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etf
03-27-2012, 03:57 AM
OK, cards on the table here people. As you may know from a previous post I am looking to get a high end Tenor. Thing is I am never going to be a star player on the stage. At 53 and a begginer thats not going to hapen lol. So, question is this. If only playing for friends and to make me a happy man. Is there any point in spending a huge amount on a K brand or custom. To my untrained ear, will I spend big and then think to myself, I cant tell a huge difference in sound quallity? I have a Kala KA-ASACS Acacia Concert at a cost of 240 as my first ukulele. So not a cheap end model. I am now tending to lean towards getting the same model in a tenor at a cost of 270. So honest answer here, if your only playing for your own pleasure is there a huge difference in sound to justify spending big money?

Thanks for looking,
ETF :cool:

mr moonlight
03-27-2012, 04:06 AM
There is a huge difference and it is definitely justified. Most of us here who play high-end ukes will never become superstars, professionals, or go beyond just playing for friends or small gatherings. If you're serious about playing (meaning you practice on an almost daily basis), then you're probably investing a lot of time into the instrument and will achieve a fair level of ability over the next couple years. Once you achieve that level, you will end up buying a higher end uke anyways. So if you can afford it, buy the high end uke now and save yourself some cash in the long run. Believe me it's the cheaper way to go.

etf
03-27-2012, 04:16 AM
There is a huge difference and it is definitely justified. Most of us here who play high-end ukes will never become superstars, professionals, or go beyond just playing for friends or small gatherings. If you're serious about playing (meaning you practice on an almost daily basis), then you're probably investing a lot of time into the instrument and will achieve a fair level of ability over the next couple years. Once you achieve that level, you will end up buying a higher end uke anyways. So if you can afford it, buy the high end uke now and save yourself some cash in the long run. Believe me it's the cheaper way to go.

Thanks for your reply, I take everyones opinion onboard here as you are the ones who play and know the answers.

ETF :cool:

Kayak Jim
03-27-2012, 04:27 AM
I would tend to agree provided you are sure you will be happy playing a tenor. I don't know how to determine that without actually owning a tenor. I see lots of ukes in Marketplace "tried this xxx size, found it wasn't for me". Yes you could always resell a higher end uke but probably drop $100+ in the process. If it was me, I'd move to a high end instrument only on a size I know.

stmace
03-27-2012, 04:30 AM
If you want a high-end tenor, get one, because you won't stop wanting one. Get your "ideal" instrument. At a relatively low cost, you can change strings and adjust setup, which will be getting your "ideal" instrument closer to your "ideal" sound.

SailingUke
03-27-2012, 04:56 AM
I believe in playing the best you can afford, no matter your skill level.
Playing music can bring so much joy to you and others, why not play the best?
You might even find your skill level rising to the instrument.

Kanaka916
03-27-2012, 05:13 AM
I also believe if you can afford it, get it. I'm not an extremely talented player but having an high end instrument just makes you feel good. I have a Kamaka HF-3 and a GString 6 string, and still looking for affordable deals on higher end ukes especially the Ks. I wouldn't mind having a Chuck Moore instrument, but that's another fantasy.
Get one and don't look back.

coolkayaker1
03-27-2012, 05:30 AM
I have more than one high end tenor.

And, I suck pond water.

Nickie
03-27-2012, 05:42 AM
Kayak Jim is right. I have a tenor, and I can't play it worth spit. My next will be a concert. Go try a tenor before you jump. It's a good idea to get a high end uke if you can, I suck sand too, when I play, but I ordered one anyway, because I can and I have UAS... I'll die broke, but somebody will get some nice ukuleles!

molokinirum
03-27-2012, 05:51 AM
Yes, play a tenor to see if you like the bigger size! As for getting a "K" brand uke......yes oh yes, go get it, if you can afford it. If you don't, you will never satisfy your desire to get one and besides, there is no contest about the quality.

GX9901
03-27-2012, 05:51 AM
If you can comfortably afford a nice high-end tenor, then go for it, as I think you should get the best instrument you can afford. If not, you should probably try a lower end tenor just to see if the longer scale works for you.

coolkayaker1
03-27-2012, 05:52 AM
I suck sand too, when I play,

Just for the record, Nickie may suck sand, but I never said I suck sand...I suck pondwater.

Sucking sand is considerably worse.

