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View Full Version : What is happening in Thailand? They are super hot for the uke!



DeVineGuitars
09-25-2011, 06:03 PM
I know that the uke has made giant strides in the last year or two all over the world, but in the last few months it seems like the uke is exploding in Thailand.
Anyone have any insight into the sudden uke explosion over there?

SuzukHammer
09-25-2011, 06:14 PM
I lived there for 4 years up until the beginning of this year.

My observation is that the owner of Ribbee, which sells ukes, was able to bring Thailand stars, the young and trendy stars into the ukulele scene and lots and lots of video and photo ops were perpetuated in the media through this. Ribbee seemed to make the uke as part of a club type atmosphere.

I don't think there is any other specific reason why a musical instrument got so popular.

It could have been internet exposure of persons making covers; however, Thai people usually surf mainly Thai videos.

A woman named Lula had made a CD with her playing uke. She was a popular singer before playing uke. Perhaps the Thai girls responded favorably to that. A few other of their musical performers started churning out uke hits.

There is lots and lots of cheap ukes being sold in Thailand now; but, the Ribbee store tries to perpetuate quality ukes. UkuleleBaan also started up and supports quality ukes.

I remember walking a music street in Bangkok asking for ukuleles. None of the store owners knew what I was talking about more than a year ago. 4 months later and all the stores had cheap ukes and there were specific shoppers asking for ukes. It was a wildfire.

The same with the Ribbee store. Some days, you couldn't get in the store. They had to limit customer entry.

I saw a picture of their latest half day workshop. I'd estimate 150 people there which probly doesn't account for all who showed up.

Lastly, most Thais are poor and the uke is seen as a HIgh SOciety (hiso) instrument. haha. Lots of college kids likely have one.

SuzukHammer
09-25-2011, 06:18 PM
Baan Ukulele sells quality ukes too up in Bangkok. Most of the ukes sold are sold in Bangkok

A local Phuket celebrity named Apple took the uke down to that area.

I'm surprised Pattaya and Chiang Mai don't have store outlets; but, that would be 2 good places to sell ukes too. Pattaya being a beach type of setting and Chiang Mai being a mountainous laid back community.


That means there is still room for sales growth.

SuzukHammer
09-25-2011, 06:26 PM
Back in the day - about 1-1/2 years ago, - Ribbee put this out.


http://www.youtube.com/user/Ribbeemusic#p/u/33/RLPwxDfZOpA

Lula, a popular Thai singer before she played uke in some of her recordings.. My wife and her kids met Lula at the Thailand Uke festival last February and thought she was the warmest person and cool they were meeting a Thai star.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT2_L_6V510

Splashing "Ukulele news" into the media. Ribbee and friends really do a great job creating buzz


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXx4vnNnA6U&feature=related

funnyguy0804
09-25-2011, 11:34 PM
My mom when to Thailand last month to visit her friends.
She asked if I wanted anything and I replied ukulele strings.
So my mom and aunties shopped around Bangkok, and my mom told me that there were tons of ukulele stores!!! (Didn't have time to go one by one :p)
She went into one and didn't know what to buy for me so gave me this link to choose from: http://www.facebook.com/ukeukushop
And WOW!!! Was I stunned!!! so I asked her for a stand but couldn't get my eyes of a case~
So I asked for a stand and the case was up to her to decide...
What came back was the stand but also...
28346
A lovely present from one of her friends :)
I live in Taiwan and it isn't easy to find accessories like these... I'm not sure about the pricing of the case in the states, but it doesn't matter, cause it's a wonderful gift with lots of love from the auntie! :)
I do hope to go and shop locally one day~

If you'd like to see more pictures:
Link to my facebook album (http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150363711695042.397710.510375041)

kissing
09-26-2011, 12:23 AM
I saw a glimpse of the ukulele fever in Thailand earlier this year when I went there on a church mission trip.
The folks at Ribbee are great, and is an awesome store! I got my awesome Eleuke Cigar box uke from there.

paeataa
09-26-2011, 11:23 AM
As a Thai person myself, I'd like to add my personal observation on the uke phenomenon in Thailand. All above threads are quite correct. There is also a TV reality show called 'The Star' where a certain number of teenagers were selected to live and train on singing together. They would have weekly singing competition for a few months and the audience gets to vote for the winner. I think the most recent winner (or maybe a runner-up) was playing the ukulele in her concert and while living in the 'live broadcasted' house. From that point on, girls have been crazy for this little instrument because it looked like it's easy to learn and play, as well as carry.

