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View Full Version : Final (personal) thoughts on NAMM 2011!



anaka
01-17-2011, 11:55 PM
With the UU video coverage of the 2011 NAMM Show (http://ukuleleunderground.com/namm/) completely edited, exported, and uploaded, I’ll finally find the chance to get some decent sleep at night. Yay! Most of this post is being written from my seat on an airplane, chasing the sunset back home to Hawaii after four crazy days of music madness. While the musical dust settles, I figured I should put down all of my NAMM thoughts before reaching home, where my mind will reset to reality.

Just like last year’s “Personal Thoughts,” (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?25072-Final-%28personal%29-thoughts-on-NAMM!) the opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of UU. If you’ve ever been to NAMM you’ll completely understand – the show is so vast, comprehensive, and ridiculously huge that everyone’s experience of it is different. Here’s mine:

Most Interesting Ukulele -The solid body steel string electric uke proto from Eleuke (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLV-aA46MWc#t=02m02s)

Looks pretty plain, not sure how it sounds plugged in, but here’s the thing … the ukulele community has been waiting for this FOR-EVER. We’ve seen one-offs of steel string electrics, and some home-made creations hacked together from scratch, but this will be one of the first real mass-produced steel string electric ukuleles available to everyone. I don’t even like electric ukes, but the fact that so many people (uke players and non-uke players alike) do like them and that finally something will be available to truly satiate them and their electric uke needs – it’s exciting. From what Cory was saying, it sounds like Eleuke is about ready to release it this year, so cross your fingers. This may be the start of something big.

Most Interesting Person(s) - Rick Turner (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzjtjQzVES0) of Renaissance Guitars and Mim (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/member.php?19278-Mim) from Mim’s Ukes.

We caught Rick as the last interview on the last day of NAMM. The Compass Rose Ukulele sound sample in the interview didn’t sound very good, but I have to say that in person, the sound out of his ukuleles was truly remarkable. I’ve always been skeptical of guitar builders trying their hand at ukuleles because they tend to get the dimensions and bracing all wrong, but the stuff that Rick has been doing with his ukes really makes me believe that he understands the dynamic of wood and what it takes to make it sing, no matter the size of the instrument.

Mim is hysterical. I’m a naturally quiet person, so I appreciate people who could technically carry on a conversation even if I had nothing to add to it. She’s got her opinions and voices them well. I like that. And although I might not agree with all of her opinions or choices of ukes at NAMM, Mim and I had an incredible conversation during the UU Meet Up that made me glad that at least some people understand what this whole “ukulele thing” is all about. She told me that when people walk into her ice-cream-shop-slash-ukulele-store (http://www.mimsukes.com/) in Charlotte, NC, she asks them what type of music they listen to. From there, she proceeds to tear into a popular song in that genre on the ukulele, shattering all preconceptions they might have had about this cute little “Hawaiian” instrument. And that’s how uke players are born. Way to show ‘em, Mim.

Favorite Ukulele - The base model concert Island Ukulele (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8iANX93OyQ#t=01m32s) by Kanile’a (in the video Joe demos the tenor, but I liked the concert)

For most people visiting the Kanile’a booth, this would probably have been the least interesting ukulele on display. But for me, it represented a peek into the future. This uke felt like a Kanile’a, sounded almost as good as a Kanile’a, but its retail price tag was a measly $127. Whaat? With choices like that available, I can just see all the sub-par overseas-built uke companies slowly dropping off the map within the next five years. This is terrible news for people making terrible ukes. But for those who love the ukulele and want others to love it too, this is teriffic. I couldn’t be more excited.

Favorite Person - Matt Dahlberg (http://www.thejumpingflea.net/The_Jumping_Flea/Fleas_Nest!.html) (pronounced “doll-burg”), thejumpingflea.

We met Matt for the first time, in real life, at last year’s NAMM at the Lanikai booth where he was demoing ukuleles. But this was the first time I really got to hang out and talk with him outside of the Show to find out what he’s really like. I have to say, he’s a pretty cool guy with big dreams and great ideas. Aldrine teased him the entire time we were at NAMM and he held up like a champ. He’s like a sponge, soaking up all the uke knowledge he can find and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s something amazing and famous within another year’s time. Just can’t wait to see where he goes from here.

