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Skrik
01-25-2012, 10:33 PM
I'm at that stage where I want a new ukulele. I don't need a new one, I want a new one. I have refined my list of wants and needs in a new ukulele during the course of the past few years. Here are the essentials in no particular order of importance:


Soprano
Accurate intonation up the neck
Higher positions sound comparable to open strings
Fingerpicking sound complements strumming
Wide fingerboard
Friction tuners
Solid woods
Dressed frets
Low action

Other than that, I want a drop-dead-gorgeous ukulele, preferably with style 3 appointments. I have been looking at Kamoa's top of the range (http://kamoaukulelecompany.com/ukuleles.php?id=244), which I like a lot; but then I am also very weak for tuxedo instruments, such as Kala's black Jazz tenor (http://www.thomann.de/se/kala_jazz_ukulele_jte_bk.htm) (if only they offered a soprano which also fulfilled the rest of the essential criteria above), or Le Noir that Pete Howlett made for Craig Robertson (http://petehowlettukulele.co.uk/le_noir_soprano_ukulele.html) (which I would quite plausibly commit murder for).

My question: where are the other gorgeous ukuleles that will break the bank, but satisfy my craving for beauty and functionality? Or am I on an inevitable journey towards a contract with the custom builder of my choice?

Plainsong
01-25-2012, 11:27 PM
I love the looks of the jazz tenor, but the electronics are a letdown, and it needs to do that one thing well. Otherwise it felt nice to place and it would have been nice if the bridge hadn't lifted off it. :(

Ohana sk-38? It's a looker, and a player, with a slightly thicker neck than these types of ukes generally have. It's not thick as such, not like a Flea for example. Not anywhere close to that. It's just a bit rounder in the hand. Put Martin Fluoros on and you're hooked up!

Uke Whisperer
01-26-2012, 12:52 AM
Ohana sk-38? It's a looker, and a player, with a slightly thicker neck than these types of ukes generally have. It's not thick as such, not like a Flea for example. Not anywhere close to that. It's just a bit rounder in the hand. Put Martin Fluoros on and you're hooked up!

:agree:

"It's the Abott to my Costello!"
"It's the Fruit of my Loom!"
"It's not just a Uke, it's my friend!"

- - - - -
Okay, if KOA is a "must" you could add the KoAloha (concert neck) Soprano to your list.

Plainsong
01-26-2012, 01:46 AM
I don't have any experience with the supersoprano, but the Koaloha concert is just legendarily good.

Gmoney
01-26-2012, 03:22 AM
With those "requirements" I would recommend contacting Bradford Donaldson for a "custom". He is great to work with, has produced a # of innovative designs, & is amazingly on the low end of a custom instrument.

Look at some of his designs on his website here:
http://donaldsonukuleles.com/

You may also want to consider contacting Mike at Uke Republic (http://ukerepublic.bigcartel.com/); he already handles just about every existing uke product; & recently announced that he's will be working w/Kiwaya/Tukumi to deliver Mike DaSilva's customs, Brad Donaldson's customs, & already has a great relationship w/LoPrinzi for custom work. AND... he's shipped ukes all over the world, so he can deal w/customs & other issues of international shipping.

DISCLOSURE: I'm a recent owner of an amazing Donaldson Vintage-S that has quickly become my favorite soprano & am a personal friend of Mike at Uke Republic, having bought a few ukes from him & had the pleasure of spending time w/his family & the larger ATL area uke group(s).

mendel
01-26-2012, 03:25 AM
GMoney speaks the gospel. Bradford is an absolute genius and he is incredibly reasonable with the pricing. CALL HIM!!!


With those "requirements" I would recommend contacting Bradford Donaldson for a "custom". He is great to work with, has produced a # of innovative designs, & is amazingly on the low end of a custom instrument.

Look at some of his designs on his website here:
http://donaldsonukuleles.com/

You may also want to consider contacting Mike at Uke Republic (http://ukerepublic.bigcartel.com/); he already handles just about every existing uke product; & recently announced that he's will be working w/Kiwaya/Tukumi to deliver Mike DaSilva's customs, Brad Donaldson's customs, & already has a great relationship w/LoPrinzi for custom work. AND... he's shipped ukes all over the world, so he can deal w/customs & other issues of international shipping.

DISCLOSURE: I'm a recent owner of an amazing Donaldson Vintage-S that has quickly become my favorite soprano & am a personal friend of Mike at Uke Republic, having bought a few ukes from him & had the pleasure of spending time w/his family & the larger ATL area uke group(s).

