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View Full Version : What do you know/think about these brands?



Mim
06-18-2010, 05:53 PM
Hey guys!

I am at NAMM!

L-O-V-I-N-G IT!!!

Immersed in music and instruments! It did lead to a roaring migrane today (SENSORY OVERLOAD and forgot to eat lunch... stupid me... and caused me to miss my John Sebastian show I was going to tonight... sigh)

Back to the point:

Checking out lots and lots of ukuleles and the options are endless!
Found a great resonator uke to carry and a affordable banjolele... woot woot!

Looking at a bunch of models. I would like to have some good variety. It is VERY loud in there and it is hard for me to hear tone. So, I am wondering if you guys have any opinions, experience with, or pre-judices (good and bad, even hear-say) about some of these different brands of Ukuleles that I am thinking about...

Koloa - my impression... pretty pretty... quality construction... could not hear them play... bass playing on one side, drums on the other

Riptide by Boulder Breek - Different and Unique, but would you be tempted to buy one (not saying you have to buy one, but if you saw one would you be intrigued?)
http://www.bouldercreekguitars.com/uk_index.html

Morgon Monroe Banjoleles - Seem like an affordable alternative, a lower price point, not the flamed wood, but affordable

Makai

Cordoba

Recording King Resonator Ukuleles - Ok... fancy, tempting. Same problem as the Koloa... loud... you can get the shiny or matte finish. I think the matte is great for those who leave fingerprints. Like me!

Thanks for letting my pick your brain. I knew the best research I could do is here since I do not have much time to scour the internet for reviews (I have limited internet and a packed schedule)

The comments can even be as simple as "Heard such and such sucks/is great/sounds good"

I would have done my homework more if I had known the amount of ukes I would run into. It is overwhelming... maybe not so much tomorrow though now that I have BC headache powders. Caffine and asprin... ahhh!!!

I also have been able to see Eleukes, Eleukes, and More Eleukes! I took pictures... I will do a thread about it soon!

mythidiot
06-18-2010, 06:28 PM
I'm excited for affordable banjoleles!

Chris Tarman
06-18-2010, 06:37 PM
I saw the Morgan Monroe banjoleles online a few weeks ago and was very curious as to how they were. I thought they LOOKED nice. The only banjolele I've played was a Goldtone, which I thought was nice, but a bit more than I would be comfortable spending at this point. So, yeah, it would be great to have a less-expensive alternative. Please let us know if you start to carry them! Or at least let us know if they're decent at all.

UncleElvis
06-18-2010, 06:43 PM
Nope. I wouldn't be interested in an affordable banjolele... nope... not one bit...

(DARNIT, WOMAN! Yer trying to kill me! I WANT!)

StereoJoker
06-18-2010, 07:27 PM
I know the Riptides sound pretty nice for the price, and they're really loud for laminates, thanks to the side hole design, so some folks might like that a lot. I'm really particular about size and aesthetics, so I probably wouldn't run out and get one right away, but if you were looking to stock variety, it might be worth looking at. Deach did a great review (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-tGsLU1OeM) on one of the electric models (my experience is limited, so I'm no help in that department).

I've heard a Morgan Monroe banjo, and it sounded really deep, which I like, so if they could translate that kind of tone to a banjolele that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg, it would jump at the top of my wishlist.

I know Cordobas are made by a Portuguese guitar company. They're really sweet-sounding ukes, and if I hadn't been so eager to grab a cheaply-priced factory-second soprano a couple years ago, I would've made one of these my first. I've heard good things about Cordobas, even if it hasn't been all that much.

kenikas
06-18-2010, 08:01 PM
I'm excited for affordable banjoleles!

ME TOO!...ME TOO!
As far as the others, the only one I've played is the Makai. I got one of their solid spruce top tenors a while back and am quite impressed, it's a nice playing good sounding uke for the money. I've heard they are made in the same Chinese factory as some Ohana's, don't know for sure, but it seems to be well made.

beergeek
06-18-2010, 11:30 PM
I don't know anything about their ukes but Recording King makes quality guitars.

Parlor Picker
06-18-2010, 11:38 PM
I tried a Recording King all-metal resophonic concert ukulele in our local guitar shop. It had been in the sun in the window, which left it sounding dreadful. There were horrendous buzzing noises coming from the cone area. I think it improved once it cooled down, but I didn't hang around to find out. As mentioned above, they apparently make some fine guitars.