Other Notables -
I’ve been especially excited about Kamoa Ukuleles (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6mMCO0loj0) since long before this year’s NAMM Show. I’ve always believed that the only way other people are going to take the ukulele seriously is if the ukulele world takes its instruments seriously. Kamoa’s showing this year was a serious step in the right direction. With a focus on sound first, they’ve been honing in on an incredible tone and balance (sometimes at the expense of outward appearance) at a low cost for years. This year, they stepped up their game and added beauty to their already great sounding ukes. They’ve still got a little tweaking to do in the appearance department, but this was a GIANT step for great sounding overseas-made ukes. Go back to the interview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6mMCO0loj0) to see their booth and listen to the samples. Things to note: their booth wasn’t "island-y" AND their ukes weren’t harsh on the ears. This is important to understand. If other uke companies recognize what Kamoa is doing with just these two things, it could change everything.

I want to commend Cory and the guys at Chesbro / Eleuke USA (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLV-aA46MWc) for honestly caring about their customers. Last year they asked us what they could do to get into the ukulele market and we told them to listen to the ukulele players and find out what they care about. So for the last year, the sales team at Chesbro has been listening to you, refining their offerings and innovating with you specifically in mind. They’ve also been actually learning to play the ukulele so they can understand player preferences, ergonomics, and comfort. That’s a lot more than I can say for many other big box companies, and a damn good job from any distributor’s standpoint. Awesome, guys.

Also want to give a hand to LR Baggs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PBQ2G-k8eI) who, despite not having an ukulele-specific pickup system to show us, was willing to do an interview anyway. Their explanation went something like this: “There are a few LR Baggs pickups that people use for ukuleles, but the fact is, they weren’t designed for ukuleles. We are working on creating something great for the ukulele, but it’s not ready yet. When we release products to the public, they are meant to blow minds. If we don’t feel that a product will blow enough minds, we won’t put our name on it.” LR Baggs has a great philosophy and they stick to it. And they were gracious enough to take some time with us. We trust you, LR Baggs, and we’ll wait patiently until your pickup is ready.

A few slight disappointments (for me) included Fishman and Fender. Fishman’s news (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyQlCU7ie7M) about the "Kula" pickup system for the ukulele looked promising, but after listening to it, results were “eh” at best. They got the size right but, sound-wise, balance and tonal issues made it like most uke pickups: okay. Might have just been the settings - we'd have to play around with it a bit to find out. Fender, though seemingly excited about the ukulele market last year, didn’t have anything new to show this year. It’s almost as if they gave up on making their ukes any better, instead focusing on marketing and exposure. We got a lot of comments under the Fender interview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m32I3363mMY), but in their defense, Dylan was only filling in for the official Fender Acoustic rep. He did the best he could for the interview and we thank him for even giving us a shot.

This year, Joe, Kristen, & Bill over at Kanile’a were like our family away from family and not enough thanks can be expressed in words for their kindness and generosity. Ken Middleton was charming and wonderful as always and Sally, Mim, & Tim took the cake for most ecstatic ukulele enthusiasts of the show. Ran into Victoria Vox (http://www.victoriavox.com/) on multiple occasions all over Anaheim and she was sweet as ever. Somehow she is everywhere and I swear she must have at least three clones the way she just appears in places.

Everyone else performed pretty much as expected and I can feel it in my veins that 2011 is going to be an important year in ukulele history. Step up your game, everyone. Step up your game.

Shout outs to Mainland Mike & Tookta, Ron for coming down to hang out with us, Asada who came from freakin' Thailand(!), our boys over at Nalu (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz3VLDhDrh0), Derick Sebastian, Kalei Gamiao, James Hill, Steven Espaniola, Sam & Lulu for the smiles and food when I was starving, John for the awkward hugs and Alaskan Ale, Heather & her mom for everything, and everyone who stopped us to say hi or to rep UU at NAMM! Overall a great show. And now some sleep.

SuzukHammer
01-18-2011, 02:42 AM
That was a good read.

CoLmes
01-18-2011, 03:23 AM
This was a great read bud. You were right on, and the 3 musketeers are a riot. I'll be there next year to witness this craziness, and I can't freaking wait.

SweetWaterBlue
01-18-2011, 03:27 AM
I really enjoyed that inside look, and all the coverage this year. Keep up the good work.

