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AcousticDoc
07-24-2008, 10:05 AM
Hello, I'm a beginner and was wondering what were the equavilant uke companies that are the high quality mass produced Ukes similar to Taylor, Martin and Gibson guitars. Oh and what would also be the more smaller privately handbuilt James Olson or goodalls of the uke world as well?

Boozelele
07-24-2008, 10:56 AM
Hello, I'm a beginner and was wondering what were the equavilant uke companies that are the high quality mass produced Ukes similar to Taylor, Martin and Gibson guitars. Oh and what would also be the more smaller privately handbuilt James Olson or goodalls of the uke world as well?

Dude! you left out Fender....what's up with that??? :(

I think that the popularity of guitars facilitates mass produced high quality instruments....where as the uke has two distinct classes...mass produced and hand crafted. Now some of the mass produced ukes are 'good' instruments...but the hand crafted ukes can be 'REALLY good' instruments (I know, I know, I'm totally speaking in generalizations)

AcousticDoc
07-24-2008, 11:01 AM
Dude! you left out Fender....what's up with that??? :(

Cause Fender builds crappy guitars! J/K! I was just listing good acoustic guitar brands (fender doesn't have any good acoustics!) So from my 30 minute research are the big mass produced ukulele's Kala and Kamaka?

seeso
07-24-2008, 11:02 AM
Kamaka, KoAloha, Martin

Poi Dog
07-24-2008, 11:05 AM
Easiest way to figure out what's the best of the best...

"What are YOUR favorite PROS using?" For me its... What does Jake use? How about Britni Paiva or Victoria Vox or James Hill or Herb Otah jr. or ALDRINE? How about some bands... like Ho'onua or Malino, etc.

Answer for me is... Kamaka, Koaloha and G-String.

AcousticDoc
07-24-2008, 11:06 AM
Kamaka, KoAloha, Martin

So all the Kala's that I've been seeing around here are not very good?

AcousticDoc
07-24-2008, 11:09 AM
Easiest way to figure out what's the best of the best...

"What are YOUR favorite PROS using?" For me its... What does Jake use? How about Britni Paiva or Victoria Vox or James Hill or Herb Otah jr. or ALDRINE? How about some bands... like Ho'onua or Malino, etc.

Answer for me is... Kamaka, Koaloha and G-String.

Wow I checked out the Koaloha's they are gorgeous! Hopefully I will get good enough within the next few years to warrant a purchase of one of these beauties provided I liek the tone of course! My beginner Uke feels so cheap!

Boozelele
07-24-2008, 11:12 AM
So all the Kala's that I've been seeing around here are not very good?

That is what I was referring to with my "mass produced" comment. Kala, Lanikai, Ohana, are all made in 'asia', some can actually be pretty good but they are NOT the gibsons or martins of the ukulele world. And besides....nobody just buys ONE ukulele....so try them all.:D

Poi Dog
07-24-2008, 11:20 AM
Wow I checked out the Koaloha's they are gorgeous! Hopefully I will get good enough within the next few years to warrant a purchase of one of these beauties provided I liek the tone of course! My beginner Uke feels so cheap!

Yup - that's what I upgraded to! I've got a Koaloha Tenor now... I used to have a cheaper Leolani Tenor (handed it down to my son).

http://poi-dog.net/ukulele/koaloha.jpg

However, I'll probably be upgrading next year to a Kamaka Tenor (if I start saving all my pennies now... LOL).

Rubbertoe
07-24-2008, 12:46 PM
Cause Fender builds crappy guitars! J/K! I was just listing good acoustic guitar brands (fender doesn't have any good acoustics!) So from my 30 minute research are the big mass produced ukulele's Kala and Kamaka?

Kala's and Kamaka's are two different animals. Both mass produced but with very different end results (and price tags). Mass produced doesn't necessarily mean "bad" and hand-made doesn't necessarly mean "good".


