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View Full Version : Makala Dolphin - plastic back - review



bazmaz
04-27-2010, 11:33 PM
Absolutely thrilled with my new dolphin which will now live with me in the car!

See my full review and pics here. For 25, cant see how people can afford NOT to have one of these in the collection

http://www.gotaukulele.com/2010/04/red-special-arrives-makala-dolphin.html

Skrik
04-28-2010, 03:41 AM
Absolutely thrilled with my new dolphin which will now live with me in the car!

UAS got you kicked out of the house?

SweetWaterBlue
04-28-2010, 04:11 AM
You did a great job on your uke website/blog Paul. I have it bookmarked now. It makes me think I need to build one. Nice Dolphin review too.

bazmaz
04-28-2010, 05:44 AM
you can subscribe to it through google, or subscribe to the RSS feed too!

Vindelanda
04-28-2010, 07:18 AM
That's awesome! Great review! Now I want one, gah. :D But I just bought a Fluke.

bazmaz
04-28-2010, 07:36 AM
Only 25! Couple of cd's!

Vindelanda
04-28-2010, 01:39 PM
Haha, I think I'll make obvious hints about it being a good birthday present to my friends and see what happens. :D
But yeah, seriously, that's only about 10 bucks more than a Mahalo and it looks like it's twice as good.

Skitzic
04-29-2010, 05:02 AM
I heart my Dolphin. It's my go-to picnic uke.

bazmaz
04-29-2010, 11:02 PM
picnic uke! perfect!

luvdat
04-30-2010, 12:23 AM
Great review that once again got me to pick up my own (actually my wife's) Dolphin and play that thing like crazy. For all its praise, it deserves more praise. And I'm ordering another one...

mds725
05-01-2010, 06:27 PM
Great review, Paul. I just got this Makala Dolphin (orange sunburst) from MGM yesterday.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=12308&d=1272774250

It's a great little ukulele. It's going to be my car/beach/picnic/hiking/camping ukulele, but it sounds as good as my other soprano (a Kala laminate signed by Jake Shimabukuro).

cdaviszwo
05-02-2010, 11:17 PM
How do you tell if its the plastic back one?? I like you started out on a Mahalo, they are junk for sure, my two toddlers now beat it around the house and I got myself a OU3 but I wanted a cheap playable Soprano too so this seems like the ticket! Cheers.

bazmaz
05-03-2010, 06:40 AM
Not sure how you check without seeing it in flesh (it's obviously not wood inside) without asking dealer as I did.

Jason Paul
05-03-2010, 07:16 AM
I asked MGM about this a few weeks ago and he said the ones he had in stock had plastic backs.

Jason

luvdat
05-05-2010, 09:47 AM
Follow up: no need to order. Got one today. Had one in stock with the color I wanted: black (metallic)... the Johnny Cash Dolphin...will post pic later....

cdaviszwo
05-05-2010, 10:07 AM
I ordered from Highly Strung this afternoon. :)

bazmaz
05-06-2010, 12:56 AM
question - is it only the plastic backed one that has the curved back? that may be an obvious way to check you are getting the plastic model?

Skitzic
05-06-2010, 09:17 AM
Does the orange look orange or yellow? I like the idea of an orange burst but all the pictures look yellow to me.

kenikas
05-07-2010, 07:50 PM
question - is it only the plastic backed one that has the curved back? that may be an obvious way to check you are getting the plastic model?
We have one of each, my grandaughter's is the purple plastic body and the back is noticably curved while my grandsons redburst is the wood body and the back is absolutely flat. Not sure if they are all like ours, but I'd bet it's a quick way to tell. They are both sweet sounding nice playing uke's, the wood seems a bit more mellow and the plastic a bit brighter, for the price I don't think you can get a better uke.

mds725
05-07-2010, 09:24 PM
Does the orange look orange or yellow? I like the idea of an orange burst but all the pictures look yellow to me.

Mine is more orange than the one in the photo, which I pulled from MGM's eBay listing. I think it may have something to do with flash vs. natural light. On my uke, the part that looks yellow in the photo is more like the color of the orange highlights in the photo, and the highlights on mine are even darker. I'll try to take a photo of mine in natural light and post it if it remotely resembes what the uke looks like in person.

luvdat
05-08-2010, 12:43 AM
I decided I'm not even going to try to get the sparkles in the black Dolphin, but will stop by Home Depot to get those $3 torch welder cleaning tools and slightly lower the action at the nut (a bit sharp at the 3rd fret)...great ukes!!!

bazmaz
05-15-2010, 03:04 AM
Well, since mine arrived I have played it and no other uke- it's brilliant.

