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View Full Version : What's the worst sounding uke you have ever played.



Ryan<3Ukes
11-22-2011, 02:29 PM
Hey Guys! This is my first post on UU and I wanted to choose a topic that's semi-interesting. We all love ukes so I think we deserve to bash on some ukes as well. The worst sounding ukulele I have ever played has to be this concert uke that my friend found his garage. It was probably in there for a REALLY long time because the sound is just terrible. It's a brand I have never heard of and the uke itself is incredibly heavy and quiet. He also found a harmony soprano in his garage and he says its crappy also. So that's my pick. What about you guys? I'm going to say that non-setup counts as well. Try not to offend anyone Lol.

Hippie Dribble
11-22-2011, 02:34 PM
hey Ryan, welcome to the UU mate!

you took the words right out of my mouth there, the thought that immediately came to my mind upon reading your question was a 50's harmony soprano made from birch and with a plastic fretboard. Horrible to the ears and violent on the fingertips!

SuzukHammer
11-22-2011, 02:58 PM
Anything out of tune.

Plainsong
11-22-2011, 02:59 PM
There was this no brand soprano at a local music store. It had a heavy heavy neck and what seemed to be real imitation wood. We were there because my husband got the bright idea that maybe I'd like a guitar now that I've figured out how fingers move on frets. He was half right, I did have a better time of it, but it was as apparent to him as to me that guitar just wasn't my thing at all.

So not wanting to waste a trip, the organs were next to the classical guitars, where the wayward uke was sitting. I sat next to him on the piano bench and tuned the thing, tightened up the tuners so they'd have a better chance of working, and so he went into House of the Rising Sun as a nice music store jam.

I hit that A minor and I can tell yall right now that I found the Miracle Silent Uke! The harder I played, the quieter it got, which cracked us up. He was all "Play louder!" and I was all "I am!" - so much for showing off how cool a uke jam can be. :/

Ryan<3Ukes
11-22-2011, 03:06 PM
Anything out of tune.

I've played a lot of ukes out of tune that probably sound better than the one I played

Doc_J
11-22-2011, 03:08 PM
I picked up a hobby builder soprano ukulele for $60, made of solid Sapele couple years ago. The builder was more of a guitar builder. The top was way too thick (very dead), frets were guitar sized (too big), intonation was so-so. But the finish wasn't bad. It came with the cheapiest strings and tuners I have ever seen. Changed both the tuners and strings, still couldn't stand to play it. Ended up giving it away. I learned you get what you pay for.

Kem
11-22-2011, 03:19 PM
Dixie all-metal banjo uke. To call the intonation "bad" would be an insult to bad intonation. My theory is that whoever made the Dixie knew what a ukulele was supposed to look like but didn't actually bother to measure anything. Even if the friction tuners had been working properly, which they weren't, that thing would have been unplayable.

Sadly, my original Classic (laminate) soprano seems to have suffered from sitting out in the open in my parents' house for years; it no longer plays in tune at all. It was my first, and I mourn its passing.

ksiegel
11-22-2011, 04:02 PM
you took the words right out of my mouth there, the thought that immediately came to my mind upon reading your question was a 50's harmony soprano made from birch and with a plastic fretboard. Horrible to the ears and violent on the fingertips!

Whereas I find my 1950's harmony soprano made from birch and with a plastic fretboard a joy to play... or at least a joy while it stays in tune...

The worst uke I ever owned is a Spruce top and Zebrawood Laminate from National. Unplayable, and horrid!

Then I sent it up to Michigan,. and Tudorp did a setup on it, leveled the frets, and worked his magic. Now it is a very nice little concert uke.


(Thanks again, Tony!)


-Kurt

rem50
11-22-2011, 05:04 PM
I had a cordoba ck 25 that was basically dead. Nothing against cordobas, I had played one in a music store so I bought one on line (my mistake!). The store one was great, the "deal" I got stunk. Took the uke apart just to see what it looked like inside because I disliked it so much! Ha!

