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blackj
01-27-2011, 05:28 PM
Hi everybody,

I recently got into playing uke and was given a cheap one with the plastic friction tuners. After playing a few months, the tuners are wearing out and I figure instead of trying to replace the tuners I should get a good uke. So the question I pose is this: What brand(s) should I get?

Right now I can afford $150 to $250 (Thank heavens for tax returns!)

I'm going on a business trip in a couple of months and I could afford up to $500 for one when I get back. Should I wait and a better one or just bite the bullet and get one in my current price range?

I'm looking for either a concert or soprano (I haven't quite decided yet)

Thanks for the help!

spots
01-27-2011, 06:19 PM
For $250 you can get a solid mahogany soprano by Big Island Ukulele. They have very good build quality and good sound.

If you can wait the the $500 will buy a Kiwaya KTS-4 solid mahogany uke. Those are top notch ukes!

mm stan
01-27-2011, 06:39 PM
Aloha BlackJ,
Welcome to the UU and our forums and the Ukulele...If if was me I'd buy a starter uke such as a Lanikai Lu 21 and put better strings on, and save up and get a real good ukulele....no sense saving and waiting...
I'd go and try some out at the music store and see what size, sound, playability works for you...Good Luck...Have Fun and Enjoy!! Happy Strummings, MM Stan

molokinirum
01-28-2011, 03:41 AM
I would wait and have $500 to spend. Check out Mele Ukulele (in Maui Hawaii) solid well built ukes.

Pueo
01-28-2011, 03:59 AM
I'm with Stan on this. I recommend you get a basic Lanikai or Ohana as your first ukulele. Those brands are just suggestions, let your budget and your personal feelings make the ultimate choice. I do not know where abouts you live, but if there is a local place for you to try some ukuleles please do that. What we like may not feel right for you. You can get a very playable starter ukulele for $100 or less, or perhaps a bit more, and if you decide you want something nicer down the road, you will then have an inexpensive ukulele that you can travel with or worry about less, or loan to a friend, etc. I still have my Lanikai LU-21T, that was the first ukulele I bought in 2005. It has become my travel / party / autograph ukulele but I still play it regularly and it still serves me well.

BadLands Bart
01-28-2011, 05:34 AM
I would say to get the best uke that you can afford. It is always better to play on a better uke than playing on a lessor quality uke. If you buy a very good, quality uke, you will like playing it due to the construction, feel and sound.

bazmaz
01-28-2011, 06:50 AM
Can't believe I am the first to say this - for $250, fairly sure you can get an all solid Mainland beauty. Highly, highly recommended.

downtoearthed
01-28-2011, 06:58 AM
I echo the Mainland suggestion. I love my Mainland mango concert!

blackj
01-28-2011, 11:10 AM
Aloha BlackJ,
Welcome to the UU and our forums and the Ukulele...If if was me I'd buy a starter uke such as a Lanikai Lu 21 and put better strings on, and save up and get a real good ukulele....no sense saving and waiting...
I'd go and try some out at the music store and see what size, sound, playability works for you...Good Luck...Have Fun and Enjoy!! Happy Strummings, MM Stan


I would say to get the best uke that you can afford. It is always better to play on a better uke than playing on a lessor quality uke. If you buy a very good, quality uke, you will like playing it due to the construction, feel and sound.

I agree with both of you. After thinking it over I think that I'm going to comprimise and get a uke in the $250 and under range. I figure that I can always get another one later on down the road. Other than Mainland and Big Island, are there any other ukes you would recommend in this price range?


I do not know where abouts you live, but if there is a local place for you to try some ukuleles please do that

I'm in the Oklahoma City area, so I'm not sure if I can find any stores with decent ukes, but I'll try. Anyone know any good music stores in OKC?

Thanks for all the help!

pepamahina
01-28-2011, 11:52 AM
Here's another good reason to try to go to a ukulele store first. You might want a different size. I had no idea that I would prefer the concert size until I played one. Many people love their tenors, particularly if you have bigger hands. Try out sizes before you commit.

OldePhart
01-28-2011, 12:28 PM
Definitely a big +1 on the Mainland - right at the high end of your current budget but pretty much guaranteed not to have any setup issues, etc. In fact, the increase in quality between a $250 Mainland and a $750 "handmade in Hawaii" uke is really a fairly small incremental increase in tone and projection with the latter. My Mainland is actually set up a bit better than my KoAloha, though the KoAloha edges it slightly in tone and noticeably in volume (and the KoAloha is a concert, the Mainland a tenor).

However, I do have a question about the "plastic friction tuners" on your current uke. Do you mean the shaft itself is plastic or that the knob is plastic? If the knob is plastic with a screw in the end of it, use a screwdriver to tighten the screw a little. That will increase the tension on the tuner.

John

spots
01-28-2011, 01:05 PM
I agree with both of you. After thinking it over I think that I'm going to comprimise and get a uke in the $250 and under range. I figure that I can always get another one later on down the road. Other than Mainland and Big Island, are there any other ukes you would recommend in this price range?

The Paulele bamboo uke (distributed by Kiwaya) is around $190-$200. "Uke Republic" and "Music Guy Mike" both carry this.

Ghibli
01-28-2011, 06:40 PM
for around $200 you should be able to pick up a LAG Concert - very good uke.
cheers

bottlegreen
01-29-2011, 02:03 AM
What about Tall Grass Ukes? A concert is $148-$178.