Also, my 7month old daughter knocked it off sofa onto wooden floor... Not a mark on it. Resilient little blighter!

ukemonkey
06-24-2010, 05:26 AM
I just got one (sparkly blue) for my daughter- who has been playing a horrible 'blue moon' chinese uke for a few years- I'm a bit jealous, It's very close in sound to my applause soprano (plastic back i guess) which cost 100+. I teach uke to groups of children at school, so I see a lot of mahalo, lazy, ashton and other brands, and I think these makala ukes really are the best around.

ukemonkey
06-24-2010, 05:28 AM
In reply to
cdaviszwo
The plastic bask is rounded, and the wood one is flat (or you can just peep inside!)

Manalishi
06-26-2010, 12:23 AM
I got one two weeks ago and love it to bits! I agree with everything you say about it,and wish I had started with one of these instead of the Mahalo that I actually got at the time! Although I made the Mahalo playable and fair,this one drops all over it,from a great height! Best buy for the money anywhere,especially for starters and newbies! I got the RedBurst one too,but it was the only one,so no problem there!

deepeepee
07-20-2010, 08:51 AM
I have been playing the guitar for many years but am now and always have been a strummer, I have never had the time to learn to play what i would call properly. I enjoy my strumming and find it very relaxing. Recently I decided that I would add a Uke to my collection of guitars ( or dust gatherers as my wife calls them ). Not knowing what to look for and wanting to spend a great deal of money on something that may have been a novelty purchase, I scanned the web and saw some good reviews for the Makala Dolphin as a starter instrument. I popped into town, went to my local cash concepts who sell brand new Dolphins at the rather special price of 19.95. I took my tuner along with me and tried several of the instruments. ( they had the all wood version and the plastic backed version ) I have to say that I preferred the sound given by the plastic version, whether the slight bowl to the back helps, I dont know, but it sounded warmer to me. I used the tuner to check the intonation and even with the cheapo strings on the uke the intonation was pretty near spot on. I took my selection to the counter and the young lady asked her colleague to fetch one from stock. I explained that I wanted the one I had taken from display and not one that I had not actually played, she looked a bit taken aback and said , " but this one does not have a box ". Never mind. I took the instrument home and looked on you tube, picked up a few songs from ukuele Mike had a couple of hours of fun and frustration. Strumming to my hearts content, then tuning and re tuning,There was also a slight fret buzz on the C string but hey it was less than 20..... My daughter got home from school fell in love with the Uke ( she already plays the bass ) so back to cash concepts we went for uke 2. I restrung the uke the next day with aquilas and OMG what a difference the fret buzz has gone and the intonation is absolutely spot on. It is a lovely sounding little Uke great fun and incredible relaxing. I have now ordered a Makala MK C just to have another option. Still am not in a position to spend big money yet. My little dolphin will be cominng away with me this year and I have a feeling that I am going to get a lot of enjoyment out of this tremendous little starter.:cool:

mailman
07-20-2010, 09:10 AM
My granddaughter just received her first uke (a pink Makala dolphin) for her seventh birthday. It was the first chance I got to actually handle one, since reading all the rave reviews.

I must say I was impressed! It must not have come from MGM, as it still had black strings, obviously not Aquilas. Still it sounded great to me. Hers is plastic-backed, and appeared well made and tough as nails. I'm tempted to say that I want one, but I still can't warm up to the dolphin bridge.

Make me the same plastic-backed uke, in similar colors, with a "normal" bridge and in concert size, and I'm in! Kala, are you listening? Kala? I think there's a market, here....

deemster007
07-22-2010, 04:23 AM
OK - sold. Paid next week and the cost is very easy to hide from the wife. Should sit nicely next to the Stagg.

Incidently, I've also got a Vintage VUK15 like pauljmuk. Its restrung with Aquila's but is not the nicest sounding thing. You say that you're "getting there" with it. Any general suggestions to make it sound more like a uke should?

lindydanny
07-22-2010, 04:58 AM
My local shop's string buyer was talking shop with me the other day and told me a guy who owns a shop in Lawrence, Kansas also sells Kala and Makalas. This shop specializes in high end guitars, many of which are either specifically collectors items or customer built. One guitar in particular is priced at $50,000.

