View Full Version : Uke prices and exchange rates....RANT

08-10-2010, 08:02 AM
I am sorely tempted by the Mainland Red Cedar concert Uke, having had a look at various sites in the UK The cheapest I have seen it is £210 or $330 US....this compares to the first US site that had it up for $259....Now I know that we pay over the odds for a lot of things in the UK...a good example being that a gallon of petrol in the UK costs around £5.20 which equates to about $8.50 a gallon...but I only want a reasonable Uke at a reasonable price....Sorry just a rant I will probably end up ordering one from the states and paying the shippping....I will probably still save money....but I like to try an instrument before I buy....Still ranting... arrggghhh. Mind you I have only been playing the Uke for about three weeks, have one Makala dolphin ( a great little starter uke ) a Makala MK c concert again I love it, and a further dolphin that I have painted in a Doctor who theme....I am selling one of my guitars to pay for a decent Uke....This UAS is a dreadful condition....tee hee....Rant over...off to play the uke now guaranteed to put a smile on my face.:o

08-10-2010, 08:12 AM
it is annoying - and for us brits, it doesnt just apply to instruments - electrical goods, clothes etc all hit us hard.

I bought my Mainland from Eagle in the UK, and at the time it was probably more expensive that me ordering one from Mike direct.

That said, if you order from the US there is a "chance" it will get called in by customs. By way of example, I had a camera accessory (only £40 or so) stopped and ended up with a bill on top (a mix of customs and PO charges) of about £20 - that made the item more expensive than I could have bought in the UK.

Also shipping in UK is cheaper and you know it aint being crushed in an aircraft hold (just crushed in a post office van!!). You will also get it MUCH quicker.

All in all, when I weighed it up, it was worth it to me to pay more, but only just. I had a bad case of UAS and wanted that mainland YESTERDAY! If I buy another mainland, (which I am contemplating) I may well buy direct next time and take a chance.

For the record, I hear that Mainland are superb dealing with damage or problems, no matter where in the world. I certainly would think twice about purchasing from the USA from any other generic music store.

I can assure you though, you will be very very happy with a Mainland

08-10-2010, 08:29 AM
I don't know a thing about British customs regulations. That said, I wonder about bringing a uke back from overseas travels.

If you were to visit the US (or elsewhere), and fly back home with a uke as a carry-on luggage item....what then? Would the uke be subject to customs fees?

08-10-2010, 08:33 AM
technically yes, but I heard a story of someone who did that with a guitar - flew out with a cheap squire strat in hard case, traded the squire in a Fender shop for a top of the line USA special edition and flew back. Not sure how true that is.

08-10-2010, 08:35 AM
Okay, so you fly out with a cheap, laminate uke, and fly back with a Mainland! Who'd know?

08-10-2010, 08:48 AM
exactly - but you have to weigh up cost of doing that versus the charge you would face in customs IF caught. Made sense in the story bout the Strat as the price difference was HUGE.

08-10-2010, 09:08 AM
I picked up my Big Island Ukulele from UkeRepublic on my way home from a Florida vacation. My trip to Florida was more then 7 days so I was could bring back up to $750 duty free. I saved about $100 in shipping and tax by doing it like this. I also got to meet UkeRepublic and haolejohn at a Starbucks on the side of the interstate for a coffee and short jam.

08-10-2010, 09:14 AM
I'm American but live in the UK. I often buy things in the US and bring them back with me on the plane. In the case of a musical instrument, who's to know that it's not 6 years old? People travel with their own instruments all the time. There is almost no way for a customs officer to prove that you travelled one way without the instrument (especially carry on, which any uke should be). They have better things to do than keep track of that stuff.

To contrast, I bought a digital SLR and had it shipped, and paid over £150 in customs!

If you have the opportunity to hand deliver something to yourself, do it.


08-10-2010, 09:57 AM
I should point out, of course, that the above comments are purely hypothetical, and aren't meant to endorse or encourage any sort of fraudulent behaviour.