Kamaka, KoAloha, Martin

I'd have to add Kanile'a to this list. (unless you have an aversion to bridge pins).

rt1965
07-24-2008, 12:56 PM
When you think of Bushman, Ohana, Kala, etc... think Blueridge guitars. They are Asian made instruments that sound and look prettty decent, but don't quite hit the mark of Martin, Gibson, or Taylor. Then again, you're not paying top dollar for them. I have two KoAlohas, and an Ohana. There is just no cpmparison in overall quality. The Ohana is a nice uke and feels a niche, but a nice Martin tenor would fit the bill much better.

When you think Martin, Gibson, Taylor, think KoAloha, Kamaka, Kanilea, etc... As far as custom builders, thing Glyph Ukuleles, Andy Powers, and even some from the ones named above.

Interestingly, the latest ukes from Martin haven't gotten rave reviews. The 5K and the Daisy are outstanding, but the new style 3's are getting mixed reviews. I think the issue is, they are being compared to Vintage Martins, and that probably just isn't fair. Martin isn't really set up to do ukes the way they used to, at least not finish wise. The build quality is good, but the finish they use today is much different from the ukes of yesteryear.

Kiwaya is another mass production builder who build really nice sopranos and concerts. Very much like Vintage Martins in both build and tone.

AcousticDoc
07-24-2008, 01:16 PM
rt1965! That's a great post! :rock: I originally bought a bushman Jenny concert cause someone told me if was a blueridge version of the ukulele! And I remember playing some blueridge 160s that sounded almost as good as Martin HD28Vs a few years ago. So Are the ohana's, kala's and bushmans similar in tone to the more expensive ones with just poorer construction? I remember liking the blueridge tone but being horrified by the laquer job and neck.

OoOo they make uke's with bridge pins!? SWEET! My current Jenny doesn't have bridge pins and I'm scared of the day when I will have to change strings.:confused:

SuperSecretBETA
07-24-2008, 02:42 PM
I wouldn't think Martins would fit in the category because they're considered vintage. I guess I would say Koaloha, Kamaka, and someone else... It's a toss-up between GString and Kanile'a.

deach
07-24-2008, 02:44 PM
I wouldn't think Martins would fit in the category because they're considered vintage. I guess I would say Koaloha, Kamaka, and someone else... It's a toss-up between GString and Kanile'a.

Are the new Martins considered vintage?

SuperSecretBETA
07-24-2008, 02:59 PM
Are the new Martins considered vintage?

No. Other than the recreated 5K, I didn't know they have more. It just seems too much of a niche that I still don't know if I can call it a modern production brand... kinda like a lone ukulele luthier that's not really established as a part of a company. If they have a new line though, then I guess I stand corrected.

SinisterDom
07-24-2008, 03:37 PM
No. Other than the recreated 5K, I didn't know they have more. It just seems too much of a niche that I still don't know if I can call it a modern production brand... kinda like a lone ukulele luthier that's not really established as a part of a company. If they have a new line though, then I guess I stand corrected.

Martin currently makes the 5K, 3K, 3C cherry, and S-O

freedive135
07-24-2008, 04:03 PM
I just have to say I like my Kalas!!!!
Yes I would love to have a Koaloha and when I am better (years from now) i'd like one.

And it not the hammer its the carpenter. Anyone seen the guitar that Willie Nelson plays?
http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=1046936

rt1965
07-24-2008, 06:15 PM
Martin's full ukulele lineup includes the 5K, the 5 Daisy, the SO, and three fairly new Style 3's. The newer Style 3's come in Mahogany, Cherry, and Koa. It's the newer Style 3's that are getting mixed reviews. I think too many buyers were smply expecting the new models to sound like their Vintage counterparts. Not gonna happen right out of the box. That and the finish is different from the older ukes, which turns the Martin purists off.

