View Full Version : Made in US

08-30-2011, 03:55 PM
I am looking for a soprano in the under $100 range. Does anyone know if there are any made in USA in this category?

08-30-2011, 04:02 PM
Go vintage Harmony...but I would say that most of the best ukes are made in China (Ohana, Kala, Mainland). If you're buying US-made these days, look at K-brand stuff (KoAloha, Kanile'a, Ko'olahu, Kamaka) or some of the more boutique luthiers (Mya-Moe). You'd be looking at ~$500 for a quality US-made uke.

I still want to try Keli'i though, US made at about $350 for a soprano. No chance you'll find a $100 uke that's really made in the US, unless it is made out of really terrible laminate.

08-30-2011, 04:05 PM
You might be able to find a second-hand Flea for a little more than that.

08-30-2011, 04:09 PM
I appreciate the info. With all that I read about, laminants are not usually talked highly of. I just cannot afford a huge price tag. I do not see a lot of used ukes on Craigs List in my area. I have a Cordoba concert and love it. Trying to increase my wardrobe.

08-30-2011, 04:50 PM
Yeah, I don't think you're going to find an all-American made uke in that price range. Like janeray said, sometimes you can find a second-hand Flea/Fluke for not a lot more.

If American-made is all that important to you...

I believe in buying American and especially in buying locally whenever we can. I'd like to see our neighborhood businesses stay in business. :)

But consider this... even if you buy something like a Kala made in China, well, Kala is an American company, and a lot of your spend goes to American employees and American dealers.

If you buy used goods (originally made abroad) from an American, 100% of your spend goes to another American. Any amount the foreign manufacturer gets has already been paid.

I drive a foreign car I bought used. I don't feel any guilt about it. My purchase helped support Americans working at the dealer, and who knows, maybe the person traded it in to buy an American car.

08-30-2011, 04:54 PM
For inexpensive US made ukes, think used and watch EBay. There are almost always vintage sopranos there.

For new ukes in the 100 range you will be limited pretty much to Asian made laminates. Brands like Kala have very good quality control and offer excellent value.

08-30-2011, 05:51 PM
I'm impressed with my Kala KA-15 laminate~ sounds great, travels well, and under $100 on eBay or Amazon. (not made in America, but you have to start somewhere)

08-30-2011, 07:04 PM
I have a couple of Makala lam at that price point and I love them, and an Ohana Vita that was a little more that is a beast- I am going to post pictures of the hole I am playing right through the soundboard some day because with 13 ukes...some very nice, it gets the hardest work out.
ItsMe is right- buy it from someone stateside used, and the money stays at home. You won't find an American made non laminate uke in your budget...no way, no how

08-30-2011, 08:16 PM
I think those Unkuleles are usually around 100$?

Ok I guess they are 149$

08-30-2011, 10:39 PM
I appreciate the info. With all that I read about, laminants are not usually talked highly of. I just cannot afford a huge price tag. I do not see a lot of used ukes on Craigs List in my area. I have a Cordoba concert and love it. Trying to increase my wardrobe.

Don't get fooled about laminates. They are not intrinsically inferior to solid wood ukes, just a little different. They tend to be stronger and more resistant to humidity issues. A laminate top can often be thinner than a solid top of equivalent strength, which goes some way to compensate for its lower resonance. Kiwaya, for example, make some very nice laminate ukes.

I used to be all about solid tops on instruments, but some time ago a luthier friend showed me some things that kind of opened my eyes. I won't name him as he charges an arm and a leg for his solid guitars (sorry, mate!) and much less for the laminates - although volume and tone wise they seem to me to be very similar indeed.

One thing about laminates is that the sound may change less over time as the instrument matures.

I still prefer solid tops all other things being equal, but I certainly no longer dismiss laminate instruments out of hand.

Oh, and at the extreme bargain end of the market, I think Makala laminate ukes are a spectacular bargain. YMMV.

EDIT TO ADD: Another "oh"... Of course, many cheap laminate instruments are total dogs that weigh a ton and are about as musical as a dead log. It's a matter of shopping around or getting advice from people who are familiar with the various models.

08-31-2011, 04:16 AM
Just something to consider: my $40 Makala is now my go-to uke. It has incredible tone, and sold me on the whole range of sopranos out there.

08-31-2011, 05:10 AM
Make yourself a cigar box uke. It'll be made in the US and under $100!

08-31-2011, 10:37 AM
I would definitely agree with buddhuu and bynapkinart, the Makalas are pretty much impossible to beat in the under $100 bracket. But I would also recommend you look in to the Makai ukes, they have a solid spruce top that I'm pretty sure comes in under $100 in soprano. I have one of their tenors and it's a great sounding and playing uke.