PDA

View Full Version : Which uke should I buy unseen?



ogeva
08-17-2010, 09:17 PM
Ok,
So, if you read previous posts of mine, you'd know I have bought a cheap Hora ukulele for my 1 year old son so he'd stop banging on my guitars, and got caught in this.
And you'd also know that I am looking for a decent uke, but they have no decent ukuleles in Israel for sale.
What I haven't posted yet, is that my dad brought a Kohala by Lanikai soprano (nato laminate) which is nice and decent (but not good!). I took this uke to the office, and I play it when I have time and it becomes and office attraction.
Anyway, I am still looking for a higher level ukulele to play at home and more seriously.
It will be bought unseen over the net, so I have nothing but your opinions to go by.
I have n experience with solid wood ukes, and know no one who does (I do have good experience with guitars and can judge good workmanship and detail).
So, I have decided the following:
I am going to get a concert ukulele. Sopranos are cute and nice - but I thing I will have more finger room on a concert. I don't want a tenor at this point.
I am going to get an all solid wood ukulele.
My price range is $200-300 only due to the relatively high shipping costs to Israel.
And I have zoomed down to these:
1. Mainland Mahogany concert.
2. Mainland Red Cedar concert.
3. Kala Acacia concert.
4. Lanikai Zebra concert.
5. Lanikai monkeypod concert.
6. Ohana 35G.
7. Ohana 50WG.

So basically it's between these ukuleles, or mahogany vs cedar vs acacia vs the exotic woods.
I would like to hear as many opinions, especially if you played 2 or more of these models - about build quality, sound (if you can try to describe the differences), playability.
Thanks,
Oren

mm stan
08-17-2010, 10:13 PM
Aloha Oren,
I'm glad that the ukulele has attracted you to it, it seems has an affect on alot of people and is even
more desireable(to me)than the guitar...I think you're taking a excellent approach to this by asking.
Buying sight unseen can lead to many issues, buy for reputeable source with high recommendations so
you don't get burned...ask if they have an return policy and what they are..and if they'll pay the shipping
costs if returned....if it's legitimate claim on quality issues.
Try to get a solid wood ukulele if you can afford it ...buy the best that you can afford, and in the long run
it'll play, sound, and feel better. You'll probally learn quicker on a better instrument.
As for size, the soprano or standard has a more traditional hawaiian sound...if you have bigger hands you may want
a larger fretboard. the next size is the concert or alto...which is a little more volume and a sweeter tone.
I'd stay in the $300.00 range and get a better uke, another fellow member swears that the mainland are the
way to go..he bought the first two on your list in 10 days, and there are alot of followers here it seems..Personal Message
him...LuvDat is his user name.
My first choices would be Koa and mahogany....for woods...but there are other that put out good sound quality
too!!!it depends of what type of sound you're looking for bright or warm...more expensive balance tone.
I hope this helps, Good Luck! MM Stan...

Hippie Dribble
08-17-2010, 11:41 PM
g'day ogeva

I too came to the ukulele about 4 years ago after nearly twenty years of playing the guitar. My only regret is that it didn't happen sooner. I had never even given ukuleles a second look as I browsed through music shops. The first uke I bought was a little painted sky blue plastic Mahalo soprano - only $25 on impulse because I felt like decorating something! But little did I know how this beautiful, humble little instrument would grab me and not let me go. These days it is a very rare thing for me to even pick up an acoustic guitar. Too big, too ostentatious, too chunky...

Having said all that, initially I was a concert man like you because the sopranos just seemed too small, but gradually I have grown to love the soprano scaled ukes... like Stan said, more traditional sound; lighter, brighter, cuter!!! I have a Mainland Mahogany Soprano and it's one of my favourite ukes. But the grass is always greener isn't it, and ever since I bought that one I've always wanted a Cedar top. I don't think you can really go wrong with Mahogany. Also, in my opinion, spruce top ukes have a lovely warm sound, nice rich low end tones...

As an ex-guitar player I'd stick to your guns and go with the concert - less of a shock to the system! To that end, you might also like to consider visiting this website:

www.westwoodguitarcompany.com

these guys stock a little known range of "Royal" ukes. Right in your price range. Very sweet and warm sounding. I have one of their concert models and I highly recommend them to you, because they sound as close to a guitar as any other uke that I've heard.

all the best mate and happy uke hunting!

eugene

Captain_Lovehandles
08-18-2010, 01:01 AM
All I can say is that I have a Mainland mahogany concert, and if you don't get one now, you will soon. I wouldn't want to be without one.

