PDA

View Full Version : Why does my new $550 uke not sound much different to my $50 uke?



supersweepblue
12-10-2011, 07:33 AM
After much research I decided to buy a Kala Soprano All Solid Acacia uke. I took it home and found that it does not sound much different to my $50 Makala "dolphin" uke with nylon strings.

Will the sound from my new uke improve over time? (i.e. do ukes "wear in"?)

Thanks in advance to anyone who replies.

zac987
12-10-2011, 07:44 AM
wait...never mind. You should probably return it and get something better. For $550 you could do much better lol

strumsilly
12-10-2011, 07:44 AM
I bought a Kala solid koa and it didn't sound much better than my dolphin. it sure looked better though. in theory a solid wood uke will "open up" , but I haven't ever experienced that. to be fair, I probably don't keep them long enough to tell.
so,
1. the dolphins can sound very good for the price, do both ukes have the same strings?
2.try changing the strings on the acacia, it can make a big difference. some strings seem to go better with different woods. I found the Kala acacia tenor I had to be much mellower sounding that the other tenors I've had. hope that helps.

hmgberg
12-10-2011, 07:47 AM
Check out the recent thread on "opening up."

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?56986-What-happens-when-a-uke-quot-opens-up-quot&highlight=open

It may be that you are accustomed to the way the dolphin sounds and as you play the acacia ukulele more, the differences will become more apparent.

Also, the strings you use contribute significantly to the way the instrument sounds. Unfortunately, you may have to experiment with different strings to find the ones that best compliment the ukulele.

Just curious: What research did you do that encouraged you to buy the acacia ukulele?

DougNC
12-10-2011, 08:00 AM
I felt the tone of my Kala Solid Acacia Concert didn't meet my expectations for my first all-wood uke until I changed string brands.

Replaced the Aquilas with Martin Clear Fluorocarbons and the difference was night and day. The Kala really came to life: wonderful bell-like quality to the notes, distinct separation of the notes in chords, amazing sustain, and the whole uke vibrates with some chords.

I had Southcoast strings on order at the time I replaced my concert's strings with Martins. The Martins sound so good I haven't replaced them. But I did replace the Aquilas on my Mainland Mango Soprano with Southcoast...Soft Mediums (I think).

Similar result though not as dramatic.

So experiment with brands other than Aquila. As one UU'er said to me (paraphrased): Aqullas make an inexpensive uke sound better, but higher quality ukes will let you know when you have found the strings they want on them.

Doug

MGM
12-10-2011, 08:05 AM
you paid 550 for a soprano acacia ...you definetly paid tooooo much

Gmoney
12-10-2011, 08:18 AM
you paid 550 for a soprano acacia ...you definetly paid tooooo much

Thanks, MGM! I was debating whether to post the same. My advice to the OP would be to take that one back & get back w/you or another of the great vendors on UU for a better uke for the $$$.

I'd be disappointed too if I overspent that much for a uke that sounds "no different" than a $50 dolphin!

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
12-10-2011, 08:21 AM
Play only the Kala for a month or two. Then play the Dolphin again. You should notice a big difference.

mm stan
12-10-2011, 08:21 AM
A hundred more you could get a kamaka or easy a Koaloha hawaiian koa... what gives?? hmmm next time do more research and ask around...also try before you buy...buying sight unseen and
unheard is a definete no no, unless you buy from a respected dealer approved by UU forum gang...ha ha ....can you return it, who did you buy it from and how long...

Hippie Dribble
12-10-2011, 08:23 AM
I sound as average on my $700 mya moe as I do on my $25 mahalo, so I'm not surprised at all!!! :o

bazmaz
12-10-2011, 08:25 AM
That is a lot of clams for a Kala Acacia.

That said, the Dolphin is a staggering little thing. Whilst I play Kanile'a and Koaloha ukes, I still gig with the dolphin now and again.

As you move up in quality you don't , in my experience, get night and day difference. It's more subtle. You get more sustain, bell type chimes, better sound separation across the strings (cheaper ukes can sound "muddy") - as you progress you'll spot these subtle qualities all the more.

Also, more money buys you a far, far nicer finish and setup.

pulelehua
12-10-2011, 08:28 AM
you paid 550 for a soprano acacia ...you definetly paid tooooo much

+1. For less than $550, you can get, for instance, a Koaloha Soprano (just did a quick search on ebay.com). The leap in quality there will be MASSIVE. I have a Kala solid acacia. It's a pretty good ukulele, but if you've got $550 to spend, you need to understand that you can be looking at the next tier up, where you can expect to buy your last ukulele (UAS permitting). ;)

PhilUSAFRet
12-10-2011, 09:29 AM
My first response is, "YOU PAID $550 FOR A WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

RichM
12-10-2011, 09:59 AM
I cannot find an online dealer that charges more than $300 for one... and many charge less.

