View Full Version : I'm Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place with UAS. Help!

Little Plink
06-04-2011, 06:15 AM
Hey, everybody!

It's my first post here on the UU forums, but I've been reading them for a few months now. I'm only 14 years old, but I've slowly grown to love the 'ukulele.

To understand my problem, you need to know that my parents are strict in the way that if I diligently save up for something for months, they will not let me buy it. This is because I have played the violin since I was 5 years old, and they say I'm stretching myself too thin with all the instruments I play... Which I suppose is believable. Over the years I've amassed and taught myself to play guitar, bass, piano, alto sax, tenor sax, drums, and 'ukulele.

Even so, if I earn what I play, why is it necessary to keep me from expanding my repertoire? I'm not falling behind in my violin lessons, and I earn the money from doing odd jobs and chores for my neighbors.

I have one 'ukulele, and it's kind of a cheapo, but I still love it. It's a Kohala HU212, which, if you're not already aware, is entry brand for Lanikai which is sort of an entry brand in itself. The point is, I'm ready for a major step up, I've been playing this thing for months, and I'm getting some major UAS.

Obviously, the ultimate goal for most players is a K-Brand (My fave is Kamaka, cuz I'm old-school like that.) The prices on these are a bit steep, and, well, really, it's a pipe dream. It's like the time I tried to scrape together $1700 for a Rickenbacker bass. DIDN'T WORK AT ALL. So I'm going with the cheapest solid koa tenor I could find. (Actually, I'm not sure they're in production anymore, but I found a few online.) It's a Kamoa, from before they changed everything when it was still solid koa.

Three problems stand in my way;

-The cheapest price I found was just over $500. Which, really, If I worked hard enough, I could come up with that money over a period of time, so, it's not so much an obstacle as an inconvenience. You know, I don't have like bills or mortgages and stuff like that... Yet :(

-My parents refuse to let me get another 'ukulele because they're convinced that 'ukuleles are nothing more than toys. They don't understand that a $500 ukulele is NOT a toy. (Forgive them, they're naturally violin snobs. I was one, too, once upon a time.)

-As I stated before, these ukuleles are, as far as I can see, no longer in production, so while I hoarde cash and try to convince my parents, supplies are dwindling. By the time the conditions are ripe, all of these will be gone, and I'll have to wait months to save up for a real K-Brand, which in my humble opinion, would better serve a more skilled player. Which isn't to say I'm bad, I can play some Shimabukuro songs pretty much flawlessly, but I'm no Ohta-San.

Sooo... any advice?

06-04-2011, 06:28 AM
Let them play an ukulele.
See if they can resist!

06-04-2011, 06:34 AM
First of all.. Welcome to UU! sounds like you are gifted with music and that is wonderful. I can't really tell you what to do, because I wouldn't want to cause problems with your parents. Although, all parents we have our issues too.

I am a mom of three, and all of my kids play instruments. I encourage it. Probably because I always wanted to play instruments and never had the support. My daughter will be 11 and she takes violin lessons and flute lessons. Plus she has taught herself flute, recorder, and a little piano. She is also playing around with my ukes. I encourage it, they are not athletic and I feel that they have to do something. My oldest is 15 and plays both acoustic and electric guitar and my youngest is 9 and plays electric guitar and double bass and will be picking up percussion at school next year as well. As long as they keep their grades up I am all for it.

I don't know what sort of ukulele you have now, but perhaps if you saved up the money and told your parent you would like to upgrade and sell the one you have now to get a better one. I don't know. Biggest thing is don't go behind their backs (parents don't like that sort of thing) Keep up your current studies and your grades.. and give it time.

By the way their are lots of instruments going on sale second hand on the marketplace here so maybe you could find a good deal on one when you are ready.. Kudos for you to be able to save up the money and be so dedicated. It's a good start in life to know that you can't charge stuff and keeps debt down and that's great!

Keep up your music and your playing and I wish you a lot of luck on your adventures with music and life!

06-04-2011, 07:59 AM
Dear Little Plink, most of us parents only wish that their kids would be willing to save up $500 to buy an instrument rather than a fancy game console <g>. I have a 14 year old and we are learning how to play the uke together -- well actually it's more like parallel play than together (parenting joke). Can't give you advice about the 'rents although several snide suggestions come to mind immediately <g> -- you sound like a really talented kid and I hope that eventually your parents will let you find your own path. As a university professor I see kids all the time who are unhappily following their parents expectations rather than choosing their own careers and I can tell you it ain't pretty even when they do get a degree. Okay judgementalness aside, you can get a good one for under $500. You didn't say what size uke you're interested in but you can get an excellent solid koa uke for an affordable price. Right now there's a nice solid koa sopranouke at BlackBear Ukes that I've had my eyes on and it's only $350. I haven't played it but BB ukes have gotten good reviews on the board. I do own a KoAloha Pikake which I bought new for $350 (yeah it was a steal) but these ukes are great, a K brand and will last you a lifetime even if you become a virtuoso. They've been discontinued I believe, so the prices have dropped. Search the web and you'll be able to find one for under $500 although when I just checked they weren't much under that price (:-( . Other good advice is to look for a used K-brand instrument.