Mim
06-19-2010, 01:36 AM
You guys are my heros! Awesome information!

I am going to walk to show one more time today and get another good look at everything and then finalize orders and what-not tomorrow... me and my BC Headache powders. I get a migrane maybe once a year, and this one was the worst ever. I am getting old.

Back to the point: I am also going to take some video sometime and pictures. I am sort of a wus when it comes to playing in front of people! In my shop I play in front of people all day, but at NAMM it is crawling with AMAZING artists and as crazy outgoing as I am, I sort of clam up! But I am goint to just get over myself, take some of these down, and give them a good playin' and hopefully hear what I can hear!

So, please keep the information coming! I will be able to read it hopefully once mid day and then devote a lot of time to deciding things tonight.

Pippin
06-19-2010, 01:40 AM
Cordoba ukes are rugged, over-built, under-achievers from what I have seen and heard, except one... the solid mahogany tenor with cutaway and pickup that Guitar Center is selling in-store at $199 is the best ukulele they make. It is still rugged, but loud enough to be heard, plays well, and the pickup is great.

RevWill
06-19-2010, 02:13 AM
If you're looking to expand your sales line, I'd take a closer look at the reso-ukes and banjo ukes. Ohana offers a quite complete line of traditional-to-somewhat-progressive ukes, and you already carry them. I agree with Pippin, the $199 Cordoba Tenor seems like a nice-for-the-price workhorse and is the nicest-sounding uke I've played at Guitar Center. Yes, I would be intrigued by the Riptides. Makai seems very, very similar (cough, cough) to the Ohanas you already carry.

UKISOCIETY
06-19-2010, 02:14 AM
Makai = Ohana. They have many similar models and are made in the same factory.

RevWill
06-19-2010, 02:28 AM
Makai = Ohana. They have many similar models and are made in the same factory.

That's what I was hinting at, but I am at the "by all appearances" stage rather than the "I have documented evidence" stage of knowledge. It appears that lots of very nice ukes come out of that factory.

UncleElvis
06-19-2010, 02:53 AM
And get some earplugs, Mim, for walking around Namm. I KNOW there's someone there that sells them.
It might help with the headache. Plus it's never a bad thing to protect your ears from loudness.

delichimp
06-19-2010, 02:54 AM
Riptide does make solid top ukes- this is at the top of my wish list:

http://www.bouldercreekguitars.com/uk_ECUT-2V-Tenor.html

mm stan
06-19-2010, 03:39 AM
Aloha MIM,
Thanks for sharing your views and pics of the Namm show, of all the ukes mentioned the
ones that caught my eye was the boulder creek, Rip Tide. I think they may be testing the market
for intrest. I guess they're trying to see if there is intrest in these innovated ukes made usually
made by custom makers. What was your impression of craftsmanship, sound quality, and
price??? Do you think or know if they are made in the U.S.?(you never know)Sometimes
New brands could be flashy but trashy. I'd let others buy them first and wait for their comments.
I just can't wait for your updates, sorry to hear about your migranes and hope you're feeling
better today. Appriciate it very much, Many, Many thanks..... MM Stan...

mailman
06-19-2010, 03:44 AM
The only one of those I have personal experience with is the Riptide. I had seen them online, and was surprised to find one at a local store. I took the opportunity to try it out.

My initial impression (before playing) was so-so. It is an unusual looking uke, and that put me off a bit. Curiosity got the better of me, though, and I took it down to try it.

I was very pleasantly surprised. It played as smooth as silk, and sounded wonderful to me.

That being said, I guess the question is whether or not I would buy one....
I think at this point I would have to say no. I still have too much of an issue with how the uke looks.

I hope this helps....

Sambient
06-19-2010, 04:04 AM
The Cordobas in my local Sam Ash had unfortunately bad tuners so I don't yet have a good impression of them.
I echo the Makai/Ohana comparisions. They're good and even more affordable. I think these can make fantastic first ukes for someone who's interested in something lovely. The only reason I sold my Makai 50W was that it was intimidatingly pretty. Who knew I could be shy around instruments that are too pretty? But that attractiveness and the price point can make these very inviting. Also, like Ohanas and Eleukes, not everyone is carrying these so you get to be a source, a go-to.
Only banjole I've crossed paths with was the Goldtone, and that is because I happened to be in 8th Street Music when the rep was there. We got on like a house on fire and he was easily encouraged to take his back out of the case and demo. Extremely impressive. I looked at the Goldtone ukes in the catalog while I was there and they seem to be another company that is interested in making Martin clones that are a touch more affordable.
I find Riptides intriguing but they fail to be left handed friendly with their sound port placing so I snub them. I will reconsider when they come out with a left handed model.
The Resonator Kings seem to turn up used on ebay with enough frequency. I find myself questioning that.
I am extremely envious that you get to attend NAMM. I'd get pretty giddy/overwhelmed myself.