Ambient Doughnut
12-10-2011, 10:35 AM
Definitely change the strings - I've got a tenor version of the same uke and I didn't much care for the sound with the aquilas on it. It's sounding much better with a set of southcoast mediums on it. In sure Worths or whatever would also work great. Aquilas are great for bringing a bit of punch to a cheaper uke but don't bring out the best in a solid wood.

But yeah $550 pretty steep!

garywj
12-10-2011, 10:41 AM
Maybe you are comparing the best uke in the $50 price range against a uke that is not very good in the $550 price range. I have a $100 uke holds its own again more expensive ones. It does not sound like a $2000 one, but it's not 20 times less either. Sometimes you get more than you pay for in a $50 uke :-) I assume the fit, finish and build quality of the more expensive uke is obvious - as it should be.

kissing
12-10-2011, 10:42 AM
I think it can be several factors.

1. Kala's solid acacia ukes.
I've tried a handful in music stores. None of them sounded very good to my ears.
Perhaps Kala's solid acacia range isn't the best acoustic combination.

2. Personal perception.
It is very common to think that a more expensive uke has to be louder. ie: a "good" uke is a loud uke.
This is not the case. Solid wood ukes are not necessarily louder than the cheap ukes.
If you're judging it from the Dolphin due to sheer volume, then it's no wonder you're disappointed.
Rather, the more expensive ukes cost so much because the solid wood (supposedly) creates a more sophisticated, unique tone.


3. Strings.

4. Quality control
You're unlucky, and got a bung solid acacia uke.
Either that, or the uke was stored in poor humidity conditions, so the wood's gone a little dry.

mds725
12-10-2011, 10:57 AM
I've read repeatedly on UU that among the things that contribute to how an ukulele sounds are the shape of its body, the bracing system design, and the thickness of the soundboard. While this may be less applicable with a Makala dolphin, (which I believe has some plastic in the body these days) I wonder whether Kala uses similar body shape and bracing design systems for many of its ukuleles, so that perhaps they sound more similar to other Kalas than they might sound compared to similar ukuleles (i.e., solid acacia to solid acacia) of another ukulele maker. My second thought when I read the first post in this thread (my first thought was that I paid a lot less than $550 for new a Kala solid acacia uke, and mine is a tenor) is that maybe the OP is hearing a "Kala" sound in both ukuleles and that because both ukes are made by Kala, maybe the sounds are too similar for the OP to appreciate the better tone of the solid wood instrument. My third though is that one of the things one may pay for when buying a more expensive uke is better playability.

rem50
12-10-2011, 11:27 AM
First off, congrats on playing and wanting to upgrade. Just so you do not feel bad about your purchase I wanted to let you know that you are not the only one who has forked out dough for a uke that did not hit expectations. I was "real smart" once and played a cordoba in a music store that sounded awesome. I thought I would be smart and order it cheaper on line. Boy was I disappointed! It is now on my workbench in pieces. I hated it so much I dissected it to see how it was built! I then decided I would only buy what I hear. Bought one from a UU-er and had him play it for me on the phone. Went last week to NC Uke academy and pulled every concert he had in my price range and by process of elimination I got the one I LIKED BEST. Change the strings (until you find the right ones for it) and give it a chance. If you can change it out and want to, then go ahead. Just don't beat yourself up over it. rem

ukuhippo
12-10-2011, 11:39 AM
(...)I have a $100 uke holds its own again more expensive ones. (...)


Which one, which one, which one?


BTW, 50$ for a Dolphin is pretty steep to.

OldePhart
12-10-2011, 11:41 AM
First - that's way too much money for a Kala solid acacia - darn near double what it should have been.

Second - for $550 (assuming we're talking American) you can get a very good soprano - for just a tad more you can get a KoAloha or the like, or for $550 you could get a used KoAloha easily. If you check the marketplace here over carefully you'll often see very nice luthier built sopranos going for around $500 (I may be mistaken, but I think some of Ken Timm's recent offerings have gone in that neighborhood). It's not even hard to find a vintage Martin in decent shape for that price (though you probably shouldn't go the vintage route without knowing what you're buying).

Third - Kalas are not all that and a bag of chips - even the solid acacia ones are pretty overbuilt; I had the solid acacia pocket uke and it weighed just three ounces less than my CONCERT sized KoAloha! They also often need a setup - and depending on where you bought it it may or may not have been set up right (for the price you paid it should have been set up perfectly and then plated in gold).

Fourth - Dolphins are even more variable than the Kala solid acacia. Chances are you got a very good sample of the Dolphin and a on-the-poor-side sample of a Kala acacia. In that price range (or, I should say, in the price range the Kala SHOULD have sold for) the quality is quite variable from sample to sample.

All that said, if you get it set up (assuming it needs it) with the right strings on it, and then play it for a while you should notice a distinct difference when you go back to the Dolphin (if not, then you probably got one of the really good Dolphins - there are a few of those floating around).

