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NatalieS
07-20-2010, 04:40 AM
I need recommendations for a soprano worth saving up for. I love my Lanikai LK-1s but for a while I've been wanting to get a high-end soprano. If I could choose any uke, it'd be a custom Glyph (koa or mango) with some sort of fish inlay in the headstock, but I know that Dave Means is taking a break from building right now.

I really love the old Martin 3M, but seeing as how one costs more than my health insurance, I've been thinking about the Kiwaya KTS-7. Don't get me wrong, $1100 is still reeeeally expensive to me, but I'm looking for an instrument that can last me a lifetime. And I'm planning to save up from now until Christmas.

Does anyone have any recommendations, such as custom builders who make a particularly spectacular soprano, or unique models made by commonly known brands? I'd love to hear your suggestions, thanks!

UKISOCIETY
07-20-2010, 04:45 AM
I own a lot of ukes (surprise!) but if I had to winnow them down to one uke, it'd be my vintage Martin Style 0. It's from the 1960's I believe and is simply amazing. Light yet sturdy, it has a thrilling "crunch" sound to it when strummed. You'll probably be able to find a Style 0 for $400 - 500. Check consignments at guitar stores. That's where I found mine.

You truly can't do any better in sound, IMHO.

NatalieS
07-20-2010, 05:01 AM
Thanks for the recommendation, Alan. I've never seen a vintage Martin in person, but they've long fascinated me in pictures and on YouTube. My weakness (please don't shoot!) is for a more decorated uke. I'm not saying there's anything dull about the style O, by any means, but I tend to gravitate towards ukes with binding, purfling, etc. Maybe if I saw a Martin in person, this would change my viewpoint. :-)

UKISOCIETY
07-20-2010, 05:05 AM
Okay, I'm not the one to recommend anything to you. I'm all about the sound. Style 0s are elegantly crafted, but not much to look at.

RyanMFT
07-20-2010, 05:15 AM
Check out Peter Hurney and his custom built Pohaku ukes. I know he is across the country from where you live, but I have played a couple of his ukes, and they look and sound amazing! He does all custom builds and I hear he is pretty reasonable on price considering he builds everything custom. I think he is one of the most underrated custom builders out there. If I were going to get a custom uke, I would go to him.....or Chuck Moore at Morre Bettah!

Here is the Pohaku website. Check out the ukes he has built already!
http://www.pohakuukulele.com/

haole
07-20-2010, 05:46 AM
I really like the Kamaka deluxe soprano (http://www.kamakahawaii.com/img/instruments/hf1d.jpg). Super classy.

Chuck Moore could definitely build you exactly what you want, with the inlay you want. It'll probably be $2000, but totally worth it.

Mya-Mo and Maui Music both make great sopranos in koa or mango, and even the standard models are distinctive-looking.

I'm also impressed by Mike Pereira's ukes, especially after seeing pictures of jehicks87's custom on the way. MP is also among the most affordable custom builders. I've never played one of his ukes but the general consensus is that they're fantastic and a great value.

Uke Republic
07-20-2010, 06:08 AM
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=13925[/URL]

dnewton2
07-20-2010, 06:11 AM
Chuck Moore could definitely build you exactly what you want, with the inlay you want. It'll probably be $2000, but totally worth it.


If you got one of his NSB soprano ukes it would be $1550, it would sound amazing and still a really pretty uke to look at. Then you could add on a few special touches, might get closer to $2000. My vote will always be a Moore Bettah if you can swing it.

I have wanted a nice Kamaka Pineapple for some time now. Since they created that shape.

You could see what Shawn over at ukulelefriend.com has around, he gets a bunch of ukes from good builders on the islands.

jehicks87
07-20-2010, 06:55 AM
MP does great work, but I haven't played a soprano. The Jumping Flea has one, so you might check with him.

Boat paddle ukes, DaSilva, and others come to mind as well.

Jake

ambrose
07-20-2010, 07:17 AM
There are a few nice ukes at fleamarket. William King would be my choice, or the vintage koa Martin Style 1.

LoMa
07-20-2010, 07:39 AM
LoPrinzi's are nice and reasonably priced. I've liked or loved every LoPrinzi I've ever played except for one - and I've played a lot of them. If I was having one custom made, I'd ask them to make one with a small size body like a vintage Martin body. LoPrinzi's like these are very powerful instruments with lots of resonance in my experience.
I especailly like their spruce top ukes. I also like their gloss finishes a lot.