Rzr
01-18-2011, 03:36 AM
GReat report! Thanks UU for all the coverage. It was awesome! Well done.

ukeeku
01-18-2011, 03:50 AM
It was really awesome to meet you. I hope to see you at UWC this year.

salukulady
01-18-2011, 04:05 AM
The highlight of the weekend was hanging with you and that Aldrine guy. Thanks for putting up with the "Loud Girls" and our over the top enthusiasm, you guys are the best. Next year you gotta bring Ryan.

Gmoney
01-18-2011, 04:11 AM
THANK YOU & all the UU staff for covering this show for us all. The cost to get there, the time spent interviewing, editing, posting, etc. is significant & much appreciated.

From the videos & other posts on UU, I would have to agree w/the apparent "lack of interest" shown by Fender w/their now 3 year old line. I own a Nohea for the simple reason that I also own a Fender Newporter guitar which my wife gave me the first year we were married. The Nohea is pretty, but musically pretty dull. Fender should either get in the game or go back to the guitar world.

The Martin S1 is interesting & will probably sell a significant enough # of units to keep them "in the game", but we all know that there likely won't be as many "vintage" 2011 Martins around 50+ years from now like there is for all of the "0"'s that are available still.

The one laughable "What the heck were they thinking moment" has to go to "Neck Up" - the product that deserves a pitchman like the late Billy Mays. At least for the uke world, if not for any world, I hope the owners didn't quit their day jobs!

One more... Where was KoAloha? We know they were there from Victoria Vox' tweets. Did they have a booth at all?

salukulady
01-18-2011, 04:39 AM
Yes, KoAloha had a very nice booth. Mim and I spent a fair amount of time there. The two ukes that caught my untrained eye was from their Pono series. The mahogany ones and the Bamboo ones. Very beautiful. I really appreciated the unstained mahogany, I had never seen a uke with light coloured mahogany.

Ken Middleton
01-18-2011, 04:45 AM
Really, really great meeting up with you again at the show, Aaron. Thanks for videoing for us. A memorable meal at Bubba's. See you next year, if not sooner I hope.

Gmoney
01-18-2011, 05:10 AM
Yes, KoAloha had a very nice booth. Mim and I spent a fair amount of time there. The two ukes that caught my untrained eye was from their Pono series. ...

Ooops... I think that would be Ko'olau (with the Pono's) instead of KoAloha (one of the other K's). :)

ukeeku
01-18-2011, 05:15 AM
KoAloha had the whole factory there, but no booth. We saw them around. I think they do enough sales that they figured they did not need a booth.

Gmoney
01-18-2011, 05:30 AM
KoAloha had the whole factory there, but no booth. We saw them around. I think they do enough sales that they figured they did not need a booth.

That explains it, they've certainly got me sold! I loved the interviews w/the other "K"'s though. My little Kamaka-Kieki needs another KK to hang out with!

Mim
01-18-2011, 05:49 AM
Aaron, you have solidified in my mind your status as my favorite Hawaiian! I so enjoyed talking and getting to know you! And thank you for letting me talk you ear off. The jam and Bubba Gumps will forever be cemented in my mind as one of the best times ever!!!

Thank you for talking with me and letting me bounce ideas off you! I too loved Matt (aka Jumping Flea, the Matt-ador) though I think I scared him. Ken Middleton is charming and I miss him already! And Aldrine... he is Aldrine... need I say more. He is just as you would imagine him to be! So warm and nice!

And I agree with you whole-heartedly about the Chesbro guys. They are the reason I am who I am and they not only care about their customers, but they care about their dealers! I have a soft spot in my heart for them and the SHS boys. They are not just my distributors, they are my friends!

I hope to see you soon!

Ronnie Aloha
01-18-2011, 06:07 AM
Aaron, your write-up and insights to NAMM were a great read. Its good to know that you can be impartial and "tell it like it is."

Its always great hooking up and I encourage everyone to take advantage of it if the UU staff are in their neck of the woods. We all had a blast at dinner even though we had a huge range in ages from Matt (21) with his "mattitude" talking about the Seahawks to Ken (50+?) and his stories about his 250 year old house! In addition, TMI about Aldrine's snoring, Heather's drooling, etc., etc.

I actually felt sorry for Matt since he was so excited about the Seahawks but almost everyone on the table, except me, didn't give a rat's okole about football!