John

Raygf
12-10-2011, 11:53 AM
A Kala solid acacia does not normally, nor should it cost $550. A KoAloha KSM-00 is $495 at eldery.com. Send the Kala back and get the KoAloha. You will hear a big difference.

strumsilly
12-10-2011, 12:01 PM
Thanks, MGM! I was debating whether to post the same. My advice to the OP would be to take that one back & get back w/you or another of the great vendors on UU for a better uke for the $$$.

I'd be disappointed too if I overspent that much for a uke that sounds "no different" than a $50 dolphin!

YEA, WHAT HE SAID. the list price[which no one ever pays unless the instrument is in big demand and scarce, which this isn't] is $468. I hope you were exaggerating. If not, ask here first and you'll save yourself some$. I see it for as low as $279. sheesh, talk about a markup!

OldePhart
12-10-2011, 12:02 PM
Here is the kind of thing I was talking about finding in the marketplace:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?57146-New-Koa-Soprano-Black-Bear-Ukulele

I haven't owned a Black Bear but I've never heard a word against them and I'd pay that kind of money for this way before I'd pay it for a Kala - even if the Kala was coming from a reputable seller know around these parts who would set it up. Of course, I don't think any of the reputable sellers known here at UU would charge somebody $550 for a Kala solid acacia!

John

kissing
12-10-2011, 12:59 PM
And lets not forget, someone charged him $50 for a dolphin when it should only be $25-30

ricdoug
12-10-2011, 04:42 PM
Methinks the OP of this thread is a regular posting under an alias handle. One post. No replies. Huumdinger of a thread title. JMHO. Ric

FlyedPiper
12-10-2011, 04:49 PM
And lets not forget, someone charged him $50 for a dolphin when it should only be $25-30

I just bought one for about that. But set up and Aquilas put on. Could have gotten one on Amazon for $20, but paid the extra $$ cause I learned my lesson on out-of-the-box cheap ukes.

coriandre
12-10-2011, 04:55 PM
I just bought one for about that. But set up and Aquilas put on. Could have gotten one on Amazon for $20, but paid the extra $$ cause I learned my lesson on out-of-the-box cheap ukes.

I just did exactly that myself.

Gillian
12-10-2011, 05:26 PM
you paid 550 for a soprano acacia ...you definetly paid tooooo much

Agreed. A new Kala solid acacia TENOR costs $330. Amazon is selling the Kala solid acacia soprano for $279 (no tax and free shipping). At that ratio, whoever sold you that soprano acacia for $550 should be charging $650 for the tenor..

Are you sure the 550 wasn't a typo?

kissing
12-10-2011, 06:37 PM
If it's a price from an Australian brick and mortar music store, I wouldn't be surprised.
The markup is pretty steep in some stores.

I know one that charges $20 for a set of Aquila strings!!



edit: But then again, even the store I was talking about has the Kala solid acacia soprano at $350 (which is a bit of a markup anyway).
So $550 is horrendous.
http://www.melbournemusiccentre.com.au/product/kala-ka-asac-s/

kaizersoza
12-10-2011, 07:15 PM
is it just me or is this thread teetering on the edge of belief!!!! the prices are way out the OP has'nt contributed apart from his original post, i own a dolphin and a kala solid mahogany and a deaf person could tell the difference, just my opinion hmmmm

Drew Bear
12-10-2011, 07:26 PM
Yup, someone said it earlier...could be someone trying to rile up the natives. It worked: over 700 views and 30 replies.

ricdoug
12-10-2011, 07:28 PM
is it just me or is this thread teetering on the edge of belief!!!! the prices are way out the OP has'nt contributed apart from his original post, i own a dolphin and a kala solid mahogany and a deaf person could tell the difference, just my opinion hmmmm

kaizersoza, I'm with you on this. Here's my response from page 3 of this thread:

"Methinks the OP of this thread is a regular posting under an alias handle. One post. No replies. Huumdinger of a thread title. JMHO. Ric"

He accomplished what he wanted by starting this thread. I have a pretty well calculated guess as to whom he usually calls himself here. Ric

Plainsong
12-10-2011, 07:38 PM
We're that afraid to say that we don't like a uke, that we have to get a bit troll-y, and snark about it under another name. That's what it's come to? Seriously?

I'll keep an open mind. The motive doesn't add up. But, it's the internet and people do this all the time.

