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Dotted
04-20-2011, 07:12 PM
So I got my baritone uke in (Oscar Schmidt OU52) and have to say I wasn't really thrilled. The build quality was more what I would have expected from one of the $30-$50 baris instead of a $100 one (a lot of roughly finished parts). It also arrived tuned almost an octave too low, which resulted me ACTUALLY tuning it an octave too low and wondering why it sounded so bad :D But I did get it tuned properly and learned a few chords until my fingers felt pretty bruised.

Out of curiosity, I swung by the closest Guitar Center (I know, I know) after work to take a look at the ukes now that I have a better idea how to hold it and use the fret board. And low and behold, the concerts suddenly DIDN'T feel too small. Instead, they felt MUCH more comfortable to play the three little chord shapes I knew.

Coming home and picking up the baritone after playing around with the concerts was pretty frustrating. Frustrating enough that I think I'm going to pick up a concert to learn on instead and probably sell this one since I wasn't totally happy with it in the first place. If learning to play is more frustrating than fun, I know I won't keep up with it. So I might as well learn on the instrument that's more fun!

I will say the guy who came to talk to me at Guitar Center was very nice and pretty enthusiastic about the ukes, even though it didn't seem that he played himself. He all but told me to avoid the Mitchells and really recommended the Lanikais. He said they are constantly having to reorder the ukuleles because they've sold out and the ukes are the "big thing" right now.

I guess the moral of the story is that one should learn how to properly hold an instrument before deciding which size is "right".

So now to start shopping for a concert, I guess! At least I know this time I want one that's well-made (and "pretty") enough that I won't want to replace it right away. Shame the Mitchell apparently doesn't play nearly as well as it looked.

mm stan
04-20-2011, 08:43 PM
Aloha Dotted,
Sounds like the perfect excuse to get a new uke...wish I could use that one..but I have all the sizes already..he he Congrats on the new concert...happy stummings, MM Stan..

molokinirum
04-21-2011, 07:24 AM
Yep...looks like you need a new uke!! That is why it is very important (if possible) to go and play different size ukes, that way you will know which one is for you!!

Dotted
04-21-2011, 11:34 AM
Yeah, I've definitely decided to get a concert and the OS bari will go on Craigslist to pay for it. At least the same amount of money will get you a much better concert.

I'm really liking the Cordoba 10/15CM and the Luna Tattoo Concert. I did like the Cordoba I saw yesterday but I forgot to check which model it was. Hope to see the Luna in person today or tomorrow. Sam Ash carries both and is apparently having a big sale this weekend. The clerk is going to call me back this afternoon to let me know if any ukes will be discounted. I'm hoping one of my favorites is because that would make the choice easier. Of course, if there is a good deal on a Kala, I've heard you can't go wrong with those...

The bargain shopper in me is a pain when it comes to these things :p

OldePhart
04-21-2011, 12:36 PM
Yeah, I've definitely decided to get a concert and the OS bari will go on Craigslist to pay for it. At least the same amount of money will get you a much better concert.

I'm really liking the Cordoba 10/15CM and the Luna Tattoo Concert. I did like the Cordoba I saw yesterday but I forgot to check which model it was. Hope to see the Luna in person today or tomorrow. Sam Ash carries both and is apparently having a big sale this weekend. The clerk is going to call me back this afternoon to let me know if any ukes will be discounted. I'm hoping one of my favorites is because that would make the choice easier. Of course, if there is a good deal on a Kala, I've heard you can't go wrong with those...

The bargain shopper in me is a pain when it comes to these things :p

Actually, you can go wrong with any of the brands you mention, and especially if you're buying from a big house like Sam Ash, Musician's Friend, Amazon.com, etc. They aren't uke specialists and all they do is ship the box they got from the factory to you whilst assuming not much more than that SKU on the box is at least correct. When it comes to ukes in the Lanikai, Kala, etc. price range it is not unusual for them to need a setup - and that applies even to the top of the line from those makers. If you're going to buy one of these I strongly recommend getting it from a uke shop that will make sure it's set up (I used to recommend MGM but he has had to retire due to some pretty serious health issues).

I've owned and passed on three Lanikais: a soprano, a concert, and a tenor acoustic-electric. The soprano came from MGM and was set up perfectly. The tenor, interestingly enough, came straight from the factory via a "dropshipper" on eBay but was set up perfectly out of the box. Unfortunately, it was also so dead acoustically that I couldn't bring myself to sell it here in the marketplace and I gave it away. The concert had a nut that was terribly high - intonation was terrible. I had to pull out the nut files - once that was done it wasn't a bad little uke.

I also own a Kala solid acacia uke - it too had a terribly high nut and moderately high bridge before I took my magic files to it.

Even my KoAloha was a little high on the bridge end, though the nut was perfect.

My three Mainlands were all set up fine.

My Kiwaya KSL-02 longneck soprano was set up wonderfully but I bought it from MGM so I don't know whether it came from the factory that way or whether he worked his magic on it.

