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View Full Version : Need to replace my Flea



johnnybregar
01-30-2011, 07:06 PM
Hi all - first post.

I need to upgrade my uke. I have a Flea right now with a pickup in it (not sure what kind of pickup - it's nothing fancy). I play live a lot and it's just sorta beat up, buzzy and needs to be replaced. I'd like to get something nicer and all wood. I will need a pickup in it too. I will be playing some rather large venues in the next year (theaters) so I'd love to get something that sounds great playing in small room, but also sounds great with a pickup.

Forgive my lack of knowledge here - but I would love to get your advise on the following:

1. I like the general tonal qualities of my Flea - I bought it about 7 years ago and I'm pretty sure it's a soprano (is it?). It was the only model they made back then. So I'm interested in a new soprano uke (or whatever size I have now) that has similar but enhanced qualities. Something that has a little depth to it - not too thin sounding - and something that will project well without getting brittle. Something that has a little more snap to it.

2. What kind of pickups are people putting in Ukes?

I can spend up to $700 at this point (with a pickup) - any more and I think I'd be pushing it.

What would you recommend?

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

jb

fabioponta
01-30-2011, 07:39 PM
Hello Man,
If you have $700, you could bougth a soprano standart Koaloha (if you love the soprano scale) or a concert pikake Koaloha with an active Mi-Si Pickup, with koaloha factory Mi-Si install, by MGM.
Great acoustic uke and great plugin sound!

experimentjon
01-30-2011, 09:50 PM
JB, you described the KoAloha Soprano to a T. You may also want to consider their Soprano pineapple and throw a MiSi in there. Just as Fabio reccomended. Buy one, and you will NOT regret it. You may be able to call KoAloha directly and order one and have them install the pickup in the factory too. May be able to order a factory second too to save a bit of money.

Plainsong
01-30-2011, 11:50 PM
Yup, you are exactly describing a Koaloha soprano. As a bonus, it's got one of the comfier soprano necks from my experience too.

/Making my UAS of a Koaloha concert harder to shoulder...

haole
01-31-2011, 06:07 AM
If you're willing to go up to $700, a KoAloha or another Hawaiian K-brand is definitely worth it! If you're mostly a strummer, the KoAloha is a beast. If you play up higher on the neck, you might want to consider a super-soprano (soprano body with a concert neck) because KoAloha's sopranos only have 12 frets. Even with a pickup, it should come out to under $700.

How many frets does your Flea have? If it has 14, it's a soprano. If it has 15, it's a concert. If you really like your Flea, another option would be to order up a new one with a solid koa top and a pickup, so you can at least avoid the learning curve of adjusting to a new instrument.

Lori
01-31-2011, 06:26 AM
The KoAlohas are great ukes, but I would say they sound different than a Flea. KoAloha, to me, has a brighter tone. It would be best if you could try a few ukuleles in person. Do you have any ukuleles in local music stores? How about local ukulele groups... they can be very helpful in letting you see and try a wide range of instruments.

There are a lot of good ukes out there, and they can all be fitted for pick-ups. I would say that a Solid Mahogany uke might be closer to the sound of a Flea.

With a budget of $700, you have a lot of possibilities, and shopping is half the fun.

–Lori

johnnybregar
01-31-2011, 06:35 AM
You guys are awesome - thanks for the great info - you have saved me a ton of time.

I will check out Koaloha for sure.

jb

mm stan
01-31-2011, 07:01 AM
You guys are awesome - thanks for the great info - you have saved me a ton of time.

I will check out Koaloha for sure.

jb

Don't forget the Kamaka for a richer tone....I have a KoAloha too...their brighter....try them both, personal preference....then decide...good luck!!! Happy Strummings..MM Stan
Gee, I'm the lone Kamaka man for now.... sheesh!!! he he..

Plainsong
01-31-2011, 08:41 AM
Don't forget the Kamaka for a richer tone....I have a KoAloha too...their brighter....try them both, personal preference....then decide...good luck!!! Happy Strummings..MM Stan
Gee, I'm the lone Kamaka man for now.... sheesh!!! he he..