Anyway, real nice ukes!

Yes, if I were having a soprano custom made, I'd get a LoPrinzi... or maybe a Zimnicki... never playe one of those, but I'm curious about 'em.

By the way, do your like string tension high or low? I've noted that Pohaku's and DaSilva sopranos have quite a high string tension in spite of having low action, whihc can make them a little harder to play than other ukes if you're not used to it. Just something to be aware of when ordering a uke is to ask about string tension, not just the action! LoPrinzi's tend to have a relatively low string tension, and Ernest Instruments seem to have a medium string tension, in my experience.

jehicks87
07-20-2010, 08:03 AM
I just wanted to say, I forgot to mention Chuck Moore of Moore Bettah. He does OUTSTANDING work. Also, I have heard many good things about LoPrinzi sopranos.

guitharsis
07-20-2010, 12:13 PM
Nice G String soprano at NC Ukulele Academy www.alohau.com Great looking/sounding custom Kanilea at Bernunzio's www.bernunzio.com

Lots of choices. It's whatever looks good and sounds geat to you.

Gipserio
07-20-2010, 12:17 PM
I'd like to second LoMa, Loprinzi ukes are absolutely amazing, and cost less than any other stuff in their league. I've got a spruce top soprano and it is so comfortable to play and has amazing projection.

Gipserio
07-20-2010, 12:23 PM
... though since i have, and love, a loprinzi, my dream uke is a Da Silva Santos reproduction like john king had.

NatalieS
07-20-2010, 02:19 PM
Holy cow, I have a lot of ukes to research! You guys are awesome :-)

I think Moore Bettah is the penultimate uke, but I don't think I could justify the cost. Maybe something more like $800-1000. And it's going to take a looong time to save up. I've been a student forever, it seems. :-)

The William King sopranos I've seen on FMM are absolutely gorgeous. I love the bridge pins!

Uncle-Taco
07-20-2010, 04:55 PM
When I looked at the thread title I was thinking Kiwaya KTS-7, too, but then I have been heavily UAS haunted by one of those for quite some time now. Having read the whole thread, I am still thinking that (someday...someday...), but I would love to play anything that has been suggested, too.

EDW
07-20-2010, 06:20 PM
Myamoe instruments are available at a good price.

peterp
07-20-2010, 06:43 PM
scott wise makes a soprano maybe worth checking out. i've not played one, but i've heard good things about them. the music emporium (boston) has one. i was on the lookout for a good soprano too, but i had a chance to buy a moore bettah concert a few months ago, and now i've lost interest in everything else... including playing guitar and going to work. chuck moore makes a "style 1" soprano that looks really nice w/14 frets clear.

clayton56
07-20-2010, 10:15 PM
If you check out the Loprinzi site, it's a great eye-candy experience to see all the possible variations. I think they would be the best value in a uke with a lot of bling. You can get quite a bit for $1200! I have a plain mahogany soprano, it has a great deal of punch to the sound. Sounds best with genuine gut strings.

Still, my favorite would be Ko'olau. Their model 100 would be in your price range (model 1 is what I have, but it's plain), and has an abalone rosette. If you want to save more the sky is the limit. Anyway, the sound is superb.

Don't forget Koaloha - their soprano is very good, and if you check out their special order page you can choose from lots of variations. They don't normally do a lot of fancy stuff but maybe they could be talked into it. I wouldn't mind ordering their soprano in all koa (with 15 frets to the body option and ebony fingerboard?)

dnewton2
07-21-2010, 01:20 AM
I think Moore Bettah is the penultimate uke, but I don't think I could justify the cost. Maybe something more like $800-1000. And it's going to take a looong time to save up. I've been a student forever, it seems. :-)


I thought that as well, but once I got mine it was totally worth it.

There are a ton of awsome ukes out there though, so I am sure if you do your research you will be pleased

mm stan
07-21-2010, 01:21 AM
Aloha Natalie,
You know that I love my 2005 kamaka soprano more that my martin 2M I had.....It resonates alot more and improved
vastly in tone. If you asked me before purchasing the kamaka, I would have said otherwise...BTW, I got it for $250.00..
used. They usually run about a little over six new.

