View Full Version : Best gift ever?

11-01-2011, 04:42 PM
So because I work retail, in a job that requires me really to be there on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas, I'm not going to be able to get home for Christmas. I am, however, going to be able to get home for a week before Thanksgiving, so I'll have to have my Christmas cheer about me way too early to make the best of things.

I have two very young siblings, aged 5 and 8. The 8 year old, my little brother, always got excited to hear me play guitar, and always wanted to learn despite his size. I have this one memory of him coming downstairs into the living room one day when I was at home, while I was playing guitar, and he sat down and silently watched/listened to me for well over an hour before saying "you're so cool." I think he was about 4 or 5. It was pretty much the most adorable thing I've ever heard/seen.

He's finally big enough to really understand how noise comes out of a guitar, and I think he could learn a lot. I hope he will be as focused as he would if I kept him at it, but we'll see how it goes. For Christmas, the pair of them are getting ukuleles! I'm thinking the Mahalo colored series:


He'll be getting the green or blue and she'll be getting the pink (she loves pink). My master plan is to hang out for a few hours, show them my Ohana (which will hopefully be getting to Mike at Uke Republic soon so he can send it my way!!!!!), play it for a while to see how their big brother plays it as seriously as he plays guitar (so they know it's not a toy), and then surprise them with their Christmas gifts early. I really want it to happen that way because they will know that I'm not just playing it to humor them, I really want them to view the uke as something serious that they can work a lot of different sounds out of. I also want them to understand how taking it seriously can teach them a lot about playing stringed instruments. Ideally, in five years they both are pretty proficient at uke, and by my 30th birthday I can jam with either of them on uke or guitar.

I guess if I have a question, it is: who here has this uke and is it an okay instrument? I'm not working with too many dollars (I've spent a lot on my own uke interests) so the price of the Mahalo, paired with the colors and the fact that they're 8 and don't care about sound, make this ideal. It is important however that they keep relatively good tune, and sound reasonably good. They will both receive a full set-up before they go to the kids, courtesy of me. Both will get Aquilas.

Does this sound like the coolest gift ever, or should I not do it? :)

11-01-2011, 05:03 PM
I think it is a great gift idea! Definitely do it.

I am not so sure about the ukuleles you are choosing though. My very first ukulele was a Mahalo UK-120 (similar to this) and it was very difficult to play. The strings were too high off the board and had to be pushed really hard just to get them to make a clear sound. It didn't make a good sound and it didn't stay in tune well. Changing the strings made a bit of difference, but even then it still didn't sound good. Actually it doesn't make much of a sound at all. A good setup would definitely help.

Here is an example of the Mahalo with changed strings: http://youtu.be/iFS19FNANtE

Maybe consider the Kala Makala Dolphin instead? It also comes in many colors, is only a little bit more, and seems to get a lot of good reviews on UU.

I think it's great that you will be teaching them. That should really keep them motivated and get them to the point they can play songs.

11-01-2011, 05:16 PM
Actually this ukulele was pretty much the one i started on, my dad got it for about 15 bucks when he went to Hawaii on vacation. of course its nothing special, but it does really make a good starting ukulele, it builds up your calluses quickly, and it also (at'least the one I had) stays in tune pretty well, after i played it for about a month i never had to tune it again. so i definitely think it would be a awesome beginners thing.

i also think another cool addition would be if you got them just a simple Christmas song book for the Ukulele, so they can see where they put their fingers on the paper.

11-01-2011, 05:21 PM
It sounds like we had really different experiences. My ukulele was slightly different than the one on amazon, so maybe they have gotten better. But with all the people who say they love their dolphins I would still say go for that.

modern day ukuleleist
11-01-2011, 05:23 PM
If you can afford the slightly increased cost, definitely go with Makala Dolphins.

I think you can find them for $35-$40, maybe less. So instead of $50, it will be closer to $80.

11-01-2011, 05:25 PM
Looks like $35 on Amazon!

11-01-2011, 06:13 PM
Hi Ben, I bet if you can get these mahalos set up right and with good strings you'll all be jammin into the new year. Great gift!