On a more positive theory, maybe the OP was made to feel shamed by overpaying, and felt too dumb to reply. It could sound a bit harsh if you were new and just wanted some advice. Not that it isn't true, the price doesn't add up even by Euroland standards. I dunno, hope he comes back!

ukebuilder
12-10-2011, 07:43 PM
I am a nubbie and I know that 550 I would have bought a used like new Kamaka. I love my Kala but I would have spent 550 on a much different uke.

supersweepblue
12-11-2011, 06:45 AM
Hi everyone. Thanks so much for your comments on my thread. The $$ values I put up were NZ dollars not US dollars. $550 NZ is about $425 US dollars. Changing the strings sounds like a good idea.

supersweepblue
12-11-2011, 06:49 AM
I'm no alias. I'm a kiwi woman who has been playing a uke for 8 months.

supersweepblue
12-11-2011, 06:55 AM
Next time I'm going to read through all the comments before replying. I posted my thread on Sunday morning (NZ time) and am looking at the replies Monday morning (NZ time). Some people obviously think that 24 hours between postings is tooooo long.

Drew Bear
12-11-2011, 07:24 AM
Some people obviously think that 24 hours between postings is tooooo long.
Apologies for doubting you were a real person. Yes, "some people" spend a little too much time reading this forum. :o Hope the string change helps.

hmgberg
12-11-2011, 07:38 AM
Next time I'm going to read through all the comments before replying. I posted my thread on Sunday morning (NZ time) and am looking at the replies Monday morning (NZ time). Some people obviously think that 24 hours between postings is tooooo long.

Well, I think there were probably reasons for peoples' suspicions apart from the time difference and the confusion about currency. Any number of posts can be found in which people argue that their comparatively inexpensive ukuleles sound as good as far more expensive ones. These assessments are highly subjective and frequently are based on certain expectations, i.e., that a $500.00 ukulele, out of the box so to speak, should sound 10 times as good as a $50.00 one.

Anyway, give your new ukulele time to open up...with some good strings on it, if it doesn't have good strings on it now. Listen for subtle (not overwhelming) differences in the tone qualities. These should become more pronounced over time.

Plainsong
12-11-2011, 08:05 AM
Next time I'm going to read through all the comments before replying. I posted my thread on Sunday morning (NZ time) and am looking at the replies Monday morning (NZ time). Some people obviously think that 24 hours between postings is tooooo long.

What is this "life" of which you speak? :)

Seriously though, it could be strings, it could be that it needs to open up a bit... Or it could just be a dud. If you bought it locally, are there other ukes of that size and price range to compare it to?

Pukulele Pete
12-11-2011, 08:12 AM
I was disapointed with my Kiwaya until I changed the strings. I think alot of the responses were from people using aliases.

OldePhart
12-11-2011, 01:22 PM
I was disapointed with my Kiwaya until I changed the strings. I think alot of the responses were from people using aliases.
BWAAA-HAAAA - hilarous!

Aren't we all (well, almost all) of us using aliases? :)

strumsilly
12-11-2011, 01:46 PM
Yea, but aliases are like nicknames that you get to choose in fun, not like you are trying to hide. I hope I'm not.

mm stan
12-11-2011, 02:09 PM
Kia Ora SSB,
Buy from local in your area...Captain ukuleles...Bevan is really nice...I got a backpacker when it first came out for little over 150....and I had choice on the build too with options..check out his site..
Allen From Barron guitars and Eugene Ukulele always sells almost new ukes several months old in our marketplace...good Luck kiwi...happy strummings..
Don't take offense personally with the posts...now we know who you are...new members sometimes get scrutinized, as we are not familar with them yet..
P.S. Loved Bill Selvisi's Dream DVD..wow for the kiwi ukers....

supersweepblue
12-12-2011, 07:55 AM
Thanks for all the replies. Merry Christmas.:)

gibel
12-12-2011, 10:48 AM
I have a VERY cheap Skylark Soprano ukulele, but I got really lucky in that it has excellent intonation. I’ve played several mid-price models to see what I might want to upgrade to, but am not finding they sound much difference. I think the small size of the Soprano limits the quality of tone you will achieve regardless of quality. There is probably more range of sound change with quality in Tenor or Concert ukuleles.

Papa Tom
12-12-2011, 01:48 PM
I'm not a master player or a very picky guy when it comes to the uke, but I've noticed that none of the instruments I have played or owned since I first picked up the uke a few years ago have sounded as good as the $40 Johnson Spanish Soprano I started with. The only ukes that sound better to me are ones played by other people.

jackwhale
12-12-2011, 03:28 PM
Pretty funny and I agree that every uke sounds better when played by someone else.

philpot
12-12-2011, 04:24 PM
Something no one else has said (that I've seen) is that it may be "operator error" so to speak. I don't mean this in a bad way at all, but without knowing how long the OP has been playing, I'll say that if someone had handed me my Kamaka right when I got my Lanikai, I wouldn't have been able to make it sound NEARLY as good as I can now. Through experience, you learn how to coax sounds out of a higher quality instrument that you can't get out of the cheaper ukulele. So following the line of suggestions in the previous posts, change the strings. I've tried Aquilas, Martin fluorocarbon, and Fremont Blacklines. Blacklines won out for me. Try some of those, or all the other popular strings and find a set that sounds good. Then PLAY PLAY PLAY. Not only will the instrument open up more, but your playing will improve and there will be a noticeable difference in sound quality.