NatalieS
07-21-2010, 04:14 AM
Thanks for the suggestions. :-) After considering all of the wonderful ukes you all have mentioned, I think I'm going to start saving for a William King uke. I think they are stunningly beautiful. I love the classic shape of the sopranos, the bridge pins, all of it. A few examples:

http://www.chantus.com/journal/index.php?/archives/749-A-soprano-in-koa-and-spruce.html
http://www.chantus.com/journal/index.php?/archives/745-new-soprano.html

P.S. I just gotta bring this over. I've always been a fan of one-of-a-kind instruments that are truly personalized to their owner. I did a Google search for fish inlay (because fish are my passion) and look what came up. Is this not absolutely gorgeous??? I don't know if any custom uke builders would agree to putting such a prominent inlay on one of their ukes. Moore Bettah maybe?

http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa270/nksteckler/Midas/Instruments/fishinlay.jpg

dnewton2
07-21-2010, 04:33 AM
I never played a King but have heard great things. That Sprucetop he has right now is simply stunning. Good choice.

Raygf
07-21-2010, 06:13 AM
Thanks for the suggestions. :-) After considering all of the wonderful ukes you all have mentioned, I think I'm going to start saving for a William King uke. I think they are stunningly beautiful. I love the classic shape of the sopranos, the bridge pins, all of it. A few examples:
http://www.chantus.com/journal/index.php?/archives/749-A-soprano-in-koa-and-spruce.html
http://www.chantus.com/journal/index.php?/archives/745-new-soprano.html

P.S. I just gotta bring this over. I've always been a fan of one-of-a-kind instruments that are truly personalized to their owner. I did a Google search for fish inlay (because fish are my passion) and look what came up. Is this not absolutely gorgeous??? I don't know if any custom uke builders would agree to putting such a prominent inlay on one of their ukes. Moore Bettah maybe?

WOW, The King's are gorgeous!!!!! Please go away UAS! I have no funds for new ukes right now.
;)
Regards,
Ray

dnewton2
07-21-2010, 08:01 AM
Interesting inlay work. I have seen some Moore Bettah's with Koi around the soundhole, but if someone could do it he could. Don't think I have seen inlay on the lower bout of a uke before.

Also Kekani (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/member.php?1395-Kekani) builds ukes, only Tenors when I inquired some time ago. But he does some amazing inlay work as well. I have heard he works with most builders. If you want some awsome inlay work you might get in touch with him.

mm stan
07-21-2010, 01:39 PM
Aloha Natalie,
He does beautiful work, and I've heard that his customs sound awesome....it's a beautiful fish inlay, I like fish inlays too!!
For mine I wanted to get Koi swimming towards the nut in an "S" pattern on the fretboard....I was worrried that it would be kinda expensive
for me. It's supposed to mean and bring good luck!!!I wonder what he charges for such awesome fish work?????WOW....

NatalieS
07-21-2010, 02:51 PM
mmstan, I'm not sure who did that fish inlay but it wasn't a uke builder. :-) I found that through a random Google search. I would imagine inlay like that would be VERY expensive, though.

peterp
07-21-2010, 06:43 PM
good inlay work here --> www.moorebettahukes.com/GALLERY.html
the "seven swimming koi" might interest you.

mm stan
07-21-2010, 09:42 PM
Aloha Pete,
Thanks for sharing your awesome find of Chuck Moore...I am still thinking of him, he does such awesome work..
I'm just worried how I would fund such a purchase....and his craftmanship is top knotch....I really like
his koi inlay that he does as they symbolize good luck as well of all his other work...Very much intrested!!
MM Stan...

NatalieS
07-22-2010, 04:05 AM
I did some thinking (or soul searching, maybe?) and I think if I'm going to save up for a custom, I want to go all out and make it totally personal with some cool inlay. After looking at Moore Bettah's inlay work (thanks for the link peterp!), I think I'm sold. Wow, now I need to start saving up! This is going to take forever, hahahaha.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
07-22-2010, 05:50 PM
Don't think I have seen inlay on the lower bout of a uke before.