I don't think, however, that I would dismiss Martin as simply a niche builder. They may indeed be filling a niche, but let's not forget they have more experience than many of today's modern uke builders. It's not as if they just decided to get into the uke market. They have been overwhelmingly successful re-introducing Vintage style guitars over the past several years. Other than the finish difference in their new ukes, the design is the same. There's no reason to think their ukes will be sub-standard. Well, except for the SO!:D

experimentjon
07-24-2008, 06:41 PM
Indeed, the best "mass produced" or "factory system (division of labor)" ukuleles are made by Kamaka, KoAloha, G String, and Kanilea. And I would place them in that order from most well known and well respected to less well respected (but still very very good.) However, I personally love my Kanilea tenor which I chose over an almost identically priced Kamaka tenor. All of them build great ukes, and when you're up in that price range, you're getting a good instrument, it's just a matter of personal preference which one you choose.

And as for kalas, they're not bad for the money, but I have never played a Kala that sounds or plays quite like a higher end uke.

drubin
07-24-2008, 07:15 PM
let's not forget they [Martin] have more experience than many of today's modern uke builders. It's not as if they just decided to get into the uke market. They have been overwhelmingly successful re-introducing Vintage style guitars over the past several years. Other than the finish difference in their new ukes, the design is the same. There's no reason to think their ukes will be sub-standard. Well, except for the SO!:D

FWIW, I'm not sure "experience" is the right word here. Are the uke's Martin is making built by the same luthier's of Martin's yesteryear? No. It's new, factory based luthiers, albeit (from what I have heard), factory based luthiers located in the United States. And are you sure Martin is following their original design specs? I haven't been able to confirm this anywhere I've looked or asked. Maybe I'm missing something, don't know. I do know that Martin owns the copyright to the model names, obviously, but I'm not sure the new 5k or whichever new model is EXACTLY the same (finish differences aside) as the vintage models.

rt1965
07-24-2008, 09:48 PM
FWIW, I'm not sure "experience" is the right word here. Are the uke's Martin is making built by the same luthier's of Martin's yesteryear? No. It's new, factory based luthiers, albeit (from what I have heard), factory based luthiers located in the United States. And are you sure Martin is following their original design specs? I haven't been able to confirm this anywhere I've looked or asked. Maybe I'm missing something, don't know. I do know that Martin owns the copyright to the model names, obviously, but I'm not sure the new 5k or whichever new model is EXACTLY the same (finish differences aside) as the vintage models.

One of the things Martin is the best at is keeping records. It doesn't need to be the same luthiers of the past. If anything, the build process is only going to be improved by modern technology. The same modern technology that many of the other big builders are using today. Also, all but the SO are being built in the US. The SO is built in Mexico.

I can't say for sure that they are using their original plans, but I can't figure out why they wouldn't. Afterall, why try to reinvent the wheel that they created in the first place. Martin is also known for doing a fair amount of research before building something new. They will have bought up a bunch of vintage pieces and dismantled them to see how they were built. I can make a phone call tomorrow to ask, I have a good friend who has worked there for many years.

Also, FWIW, I'm not trying to say they are any sort of big player in today's uke market. I'm only responding to the notion of them not being established, or experienced.

Plainsong
07-25-2008, 07:36 AM
It's not that the S-O is bad, the new one, it's just that it costs a lot compared to other ukes with the same or better sound.

I think Kiwaya, and Risa need to be added to this list. I know I know, Risa is in Germany, but come on, they build top tier "factory" stuff!

juha
07-25-2008, 10:49 AM
Plainsong, don't you think you missed out Howlett? :rock: I know you have atleast one and you know I do, too... but this is all luthier built stuff and you can't really compare it with factory ukes... And just to set one thing straight, Koalohas and Kamakas don't match up to the G-String. Why? Because G-Strings are built with a different philosophy: one luthier, one uke... Where as the others with a K in their name are built the way that you have a bunch of guys sawing and glueing on one instrument. What's more, all the Koalohas I tried out, and there's several of them, were without a doubt wonderful instruments, but the wood used in building originated from various sources, not from the same actual block of wood... and these are those things that separate a factory-uke from an actual luthier built fine instrument, like my Howlett Helsinki Soprano or my Custom-shop built G-String Concert... hey, I know the guys who built them ;)

c.b.fiddler
07-26-2008, 03:46 AM
The new Martin 3's are built to specs, but some of the nuances turn the purists off. The "fit and finish" isn't the same - such as the how the edge of the fingerboard is rounded, and their choice of the rosette inlays around the soundhole.

