown tired of looking down at the folks at Guitar Center. Even if they do look down here and there themselves on customers...this has become a stale internet forum "acceptable" jab at people who live and will someday die just like all of us.

Minus a sound sample most will probably "learn to love" their long awaited rarely seen elsewhere yet more abundant in Hawaiian music shops (maintains the mystique) uke that arrived and return it less readily than when doing a side-by-side? I think so. hey, what better way to keep UAS going?

I can think of no other stringed instrument the distribution of which is so manipulated. Could someone please tell me what's so "Hawaiian" about the ukes made by Ohana? They're good, BTW.

Uh, marketing research may or may not have anything to do with it. Kids in Hawaii learn the uke, kind of like kids in my area learn the recorder in school.

But how about a little perspective from the brick and mortar standpoint.... say I have a music store. What am I going to stock? Well, most of the sales in the area are guitar and pro audio. To get people in the door, I need to carry those things. Customers would love it if I could carry some of every major guitar made.... not going to happen. I have to get dealer contracts and then am subject to a "buy-in"... which means I agree to keep a minimum amount (dollar value) of their product in stock. If I decide to be a Fender dealer, that's about all I'll be able to afford, as the buy-in is outrageously high for an independent music store. I want to have more than just one brand. So maybe I stock G&L instead and a half dozen others. That's just guitars. Now how about pro audio equipment? Same deal. Minimum buy-in. Keyboards, yeah, same.

Okay, now I realize that uke sales are a big thing, so I get a contract with Kala to carry their ukes, and maybe Oscar Schmidt. How much money do I have to sink in buy-ins for each of those? If I have to carry a minimum of $10,000 for each brand, that's a lot of money that I have to spend up front. I have to buy those ukes before I can sell them. Fine and dandy in an economy that is booming. But right now, a lot of people don't even have jobs. They are selling their prized guitars to pay bills. So my business takes a hit. Tell me again how many brands I should carry?

Not trying to be contentious.... just something to think about. Running a brick and mortar music business is complicated, especially when no one seems to buy anything except picks and strings.

luvdat
02-03-2010, 12:46 PM
Go the Kala website. a small dealer isn't buying in with $10,000 dollars a year...more like 10,000 Phillipine pesos...they are a not a mini-Gibson company by any means.

G&L guitars are great BUT...when were they made and how attached are people to a Fender sound. They never really took off and remain a guitar for those in the know...

Tigeralum2001
02-03-2010, 12:46 PM
Does it have to be a superstore? Why not 10-15 ukes? 15-20? NJ's got 2 Lanikais more: would you consider relocating? LOL
10-15 would be a superstore to me! 2 more Lanikai, huh? I'll consider it! ;)

luvdat
02-03-2010, 01:15 PM
10-15 would be a superstore to me! 2 more Lanikai, huh? I'll consider it! ;)

Let the Luau begin!!!

paraclete
02-03-2010, 01:51 PM
Go the Kala website. a small dealer isn't buying in with $10,000 dollars a year...more like 10,000 Phillipine pesos...they are a not a mini-Gibson company by any means.

G&L guitars are great BUT...when were they made and how attached are people to a Fender sound. They never really took off and remain a guitar for those in the know...

My point was that a store owner has to make decisions about what products to carry and how to manage a cash flow. $10,000 would be a small buy-in for a lot of companies. The Fender buy-in is a monster compared to that. And I know that Kala doesn't require a high buy in, but a lot of other companies do, and stores in my area are not going to pay the rent selling just Kalas. Some mega music store might have the available funds to stock a couple dozen ukes, but the average independent does not. And maybe someone could start up their store as a uke shop. But existing independents right now are up against a sinking ship of a retail market. They've been losing ground for years to internet cutthroats. Stores like that generally don't have the cash flow to stock a bunch of ukes, unless they are sticking strictly to the really low-end models.

I'm not speculating about this stuff.... been there, done that first hand.

luvdat
02-03-2010, 01:57 PM
My point was that a store owner has to make decisions about what products to carry and how to manage a cash flow. $10,000 would be a small buy-in for a lot of companies. The Fender buy-in is a monster compared to that. And I know that Kala doesn't require a high buy in, but a lot of other companies do, and stores in my area are not going to pay the rent selling just Kalas. Some mega music store might have the available funds to stock a couple dozen ukes, but the average independent does not. And maybe someone could start up their store as a uke shop. But existing independents right now are up against a sinking ship of a retail market. They've been losing ground for years to internet cutthroats. Stores like that generally don't have the cash flow to stock a bunch of ukes, unless they are sticking strictly to the really low-end models.