There's probably a good reason for that. Personally I'd stay away from any inlay on the lower bout of any ukulele but especially on a soprano. The little buggers need all the help they can get. I checked out a couple of Martin 5K ukes over the weekend at the Waikiki uke fest. They had stunning inlay over much of the lower bouts. Comparing them to other Martin 5K sopranos, I think the sound suffered because of it though. To be fair, the dealer was reluctant to let me give them much of a try. $6500 each and probably worth it.

guitharsis
07-24-2010, 01:28 AM
I did some thinking (or soul searching, maybe?) and I think if I'm going to save up for a custom, I want to go all out and make it totally personal with some cool inlay. After looking at Moore Bettah's inlay work (thanks for the link peterp!), I think I'm sold. Wow, now I need to start saving up! This is going to take forever, hahahaha.

I agree. Chuck's work is fantastic. I've been trying to sell some other instruments on consignment to help but may just have to start saving up. By that time, I should know if I would prefer a soprano or a concert. :)

ceviche
08-17-2010, 12:05 PM
I have to say that you ought to listen to the uke first before buying. That said, I do have to recommend KoAloha ukes. I recently bought my second one. Such lovely tone and good volume! They may not look that slick, being without the fancy inlay and all, but they are about as good as it gets. You might snoop around Ebay for some deals. I think it was either late last year or early this year that someone scored or sold a nine or ten year old KoAloha standard with an oval sound hole. May you luck into something like that.

ukeeku
08-17-2010, 01:03 PM
I know you said custom, but I am in love with Big Islands
I have a Traditional series SP-KRGT that goes for $330, But I have played the high end XXX series and they are just like butter.
Great inlay and all that but a sound that makes you melt.
Just sayin...
http://bigislandukuleleco.com/
http://www.bigislandukulele.com/products/img/l_sp-kxxx.jpg

TCK
08-17-2010, 05:18 PM
Picture from Peterp's post- this thing is AMAZING
http://www.moorebettahukes.com/IMG_1576.jpg
http://www.moorebettahukes.com/

rasputinsghost
08-18-2010, 04:32 AM
You can get a kickass soprano Mya-Moe for $575.

Ukulele Bart seems to swear by Candelas, a Mexican-American luthier.
Check them out here: http://www.candelas.com/ukulele-soprano.php
I dunno how they sound but you can check out Bart playing on youtube. Additionally, I'm sure if you wanted a sound sample or something similar, they could provide one!

NatalieS
06-06-2011, 11:50 AM
It's been almost a year since I started this thread, but... I'm glad to say I have a custom uke on the way. I ordered a DaSilva ukulele that has already been made. The uke showed up second-hand on FMM, and I decided to go for it!!! I did so because, if I were to custom-order a uke myself, it would have looked *exactly* like this one, down to every single detail. I am in love, and it doesn't even arrive for 4 days! The tough part is that I have to sell my other two ukes to fund this one, but don't fret, I'm not sad about it. :) I am so so so so so so so excited that this lovely little thing will be mine soon!

(I guess keeping my eye out for a koa 3M-style with abalone fretmarkers and pegheads paid off, huh?)

http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa270/nksteckler/Kamaka/243.jpg

mm stan
06-06-2011, 11:55 AM
Aloha Natalie,
Congratulations on the new Desilva Martin style 3M copy...I'm sooo jealous...wow and you still have your Kayak too...sheesh.. MM Stan

NatalieS
06-06-2011, 12:05 PM
Aloha Natalie,
Congratulations on the new Desilva Martin style 3M copy...I'm sooo jealous...wow and you still have your Kayak too...sheesh.. MM Stan

Oh Stan, I don't want to ruin your day but I sold my kayak a while back! I pretty much had to since I moved and had nowhere to store it.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
06-06-2011, 12:27 PM
Beautiful choice! Taking your time definitely paid off. Congratulations and enjoy the DaSilva!!

Doc_J
06-06-2011, 01:35 PM
It's been almost a year since I started this thread, but... I'm glad to say I have a custom uke on the way. I ordered a DaSilva ukulele that has already been made. The uke showed up second-hand on FMM, and I decided to go for it!!! I did so because, if I were to custom-order a uke myself, it would have looked *exactly* like this one, down to every single detail. I am in love, and it doesn't even arrive for 4 days! The tough part is that I have to sell my other two ukes to fund this one, but don't fret, I'm not sad about it. :) I am so so so so so so so excited that this lovely little thing will be mine soon!