darkwater
06-19-2010, 04:31 AM
I own a Recording King concert reso that I like a lot. I find it a bit harsh for strumming but it's my go to instrument for bluesy fingerpicking. There were two in the store when I got mine but the other one didn't sound nearly as good. It was kind of tin can-ish.
I tried several Cordobas when I was looking for a soprano with rope binding. The ones I played were very pretty, heavily braced and very quiet. There were cheaper Lanikais in the store that sounded better to my ears.
Just my .02.

spots
06-19-2010, 04:33 AM
I tried a Resonator King at a local shop and wasn't terribly impressed. It was more that I didn't like the way it felt. Hard to describe other than it just didn't sit well in the hands.

Mim
06-19-2010, 08:16 AM
You guys rock!!!

Ok... ordered some Morgan Monroe Banjo Ukes... one of each model they carry in fact! So if you want one... reserve now because I only have one of each ;) Haha! They will be in sometime around October. Perfect for Christmas... haha! So excited about these! I stood there strumming on one and it is love... love the sound, love the look... hate that I should not keep it. Plus I got a bunch of TuneTech clip ons on order, which I am excited about! They come with a display. I have some, but no display... horray for a display!

Hmmm... what else to tell you about...

Oh... met Cigar Box Papa... got to see his Cigar Boxes... sah-weeeeeettt! And they can be customized, and they are beautiful, and they are just awesome! And seriously guys.... GET ONE FROM HIM! Nice guy! Awesome ukes! If you are the type that has to have 1 of every kind of uke, get your cigar box from Papa's Boxes! I may make an Aloha Snow Cigar Box design! Woot woot! Seriously folks... somehow I missed his booth the first go round. What was wrong with me? Oh yeah, headache... but awesome stuff! I took tons of pictures and may go back and take some video.

I met ukeeku... yes, I am terrible with names and forgot his real "non-uke" name... but... what a great guy, a wealth of information, and an awesome ukulele reviewer and advocate. He is seriously a mover and shaker and he is all over the floor soaking up the best of the ukes at Namm, so look for some more info from him: http://ukeeku.com

I have gotten multiple "hints" on the Makai and Ohana correlation. Having a hard time getting ahold of the Ohanas. Next stop when I get back (I am eatling lunch... no headaches for me today), I am stopping my Makai again and Riptide. Gonna go into the Riptide soundbooth minus headache and gonna give it a good listen!

I also want to do a video of each booth, but I am hesitant because I am afraid you would not be able to hear anything I am saying! But I shall try! Especially the Eleukes... oh Eleuke, how I love thee...

I am taking lots of pics and when I get back I will share some of the Ukulele highlights!!! Will be checking in again tonight!

luvdat
06-19-2010, 11:59 AM
Hard to get a hold of Ohanas? Hard to crank out Ohanas and Makais at the same time!!!

RevWill
06-19-2010, 12:34 PM
Something about this Makai bothers me.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=8886&d=1263501213

.... like using another brand's trademark look.

LoMa
06-19-2010, 01:07 PM
Cordoba's seem to be very mellow and quiet ukes in my experience. I don;t much like them.

Recording King's are great inexpesnive reso ukes with great tone because the brass bodies. Really really good! But they don;t sound like a reso guitar because of the nylon strings vs steel strings - they jus tkinda remind you of a reso guitar. I like the champagne matter finish. Ant eh case they come in is an excellent case!

Makai - very loud and bright tone. Very responsive and resonant instruments - they appear to be Ohana clones, which is a good thing in my opinion. I have the all solid figured maple model that is totally cool. I also like Ohana's a lot.