If you can't already notice a difference in sustain and resonance between a solid wood instrument and a cheap laminate, I would say that's a string problem.

Shastastan
12-12-2011, 04:56 PM
My main experience is with brass instruments, mainly trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn. Name isn't everything. I had a student cornet that played and sounded better than top-of-the-line horns from other manufacturers. Sometimes you get a "cherry" rather than a "lemon" or something "average." Just sayin'... Always try before you buy and/or don't buy without a trial period. Now that might be only a few days but it's worth it even if you have to pay shipping both ways.

Plainsong
12-12-2011, 05:22 PM
Oh imagine wishing for that Bach Strad, only to get it, and it be a dud?? That was the brand all the brass guys wanted. I was a sometimes mellophone player, so no way was I buying, sadly. I bought my Buffet clarinet, after getting to take home several and really get to know them first.

If I could have done the same with ukes, there are a few I wouldn't have got, but that journey led to the current setup, which I'm happy with... Nothing can be removed from the flock.

To the OP, is the uke a keeper yet, or more of catch and release?

Tor
12-12-2011, 11:50 PM
I think we should also be more prepared to admit that the sound difference, or at least sound quality difference between instruments of different price ranges can be very subtle. It's not at all like the difference between something really cheap and really bad and the next step up. From there and upwards (price-wise) the differences get more and more subtle.

And then there can be some subtle differences that makes _all_ the difference.. one way or another. And you may not know until you've played the instrument for a while. I bought a reasonably expensive solid wood acoustic guitar (could have bought a load of Fleas for the price of it..), and for the first two weeks I loved the sound. Then it kind of started to itch a bit. There's a subtle quality to the sound that seems to grate on my brain. I will change to another type of strings, this is something that may sometimes help for these kind of things.

And then there's the part of always trying to get your hands on an acoustic instrument and _try_ it before you buy. I know, it's terribly difficult for many people (myself included), due to the non-existing local ukulele stores. But it can pay off a lot. In a local guitar shop I checked out some very reasonably priced solid-top, laminated body Spanish-made guitars. I went through five examples of exactly the same model, and one of those really stood out. I bought it 10-12 years ago and it's still one of my favourite guitars to this day.

I also once checked out a bunch of cheap thinline Ibanez acoustics, for my niece. I found one which was one of the cheapest instruments, but after switching to Elixir strings it sounded terrific (another guitar of the same model had bad intonation etc. and wasn't good). Very different from my own guitars. I loved playing that instrument but had to reluctantly hand it over to my niece after a while.

As for high-end guitars (I keep talking about guitars because I have more experience with them, but from what I've tried of ukuleles the same principle holds), I've found that for the expensive ones the differences between something costing $2500 and something costing $4000 or more are not something that most casual guitar players would even notice, or at least they wouldn't be able to tell which instrument is the more expensive one.

-Tor

hmgberg
12-13-2011, 12:59 AM
I think we should also be more prepared to admit that the sound difference, or at least sound quality difference between instruments of different price ranges can be very subtle. It's not at all like the difference between something really cheap and really bad and the next step up. From there and upwards (price-wise) the differences get more and more subtle.

And then there can be some subtle differences that makes _all_ the difference.. one way or another. And you may not know until you've played the instrument for a while. I bought a reasonably expensive solid wood acoustic guitar (could have bought a load of Fleas for the price of it..), and for the first two weeks I loved the sound. Then it kind of started to itch a bit. There's a subtle quality to the sound that seems to grate on my brain. I will change to another type of strings, this is something that may sometimes help for these kind of things.

And then there's the part of always trying to get your hands on an acoustic instrument and _try_ it before you buy. I know, it's terribly difficult for many people (myself included), due to the non-existing local ukulele stores. But it can pay off a lot. In a local guitar shop I checked out some very reasonably priced solid-top, laminated body Spanish-made guitars. I went through five examples of exactly the same model, and one of those really stood out. I bought it 10-12 years ago and it's still one of my favourite guitars to this day.

I also once checked out a bunch of cheap thinline Ibanez acoustics, for my niece. I found one which was one of the cheapest instruments, but after switching to Elixir strings it sounded terrific (another guitar of the same model had bad intonation etc. and wasn't good). Very different from my own guitars. I loved playing that instrument but had to reluctantly hand it over to my niece after a while.

As for high-end guitars (I keep talking about guitars because I have more experience with them, but from what I've tried of ukuleles the same principle holds), I've found that for the expensive ones the differences between something costing $2500 and something costing $4000 or more are not something that most casual guitar players would even notice, or at least they wouldn't be able to tell which instrument is the more expensive one.