Mim, I hope you're getting over your nasty cold! To Sally, Tim and John it was nice meeting you all for the first time. Word of caution to all, sit on the OTHER side of the table from Sally to avoid being hit. Aldrine and Heather, I'll try and catch the concert on Saturday.

haole
01-18-2011, 06:17 AM
Fantastic job on all of the NAMM coverage, UU guys! You always go the extra mile to dig up the newest developments in the uke world, and the interviews are a great way to "meet" the folks behind all the instruments we love.

Aaron and Aldrine, I'm curious: If you could each pick one ukulele at NAMM to take home, what would it be?

spruce
01-18-2011, 06:28 AM
If you could each pick one ukulele at NAMM to take home, what would it be?

For me, it would be this puppy from the Collings booth:

http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee22/e_stamp/NAMM%202011/P1080648.jpg

http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee22/e_stamp/NAMM%202011/P1080650.jpg

Dane
01-18-2011, 07:26 AM
Thanks for the write up! I enjoyed reading it.

One ukulele to take home? Tough choice. I would have to say the Kanilea Guitalele custom. I had fun with so many great ukes though

I really wished KoAloha would have had a booth, I would have liked to meet them, and I REALLY wanted to play some of their normal tenors and specialty ukes.

anaka
01-18-2011, 07:38 AM
Aaron and Aldrine, I'm curious: If you could each pick one ukulele at NAMM to take home, what would it be?

Haha, not sure if this counts but if it was possible - Bryan Tolentino's Kamaka! It wasn't on display but it was beautiful!

Seriously, though, this year's NAMM Show I actually didn't look at a lot of the $1000+ ukuleles. I think I was on a mission to find the affordable ukuleles that stand out in sound. Definitely found it in the Islanders by Kanile'a and the Kamoas. Oh, and the super-concert Ahua from Nalu. If I could have chosen one to have for myself, it would have been either a concert Islander or the super concert Ahua (I can probably get a Kamoa pretty easily on Kauai) :D

eleukeusa
01-18-2011, 09:58 AM
Aaron, it was great to see you again and thank you for all the kind words. We are very grateful for all of the effort and work you all have put into creating this amazing community. Seriously, it is very unique in the music industry to find a place like UU where so many like-minded people come to hang out, learn and teach. I enjoy my UU time every day!

molokinirum
01-18-2011, 10:15 AM
That was excellent coverage!! Great clips as well!!

Thanks for all of the hard work and for sharing with us!!

Aldrine Guerrero
01-18-2011, 11:01 AM
Aaron and Aldrine, I'm curious: If you could each pick one ukulele at NAMM to take home, what would it be?

Hmm... that's a tough choice...
It's a toss up between the Breedlove ukulele, any of the Collings, or the Kanile'a ebony model. All three of these ukuleles sounded like a dream.

Gmoney
01-18-2011, 11:04 AM
Hmm... that's a tough choice...
It's a toss up between the Breedlove ukulele, any of the Collings, or the Kanile'a ebony model. All three of these ukuleles sounded like a dream.

Man, I would have thought that it would be one of Rick Turner's Compass Rose ukes! In the video, it looked like you were itching to get you hands on one! They were pretty sweet for sure as are the ones you mention.

Mim
01-18-2011, 11:18 AM
Hmm... that's a tough choice...
It's a toss up between the Breedlove ukulele, any of the Collings, or the Kanile'a ebony model. All three of these ukuleles sounded like a dream.

I tried to bring the Breedlove home, but someone scooped up the entire stand of guitars and all. One day, one day...

Rick Turner
01-18-2011, 12:05 PM
Thank you so much for coming by and interviewing me. I've just had a ball getting involved with the whole uke scene, and the UU folks are just fantastic. Also, Aldrine, thanks for really understanding what I'm trying to do with the instruments; you absolutely got it.

Now I've got to go practice for my next "Uke Ellington" rehearsal! Hopefully we'll actually be able to record a CD this year...

pdxuke
01-18-2011, 03:41 PM
Thanks UU for the interviews! Loved it.

For me, the 3 most exciting coming attractions were Ohana's SK38 Martin type soprano, the kala Ukedelic line, and the Flea banjo uke.

Plainsong
01-18-2011, 07:22 PM
For me it was all about the Compass Roses and (preparing to have things thrown at me) the Blackbird ukes. I have a compass rose on my inner forearm, so saying that those designs appeal to me is an understatement. And I liked how he's not doing what everyone else is, but care about sounding good.