I'm not speculating about this stuff.... been there, done that first hand.

Talking more about low end to modest stuff. May be making a pilgrimage to Connecticut...the home of the Flea. Not against all blind buys or ordering especially for companies who have earned that possibility.

sukie
02-03-2010, 02:51 PM
I don't have the time or money to go to Hawaii (or even Seattle) to try out ukes. The only ones in shops around here right now are low-end Kalas, Makalas, and low end Oscar Schmidts.

But, as I've mentioned in other threads, I spent quite a bit of time talking on the phone with Music Guy Mike, and after he got an idea of what I was looking for in a uke, he helped me figure out what would be best. I was not at all disappointed in his recommendation.

Yes, I would like to be able to sit down and play a couple dozen ukes before I lay down my money. But it just isn't going to happen any time soon. So for me it's order something blind or talk to someone over the phone who knows ukes and can help me select the right one.

I couldn't have said it better myself. I've purchased an ukulele from MGM using this same method. He picked out the perfect one for me. I love it and it was perfectly set up for me. And I got a case and chord book. And it came quickly. And I can call him or e-mail him whenever I need. Minneapolis/St. Paul really isn't the center of the ukulele universe and as such doesn't have a lot of ukulele shopping. Internet it is.

pdxuke
02-03-2010, 03:29 PM
Taking the risk is part of the fun :D

Yeah, for me too. And I reduce that risk by buying from dealers i trust and from dealers with whom I have a return privilige. But, that's my opinion. It's what makes horse racing...

clayton56
02-03-2010, 10:08 PM
I bought my main driver clarinet the same way, by getting to take lots of different ones home. I still ended up with an R13 but that's not the point. :)

Oh for us all to have MGM and other great music store owners like him within driving distance.

At the time, I was ONLY looking at R-13's, I was driving to places that had a dozen in stock of just that model. I drove four hours to get to one place, another guy there that day came from 5 hours away.

I made recordings of all of them and wrote down the serial numbers. Then I called back and ordered the one that sounded best.

In a way I'm kind of glad to be not that fussy about the ukes.

scottie
02-03-2010, 11:40 PM
. . . Now maybe if they made ukes in the Florida Keys or the Caribbean I could endure the 2 hour flight.

Lo Prinzi is based in Florida. I could spend some time in his shop. . . although that would depend upon what's available.

Skrik
02-04-2010, 12:16 AM
Recently a great thread about the need for better sound samples. Agreed. But have made a new resolution: no more "just by samples." Frankly, this early on I won't buy it if I can't play it first. Why?

Even in modest price ukes, quality control issues, "variances" that for me even in a $90 uke are unacceptable.

In upper end solid woods, there is considerable variance in tone projection between instruments...

I also think the whole sound sample thing perpetuates the sale of ukes which would otherwise be more critically judged and rejected.

I can understand that someone would putchase a Flea or a Kiwaya based on reputation. But I could not apply this approach to relatively new companies that experiment, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

This means, of course, that you won't buy a custom instrument; or that you might, but that you will attempt to retain the right to walk away if it's not quite what you expected. I can't see that being an acceptable situation for a luthier.

experimentjon
02-04-2010, 12:43 AM
I am lucky enough to live in Hawaii, and have never bought any ukes beofre trying them. And I don't think I ever will. However, I think that sitting down and playing seven Kamaka tenors (ala George) is a bit excessive for me...mainly because I get bored of doing the same thing over and over. Yes, they will all be slightly different, but the tone differences to me will probably not be noticible enough for an amatuer like me, and like WW illustrated with her Pineapple Sunday choice, the selection will most likely come down to the wood and appearance of the uke. Maybe I'm just shallow like that. So I don't think internet ordering is all that bad if you get lots of pics of the uke, but defiitely, when given the option to play and see an instrument in person, I will choose to do that over shopping on the internet.

Plainsong
02-04-2010, 03:00 AM
Here's the deal: you were never given the opportunity in most cases to do a side-by-side. Are retailers so afraid that they won't move ukes? No. Why then even when uke sales take off and they have to keep reordering (even to the point of hardly having any supply and leaving people waiting or making special orders) aren't there more available for such side-by-sides? Because companies can make more money selling ukes that way, especially modest priced uke companies (or what they consider modest priced). it especially allows companies developing a reputation to do so with less true scrutiny, side by side comparisons, even while they turn out some sort-of-duds among some good offerings as they "experiment."