08-10-2010, 07:25 PM
if you live in Chelmsford, do you know Allegro music shop? they are really good with ukes there, and i brought my last uke there
btw i was in chelmsford yesterday

08-10-2010, 09:14 PM
I am a regular visitor to Allegro, they are tremendous in there, excellent musicians, very knowledgeable, incredibly helpful ( ocassionally stoned ). My son ( a superb guitarist, drummer, bassist, singer songwriter, front man in a band and still only 18 ) will spend hours in there chatting and trying out various instruments, amps and pedals. We both took a wander in last week to buy a clip on tuner, I had a look at some of their Ukes, they had a great selection, and I picked up a Mahalo soprano. I have no idea of the model number but this thing was truly beautiful to look at, it appeared to be well made although I have no idea what it was made of, it looked like a spalted mango and boy did it sound sweet. Seriously, I am new to the uke and only a strummer but have picked up a few tunes in the last few weeks and this thing literally sung. It was as clear as a bell. My son was as impressed as I, if I had a spare £200 I would have bought it then and there. I have heard and read so many dodgy reports of Mahalos but this one was an absolute beauty. I will be going back fairly shortly to try out a few more, Going to put one of my guitars and a few assorted items on e-bay to raise the capital for my next Ukulele.

08-10-2010, 10:57 PM
you have my sympathies, but spare a thought for us antipodeans. We're at the absolute arse end of Asian shipping lines, and especially in NZ's case our smaller population (4.something million in a country slightly larger than the UK) means the economics don't work out so well, so your complaint ain't got nothing on us :(

08-11-2010, 11:43 PM
Don't even get me started on the rip-off pricing over here. If you think your price in UK is bad, look over here! People tend to look at your price as a reference and add more on it in Ireland! I am so sick of the situation. Example being I got a light for light therapy on internet some time ago for SAD condition, it costs me 60 Euros including shipping and everything else. I got it in 7 days, it's alright. I went to the local pharmacy, they charge 250 Euros here! I know they have to pay rent and overheads and everything else; but 4 times the price? Come on, they are ripping people off, that's what it is! Even if I have to pay custom (I only pay 1 out of 20 times), that makes it 72 Euros, I am still saving lots! I think people are setting up crazy prices over here because a lot of them are not aware of internet competition and they think they can get away with it. I am all in supporting local business, but sometimes, it's so hard.

10-23-2010, 10:26 AM
I ordered a uke from kanile'a direct, taking advantage of xchange rate. I was totally naive about the postage process. Thought it was coming straight form hawaii to my front door. Had NO IDEA customs would get involved. I'm off to pick it up from Gatwick depot tomorrow. Will have to pay Duty (3%) PLUS 17.5% VAT on top of that. About £140 !!! I have paid £140 more for buying direct (verses buying from UK). I put it down to a life lesson. Please don't make same mistake as me.

10-23-2010, 11:21 AM
I order cheap things from america often enough like cables, strings, as it works out cheap because you don't get hit with extra charges.... but I'd watch it on a uke, you will get Vat and duty added on which will add up to a fair old amount... then a fairly hefty postage charge. Chances are it will end up around the same price as the UK one which you will get to try out.

A lot of it comes down to tax and although we hate tax we have a very well developed country because of it, free health care, cheap dental... fire services/hospitals/schools etc for everybody. A lot of countries don't have these things so available and to the standards we have for the rich and poor alike.

10-23-2010, 12:24 PM
Yeah, we Aussies have the same problem with hiked up prices.

Also, I've been thinking how cool it would be to do some doctor who art on a ukulele, looks like you beat me to it.

10-24-2010, 03:06 AM
I was buying and selling on eBay when the Canadian dollar was around $.65 USD (back in 00). That made anything from the USA a very expensive proposition - especially when you add shipping and the taxes our government put on them when they arrive. A decade ago, a $500 USD uke with case would have cost me $900-$1,000 CAD! I'm pleased that our dollar is now in the 92-94 cent range, which makes ukes a lot more affordable (we still pay the 13% killer taxes, however).

Resale back then was brutal, and always lost money.

When I started buying ukes in 08, it was sweet, because the $CAD was actually a little more than the $USD so my money went a tiny bit further. It's settled down below par since then.

The downside today is that, back in 00 when I sold stuff to American buyers, I made a lot more in the exchange than I do today!

10-24-2010, 03:19 AM
cheap dental???? not in my town!

10-24-2010, 04:54 AM
We get charged more, yes, but have a higher quality of life. I wouldn't live anywhere else than Britain, that's for damn sure.

Anyways, I ordered my Mainland directly from Mike (because I didn't know of Eagle at the time) and was charged £45 by customs. Mind you, if you don't order from Mike, then you don't get his friendly email updates. :)