View Full Version : Questions bout the Lanikai LU21-CE

11-09-2011, 05:14 PM
Hi there,

Greetings from Malaysia. Just got my 1st uke, a Lanikai LU21-CE from a small store (1st mistake) while i was in another country (2nd mistake) cause it was a lot cheaper than getting it back home. Didn't have enough time to test it out cause i was rushing (3rd mistake?). LOL. Ok so here are the issues i have with it:

1. The C string sounds horrible & the string buzzes (sometimes the E string buzzes too.. no idea y).

2. When i look inside the soundhole, i notice that there's a a long wire that's been rolled up sitting there. Is it common? As far as i know usually for guitars they'll use a wire that's of a decent length to connect the EQ with the input jack. Could this be causing the bussing & the muffled sound i'm getting?

3. Lastly, the machine heads were not tightened properly so the washers (little rings) r loose and rattle freely. Can i just tighten them while the strings r still on?

Yup, that's it i guess. Sorry for the lengthy questions. Thanks :)

11-10-2011, 11:16 AM
3. Yes, just tighten them.

2. It's not uncommon. If the wire is moving and rattling you can try a bit of tape to tape it to the bottom.

1. This can be a lot of things - though string buzzing is unusual on these ukes because usually the action is high if anything. You might find that when you tighten the tuner rings the buzzing goes away though (sometimes it's hard to tell where a noise is really coming from). If you still get buzzing you can try to see if it is isolated to a specific fret that might be high, or you can slip a shim under the nut and/or bridge saddle though, as I mentioned, these ukes usually have pretty high actions already unless somebody at the store attempted to adjust it and went too far.


11-10-2011, 02:38 PM
I had about 6 to 8 inches of excess wire inside my Pono concert that had to be removed. Was causing a buzz.

11-10-2011, 04:35 PM
I just got the same exact one yesterday. I've never even touched a ukulele before - or any string instrument... but went to a club in Encinitas, CA last night and had so much fun! I'll learn those chords eventually and play like the rest of 'em - or at least (some of 'em!) Loved the music, dancing and peeps!:cool:

11-12-2011, 07:03 AM
Thanks for the advice. I've tightened the machine heads & switched to high tension string d'addario strings. Most of the buzzing has stopped but it still buzzes a little even when i raised the action. So I guess it's a manufacture defect which i can live with. The excess wire is a pain in d butt though.

One thing I'd like to highlight is that acoustically, the LU-21CE is very much inferior to the LU-21C. My guess is since the uke is small, adding the equalizer really affects the sound quality. So if you are not planning on plugging your uke in, get the less expensive LU-21C.

11-12-2011, 01:44 PM
Thanks for the advice. I've tightened the machine heads & switched to high tension string d'addario strings. Most of the buzzing has stopped but it still buzzes a little even when i raised the action. So I guess it's a manufacture defect which i can live with. The excess wire is a pain in d butt though.

One thing I'd like to highlight is that acoustically, the LU-21CE is very much inferior to the LU-21C. My guess is since the uke is small, adding the equalizer really affects the sound quality. So if you are not planning on plugging your uke in, get the less expensive LU-21C.

That's interesting, my Lanikai LU 8E (8 string acoustic electric) was acoustically dead as could be, too. Plugged in it rocked but acoustically it was like trying to play a wet dog. I gave it away because I couldn't bring myself to stick somebody here on the marketplace with such a lemon.

It sounds like maybe Lanikai is using a soft pickup ribbon that is eating a lot of vibration at the bridge...


11-12-2011, 07:55 PM
Yeah I think Lanikai really needs to work on their semi-acoustics. Is that usually an issue with other brands too? My next uke will not have a pickup!

