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ScotsDave
07-03-2011, 01:27 PM
It occurs to me after reading quite a few threads here, that Uke players do not seem to be as "snobbish" about their instruments as acoustic guitarists are. It is a well known phenomenon that guitarists will often "buy a headstock". Does this happen in ukuleleland too? What are the Collings, Martins, Olsons, Hendersons Taylors and Gibsons of the ukulele world? (Leaving aside, of course, ukes by those makers). FWIW, it is safe to say that I am a Martin guitar snob, and while this is true, I am already building up to looking at "quality" ukuleles for future acquisition...and they need not necessarily be Martins. :cool:

Ukulele JJ
07-03-2011, 01:51 PM
What are the Collings, Martins, Olsons, Hendersons Taylors and Gibsons of the ukulele world?

I don't know... maybe the "K" brands: Kamaka, Koaloha, Kanile'a?

But I think you're right that there's more of a tendency to be practical in the uke world. I think we all can appreciate a fine uke, but at the end of the day it's about playing music and having fun and spreading the ukulele love... and that doesn't depend so much on price.

JJ

Tudorp
07-03-2011, 02:02 PM
yeah, we in guitar circle call them "Headstock Snobs". Myself being a Gibson guy mainly for guitars, Rickenbacker for basses, know there are others just as fine. I love my Gibsons, but also love my Epiphones, Fenders, Fernandes, Alvarez, Gretsch, Rickenbacker. As far as Ukes, I love em all, even the cheapies..

PhilUSAFRet
07-03-2011, 03:07 PM
I like'em all, cheapies and pricey ones. Looks are great, but in the end, it's feel and sound for me. I am currently aspiring to own a Kanilea 6 string concert.

icuker
07-03-2011, 06:06 PM
Unfortunately with Ukes, it's harder to try out higher end ones for most of us. It wasn't until some in our Uke club started buying some high end ukes that I was able to try 'em and evaluate 'em. What I tried I liked real well. But since I have such a stash of cheap to middling ukes, it's a stretch to go for the high end ones, especially since I like to play before I buy when I spend that kind of cash. But I've heard Kamaka's, William Kings, Mya Moes, Kanilea, Koaloha, LoPrinzi, Martins and a fancier Kiwaya. There were some in the the various groups that weren't ticklers, but many were great. Ah maybe some day....

haolejohn
07-03-2011, 06:11 PM
It occurs to me after reading quite a few threads here, that Uke players do not seem to be as "snobbish" about their instruments as acoustic guitarists are. It is a well known phenomenon that guitarists will often "buy a headstock". Does this happen in ukuleleland too? What are the Collings, Martins, Olsons, Hendersons Taylors and Gibsons of the ukulele world? (Leaving aside, of course, ukes by those makers). FWIW, it is safe to say that I am a Martin guitar snob, and while this is true, I am already building up to looking at "quality" ukuleles for future acquisition...and they need not necessarily be Martins. :cool:
I'm a uke snob:)

Not really but I won't buy just any old uke or new uke.

ScotsDave
07-04-2011, 11:17 AM
Well, I think that I am going to like it just fine here. I aspire to a full gloss finished, abalone bedecked ukulele, but if it sounds lousy, I will pass. I already have a Mahalo laminate tenor, a Joe Brown all solid hog Kala and a nice Korala tenor with solid top and pickup. That should keep me busy for a while.

austin1
07-04-2011, 11:50 AM
I know that while half the world may disagree with me on this, I personally find that when it comes to ukuleles, the difference between a 50 dollar uke and a 300 dollar uke is huge, but the difference between a 300 dollar uke and a 1000 dollar uke is...negligible. If you can afford it, go for it. But I feel that those extra 700 dollars are going more towards a name, because the superiority in sound and look is minimal. Once you start getting into the really expensive ukuleles, then it's all about the art involved in creating a custom, but up until that point, I don't think you'll find much difference in the marketplace.