(I guess keeping my eye out for a koa 3M-style with abalone fretmarkers and pegheads paid off, huh?)

http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa270/nksteckler/Kamaka/243.jpg

Congrats Natalie. That is one amazing uke. Mike DaSilva has made ukes for John King and Bill Tapia; you're in good company!

roxhum
06-06-2011, 01:55 PM
OMG Natalie you are selling your Kamaka Pineapple and Kamaka Concert to buy the DaSilva Uke. It is beautiful but I thought the Pineapple was your forever uke. I am in shock!
Congrats on the custom Pineapple. It is beautiful.

NatalieS
06-06-2011, 02:17 PM
OMG Natalie you are selling your Kamaka Pineapple and Kamaka Concert to buy the DaSilva Uke. It is beautiful but I thought the Pineapple was your forever uke. I am in shock!
Congrats on the custom Pineapple. It is beautiful.

Yes :blush: I do love the Kamakas, and it was initially a tough choice and a gamble. At the end of the day, though, I feel most at home with figure-8 sopranos since they are what I learned on. I knew this was an opportunity to have the kind of uke I'd always dreamed about. It's definitely a gamble but I'm sooo excited.

Chris Tarman
06-06-2011, 04:55 PM
Nice score Nat! I played one of these in Denver a couple of weeks ago at the Denver Uke Community meet-up. It belonged to our very own SuzukHammer. It was lovely! I still hope to have a custom soprano built along the lines of a Style 3, but I couldn't ever get Mike DaSilva to answer my emails (even though we're now friends on FB!), so I'll probably go with another maker. I have communicated with him and he can do what I have in mind, which is a little twist on the Style 3, since I bought the Kiwaya KTS-7 in February. I have this idea involving tortoise-shell.....

KC8AFW
06-06-2011, 06:03 PM
That is one beautiful ukulele! I am a big fan of the Martin style 3 (and all it's copies). And having a DaSilva will make everyone on this forum jealous. Congrats!

mandrew
06-06-2011, 06:06 PM
I would look seriously at a Loprinzi if I wanted great sound and some flash. Fabulous ukes, as fancy or plain as you want to go.

Pippin
06-06-2011, 09:54 PM
Thanks for the recommendation, Alan. I've never seen a vintage Martin in person, but they've long fascinated me in pictures and on YouTube. My weakness (please don't shoot!) is for a more decorated uke. I'm not saying there's anything dull about the style O, by any means, but I tend to gravitate towards ukes with binding, purfling, etc. Maybe if I saw a Martin in person, this would change my viewpoint. :-)

I love the beauty of a uke with bindings... especially solid-wood bindings. You can't go wrong with Mike DaSilva's work.
http://www.ukemaker.com/

Mike has Santo and Dias reproductions that are drool-worthy.

NatalieS
06-07-2011, 02:52 AM
I love the beauty of a uke with bindings... especially solid-wood bindings. You can't go wrong with Mike DaSilva's work.
http://www.ukemaker.com/

Mike has Santo and Dias reproductions that are drool-worthy.

Yeah the Santo reproductions are really amazing. They definitely pack a punch for such a tiny uke!!

rbeetsme
06-07-2011, 02:57 AM
I was offered a William King Rosewood/Spruce tenor recently, big bucks, but worth it. William frequently sells here and on ebay, his sopranos sell for reasonable prices.

roxhum
06-07-2011, 03:04 AM
Yes :blush: I do love the Kamakas, and it was initially a tough choice and a gamble. At the end of the day, though, I feel most at home with figure-8 sopranos since they are what I learned on. I knew this was an opportunity to have the kind of uke I'd always dreamed about. It's definitely a gamble but I'm sooo excited.

Oh I understand. I love my pineapple but I don't think it is as comfortable as the standard soprano because it is so chubby. Congrats on your new DaSilva Uke. You are in the sweet torture stage waiting I bet. I look forward to hearing all about it. Meanwhile I think I know how this plot is going to unfold and where your Pineapple is going to pop up!. I guess I need to meet up with Eugene Ukulele to share some popcorn.