Pukulele Pete
01-26-2012, 03:38 AM
Call Pete Howlett and order a " Le Noir " . That is my dream uke , I hope to get one someday.

Plainsong
01-26-2012, 03:53 AM
Agreed about Mike. It was fun ordering my Sailor from him, and you end up with a friend in the process. I'd suggest the Sailor for pure quality and looks, but the neck is more traditional, as is the fretboard. For wide fretboards, let's not forget Kanilea. My superconcert went quickly from "I'm not sure if this for my fingers" to "I think this might be more comfortable than my Koaloha and that's saying something." - for comfort, between those two, it's whichever I'm holding although it's not similar. I still stand by the sk38 though! Basically I just like the stuff I have!

fernandogardinali
01-26-2012, 04:03 AM
Maybe the Hamano? I have one and I love it.

GX9901
01-26-2012, 09:31 AM
A soprano with a "wide fingerboard", which I take it to mean 1.5" or close to it, pretty much requires a custom. Heck, sometimes you can't even get that on a custom built uke. A few years ago I ordered a DaSilva Santos reproduction and specified an 1.5" nut, but when I finally got the uke it was still 1-3/8". (luckily the DaSilva is good enough for me to overlook that little detail)

Hippie Dribble
01-26-2012, 11:58 AM
what about this one...
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?59492-Soprano-vintage-Royal-Hawaiian-style-uke-by-Black-Bear&p=854278#post854278

OldePhart
01-26-2012, 12:14 PM
The super soprano is a very good format for meeting most of your requirements. With the longer scale you get a little better balance between open and up the neck picking. A super soprano doesn't sound exactly like a soprano from the same maker - I think the greater mass of the longer strings gives it a bit more volume and a little more of the lower end in spite of the soprano size body - though no where near as much low end as a concert body.

The "same sound up the neck as at the lower frets" (paraphrasing one of your requirements) is probably going to be the hardest thing to achieve with a short scale. When you get to the 12th fret of a soprano the vibrating length of the strings is really getting short and you start running into the limiitations of the physics of such a short vibrating piece just not having enough mass to transfer much to the soundboard. I think to meet this requirement on a soprano you are probably going to have to go to a very experienced builder and probably one who specializes in sopranos.

Just my $0.02,
John

hmgberg
01-26-2012, 01:13 PM
what about this one...
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?59492-Soprano-vintage-Royal-Hawaiian-style-uke-by-Black-Bear&p=854278#post854278

Yeah! That's the ticket.

Chris Tarman
01-26-2012, 01:45 PM
I'm at that stage where I want a new ukulele. I don't need a new one, I want a new one. I have refined my list of wants and needs in a new ukulele during the course of the past few years. Here are the essentials in no particular order of importance:


Soprano
Accurate intonation up the neck
Higher positions sound comparable to open strings
Fingerpicking sound complements strumming
Wide fingerboard
Friction tuners
Solid woods
Dressed frets
Low action

Other than that, I want a drop-dead-gorgeous ukulele, preferably with style 3 appointments. I have been looking at Kamoa's top of the range (http://kamoaukulelecompany.com/ukuleles.php?id=244), which I like a lot; but then I am also very weak for tuxedo instruments, such as Kala's black Jazz tenor (http://www.thomann.de/se/kala_jazz_ukulele_jte_bk.htm) (if only they offered a soprano which also fulfilled the rest of the essential criteria above), or Le Noir that Pete Howlett made for Craig Robertson (http://petehowlettukulele.co.uk/le_noir_soprano_ukulele.html) (which I would quite plausibly commit murder for).

My question: where are the other gorgeous ukuleles that will break the bank, but satisfy my craving for beauty and functionality? Or am I on an inevitable journey towards a contract with the custom builder of my choice?

I've been curious about the Kamoa ukes too. I'm a big fan of ukuleles with Style 3 appointments, and I think the Kamoa 700-SV is gorgeous. I have no idea how they play or sound, although in their videos they seem like they sound pretty good (of course, there's a TON of reverb in the recording). I am particularly fond of the emerald green finish. If you like tuxedo-looking ukuleles, it looks like Kamoa has added a transparent black finish.
I can also highly recommend the Kiwaya KTS-7. I have one, and I love it!