Don;t know about the other brands. Don't really like the looks of the Riptide to be honest. Never heard them though. If they sounded really good for the money, I might consider t, but kinda doubt it.

haolejohn
06-19-2010, 02:00 PM
ME TOO!...ME TOO!
As far as the others, the only one I've played is the Makai. I got one of their solid spruce top tenors a while back and am quite impressed, it's a nice playing good sounding uke for the money. I've heard they are made in the same Chinese factory as some Ohana's, don't know for sure, but it seems to be well made.

That is true. Makais are or were madein the same factories as ohanas (at least i think they were, it's been awhile since i got the scoop on these).

The riptide ukes are very nice. I almost got one once but decided to wait until they were out for a little longer(not getting one now b/c my tastes have shifted)

Cordoba-Never liked them. They advertise as solid koa when they are actualkly acacia. I'll never buy one b/c of this (this was 4 years ago btw).

koloa- a lot of people bash this com;pany and recommend dolphins over the koloa. I have only played one and I thought it was well made and sounded pretty good for a intro uke.

The maikai ukes are a very well kept secret. just as good as Kala was a year ago. doesn't have the variety of kala and the rest of the imports but every one I've played sounded pretty decent to me.

affordable banjolele=happiness. I got my eye on one of these new mainland banjoleles once they come out but I'd be interested in hearing an affordable one now.

Sometimes it is a curse being loyal to a select few companies.

haolejohn
06-19-2010, 02:01 PM
Something about this Makai bothers me.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=8886&d=1263501213

.... like using another brand's trademark look.

maybe but remember that the rope binding has been around for a long time. Mele was doing it 8 years ago and some of the older hawaiian companies were doing it hundred years ago. and china has different laws than america. just saying.

Skitzic
06-19-2010, 02:11 PM
The Cordoba I have is a solid little uke. It is a bit quiet unplugged, but plugged in the thing really shines. They appear to have quality control issues (all the ones I saw in GC has some cosmetic flaws, some more than others and the one I ordered online had to be replaced because the there were huge chunks missing out of the fret board) but I really like it. It's a good uke for dragging to open mics and jam sessions where you need an amp.

perep
06-19-2010, 02:18 PM
MIM
I am anxious to see the photos & remarks on the Eleukes, and may some others-enjoy

haolejohn
06-19-2010, 02:35 PM
Aloha MIM,
Thanks for sharing your views and pics of the Namm show, of all the ukes mentioned the
ones that caught my eye was the boulder creek, Rip Tide. I think they may be testing the market
for intrest. I guess they're trying to see if there is intrest in these innovated ukes made usually
made by custom makers. What was your impression of craftsmanship, sound quality, and
price??? Do you think or know if they are made in the U.S.?(you never know)Sometimes
New brands could be flashy but trashy. I'd let others buy them first and wait for their comments.
I just can't wait for your updates, sorry to hear about your migranes and hope you're feeling
better today. Appriciate it very much, Many, Many thanks..... MM Stan...

the riptides have been around for awhile now. close to a year maybe? maybe 6 months or so? I know MGM ordered a bunch of them when the first came out and ukerepublic order some as well. They are well built and sound nice. the soundhole on top makes playing with peeps nice b/c the sound projects right up to you. I think they are made in china.

Mim
06-21-2010, 11:17 AM
Something about this Makai bothers me.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=8886&d=1263501213

.... like using another brand's trademark look.

In talking to them, they said they are trying to capture the most classic Hawaiian uke possible. It is all solid mango. They are pretty things. There really was no hint to them trying to copy someone else's uke. More of trying to capture more of the origional uke look. They have plans to try to do an even more "throw back" uke! I hope they can do it. It sounds like it would be amazing!

kenikas
06-21-2010, 11:48 AM
In talking to them, they said they are trying to capture the most classic Hawaiian uke possible. It is all solid mango. They are pretty things. There really was no hint to them trying to copy someone else's uke. More of trying to capture more of the origional uke look. They have plans to try to do an even more "throw back" uke! I hope they can do it. It sounds like it would be amazing!

I could be wrong, but I remember hearing or reading somewhere awhile back that at least some of the Mainland's were made in the same factory as Ohana (and Makai) so that may also be a link with the rope binding.

angelopb
06-21-2010, 11:59 AM
I would check out the riptides and boulder creek acoustic bass guitars. These have a pretty rad bracing system which use aluminum tone bars, the theory being it vibrates more. But I would like to see if the acoustic bass guitar (AMB) thumps acoustically. SO try to chek out that one if you can. There may be other reasosns why they are louder besides the funny holes. :)