Oh if only I could find some comparisons of a Kamaka concert to a Koaloha concert... Both tug at the heartstrings for different reasons, both have a long list of plusses and minuses, and there's no way in hell to audition either before buying. When the time comes it'll be a flip of the coin I think.

soupking
01-31-2011, 08:56 AM
Oh if only I could find some comparisons of a Kamaka concert to a Koaloha concert... Both tug at the heartstrings for different reasons, both have a long list of plusses and minuses, and there's no way in hell to audition either before buying. When the time comes it'll be a flip of the coin I think.

Totally agree.

johnnybregar
01-31-2011, 09:04 AM
I'm curious how an older Martin 0 Style would compare to the Koaloha or the Kamaka, in the same tonal ballpark?

Lori
01-31-2011, 09:44 AM
I should also suggest the Kanile'a Ukuleles. Especially since you would like a nice low end sound, but still with bright highlights. You said you play a lot, and your old Flea is kind of banged up. The Kanile'a gloss UV finish is sooo beautiful, and gives added protection for your ukulele. I haven't played their sopranos, but I really love my super concert. If you can't choose in person, have someone who knows a lot about ukes select the right one for you, and maybe play a few for you over the phone. I understand MusicguyMic can do that for you.

If you think gigging will destroy your uke, you might consider a solid wood Ohana, Mainland, or Kala. Do you need to have a back up uke when you gig?

–Lori

Plainsong
01-31-2011, 10:21 AM
My Kanilea sounds nothing like my Flea, is way more bassy and mellow... although it's a superconcert and not a soprano. I think Kanilea's longscale ukes come with a big huge extra helping of bottom end.

But beautiful looking and sounding? Sure! :)

JT_Ukes
01-31-2011, 10:28 AM
Oh if only I could find some comparisons of a Kamaka concert to a Koaloha concert... Both tug at the heartstrings for different reasons, both have a long list of plusses and minuses, and there's no way in hell to audition either before buying. When the time comes it'll be a flip of the coin I think.

Dude, your avatar? IS that your band name? if it is, You Frackin' Rock!

JT

experimentjon
01-31-2011, 11:02 AM
Oh if only I could find some comparisons of a Kamaka concert to a Koaloha concert... Both tug at the heartstrings for different reasons, both have a long list of plusses and minuses, and there's no way in hell to audition either before buying. When the time comes it'll be a flip of the coin I think.

You'd definitely be happy with either. When it comes to which one feels more like a Flea, after having owned the three instruments in question (KoAloha Concert, Kamaka Concert, Flea), I'd definitely say the KoAloha. I love the Kamaka concert, and that model has a lot of sentimental value to me since it was the first nice uke I can remember trying. I borrowed a white label from my best friend and fell in love with the higher-end ukulele lines. But the Fluke/Flea line has a certain unique feel to the instruments. They have that chunky neck, and a certain feel to the action when you play. The tone is also more "direct" and "straightforward." I think that these qualities make it more similar to one of the KoAloha builds than the Kamaka builds. The latter, to me, seems a bit more gentle and traditional.

It's difficult to describe in words, but having played them extensively, I'd say that the KoAloha is the refined big brother to the Flea line moreso than Kamaka.

Plainsong
01-31-2011, 11:05 AM
Dude, your avatar? IS that your band name? if it is, You Frackin' Rock!

JT

Noooo, it's actually Tom Zarek and His Personal Deathwish.

Ok, it's not that either. I just thought that line was cool, and I'm a big fan of Bear's music. If I got to be in a band, I'd beg and plead for that name. :)

pdxuke
01-31-2011, 02:18 PM
Don't forget the Kamaka for a richer tone...
Gee, I'm the lone Kamaka man for now.... sheesh!!! he he..

Not for long... :-)

pdxuke
01-31-2011, 02:28 PM
I'm curious how an older Martin 0 Style would compare to the Koaloha or the Kamaka, in the same tonal ballpark?

Completely different because of tone woods. Martins are great, and so are the K brands--but they are different.

bazmaz
02-01-2011, 11:38 AM
Can I just chip in and say, I think its real sad if you have to sell your Flea. I know its battered and bashed and all, but that to me sounds like its a real war horse.

Fleas stand up to being bashed, and I hope you dont regret getting rid!!