Skrik
01-26-2012, 06:59 PM
what about this one...
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?59492-Soprano-vintage-Royal-Hawaiian-style-uke-by-Black-Bear&p=854278#post854278

Dang! I'm trying to narrow things down, and all I see is more and more ukuleles that I want. Curses on all of you (but thanks!). ;)

mm stan
01-27-2012, 12:19 AM
You just cant pick ukuleles by the brands...even the most expensive ones have inconsistancies due to the variances in the building process...best thing is to play them before you buy..
buying an top of the line uke will ensure you less inconsistancies however that is certainly not garrantteed.. for sure but with the luthier's more experience, it will cut that down..if you buy
rack models, they too can have inconsistancies even in the same brand, model, style...and even built by the same builder at the same time..sorta like we all have different voices..
It is certainly hard to find a beautiful uke and a great sounding one...for me I prefer the plain straight grain soundboard for the beast sound...Just like people, just because they are good
looking doesn't necessary make them the best personality and charather ....choose wisely.. for me, sound over looks anyday..

Nickie
01-27-2012, 03:17 AM
Damn, I had to wipe the drool off my keyboard!

Lori
01-27-2012, 05:54 AM
For fantastic look and sound and slightly wider fretboard I like my superconcert Kanile'a. I got to choose it from a group while I was shopping at the Aloha Swap Meet on Oahu a couple of years ago.
Another notable one for excellent beauty and finish, and nice low action is my Mya-Moe custom resonator concert in myrtle. http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/uketracker.php?trackingNumber=389&submit=Track

I think you will need more than one to be satisfied. There are too many good choices out there.

–Lori

Pueo
01-27-2012, 07:17 AM
I have a very pretty `ukulele I purchased at Harry's Music in Kaimuki on Oahu. The label is Ukuleles Hawaii by R&L. I have learned that this refers to Randall and Lenda Wong. It is made entirely of Koa wood, even the bridge, neck, fretboard, everything! If you would like, I can PM you the phone number on the label. It looks far more expensive than it was to purchase, but it was not cheap. I have a few ukuleles that were more expensive, one that is MUCH more expensive, but the sound and playability of this ukulele are superb. And it sure is purdy!
32876

CTurner
01-27-2012, 07:22 AM
Consider a Pohaku. Peter Hurney could give you all of that, though there is something of a wait period as with any custom.

Plainsong
01-27-2012, 10:53 AM
Or Dave Talsma. He can do "normal" ukes or really out there stuff, like the viola bass styled uke.

Nickie
01-27-2012, 11:10 AM
I have a very pretty `ukulele I purchased at Harry's Music in Kaimuki on Oahu. The label is Ukuleles Hawaii by R&L. I have learned that this refers to Randall and Lenda Wong. It is made entirely of Koa wood, even the bridge, neck, fretboard, everything! If you would like, I can PM you the phone number on the label. It looks far more expensive than it was to purchase, but it was not cheap. I have a few ukuleles that were more expensive, one that is MUCH more expensive, but the sound and playability of this ukulele are superb. And it sure is purdy!
32876

Oh, wow! Do you have any more photos of it?

mds725
01-27-2012, 03:05 PM
I think an ukulele is a little like a significant other -- the prettiest one is the one that's meant for you, regardless of what it looks like.

rpfrogner
01-27-2012, 03:14 PM
Maybe one like this?32897
I know it is not new, but it seems to fit all of your criteria.

Chris Tarman
01-28-2012, 12:43 PM
Maybe one like this?32897
I know it is not new, but it seems to fit all of your criteria.

Is that yours????

Drew Bear
01-28-2012, 02:03 PM
I have a very pretty `ukulele I purchased at Harry's Music in Kaimuki on Oahu. The label is Ukuleles Hawaii by R&L. I have learned that this refers to Randall and Lenda Wong. It is made entirely of Koa wood, even the bridge, neck, fretboard, everything! If you would like, I can PM you the phone number on the label. It looks far more expensive than it was to purchase, but it was not cheap. I have a few ukuleles that were more expensive, one that is MUCH more expensive, but the sound and playability of this ukulele are superb. And it sure is purdy!The Wongs are listed in this directory:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?16211-808-Builders

mm stan
01-28-2012, 08:24 PM
The Wongs are listed in this directory:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?16211-808-Builders

They do certainly have very pretty ukes..they brought a few over to my place...Randy and Lenda are certainly very nice people..she used to have a uke shop too before and he builds ukes
from his home....

Skrik
01-29-2012, 10:59 PM
I think you will need more than one to be satisfied.

I like you.