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View Full Version : What's your method for choosing a uke?



mr moonlight
11-23-2011, 09:54 PM
This is mainly a question to those who live in uke challenged areas and end up buying sight unseen.

I generally go through every online review and try to do as much research as I can on every uke that fits my specs and budget. After countless YouTube videos I finally get my heart set on one uke. The thing is, I've only purchased "that uke" once, and I ended up returning it. What usually happens is I call up a uke dealer on the islands and just go with their recommendation (which has always been different than the one I decided upon using my own methods) regardless of all my research. Every time I've been extremely satisfied with my purchase.

So what method do you use to find your next uke? And how successful has it been?

Pippin
11-23-2011, 10:13 PM
I stick with brands that have a reputation for quality and I only buy from online retailers that have an excellent reputation for customer service.

ukulefty
11-23-2011, 10:53 PM
I only buy from online retailers that have an excellent reputation for customer service.


To be honest I prefer to play before I buy, but if not, then the above is very important.

A good returns policy is always a plus too just in case you really hate your choice!

Plainsong
11-23-2011, 11:29 PM
I stick with brands that have a reputation for quality and I only buy from online retailers that have an excellent reputation for customer service.

Without being able to test first, I have to go with this method as well. The only way I can gain knowledge of what my preferences and biases are, is to play every uke I can get my hands on.

Lardy Fatboy
11-24-2011, 02:19 AM
I buy Ukuleles that I like the look of and are interesting so long as you have got one that is good to play and sounds good if you need to play at all seriously the rest is all for fun

joeybug
11-24-2011, 02:21 AM
Without being able to test first, I have to go with this method as well. The only way I can gain knowledge of what my preferences and biases are, is to play every uke I can get my hands on.

:agree: with this, basically!

roxhum
11-24-2011, 04:26 AM
Yup, I research the brands, read the reviews, listen to videos, which buy the way I don't find all that helpful. I pm UU members who have the same or similar uke in their signature. I most often buy second had from UU marketplace or Fleamarketplace. I think I have only purchased new ukes from UkeRepublic because I trust him, he has a good selection, a good website, and he does an excellent set-up and excellent customer service. Oh and I ask my more experienced UU friends to help guide me.

Ryan<3Ukes
11-24-2011, 05:04 AM
Im pretty sure I pissed off Jason from KPK with my questions and such. He's a nice guy though.

roxhum
11-24-2011, 05:09 AM
I suspect Jason is fine. He is a nice guy. I have purchased a couple ukes from him. He also gives good customer service.

Pukulele Pete
11-24-2011, 05:16 AM
I have to like the way it looks first of all. I like classic looks like a vintage style Martin . It has to look good before all else. Hey , .... you asked .

fabioponta
11-24-2011, 05:33 AM
I'm thousands of miles from any decent US/Hawaii made uke. The only ukulele I could test here so far, it is not mine, was a concert Fluke, from the UU member fernandogardinali, in Curitiba, in a ukencontro. I bought the first koalohas indicating by MGM, and now I always ask for many UU members who have ukes like mine what they think about the model that I want to buy. Pukulele Pete (above) was one of them: he helped me alot recently to decide to buy a Kiwaya to give an upgrade on my Martin S-O. Just waiting to get ...

joejeweler
11-24-2011, 05:53 AM
I have to like the way it looks first of all. I like classic looks like a vintage style Martin . It has to look good before all else. Hey , .... you asked .

So you shop for a uke like you did for your wife? Attractive,.....and classy! :D

Got to admit though,......it's HAS to look good!

kissing
11-24-2011, 05:58 AM
Purchase first, ask questions later.

808boy
11-24-2011, 06:05 AM
Aloha All,
I use "eeny,meeny,mynee, I want MOE", works for me.....................BO......................... .....

mr moonlight
11-24-2011, 07:00 AM
I stick with brands that have a reputation for quality and I only buy from online retailers that have an excellent reputation for customer service.
Customer service is really key. HMS has a really good staff and return policy so it really helps a lot. With less expensive ukes it's important, but not quite as much of an issue since there's a lot less money at risk. When you start getting into higher end and custom ukes, good customer service and a return policy is really key.

stanpeter
11-24-2011, 09:17 AM
I ask myself some questions:
1. Do I need to scratch my UAS-itch? If yes continue
2. Do I need another uke? Skip this question and continue
3. Seen anything lately that I liked? Any reason will do, mostly it must look good and be something that doesn't resemble anything I allready have (or had and got rid of). Or is an upgrade. Probably will look up a review, sample it. Probably ends up with yes, so continue
4. Does it fit the available cash? If yes purchase. If no, save a little longer, the need will grow. If it can be an upgrade for a uke allready in posession: get rid of that and "reinvest". Continue anyway
5. Ordered it yet? Probably :)

Exeptions can be made when bargains are spotted. I do have some sort of imaginary list of "want that" ukes I allways have in the back of my mind. To be on the safe side...