ogeva
08-18-2010, 01:34 AM
Thanks all.
Mainland Mahogany soprano will be cheaper (and also shipping will be cheaper).
But I have the Hora and Lanikai sopranos, so I think a concert will be better value for me at least in expanding my options.
I can't even see a concert uke here to try and judge if the size is better for me. All they have in all the shops is some unrecognized colored plastic thing, and the Hora which is better, but still more like a toy.

franulele
08-18-2010, 01:44 AM
I bought a Mainland Mahogany Concert in June of 2009 and it has become my favorite uke to play. It has a big sound, comfortable neck, very good intonation (I files the nut slots & bridge a little bit, but this is normal on most new ukes) and its as cute as a bug! I tried a Lanikai Zebra, and found it to be very heavy & less resonant. I also tried an Ohana 35G soprano, and found it to be a very nice uke, similar in quality & build to my Mainland

jordan bello
08-18-2010, 03:15 AM
I bought a Mainland Mahogany Concert in June of 2009 and it has become my favorite uke to play. It has a big sound, comfortable neck, very good intonation (I files the nut slots & bridge a little bit, but this is normal on most new ukes) and its as cute as a bug! I tried a Lanikai Zebra, and found it to be very heavy & less resonant. I also tried an Ohana 35G soprano, and found it to be a very nice uke, similar in quality & build to my Mainland

I have a Mainland Mahogany Concert which was my first ukulele. I love it, even though I mainly play my Koa Koaloha Superconcert. It is much quieter than the Koaloha, but it has a classic mahogany tone. If I have aquilas on it, the volume is increased to almost the volume of the Koaloha, but loses some of its tone and takes on the "plasticky" aquila tone.

I have also heard many good things about the Mainland Red Cedar Concert. The Red Cedar is very loud. Ideally, I think I would have gotten the Mainland Red Cedar Concert so that I could have good volume but use worth clears or browns on it which help tone but are much softer than aquilas. But I bought my Mainland mahogany not knowing if I would continue to play ukulele and bought it used from UU.

rasputinsghost
08-18-2010, 03:23 AM
Shalom Oren! I heartily recommend the Mainland Mahog/red cedar. Fantastic instrument, durable, and at the price point cannot be beat.

MarySue
08-18-2010, 04:16 AM
I received my Mainland mahogany concert last week. I purchased it without ever getting my hands on one, but I did do a lot of searching of YouTube and listened to a lot of playing samples on lots of different types of concerts.

It's a straight-up beautiful instrument, both in looks and in sound. It fits wonderfully in my hands, and I absolutely love playing it.

My problem right now is it's so pretty and so new-- I am nervous whenever it's out of its case and usually only do a couple of songs before putting it away and breaking out the beater uke! I'm certain the New Parent syndrome will fade with time, though.

bazmaz
08-18-2010, 04:27 AM
Due to lack of uke stockists anywhere near me - all of mine are bought unseen - some dogs, some reasonable, but my Mainland and my Flea were both absolutely top drawer!

Mandarb
08-18-2010, 06:17 AM
+1 on Mainland. I bought a mahogany tenor a month ago and I love it. To my ears the mahogany has a "warm" sound.

iggy
08-18-2010, 08:36 AM
Love love love my Mainland Mahogany Concert! Playability, sound, fit and finish and she's a looker to boot.

ogeva
08-18-2010, 09:34 AM
Seems Mahogany Mainland gets most points.
Now it's just slipping it in the budget when the wife isn't watching ;-)

luvdat
08-18-2010, 10:03 AM
I can speak for both mahogany and red cedar in sopranos. You did mention warming things up a bit with string choice? Even with Hilos (in either C or D tuning) the red cedar is loud, balanced!!! The mahogany also in D tuning with Hilos is not AS loud but certainly quite full and more colored in tone (overall)...the red cedar more varied...I love playing both.

BTW, if your iwfe is like mine she won't mind the expenditure if you're getting quality.

ogeva
08-18-2010, 11:38 AM
I think that at this point roundness/sweetness of tone is more important to me than volume or projection.
So I guess Mahogany will be a better choice.

Lexxy
08-18-2010, 11:43 AM
Successful win for Team mainland once again :)

Ingrate
08-18-2010, 01:11 PM
If you insist on your price range, I'll throw in a vote for my Ohana CK-60. However, you might want to consider the Kamoa. It's $159, and a surprisingly good instrument. It has a laminate top. Sam Bonanno guarantees intonation, satisfaction, and quality. Since you're buying sight-unseen, the return policy should be considered. It's a Hawaiian 'uke, too!

jeff

iDavid
08-18-2010, 01:49 PM
Just to mess with you a bit. Ever consider an Ohana Zebrawood Concert? I got on for travel, since I don't want to bring the KoAloha with me.