11-01-2011, 06:21 PM
Hi Ben

I think you're a great brother! I recommend the Makala Dolphin bridge ukes as well. Buy them now while you can, because they go quickly. I bought 9 Dolphins last year, and had difficulty finding all the colors I wanted even in October. I put Aquila strings on all of them, and had to do a little set-up on a few (to improve intonation). Ukuleles, especially entry level ones are popular Christmas gifts. Good luck.


11-01-2011, 07:06 PM
Also give them a clip tuner!

11-01-2011, 08:07 PM
Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I'll definitely be including a tuner. The choice between the Makala and Mahalo was tough, but I'm reasonably confident I can correct any major issues with a set up and good strings. Plus, they really won't know the difference, which helps :)

11-01-2011, 08:47 PM
If you get a chance, please video their reactions so we can all see! Best of luck

11-02-2011, 02:32 AM
You are such a great brother. They will love the Ukuleles. I still remember my son's face when I bought Ukulele for him last weekend. He was so excited that he could not stop strumming when we reached home. However he still ha d to study as he was having his exams. :-)

11-02-2011, 03:06 AM
Each of my kids, that are still at home, and my wife all have the Mahalo Ukes. With good strings, and a proper set up, they are a perfectly adequate 1st Uke. That being said, if I had it to do over again, I would go with the Dolphin. Which is what we are doing for the older kids, and their spouses this Christmas. We have a new family rule, which is that everyone has to own a Uke :) Whichever way you go, it will be fine, and I am sure they will love them.

11-02-2011, 06:20 AM
Mahalo or Dolphin it would go a long way if you break int he strings for them. It can be incredibly frustrating for a new player to have to keep retuning all the time. I think pleople not waiting till the strings settle must be like 80% of why people complain that Ukes don't stay in tune.

11-02-2011, 12:28 PM
Get a Dolphin, get Aquila strings I believe, get a Mahalo, hope it's set up decently, and buy Aquilas so it doesn't sound like crap.

11-02-2011, 01:03 PM
Bynapkinart, thank you for this post. Because of this I bought a yellow Hilo for my 2 yr old grandniece as a christmas present. Both her parents and her granddad play guitar and I want to get my uke influence in early. I can set it up OK and have new strings. I thought that by the holidays the strings will be settled in. I'm working on a song book for her and who knows, I might convert a guitar player too!

Again, thank you

11-02-2011, 02:10 PM
Van, that's awesome! I figured a lot of people give ukes for Christmas, but it's a pretty great feeling to know that you're not only giving some person an instrument, you're giving someone you love a chance to be able to express themselves through music. That's why I'm really hoping both of the kids pick up uke and hopefully other musical instruments in their formative years...I know how completely essential playing music is to me and my personal sanity. I'll take good care of the setup because I don't want them to have to fiddle with too much, I'm shipping the ukes to my Mom's house and I'll have a few days to set them up before I see the kids at my dad's.

Thanks for all the encouragement!

11-02-2011, 07:14 PM
We have a new family rule, which is that everyone has to own a Uke :)

This is inspirational for me. I am working towards achieving this goal to make everyone in the family own a Uke and play decently as well. :D

11-02-2011, 09:46 PM
I would also recommend the Dolphin's, they also come in different colours and when set up (which can be easy) right they outshine the Mahalo's. I brought an Ukulele for my god daughter for her sixth birthday, it was a cheapie no name brand (same place I got Astrid) and I set it up with semi decent strings and she loves it, so I think, as far as the gift idea goes, you're onto a winner! Just don't expect the 5 year old to want to get serious about it straight away. She might, but don't push, music should be fun! My god daughter doesn't really play much on the Ukulele, but she now plays recorder through school and sometimes asks to be shown how to do something she's played on the recorder on the Ukulele, I just told her that if and when she wants to learn how to play, I'll teach her what I know (which isn't much, but is getting to be more daily!)

I think you'll be making two kids very happy with their Ukuleles!

Hope that helps!

Joey :music: