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Paul December
04-19-2010, 04:17 AM
Ever play an bad, expensive uke?
A friend brought over his new Koaloha... wow, I was underwhelmed. Buzzed and dead sounding.
I've got to assume this one was the exception and not the norm.
I already feel uncomfortable buying $200-$300 ukes online without playing them first...
...the thought of getting something several times more expensive is really scary if you end up with something like this.

mailman
04-19-2010, 04:22 AM
I wonder if your friends uke had a string problem....old or worn out strings. Or maybe the uke was improperly set up at some time after it left the factory. I can't imagine the Koaloha folks would allow a mediocre uke out of their shop....

GVlog
04-19-2010, 04:25 AM
That's why you want to be covered by either a good warranty from a responsive manufacturer/builder or a good return policy from an honest seller.

That's also why buyers should know their tastes and expectations and develop these as their musical ability matures. What sounds worthy of $1000 to one buyer may not be worth $150 to another.

Paul December
04-19-2010, 04:27 AM
I wonder if your friends uke had a string problem....old or worn out strings. Or maybe the uke was improperly set up at some time after it left the factory. I can't imagine the Koaloha folks would allow a mediocre uke out of their shop....

Sorry, I wasn't clear ....the uke was "new" to him .... it was not a brand "new" uke (though it looked it).

haolejohn
04-19-2010, 04:29 AM
Ever play an bad, expensive uke?
A friend brought over his new Koaloha... wow, I was underwhelmed. Buzzed and dead sounding.
I've got to assume this one was the exception and not the norm.
I already feel uncomfortable buying $200-$300 ukes online without playing them first...
...the thought of getting something several times more expensive is really scary if you end up with something like this.
Paul you have very high expectations of ukuleles:)
Was the uke new or used? I know you said new but was it new to him?
But to be honest it happens. So far, I have been very lucky with all my uke purchases. I have only not been happy with two but it wasn't major disappointment.

haolejohn
04-19-2010, 04:29 AM
Sorry, I wasn't clear ....the uke was "new" to him .... it was not a brand "new" uke (though it looked it).

How old was it? It could have been a string issue or even a weather issue.

cornfedgroove
04-19-2010, 04:31 AM
yeah, that was some used, uncared for uke that needed some TLC. You cant buy a reputation like koaloha, gotta be earned...that is, the Okami family would never let that happen imo

Paul December
04-19-2010, 04:33 AM
That's also why buyers should know their tastes and expectations and develop these as their musical ability matures. What sounds worthy of $1000 to one buyer may not be worth $150 to another.

My friend was a beginner, and it sounded fine to him and he was actually quite happy...
...I'm not sure that makes things any better though. If you pay "x" IMO you deserve to get something that sounds like "x" (or close to it). Manufacturers know what a good uke sounds like, even if a buyer may not.

I'm not actually that interested in what was causing the problem with his uke, but rather people's experiences playing expensive "duds".

haolejohn
04-19-2010, 04:41 AM
My friend was a beginner, and it sounded fine to him and he was actually quite happy...
...I'm not sure that makes things any better though. If you pay "x" IMO you deserve to get something that sounds like "x" (or close to it). Manufacturers know what a good uke sounds like, even if a buyer may not.

I'm not actually that interested in what was causing the problem with his uke, but rather people's experiences playing expensive "duds".
THat is a good point. I have played many expensive "duds" to my ears but then there are many that will rave on these ukes. I was surprised at the price tag on these ukes and I was glad that I never bought one before playing them.

True story:
At one of our SEUkers Java Jams my dad, who is very good musician and guitar player fell in love with a Kala spruce top tenor with a low g. He told me that it was a better sounding instrument than my Mele double puka koa, koaloha sceptre, and my koaloha concert. Three nights later he was in the hospital and I took my wife's long neck koaloha soprano and he thought that it was better sounding than the kala spruce top. He told me he thought it might have been the environment. So the morale of this true story is to each their own:)

GVlog
04-19-2010, 06:00 AM
If you pay "x" IMO you deserve to get something that sounds like "x" (or close to it). Manufacturers know what a good uke sounds like, even if a buyer may not.

If you were buying something like a KORG keyboard then I would absolutely agree.

Unfortunately, that's not how it works in luthiery. The fault lies in that our materials, primarily woods, will always be inconsistent from one piece to the next.

You can follow the plans perfectly. You can carve your necks to precision with a CNC machine. You can graduate a soundboard to exact specifications. Yet, in the end, you have absolutely no guarantee that the resulting instrument will sould as good as your last best one. Classical guitarists who played Segovia's Hauser rave that it truly is an outstanding instrument; but many would agree that neither Hauser nor any of his children have produced an instrument of the same caliber. It's a given that all the knowledge, experience, skills and tools have been preserved in that dynasty and yet they cannot re-build the epitome of their legacy.

The best end comes from a player who knows what he or she is looking for at a price that they want to pay, and from an instrument that fulfills those needs at their price. It often means a lot of searching and requires patience.

For those who haven't yet refined their ears (and all of us probably still are), you can either call in a more experienced player and trust his or her tastes, or your can give yourself time to educate and cultivate your own. The more you listen and the more you play, the better you will get.

Keep in mind too that every ukulele will, to varying degrees, sound different in each player's hands. We all have variations in our technique (attack, power, angle). Some ukes will respond well to these. Some will not.

P.S.: Even the more experienced players will disagree on what constitutes good tonal qualities in an instrument. Classical guitarist John Williams considers the $30,000+ Smallman guitars to be the best instruments he has encountered to date. He also doesn't like Ramirez guitars and referred to them as "orange boxes" in an interview. Yet there are guitarists who think that Ramirez guitars are melodic and that Smallman guitars sound like banjos.

There's no accounting for taste. ;)

Paul December
04-19-2010, 07:23 AM
How old was it? It could have been a string issue or even a weather issue.

Probably could be, but ...
... I was using the word "friend" loosely, so I wasn't able to make many (any) suggestions to him.

luvdat
04-20-2010, 12:07 AM
What's interesting to me is that regularly gigging musicians can "get by" with less expensive instruments...but fewer members of ukulele clubs.

ukantor
04-20-2010, 12:16 AM
For a "enthusiast" it tends to be about the instrument. For a gigging musician, it is all about the music.

But if you pay a premium price for a top quality uke, then that is what you should get. A friend of mine bought a new KoAloha that was below par. They replaced it without question.

JC.

cornfedgroove
04-20-2010, 01:17 AM
those last few statements were on the money

guilty as charged

brickerenator
04-20-2010, 01:30 AM
What's interesting to me is that regularly gigging musicians can "get by" with less expensive instruments...but fewer members of ukulele clubs.

Agreed. Sometimes this place smacks of elitism.

It's just an instrument.

haolejohn
04-20-2010, 02:01 AM
Probably could be, but ...
... I was using the word "friend" loosely, so I wasn't able to make many (any) suggestions to him.

LOL!! Don't you just love those situations?:)

euchre
04-20-2010, 02:17 AM
Agreed. Sometimes this place smacks of elitism.

It's just an instrument.

We'd all be better players if we followed Frank Zappa's advice. To paraphrase: "Shut up and play yer [uke]." Btw, I don't practice what I preach, nor do I practice nearly enough.