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View Full Version : $200-300 Tenor Suggestions



arturo7
11-16-2011, 08:35 AM
Looking to buy a tenor in the $200-300 range. Which models/manufacturers should I consider? Any to stay away from?

Thanks!

PoiDog
11-16-2011, 08:49 AM
You could consider Koa Pili Koko. Their solid acacia tenor is about $225 or so I think ...

mr moonlight
11-16-2011, 09:40 AM
Do you know what sort of woods you're looking for? Acacia, Cedar, Spruce, Mahogany?

bazmaz
11-16-2011, 10:22 AM
Can't go wrong with a Fluke!

arturo7
11-16-2011, 10:22 AM
Do you know what sort of woods you're looking for? Acacia, Cedar, Spruce, Mahogany?

It's all Greek to me. What are the advantages/differences of one type versus another?

arturo7
11-16-2011, 11:41 AM
Just tried a spruce top. Nice volume but the tone was a bit sharp. Played 3 or 4 mahogs which were fine.

I think the leader right now is an Alani (?) mahogany. The only issue was the lack of position markers/inlays on the neck.

Been to 4 LMS so far. Plenty more in SoCal to visit.

OldePhart
11-16-2011, 11:56 AM
My best advice would be to go to the high end of that, or even a little over. If you get up around the 300-350 mark you're getting into decent mid-range tenor uke territory. Anything you get up there should be decent, especially if set up by a real ukulele shop (NOT Guitar Center, etc.). At the low end of your range you're kind of playing ukulele roulette - there are some decent ukes there but variableness even within a single model can be pretty wide. I wouldn't even consider one without playing it first.

mr moonlight
11-16-2011, 11:57 AM
It's all Greek to me. What are the advantages/differences of one type versus another?
Generally speaking from my own experience, but none of this is set in stone.

Spruce - loud but bright
Cedar - loud but a bit darker sounding than spruce
Koa - not as loud as cedar or spruce, but is very clear and resonant. Rings like a bell.
Mahogany - sort of like koa, but not as resonant or clear.

Spruce and Cedar will generally be louder than Koa or Mahogany and have more sustain, but Koa and Mahogany will give you more of that classic uke sound.

There are a lot of other woods out there and each have their own sonic characteristics, but generally, the big difference is between having a softwood (cedar/spruce) or hardwood (koa/mahogany) top.

If you can, stick with solid tops for optimum sound quality.

Gillian
11-16-2011, 01:13 PM
The owner of the Ukulele Source store here in San Jose and who really knows his ukes is very impressed by the affordable Islander line from Kanile'a.

localmana
11-16-2011, 01:45 PM
I second the recommendation of checking out the Islander by Kanile'a. I think best sound for your buck, I think.

Uke Republic
11-16-2011, 02:06 PM
Mainland mahogany will soon be back and thats an all solid mahogany for under $250.00

arturo7
11-16-2011, 03:47 PM
Almost pulled the trigger on a Lanikai CK-T today. Price was $199. Figure I'll check out one of these Islanders first.

Anybody know of a store that has one in SoCal?

philpot
11-16-2011, 03:56 PM
Almost pulled the trigger on a Lanikai CK-T today. Price was $199. Figure I'll check out one of these Islanders first.

Anybody know of a store that has one in SoCal?

Don't go with the Lanikai. IMO. I've played the NK-C, which has a solid koa top where I believe the CK series is all laminate koa, and I'm not even that impressed with that. I haven't played the tenor size, but at that price range you can get a solid that will sound worlds better. Don't settle until you've played quite a few. But just from personal experience, as an upgrade, I'd stay away from Lanikai, because I think in that price range there's better places to look :)

OldePhart
11-16-2011, 04:38 PM
I have to second Philpot. The low-end Lanikai ukes are good for beginners (if they're set up) on a budget - but if you're going to spend $200 to $300 I think you can do better than a Lanikai.

I had a Lanikai acoustic-electric tenor and it actually sounded pretty good plugged in and came with the best drop-shipped out-of-the-box-straight-off-the-boat setup I've seen on an inexpensive ukulele. The catch? Acoustically it was like playing a wet dog.

John

mds725
11-16-2011, 04:57 PM
Anybody know of a store that has one in SoCal?

http://kanileaukulele.com/dealers.php?osCsid=1acd0314d91632d6261ae0a97bf55a8 d

arturo7
11-16-2011, 05:21 PM
Thanks for the link, mds. I was in Buffalo Bros. today, no Islands. I suspect that's just a list of Kanile's dealers. I'll make a few phone calls tomorrow.

Gillian
11-16-2011, 08:49 PM
I think this is the link you need for Islander dealers in California.

http://www.islanderukulele.com/page8.aspx

Seems like you are in luck! There is a dealer in Huntington Beach.

Island Bazaar
16582 Gothard St Suite R
Huntington Beach, CA 92467
(714) 843-9350

arturo7
11-17-2011, 05:28 AM
I contacted Island Bazaar and the lady said she'd never heard of Island ukes.

Sent an email directly to Kanile'a and they said there are none in stock anywhere in SoCal. He offered to sell one from his stock. Unfortunately, I don't want to commit to an instrument until I've had a chance to play it.

Trinimon
11-17-2011, 05:43 AM
Maybe she didn't clue in that you meant "Islander" by Kanile'a as opposed to "island" ukuleles?