The Blackbird uke is a bit like Rosemary's Baby - hideous but I can't look away. Ok, it's not built of wood and doesn't sound like it is, but I imagine the reverb/chorus/delay fun that can be had with something that sounds like that. And the electronics in it is none too shabby at all. Also it'd be nice to have a great uke that can be played and left out during winter. It's too dry to keep the other good ukes out. Ok, so he doesn't play the uke, but does that matter? They care about making something sound good, and know how to work with carbon fiber. That's really all ya need.

Fender was ...Fender. I think they've run their guitar name into the ground too. It's not just that the guy was filling in. It's that the uke entries are so transparent as marketing ventures. It's just a marketing company now.

Also, I'm glad to see more entry into the budget market, but I'm also concerned about exploitation of cheap labor. Everyone talks about factories of the good budget ukes being as nice as the ukes are to work for, but we've seen no proof of it.. so yeah.

Ken Middleton
01-18-2011, 07:35 PM
For me the high spot was when Ron trimmed ten years off my age in this thread. It's wonderful to feel young again.

Dane
01-18-2011, 09:17 PM
For me the high spot was when Ron trimmed ten years off my age in this thread. It's wonderful to feel young again.

You're only as old as you want to be. I'm still 10 or so.

Mim
01-19-2011, 02:58 AM
Dane-- I think I saw you, but did not know it was you! Wish I had!!! I will catch up with ya next NAMM for sure!

Dane
01-19-2011, 07:43 AM
Dane-- I think I saw you, but did not know it was you! Wish I had!!! I will catch up with ya next NAMM for sure!

I was the mangy looking one with the dark beanie on haha.

Mim
01-19-2011, 10:34 AM
I was the mangy looking one with the dark beanie on haha.

I seriously think I stood right next to you in the Kanilea booth... not sure though. Next time... seriously... if you think you see me you come SEE ME even if you have to push the crowd out of the way! I wanted to meet you!

Dane
01-19-2011, 11:20 AM
I seriously think I stood right next to you in the Kanilea booth... not sure though. Next time... seriously... if you think you see me you come SEE ME even if you have to push the crowd out of the way! I wanted to meet you!

I would not be surprised at all if I was standing right by you at the Kanilea booth, I was having so much fun with their ukes that I kind of blacked everything out around me. Joe Souza actually had to pry me away at one point so that he could take a picture with some of their buyers.

And to be honest I am terrible with names, I saw you in the distance and my mind was telling me that I knew who you were, but the rest of the thought process was not there. I'm going to blame it on being overwhelmed by all the instruments ;)

And of course next time, I would have loved to meet you as well, I've visited your online store quite a few times, I love that you've been able to combine an ukulele shop and an ice cream shop, such a wonderful idea. I hope business is going well for you!

salukulady
01-19-2011, 11:22 AM
I would not be surprised at all if I was standing right by you at the Kanilea booth, I was having so much fun with their ukes that I kind of blacked everything out around me. Joe Souza actually had to pry me away at one point so that he could take a picture with some of their buyers.

And to be honest I am terrible with names, I saw you in the distance and my mind was telling me that I knew who you were, but the rest of the thought process was not there. I'm going to blame it on being overwhelmed by all the instruments ;)

And of course next time, I would have loved to meet you as well, I've visited your online store quite a few times, I love that you've been able to combine an ukulele shop and an ice cream shop, such a wonderful idea. I hope business is going well for you!Mim was with me....how could you miss both of us? Hello, we were wearing Mim's ukes t-shirts or UU t-shirts all week.

Dane
01-19-2011, 12:00 PM
Mim was with me....how could you miss both of us? Hello, we were wearing Mim's ukes t-shirts or UU t-shirts all week.

I only had a visitor pass for sunday, and I spent about half of the time in hall E, and the other half in guitar and amp sections. But you guys could have approached ME you know ;)

salukulady
01-19-2011, 12:30 PM
I only had a visitor pass for sunday, and I spent about half of the time in hall E, and the other half in guitar and amp sections. But you guys could have approached ME you know ;)We were in hall E most of the day....didn't see any blue faces.

Ronnie Aloha
01-19-2011, 01:53 PM
For me the high spot was when Ron trimmed ten years off my age in this thread. It's wonderful to feel young again.

LOL! My memorable moment in conversation with Matt:

The top three things in my life, uke, football and food.

What about beer?

The top three things in my life are uke, football and beer.