-Tor

Yes, this is exactly what I meant. The differences in tone are often subtle and may take a while to become apparent. This is not just about opening up, but about your preferences (the kind of tone you like) and what you have grown accustomed to, your expectations. I also agree with Pete. You should expect a higher-end ukulele to sound great (to you) out of the box; if it improves, opens up, as it likely will to some degree, so much the better.

Of course, there are other factors to consider: playability concerns, intonation, aesthetics, resale value, and so on. Then, you have to decide how important, relatively speaking, all of the considerations are to you - then, how much you are willing to pay for them.

Shastastan
12-13-2011, 06:16 AM
Yes, this is exactly what I meant. The differences in tone are often subtle and may take a while to become apparent. This is not just about opening up, but about your preferences (the kind of tone you like) and what you have grown accustomed to, your expectations. I also agree with Pete. You should expect a higher-end ukulele to sound great (to you) out of the box; if it improves, opens up, as it likely will to some degree, so much the better.

Of course, there are other factors to consider: playability concerns, intonation, aesthetics, resale value, and so on. Then, you have to decide how important, relatively speaking, all of the considerations are to you - then, how much you are willing to pay for them.
a
These are excellent comments. Always try before you buy. I tried a mango concert and just didn't like the tone for that "brand" so I sent it back. Then tried a tenor of a different brand (Mainland) and really like it. As hmgberg says you also have to consider the importance of the relative factors. Tone, intonation, and resonance are at the top of my factor list. At the bottom is resale value since I'm not buying something to sell it later although I have a number of times. However, I don't buy cheapo stuff either such as a $39.95 trumpet off Ebay made in China.

haolejohn
12-13-2011, 06:49 AM
I was disapointed with my Kiwaya until I changed the strings. I think alot of the responses were from people using aliases.

Buhahahahaha!!! EFPOTD!!!

hmgberg
12-13-2011, 10:38 AM
Buhahahahaha!!! EFPOTD!!!

I was disappointed with my strings until I put them on my Martin.

1300cc
12-13-2011, 11:09 AM
After much research I decided to buy a Kala Soprano All Solid Acacia uke. I took it home and found that it does not sound much different to my $50 Makala "dolphin" uke with nylon strings.

Will the sound from my new uke improve over time? (i.e. do ukes "wear in"?)

Thanks in advance to anyone who replies.i bought a solid acacia koa from ebay made in taiwan, and when i received it, being a novice i was really dissappointed coz there was some buzzing in one of the strings, but the following day it was gone and after a week , the sound is sweet and mellow and completely no more buzz.......i beleived you have to give it a time to settle, but if yours doesnt improve in a week, it could be different story....

Shastastan
12-13-2011, 12:42 PM
Oh imagine wishing for that Bach Strad, only to get it, and it be a dud?? That was the brand all the brass guys wanted. ....snip....

To the OP, is the uke a keeper yet, or more of catch and release?

Lucky for me, I was never lusting after a Bach Strad. Monette is the so-called Cadillac of trumpets now, but I don't have any need to try one. For me, I have learned that if you are lucky enough to find something that works fairly well, then stick with it and become proficient using it. That applies to instruments, tools, or what have you. Of course, if you can afford an "instrument safari" go for it. It could be an all-consuming quest though. Note that I have 5 horns now but can only play one at a time. I also have 2 ukes and one on order. I do enjoy playing each instrument and they are all different. Most are just played at certain venues and/or have specific uses. FWIW

oudin
12-29-2011, 05:35 PM
550? I got my tenor kala solid acacia for 300, and my mahogany for 250. tuner, case, everything included. And let me tell you, they sound far better than anything else in thier price range, including solid monkey pod or zebrawood from lanikai. I would encourage you do return the kala and by a pono soprano.

oudin
12-29-2011, 05:40 PM
Yes, this is exactly what I meant. The differences in tone are often subtle and may take a while to become apparent. This is not just about opening up, but about your preferences (the kind of tone you like) and what you have grown accustomed to, your expectations. I also agree with Pete. You should expect a higher-end ukulele to sound great (to you) out of the box; if it improves, opens up, as it likely will to some degree, so much the better.

Of course, there are other factors to consider: playability concerns, intonation, aesthetics, resale value, and so on. Then, you have to decide how important, relatively speaking, all of the considerations are to you - then, how much you are willing to pay for them.