Plainsong
07-26-2008, 11:48 AM
I know Pete's stuff and any instrument built by one luthier from start to finish beats "factory" built instruments. I put factory in quotes because with these well respected brands, they're respected for a reason, and lots of by-hand stuff still very much goes into factory builds. I just can't accept that Koaloha sucks just because the Helsinki soprano is of course better. Koaloha doesn't suck just because they came up of ways to mixing manufacturing in with traditional methods. To my mind it's more that Koaloha, (and Kamaka, Kanilea, etc.,) have their signature sound. People know immediately if it's something they need in their lives or not. Nothing wrong with that. :)

The wood on my Koaloha looks pretty well matched. Even the neck looks like the koa on the back body even when it's not koa. I believe it's sapele. Yes bookmatching is wonderful, and luthier makes his/her bread and butter here. With a brand instrument perhaps it's more luck of the draw.

Luthier stuff is best, no argument from me, but that doesn't mean that the "factory" brands should be ignored.

This reminds me of me handing my koa flea to Pete and wondering what he'd say about the grade of koa they used. Ya know, I don't think he said anything. Anders and I were watching it like it was a sport, because Anders is at the top of his game like Pete is, at Windows Mobile graphical UI customization - "skinning." Anders struggles sometimes, like Pete did there, to say something nice about something you know you can do better. It made Anders LOL a little bit. :rofl:

I'll even go one further that there's this myth that luthier stuff costs 1.5k minimum, and it just ain't true. ;)

GrumpyCoyote
07-26-2008, 02:55 PM
(fender doesn't have any good acoustics!)

That would be incorrect. Nothing "great" but a few good ones - even on the low end. Gibson on the other-hand hasn't made a decent acoustic in decades other than the top of the line models... Don't get me wrong, I don't like fender much either. They all make the same level of crap for the most part.

Just my opinion of course.

So the question as written is loaded - it isn't about quality (all three of the companies mentioned make more unplayable garbage than real instruments) as much as it is popularity.

deach
07-26-2008, 03:38 PM
....

So the question as written is loaded - it isn't about quality (all three of the companies mentioned make more unplayable garbage than real instruments) as much as it is popularity.

Finally someone understands the question.

AcousticDoc
07-26-2008, 03:43 PM
That would be incorrect. Nothing "great" but a few good ones - even on the low end. Gibson on the other-hand hasn't made a decent acoustic in decades other than the top of the line models... Don't get me wrong, I don't like fender much either. They all make the same level of crap for the most part.

Alright I agree that fender makes a decent beginner's acoustic and gibson acoustics haven't been that great in recent years, but their epiphone branch is still pretty good! I personally think some of the Masterbilt's and Elitist models can beat their Gibson counterparts!

GrumpyCoyote
07-26-2008, 04:12 PM
Alright I agree that fender makes a decent beginner's acoustic and gibson acoustics haven't been that great in recent years, but their epiphone branch is still pretty good! I personally think some of the Masterbilt's and Elitist models can beat their Gibson counterparts!

Yep, agreed - my point was that from a quality perspective, they are all mostly about the same. The brand image stuff just confuses the issue.

tad
07-26-2008, 08:37 PM
The real question is why it matters to you.

The best instrument is the one that best suits your needs. Your question seems to be based on some "objective standard" of "quality" that doesn't exist.

