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View Full Version : Best Uke btween $200-$300



Rondog
12-20-2011, 07:34 AM
Hey guys!

Two part question and I only ask this because ya'll have experience and there's just too many options out there that make it very confusing for me.

Looking for your opinions on the best Uke for $200-$300 price range. (Best in sound & playability)

Local music shop only carries limited selection so am forced to go to the internet to shop and am afraid of buying something thats not more enjoyable than what I already have. =(

I've had a $100 Kala long neck soprano and am looking at stepping up to a tenor or concert maybe or just getting a nicer long neck soprano.

What do ya'll think?

Second part to the question: would there even be any noticable difference in upgrading to an instrument that was $100 to $200 more than what I already have?

Thanks in advance for your experience and input.

Rondog

PoiDog
12-20-2011, 08:12 AM
I sound like a total broken record, but here is my advice:

You want a $200-$300 uke? Don't get one. Instead, save your money and wait until you got about double that, then go and buy.

Sure, you can find something very nice in that price range. But when you get to around $500, you can get top-shelf models. The really good ukes you can get for about $300 are very nice - Islander, Mainland, etc. But keep in mind they are mass produced overseas. When you get to the $500 range you can get Hawai'ian made, koa ukes. You can find new "K" brand sopranos for around that much, while if you don't mind one that's been pre-owned the choice gets even wider.

Of course, if you do need to buy now, I'd strongly put my two cents in that you move toward something like a Pono, Islander, Mainland, aNueNue, or Sailor instead of the ubiquitous Kala or Lanikais. You'll more than likely get a better instrument that way.

ukulelepuapua
12-20-2011, 08:28 AM
I agree with PoiDog, You would be better off saving for hawaiian made in this case becuase you are already into the instruments. You have a keen intrest for them, so I too recommend waiting.

Rondog
12-20-2011, 08:42 AM
Poidog thank you for taking the time to repost your thoughts, it means a lot to me and although I tried to go through the previous posts it was just too overwhelming after about the 10th page.

Will save a few more paychecks and kiss the wifey's tooshy a little more often. ;-)

Appreciated!

Rondog.

garyg
12-20-2011, 08:45 AM
Or......, you could buy a used Favilla or Gretsch soprano on ebay and have a great uke for your original price range. cheers, g2

peytakeeho
12-20-2011, 11:56 AM
For the sake of jumping in late, I think the aNueNue Lani III is an excellent ukulele for the price.

Drew Bear
12-20-2011, 12:33 PM
I think if it's a matter of 2-3 months (a few paychecks), then saving up is a good idea. But it's a slippery slope and at some point you have to fix a budget. There was some discussion recently that the $400-500 price range is a bit of a no-man's land. Save up another $200-300 and you can get one of the "K" brands instead of solid koa ukes mostly made in Southeast Asia. Remember that tenor ukes cost quite a bit more than sopranos.

If "a few paychecks" turns out to be 4-6 months, that's a lot of playing time during the formative months of a beginner's uke life learning on a lower quality instrument. $300 buys a very significant upgrade in both sound and playability from a $100 laminate Kala. That answers rondog's 2nd question. So the question goes back to the rondog: how patient are you learning to play on your current uke? How will mrs. rondog react to spending $500 on an ukulele...even with all the extra tooshy kissing? :)

Just another opinion. Not sure we're making it any easier. BTW, I read through a hecka lot more than 10 pages of forum archives before deciding on my first uke. At least you've got the Kala to strum on while deciding on the 2nd uke.

guitarsnrotts
12-20-2011, 01:01 PM
Staying in your price range, consider Mainland. Solid woods and quite a few options. Bought a red cedar/rosewood pineapple soprano from UkeRepublic and couldn't be happier.

hibiscus
12-20-2011, 05:58 PM
I think Ohanas and Mainlands in that price range are great, better than other higher priced ukes in some cases.

Bill Mc
12-20-2011, 06:24 PM
Rondog, I agree the Mainlands are a teriffic value. I doubt you would be disappointed and you would have to spend three times the amount to have any hope of a significantly better sound. Also consider the Koa Pili Koko - a solid acacia ukulele within your current budget. A wonderful singing tone and set up expertly by Jason. Good luck whichever way you go.

bynapkinart
12-20-2011, 06:38 PM
I really want to try out Mainland and Ohana ukes...but I'll have to agree with what other posters have said and say try out a K-brand or other Hawaiian uke. I didn't know I would be into the sound of koa, but I took a chance with the KoAloha soprano and I have to say it is the best $500 I've ever spent on any instrument. I've got a vintage Hamer guitar for electric stuff I do, and it is basically custom shop, but the KoAloha is a better all around instrument than that.

Definitely save for a K!

amute
12-21-2011, 05:49 AM
MAINLAND is the way to go at that price point.

Ingrate
12-21-2011, 05:58 AM
A concert Flea, Natural, with Peghed tuners. ~$279

These are very consistently built. You can buy one without playing it first, if that's an issue for you.