The owner told my guy that his shop wouldn't be able to keep open if it wasn't for the Makala ukes he sells there. The sell them as gifts and to regular players. Lawrence is very much a college town so it doesn't surprise me that a smaller instrument that can fit easily into a dorm setting is a hot item. But still, that's a hell of a testament to how good the quality of a relatively low priced instrument.

~DB

arashi_nero
07-22-2010, 07:08 AM
i recently got my son the same red burst dolphin. a friend of mine (at my suggestion) bought the yellow dolphin several months ago from MGM and i was impressed by how good it felt and sounded. when my son's arrived, i tuned it up and obviously let him play first (it's his b-day present, after all). when he was done with it after about 30 mins, i picked it up and played it for over an hour. the MGM setup with the aquila strings is great. i've played another with the stock strings and it sounded nowhere near as good as with the aquila strings. and it's true, for the money, you can't beat this uke!! they're well built and consistent.

byjimini
07-22-2010, 07:23 AM
Going to get a nice bright yellow one (to blend in), if the eBay seller I just emailed confirms that it's plastic backed.

Pity you can't get any with friction tuners, geared heads on a soprano make it so top-heavy.

arashi_nero
07-22-2010, 08:06 AM
i have sopranos with friction and geared. the ones on the dolphin aren't that heavy and it doesn't feel that much more than my other soprano, fwiw. i've played some sopranos that have heavier gears, but these are good and lighter-weight.

RevWill
07-22-2010, 08:12 AM
Dolphins are such a great bang-for-the-buck purchase it's ridiculous.

bazmaz
07-26-2010, 08:56 AM
Totally agree

Gigged with mine again recently - cant believe how well it stood up (it was a boozy do, so didnt want to take the Mainland!)

Thumper
07-26-2010, 09:00 AM
Dolphins are such a great bang-for-the-buck purchase it's ridiculous.

Man, I wish they made them in a concert size. That would be . . . ridonkulous!

steelgtr
07-27-2010, 05:03 AM
Does MGM have the sunburst ones?


bob

Gillian
07-28-2010, 06:14 PM
I just bought a yellow one with bright orange accent for my 7 year old nephew's birthday. It cost me all of $40 (tax included).
I was surprised at how good it sounded! If he picks it up and stays with it, that little Dolphin will be priceless.

steelgtr
07-28-2010, 08:34 PM
I just bought a yellow one with bright orange accent for my 7 year old nephew's birthday. It cost me all of $40 (tax included).
I was surprised at how good it sounded! If he picks it up and stays with it, that little Dolphin will be priceless.

Where? Are you in the south bay?

bob

NikePenguin
07-28-2010, 09:53 PM
Where? Are you in the south bay?

bob

MusicVillage sells them for $32.

deepeepee
07-28-2010, 10:17 PM
As a newbie to Ukes I bought myself a brand new blue plastic ( slightly bowl backed ) dolphin from Cash Concepts in Chemlsford Essex UK. the grand total of 19.99 ( around $32) . They had both wood and plastic backed. I personally preferred the tone of the plastic so went for it, fitted a set of aqulias, hooked up to you tube...ukulele Mike....and TBH I love it. I have since bought myself a concert Makala ( again restrung with aquilas ) which I also love. Then just yesterday as a Summer Holiday project for my daughter ( also now playing the uke ) I picked up another Dolphin from cash concepts, I have sanded the finish leaving a white matt surface, stripped the neck and headstock which I intend to possibly stain then lacquer/varnish. My daughtter is now in the process of putting a Doctor Who themed design on the body of the uke, this will then be painted with acrylics and lacquered. At under 20 this is a cheap summer holiday project that should keep her quiet for a while, Until it gets restrung then the noise will begin again. ( I might put some worths on this one to test different strings ).

steelgtr
07-29-2010, 03:54 AM
MusicVillage sells them for $32.

Thanks

I'll swing by there today.

bob

mm stan
07-29-2010, 04:29 AM
Aloha Paul,
What a cool site, you did a wonderful job!!!I check it out every so often....
Many Thanks, MM Stan..