You pay a lot for certain brands. Some are worth it, some are not. This is all secondary to what suits your needs.

Plainsong
07-26-2008, 09:43 PM
I should mention that I know Juha, and I'm just agreeing and adding my own .02 to it. He needs to plug Bastardos Sympaticos over in the Vids subforum. ;)

AcousticDoc
07-26-2008, 09:57 PM
What are the different tones for the high end uke companies? A lot of that depends on woods and structure of course, but in general, a taylor spruce/rosewood guitar will always sound brighter than a martin of the same woods. Do certain companies have a certain signature tone?

juha
07-26-2008, 11:13 PM
The bestest uke of the very best is the uke that sounds the best in your ears and you enjoy playing the most... AMEN!!! I've always found name-dropping an indicator of a lack of true values, but it doesn't change the fact that I love my G-String and haven't seen a single Koaloha that comes anywhere near it... oh yes, I once did have a go at a neat Kamaka and that 1930's National Reso-uke didn't meet my expectations and Ukulelezaza does have some cool vintage Martins and Ukulele-Igor's old Gibsons are neat and I rather not comment on Fleas and boy did I have fun playing an old Martin tiple and I do like Ko'olaus... Did I miss something out? Oh yes, Jerry Hoffman's Boatpaddles are fantastic, no matter how you like the looks and... must I realy go on? http://www.ukulelenclub.de/chat/smileys/icon_wut.gif

Plainsong
07-26-2008, 11:46 PM
Oh, Sepi's boat paddle Kyak - something else I need in my life, but at concert size. :)

With my Koaloha soprano, it's definately a sentimetal kind of thing. That's the first uke I got, the ksm-10 with the satin finish and annoying tuners, but it's the first one I heard my own hands play - and then playing it again last month, I just wasn't over it. Soprano isn't my favorite size, but I was happy to get a Koaloha soprano back in the family.

Having said soprano isn't my favorite size, I could have snuck out of the event last month with that London Plain uke. Something else I need in my life. And thanks for reminding me about my lust of the G String concert Honu. I love Honus enough that some are inked on my leg. And oh yeah, it'll sound nice too (the uke, not my leg). I think I need one of those in my life before the year ends. Concert is my favorite size, and yet my only acoustic concert is the Flea. That's not right.

And as for the Flea, well, them's fightin' words. ;) Yeah yeah, I had it for sale. That's not the issue. The issue is... them's fightin' words. ;)

Now see, I told yall we have a uke scene here. :nana:

Kekani
07-27-2008, 12:14 AM
Just for fun, and to go back to the original question (sort of), why don't we throw in a Kamaka `ukulele built by Casey or Chris, KoAloha `ukulele built by Paul, G-String built by Derek, and a Kanile`a built by Joe. While we're at it, lets add in a Compass Rose built by Rick. Juha, this was not meant to offend, just adding in some spice.

Besides any artwork or add-ons that could come with a Custom, can anyone really tell the difference if the owners of the company actually built the instrument (which they do)?

Where would they stand then? Would instruments built by those above elevate the names of the company (which would still be on the instruments, regardless), or would we say that those instruments wouldn't count in this survey because they're customs.

Define custom. Would they be a "Factory Custom" because its associated with a brand? Or would it be a luthier custom, and fall into the one man builds the whole thing category?

This is just stirring the pot (its late and I wanted to take some shots in the air). . . 'Ukulele Festival tomorrow (I mean today).

Plainsong
07-27-2008, 08:36 AM
I did play Juha's G String (his uke, his uke! ;) ) today, and yes, that's something I do need in my life.

Kekani brings up an interesting point. Pot stirred, things to ponder...

rclifford13
08-30-2009, 01:25 AM
Interesting, no mention of Ko'olau?
I would have thought that the four K's (Kamaka, KoAloha, Kanilea, Ko'olau) corresponded pretty nicely with Gibson, Martin and Taylor guitars. You'd also be looking at G-String, Martin, Kiwaya and Ana'ole. Then Kala, Honu and Pono.