Lori
03-27-2012, 05:58 AM
I would say generally there is a good jump in quality between the $300 ukes and the $800 ukes. I define it as a bell-like sparkly quality in the upper tones, and nice full bottom tones. Recognizing these details takes a bit of ear training (some people might not notice the difference). There are several $300-$400 ukes that get very close to that upper end sparkle (one of mine is the 5 string Ohana). So, start testing out a lot of ukes, and start to get a feeling of what sound pleases you the most. You should play a high end uke in person before buying. There are great variations between instruments, and a price tag is not a good indicator of which uke is the best for you.

–Lori

Dan Uke
03-27-2012, 06:02 AM
GO FOR IT!!

As we get older, we have less interests so we should spend more on those interests.

etf
03-27-2012, 06:14 AM
Thanks all. Good food for thought from everyone. I did go to my local music shop last week. They only stock one brand of ukulele and that's Hudson (don't know if your familiar with them)? Tried their top of the line mahogany Tenor. OK, I suck sand and pond water but sat down in the shop and had a go, I don't care when I play an ukulele lol. Anyway, loved the extra volume of the Tenor but I must admit I love the feel of my little Kala concert. Not sure if I am just being swayed towards the Tenors as most music shops tend to push you in that direction. Maybe its because I play guitar and they then say most guitar players end up with a Tenor and all the big name players play on Tenors. Had my concert a few weeks ago online at Southern Ukulele Store here in the UK. Had great advice from them over the phone and went for the concert. So not only am I not sure to go high end (Yes I am, I want the best I can get) but not sure to go for Tenor or a new high end Concert lol.

Thanks for replies,
ETF :cool:

csibona
03-27-2012, 06:15 AM
I went to the Denver UkeFest, tried out a bunch of ukuleles and picked one that I liked. It happened to be (relatively) expensive (Mya-Moe) and I don't regret it. I knew at the time it was unlikely that I would be anything but a mediocre ukulele player.

PoiDog
03-27-2012, 06:29 AM
As others have said, my advice is to spend as much on the 'ukulele as you can afford and as you are comfortable spending, regardless of your skill. If that means a budget of $200, then get the best $200 uke you can. If that means $1000, ditto. Don't fall into the trap of trying to buy an instrument that you think is at your level. Seriously, get the best you can.

Buying on the cheap for now will only cost you more in the long run. This place is filled with people (like me) who bought a starter uke for about $100 only to soon find that the limitations of the instrument was more frustrataing than expected, and immediately began searching for something better.

Now, some folks here can't stop at one, and have anywhere from 5 to a dozen or more top-end ukes. Others get that one special uke and are good.

As long as you aren't compulsively buying and are staying within your ability, it's all good.

RyanMFT
03-27-2012, 06:29 AM
In the few years I have been playing, I have seen the general consensus seem to change from concert to tenor. Perhaps that is because more guitar players are coming over and are more comfortable with the larger scale of a Tenor. I think for the most part, guitar shop guys are telling people they should play a Tenor, and so people go with that. It boils down to whatever you like the best.

As far as stepping up to a high end ukulele. I would say there is a significant difference. However, Lori is right in that each instrument has different qualities unto itself. When I bought my KoAloha concert, I played it along with three other KoAloha concerts (along with a couple Kamaka's) and to my ear, mine sounded far better. If you don't have access to try some higher end ukuleles, you will get excellent sound from the high end stuff, but there is considerable variation between individual instruments.

I can tell you that high end vintage ukuleles are head and shoulders above mid range modern ukuleles. When I take my Favilla, Martin, or Gibson and play with people who have a Kala or Lanikai they are always blown away at how full and powerful the sound is coming out of a little vintage soprano. So, in summation of my long winded response.....if you have the means, go for a high end ukulele, you won't regret it!

SailingUke
03-27-2012, 06:38 AM
As long as you aren't compulsively buying and are staying within your ability, it's all good.


Hey, I resemble this remark !!!!!
I went to a ukulele retreat over the weekend and took 4 ukuleles.
People started kidding me about do I ever play the same uke twice, my reply was.
"Instead of changing strings, I buy a new uke and pray it comes tuned."

efiscella
03-27-2012, 06:48 AM
I am pretty much a nooooob but this year I purchased and sold a lot of ukulele's in the pursuit of the right one. In just the course of a few months, I went from $200 ukulele's to $500 ukulele's and now $1200. ukulele's. Crazy- right? Well, yes and no. As my skill level increased, I wanted better and each time I stepped up, I found that not only was the sound better, but it was easier to play. The better ukulele actually helped me to be a better player. Granted, a great player can make any instrument sound good, the reverse is also true, a better uke can help to make it easier for a mid-ranged player to play. But even with the mid-range ukes, when I got my hands on the K brands, a whole new world opened up. I loved the sound of the ukuleles. There was a world of difference and the biggest selling point, to me (and this goes back to your original statement about just playing for yourself) is that I LOVE playing my K brands. The sound great, look great, and feel great in my hands. Hours can pass by without me noticing, whereas with the lesser brands, there was more frustration. And if I miss a day of playing, I find myself making statements like< "I didn't play the ukulele today- I really want to make some time for that."