Nickie
11-22-2011, 05:06 PM
I've got two of them.
My red Dolphin with original strings sounded absolutley like alley cats fighting. Martin clears made it almost bearable, but I don't play it.
My friend's Oscar Schmidt, spruce top soprano. It sounds like a two by four. She can't stand it, uses it for a decoration. Such a waste.

dredey
11-22-2011, 05:15 PM
Spongebob Squarepants Ukulele from toy store.:)

itsme
11-22-2011, 05:50 PM
I wouldn't say any of the ukes I have sound bad, just maybe some sound better than others. :)

Kazz3lrath
11-22-2011, 05:50 PM
A custom-made baritone in a music store that someone had traded in. It was unbearably dull and quiet.

hmgberg
11-22-2011, 06:05 PM
I'm going with the 50's (I think) Harmony soprano, stencil on the front, plastic fretboard, laminated whatever. Terrible to play, no sound, just awful as an instrument...but ok to look at. I picked it up on Ebay after getting a Roy Smeck uke with a wood fretboard. The Smeck is really pretty nice. The frets were squared off, making it a bit difficult to play. I crowned them. Now it play very nicely and sounds fine. I can't crown the frets on the plastic fretboard and don't even bother with it because it just sounds awful.

Shazzbot
11-22-2011, 06:19 PM
My Mahalo flying V is a piece of crap.
But it looks cool.

coolkayaker1
11-22-2011, 06:29 PM
Hands down, my Silver Creek U-60 (as seen at Musicians Friends)-- solid mahogany doorstop. Deader than the eye of a newt.

dkcrown
11-23-2011, 12:37 AM
My first uke, an Applause UA-10. I name all of my ukes and I named that one dogshit. Just lifeless.

I gave it to my youngest son as a starter uke and he won't even play it now that he has a flea.

drbekken
11-23-2011, 12:43 AM
Stagg US10. It came with action so high I just could not believe what I saw, and intonation that could not be fixed no matter what. And mind you, I sometimes LIKE the slightly out-of-tune sound some ukes have. To top things off, it also looked bad. I would not recommend it to even my worst enemy.
Talking about Harmony, I'm having mine fixed, and I don't think it will be so bad. Nice sound, and killer looks.

Nixon
11-23-2011, 12:53 AM
Lag soprano. Didn't make a sound at all, real shame as I have one of their guitars and its lovely.

Most disappointing was a Kanile'a tenor. Was worth 800 and played like a 200/300 uke.

garyg
11-23-2011, 02:05 AM
You know this is kinda like a "who's got the ugliest kid" contest in a room of parents <g>.

gyosh
11-23-2011, 02:58 AM
You know this is kinda like a "who's got the ugliest kid" contest in a room of parents <g>.
Then I have a gorgeous looking kid who sounds like I imagine Julia Child would sound like performing "Over the Rainbow." Bamboo uke. Never again.

Ronnie Aloha
11-23-2011, 03:26 AM
Kohala concert at Costco Hawaii. I don't have a very discerning ear but even Helen Keller would have returned that one!

Uke Republic
11-23-2011, 03:47 AM
I'd rather not say the brand, it's not something we carry. This instrument's top was so thick it could have doubled as cutting board. The sound was much like strings across a cutting board come to think of it

haolejohn
11-23-2011, 04:23 AM
I have two. First one is a soprano from ron jon's surf shop in orlando or somewhere in florida a student brough in and the other is a epi les paul.

Paul December
11-23-2011, 05:08 AM
Then I have a gorgeous looking kid who sounds like I imagine Julia Child would sound like performing "Over the Rainbow." Bamboo uke. Never again.

Paulele? :confused:

bigchiz
11-23-2011, 05:23 AM
I have two. First one is a soprano from ron jon's surf shop in orlando or somewhere in florida a student brough in and the other is a epi les paul.

My daughter as the epi les paul concert. It's very quiet until plugged in to an amp. After two months the original strings shot though, getting some Aquilas this weekend.

Ryan<3Ukes
11-23-2011, 05:24 AM
I kind of want to buy any of your ukes if you actually own them. From the stories I've read... My best offer is $5

Jnobianchi
11-23-2011, 05:36 AM
Hands down - the $20 Hilo. Thick top, poor intonation, bad frets, and not even nice looking. You get what you pay for with that one, but you can take it anywhere and if you forget it, no one's going to cry.

mr moonlight
11-23-2011, 05:48 AM
My mom has an old soprano with a plastic fretboard. I think it was a Harmony. I never really gave it much of a chance, but when I played it, it sounded dreadful, the tuners couldn't hold and the intonation was off. Perhaps next time I'll throw some new strings on and fix the tuners and see how it plays. I think we got it at a souvenir shop 30 years ago in Hawaii.