As for Goodalls and Olson guitars, I would say the equivalent ukulele luthiers are:
Dave Means (Glyph)
Pete Howlett (Pete Howlett Ukulele)
William King (Chantus Music)
Mike DaSilva (DaSilva Ukuleles)
Chuck Moore (Moore Bettah Ukuleles)
Joel Eckhaus (Earnest Instruments)
Rick Turner (Compass Rose Ukuleles)

I'm sure I've missed some out. Come on guys!

RevWill
08-30-2009, 02:20 AM
So:

Martin has been making excellent acoustic guitars forever: Kamaka
Taylor is a relatively newer company with quality that rivals Martin: KoAloha
Gibson used to make excellent acoustic guitars but the current line is pedestrian: Martin

clayton56
08-30-2009, 02:54 AM
So:

Martin has been making excellent acoustic guitars forever: Kamaka
Taylor is a relatively newer company with quality that rivals Martin: KoAloha
Gibson used to make excellent acoustic guitars but the current line is pedestrian: Martin


I would second this, because Kamaka was the only company still making ukes not too long ago. They're the uke standard bearer. I might put Kanilea instead of KoAloha as a comparison for Taylor, they even use the same finish! And modern design elements, modern technology.

KoAloha I would put in a class by themselves because they are a little wild. Maybe compare them to Fender electric guitars.

cornfedgroove
08-30-2009, 03:17 AM
Easiest way to figure out what's the best of the best...

"What are YOUR favorite PROS using?" For me its... What does Jake use? How about Britni Paiva or Victoria Vox or James Hill or Herb Otah jr. or ALDRINE? How about some bands... like Ho'onua or Malino, etc.

Answer for me is... Kamaka, Koaloha and G-String.

Man I dont want anyone seeing me with a G-String...har har har

Matt Clara
08-30-2009, 03:46 AM
Hello, I'm a beginner and was wondering what were the equavilant uke companies that are the high quality mass produced Ukes similar to Taylor, Martin and Gibson guitars. Oh and what would also be the more smaller privately handbuilt James Olson or goodalls of the uke world as well?

I'll just add that for less than the cost of some of the more expensive ukes available today, one could have one custom built by someone such as Dave Talsma (http://www.davetalsma.com/). Certainly, you could get a martin replica for less than the cost of a new martin 3K or 5K.

hoosierhiver
08-30-2009, 03:58 AM
In my opinion, the Martin ukes of today are not exceptional and you are paying more because for the name. For the same amount of cash, you could get a much nicer uke.

ed531
08-30-2009, 04:25 AM
Hello, I'm a beginner and was wondering what were the equavilant uke companies that are the high quality mass produced Ukes similar to Taylor, Martin and Gibson guitars. Oh and what would also be the more smaller privately handbuilt James Olson or goodalls of the uke world as well?

Guitar = Uke

Martin = Martin
Gibson = Kamaka
Taylor = KoAloha
PRS = Kanile'a
PRS Private Stock = Ko'olau
LTD (import ESP) = Pono
Charvel/Jackson = G String
James Olson = Moore Bettah
Goodall - William King

:smileybounce:

LameLefty
08-30-2009, 04:54 AM
I have three ukes, two factory-produced and one hand-made custom from a man who makes maybe one per month or so. All three are high-quality instruments that have a lot to offer to a player.

My Glyph is as perfect visually and sonically as a completely hand-made, one-of-a-kind instrument can be. My Martin is as perfect as a production, factory built instrument can be (although only 36 were built the year mine was made, so it's not like they're being stamped out by a metal press or something). My Ko'Aloha is a little rougher in some of the details, and the glossy finish is a little thicker than it might probably be but it also cost about half as much as either of the other two. They all sound and play differently, but they all sound great.