Of all my 'ukes, this is the only one I play anymore, and I have a KoAloha..

YMMV...

Drew Bear
12-21-2011, 06:19 AM
I just missed out on a Concert Flea on craigslist. It was a no-brainer for a go-anywhere uke for $75, but at nearly $300 I would go with one of the solid wood alternatives already mentioned.

@Ingrate: If you're not using your KoAloha, you could easily sell it here and buy a Fluke with change to spare.

Paul December
12-21-2011, 06:20 AM
I'm going to disagree with many of the posts here and say stay-in-your-budget. IMO after $300 the Law of Diminishing Returns really kicks in, and you have to start paying a lot more to gain very little. If you can afford to increase your budget by 100% as some suggested, then who cares, but that isn't most people. $250-$350 is my sweet spot for ukes where you get some of the best sounding & playing factory made instruments. Will doubling the price get you a better uke?...
...maybe. Of the few that I've tried, some were noticeably better, but some were only a bit better, some were the same, and some actually sounded worse. If you aren't a very experienced player, the difference becomes even less noticeable. Here are a few in your price-range that I really like:
Mainland Mahogany Concert
Kala Acacia Tenor
Kala KA-KTG-CT Tenor

Rondog
12-23-2011, 08:52 PM
Thanks for all the great advice fellas! At lease I have some sense of direction to go now. Has anyone discovered that this is a disease of sorts? Now I'm wanting one of each so I can have an arsenal.

Is it he who dies with the most uke's wins???

Drew Bear
12-23-2011, 09:43 PM
Yeah, I find that despite a conscious effort to not acquire multiple ukes, I've done exactly that. Of course 3 is a measly number compared to some of the collections listed here. And I'm already plotting how to pare my "collection" down to 2. I don't see how folks have enough hours in their week to actually give playing time to several (sometimes a dozen or more) ukes.

So once I've evaluated my two latest acquisitions, one of them will either be gifted or sold. There's no doubt in my mind that 80-90% of my playing time will go to my Kanile'a. The remaining hour or so each week will barely be enough to keep the 2nd uke from gathering dust.

hops75
12-24-2011, 01:38 AM
There were some Pono MSDE's around not long ago for $369, which is amazingly cheap. There's actually one sitting under my Christmas tree.

But if you can wait - then Brad Donaldson can make a great Koa uke for around that money (maybe - if he hasn't been flooded with requests already). http://donaldsonukuleles.com/

Total Ukphoria
12-24-2011, 02:17 AM
I only recommend ukes I actually own or have played a lot. If you want a loud uke that sound great also (with a punchy sound- not Koa like) this will do you right

http://shop.mainlandukuleles.com/product.sc;jsessionid=A0A31DF26ACC135372384DF5C678 CD3D.qscstrfrnt01?productId=11&categoryId=3

You said you have a longneck- I love my longneck ohana (solid mahogany!) Sk-30. It has a very unique sound among all ukes I've Played. It's Koa-like yet still has its own thing going for it. It's a tenor scale neck on a soprano body- I also like it's looks. Not as loud as a koa- but has a great tonal quality.
http://www.limboland.net/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=IB&Product_Code=ohanask30l&Category_Code=sopukes&Product_Count=2
Bonus- it's only around $150!

Plainsong
12-24-2011, 03:47 AM
If you want a soprano, the Ohana sk38 competes with the big boys. But at other sizes, heck yeah Mainland is great, or you could be one of us cool kids with the Sailor Brand ukes.

khairijamian
12-24-2011, 04:52 AM
Hey guys!

Two part question and I only ask this because ya'll have experience and there's just too many options out there that make it very confusing for me.

Looking for your opinions on the best Uke for $200-$300 price range. (Best in sound & playability)

Local music shop only carries limited selection so am forced to go to the internet to shop and am afraid of buying something thats not more enjoyable than what I already have. =(

I've had a $100 Kala long neck soprano and am looking at stepping up to a tenor or concert maybe or just getting a nicer long neck soprano.

What do ya'll think?

Second part to the question: would there even be any noticable difference in upgrading to an instrument that was $100 to $200 more than what I already have?

Thanks in advance for your experience and input.

Rondog

I'll suggest you Bruko No. 6! All solid mahogany body, one piece maple neck at the price $224.99 on Uke Republic. Handcrafted in Germany (got Made in W. Germany stamped inside, too!), it has beautiful, vintage looks and classic tone. Really love it in the time being!

Here's a nice review by Ken Middleton;


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9U3dontvpM

Happy buying!

OldePhart
12-24-2011, 02:45 PM
At that price point I can solidly recommend Mainland. However - if that price point is soft and arbitrary...if you know you're going to stick with the uke, and you can really afford to double or slightly more that price point - then I'd recommend springing for one of the "big" Hawaiian names like KoAloha etc.

Jnobianchi
12-29-2011, 06:40 PM
I'm going to echo what others have said - Ohana and Mainland in the price range. For $150, the Ohana CKP-70 Vita uke replica is a fantastic value and great, full sounding instrument.