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Iain
06-21-2008, 10:21 AM
I made a thread a few months ago about buying a Kala ukulele and getting it shipped into the UK. I currently have a Lanikai LU-21 Soprano and I'd really like to step up to something bigger and with a different sound. I've been looking on eBay and I've narrowed it down to these two -
Tenor with case
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Brand-New-Kala-KA-T-Mahogany-Tenor-Ukulele-Lowest-price_W0QQitemZ330245692167QQihZ014QQcategoryZ1622 4QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWD2VQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1 638Q2em122
Concert with case
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/KALA-BRAND-KA-C-Mahogany-Concert-Ukulele-Case-Setup_W0QQitemZ230262814950QQihZ013QQcategoryZ1622 4QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
Has anyone had any experience with his guy? I'm willing to fork out the premium price if it can get me a quality ukulele as it will have to last me a few years. Both the ukuleles are from the same guy and I'm debating on whether to get a Tenor or a Concert. Which one would you say has the better sound or are they pretty similar? I'm a novice ukulele player (1 year) and I don't want to jump straight into something that I won't be able to play so which one do you think is the best choice?

tad
06-21-2008, 11:18 AM
Has anyone had any experience with his guy?

You're joking, right?

I hate to do the typical forum jerk move and say "search the forum first" but in this case, it's really applicable.

Mike is pretty widely respected throughout the board. A good number-- maybe even a majority?-- of forum members have used him and speak well of his work. There's a number of threads on this board attesting to the quality of the instruments he sells, the personal attention his customers receive, and his generally being a stand-up dude. He does an amazing job of setting up the instrument and not shipping out any crap. He's even a forum member and is sponsoring an upcoming contest.

Mike's good people. I've made maybe five purchases from him, with zero regrets. He's also got one of the best selections around, and is great about communicating with customers and making sure you get what you want.



I'm willing to fork out the premium price if it can get me a quality ukulele as it will have to last me a few years.

Just for the record, while my ukes are all in the 100-300 dollar range, that hardly qualifies as "premium price." The really nice ones run over a thousand easy.



I'm debating on whether to get a Tenor or a Concert. Which one would you say has the better sound or are they pretty similar? I'm a novice ukulele player (1 year) and I don't want to jump straight into something that I won't be able to play so which one do you think is the best choice?

A uke is a uke is a uke. If you can play a soprano, you can play a tenor or concert. It's just a matter of getting used to a slightly different neck. These two will be pretty much identical, except one's a tenor and one's a concert. They're both from the Kala (laminate) Mahogany series. I have a Soprano from that line, and for a hundred dollar laminate, it's got a great sound.

The best choice is the one you prefer-- it's totally a matter of personal preference.

I'd suggest buying both, so you can have a Sop, a Concert, and a Tenor... "Collect 'Em All!"

Iain
06-21-2008, 12:17 PM
You're joking, right?

I hate to do the typical forum jerk move and say "search the forum first" but in this case, it's really applicable.

Mike is pretty widely respected throughout the board. A good number-- maybe even a majority?-- of forum members have used him and speak well of his work. There's a number of threads on this board attesting to the quality of the instruments he sells, the personal attention his customers receive, and his generally being a stand-up dude. He does an amazing job of setting up the instrument and not shipping out any crap. He's even a forum member and is sponsoring an upcoming contest.

Mike's good people. I've made maybe five purchases from him, with zero regrets. He's also got one of the best selections around, and is great about communicating with customers and making sure you get what you want.



Just for the record, while my ukes are all in the 100-300 dollar range, that hardly qualifies as "premium price." The really nice ones run over a thousand easy.



A uke is a uke is a uke. If you can play a soprano, you can play a tenor or concert. It's just a matter of getting used to a slightly different neck. These two will be pretty much identical, except one's a tenor and one's a concert. They're both from the Kala (laminate) Mahogany series. I have a Soprano from that line, and for a hundred dollar laminate, it's got a great sound.

The best choice is the one you prefer-- it's totally a matter of personal preference.