I am sorry but I could not disagree more. Despite the good reviews on virtually every uke, I find nearly all the laminate budget ukes utterly garbage. For example, the difference between a oscar schmidt and a pono is anything but subtle -- it is astronomical and immediately obvious to complete nubiles. These lanikai, kala, oscar schmidt, fender, mahalo, Guitar Center ukuleles are embarassing toys good only for hanging your wall. I apologize but I am floored every time I walk into a store and pick one up. They are worthless.

haolejohn
12-29-2011, 05:43 PM
I am sorry but I could not disagree more. Despite the good reviews on virtually every uke, I find nearly all the laminate budget ukes utterly garbage. For example, the difference between a oscar schmidt and a pono is anything but subtle -- it is astronomical and immediately obvious to complete nubiles. These lanikai, kala, oscar schmidt, fender, mahalo, Guitar Center ukuleles are embarassing toys good only for hanging your wall. I apologize but I am floored every time I walk into a store and pick one up. They are worthless.

welcome to the Uke Snob club:)

I agree with you. I have a few dolphins and they sound no where near as good as my meles or mainlands or koalohas. No where. Now the mid range to high end ukes the difference is less noticeable IMO. Still noticeable but not as drastic. Main difference is in the finish and build quality.

hmgberg
12-29-2011, 07:22 PM
I am sorry but I could not disagree more. Despite the good reviews on virtually every uke, I find nearly all the laminate budget ukes utterly garbage. For example, the difference between a oscar schmidt and a pono is anything but subtle -- it is astronomical and immediately obvious to complete nubiles. These lanikai, kala, oscar schmidt, fender, mahalo, Guitar Center ukuleles are embarassing toys good only for hanging your wall. I apologize but I am floored every time I walk into a store and pick one up. They are worthless.

Wow! I hope you feel better having gotten that off your chest. My point was directed to the original poster who was comparing a Dolphin to a Kala Acacia. When a person has played only one ukulele, then plays another that costs ten times as much, their expectations are likely to be too high, especially if they are familiar with a particular kind of sound and if their more expensive purchase is not into the range of higher-end instruments. The differences may not be so overwhelming at first because they have not much basis for comparison. And, I'm sorry but I disagree with your assertion about what is obvious even to complete newbies ((a "nubile" is an attractive young woman (which the OP may very well be)) because, as you also state, there are plenty of good reviews about "virtually every uke." Can I hear the differences, and do they seem astronomical to me, between a laminated ukulele and a solid wood ukulele? Sure, but that I can doesn't help the OP. I do believe, however, that she is likely to hear the difference if she spends some time with the new ukulele. Then, when she actually plays a higher-end ukulele the differences will be even more apparent.

Drew Bear
12-29-2011, 08:09 PM
I doubt the OP will be back to check on what she started here. She did not explain that she had paid $550 NZD, so not a few of us jumped on her pretty hard for trolling. That was still a lot of dollars of any country to be paying for that particular uke, so hopefully she was able to get a refund.

BTW, this was not a matter of the Kala not meeting her expectations. She said "...it does not sound much different to my $50 Makala "dolphin". I suppose it's statistically possible she got the absolute best Dolphin to ever come off the assembly line and a lemon Kala Acacia, but....:confused:

hmgberg
12-30-2011, 04:33 AM
I doubt the OP will be back to check on what she started here. She did not explain that she had paid $550 NZD, so not a few of us jumped on her pretty hard for trolling. That was still a lot of dollars of any country to be paying for that particular uke, so hopefully she was able to get a refund.

BTW, this was not a matter of the Kala not meeting her expectations. She said "...it does not sound much different to my $50 Makala "dolphin". I suppose it's statistically possible she got the absolute best Dolphin to ever come off the assembly line and a lemon Kala Acacia, but....:confused:

I think that it is implied in her statement that she EXPECTED the Kala to sound "much different." She was clearly disappointed, else why would she have made the post? I was really just trying to encourage her to give it some time and to listen more carefully for differences that may not have been apparent immediately...to her.

Yes, it is doubtful that she will be back. But, that probably has a lot to do with the fact that some of us jumped all over her in the suspicion that she was someone else - perhaps one of those among us who often posts that their laminated uke sounds great and they would never pay $800.00 for an ukulele that "doesn't sound that much better." I've read a lot of these posts. While my experience is not the same (I hear huge differences), I can accept someone else's subjective opinion. At least, I don't think they are lying when they make these statements.

Some began questioning the price she paid. While 550 is a bigger number than one would expect to see in this instance, 50 is a bigger number than one typically sees as the price for a Dolphin, especially if one considers the differences in terms of percentages. I don't know what the exchange rate is and don't know if there are any import duties or anything else that impacts the prices that folks in New Zealand have to pay for things. I do suspect that we made her feel even worse about her purchase, though ... not to mention how she must have felt about coming to us for insight.

Like oudin, I often go into stores and play all of the "entry-level" ukes they have, only to get upset and even a bit angry about the quality. Often these are the ONLY ukes in stock and they are selling like hot cakes. But, if someone buys one of these and likes it, who am I to judge, particularly given these circumstances? I can only hope that they maintain interest in playing and have an opportunity down the line to play an instrument that really blows them away.