The bottom line is that you can find a bargain - but when you buy "bargains" from big online stores and outfits like Guitar Center it's really a crap shoot whether you'll get a real bargain or something pretty marginal. Consider - you've already been burned once on the bari (and Oscar Schmidt actually has a decent reputation in the low-end market) - do you really want to roll the dice again?

John

Dotted
04-21-2011, 12:54 PM
I'm not sure I'd say I was burned by the OS as it actually sounds quite good to my untrained ear, even with what I know are crappy strings. It's the size that's bothering me the most. If it wasn't for that, I could probably live with the physical flaws (and I'm not sure if they come from being a store display or from the factory, probably the latter as it's more the parts being rough than anything). Since I am looking to buy a new uke, though, I'm going to try to avoid said flaws.

At least if I'm buying in-person, I'd be able to check things like the action and intonation before I put the money down. I've already upped my budget quite a bit more than I'd planned and I guess I just want to get the best uke I can, and one that I know I'll enjoy.

OldePhart
04-21-2011, 01:11 PM
At least if I'm buying in-person, I'd be able to check things like the action and intonation before I put the money down. I've already upped my budget quite a bit more than I'd planned and I guess I just want to get the best uke I can, and one that I know I'll enjoy.

Yes, buying in person is always best. Take a tuner to the store with you. If you don't own a decent tuner (preferably one better than the cheapest clip-ons, as they are not very precise) buy that first. While you're test driving the ukes, check the intonation at the first fret with each one. If any strings are more than about ten cents off (that's another reason to use a needle tuner like a Korg CA30 or something - you can tell how far something is out of tune) I'd at least use that as a bargaining chip on the price. Or, get them to set it up so it's no longer out.

Your ideal is a uke where there is no intonation "slack" at the first fret. I.e., on a perfect uke fretting at the first fret will give you within one cent of the correct note when the open string is tuned spot on. I.e. C string gives you exactly C# at the first fret, etc. It's pretty unusual to find this in factory ukes (or guitars, for that matter). If the notes at the first fret pull sharp, the slots in the nut are too high. This isn't a major problem if you have a nut file and a little patience. However, sometimes you can't get it perfect without the string buzzing because the frets aren't level, and that's a lot bigger pain to fix. That's why you take the tuner to the store and make them fix any problems!

John

Dotted
04-21-2011, 01:42 PM
Thanks for the tip, I was thinking you'd have to check intonation the whole way down so it's good to know that the first fret can really tell you that much!

Dotted
04-21-2011, 07:24 PM
I spent almost two hours in the store going over the ukes XD I thought I would get a Cordoba but looking at the five in the store (all fresh in the package), the tuners were pretty lousy. I thought I liked the tone the best but it might have just been because it was LOUD. I tried a few others but wasn't as fond of them.

So I ended up getting the Luna Tattoo concert! I think I might have been happy with the Cordoba too, but the first of the two Lunas I tried was "fine" whereas I went through all the Cordobas looking for tuners that felt better (and not finding them). So I think I made the right choice.

Now all I have to do is actually learn how to play (and learn what the four chords I know are in this tuning).

chiefnoda
04-22-2011, 06:00 AM
I ended up getting the Luna Tattoo concert!

Congratulations! You're lucky that you have a store nearby where you can browse and pick and choose.

> Now all I have to do is actually learn how to play (and learn what the four chords I know are in this tuning).

Or, you can learn the names of the four "chord fingerings" that you learned for baritone. That may be easier. Of course, you can learn more chords as you go along, and you will very soon. Such a joy - and welcome to the club

Happy Pickin
Chief

Huna
04-22-2011, 06:51 AM
The Luna is probably great. Yeah I had to adjust mine a tad but not much (my honu) . I also had the Cordoba 15CM and it was very nice too. I had too many ukes so auctioned it to charity. I have a Luna Honu and like it but its a soprano. I would say that concerts are easier for playing up the neck than sopranos in my opinion. I am awaiting my Hamano concert I just won off ebay. Actually if you want a good not so pretty uke, SamAsh has the Makala Concert which is probably cheaper than the Lanikai. Either one is probably fine but I also believe the Luna is prettier and probably better sounding too. Plus it comes with aquilas. As far as setup goes, the Makala is least likely to require tweaking. but if you have a nail file, you could adjust any of the ukes a little if you needed too. I do them all the time!

olgoat52
04-22-2011, 07:56 AM
It is not uncommon to ship ukes detuned to relieve stress on the neck during shipping. KoAloha recommended that on a uke I shipped to them. just and FYI.

A good digital tuner is worth owning. Although it won't stop you from tuning an octave too high. Usually the strings stop you from doing that :)

OldePhart
04-22-2011, 09:14 AM
Although it won't stop you from tuning an octave too high. Usually the strings stop you from doing that :)

Ping!

John

Dotted
04-22-2011, 11:51 AM
Yeah, I'm glad I was down instead of up. Still need to get spare strings!

I checked the intonation on the OS and it looks to be dead on, maybe even more than the Luna is. So I feel okay putting that up for sale on Craigslist. Most of the local stores seemed to be out of baris so hopefully someone who is looking for one can get it :)

Much happier with the Luna so far. I think it will be my official "first uke". I call a mulligan on the other one.