In the end, it cost me a good bit of money to try so many brands, and then sell them when I found they were not right- but where I live, there is no other way to try them except to buy them. The owner of the music store in my neighborhood announced to me that he was getting a better brand of ukulele in. He said he was getting Kala in. I told him that there are many other brands he should be looking at also. He said there was no market for them. I then presented a challenge to him. I bet him a set a strings that that I, personally sold more ukuleles between September and now than he did, because I was selling quality instruments. And I was right. Between that time, I purchased 11 ukuleles and sold 7 (2 ponos, 3 Islanders, 1 Kamaka, 1 KoAloha). I now own only the ukes in my signature below. I love these ukes. I love playing them. These are my keepers.

paeataa
03-27-2012, 06:59 AM
As irrational as it may sound, I'm planning to get one high-end uke (i.e., K-brands) for each size (soprano, concert, and tenor) regardless my ukulele skill. And I am very confident to say that I am a noob, and still learning. :) But I love the differences in sound, playability, and portability of these three sizes.

The sound and playability of high-end ukes are superior. If you can afford a high-end one, go for it now. I'm sure you won't regret a bit.

I, myself, am saving up to achieve my acquisition goal :D

coolkayaker1
03-27-2012, 07:06 AM
I am pretty much a nooooob but this year I purchased and sold a lot of ukulele's in the pursuit of the right one. In just the course of a few months, I went from $200 ukulele's to $500 ukulele's and now $11200. ukulele's.

Original poster, even though Ed is like this (crosses fingers together) with Jake, I don't agree that you have to buy an $11200 uke to be happy.

efiscella
03-27-2012, 07:17 AM
Original poster, even though Ed is like this (crosses fingers together) with Jake, I don't agree that you have to buy an $11200 uke to be happy.

Haaaa-- even my good buddy Jake does not spend that much. Just to let you know, I am a better player than I am a typist. I was thinking that next month while I am just sitting around with Jake waiting for the concert to start, maybe I'll pass him my Kala travel concert and see how that baby sounds in his hands ;)

coolkayaker1
03-27-2012, 07:28 AM
Haaaa-- even my good buddy Jake does not spend that much. Just to let you know, I am a better player than I am a typist. I was thinking that next month while I am just sitting around with Jake waiting for the concert to start, maybe I'll pass him my Kala travel concert and see how that baby sounds in his hands ;)

I know, that was a funny typo. Hey, Ed, with all due respect, passing Jake a Kala travel uke would be like passing Tiger Woods a hollow plastic souvenir golf club, the kind the sweating teen working in the grass shack hands you as a prize for getting a hole-in-one on the 18th at Pirate's Cove miniature golf.

You might just assume the Kala is unplayable without having Jake prove it and just shake the guy's hand. lol

Seriously you've put together quite a concert--I saw that you're having a two hour post-concert jam. I sure wish I lived closer to meet you as well as Jake, I honestly do.

dnewton2
03-27-2012, 07:52 AM
There seems to be a consensuse that you should by what you can afford. It was mentioned that the tonal differences are hard to tell by untrained ears, like myself. Well there are other qualities besides sound to consider. One is playability, my nicer ukes are such a breeze to play moving around the fretboard and what not. It may be because I have nicer ukes but I almost always reach for my nicest. It makes me want to play. I am not knocking Kala but I will probably never buy another after playing higher ends it just seems like junk in comparison, although I have not played one in a couple years. To reiterate I do not think Kalas are junk, I would be happy to play one if that is what I had availible.

efiscella
03-27-2012, 07:55 AM
I know, that was a funny typo. Hey, Ed, with all due respect, passing Jake a Kala travel uke would be like passing Tiger Woods a hollow plastic souvenir golf club, the kind the sweating teen working in the grass shack hands you as a prize for getting a hole-in-one on the 18th at Pirate's Cove miniature golf.