I got one from Uke republic and it is really sweet. About two hundred bucks with a softcase.

http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/ohana-ck-25z-zebrawood-concert

However, I would not hesitate on a Mainland concert anything. The Mango would also be a nice choice.

luvdat
08-18-2010, 01:53 PM
I think that at this point roundness/sweetness of tone is more important to me than volume or projection.
So I guess Mahogany will be a better choice.

Just set down my mahogany soprano to reply...go Mainland mahogany then.

KevinV
08-18-2010, 02:24 PM
It seems like mahogany has the top vote here, and I love my mahogany Pa'ina, but I thought I'd throw in a plug for the Kala Acacia. I've got the tenor model and it's fantastic. I'd imagine the concert size would be just as nice.

Jerlial Prophet
08-18-2010, 05:07 PM
I also have the Mainland Mahogany Concert and love it. The only problem with mine is that I love it so much now I need to find more ukes I love.

70sSanO
08-18-2010, 06:32 PM
I don't own a Mainland, but it has quite a following here on UU. I would contact Mike at Mainland and talk to him about what you are looking for. Mike goes by the name hoosierhiver on UU.

Based on the cost of getting a ukulele to you, I'd talk to Mike and have him pick one give it a good once over.

John

molinee
08-19-2010, 04:15 AM
I would go with a Mainland. Either talk to Mike on the phone, or send a note when ordering your uke telling him to give it an extra look-see before shipping. Mike knows his stuff and takes great pride in what he sells.

ogeva
08-19-2010, 10:02 AM
Thanks!
I'll contact him before ordering.

olgoat52
08-19-2010, 11:08 AM
I recently rode down and visited Mike at Mainland and purchsed a red cedar soprano and a mango concert. After living with them for a couple of weeks, I really like the Mango concert the best. More room on the fret board (I am a long time guitarist as well) and I like the brilliant and clean tone. More reminicent of Koa in my opinion. Not piercing but cleaner and more balanced than the red cedar. The red cedar soprano has a bit of a "hooty" sound compared to the mango.

I would recommend the Mango concert in a heart beat. I went with the gold friction tuners with the amber knows. Looks great.

Oh and spend the money on the $39 hardshell case. Better chance of getting it to Isreal in one piece.

luvdat
08-19-2010, 01:12 PM
I recently rode down and visited Mike at Mainland and purchsed a red cedar soprano and a mango concert. After living with them for a couple of weeks, I really like the Mango concert the best. More room on the fret board (I am a long time guitarist as well) and I like the brilliant and clean tone. More reminicent of Koa in my opinion. Not piercing but cleaner and more balanced than the red cedar. The red cedar soprano has a bit of a "hooty" sound compared to the mango.

I would recommend the Mango concert in a heart beat. I went with the gold friction tuners with the amber knows. Looks great.

Oh and spend the money on the $39 hardshell case. Better chance of getting it to Isreal in one piece.

I balanced things out with Hilos and D-tuning on the red cedar but know exactly what you mean with the Aquilas.

iDavid
08-19-2010, 01:42 PM
I recently rode down and visited Mike at Mainland and purchsed a red cedar soprano and a mango concert. After living with them for a couple of weeks, I really like the Mango concert the best. More room on the fret board (I am a long time guitarist as well) and I like the brilliant and clean tone. More reminicent of Koa in my opinion. Not piercing but cleaner and more balanced than the red cedar. The red cedar soprano has a bit of a "hooty" sound compared to the mango.

I would recommend the Mango concert in a heart beat. I went with the gold friction tuners with the amber knows. Looks great.

Oh and spend the money on the $39 hardshell case. Better chance of getting it to Isreal in one piece.

did you get the high-gloss?

olgoat52
08-19-2010, 07:51 PM
did you get the high-gloss?

Yeah. I'm pretty old school when it comes to that. Gloss just makes the grain pop better than satin. Both the mango and red cedar look great under gloss. The rosewood on the read cedar looks really good as well.

The mango really surprises me. I am still learning about ukes. Different animal from guitars and I have no Koa to compare it to. But I like how balanced the mango sounds. The setup is great on it as well. I may need to try some different strings on the Red Cedar. I got some worths from Elderly. Just need to string it up and see.

luvdat
08-20-2010, 12:10 AM
Yeah. I'm pretty old school when it comes to that. Gloss just makes the grain pop better than satin. Both the mango and red cedar look great under gloss. The rosewood on the read cedar looks really good as well.

The mango really surprises me. I am still learning about ukes. Different animal from guitars and I have no Koa to compare it to. But I like how balanced the mango sounds. The setup is great on it as well. I may need to try some different strings on the Red Cedar. I got some worths from Elderly. Just need to string it up and see.

I went defintely warmer in the string choice department with the red cedar soprano and glad I did. I also think the D tuning made it really shine.