Gillian
07-29-2010, 07:35 AM
Where? Are you in the south bay?

bob

Yes, I bought it at the Guitar Showcase on Bascom Ave. No Kamakas, Kanilea'as or Koalohas, but they have a good selection of low to mid-price range ukes of all sizes.

bazmaz
07-30-2010, 08:22 AM
Aloha Paul,
What a cool site, you did a wonderful job!!!I check it out every so often....
Many Thanks, MM Stan..


Cheers Stan!!

Gillian
08-08-2010, 02:11 PM
I found a place in the South Bay (San Jose) that sells Dolphins for $30.

C.B Perkins on Winfield Blvd off Blossom Hill. They are primarily a luthier, but also sell a few guitars and cheap ukes.

steelgtr
08-08-2010, 02:53 PM
I found a place in the South Bay (San Jose) that sells Dolphins for $30.

C.B Perkins on Winfield Blvd off Blossom Hill. They are primarily a luthier, but also sell a few guitars and cheap ukes.

I wonder if he sets up each one and puts on Aquilas? LOL

bob

ricksan66
08-08-2010, 03:03 PM
Just ordered one from MGM for my niece. Can't wait to try it out before handing it over to her.

bazmaz
08-14-2010, 06:52 AM
UK dealers I KNOW stock plastic back models (seems silly statement but many I email seem clueless!) are Highly Strung in Wantage and Bonsai guitars

deemster007
09-05-2010, 10:30 AM
My dolphin has arrived and I've restrung it with Aquilas. Sounds great. Sooooo much better than my Vintage VUK15. Wish I'd bought this one first rather than the VUK which quite frankly was gash in comparison even with Aquilas. I went for the red sunburst from Highly Strung of Wantage and got a free string winder. 25 plus 2 postage. Nice low action and the intonation is good all over. Good finish all over although as mentioned before in the thread, its a little messy around the nut and I would have prefered chrome surrounds around where the tuners come through the head rather than cream plastic. Even the wife thinks it looks good and she hates everything I've ever bought for any hobby I've ever had.

A guy I work with said last month he'd take the VUK off me if I didn't want it so I gave it to him for free with a spare set of strings. Hopefully he'll stick with it and we'll have assimilated another. Resistance it futile.

Also had some opportunity to plug the electric Stagg "mini strat" into my real amp (not my hand made smokie) and do some rocking. It appears that my neighbour isn't keen on AC/DC or Cream!

roxhum
09-05-2010, 10:40 AM
UAS got you kicked out of the house?

Thanks for the belly laugh.

deemster007
09-08-2010, 04:35 AM
Can anyone suggest some other strings to try on my Dolphin. The plucking and strumming sound fine but it reallt does seem to amplify the sound of my fingers sliding on the strings and they also seem to "stick" to my left hand finger tips so there is a mini plucking noise when I change chords.

UkuleleHill
09-08-2010, 06:32 AM
Can anyone suggest some other strings to try on my Dolphin. The plucking and strumming sound fine but it reallt does seem to amplify the sound of my fingers sliding on the strings and they also seem to "stick" to my left hand finger tips so there is a mini plucking noise when I change chords.

What do you have on there right now?

deemster007
09-09-2010, 10:29 AM
Aquilas, but they just feel rough to my finger tips. I've Worth Flouros on my Stagg electric and they feel much better but they are reletively expensive ( half the price of the Dolphin).

mailman
09-11-2010, 07:58 AM
Did you factor in the extra length of the Worths? Each string should be long enough to do two ukes....

deemster007
09-11-2010, 12:39 PM
I was carefull with the excess when fitting the Worths buy the Stagg is concert length....so whats left would only fit a pocket uke

strumsilly
09-12-2010, 02:39 AM
I also dislike the squeakiness of aquillas. I put worth clears on mine [about 14 shipped from mgm for 2] and it sounds awesome for a uke under $40.

Huckleberry
09-13-2010, 06:44 PM
Pauljmuk

Thanks for the heads up on the Makala Dolphin. Picked one up today, immediately restrung it with a set of Aquilas, and can't believe the sound from this little plastic toy.
I live in the high desert of Southern California and have to take care with my good Ukuleles because of the dry conditions here. I have them each in their case with humidifier and hygrometer. This plastic (Red) Makala will just lay around where it's handy when I get the urge to strum. I will enjoy it. Thanks again for your commentary.