You might just assume the Kala is unplayable without having Jake prove it and just shake the guy's hand. lol

Seriously you've put together quite a concert--I saw that you're having a two hour post-concert jam. I sure wish I lived closer to meet you as well as Jake, I honestly do.

Great image with the miniature golf, Steve. But to my point about the Kala-- a great player can make any instrument sound good but to jake's ear, the Kala would be like that plastic thing.

This concert with Jake in April is a really cool event for me, as presenter. Besides having to be the guy to hang with Jake all day, (and get his meals and hotel, etc), I get to decide how this whole day will go so I have made it more than just a concert but an event. I contacted a few music stores who will be there to sell ukuleles to anyone who may want to get one to play or sign (trust me, they won't be K brands but good for autographs and hanging on a wall). I also read on one of Jake's blogs that when there is a jam after his performance, if he has time, he likes to join in. Since the first people to know about this (and get the up front seats) are fellow ukers, I arranged for a Jam on the stage right after jake's concert. Since I manage the stage, it is something I can do without having to get any theater management permission. I am the management. Also, so many fellow meet up and uu friends are coming that it will be cool to meet and jam--- and hopefully Jake will join us. How cool will that be!!!! I'm sure there is a cheap flight from chicago to Philly. I'll try to get you a hotel room next to Jake's :o

Okay-- enough about Jake-- This thread is about a guy who wants to know if he should spend the bucks for a really good tenor or not!!! I say Go for the best uke you can buy!!!! And it doesn't hurt to have one of each scale.

stevepetergal
03-27-2012, 07:57 AM
Is it worth it?

ABSOLUTELY!!!

mds725
03-27-2012, 08:16 AM
My first ukuleles were a Kala solid mahogany concert and a Kala solid acacia tenor. (I wanted to get solid wood ukuleles because I feared that if I got a really cheap one, I might dislike playing it enough to be disuaded from continuing, and I bought both a concert and a tenor because I was unsure about which scale was right for me.) I decided that I would upgrade when I played well enough to notice the difference between my ukuleles and a high-end ukulele. As others have said, high end ukes not only tend to sound better, they also tend to feel better to play. I bought a Kamaka tenor last April and while I expected it to sound better than my Kalas (it has more resonance, is louder and has a much richer tone, and its notes are clearer, especially up the neck) I didn't expect it to be so much more fun to play. I'm convinced that getting a Kamaka has made me a much better ukulele player because (i) I play a lot more because I can't put the thing down and (ii) the better sound and feel of it challenges me to want to play better.

If you don't have access to high end ukuleles through retail shops, maybe you can find a nearby ukulele group (where others may let you test drive their high end ukes) or travel to a nearby ukulele festival (where there should be some high end ukes for sale that you can test drive). If you don't notice a difference between your uke and a high end one, you may not be ready to take the plunge (you may spend too much time worrying why you bothered to spend the money), but if you can tell the difference and can afford to take the plunge, I recommend that you do it. Good luck!

OldePhart
03-27-2012, 08:16 AM
If you're reasonably sure you will want to stick with the tenor then buy the very best you can afford. In the long run you will be happier. The longer you play the more discrimminating your ear and fingers will become - while you might not notice much difference between a well-set-up Kala solid and a more expensive instrument now, you probably will a year from now and then you'll be in the market for another tenor.

NOTE: "best you can afford" does not mean the "best you can torture your credit cards into paying for." :)

No one, not even most pros, really needs a better instrument than a Kala solid (well set up) or similar - but there is undeniably pleasure in having an instrument that you know will never be the limiting factor in your improvement. My Mainlands are very nice ukuleles and probably the best dollar for dollar value of all my ukes, but when I play my KoAloha I can actually feel the difference in the vibrations coming through my hands.

John

bbycrts
03-27-2012, 08:18 AM
I'm a total ukulele hack and took the plunge and did a custom instrument and have never ever regretted it. Granted, Brad Donaldson is probably about the best-priced custom you can get, but it is a dream come true and exactly what I ever wanted in an instrument. Even a hack like me can feel the difference between a truly unique, quality instrument made exactly to my specifications and a very nice production model. If you find the high end uke - production or custom - that really sings to you, then by all means get it!