Companies with established reputations, reviews etc, not much afraid of sound sample blind buys...but I think $90 wonders and yes IMO some pretty yet not much of anything really $250 solids don't deserve that trust...that leap.

Why talk about the ignorance of people who work at Guitar Center about ukes when many are willing to buy a uke without ever having played it. IMO, this whole situation is very much intentional, and based on market studies.
And BTW, I've grown tired of looking down at the folks at Guitar Center. Even if they do look down here and there themselves on customers...this has become a stale internet forum "acceptable" jab at people who live and will someday die just like all of us.

Minus a sound sample most will probably "learn to love" their long awaited rarely seen elsewhere yet more abundant in Hawaiian music shops (maintains the mystique) uke that arrived and return it less readily than when doing a side-by-side? I think so. hey, what better way to keep UAS going?

I can think of no other stringed instrument the distribution of which is so manipulated. Could someone please tell me what's so "Hawaiian" about the ukes made by Ohana? They're good, BTW.

That's one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it if you're talking about, for example, the "K brands" - that these are very small factories, and there just isn't going to be huge distribution going on. In order for there to be more product, then more has to be invested in growth, and all the negative things that might bring. There's more than one side to this.

Edit to add - locally you're lucky to even find a decent music store where they care about good instruments that make good sounds without trying to really price gouge you. The music stores around here are generally very crappy in their product offerings (not just ukes!), their prices, their experience, and their attitude towards the customer. I know of one high end guitar place that surfs on its reputation while treating you crappily and price gouging, and at the other end of the spectrum there is the nice music store run by a guy who cares, but he only offers low budget instruments. Still, nice guy though, and he does have the most ukes. Everything else in between is really kinda crappy.

I don't know how Finns can stand it other than just being used to it. If a music store were to open that would compete on selection, know-how, and service, they would wipe the floor with what's here.

GX9901
02-04-2010, 05:33 AM
I've bought like 20-30 ukes and all but 3 were purchased from online sources. I think if you do enough research on what you're buying, it's not difficult to set your expectations correctly. I can honestly say that I have not been disappointed by a uke I bought based on what I expected from it. As for sound files and videos, they are fun to watch or listen to, but I don't think anyone who's educated about ukulele buying is going to place a lot of stock in them when it comes to actually paying money for a particular uke. I think the sound files help a little bit, and are nice to have, but for me they are pretty far down the list of priorities when it comes to buying a uke sight unseen.

Tigeralum2001
02-04-2010, 12:11 PM
Good news! I went by Guitar Center today and they actually had 2 new Lanikai and 2 new Mitchell. I now have 7 ukes to pick from; 4 cheap ones and 3 mid-range! ;)


Thank goodness for internet retailers!

Plainsong
02-04-2010, 03:06 PM
I love hearing good quality sound samples of instruments.

One thing that concerns me is the growing acceptance/satisfaction with poor quality compressed sound samples that introduce artifacts and distort sound. Youtube is a perfect example of this continuing to gain a foothold.

If one is going to take the time to review a uke, and provide a sound sample, then it would be nice if the reviewer made a high quality audio only sound sample instead of a Youtube sound sample. Anyone using a decent quality mic and Audacity has the tools needed to make CD quality audio sound samples.

I have gotten used to buying instruments through mail order/internet. It's only way I can purchase and order certain instruments. I've had to return and exchange instruments due to cracks and splits from temperature and climate changes during shipping. It saddens me because it is a waste of resources that are getting more scarce as time goes on, but it's also how business is done these days and how makers stay in business.

And once the quality of the sound sample is established, taking the recording setup and acoustics of the room into account - then your own audio setup comes into play. Typical computer speakers or average headphones plugged directly into the computer with an average soundcard just won't cut it for anything approaching accuracy. In fact, there's really no such thing as accuracy. A flatline frequency response sounds dry and boring, so the audio signature of the listening setup matters.

I mean if we're talking about the quality of the sound samples. I'm basically just agreeing with everyone that they're nice to see but only go so far to give a very vague general idea. :)

luvdat
02-05-2010, 12:23 AM
And once the quality of the sound sample is established, taking the recording setup and acoustics of the room into account - then your own audio setup comes into play. Typical computer speakers or average headphones plugged directly into the computer with an average soundcard just won't cut it for anything approaching accuracy. In fact, there's really no such thing as accuracy. A flatline frequency response sounds dry and boring, so the audio signature of the listening setup matters.