Each instrument has its own strengths and weaknesses. For instance, people knock Martins and urge people to buy repros or vintage models. I can understand that argument. But I can also understand the argument that if I put my Martin under a bed for 30 years and pull it out to keep me company in the nursing home only to find the bridge popped off and the body separating, Martin will repair it for free. I know Dave warrants my Glyph for life as well, but we he still be around and working on ukes in 30 years? I don't know. How 'bout Papa Ko'Aloha? Martin's been around for 178 years and still family-owned. I'm pretty sure they'll be around to stand behind their products for as long as I need them to be. I also know my purchase price went to support American workers earning a decent wage with good benefits and in full compliance with health, safety and environmental regulations. I cannot say for certain that if I buy an import the same will be true. I can say the same things about my Glyph and my Ko'Aloha too, which makes me happy to support those builders.

Anyway, just my tuppence.

wickedwahine11
08-30-2009, 05:21 AM
I would second this, because Kamaka was the only company still making ukes not too long ago. They're the uke standard bearer. I might put Kanilea instead of KoAloha as a comparison for Taylor, they even use the same finish! And modern design elements, modern technology.

KoAloha I would put in a class by themselves because they are a little wild. Maybe compare them to Fender electric guitars.

Very well said!

kim jorgensen
08-30-2009, 11:39 AM
I started with Kala and they're great, inexpensive beginner's ukes, as are ohanas, ponos, lanikais. I still have a Kala baritone, and a Bushman baritone and tenor....they're all nice instruments but my Kanilea tenor is just much richer in tone.

Matt Clara
08-30-2009, 06:20 PM
<snip buncha good thoughts>

Anyway, just my tuppence.

I certainly didn't mean to rip on Martin, I'm sure their current ukes are just fine, and I would expect the 3K, 5K to be world class. They certainly are stunning to see:
http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/27858/278586.jpg

Pippin
08-30-2009, 08:17 PM
Dude! you left out Fender....what's up with that??? :(

I think that the popularity of guitars facilitates mass produced high quality instruments....where as the uke has two distinct classes...mass produced and hand crafted. Now some of the mass produced ukes are 'good' instruments...but the hand crafted ukes can be 'REALLY good' instruments (I know, I know, I'm totally speaking in generalizations)

Fender did not make the cut because those are acoustic guitars and Fender's acoustics are not in the same league as Martin, Taylor, and Gibson (although Gibson has had their share of recent poor quality issues).

In the world of ukulele, you will hear about the "K" ukes, all Hawaiian, all superb quality, all high-priced compared to the Chinese-made ukes. Fortunately, there are a bunch of nice quality ukes in the low and middle-price-range, too. Ohana and Kala are in that pack, so is Mainland.

Pippin
08-30-2009, 08:23 PM
Hello, I'm a beginner and was wondering what were the equavilant uke companies that are the high quality mass produced Ukes similar to Taylor, Martin and Gibson guitars. Oh and what would also be the more smaller privately handbuilt James Olson or goodalls of the uke world as well?

There are several builders that compare. You should look at Mike DaSilva, Peter Hurney "Pohaku Ukes", Dave Talsma, Dave Means "Glyph". Rick Turner (Compass Rose), In the UK, Pete Howlett does a fine job.

We are fortunate to have some world-class luthiers making wonderful instruments these days. There are some high-end production ukes, too (like Larrivee and Collings).

Pippin
08-30-2009, 08:43 PM
Alright I agree that fender makes a decent beginner's acoustic and gibson acoustics haven't been that great in recent years, but their epiphone branch is still pretty good! I personally think some of the Masterbilt's and Elitist models can beat their Gibson counterparts!

I have a Masterbilt DR500mens... great guitar. It is on par with my Martin on quality, but, it sounds better in several respects. There are still quality issues with Masterbilt, too, so QC is always hit & miss, just like Blueridge and lots of Chinese-made guitars. That is why I always buy a guitar after a test-drive.