11-14-2011, 11:09 AM
Yeah I think Lanikai really needs to work on their semi-acoustics. Is that usually an issue with other brands too? My next uke will not have a pickup!
My only other uke with a pickup is a Mainland mango tenor with a MiSi installed by Mike at Mainland. My theory is that any undersaddle pickup has to have some impact on acoustic tone and sustain, however minor, but it's certainly not objectionable on this uke. Also, the various AE guitars that I've had with ASTs never seemed to suffer to the degree that some of the Lanikai AE ukes do. That's why I'm wondering if Lanikai is using a particularly soft and/or thick ribbon, or maybe are a bit careless about how they install them.


11-14-2011, 12:34 PM

Please allow me to explain . . . Appears this is a goos spot to reflect my experience with my 1st Uke which also is the Lanikai LU21 CE . Bought it about two plus weeks ago .

As an old Blues Harmonica player that has hung up his harp belt from a reasonbly ling stint of big stage live venues , I've been real curius of Ukes for some time . After many months of jabbing poking ans proding about the internet looking to learn enough about Ukes to makes a decent stab at purchasing one , off I go to a local music store .

In knowing that no matter what , purchasing any instrument is far smarter of you can get your hands on it rather than ordering online . I well learned over the years from buying , selling , trading and working in a music store years back , that regardless of the instrument and how much it cost and or what the name brand is , you'll often find high end name brand instruments sounding lousey when a cheaper one will blow it doors . No matter the model or otherwise . Each unit will have it's own personality . Which is the very reason I wouldn't even ever bother to commission a custom unit before it was made . Picking one up and doing a solid over view and playing it is the ONLY true test . REGARDLESS of the other factors .

With all that said , yes , my 1st Uke was also the Lanikai LU21CE as well . I walked into a local shop closest to my home ( which is where I like to start any purchase to support my own as best I can . Firehouse Music in Conyers Georgia , to my surprise must have had 100 Ukes in house . Ranging from about $39 to around $300 . All produtcion models of course . A decent flavor mix for my needs . They had about 5 brands .

My mind as I though was set , was looking for a baratone and hopefully mahogany . I had NO idea how to play a Uke but I strummed and plinked in there for better than 2 hours at nothing but the Ukes . I kept returning to the LU21CE simply because of the way it projected and how warm it sounded . It literally sounded better than the rest . It was real loud , warm and was the easiest player .

I mentioned I was a bules harp player by musicianship , but I also play a little acoustic guitar and have bought and sold countless of them over the years . I've been known to be capable of doing pretty nice setups as well . I can only expect that ANY stringed instrument is nothing more than a blank canvass for what it needs to be to meet personal tastes for setup and ability to be setup . But natrual sound is one thing there is little to nothing that can be adjusted other than in the setup with bridge saddles and string quality .

Never the less , all that to say this that I had in common with the person that started this thread . Mine sounds wonderful unplugged . Even the guys and passer by's in the store commented on how nice it sounded above the rest . I brought it home and just played and played the thing for a couple weeks learning chords and pflat picking it . Over the two weeks , little nuances showed their face as in all wood stringed instruments . Trust me , I am picky about quality sound even for the buck .

The action was set for a gorilla , WAY HIGH . No worries , I've never had a stringed instrument I didn't wear the bone saddle to a nub getting the action down little by little without goofing up intonation or action . This one was real bad . The neck is real straight and tight , real well aligned and no bow in it at all . I was amazed for the money ( $ 149 ) the neck was so good . The pickup sounded awful plugged into my practice amp . Man it sucked bad . The A string was about 1/3 as loud and rattled and buzzed bigtime . The thing has 10 miles of pickup cable wound inside it for sure . GEE WHIZ ! But I am sure that is all about cutting building costs and using the same kit to assmble multiple units . Face it . it is a $149 Uke . Not $1499 .

