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View Full Version : Upgrading from a Mahalo, help!



ukudaily.co.uk
01-24-2012, 12:07 PM
Hi all,
After 14 months of love I am looking at upgrading my Mahalo (dirt cheap with upgraded Aquila strings) to something with a slightly better tone. My Mahalo is awesome by the way but I would like to try something new, my Mahalo will still live in my car.

Any recommendations? I hear Kala and Lanakai are good? I don't mind it being electro acoustic as long as it doesn't take away from the sound when being played unplugged. Any suggestions gratefully received!

Cheers!

Oh and I want to stick to Soprano size, despite being tempted by the Kala mini one, which I worry may be just a gimmick?

dvep
01-24-2012, 01:37 PM
I agree with the above, see what you can find in-store. Unfortunately I do not live in the UK and therefore can't help with a vendor. The good news is that almost anything is an upgrade from mahalo so moving up won't be too hard! Okay, enough snark...

If you want my super personal 2 cents, I'm partial to Kala. My first uke was a Kala FMC which has served me well (which they also carry in the soprano size), and I'm sure you could find something nice and affordable from them in your budget. Figure out also if you want to stick with geared tuners or don't mind friction tuners, as most soprano ukuleles tend to come with friction tuners. I found my uke online by just browsing websites, researching reviews, listening to sample clips on YouTube, and going through forums like this. You'll find the perfect one! :)

I'm not an expert but this is the biased advice I can offer!

ghardy
01-24-2012, 01:40 PM
It's pretty tough to point out some good ukuleles if you don't give a price range. I would recommend spending at least $500 because you will avoid the process you are going through now - the upgrade phase. If you buy a uke for $150, you will eventually say that you want something better, and perhaps the next uke you get would be worth $250. If you buy a higher quality ukulele (obviously for more money) then you will skip all of these upgrade phases and end up with an ukulele that you will love for a lifetime.

ukemunga
01-24-2012, 01:47 PM
I think if you've been playing a Mahalo for more than a year you deserve a pretty big bump in the upgrade. I (obviously) think Kala makes a great instrument for the price and would never hesitate to suggest one. But, depending on your budget, you may want to look into many other brands. Luna, Ohana, Mainland, Islander come to mind. Many others I'm sure.

Just depends on what's available and how much you choose to spend. And try to buy from a reputable seller that does an inspection and quality setup.

dvep
01-24-2012, 01:50 PM
If you buy a higher quality ukulele (obviously for more money) then you will skip all of these upgrade phases and end up with an ukulele that you will love for a lifetime.

Seconded, frankly. You really learn to cherish playing an instrument that loves you back. But you nowadays can find a good, solid uke for less than $500. Let's also not forget that a good uke doesn't necessarily make you a good player (a given, of course). I understand budgets and being careful with money, but try not to sell yourself short! I repeat, good, solid ukes can be relatively affordable nowadays. Ohana, Mainland, and Kala are testament to that.

PS I wouldn't go for a mini uke just yet, they take some getting used to and you WILL want to buy another ukulele.

ghardy
01-24-2012, 02:26 PM
But you nowadays can find a good, solid uke for less than $500. I repeat, good, solid ukes can be relatively affordable nowadays. Ohana, Mainland, and Kala are testament to that.

I actually own a Kala Acacia Tenor (my first and only ukulele), and I completely agree with what you said. The inly reason I used $500 as the cutoff was because I am currently looking at purchasing a higher quality ukulele (hopefully a Kamaka HF-3), so I guess I got a little bit biased.

ukuraleigh
01-24-2012, 02:29 PM
While it's easy to suggest upgrading to a $500 ukulele--and I agree with the advice--I'll assume that going from a Mahalo to $500 is probably too steep of an upgrade. I recently bought a Makai solid top for $130. It's beautiful, sounds great, and was well set up. It's not the same sound as my KoAloha, but is great for the price.

ukudaily.co.uk
01-25-2012, 12:27 AM
good points, my request was particularly vague :)

I have a budget of around 200/250, which is probably around $400.

I don't mind spending less, my Mahalo is awesome but I want a more wooden tone.

I'm thinking Kala, they seem to do a good job, regarding tuning, I've heard people say friction tuners are a nightmare, and I am used to geared tuning so preferably geared.

I also wouldn't mind it having a bit of character rather than just plain brown, but not essential.

Fulhamjim
01-25-2012, 02:39 AM
that budget and your requirements - sounds like a job for Mainland! You have options of wood, tuners, buttons, rope binding or not...

I started off on a cr@ppy Mahalo telecaster style, then a Makala tenor. But my third, the concert mahogany Mainland, is a joy to play and beautiful to look at.
I got mine from Eagle Music oop stockport way (google 'em!) for about 170, and the service was spot on, delivery w as very quick... You won't be disappointed with a Mainland!

Pete Beardsley
01-25-2012, 03:19 AM
If you go the Mainland route (or anything else from abroad) don't forget to budget for the import duty!

Where in the UK are you? There really is no substitute for dropping into a good shop like SUS and trying a few ukes as I think that choosing an instrument is a very tactile experience. Something that looks awesome on a website and has a spec that includes all the "right" components may feel horrible to hold for you, or may not sound the way you want it to. You can only make decisions like that by holding and playing the instrument.
Just my tuppence!

ukudaily.co.uk
01-25-2012, 06:56 AM
Good point, I live only 25 minutes from Southern Ukulele Store its just getting there with work is a nightmare so was planning to buy from their online store.