Pippin
07-04-2011, 12:07 PM
I know that while half the world may disagree with me on this, I personally find that when it comes to ukuleles, the difference between a 50 dollar uke and a 300 dollar uke is huge, but the difference between a 300 dollar uke and a 1000 dollar uke is...negligible. If you can afford it, go for it. But I feel that those extra 700 dollars are going more towards a name, because the superiority in sound and look is minimal. Once you start getting into the really expensive ukuleles, then it's all about the art involved in creating a custom, but up until that point, I don't think you'll find much difference in the marketplace.

I'll take the bait...

In principle, you are right. But, as one with a diversity of ukuleles in varying price ranges, there is a big difference, for example, between several $300 dollar ukes and those costing over $800, but I also have $800 ukes that cannot hold a candle to the similarly priced aNueNue Vision 1879 soprano. My best ukes by far are the KoAlohas and they are worth their price, for sure.

austin1
07-04-2011, 12:28 PM
I'll take the bait...

In principle, you are right. But, as one with a diversity of ukuleles in varying price ranges, there is a big difference, for example, between several $300 dollar ukes and those costing over $800, but I also have $800 ukes that cannot hold a candle to the similarly priced aNueNue Vision 1879 soprano. My best ukes by far are the KoAlohas and they are worth their price, for sure.


but just to play devil's advocate, are they really, really worth it? I mean, in a blind test, would the general populace be able to hear the difference between a 1000 dollar ukulele and a 300 dollar ukulele?

This being said, I would buy a koaloha in a heartbeat if I had the funds.

NatalieS
07-04-2011, 12:37 PM
Hmm, I do understand what you're saying about "guitar snobs". I wonder if that mentality isn't commonly found in ukuleles because they're much more affordable. A high-end uke will still cost a quarter of what a high-end guitar would, so guitars have more of a chance of being a "status symbol" for a person. Also, most skilled ukulele players remain very unassuming and humble. If I saw a uke player who was totally into themselves and looked down on less skilled players, I'd be running the other way in a heartbeat. It's in the nature of the instrument to play for joy and fun, rather than to show off.

I think I am guilty of wanting certain name brand ukes, but NOT because they bring status with them. Rather because I expected them to sound superior to cheaper ones.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
07-04-2011, 12:37 PM
The nice thing about ukuleles is that there are builders with great products at every price range. Here are a few that I've managed to get my hands on:

$: Makala, Lanikai; $$: Ohana, Kala, Keli'i, Fluke/Flea; $$$: KoAloha, Kamaka, Martin, Kumalae; $$$$: Collings, Martin, Moore Bettah

where $ means up to $100, $$ means from $100 or so up to $400 or so, $$$ means $400 to $1000, and $$$$ is over $1000.

Now if the list included builders I want to check out, it'd be MUCH longer, off the top of my head there's Mainland, Pono, Loprinzi, Kiwaya, Mya-Moe, Kanile'a, Ko'olau, Ken Timms, Black Bear, DeVine, too many!!

Pippin
07-04-2011, 12:48 PM
but just to play devil's advocate, are they really, really worth it? I mean, in a blind test, would the general populace be able to hear the difference between a 1000 dollar ukulele and a 300 dollar ukulele?

This being said, I would buy a koaloha in a heartbeat if I had the funds.

The uke I played at yesterday's picnic was the aNueNue Vision 1879, which really out-shined the guitars in the jam session. That uke has an exceptional voice... much better than a lot of the competition. The retail price... $729 right now at Elderly Instruments. I have seen it as high as $859 online. I have never heard a "factory" soprano sound as sweet.

haolejohn
07-04-2011, 12:55 PM
The uke I played at yesterday's picnic was the aNueNue Vision 1879, which really out-shined the guitars in the jam session. That uke has an exceptional voice... much better than a lot of the competition. The retail price... $729 right now at Elderly Instruments. I have seen it as high as $859 online. I have never heard a "factory" soprano sound as sweet.

it is a nice instrument. I got to play the first one that UkeRepublic got in. I loved it but I didn't love the price tag for a vietmanese made instrument.