Ataraxia
01-29-2011, 04:00 AM
I agree with the Mainland suggestion, my recommendation would be soprano :D.. but really, what matters most is that you find it comfortable to play and enjoy the way it looks and sounds, so whatever works for you. I would DEFINITELY strongly recommend picking geared tuners when you purchase though, tons of people use friction and have no problems whatsoever... For me however, buying an ukulele with friction pegs was the biggest shopping mistake I've ever made. I used that uke for months, adjusted the screw tension, swapped out the tuners, used a light touch when tuning... and I couldn't get that thing to stay in tune for more than a few minutes (and yes, the strings were stretched properly). I finally had geared tuners installed and have never had a tuning problem since, and the weight ratio is exactly the same as before. Maybe it's just because I've played guitar for so long but I could never buy another ukulele with friction pegs! Sorry for the long story lol.

blackj
01-29-2011, 12:10 PM
However, I do have a question about the "plastic friction tuners" on your current uke. Do you mean the shaft itself is plastic or that the knob is plastic? If the knob is plastic with a screw in the end of it, use a screwdriver to tighten the screw a little. That will increase the tension on the tuner.
John

The shaft is metal and the knob is plastic. It got to the point where the plastic contacting the shaft wore out. I could turn the knob and it wouldn't turn the shaft. I temporarily fixed it, but the insides of the knob are pretty much shot.

I Just got back from the store, where I got to handle some Kala ukes. I was amazed at how much difference there was in a better uke! I am definitely going to go with the concert size for this purchase, but later on down the road I'll probably wind up getting a tenor and possibly a good soprano too.

After looking around, I'm going to go with the Mainland Classic Mahogany Concert. I've heard nothing but good things about them and as was pointed out earlier, they are just within my range. Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm sure to get more down the road.

I appreciate all the help everyone has given me, this is truly one of the most helpful forums I've been in. Arigats!

Ataraxia
01-29-2011, 07:10 PM
Excellent choice! I hope you enjoy your new ukulele! Let us know how it goes.

edgar44
01-29-2011, 07:15 PM
I think you can't go wrong with a fluke, concert size...or tenor. Very nice sound and very forgiving design that can be taken everywhere...including outdoors. Ed

Nickie
01-30-2011, 08:47 AM
Does anyone know anything about Mitchell ukuleles? I can't find any reference to them, but they sure look/sound nice in Guitar Center.

Ataraxia
01-30-2011, 09:11 AM
From what I've read they're Guitar Center's house brand, just as Rogue is property of Musician's Friend, which in turn is owned by Guitar Center hahaha... so we come full circle. This is why Musician's Friend also carries the Mitchell Brand. They're designed in California and made by craftsmen on Java Island, Indonesia. For entry level stuff they make some decent instruments. I honestly can't say I've ever tried their ukuleles, but their guitars aren't too bad.

Ataraxia
01-30-2011, 09:13 AM
Btw, just a note.. Ponos are manufactured on Java Island as well :D

pdxuke
01-30-2011, 09:33 AM
I agree with the Mainland suggestion, my recommendation would be soprano :D.. but really, what matters most is that you find it comfortable to play and enjoy the way it looks and sounds, so whatever works for you. I would DEFINITELY strongly recommend picking geared tuners when you purchase though, tons of people use friction and have no problems whatsoever... For me however, buying an ukulele with friction pegs was the biggest shopping mistake I've ever made. I used that uke for months, adjusted the screw tension, swapped out the tuners, used a light touch when tuning... and I couldn't get that thing to stay in tune for more than a few minutes (and yes, the strings were stretched properly). I finally had geared tuners installed and have never had a tuning problem since, and the weight ratio is exactly the same as before. Maybe it's just because I've played guitar for so long but I could never buy another ukulele with friction pegs! Sorry for the long story lol.

I'll argue the other side: I've had a Mainland soprano with geared and with friction. Mike's friction tuners are high quality, and to me, the weight of the geared tuners made it top heavy. I would only buy a soprano with geared tuners.

Paul Cote
01-30-2011, 09:43 AM
I looked at the Mitchell at Guitar Center and liked how it looked but for my ears, it didn't suit me and I liked the Cordoba 15CM there better. I don't know which model of Mitchell you are looking at. Looks like there are two of them. If you like the sound of it then thats what counts. I know the Mitchells look very nice. You might could see some Mitchell Reviews on Musician's Friend. Yup, fifteen reviews on there: http://folk-instruments.musiciansfriend.com/product/Mitchell-MU70-12Fret-Concert-Ukulele?sku=518976 A lof of folks do like them and they are a good price.

Paul Cote
01-30-2011, 09:44 AM
Does anyone know anything about Mitchell ukuleles? I can't find any reference to them, but they sure look/sound nice in Guitar Center.

The one above is for Nickie

Nickie
01-30-2011, 10:40 AM
Thanks, Paul. I don't remember the model number, but it had the shiny varnish coat, and their price was about $170. It was a concert.

Paul Cote
01-30-2011, 10:43 AM
they are the same company as musician's friend so they carry the same ukuleles

georgio
01-30-2011, 02:18 PM
Can't believe I am the first to say this - for $250, fairly sure you can get an all solid Mainland beauty. Highly, highly recommended.

You talked me into one and I still love it! Thanks again!