Mouthy1
11-17-2011, 05:45 AM
I have an Islander Laminate and it is super. I paid $109 shipped from HMS setup perfectly and I gotta say, best $109 I have ever spent on a uke.(And I have spent a lot of $109's). I have had around 45-55 ukes and I am still impressed for the money. There are much better ukes for sure but that is a super deal for sure.

arturo7
11-17-2011, 06:21 AM
Maybe she didn't clue in that you meant "Islander" by Kanile'a as opposed to "island" ukuleles?


We'll find out. I plan on going there later today.

guitarsnrotts
11-17-2011, 06:42 AM
I just bought a Koa Pili Koko concert and am quite happy with it. www.pilikoko.com
I would also second the notion that for $200-300, you can find a better sounding uke than a Lanikai.
Notice my sig - been there done that.

PoiDog
11-17-2011, 06:46 AM
Islander >>>> Lanikai/Kala

arturo7
11-17-2011, 09:29 AM
Just played a Pono MT.

It's between that an an Alani right now. Not much web info on Alani. I assume it's Chinese?

arturo7
11-17-2011, 01:08 PM
Just hit a coupla more shops. Played a Makai MT 90 that I liked. Seems that I find one I like at almost every shop I try. Unfortunately, my ear isn't good enough to remember the tone from one shop to the next...

modern day ukuleleist
11-17-2011, 01:38 PM
I'm also looking for a tenor in the $200-$300 range.

A ton of people have recommended Mainland Mahogany Tenors (friction or geared tuners, gold or silver tuner plating, white or black tuning peg, gloss or matte finish, cutaway body or regular, slotted headstock or regular, rope inlay or none). I'm planning on buying one when they're back in stock. They give you a lot of options for customizing and apparently have awesome customer service (they set up each ukulele individually before shipping to ensure the best sound quality).

If you type "Mainland Tenor" in youtube, you can find a ton of reviews, and I don't think I've seen a negative one yet.

arturo7
11-17-2011, 02:01 PM
I'm also looking for a tenor in the $200-$300 range.

A ton of people have recommended Mainland Mahogany Tenors (friction or geared tuners, gold or silver tuner plating, white or black tuning peg, gloss or matte finish, cutaway body or regular, slotted headstock or regular, rope inlay or none). I'm planning on buying one when they're back in stock. They give you a lot of options for customizing and apparently have awesome customer service (they set up each ukulele individually before shipping to ensure the best sound quality).

If you type "Mainland Tenor" in youtube, you can find a ton of reviews, and I don't think I've seen a negative one yet.


check here http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?56065-Mainland-2nds

allanr
11-17-2011, 02:42 PM
You pretty much can't go wrong with the 3 most recommended brands in this thread.

Koa Pili Koko
Islander
Mainland

I wouldn't hesitate to buy any of these online either, especially from a dealer like HMS that will actually set the uke up before shipping it out.

Lanikai sell a lot of ukes and are definitely not bad at all. But they specialize in providing what I'd call "decent ukes at reasonable prices". The other three brands are aiming to provide what I'd call "amazing value". I.E. they are trying to provide as much uke as they possibly can within the price point.

Your other option is to buy pre-loved. There are often some pretty darned-good values right here in the UU Marketplace and on Fleamarketmusic.

mandrew
11-17-2011, 08:43 PM
I just bought an Islander, and it is exceptional in that price range, not only in build quality, but in playability.

ukuleleforbeginners
11-18-2011, 02:40 AM
Is there any way that you can try out the different ones. That would help a lot.

Mouthy1
11-18-2011, 04:51 AM
I have found that you can try out anything once you buy it and get it home;)

Maybe that is why I have so so many ukes!

alohaolamele
11-18-2011, 04:58 AM
I'm also looking for a tenor in the $200-$300 range.

A ton of people have recommended Mainland Mahogany Tenors (friction or geared tuners, gold or silver tuner plating, white or black tuning peg, gloss or matte finish, cutaway body or regular, slotted headstock or regular, rope inlay or none). I'm planning on buying one when they're back in stock. They give you a lot of options for customizing and apparently have awesome customer service (they set up each ukulele individually before shipping to ensure the best sound quality).

If you type "Mainland Tenor" in youtube, you can find a ton of reviews, and I don't think I've seen a negative one yet.

I would agree. for under $400 you can get a Mainland Tenor Uke, and they are really really good. The sound and quality are excellent for the price, and they will put a pick-up in it for you. I only play Mainland Uke's now. I have 4 of them.

PhilUSAFRet
11-18-2011, 11:44 AM
The $285 Pono MTD on Fleamarket Music Marketplace. May here too?

arturo7
11-18-2011, 03:03 PM
The deed is done. Pono mahogany with a decent hardshell case for $300.

I visited aboot 20 stores, played maybe 100 instruments. The Pono was one of the few that stood out. I certainly would have liked to try a Mainland, or an Islander. Unfortunately, nobody had either in stock. I didn't want to fork over good money for an instrument that I hadn't played first.

Thank you, one and all. Your advise is greatly appreciated.

I'll post a pic maņana.

Cheers!

mr moonlight
11-18-2011, 05:22 PM
The deed is done. Pono mahogany with a decent hardshell case for $300.

I visited aboot 20 stores, played maybe 100 instruments. The Pono was one of the few that stood out. I certainly would have liked to try a Mainland, or an Islander. Unfortunately, nobody had either in stock. I didn't want to fork over good money for an instrument that I hadn't played first.

Thank you, one and all. Your advise is greatly appreciated.

I'll post a pic maņana.

Cheers!

Nice. Good to hear, that after all those uke's, you picked a Pono. I've been considering picking a Tenor Pono up after I sell my Kala.

guitarsnrotts
11-19-2011, 03:24 AM
Good choice. Enjoy.