Keep on playing and enjoying music and life!

Dan Uke
06-04-2011, 08:06 AM
I agree that you can get a used K brand Soprano for under $500...bigger sizes are less frequent and it's luck of you seeing the post before someone else. Good luck

mm stan
06-04-2011, 09:29 AM
Be patient and a good second hand uke will come around..just keep checking the marketplace here and Flea Market Music..by the time, keep saving until the right time and jump on it as soon as a
good one with a good price comes along as it will not last long..hesitate and it's gone.. Yes in your budget range, it is better to buy second hand, you get a higher level uke for 25% or more off..
good Luck, MM Stan Keep us informed what you eventually get..

06-04-2011, 09:41 AM
Well, show your parents some of the YouTube videos of Jake Shimabukuro and other musicians of that class... Brittni Paiva is another good example. There are lots of fantastic serious musicians playing ukulele. It is no toy, but the perception of parents is often "toy" guitar or "novelty" instrument, not a serious instrument. Once people hear some of the virtuoso-quality players out there, they drop the idea that an ukulele is a toy.

My the way, I get to play a lot of ukuleles because I publish Ukulele Player Magazine. There are solid Hawaiian Koa ukes as low as $350 if you have your heart set on one. Take a good look at the Ohana CK-300G and SK-300G, concert and soprano-sized respectively. You can get them new at affordable prices. You can also find them used online at great prices on those rare occasions when someone is willing to part with one.

06-04-2011, 09:45 AM
Wow... Im impressed, and you sound like an awesome kid. When I was your age, I worked my arse off for a year to buy my love at that time, a Rickenbacker 4001. Lot of money for a kid, especially back in my day, but it does show focus, and making a dream come true. I don't wish to bcuk your parents, because they sound like good parents raising good kids, but, to me, if a kid shows the dedication and drive you have, I would encurrage to expand all ya want to. I mean, so many kids jump from instrument to instrument never really playing any, you sound like you have a great handle on playing anything you get your hands on. Bring you fokes into our forum here, and let them read and learn> Let them get on Youtube and listen to some of the players out there, and let them see that it is more than just a toy. Good luck, and I hope you find the uke you seek. Keep us posted.

06-04-2011, 10:17 AM
Welcome to UU Little Plink!
You might enjoy the biography of Roy Smeck which I am currently reading, and is reviewed in the latest issue of Ukulele Player http://www.tricornpublications.com/issue20.pdf
Roy was truly a master of 4 instruments, ukulele, guitar, tenor banjo and Hawaiian lap steel guitar.

If you need an upgrade, but worry about what your parents will say about the cost, you could consider a Mainland or Ohana. That would be a lot easier to save for, and you will notice a big difference. You sound like you won't really be happy until you get a K brand though. In the long run, you will save money by going right to the dream uke. The $500 price point is a little tricky. I found that the difference between a $350 uke and a $500 uke is not that great. But when you get to the $650 and up K brand prices, you do get a better sounding instrument. However, that said, some of the $350 ukes sound just as good as some $800 ukes. Individual ukes will vary, so it is best if you can play it before buying. Perhaps you can go to a Ukulele Festival when you are ready to buy. There usually are some vendors selling higher end ukes.
Do a YouTube search for John King, and show some of his videos to your folks. That might help a bit.
Good Luck

06-04-2011, 10:51 AM
Well Pink, looks like you have lots of friends here, and getting more all the time. I am nearly 70 years old. I understand how your parents think. I personally think they are wrong, but I understand. It sounds like you have your head screwed on properly, so don't change. You have lots of time to get lots of ukes. You seem to know what you want and how to go about getting it. Try not to get too "crazy" about things beyond your control. Just keep being a good kid, play your uke, and attempt to have "intelligent" conversations about not just the uke, but about your feelings.
I'll be rooting for ya!