Pippin
07-04-2011, 01:03 PM
it is a nice instrument. I got to play the first one that UkeRepublic got in. I loved it but I didn't love the price tag for a vietmanese made instrument.

I think the Vision 1879 is made in China, not Vietnam. The company is based in Taiwan, if memory serves.

haolejohn
07-04-2011, 01:08 PM
I think the Vision 1879 is made in China, not Vietnam. The company is based in Taiwan, if memory serves.

lol. you are correct. I'm just shooting from the head. But even if made in China, that is a lot of money to pay for a chinese uke.

rasputinsghost
07-04-2011, 01:47 PM
Yeah, you can get a Mya-Moe, Kamaka, Koaloha, Kanil'ea, or Ko'olau Keli'i (for even lower) soprano for around that price. I wouldn't pay that much for a factory made uke made in China.

Tudorp
07-04-2011, 01:59 PM
I've got a mahogany concert with a carved top. It's one of Bruce Wei's ukes. It was in my for sale inventory, but decided not to sell that one at the moment, because I have never heard any uke with the sustain as this one I got. Weird, because it didn't sound like that, until after set up. But, I don't think it is the "set up", I think it is the combination of the set up, and just this specific uke. crazy crazy sustain, and tone. Man, I cant keep my hands off of it.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
07-04-2011, 02:00 PM
Wow, these last couple posts make it look like none of the "Collings, Martins, Olsons, Hendersons Taylors and Gibsons of the ukulele world" are made in Asia.

I'd argue we won't know which ukuleles are really in that class for another fifteen or twenty years. There are too many new ukulele makers and new ukulele models around right now to sort out. In time, the "best" ukuleles will emerge from the pack. I'll bet more than a few ukuleles made outside the States will make that list.

mds725
07-04-2011, 02:01 PM
I was regularly playing my $400 (used) Big Island Honu traditional solid koa tenor when I bought my Kamaka tenor. I really like my BI Honu, and I still think it sounds great, but the difference between it and my Kamaka is phenomenal. Not only does the Kamaka have a richer sound, it has a much nicer feel to it and is more comfortable to play. I can't quantify whether the difference is worth $600 (that's more or less a personal decision about how people like to spend their money; I personally have never spent more than $300 on a wrist watch, but I know people with $1,000 + watches who think they're worth every penny), but I could never say that the difference between the two ukuleles is not noticable.

rasputinsghost
07-04-2011, 05:25 PM
re Asia: I think we're forgetting Kiwaya/Famous based in Japan, which makes REALLY good ukes - they're the closest modern factory-makers that produce ukes that are as good as the vintage Martins (arguably).

As for more non American makers, the Luis Feu De Mesquita guy, who makes ukes in Canada, has made a couple of ukes for forum members here. The ukes sound amazing but again, I'm loath to drop ~$2k on an instrument when I could get a Moore Bettah for about ~1900.

austin1
07-04-2011, 10:07 PM
I was regularly playing my $400 (used) Big Island Honu traditional solid koa tenor when I bought my Kamaka tenor. I really like my BI Honu, and I still think it sounds great, but the difference between it and my Kamaka is phenomenal. Not only does the Kamaka have a richer sound, it has a much nicer feel to it and is more comfortable to play. I can't quantify whether the difference is worth $600 (that's more or less a personal decision about how people like to spend their money; I personally have never spent more than $300 on a wrist watch, but I know people with $1,000 + watches who think they're worth every penny), but I could never say that the difference between the two ukuleles is not noticable.

I'm not saying it isn't noticeable. I'm just saying that the differences between a malaka dolphin and the big island honu are much greater than the differences between a big island honu and a kamaka. Not that the Kamaka isn't, of course, the more spectacular instrument, but only that for the price, the differences are fewer and not as great.