DougNC
11-23-2011, 05:50 AM
I don't have near the experience that others have, but the worst I have encountered so far is my Lanakai LU-21S...BEFORE I performed surgery on it. It had a plastic nut whose slots were terribly cut, and a horrible plastic saddle that was too high, so thin that it was canted at an angle from the pressure of the strings, and the bottom was as rough as a snow-packed road in the dead of a Laramie WY winter.

I replaced both with bone spares I had on hand. Correctly cut the string slots on the nut--had to tweak this a few times before I got it right due to my inexperience with the vastly different string diameters of a ukulele compared to guitar strings. Created a saddle that stood straight and actually made constant contact with the bottom of the bridge slot. I had to lower the saddle to bare minimum to compensate for the terrible neck angle.

Now it's much louder and it's tone is really not bad at all for a $50US uke.

Of course it doesn't hold a candle to my newly acquired Mainland Mango Soprano. :)

Just goes to show that sometimes not giving up on something can bring rewards.

Doug

quiltingshirley
11-23-2011, 07:16 AM
Easy, it was the really cute uke that I bought at Hilo Hatties. It even showed chord diagrams on the back of the box. It's plastic with decorations. I'd never played so I used my husband's tuner he'd bought with his Kala tenor at a "real" ukulele store in Hilo. I tuned it and tuned it and it wouldn't even come close to holding the strings in tune. I've never heard a sound like what came out of that ukulele. I gave it to the 3 yr old granddaughter when we got home. She used it more as a hammer -- worked welll that way. I broke down and bought her a Dolphin when she turned 5 and put good strings on it. She plays and it doesn't hurt our ears. We took another cruise and I took their lessons and then bought a Kamaka pineapple in Honolulu. (However it doesn't have those cool decorations that the other one had.)

Trinimon
11-23-2011, 08:00 AM
Easy, it was the really cute uke that I bought at Hilo Hatties.

LOL, I almost bought one of those at Hilo Hattie!

kenikas
11-23-2011, 08:45 AM
Hands down - the $20 Hilo. Thick top, poor intonation, bad frets, and not even nice looking. You get what you pay for with that one, but you can take it anywhere and if you forget it, no one's going to cry.
My niece has one of these and it was truly dreadful, frets not set or level, action almost high enough to shoot arrows with. But after a few hours and a new set of Aquilas it was pretty much....playable. So I gave her my LU21C and she's really taken to the uke.

Big_e
11-23-2011, 09:08 AM
The little Tara soprano I bought a few weeks ago. They're still on sell on ebay. Do not get!
Ernest

wolfybau
11-23-2011, 09:41 AM
Kohala concert at Costco Hawaii. I don't have a very discerning ear but even Helen Keller would have returned that one!

my daughter won a Kohala concert in a sweepstakes, and hers is pretty nice she loves it. (mabee a differnt model? )the neck feels very nice and the wood is pretty. nice geared tuners, not fabulous sounding but ok. the bag that came with it was only cloth with 0 padding but Im goign to fix that


I think the $25 Rogue (from musicians friend) that I got her to start out on was not bad sounding but terrible issues, the fret edges very sharp, bad tuners, action very high. but the worst thing was that the fret spacing is way off from the nut and first fret. I lowered the action adn am goign to install a 0 fret. other than that the neck and body shape is light and nice. and it came with a very nice bag. once I have it all tweeked it may be a nice lil uke.

I have to say as bad as that one was , the beginner $45 Mahalo I tryed out in the local music store seemed much worse, that thing was realy rough made. very high action worse than the rouge, and 'clunky' feeling and dead sounding, the finish all 'drippy' and incomplete, looked like it was put together in someones high school shop class and they got a D on the project.

ukeeku
11-23-2011, 09:47 AM
My grizzly kit Uke. I am pretty sure it was my fault.
I threw it in fire at the last UWC

allanr
11-23-2011, 10:15 AM
That would be my Dixie banjolele as it was when I got it. Someone had cut the skin out and replaced it with the lid from a coffee tin! Yeah... that sounded good ;-/

Kem
11-23-2011, 10:24 AM
That would be my Dixie banjolele as it was when I got it. Someone had cut the skin out and replaced it with the lid from a coffee tin! Yeah... that sounded good ;-/

Believe me, mine didn't sound any better, and it did not contain the lid from a coffee tin. I sent it to Tudorp, who managed to get it to the point where it was almost bearable to listen to, though not quite. I've heard okay-sounding Dixies online, so clearly, there is some magic word or gesture that I simply don't know.

willisoften
11-23-2011, 11:36 AM
While it might be unfair to mention the brand - I had a look at a uke a while ago it had a nut were the strings sat proud on the tiniest notches and highest of all was the good old C string.
When attempting to strum softly that C string really boomed out. If you strummed hard an open A string would jump out of it's notch.
I handed it back it to the music shop asistant who blamed my bad technique and then fetched the owner who harangued me for bothering his staff when I didn't want to buy, damn right I didn't want to buy from him - EVER. Thing is they are usually a reasonable quality brand and often the only brand carried by local music shops.