I'd suggest buying both, so you can have a Sop, a Concert, and a Tenor... "Collect 'Em All!"
Thanks for the reply.
I hardly ever browse these forums and I have little to no ukulele knowledge so please excuse the stupid questions. I did in fact do a search and I saw the name a couple of times but I didn't see any specific purchases.
Unfortunately I can't purchase both uke's, however I reckon I'm gonna go with the Tenor :)

Woodstocksp3
06-21-2008, 01:58 PM
I have the exact same ukulele except it's the soprano version of both of those, the Kala KA-S. The sound on it is surprisingly loud and solid. I've only played a few ukuleles but it sounds great compared to any of the other ones I've played in my opinion. I would definitely recommend it to anyone else.

When it comes to what size you want, it's just a matter of opinion. I chose the Soprano because I like the way they look. If I'm not mistaken, there shouldn't be too much of a sound difference between the Concert and Tenor except that the Tenor might sound a little more mellow. If you're coming from a guitar background, I've heard that the Tenor is usually easier for you to transfer over to the ukulele but that's just what I've heard.

Jacman Rasta Bicycle
06-21-2008, 02:49 PM
Iain-

a couple of weeks ago i bought a KALA Mango Concert from Mike. it has both looks (heavily figured mango) and sound (warm with a hint of brightness).
i have previously purchased ukes and accessories from Mike and i can say without reservation that he is the best. your uke will arrive with decent strings and professionally set up.
also, for the money, it's hard to beat a KALA.

tripl3thr33
06-21-2008, 02:58 PM
hey Iain, its been a good while since you've been on the forums. last time i remember, you were one of the stars of the show on one of the early live shows, showing your dedication by staying up until the early hours of the day to watch it hehe.

Mike (or more commonly known as MGM) is a great person to deal with. He knows his products well and you should be able to get the uke that you want. As for concert or tenor, it's all a matter of preference. I know you can't really get the ukes in your hands to try them out so it's hard to say. When I went from my friend's concert to my own tenor, it took me awhile to get used to fingering chords (the spacing was different between frets i believe).

deach
06-21-2008, 04:09 PM
...I hate to do the typical forum jerk move and say "search the forum first" but in this case, it's really applicable....

Are you talking about me? I hate to think I am a typical forum jerk. I'd like to think I've graduated to typical sarcastic and cynical forum jerk .

tad
06-21-2008, 07:02 PM
Thanks for the reply.
I hardly ever browse these forums and I have little to no ukulele knowledge so please excuse the stupid questions. I did in fact do a search and I saw the name a couple of times but I didn't see any specific purchases.
Unfortunately I can't purchase both uke's, however I reckon I'm gonna go with the Tenor :)


Are you talking about me? I hate to think I am a typical forum jerk. I'd like to think I've graduated to typical sarcastic and cynical forum jerk .

I didn't mean to make it sound like the questions were stupid, and I didn't mean to point fingers at anyone ((**cough cough**deach**cough cough**))...

I'm a grad student. I've been one for-- wow-- four years now. At this point, it's sort of an assumption in my mind that anything worth asking is worth researching first.

I've been playing less time than you have, Iain... I'm sure you could teach me a thing or two. But I've been really anal about researching everything uke-related, because that's how my mind's trained at this point. I could probably have given a twenty minute talk on the history of the ukulele off the top of my head before my first uke arrived... (A Kala Mahogany from Mike, for what it's worth, and I was very happy with the purchase.)

I need to keep in mind that not everyone works that way.

If you want to hear some of the stuff people have said about MGM, though, this thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2072) might be a good place to start.

UkuLeLesReggAe
06-21-2008, 07:31 PM
You're joking, right?

knowing myself i probably would have said it a while back but when i got told "your joking right?" made me feel like a complete idiot (not on this forum btw), so a link to his thread and say just browse through there is nice.

both ukuleles are nice but i would pick the tenor to be honest... MGM is recommended and reliable so you won't have a problem buying off him.

Bassukuguy
06-21-2008, 08:03 PM
Hey Iain,

i have to say that for one, going through MGM (musicguymic) is one of the best decisions i have ever made. everything just went smooth as... well something that is extremely smooth. enough said about that.