VinnyQH
03-27-2012, 08:30 AM
I began playing with a lanikai and just picked it up every once in awhile, but knew that i loved the ukulele. Eventually i spent the money on a pineapple sunday becuase i thought it looked cool, but i'll tell you once you get a high end uke, you won't stop playing it, i have played more in the last month then all the time i had my lanikai (which was about a year or so)

didgeridoo2
03-27-2012, 09:47 AM
Get a high end concert since you know you enjoy playing that size, trade in your current uke for a tenor of comparable quality. This way you won't over spend on a size you are unfamiliar with. If you end up enjoying the tenor, save up for a custom down the road. If you're gonna play, play as good as you can afford. It's worth it.

mm stan
03-27-2012, 09:56 AM
Yes I am on the same boat...get the best you can comfortably afford if you are serious and believe you are going to stick with it..
As a middle ager myself...(don't believe me) ha ha I started again for the second time, with a 24.95 some 4 years ago...You know
I still play that uke on a daily basis and enjoy it very much....I have gone through the route of all the levels of ukes up to customs
I still believe a better uke will speed up your learning curb and keep you motivated because it usually sounds and plays better, but not always.
In every level you will find alot of lemons...don't believe the more money I spend I will get a better uke senerio...best thing is
to play them first and if you cannot tell a good uke...get someone to help you choose one.... you know even in the lower level ukes
there are "GEMS" ..but you gotta hunt for them, as they are like needle in haystacks...another thing buy from a reputable dealer
which offer free setups...Like MGM Hawaii Music Supply MIm Mainland etc.. Good Luck and Happy Hunting....
PS don't fall for that...wow that uke looks real nice and get excited and drop the cash...Many have done this including me
Sound is more important than looks in the uke world...what's the sense of getting a nice uke if it sounds bad?? you just
get unmotivated and it will start to collect dust and soon it will be in the closet.....believe me... take your time and choose well..

jackwhale
03-27-2012, 10:17 AM
My guess is that everyone who responded with advice to buy the better uke has been playing ukulele every day and is absolutely enthralled with the instrument. I'm very happy that I bought a high end vintage (Martin) and high end custom (Graziano) because I end up playing them 3-4 hours every day. It took a while to learn ukulele strumming/picking technique in order to appreciate the unique capabilities of both ukes. I also tried many different brands of strings before I effectively matched the strings to the uke.

I don't think I could have appreciated the differences between a high end and entry level uke when I first started playing. I had played guitar and thought that the technique for playing a uke was the same as guitar.

guitharsis
03-27-2012, 10:21 AM
You've received a lot of good feedback and everyone has a different perspective or reason to try or not to try a high end tenor next. My thought would be to go high end either concert or tenor. You won't regret it. Good luck with your decision.

bazmaz
03-27-2012, 10:21 AM
This (with one or two exceptions) is my uke buying history

Mahalo
Makala
Flea
Mainland
Fluke
Kanile'a

The first uke that wowed me was the jump to the flea because it was so 'in tune' and loud. Then, further down the line I got the kanilea and it totally blew me away. It's a mixture of things. Volume for one ( and that isn't just about playing it loud, it's how clear it is playing it soft. Tone = it's like a bell. Clarity = every string rings its own note perfectly.

I've loved my earlier ukes and still gig them, but the kanilea is leagues above all of them on tone.

Absolutely it's worth it. And this is my reason, when I play my kanilea I really smile inside. When, late at night, I pick it softly, it relaxes me so much I could fall asleep. In a good way. It's stunning.

sukie
03-27-2012, 11:49 AM
I have a Moore Bettah. Playing-wise, do I deserve it? Heck no. But I love it. My opinion for you? Get the best you can comfortably afford. It's worth it. You'll enjoy playing it. I am still trying to become "one" with my ukulele. I'm getting there. (I'm 55 so I know sorta how you feel)

uker62
03-27-2012, 01:19 PM
I, too, am an old fart. 63 years old. You might be surprised how good you can get given daily practice. I started out with a $50.00 Mahalo and now have 2 Mya Moe tenors. It's just so damned nice to play a quality instrument. Then again my Mainland tenor sounds pretty sweet, too. Anyway, if you're looking for a fine, quality instrument, you might want to consider a Mya Moe tenor tradition. It will set you back about $800.00, you'll have to wait months to get it, but I guarantee you won't regret it. Now if you're impatient and flush, Eugene Ukulele has some sweet things for sale right now.

ksiegel
03-27-2012, 01:28 PM
At 53 and a begginer thats not going to hapen lol. So, question is this. If only playing for friends and to make me a happy man. Is there any point in spending a huge amount on a K brand or custom. To my untrained ear, will I spend big and then think to myself, I cant tell a huge difference in sound quallity? I have a Kala KA-ASACS Acacia Concert at a cost of 240 as my first ukulele. So not a cheap end model. I am now tending to lean towards getting the same model in a tenor at a cost of 270. So honest answer here, if your only playing for your own pleasure is there a huge difference in sound to justify spending big money?