GKK
11-24-2011, 09:46 AM
Looks always First!...

Then, I look at the quality of the Ukulele. If the Ukulele doesn't look good to me, I won't ever play it. :cool:

ksiegel
11-24-2011, 09:53 AM
The first one I bought was simple:
1) Went to Guitar Center, played everything they had in the $150 - $300 price range, decided I like a Cordoba mahogany model - they didn't have the gig bag that came with it (A genuine WTF? moment...), so I decided not to buy it, and asked that I be called as soon as it showed up. I'd have bought a hardshell case, but they didn't have any of those, either.
2) Two weeks later, after not hearing anything from GC, I went to my local shop,. told them what I wanted, and asked if they could order it for me. They had to be an authorized Cordoba reseller to do so, but it turned out that they were. So it was ordered. When it showed up 8 days later, it was just fine, and set up was quite good - I haven't had to change anything.
3) I wanted something better, so I emailed MGM, who responded almost immediately, telling me to call him. (This was 6AM Hawai'i time!) I gave him my budget, and he suggested the Kala Cedar top/ Koa body tenor. It goes without saying that the set up was perfect.
4) I visited the Fluke factory store, and played every factory second Fluke and Flea they had, a ton of New First Quality ukes, and two Firefly banjo uke prototypes. Bought the tenor Fluke I kept going back to, and ordered a Firefly. Both have Peghed tuners, both are great.
5) The Epiphones were ordered because of what they are. The one Tudorp set up for me is great, the other just sits in a bag. They are quiet, but nice acoustically - I've found that I'm not really a fan of a plugged in uke, based on the Epis and the Fluke, although the electronics on the fluke (b-band with volume control only, no tone control) are better than the epiphone electronics (no controls at all).
6) I bought the Republic uke based on price - $119 for a concert with hardshell case is hard to beat. But it was unplayable until Tudorp did an intensive set up for me. (Thanks again, Tony!) Now, it is nice, although not very loud.
7) I bought my KoAloha Sceptre after playing, even though I was looking for the Pineapple Sunday (Which is also phenomenal).

For anything above $350, I'm at the point in my life where I won't buy it unless I've played it first. When I'm in a position to buy again, if I think I want to, I'd consider a pre-owned instrument from someone on the UU forums without playing it first. I'd buy anything that MGM recommended without playing it first. From what I've read, and conversation with those I trust, I'd buy from Uke Republic, Mim, or Mainland sight unseen, but I'd want to have a conversation with Mike, Mim, or Mike first, to be sure we both know what I want.

If I could afford a custom instrument, I'd buy sight unseen from Brad, Rick Turner, Chuck Moore, Timbuck, Pete Howlett, Mike DeVine, Loprinzi or Mya Moe for sure.

There have been a few up for sale in the Marketplace forum that I find very attractive - that Waverly Street uke, for example - but the money just isn't there for a new purchase at this time,.



-Kurt

pdxuke
11-24-2011, 10:07 AM
This forum has always been a help. But when I was in "search mode" for the right ukes for me, I pretty much shot from the hip. I bought what looked and sounded good based on Internet reviews. Then, I played it. I usually lived with it for several months. Then, if it made the cut, it stayed. If not--I sold it, here on this forum.

That system worked great for me. I lost maybe 10% on the cost of the ukes, but I consider that tuition--the cost of my uke education.

The ukes listed below are the ones that have stayed. UAS all but gone. Last uke bought last Spring was the Kamaka concert.

Oh--and as you can see from my collection, I still believe that Ohana is the BEST factory made uke in the world. I remain a believer. The SK35 belongs in a soprano lovers collection.

Nickie
11-28-2011, 01:12 PM
Research, research, research. I probably spent as much time on it as I did studying for my State Nursing Board Exam! (I passed)
After deciding how much I was willing to spend, I looked at about everything (on line) I could find. When I met Mim, that sealed it, as far as who to buy it from.

foxfair
11-28-2011, 02:31 PM
I have bought my first 2 'good' ukes from puapua and ukehk stores online, without playing them first. Then I sold the Kanile'a concert when I got my Kamaka HF-2 from Gryphon Strings. In somewhere like Asia, you can't request to play first before purchase is made. My method is basically the same like above peeps: stick with brands -- somehow I only love the sound and looking on one of K brands. and get a deal done with the resellers you trust.

If the uke isn't for me, I try to sell to local players so I don't need to worry about intl shipping.