Secondly, the uke's you are looking at are really great. i just purchased my Kala KA-C and i havent looked back. the sound is amazing for just over a hundred dollars. she is a little plain but she will stand out over the other budget ukuleles. and MGM will replace the stock strings with high class aquila's and an A+ setup job, Free of charge (FREE!)... which ever uke you go with, you wont be dissappointed.

buy one of these ukes...(period!)

Bassukuguy

wilco
06-21-2008, 08:59 PM
i have a kala mango tenor, and i absolutely love it. the sound is excellent and it's a really good looking instrument too. i highly recommend kala, for whatever that's worth! also, they seem like a very kind and personal company too.. i wrote to them with a couple of questions when i first got mine, and mike upton (the owner of kala) wrote back very quickly and kindly answered all my questions.

i haven't purchased anything from MGM as of yet, but i'm about a few hours away from probably doing so.. purchasing another mango tenor (with a pickup) or i might try a koa.. still on the fence about it.

deach
06-22-2008, 01:10 AM
....and I didn't mean to point fingers at anyone ((**cough cough**deach**cough cough**))...
....

lol, I guess I need to try harder then.

agroupuk
06-22-2008, 01:12 AM
Hi everyone - this is my first post :)

Yay, this thread took my cherry lol

Anyway, I just bought a Kala KA-CE concert uke from this ebay seller (MGM) and had no issues at all. It came through customs fine (unfortunatly it got a higher charge than I expected but ho hum).

Took maybe 10 days, so you have to be patient.

Was packed very well. Mine came with hardcase and that was packaged in a box with bubble wrap round it so very secure.

It came with Aquilar strings and a pitch pipe and starter book. Nice little package.

I have just discovered the uke (I play bass guitar) after buying a cheap Makala from the local music shop (inspired by Jake rendition of 'While my guitar gently weeps')

I even went and phoned MGM to check I was buying the right thing etc and he was very helpful.

I recommend him thoroughly (oh, and the Ukes very nice - even sounds pretty good through my crappy (non bass) guitar amp.

ichadwick
06-22-2008, 03:21 AM
Hi everyone - this is my first post :)
...even sounds pretty good through my crappy (non bass) guitar amp.
I bought a small Roland 30X Cube for my guitar and my electrified ukes sound great through it, too. It has some minimal effects built in, and a few amp sims, which make the Eleuke sound even better. A little reverb, flange and distortion... nice!

I have a tenor Kala spruce from MGM and it's a great uke. Good package: came with case and chord book. I like the clear, bright sound. I also have a couple of Flukes and an Pono cedar top, all very different, but nice. I like having different sounds for different songs. Plus I like having one in every room so I can reach one without too much effort... (drives my wife crazy, though).

My next purchase may very well be a tenor mango because I really like the look of the wood, but I believe Kala's mango are all laminates and I want a solid wood top. That doesn't give me many choices -Pono? Any others?

I wrote up a review of my ukuleles here: www.ianchadwick.com/essays/ukuleles.htm (http://www.ianchadwick.com/essays/ukuleles.htm)

Iain
06-22-2008, 08:06 AM
Anyway, I just bought a Kala KA-CE concert uke from this ebay seller (MGM) and had no issues at all. It came through customs fine (unfortunatly it got a higher charge than I expected but ho hum).
How much did customs charge if you don't mind me asking? Was it sent as a gift (this reduces custom charges AFAIK?).

Thanks for the replies. Looks like MGM has a pretty good service so I'll definitely be ordering from him.

UkeNinja
06-22-2008, 11:31 AM
How much did customs charge if you don't mind me asking? Was it sent as a gift (this reduces custom charges AFAIK?).

This is a very good question. You should of course pay the customs due in your country when ordering from abroad, but this part of the buying process is probably the hardest to imagine. If anyone paid or not paid customs, it would be nice to know how or how much.
I doubt if any serious sellers will put their reputation on the line and send commercial ware as a gift though. That would seem like unnecessary risk from the seller's point of view because strictly speaking, it is fraud.

Ah, VAT will be charged as well in some regions. Near 20% in some European countries...

