PDA

View Full Version : Shopping for a soprano



Lanark
05-31-2008, 07:18 AM
I've been continuing to entertain the notion of getting a working soprano after the Supertone learning experience. (still looking like a wall hanger)

I've been looking up to about the $300 range. (give or take) Besides some of the usual suspects (you know the ones. and those Koalanas are really tempting....)
there are a few other HI makers that have piqued my interest, but I haven't been able to find much info on real world experience with their instruments.

First is Kelii.
I know they're behind the Koa Pili Koko, but I'm interested in their own Hawaiian made stuff. (Seems to be kind of scarce right now too.)

Next is Tangi (http://www.tangiukuleles.net/)
I know MGM usually carries his stuff (which is a kind of recommendation in itself) and the violin shape is really kind of cool

and third is Mele (http://www.meleukulele.com/).
He's got a couple very reasonably priced sopranos that look kind of interesting. a "Jumbo" koa soprano (slightly larger and deeper than average body) and a mahogany "vintage" style soprano with some nice binding. Some assembly seems to be done elsewhere and then instruments get finished in Hawaii. but really cheap for solid woods...

Anybody familiar with these? Played one or two in a store once? Think about D&D every time you say "Mele" out loud? (that could be just me and my +6 mace of flame though.)

thanks

h-drix
05-31-2008, 07:53 AM
thanks for starting this thread, i too am looking for a uke, and decided to increase my budget to $300-350. the mele's look nice, but i really dont trust buying before i buy.

GX9901
05-31-2008, 08:40 AM
I've had limited experience with all three brands (Kelii, Mele, Tangi) during a trip to Oahu in January. Here's what I think of each based on my experience and what I've gathered from reading online forums:

-Kelii: At the same level as other Hawaiian makers but at a lower price point. I've only tried one Kelii (it was a concert), and it was pretty nice. I'd say it's in the same league as Kamaka, etc. I've read nothing but positive stuff about Kelii ukes.

-Tangi: Tried a few in Oahu (I think they were tenors) and I was not impressed at all. The Kalas with a solid spruce top were pretty much all better sounding to me. Not a lot of info online about Tangis, so I'd say take a pass at those.

-Mele: I tried a couple of lower end Mele in Oahu (can't remember the size) and didn't think much of it. However, I've read very positive reports about these having great sound. There is one guy on Fleamarket Music forum that loves Meles for sound & playability. However, he does not recommend them because he says everyone he knows with a Mele, including himself, has had cracking issues. Being in MN, it's probably not a good risk to take on.

So, of the 3 brands mentioned here, Kelii is the no-brainer to me. Another brand to consider is Honu. Or, if you can stretch the budget, Kiwaya sopranos are getting rave reviews from their owners.

brokenwing
05-31-2008, 08:46 AM
Another vote for the Kiwaya. For a little more money, the KTS-4 looks like a smart buy. I personally love the minimalist vintage Martin design, but she is kind of "plain." $420 from MGM.

Lanark
05-31-2008, 11:15 AM
the Kiwaya gets a little pricey for me and then when you add in the shipping... A bit more than I'm ready to invest at the moment.

But nobody seems to have Kelii sopranos right now. Seem like every other size but that and the UAS is strong this week...

the Honu seems alright, but I'm kind of turned off by all the abalone purfling on the one soprano in Ebay currently.
I likes me the plain and simple. If it doesn't improve sound and playability I'm not so interested and the abalone is a bit much for my tastes.

Tangi's not that far from the In-laws in Pearl City if I remember right, so maybe I'll wait until I can try a few next time we're there.

That Mele Jumbo is still intriguing the hell out of me though. I haven't had much problem with any of my other instruments over the years. I'm still leaning towards that even with the warning in mind.

Another one that pops up is Sprucehouse (http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZwn109).
The one he's got up there with the Redwood top is just breathtaking. But once again, it's kind of a gamble. (like the woman who sells her ukes under the Ebay handle imakeukuleles)

bsting
05-31-2008, 12:08 PM
haha yeah, i just bought mgm's last kelii soprano. i chose it because i wanted something koa and made in hawai'i, despite the fact that it seems to be hard to find any thoughts on this model specifically. seems better priced than the comparable ukes by koaloha and kamaka, and i'm hoping just as well made (not that i've ever played either of the latter two). hopefully it works out for me!

it should arrive in a few days, i'll post my thoughts then!

h-drix
05-31-2008, 12:22 PM
thanks for the info guys, these are all ukes to add to my list for when i go down to richmond to visit the ukulele shop.

what do you know about the Kiwaya KS-5 or the KS-7?

dave g
05-31-2008, 04:47 PM
Not as much money as you wanted to spend, but these two are both nice:

http://www.wsukes.com/33/u33.html

http://www.wsukes.com/44/u44.html

Plainsong
05-31-2008, 06:46 PM
I'd also like to give a shout out to the solid koa topped Flea. I've got one with a concert neck, and it's a special kind of animal.

Howlin Hobbit
05-31-2008, 10:11 PM
Take a peek at Ohana ukes.

I've only played the sopranino, but if they make that tiny thing so well I'd risk a soprano from them with no second thoughts.