I took the bridge saddle out and began to slowly bring it down . It's been out several times already and will be out again . I'll work that silly thing to death before I hit dead on . But thats how I am on saddles . Anyway . About the third time I had the saddle out , I notice that the clear plastic sheathing on the copper braid of the pickup didn't extend all the way to the end of the copper braid . This allowed the bridge saddle to NOT make even and good contact all the way across the saddle . Leaving me with little to no contact with the copper wire . I pulled gently on the copper braid to bring it out of the body further and snipped the tip up to the platic sheathing edge . VOLIE' . great contact now all the way across the saddle . Problem solved . The next time Ihave the saddle out , I will most likely just strip it down of the strings and investigate just how much of all that extra pickup wire I might be able to cut out of there . Yes , it tends to rattle a bit if I strum real hard while amplified but not noticable when acoustic . I don't need it and if I can get rid of it without doing damage , out it will go .

Now . As I was really taking a super close look at the setup , I was measuring and checking level on the frets ........
This is where my eyebrows went way way up . As I was sliding my flat edge from sound hole to head stock , I could feel some drag about the 7th up the 4th fret . In close examination , it became very obvious that the lower section fo 3 frets had been worked pretty hard . They had been filed down very crudely and never rounded correctly . I for sure thought I had somehow actually bought a used Uke . I've never seen any fret work like that except from the result of something like where a kid tried his 1st setup and failed . They were filed near flat . And rough .

I called the shop and they said to bring it to them . They looked at it and said for sure it was a new unit . I do trust these guys for sure . They are good folk . Never the less . They are going to ship another unit in 2 days and if I want that one I can swap out . Personally , I can work the frets and get them pretty good myself with little to no worry . Typically on most nay product I'd swap in a second . But even with the few minor details I am having to deal with , something tells me I am gonna keep this one because it sounds so good . Even to be a low end learner unit .

The one other thing that I had to deal with is that the fret board seem so so dry . A bit of Dunlop 65 Lemon Oil took care of that no problem .

Again and with all that said . SETUP SETUP SETUP ! All wood stringed instruments need it pretty bad . I've got a early 80's Alvarez 5230 Dreadbnought Acoustic guitar that is a low priced yet well made mahogany . Guys with really high end Martins , Tacoma's , and Taylor's raise their eyebrows when they hear my basic Alavarez outsing their big dollar boxes .

Qulity wood , a coincedence meeting of components falling into place to make wonderful sound and , SETUP , SETUP , SETUP makes my Mustache Model Alvarez punch right on through the big guns . I just love it when people with the high end boxes want to play my Mustache .

But yes . No more than I know about Ukes in my two week career with them , my disappointments in ANY unit are made easier to deal with knowing the one simple comination of facts that make a good insturment have little to do with who makes it in most cases . Yes ! I do know certain woods and certain makers are fo much finer qulity on a percentage basis . But I am one to believe that being frugal and wise are a great team .

My guess is that after you get it set up and get past caring that you didn't get a $2,000 Uke for a bang up price , you'll love it like the next one . Again , acoustically , mine rocks unplugged to above my expectations of a cheap instrument . but it took me some time to really get it right . Yet I am still working on it .

I'm an abslute NOOB and Uke moron , but I am all to glad I had some other wood/stringed instrument experience under my belt to ease the pain of being cheap . lol lol



11-14-2011, 02:56 PM
Thought I'd make a little vid about my LU21 CE in response to the post . Hope it helps and enjoy !


11-27-2011, 01:05 PM
Welpers , looks like there wasn't many folks interested in the input from a noobster Ukester such as myself . But with that said , I got a little more to say anyway .

With all the talk about th LU21CE and a few issues , I also wasn't so happy with the electronics as I thought I ought to be . As I mentioned before , I'm brand hammer new to the UKE ........ BUT ........... I am by no mean brand hammer new to the music scene . Again , as mentioned before , I do plink a little bit of acoustic guitar . Although several ( actually more than several ) years ago , I played my fair share plenty and then some big stage events playing blues harmonica .

The one thing I am sure I know is when an instrument can voice better than it is . And this Lanikai LU 21CE was sure to voice better after I got done with it .