Plainsong
06-22-2008, 01:05 PM
Yeah, it's fraud, but it's fraud in the way jaywalking is fraud. Unless you're shipping out large volumes to the same addresses, as in clearly B2B, they don't care at all. They only care about getting their own cut. Some sellers try to send as zero value or without including the invoice, and it doesn't work. Customs won't release it unless you have the invoice proving what you pay. And that's that. They don't give two hoots in hell what the shipper put on the form, unless as I said, it was on a very large scale.

I don't ask sellers to lower the value, and in Finland it doesn't matter if it's marked gift or not, but people in the US have this huge misconception that every other country has government agencies even worse than Homeland Security (I say this because my parents think I live in a strictly controlled communist country where they would certainly come to get you and everyone else that knows you if you step out of line), to be forever feared, and it just ain't so. It's only about the money. The custom authority bills the receiver and either it's paid or it's not. They don't give a rip about the person shipping unless it's prohibited items or on such a huge scale as to clearly be some kind of scam.

g4ry
06-22-2008, 01:31 PM
Don't forget brokerage fees.

From US -> Canada, if it's not marked as a gift, in addition to the actual duty/tax, whatever shipping company is handling it charges a brokerage fee.
This used to be $5 for USPS, but I think it's $6 or $8 now..... UPS charges ridiculous brokerage fees, which is why no one in Canada gets anything shipped from US -> canada with them.

I recently bought a uke from MGM, valued around $320. It cost an additional ~$60 brokerage + tax (not complaining, just pointing it out for reference).

I *always* used to ask ebay sellers to mark items as gift in the late '90's, but it's something that's gradually gotten less popular, and almost non-existent now. But when they did, it was always free of brokerage and duty (legal or moral issues aside, just stating experience).

Plainsong
06-22-2008, 01:51 PM
Oh how much does UPS suck here? Yeah, going through them, not only is the shipping more expensive, but at least you can pay 5 times as much as even going through Fedex. Fedex is also fairly annoying. They use a "special procedure" for all packages going through customs, and since shipping charges are taken into account, and since anything over €50.00 gets hit with it, that's nearly every frakking package that comes through Fedex.

What happens is they wait a day or so, then call you and ask you to email them an invoice. What happens if it's something your family sends, I have no idea, but you have to email them the invoice that's already in the plastic wrapping outside the package. They also ask for your Finnish ssn. Yeah, real secure.

Then you have to wait for them to call you back, and tell you how much customs is. Then, if you want it THE NEXT DAY after having this process TAKE 2 MORE DAYS AT LEAST, you have to give them your credit card number. Otherwise, if you pay by bank transfer (what we use in Finland in place of writing checks), it takes a few more days for them to process the payment (bank transfer payments are instant).

It used not to be like that, so I can only assume that's a Fedex US policy that's been blanket-applied to places where it just really slows things down to a crawl, and isn't appropriate.

The best carriers here, besides the postal service, are TNT and then DHL (unless you're a business).

14twelve
06-22-2008, 02:44 PM
For all the Aussies out there, I may have just been lucky, but I bought a ukulele from MGM just over a month ago and didn't get charged anything by customs. It arrived within two business days too!! :D

agroupuk
06-23-2008, 03:45 AM
My Kala was (I think...) $154 plus $50ish postage to the UK.

Customs charged me 23 or 25 plus there was a 'handling' charge for 10 or 12. Basically it came to 35.10

I called Customs up to verify the cost and they told me this was normal but during the conversation it came up that the Uke was registered at $191 plus postage. I am guessing MGM put full price on it for insurance reasons but thats the figure the charge was based on.

I had a bit of a laugh (yes its true!) with the woman at custom's on how they could charge an import fee for importing 'the postage' which is basically a non existing item. I was never gonna win in an argument about it but I thought that it was a bit of a rip off. She, to my amazement, agreed lol.

Hope that helps.

Edd

Plainsong
06-23-2008, 08:08 AM
Yeah they include postage in the worth, and it's insane, but it's a way for them to get a few extra quid, and so they do it. I always figure it in with the cost of getting just about anything from anywhere else.

Ironically, shipping was free for my incoming Koaloha standard soprano. I'll be charged the tax on it though, even though I didn't pay it.