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harry200577
03-16-2011, 07:26 AM
Hi all,
What would you consider as a professional ukulele? By this I mean what brands and prices?

:)

rem50
03-16-2011, 07:31 AM
Personally, I believe it is a matter of whose hands it is in. I have heard some very high quality sound come out of mediocre instruments when being played by a pro. As for pro ukes by themself I would think any of the "K" brands.

harry200577
03-16-2011, 07:54 AM
Ok thanks, do by that do you mean Kala, Koaloha, Kamaka etc.?

austinlee
03-16-2011, 08:15 AM
Not Kala. Generally you are talking about instruments that are hand made by luthiers to a high standard, not pumped out in a factory in the Far East.

strumsilly
03-16-2011, 10:03 AM
Personally, I believe it is a matter of whose hands it is in. I have heard some very high quality sound come out of mediocre instruments when being played by a pro. As for pro ukes by themself I would think any of the "K" brands.

ditto.there are also a lot of custom ukes being built that are of very high quality. as for price, depending on the size [usually the bigger the uke , the bigger the price], I'd say expect to pay $700 + for a really good quality one.

whetu
03-16-2011, 10:30 AM
Not Kala. Generally you are talking about instruments that are hand made by luthiers to a high standard, not pumped out in a factory in the Far East.

It depends. Kala are generally made to a very high standard for their price bracket, and as rem50 said - it depends on whose hands they're in. James Hill, who tends to play on a GString Signature (http://www.gstringukuleles.com/sig.asp) Series (http://www.ukulelejames.com/signature_model.htm) (but he has others like his Mya Moe slide) can be seen on Youtube making Kala's absolutely sing. He's also been captured playing and speaking positively about an Oscar Schmidt. Dave Grohl plays (or at least has played) a cigar box uke. GUGUG play on whatever they can get their hands on - plastic ukes with missing strings? They don't care, and they'll make them sound good through solid, fun, musicianship. Flukes and Fleas have also been seen in many famous hands.

Ask me what a professional uke is and I'll say the James Hill Signature, but does the OP have a spare $3200.00USD? Ask Eddie Vedder and he'll say one of these (http://earnestinstruments.com/tululele.html) (apparently), ask Train and they'll say they play a Fender. Now I've played on Fender ukes, I've really tried to like them, but at the end of the day I don't rate them any higher than, say, Lanikai. I think the action is too low, the sound is too bland and I like Kala's better. But Train get a good sound out of theirs.

I think the question needs more clarification though i.e. where is it leading?

Ukulele Jim
03-16-2011, 10:35 AM
Kala ukuleles sound wonderful and are very well made. Quality control is high. I see no reason why you couldn't make professional-sounding recordings or play live professionally with a Kala. (Cuz, well, I do it. I'm no James Hill, but I make it work.)

ItsMrPitchy
03-16-2011, 11:32 AM
A very good player will make a uke woth 100 sound good. But for a high quality uke the 4 K's are the most common ones.

Plainsong
03-16-2011, 11:48 AM
Frankly there's been some show stopping issue with every Kala I've yet had. The latest one is that the saddle tilted and I didn't notice, so the bridge cracked and is lifting on my jazz tenor. I don't have high hopes for a repair. I'm too far away from them if they insist I send it back. But I did buy from an authorized dealer and supposedly I have a warranty. So I dunno..

The neck on my Kala blue aqua tenor feels practically concave.

I have varying intonation issues from string set to string set and from fret to fret on my Kala Lacewood concert. It's with my father in law now. He's handy with tools should he want to try a repair.

I just haven't had the best luck with Kala, so I don't really buy the high standard thing. I have cheaper ukes built worlds better. *ahem* Mainland...

Are these problems fixable? Sure. Is it worth the cost?

