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View Full Version : New ukulele or vintage?



deach
05-12-2008, 08:53 AM
Given the choice of a brand new ukulele or a vintage one, which would you choose? Assume the specs are equal - size, relative condition, maker, price, etc.

h-drix
05-12-2008, 09:01 AM
if all the specs are the same and vintage was kept in decent conditions the vintage should produce a better sound. its just like a very old violin or wine.

tad
05-12-2008, 09:18 AM
I went with new. The vintage uke should be better if it were kept in good condition, but I'm just not that trusting, and since you live near me, I'm assuming you're talking about buying online...

caveat emptor and all that jazz...

deach
05-12-2008, 10:43 AM
A lot of those vintage ukuleles have wooden bridges and nuts. Is this a deterrent to anyone?

h-drix
05-12-2008, 11:36 AM
i dont know about ukes, but ive played a few really old guitars and they seemed just fine. I dont know if they had original nuts/bridge. Cant you replace them on a uke, or is it not as easy?

russ_buss
05-12-2008, 11:52 AM
if the vintage uke had an interesting history or some kind of significance, it would be nice to have as a collectors item. other than that, i'd go with new and then make my own history.;)

also new uke = warranty

NotoriousMOK
05-12-2008, 11:58 AM
Assuming all specs are equal (including price, to a reasonable degree) I'd say vintage all the way. The few that I have played sounded awesome -- one in particular that stands out belongs to a good friend of mine who got it from his grandfather, who played it constantly. It's an old KaLai pineapple made from monkeypod, and that little sucker resonates beautifully. I steal it away from him for a while every time I see him because the sound is so warm and sweet. It was a low-mid priced uke when it was new, but after years of 'breaking in', it has a sound that you just can't get from a new uke.

thejumpingflea
05-12-2008, 12:45 PM
In most cases I'd say new. You cannot beat the sound of a vintage uke, however they are not only more expensive, but can get to be harder to repair and such. If you are planning on playing this one for years to come then get one that you can break in. (Although that is just me, go with whatever you like the most!) :nana:

UkuleleHill
05-12-2008, 01:01 PM
There is nothing like a vintage...

Howlin Hobbit
05-12-2008, 05:18 PM
I think it depends both on what you mean by "builder" and what you mean by "vintage."

If you're talking custom builder I don't know if any of them have been around long enough to have "vintage" examples of their work available.

If you're talking small shop/factory made there's only a few of them that have been around long enough to have vintage models out there as well as still building today.

Plus, how old does it have to be to be called vintage?

I know that if some nice grandma offered me her dear-departed hubby's old Martin Style 0 I'd snag it as fast as I could. I've played a small number of them and they were all beauts.

But my very favorite ukulele is not quite 5 years old yet and I got it new.

deach
05-12-2008, 05:25 PM
I think it depends both on what you mean by "builder" and what you mean by "vintage."

If you're talking custom builder I don't know if any of them have been around long enough to have "vintage" examples of their work available.

If you're talking small shop/factory made there's only a few of them that have been around long enough to have vintage models out there as well as still building today.

Plus, how old does it have to be to be called vintage?

.....

The reason I ask is because I was trying to compare a 70's Kamaka to a newer one.

Howlin Hobbit
05-12-2008, 05:38 PM
The reason I ask is because I was trying to compare a 70's Kamaka to a newer one.

Ah. I've played some Kamakas that just knock yer harbles off and others that were sort of "meh." But that's all awfully subjective.

Alas, if you can't play the vintage one before buying it's sort of a crapshoot. Try to get it from a reputable source that'll let you have a trial period and refund you (less shipping, I'm sure) if you're not happy.

UkuLeLesReggAe
05-12-2008, 06:20 PM
I choose new.. because i don't like 2nd hand stuff to much :D i don't even know what the word vintage means

deach
05-12-2008, 06:26 PM
...

Alas, if you can't play the vintage one before buying it's sort of a crapshoot...

True, the best case scenario is actually playing an instrument before purchasing it.

I think that even new instruments can also be a crapshoot. I watched a friend pick through 6 Fender guitars, same model, before he found one that was just right.

Plus you've read my Oscar Schmidt experience....

GX9901
05-12-2008, 10:21 PM
I chose "new", since I'm a "new" kind of guy (it applies to cars, houses, ukes, etc.). However, if you're specifically comparing old and new Kamaka ukes, I think it really depends on how it sound and plays. In theory the older Kamaka would have a more "opened up" sound, but every uke is pretty much different so it's hard to generalize the difference between old and new. If you can't inspect the ukes in person, the new one is probably a safer buy, since you're never really sure about any issues with the old uke until you have it in hand.

deach
05-13-2008, 01:11 AM
I chose "new", since I'm a "new" kind of guy (it applies to cars, houses, ukes, etc.). ....

Generally I do as well, however, I'd gladly buy a '67 Mustang Convertible before I bought a brand new one.

New ukulele pluses - They make them so pretty now, warranty, better tuners
New "negatives" - Kinda cookie-cutterish

Old pluses - the wood typically has opened up more, has more character
Old negs - older hardware, not sure of the history,

So I'm still undecided.... :confused:

Lanark
05-13-2008, 03:23 AM
Any instrument you can't play before buying is going to be a crapshoot, new or vintage. There are always lemons and subtle variations in the builds, whatever day of the week it was made etc... and what feels and plays right is always subjective.

That said the majority of my guitar equipment is vintage stuff. There's something that always appealed to me about having the very equipment that made the sounds on the records I love. It's all road tested and broken in and I figure if the guitar or pedal can survive 40+ years, it must having something going for it. In terms of musical instruments, "new" is much less a factor for me than it would be for something like a toothbrush. There's also in the back of my mind a bit of cache in having a vintage instrument.


I got my "new" ukulele. Now I'm thinking that I'd like a vintage one to go with it. (my UAS starting to kick in.) I'm sort of fixating on finding a 20's Kumalae soprano. And at some point I'll probably get a banjo uke to complete the triad.


From what I've seen on Ebay and read about Kamakas, it seems that the 70's white label ones seem to command a bit more than the gold labels, for whatever that's worth. I've read that they're "Players instruments". And barring any unforeseen or undisclosed problems you're probably not going to go wrong whichever way you go as far as a Kamaka. They're a reputable maker with a consistent standard of quality new and vintage.

All things equal though, I might lean towards the vintage just in terms of the sound. Problems can be fixed, but you just can't create that lived in resonance.