My local music store sells inexpensive ukes (well some of them are not that inexpensive but are just dolled up to look like something special) by the truckload. I persuaded them to carry Ohanas because I believe Ohana solid ukes are sold at a price point that won't put off the customers and sound considerably better than similarly priced all lam ukes with a lot of bling. They almost sold out of the Ohanas. They completely sold out everything else. Now, they don't carry K Brands and they don't carry Collings and they don't carry luthier-made ukuleles, but clearly the differences between the Ohanas and the others was not so great (in the minds of customers) that they wouldn't buy the others. I would bet as well that were the shop to carry ukuleles in the $500.00-$1,500.00 range, very few would be sold. There are many reasons why, most having to do with demographics. But I doubt that someone who never played an ukulele before would walk into the store, play a $200.00 ukulele and then be blown away by a $500.00 ukulele. Not enough experience to really appreciate the difference. While I wouldn't sell off my nice ukes and buy a fleet of cheapos on their word, I do think they are entitled to be happy with what they are happy with ... until they find an instrument that makes them even happier.

coolkayaker1
12-30-2011, 04:41 AM
For what it's worth, my $80 Luna Great Wave pineapple, honestly doesn't sound that much different than my KoAloha $500 soprano. Seriously. More similar than I'd like to admit.

GVlog
12-30-2011, 04:51 AM
For example, the difference between a oscar schmidt and a pono is anything but subtle -- it is astronomical and immediately obvious to complete nubiles.

nu·bile Adjective:
1.(of a girl or young woman) Sexually mature; suitable for marriage.
2.(of a girl or young woman) Sexually attractive.



This former English teacher now returns you all to your regular programming. Thank you.
:)

bynapkinart
12-30-2011, 05:06 AM
nu·bile Adjective:
1.(of a girl or young woman) Sexually mature; suitable for marriage.
2.(of a girl or young woman) Sexually attractive.



This former English teacher now returns you all to your regular programming. Thank you.
:)

Well to be fair, I think he was implying that sexually attractive people will notice differences more so than sexually unattractive people...:p

I think my KoAloha sounds wayyyyy better now than it did a month ago, if it makes a difference. Solid instruments take a little bit of time to open up, which is disheartening for those of us who spend a lot of money RIGHT NOW and want it to sound fantastic out of the box. Honestly, I think my plastic soprano sounded warmer than my KoAloha out of the box. I persevered though, and I remember one night playing it and it got warmer and warmer until finally I started noticing it over the course of the night. It is now louder, warmer, and sweeter than it ever was before, but it still has that punchy KoAloha sound. I'm psyched about it.

Here's a poorly recorded sound clip for anyone who's interested:
http://soundcloud.com/ben-young-napkin-art/hallelujah

ChrisRCovington
12-30-2011, 06:30 AM
This is a very interesting thread. Some of the topics in here I've been dealing with lately on my own. I have been mulling over laminates and solids, cheap ukes and not so cheap, etc. I think my ear is becoming better at hearing more subtle differences. I just got a U900 ANueNue pineapple (the bear) for Christmas and I am very pleased with it for what it is. It is a high quality laminate with a pretty decent, clean build that looks really good. It is a lot like my Luna Tattoo. I'd swear they were made by the same factory. Anyway, they are both very loud and bright and clear for laminates. The finish is pretty good on both and they are fun to play. I like them. I hang my ukuleles on my wall as decoration and also so I can grab one when I have the urge to play (the urge comes often). However, I got a new Martin S1 a few months ago and I now have two old solid birch Regals. The thing I've noticed with the solid instruments including the old cheapo Chicago ukes is that the sound is more complex. I don't know how else to explain it. The lows have much more body to them and the highs have an almost bell like chime to them that I can't seem to get out of the laminates. The few vintage Martin O ukuleles I've played exhibit this even more so. I'm not sure if it is build quality, solid vs. laminate, quality of material, etc. I think it is a little of each.

Another striking example of this was on a recent trip to the Guitar Center with my girlfriend. About a month ago she decided she wanted to try her hand at guitar and we got her a cheap Hello Kitty 3/4 guitar at a toy store. She kind of liked it and quickly upgraded to an old Ovation Celebrity my father gave me when he bought a new guitar. She isn't much of a guitar player yet but she's working hard. Anyway, we were in the store and we were looking at the high dollar room. She picked up two of the most expensive guitars in the room (a Martin of some sort and a Gibson of another sort) and started strumming. She sounded really good. Much better than she does on the Ovation at home. Her playing didn't become better but the responsiveness of the guitar was just much better and it allowed for some "wiggle room."

I think an ukulele sounds like an ukulele whether it is a $40 Dolphin or a really nice custom build and no one would confuse the sound of either with that of a guitar, or a drum, or a piano, or a triangle. At the same time just in my small collection I am able to hear some very interesting differences between different quality intruments.

stevepetergal
12-30-2011, 06:53 AM
If I had $550 to spend, I would make a much bigger step up. I've had three Makalas, and five Kalas and been VERY disappointed in all of them. They really aren't that much different.

I wouldn't bother changing strings. I'd return without it delay. You can do much better.