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View Full Version : Looking to ID what I bought - did I mess up and buy a toy?



delirium
02-04-2012, 07:55 PM
Hi, I found these at a flea market. I thought they looked cool and they were super cheap, but my impulsive nature may have led me astray. Are either of these ukuleles or are they just toy/decorative guitars? I tried to play the larger one, and the action is so high, I can't get a decent sound. Is it salvageable? I have to put a tuning peg in the smaller(red) one, and if it's just a kiddie guitar, I can let my nephew play with it, no big loss. I'm just feeling a little embarrassed that I was so quick to grab them.
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Ken Middleton
02-04-2012, 08:56 PM
They are both ukuleles. They both need a lot of work. Even then, I feel you are never going to get a decent sound out of them.

Surely a better idea would be to buy a reasonable quality ukulele, one you can keep? Don't buy impulsively though. Do some research. Compared to other things that people buy (clothes, cell phones, computers), ukuleles are cheap, even good ones.

delirium
02-05-2012, 04:29 AM
I wonder if the neck on the larger one is homemade, judging by the paint. Yeah, I really feel like a fool for jumping into that. After messing with both this morning, I think I might have better luck with the red one, but not by much. At least I only paid about $10 total for both. That's about my limit for impulse buys:) I'll see what I can do with them and update at some point. In the meantime, I'll be saving my pennies and doing more research here.

ukuhippo
02-05-2012, 05:04 AM
10$? I would pay that for both of them just to hang them at my wall.

YooperUker
02-05-2012, 06:18 AM
Hi, I found these at a flea market. I thought they looked cool and they were super cheap, but my impulsive nature may have led me astray.

Drop the embarrassment. So the items you acquired might be "ukulele culture pieces" instead of playable instruments. So what? The price was right.

Rare is the uke player who is not also a uke collector, and many of us jump on deals like that whenever we find them (at least, until our walls and attics overflow with ukulelia).


Are either of these ukuleles or are they just toy/decorative guitars?

As KM said, they're both ukes (that is, not guitars). Both were made to be played (that is, not merely decorative). However, they were also both made to be played with (that is, they are, indeed, children's ukes/toys).

Unfortunately, having been "made to be played" does not in any way ensure that an instrument is, or ever was, actually playable.


I tried to play the larger one, and the action is so high, I can't get a decent sound. Is it salvageable?

I call "wallhanger" (at best) on that one. You can certainly make it more playable, but I doubt that you could ever get it to a point where playing it would yield much enjoyment. But, hey, it's a uke!

And it looks like someone may have given it some personal care at some point (however poorly executed it may have been). I call that "unique charm". (see my next post in this thread)


I have to put a tuning peg in the smaller(red) one,

There's a lot more hope for that one. First Act is a product line of arguably playable musical instruments for young children (preschools often have shelves or storage tubs full of First Act products).

They are generally made from more appropriate musical instrument materials than are toys and costume instruments. That is, they don't tend to substitute polystyrene for wood, steel, brass, and ABS plastics.

But you can be certain that they'll use wood laminates instead of solid woods whenever they can get away with it (even at the expense of sound quality as long as it does not affect playability).

They are intended to be able to withstand a bit of child-inflicted abuse. Now, with many instruments, such a requirement may mean great compromises to playability. But this is not necessarily so with a ukulele; a low-end laminated ukulele made for adults is a pretty sturdy instrument to begin with.

Unfortunately, First Act seems to go by lowest bid in contracting out their instruments. Quality is widely varied, and quality control is very low. My guess is that an entire production lot as a whole receives a passing grade as long as the failure rate of instruments randomly sampled for spot testing is less than some arbitrary percentage (that is, they even ship the bad ones as long as the proportion is low enough).

It is quite possible that they come off the same assembly lines as, and are manufactured the same as, (and are subject to the same problems as,) low-end ukes for adults. Only difference being that the quality-control requirements might be low, so the defect rate will be higher.


and if it's just a kiddie guitar, I can let my nephew play with it, no big loss.

I wouldn't recommend that with the larger one because unknown age and origin also means that it's unknown whether it has a lead-free finish.


I'm just feeling a little embarrassed that I was so quick to grab them.

If I had come across those two ukes at a flea market for that, I would not have passed them up, either. And I would then coax a tuning peg and halfway-decent (but perhaps used) string set out of my junk box to see if I can make a player out of the smaller one.

YooperUker
02-05-2012, 06:34 AM
I wonder if the neck on the larger one is homemade,

I concur. Especially judging from the side view. The heel is shallow and really long. And the peghead angle is zero. It looks like they shaved a 2x2 to make a neck.



judging by the paint.

The paint looks right to me. The side of the neck appears to match the side of the body.


I'm going to reverse what I said in my earlier post. This instrument was not made to be played. Look at the fret spacing. What scale is that!?! Certainly not even-tempered chromatic Western.

Oh, wait a minute. . .those aren't even frets at all! Just gold lines painted on the fingerboard.

Yep, the item was made as (or, perhaps, rebuilt as) a decoration.

itsscottwilder
02-05-2012, 06:51 AM
Yes This!!! +1


10$? I would pay that for both of them just to hang them at my wall.

ukuleleforbeginners
02-05-2012, 07:32 PM
It looks like you will be better off getting something better. I had a cheap ukulele and it didn't bring me much happiness. I was happy though when I got something nicer.

Nickie
02-06-2012, 01:23 AM
Hey, I think you did well, you got some really cute, but cheap wall decorations! Now go out and research, as posted here before, and get yourself a "player".

MrKempo
02-06-2012, 12:07 PM
I'm just feeling a little embarrassed that I was so quick to grab them.
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Um, use the big one for slide uke? Reminds me of the very first Christmas present I can remember asking for, when I was about 4 or 5 years old I asked for a guitar and what I got was a ukulele.

To paraphrase Shakespeare:
'some are born to ukulele, some achieve ukulele, and others have ukulele thrust upon them'.

Anyway, no-one will think worse of you for buying these, delirium - round these parts UAS is a PREREQUISITE!!!!

delirium
02-08-2012, 12:11 PM
Thanks for all the input, and for not judging me:) I'm still going to mess with the smaller one until I can get a good one.