Many people bought the ukes based purely on their appearance. I went to Ribbee a few times last summer to check what types of ukuleles they carried. To my surprise, many people just came in and bought the Spongebob Square pants ukulele (for 1,800 baht -- roughly around $60) without even trying to hear what it sounded like.

I wanted to try the Mainlands too. But the sales persons told me that they were all sold out. (Now back in the US, I'm waiting for the Mainland to be available again.)

Price wise, I was surprised that most of the ukes were not much more expensive than in the U.S. I thought the prices in Thailand would be much higher because ukuleles seemed to be a trend, but they were not. It was only hard to find one :)

You may see lots of teenagers carrying their ukes around on the weekends or even during the school days. But some of them don't even know how to play it. They think they look cool (and hi-so) with the ukes :D Some young adults might have bought ukuleles because they thought they could learn how to play it in a short time. After three months, though, the ukuleles become their home decoration ornament, which still look cool. One of my Thai friends here in the U.S. is also doing the same. He bought his Lanikai-21C from Amazon. After a few months, it just sat there in his apartment. So I borrowed it because I wanted to try if I could learn how to play it.

Since then, I wanted to return the uke to him, but he just didn't want it anymore. But I've got my own ukes and still love playing them, hence passing around his to our other friends. Now I've formed a little ukulele community among the Thais here -- all girls though :D

I am also curious whether this phenomenon is going to be the long-trend thingy or just a fad. Only time will tell. :)

SuzukHammer
09-26-2011, 03:55 PM
Nice post Paeataa,

I gave out several ukes to strangers up in the farming community. One girl learned a little but last I heard, she stopped because there is nobody to teach. Most others again did not have anybody to teach them so they sat as "lucky gifts"

If Thai education was smart, they'd make use of the kids carrying the uke around and supply teachers for ukes in the schools.

Ribbee puts on workshops but once a month is not enough to sustain learning. Perhaps they need to make another TV show - I kid you not. I bet it would work.

SuzukHammer
09-26-2011, 04:11 PM
28385

About 8 months ago, I gave some makalas to a friend's kids I know in Thailand. This half Thai boy broke the "Hello Kitty" I gave to his sister; but it looks like he now has a fondness for his red Makala/Mahalo.

28386

foxfair
09-26-2011, 04:24 PM
......
Many people bought the ukes based purely on their appearance. I went to Ribbee a few times last summer to check what types of ukuleles they carried. To my surprise, many people just came in and bought the Spongebob Square pants ukulele (for 1,800 baht -- roughly around $60) without even trying to hear what it sounded like.

Don't we all buy our uke based on appearance? Ok, sort of... :)



......
Price wise, I was surprised that most of the ukes were not much more expensive than in the U.S. I thought the prices in Thailand would be much higher because ukuleles seemed to be a trend, but they were not. It was only hard to find one :)


I'd say that probably the price gap is not big for cheap ones, but for K brands, solid or custom ukes that is a huge difference in price. Same in Taiwan, almost no shop carries K brands. Even if one does, the price is always +100-300 USD up or more... no matter what size it is.

paeataa
09-26-2011, 05:37 PM
Don't we all buy our uke based on appearance? Ok, sort of... :)



True! But at least we also want to hear how the ukes sing, don't we? :)

oteonghn
09-26-2011, 06:17 PM
YOu may wish to know, there is a made in Thailand brand of Uke - "Honolele".
It is made in Chiangmai by one gentleman, called Kim.
Google Honolele, only problem is that it is in Thai !

Rgds
ONG T H

hoosierhiver
09-27-2011, 04:59 AM
Asada (Ribbee) told me people are willing to pay double the regular price for a good uke in Bangkok at the moment. I think ukuleles really fit Thailand's "no worries",fun mentality.

I know there are also uke shops in Chaing Mai, Chonburi, Khon Kaen and Phuket.

I hope to make it to Ribbee's next big uke fest. Aldrine said the last one was fantastic.

paeataa
09-27-2011, 10:53 AM
If I may guess what will happen next in Thailand once ukuleles are more available and accessible (now those lower-end ukes are quite affordable, yet still hard to find), I would say that this little instrument will become less and less popular. Thai people usually like things that are fashionable and rather unique. If everyone has and plays ukulele, they will find other hobbies and artifacts that they can show off their uniqueness. By that time, ukuleles are not considered cool anymore.

But who knows, they may have their own sustainability power to live long in the Thai society. :D

Just my two cents :)

btw, Mike@mainlandukes, I'm still waiting for one of your red cedar concerts! And I had no idea Aldrine was (and you considered being) in Thailand!! I totally missed that. :(