As we know , I did the basic setup a while back . Fret work , saddle and nut work , and a good old fashioned fret board lemon oil saturation . Those things alone opened up her vocal chords pretty nice for sure .

But as some have muttered , the electronics had a bit of a buzz . Actually , mine sounded horrible to suit me . As we know , I did the bridge saddle work on it and at that time I clipped back the braid for the pickup to set even with the plastic housing . That did wonders .But I was still in the know that it was not voicing like it ought to whether plugged in or unplugged .

Tonight , I dug back into her a bit . MAN O MAN is she sounded pretty now . I know , I know . All you pro guys with your billion dollar Ukes are already rolling your eyes . But for real , I'd like you to hear her now .

I took out the battery/eq and the 1/4 plug completely . I desoldered the two wires and ground from the 1/4 plug and cut 14" off the wire from the electroncs to the 1/4 plug . Soldered them back on and put the 1/4 plug back in . All that excess wire was coiled up and secured to the under side of the sound board just behind the sound hole with a square double stick wire tie . TALK ABOUT A SOUND KILLER ........ MAN ....... That spongey double stic tape and honkin plastic thing right dead middle of where all the tone comes from .

Anyway, I scraped away the double stick tie wrap and scrapped away all the yuck it left behind . Then I tested it out without zipping it all back up .

WOW O WOW ! She was singing then . But I just new there could be more resonant tone and sustain pulled out of her somewhere .

YEP ! Sure was .... I took the braid lead that goes to the pickup under the bridge saddle and slid heat shrink over it from the factory little piece of heat shrink right at the plug . I completely covered it up . Heated it to shrink . There was just a little bit of slack in the pickup lead so I did one small coil and taped it to the wire that goes from the EQ to the 1/4 .Then reassembled the little Uke .

OK ! As said before , you high dollar uke owners are laffin big by now and especially you maestro sorts . And of course I don't blame you and fully understand .

BUT I KID YOU NOT . You'd be so impressed with my little jankster Lanikai LU 21CE and where she is now .

Her resonant tone and sustain is now well alive and really sounding warm . She is holding a note far better than I expected . That STOOPID double stick wire tie, combined with the 14" of uneeded wire had her chocked to beyond a trip to eternity .

YES ! It's only a $149 Uke brand new and made in China to boot . But with a little resucitation from her still born state , I'm as proud of her sound as some of the high end Ukers are theirs .

Hope to hook with some of you soon and let you strum her a bit .
Also hoping that as a Noobster , I'm don't ger flamed to bad for being so long winded and verbal about my times with my Uke .

Blessings to all , RAGZDADDY .

11-28-2011, 11:34 AM
Thanks for the info. I have the LU21CE/BK (that's the same Uke just painted black), and I have noticed the coiled up wire as well. I guess I'll see if I can get similar results in removing the excess wire inside... At least on my uke the wire holder is stuck to the side of the Uke, not to the soundboard.

11-28-2011, 11:47 AM
I;d still rid the thing of the double stick wire tie . And for sure , put some heat shrink over the pickup lead . But you will notice the pickup lead is spleced and alread has some shrink boot on it at the splice . Don't heat/shring boot past that splice . That will keep that super sonsitive wire braid from rattling on the body and generating the sound to the amp . That 1/4 plug can be a boogar to get back through the hole in the body . But if use a witr clothes hanger folded in half at the corner , you can stick in the 1/4 plug to guide i through the body to the drilled hole .

Also take out the bridge saddle and make sure the braid under the saddle isn;t sticking out past the plastic coating . If it is , the A string isn't going to be heard by the pickup near as goo as it ought to .

Just a little patience and TLC and the diff is awesome at the clarity and warm resonance you get for your effort . The heat/shrink boot over the pickup braid is the majoc .

Most acoustic intstruments need that done no matter the price range or quality . I've done it to tons of guitars . It stops ALL the buzz from vibration for sure .