Ryan<3Ukes
11-23-2011, 11:40 AM
While it might be unfair to mention the brand - I had a look at a uke a while ago it had a nut were the strings sat proud on the tiniest notches and highest of all was the good old C string.
When attempting to strum softly that C string really boomed out. If you strummed hard an open A string would jump out of it's notch.
I handed it back it to the music shop asistant who blamed my bad technique and then fetched the owner who harangued me for bothering his staff when I didn't want to buy, damn right I didn't want to buy from him - EVER. Thing is they are usually a reasonable quality brand and often the only brand carried by local music shops.

That would have ticked me off.

Nickie
11-23-2011, 12:20 PM
My grizzly kit Uke. I am pretty sure it was my fault.
I threw it in fire at the last UWC

OMG, you guys are too funny. This one made me laugh so hard I blew snot out my nose! I'm glad I was alone.

Big_e
11-23-2011, 02:51 PM
my daughter won a Kohala concert in a sweepstakes, and hers is pretty nice she loves it. (mabee a differnt model? )the neck feels very nice and the wood is pretty. nice geared tuners, not fabulous sounding but ok. the bag that came with it was only cloth with 0 padding but Im goign to fix that


I think the $25 Rogue (from musicians friend) that I got her to start out on was not bad sounding but terrible issues, the fret edges very sharp, bad tuners, action very high. but the worst thing was that the fret spacing is way off from the nut and first fret. I lowered the action adn am goign to install a 0 fret. other than that the neck and body shape is light and nice. and it came with a very nice bag. once I have it all tweeked it may be a nice lil uke.

I have to say as bad as that one was , the beginner $45 Mahalo I tryed out in the local music store seemed much worse, that thing was realy rough made. very high action worse than the rouge, and 'clunky' feeling and dead sounding, the finish all 'drippy' and incomplete, looked like it was put together in someones high school shop class and they got a D on the project.

In search of the perfect beater uke, I bought a Kohala soprano. I'm pretty happy with it. The finish is not-so-good and the strings it came with gave it a clunky sound. I even got a splinter in my arm from the edges! I carefully trimmed the rough edges with a exacto blade, sealed the wood with clear coat scratch fix and put new Martin flouracarbons and she actually has a sweet sound now. Quality on those Kohalas must be hit and miss 'cause I've heard real horror stories about them in this forum.
Ernest

haolejohn
11-23-2011, 03:16 PM
While it might be unfair to mention the brand - I had a look at a uke a while ago it had a nut were the strings sat proud on the tiniest notches and highest of all was the good old C string.
When attempting to strum softly that C string really boomed out. If you strummed hard an open A string would jump out of it's notch.
I handed it back it to the music shop asistant who blamed my bad technique and then fetched the owner who harangued me for bothering his staff when I didn't want to buy, damn right I didn't want to buy from him - EVER. Thing is they are usually a reasonable quality brand and often the only brand carried by local music shops.

why would it be unfair to mention the brand? every brand will have at least one dud...

webby
11-23-2011, 09:03 PM
mahalo cheapy, no contest.

webby
11-23-2011, 09:04 PM
This one made me laugh so hard I blew snot out my nose!


LOL, too much information.

willisoften
11-24-2011, 03:06 AM
why would it be unfair to mention the brand? every brand will have at least one dud...

I agree that every brand might have a dud but as long as their reps make good then you shouldn't be too negative on forums - where such comments have a disproprtionate effect.

I personally believe that the real problem was the attitude of the store owner. He had a poor rep anyway (and I just heard literally 15 minutes ago) his business went under last year.

If you believe that others will be harmed or even badly disappointed by purchasing a particular product or dealing with a particular company or outlet and are unable to resolve a problem through the normal channels - then by all means publish.