Edit - I want to add that I don't want to offend Kala or anyone else who likes Kala with reporting these issues. It just is what it is. I _haven't_ yet had a chance to fully report on the luthier's diagnosis of the jazz tenor's issues, and the local guys think they owe me a uke. I haven't yet talked to Kala about that, so they may well step up. That would be awesome, it felt lovely to play. If not, I don't feel like fighting it, but people need to know the good and bad, that's all. :)

I will certainly give credit where it's due if Kala does what the local guys think they should do. I mean this ain't a witchhunt!

cb56
03-16-2011, 12:30 PM
Don't all kala's come with a lifetime warranty against factory or material defects? Just sayin'.

whetu
03-16-2011, 12:44 PM
That's really weird Plainsong, random guess but maybe the Kala's aren't too happy with the Finnish climate? From an NZ perspective, Mainland's (excluding shipping) are pretty much the same price as relative Kala's, maybe slightly more expensive after shipping and any duties. I'd heard nothing but good things about Mainlands, and I'd get one.. but the rope binding really hasn't grown on me yet (their mahogany series, sans rope binding, look damn nice though)

Huna
03-16-2011, 12:55 PM
you know whats funny is the sound you are going for. Do you want "like ringing a bell?" or ... "clanky?" its weird but depending on the effect you are going for... someone was asking me about my hamano and you know it had been in the case for a while while I am listening to these acacias etc.... koas ringing like a bell ... well this thing is different but .... it has a coolness of its own so... what is professional is what the sound you are going for, does it match it or not? like an electric with reverb or with what?

SailingUke
03-16-2011, 12:58 PM
I would have thought any ukulele that gets paid to play is a professional ukulele.
While most professionals play more expensive instruments, I don't believe it is a requirement.
Michael Powers plays a Kala (the electrics in it are probably more than my house), but it is a Kala.
I agree with the others, if you can play, you can play. A better instrument may assist you in playing better,
but my James Hill Signature model does NOT get me even close to his ability.

Plainsong
03-16-2011, 01:01 PM
That's really weird Plainsong, random guess but maybe the Kala's aren't too happy with the Finnish climate? From an NZ perspective, Mainland's (excluding shipping) are pretty much the same price as relative Kala's, maybe slightly more expensive after shipping and any duties. I'd heard nothing but good things about Mainlands, and I'd get one.. but the rope binding really hasn't grown on me yet (their mahogany series, sans rope binding, look damn nice though)

Asked the Luthier pointblank after he stated the saddle was too small for the bridge: Did the tilting saddle cause the crack? Answer: Absolutely.

If you look at the ukes I do have, you should notice some more delicate ones that have survived here very well. Guess I shouldn't have reported on it. Sigh...

Edit to add, I thought my post made it clear that I am aware of their warranty. And they may well honor it and like I already said, I would certainly report that. I mean of course! It's just that I know that companies generally like you to return the item, and it'll cost more than the uke is worth to do that if they ask. Like I said, it is what it is, we'll see.

iDavid
03-16-2011, 01:15 PM
Mya-Moe. I just got one and they are clearly a professional instrument with service to match. For a lesser expensive, I would go for Mainland without hesitation. I had a tenor and only sold it after I got ukes costing 3 times as much.

Sailor brand by Uke Republic looks the a GREAT buy also. I have no experience with them by Mike is a stand-up guy and would trust with word.

jlester2200
03-16-2011, 01:19 PM
i have an earnest instruments concert sized tululele and have not yet morphed into eddie vedder (though his is a custom made tenor). i also have a cigarbox uke and have not become dave grohl. but jesus the tululele is beautiful, wicked fun to play, super well crafted, and most importantly sounds great.

i'm with the crowd that real musicians, talented professionals and the like, can rip the shit out of just about anything. it's all about what they choose to play. amanda palmer bought her uke down the corner from her house for 15 bucks. aldrine and the like could grab the cheapest piece of plastic crap with the worst strings, tune it up and make it sing.

the beginning of the movie "it might get loud" shows jack white tie a cable to two nails on a board, slide a bottle underneath the "string" to create tension, nail a coil to the board, stick one end of a cable into the coil, the other into an amp, and make rock noises. then he turns to the camera and says something like "you don't need to waste money buying a guitar" or something like that.

Plainsong
03-16-2011, 01:22 PM
You're not helping my irrational love of the Tululele. :)

jlester2200
03-16-2011, 01:36 PM
i too had irrational love for tululele when i first saw one, and if anything it's been like a honeymoon that has never ended. few years back, i checked earnest instruments site and was like "wow, tululele is like the tip of the iceberg to this guy" with all his crazy designs for all things string - i also dig the 'sputnick'. joel does tip top work. definitely most played uke in the house. kinda spendy but way worth it.
sorry if that is more not helping

ichadwick
03-16-2011, 02:00 PM
There's no such thing as a "professional" instrument, only professional players. The word denotes having a career in that field. An instrument cannot work alone.

ricdoug
03-16-2011, 07:29 PM
Hot Time Harv's a professional that likes Makala Dolphin's:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiKLVuzmoQs

iDavid
03-16-2011, 10:09 PM
Top musicians can make anything sound good. I need all the help I can get!