Huckleberry (Tony)

bazmaz
10-09-2010, 01:48 AM
Great to hear Tony.

No matter how expensive the ukes in your collection are, I really do believe that every player should have a dolphin

pondweed
12-01-2010, 06:19 AM
in UK, ukulelehut.co.uk (part of themusicstop.co.uk) have light blue ones for 20.99 and the postage is only 2.49. I've checked that they are definitely composite ones. Bargain!

Manalishi
12-01-2010, 07:24 AM
Play mine every single day! Still play my others as I feel
like it,but the Dolphin gets a daily workout! Love it to bits!

buddhuu
12-01-2010, 09:09 AM
[...] No matter how expensive the ukes in your collection are, I really do believe that every player should have a dolphin

Wise words! LOLz.

I keep one in my office.

bazmaz
12-14-2010, 11:12 AM
Me too since you posted that word of wisdom!!

J_Tay81
12-15-2010, 01:46 PM
I agree with that!

Manalishi
12-16-2010, 07:36 AM
Just played my first ever ukulele public gig today,took along
two ukuleles, one of my tenors,and....the Makala Dolphin!
Why? 'Cos I knew it would sound good,and it did!!!

DAPuke
12-16-2010, 11:49 AM
Just played my first ever ukulele public gig today,took along
two ukuleles, one of my tenors,and....the Makala Dolphin!
Why? 'Cos I knew it would sound good,and it did!!!Congratulations on your first public gig! I'm glad the Dolphin sounded good, cuz I want one. :)
DAP

pondweed
12-16-2010, 09:32 PM
what are people stringing theirs with? I actually quite like the black strings it comes with (GHS?) now I've lowered the action more. But anxious to find out what others have found best...

Manalishi
12-17-2010, 04:42 AM
Aquila CONCERT gauge for me,on any soprano!

grantus
01-17-2011, 02:43 AM
Ordered a metallic blue dolphin from www.theukehut.co.uk. just after Christmas.

I've been really impressed with it - the photos on the web don't do the metallic finish justice.

I love the way it sounds albeit I don't have anything to compare it with as i'm a beginner and it's my first uke.

Was going to buy a Stagg S80 which would have cost me the best part of 60 but I went for the Dolphin on the back of this thread. Glad I did, thanks Pauljmuk :D

Really enjoying playing with this wee instrument - spending 30-60 minutes a day on it when the family has gone to bed - a good way to unwind and chill out.

P.S. mine has black strings on it (the GHS ones I presume) and I like the feel and sound from them.

Action is very easy on it for a total novice like me. I bought a cheap 5-string banjo last year and found it virtually impossible to fret cleanly due to the high action and narrow fretboard. I was half expecting something similar with this but have been really pleasantly surprised how easy it is to learn on and it hardly ever goes out of tune now it's been tuned two or three times.

Buy one!

I Ukulista
01-17-2011, 04:38 AM
Every one should have a nice Dolphin or a Makala MK-S

strumsilly
01-17-2011, 04:53 AM
what are people stringing theirs with? I actually quite like the black strings it comes with (ghs?) now i've lowered the action more. But anxious to find out what others have found best...

mine sounds great with worth clears

pdxuke
01-17-2011, 04:08 PM
19419

Aquilas + Dolphin from MGM = Happiness!

chum
01-20-2011, 04:32 AM
i am buying the white one from MGM on ebay.. i will draw on it when i am bored.

good idea huh? ; ) it'd be lovely.

caambers
01-30-2011, 02:40 PM
I got a Makala Dolphin at the local Sam Ash. It's a cute little thing, sounds decent and is perfect for carrying around. I knit so I'm thinking about knitting/felting a nicer gig bag for it tho.

hottoddy
02-02-2011, 06:06 PM
I grabbed a pink Dolphin from MGM today for my soon-to-be 6 year old daughter, and a KoAloha for myself. I bet I end up playing the Dolphin just as much! Can't wait - these are our first ukes.

-Todd

mikerr
02-02-2011, 10:46 PM
I bought my green Makala Dolphin a few months ago as a first uke. Even though I have since treated myself to a Kiwaya KTS-4, the Dolphin is still my 'go to' uke.
I check the tuning each morning and it sits out on a stand ready to play.

Mike