I mean if we're talking about the quality of the sound samples. I'm basically just agreeing with everyone that they're nice to see but only go so far to give a very vague general idea. :)

They are the slightly blurry photo equivalent of "Would you like to meet my sister?" And it's intentional. Some of Mike Upton's own postings are among the worst. He is, of course, without access to any quality recording equipment and musicians. Quality sound samples minus images are among the best. UKISOCIETY did a great one. Hey, you can look at the ukes before and after...

Plainsong
02-05-2010, 12:35 AM
They are the slightly blurry photo equivalent of "Would you like to meet my sister?" And it's intentional. Some of Mike Upton's own postings are among the worst. He is, of course, without access to any quality recording equipment and musicians. Quality sound samples minus images are among the best. UKISOCIETY did a great one. Hey, you can look at the ukes before and after...

Well then don't buy a Kala. Feel free to ignore all the other people with the same uke and better sound setups on Youtube.

And I'm sorry, I don't agree that the ukulele industry is responsible for intentional coloration of recorded and reproduced audio.

I'm sure Mike got on the phone to Sennheiser and made darn well sure that the HD650 headphones were laid back, with rolled off treble and recessed bass! Yeah right, I don't buy that in a million years. You're taking the conspiracy theory too far to be reasonable.

luvdat
02-05-2010, 12:48 AM
Well then don't buy a Kala. Feel free to ignore all the other people with the same uke and better sound setups on Youtube.

And I'm sorry, I don't agree that the ukulele industry is responsible for intentional coloration of recorded and reproduced audio.

BTW, I'm a fan of some of Kala ukes and think some of them are great values.

Non-reps of companies and sales who post better samples and videos make me think otherwise. There is such a thing here as a middle position, not either/or. I do think certain companies, because of their history and reputation, past and present, make buying even without directly trying out first OK indeed. Through PMs and even open discussions on this forum you can get a lot of great descriptions and experiences.

To name a few safe relative blind buys (not at upper end): Mainland, Mele, Flea...some Kala models...some...a greater number of Ohanas.

It's certainly not unintentional. Sitting in a chair, switching on a video camera with audio is a volitional act. And so is the choice of equipment.

Feel free, for example, to watch the many offerings of someone who took the time like UKISOCIETY and then get get back to me on whether or not anything is intentional. Also, check out Ken Middleton. These are intentionally well-made videos/sound samples. They are not long-range living room shots or extreme close-ups.

In the case of Mainland, some pretty good samples are posted by SATISFIED CUSTOMERS.

micromue
02-05-2010, 12:51 AM
And it's intentional. Some of Mike Upton's own postings are among the worst. He is, of course, without access to any quality recording equipment and musicians. .

I am not really sure about the "intention". I think, there is not really a large demand for them high quality sound samples. Of course it is a nice "to-have" for us afficionados, but the vast majority of uke buyers doesnīt lurk around in uke forums discussing the subtle nuances between Worth BT and Worth CM, so they probably won`t bother with hi-fi quality blind tests. And -like mentioned before- the amount of potentional buyers that use sophisticated audio hardware on their laptop/iphone/PC should be a neglectable factor.

BTW, what I said earlier about sound samples is also true for blind-dating sisters: Taking the risk is part of the fun :D

Plainsong
02-05-2010, 07:39 AM
I understand from the OP of the thread that of course we'd all rather have ukes to try before buying. THe fact remains that for most of us, this isn't going to happen anytime soon.

I don't think luvdatuke understands what I mean about audio equipment, and I don't understand most of what he means, past the opening of the thread. With that, there's not much point in my participating in the thread anymore. I just wanted to reply that I didn't just aburptly lose the discussion. Fight the power! Don't let them get away with... whatever it is that you think they're getting away with. And as Deach said, enjoy your trips to Hawaii.

molinee
02-05-2010, 08:26 AM
I have no prob with buying online. If I don't like what arrives I send it back and try something else. OK, I take the hit on shipping costs, but that's fair. The seller shouldn't have to pay returns unless the instrument is faulty.

My feelings also.......... Return shipping is a small price to pay for trying some different models. Plus, waiting for UPS to arrive gets my blood pumping...