Hippie Dribble
03-16-2011, 10:36 PM
There's no such thing as a "professional" instrument, only professional players. The word denotes having a career in that field. An instrument cannot work alone.

totally agreed here. A good player can make a dog sing like a bird.

But if we shift the focus of the question and ask who makes the best ukes? Answer gets much simpler, at least for me: Mya Moe, Collings, Moore Bettah. Plus a number of other great builders very close behind...Mike Da Silva, Duane Heilman, Tony Graziano, Scott Wise, William King etc etc...we could keep going and going....then there are the K brands ..yummmy....and, ooooh noo, it's time for my medication again... :o

Plainsong
03-17-2011, 01:25 AM
That said, if I had an important solo, I'd rather have my Buffet than my Bundy. (talking clarinets here) But I can get more out of a resonite horn now than I could when I was in 5th grade. Jeez how sad for me if I couldn't. :D

Plainsong
03-17-2011, 03:35 PM
I'm replying to myself, but I wanted to bump to try my best to clarify my take on the whole Kala thing. I reported my issues because of the idea that there's this really high standard when from my experience, it's maybe not so much. BUT having said that, they have their own challenges on price to quality ratios, and just because there are problems doesn't mean they wouldn't make it right. They were plenty friendly when I thought it was just the pickup at fault.

I'm of two minds about asking or a replacement. It's two years old. True it didn't get played much because of the pickup problems, but it is two years old. Secondly, if I had noticed the tilting saddle maybe we wouldn't be in this situation. Yes the fault happened on their end, the saddle isn't close to fitting in that bridge. Yes that fault caused the destruction of the bridge. Yes, the warranty should cover that. Yes it's true that I didn't notice because it wasn't fit for purpose and I stopped playing it, or paying any attention to it.

But if I had noticed I could have maybe done something, like all those with this same issue on the Acacia tenors.

Also, I've been so fortunate since taking up uke and the joy and community it has brought me. I feel thankful. I don't feel as if I'm owed anything.

Waterguy
03-17-2011, 03:40 PM
Mya Moe. Lots of good ukes out there, but I can't tell you how many times these days I see those who make a living playing Uke and they are playing a Mya Moe.

GX9901
03-17-2011, 06:24 PM
I think most of the time when someone says "professional ukulele", it's just marketing hype. I mean, Jon Braman (http://www.jonbraman.com/), who is the "Father if hip-hop ukulele", plays a uke he found in the garbage.

pdxuke
03-17-2011, 06:58 PM
That said, if I had an important solo, I'd rather have my Buffet than my Bundy. (talking clarinets here) But I can get more out of a resonite horn now than I could when I was in 5th grade. Jeez how sad for me if I couldn't. :D

Yeah, me too. (And I still have my Buffet--like Plainsong.)

Look, I think the OP was talking about a fine quality instrument. Here is my list, built from least expensive to most expensive and based only on instruments I've played or owned:

OHANA (and again, OHANA. Given the choice between a Kala and Ohana, I prefer the Ohana.)
MAINLAND
SPRUCEHOUSE
KIWAYA
KOALOHA
KAMAKA
COLLINGS

These are all good quality instruments, just different prices which of course, buy you hand made instead of factory made, for example.

I'd like it noted that the Ohana SK35 is the least expensive of all the instruments here, and one of the best all mahogany ukes I have ever played.

70sSanO
03-17-2011, 07:38 PM
In my opinion, if you really want a professional ukulele, so to speak, find a player's ukulele.

Lose the bling, a satin finish is probably a better choice. Get a well made solid wood ukulele that sounds great and will hold up throughout the test of time.

Kamaka, KoAloha, Kanilea, are the first to come to mind, but Collings and others are just as good and possibly better.

It may cost you a few dollars, but you want to be able to pop the case 30 years from now and through all the bumps and bruises it just keeps getting better.

John