06-04-2011, 01:09 PM
You might try this: save for a Kamaka or Koaloha. When you have the money, go to your parents and say, "folks, I've saved $-----. I don't want to spend it on clothes. I don't want to spend it on video games. I don't want to spend it on DRUGS. My grades are good, I've kept up with my violin, and I want a handmade, one of a kind, Hawaiian ukulele. These ukuleles are made by family businesses in America. " Then show them the video on Koaloha, or on Kamaka. Invite them to call the factory and talk with Fred or with Alan.

If my kid did that, I'd BUY them the uke.

Good luck, and welcome to UU. Keep saving, practicing, and dreaming.

06-04-2011, 01:13 PM
That is actually an awesome point. There is SO much crap that kids spend their money on, so I would play that card. It's not an XBox, or Guitar Hero game, or ciggaretes, it's something constructive, and full of art and culture. How could a parent say no to that? ;)

06-04-2011, 02:51 PM
I am also a college teacher. I've met far too many kids living without passion for anything. These are the saddest kids of all. If you were my kid, I'd thank my lucky stars and buy you a good ukulele. Thom suggested that you have your parents talk to Fred Kamaka; I think that's a great idea, he's a very nice, and persuasive, man. I would also recommend that you have your folks watch some of the John King videos. In a way, he did for the ukulele what Segovia did for the guitar: "legitimized" a humble folk instrument.

Please let us know how it all turns out.

06-04-2011, 06:15 PM
-My parents refuse to let me get another 'ukulele because they're convinced that 'ukuleles are nothing more than toys. They don't understand that a $500 ukulele is NOT a toy. (Forgive them, they're naturally violin snobs. I was one, too, once upon a time.)

I have no idea if this would work on your parents, but maybe show them Eddie Vedder's new album, Ukulele Songs. Ask them why would Eddie Vedder put out an album that one can actually buy at pretty much any store selling CDs that's entirely based on a toy?

-As I stated before, these ukuleles are, as far as I can see, no longer in production, so while I hoarde cash and try to convince my parents, supplies are dwindling. By the time the conditions are ripe, all of these will be gone, and I'll have to wait months to save up for a real K-Brand, which in my humble opinion, would better serve a more skilled player. Which isn't to say I'm bad, I can play some Shimabukuro songs pretty much flawlessly, but I'm no Ohta-San.

I've always believed that you deserve any ukulele you can afford, regardless of skill level. The K-brands and customs are easier to play than cheap ukes, so it actually makes more sense for beginning players to play higher-end ukes. Besides, if you can play some Shimabukuro songs flawlessly, you're far from a beginning player.

Good luck!

06-04-2011, 06:22 PM
When you make your PowerPoint presentation for your parents, be sure to show clips of Shimabukuro.

It's tough. Your parents have a vision and hopes... and they may not realize what kind of person they have on their hands. And yes, regrettably value judgements are placed on things.

I'd second the voice of most of what's been said. Save up. Be patient and respectfully go for your goal.

But also, you may stumble across something you didn't expect. I was 100% set on a koa Kanile'a tenor. 100%. Then I saw my LFmD. For the same price, I got something that... to me is now even better.

Funny how things work out.

06-04-2011, 06:39 PM
They really don't know what they're missing out on!

If you could play like Jake, why would they not let you buy a new uke! :C

06-04-2011, 06:55 PM
Lots of good advice here. Plus, you can tell your parents that Warren Buffett plays the ukulele.


06-04-2011, 11:40 PM
Firstly, Welcome to the UU family! These are a great place to share the love of the fantabulous Uke! (not sure that's even a word!)

I just wanted to echo everyone else's advice, especially that of getting your parents to talk to someone within Kamaka or Koaloha and seeing if they can persuade them otherwise that the Ukulele CAN be a toy, but it is ALSO a beautiful instrument and can make beautiful music. As fitncrafty said, don't go behind their backs, that'll just upset them, and make them think you have something to hide from them, and then there's the whole issues of trust!

Be patient, keep saving and keep showing them through Violin and grades that you're still dedicated to your music and school work, but that you still want to upgrade. My first Uke was very cheap, and my first upgrade was an Ohana SK10S, I highly recommend Ohana, they are good instruments and well made. I don't own a "K Brand", don't know if I ever will, but if you save for it, then you've "earnt" it, if you know what I mean.

As others have said, keep an eye on the UU Marketplace, some great second hand Ukes go through there and keep trying with your parents! Also, keep us informed or your progress!

Good Luck!

06-05-2011, 02:09 AM
Ever hear the expression, "better to ask for forgiveness than permission"....I'm kidding, well sort of. I mean, you are not robbing the corner store or something. You are simply buying a uke out of your own hard earned money. Buy a good used one and chances are you'll get back the bulk of it anyway, if they flip out on you and you have to sell it. :)