Ask MGM about them. He has more experience with them and wouldn't lie to you just to make a sale. It's a win-win.

UkuLeLesReggAe
05-31-2008, 11:52 PM
http://bavasmusic.com.au/store/images/images_big/Mahalo_Ukulele.jpg

Soprano's?? Go with these beautiful mahalo's ...
anybody can school these lol

Gaby
06-01-2008, 04:46 AM
thanks for the info guys, these are all ukes to add to my list for when i go down to richmond to visit the ukulele shop.

what do you know about the Kiwaya KS-5 or the KS-7?

Kiwaya makes some of the finest ukes around. The KS-7, if you can afford it, is stunning, superlight, and very nice to play. I love the necks on these ukes! They cost a bit more than $350 though!


Take a peek at Ohana ukes.

I've only played the sopranino, but if they make that tiny thing so well I'd risk a soprano from them with no second thoughts.

Ask MGM about them. He has more experience with them and wouldn't lie to you just to make a sale. It's a win-win.

I agree, we sell Ohana at my shop and I reckon they make some of the nicest budget priced ukes. Their tone is amazing - especially considering the price. You won't be disappointed by any of their sopranos, particularly the all-solid mahogany ukes and Vita ukes which are a bargain (even their all-ply model is superior to many others in the market place if you ask me)! Read 14twelve's review of the uke she bought at our shop (SK-35). Many customers who have far more expensive ukes than these have told me that their Ohana uke has become their 'daily player', because of the playability and tone.

Fleas and Flukes are also highly recommended in this price bracket. They're cool, durable and sound great!

Any questions regarding these ukes, or if you need comparisons, just message me.

Good luck with making a decision!

UKISOCIETY
06-02-2008, 05:18 AM
Take a peek at Ohana ukes.

I've only played the sopranino, but if they make that tiny thing so well I'd risk a soprano from them with no second thoughts.

Ask MGM about them. He has more experience with them and wouldn't lie to you just to make a sale. It's a win-win.

I second HH's opinion. I now own the Ohana sopranino and the soprano with the tenor neck (really, it's a tenor uke with soprano body). I'm amazed at both the quality and the quantity of sound that comes from them. Ohana is tops on my list of affordable ukuleles.

salukulady
06-02-2008, 05:36 AM
My first 3 ukes are Ohana's. Very happy with all of them. When I started I just went with the recommendation of Shirley at Island Bazaar in Huntington Beach, CA. Didn't know you guys yet. The models I have are SK-25, CK-10 and TK-30, so mine are all on the less expensive end. I have played around with the higher end Ohana's at Island Bazaar and they really make a novice like me sound better.

h-drix
06-02-2008, 12:03 PM
question: how much are Gstring ukes, at Hawaii music supply the list price is $480, i cant find anything on ebay, so im guessing the real price would be about $400-450. Yes, that is about $200 more then $300 (once you factor in anything custom), but i figure one option is get a really nice uke and never have to upgrade down the line (unless i want a different size).

what are all of your thoughts on the gstring company? does anyone own their standard uke, how is costumer service, any other thoughts?

again i doubt ill buy anything till after summer, so i do have a LONG time to shop around, and who knows i might play some random uke thats 200$ and fall in love. its all fair game right now.

GX9901
06-02-2008, 12:33 PM
In regards to G-String, I had one with the honu laser tatoo. It was an outstanding uke. I sold it when I temporarily gave up sopranos. It sounded great and was very resonant. It felt like a little motor was inside pumping out sound while you strummed.

Based on what I've seen, they pretty much sell for very close to the MSRP. The few that MGM have for sale once in a while seem to be at most $50 off the list price. My G-String soprano was $500 from MGM and it had a list price of $540 (as far as I know. Their website doesn't tell you MSRP).

G-String ukes are outstanding and in my opinion belongs at the top echelon of production ukulele builders. From personal experience, I'd take a G-String concert over a KoAloha concert, which is the gold standard in Hawaiian made ukuleles.

cMejilla
06-02-2008, 08:09 PM
if you're looking for a soprano with some extra frets, kala makes a long neck soprano.

http://www.besthawaiianukulele.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=241

there are other places that sold it for cheaper but i lost the links for them. i'm gunna find them again and i'll post them back up here for everyone else to price shop.

====

ukes.com has it as well in the kala section.

Support the UU Forums by clicking on the Bounty Music advertisement on the front. If you're having trouble finding it specifically, the link to the long-neck kala is below.

http://www.ukes.com/kala-ukuleles.html

bsting
06-02-2008, 08:47 PM
So...Now that I've actually received my Kelii soprano....I highly recommend it! It's only 300, sounds great, solid Koa and made in Hawai'i. So, if you can find one, it's a great buy. I haven't really played much else though, so perhaps it's not a very fair recommendation.

Uke Republic
01-26-2009, 09:48 AM
Big Island soprano made of solid koa. They are well made and they even sound good, Chek-m-out

Lanark
01-26-2009, 10:45 AM
Wow, blast from the UAS past.... I ended up that time with the Kelii, which I gotta say was a good buy for the money. Bright and loud. Sounds really good tuned to ADF#B. No regrets.