What about girls?

The top three things in my life are girls, uke and football.

Ah, to be 21 again...

thejumpingflea
01-19-2011, 03:23 PM
LOL! My memorable moment in conversation with Matt:

The top three things in my life, uke, football and food.

What about beer?

The top three things in my life are uke, football and beer.

What about girls?

The top three things in my life are girls, uke and football.

Ah, to be 21 again...

Hahaha! I've given serious thought to this list. A revised version will be available soon. ;)

I had a great time meeting everyone. Mim, Salukulady, Anaka, etc. etc. It was a great show!

salukulady
01-19-2011, 03:47 PM
Hahaha! I've given serious thought to this list. A revised version will be available soon. ;)

I had a great time meeting everyone. Mim, Salukulady, Anaka, etc. etc. It was a great show!Check it out Mim, he's happy he met us.....and I thought we scared him.

Mim
01-19-2011, 04:47 PM
Hahaha! I've given serious thought to this list. A revised version will be available soon. ;)

I had a great time meeting everyone. Mim, Salukulady, Anaka, etc. etc. It was a great show!

Oh hooray! I didn't scare you too badly! Hopefully we will see you again soon! The Bubba Gump night was definately the highlight of my trip. I got some of your videos added to my ukulele video playlist at the shop. Now I can say, "Look! That's the jumping flea aka the Matt-ador! I know him!"

salukulady
01-19-2011, 04:49 PM
Oh hooray! I didn't scare you too badly! Hopefully we will see you again soon! The Bubba Gump night was definately the highlight of my trip. I got some of your videos added to my ukulele video playlist at the shop. Now I can say, "Look! That's the jumping flea aka the Matt-ador! I know him!"The Matador, Ole'!

Mim
01-19-2011, 04:49 PM
I only had a visitor pass for sunday, and I spent about half of the time in hall E, and the other half in guitar and amp sections. But you guys could have approached ME you know ;)

I didn't know it was you!!! I only know what you look like from the side and as a photo negative!

Dane
01-19-2011, 05:03 PM
I didn't know it was you!!! I only know what you look like from the side and as a photo negative!

Haha, well you shoulda looked at my youtube channel! Doug recognized me =P

BokononSequitur
01-19-2011, 05:03 PM
Heyo Anaka,

I'm a beginner looking to buy his first uke. I've been driving myself crazy deciding between a Hamano H100T and a Mainland Red Cedar Tenor, and I was wondering if you had any opinion on whether I should wait for Kamoa and Kanile'a's 2011 budget line and see how they compare. Any idea how long I might have to wait?

(if anyone else has any input, I know this isn't exactly the right thread, but please help a n00bie out. :D)

salukulady
01-19-2011, 05:39 PM
Heyo Anaka,

I'm a beginner looking to buy his first uke. I've been driving myself crazy deciding between a Hamano H100T and a Mainland Red Cedar Tenor, and I was wondering if you had any opinion on whether I should wait for Kamoa and Kanile'a's 2011 budget line and see how they compare. Any idea how long I might have to wait?

(if anyone else has any input, I know this isn't exactly the right thread, but please help a n00bie out. :D)Yes this is the wrong thread for that question. You can't go wrong with a Mainland.

anaka
01-20-2011, 08:59 AM
Heyo Anaka,

I'm a beginner looking to buy his first uke. I've been driving myself crazy deciding between a Hamano H100T and a Mainland Red Cedar Tenor, and I was wondering if you had any opinion on whether I should wait for Kamoa and Kanile'a's 2011 budget line and see how they compare. Any idea how long I might have to wait?

(if anyone else has any input, I know this isn't exactly the right thread, but please help a n00bie out. :D)

Didn't get a chance to really hear the Hamanos at NAMM but, from what little I got to hear, they sounded pretty good. I have a Mainland Red Cedar Tenor here at the shop so from experience I can tell you that they're clear, bright, and loud. If you're going to do a lot of strumming and singing, especially with a group, I'd totally go with the Mainland for its cutting power. Not too sure when the Kanile'a Islanders will be available, but the Kamoas will most likely be out next month. If you're going to be doing more picking or fingerpicking, I'd go with a Kamoa for its tone. You probably would be fine on any of these choices, the main thing is to pick one up and start on your journey. As long as it stays in tune and sounds alright, the uke doesn't make the player, the player makes the player. Have fun!