Laouik
06-07-2011, 03:06 AM
I adore my KTS-4. I am selling it as I'm now committed to the tenor size, but honestly, if you like martin-style, don't want the headaches that can come from having a vintage instrument, love the mahogany sound... you can't go wrong.

Alternatively, if you want something unique but with the same meticulous construction, quality and attention to detail, get something directly from the man who builds most Kiwayas, Kenji Takahashi of T's Guitars fame: http://www.ukes.jp/

Sopranos: http://www.ukes.jp/product/soprano.html

NatalieS
06-09-2011, 03:23 PM
USPS attempted to deliver the DaSilva today but I was at work (of course) so it is now sitting at a post office that is literally a 1 minute drive from my house. Oh the sweet torture!!!! I will pick it up tomorrow.

janeray1940
06-09-2011, 03:47 PM
USPS attempted to deliver the DaSilva today but I was at work (of course) so it is now sitting at a post office that is literally a 1 minute drive from my house. Oh the sweet torture!!!! I will pick it up tomorrow.

Ack! When I saw this thread was updated I thought SHE GOT IT! Looks like tomorrow is going to be New Uke Day for both of us :)

mm stan
06-09-2011, 03:47 PM
Hey Natalie,
Are you teasing us .....ha ha only kidding...we can't wait too...keep us informed..Happy New Uke Day Girl....Have fun and enjoy!! MM Stan

NatalieS
06-09-2011, 03:55 PM
Ack! When I saw this thread was updated I thought SHE GOT IT! Looks like tomorrow is going to be New Uke Day for both of us :)

Ahhh are you going to pick up a pineapple tomorrow??? So excited for you! And thank you for helping me sort out all my thoughts about this recent purchase. :)

itsme
06-09-2011, 03:58 PM
And I'm planning to save up from now until Christmas.
I'd say you have a lot of time to make your decision, so just start with the saving. :)

Stick with your goal of x$ per week put into your fund, think of new ways to pad it, like every time you forgo a Starbucks latte or take a bag of cans/bottles to the recycling center.

janeray1940
06-09-2011, 03:58 PM
Ahhh are you going to pick up a pineapple tomorrow??? So excited for you! And thank you for helping me sort out all my thoughts about this recent purchase. :)

That's the plan - tomorrow will be Pineapple pickin' day. And you're welcome - always glad to enable, er, help :)

garyg
06-09-2011, 04:19 PM
I would try playing an aNueNue 1879, great though perhaps understated look for you, and incredible sound and less than 4 figures. Have fun, g2

NatalieS
06-10-2011, 01:56 AM
Today's the day!!! I'm allowed to pick up the uke anytime after 10:30 AM so I'll go at lunch. I *might* wait to open it until after work is over at 5 PM. I'm afraid if I open it up then I will never be able to concentrate at work this afternoon! Haha.

Hippie Dribble
06-10-2011, 02:49 AM
I guess I need to meet up with Eugene Ukulele to share some popcorn.

Oh, oh...Roxie....get the butter out...we's about to go corn poppin' !!!!!!!! That Da Silva uke of Nat's is just something else. Can't wait for the unveiling :drool:

roxhum
06-10-2011, 03:01 AM
I'm here with you Jon waiting for the big event. Nat, how soon will you have a Video of you and Da Silva!

janeray1940
06-10-2011, 04:32 AM
Today's the day!!! I'm allowed to pick up the uke anytime after 10:30 AM so I'll go at lunch. I *might* wait to open it until after work is over at 5 PM. I'm afraid if I open it up then I will never be able to concentrate at work this afternoon! Haha.

I know the feeling. I took the afternoon off because there was absolutely no way that I was going to be able to sit at my desk all day focusing on my work, when I knew there was a new uke to be played.

mm stan
06-10-2011, 05:13 AM
Natalie's probally got it by now....and havin' fun for sure....:):music::smileybounce:

NatalieS
06-10-2011, 07:01 AM
Just got home with it, still in its box. It was about 20 degrees colder at the post office than at my house, so I'm going to let it acclimate while I go back to work this afternoon. Torture, I tell you, torture!! :)

roxhum
06-10-2011, 07:09 AM
Such sweet torture......

janeray1940
06-10-2011, 07:18 AM
Torture, I tell you, torture!! :)

But the waiting is kinda fun, no? :)