Thanks for looking,

Okay, so here is the best answer I can give.

I'm 54 - started playing ukulele in 2010, when I had just turned 53. My father-in-law gave me his 50+ year old Harmony. Nice little thing, too small for me to play daily, or much. I bought a Cordoba for around $150 US. I was impressed. within a week, I ordered a Kala for $350.

Each of them has a completely different sound and feel.

Fast forward to Last Summer - just before my father-in-law passed away, I purchased a KoAloha Sceptre. I wasn't looking to buy that instrument, I simply wanted to try the "K" brands. Within 30 secoinds of starting to play it, both my wife(who was listening) and I just stopped and said "wow." Didn't yell it, no exclamation point. Just "Wow", in a moment of sheer awe.

That Sceptre is just an incredible instrument to me, with the resonation and wonderful sound.

I primarily play for my own pleasure, occasionally doing a YouTube video, and playing at Uke Club gatherings. While I can (and occasionally do) "perform", it is infrequent.

But yes, I can tell the difference in sound and tonal quality between my KoAloha and my other instruments. Is it intrinsic to the Koa, or the magic imbued by Papa KoAloha? Or is it my perception?

I don't know - but I will say that I have never played another instrument that tapped so deeply into me.

The money I spent was justified. For others, that isn't the case. I'd suggest that you play as many ukes as you can, new and used, hanging in the shop and owned by other folks, until a the picture of what you want/need in an instrument coalesces completely. Sometimes you don't even know the question, until you find the answer.


-Kurt

Gwynedd
03-27-2012, 02:11 PM
Ars longa, vita brevis (art lasts longer than life)--play the best you can and the best instrument you can afford. It makes a difference in the enjoyment--and how well you will advance.

UncleElvis
03-27-2012, 03:22 PM
I believe in playing the best you can afford, no matter your skill level.
Playing music can bring so much joy to you and others, why not play the best?
You might even find your skill level rising to the instrument.

This... exactly this.

mikelz777
03-27-2012, 03:29 PM
I'm in a similar situation as the original poster. I'm 52, just learning the uke and when I see videos of certain players I tell myself that I'm never going to be that good! The original poster has a nicer starter uke than I do. I wanted to make sure I liked the uke enough to carry on with it so I wanted to spend less than $100 and chose to start and learn on a Lanikai LU-21C. I'll be playing primarily for my own enjoyment. I'd probably like to seek out a uke group when I get a little more up to speed on it. If I'm gaining proficiency, still enjoying it and playing it regularly a year from now, I can see rewarding myself with a solid wood upgrade. I can't imagine ever spending $800+ for a uke because I don't think I'll ever develop the skill that would warrant or deserve such an expendature. An upgrade for me would probably have to fall in the $400 or less category. Is there a general rule of thumb or tiers as far as recommendations for skill level/cost/quality? Can I get a high quality, excellent sounding uke for less than $400?

imabuddha
03-27-2012, 05:42 PM
I can't imagine ever spending $800+ for a uke because I don't think I'll ever develop the skill that would warrant or deserve such an expendature. An upgrade for me would probably have to fall in the $400 or less category. Is there a general rule of thumb or tiers as far as recommendations for skill level/cost/quality? Can I get a high quality, excellent sounding uke for less than $400?

Islander & Pono ukuleles would be great choices in that range.

roxhum
03-27-2012, 05:50 PM
I am going to have a different response then most who have responded. I think you can have just as much fun, ease of play and satisfaction with a good mid priced uke. I have and love a kamaka and it is my best ukulele that I will never part with. I get equal pleasure from my Mainland and if it was my only ukulele I don't think it would hold me back or diminish my pleasure.

costaricadave
03-27-2012, 05:51 PM
I am standing in the Moore Bettah line...Started with a Lanikai moved to Mainland now I know I love playing and might as well go ALL OUT. I figure the price of Koa and Ukes will only be going up. I have a bad habit of wanting the best of everything. Best fishing gear, best surfboards, then I have no excuses not to do well.....

TheCraftedCow
03-27-2012, 07:11 PM
Here comes a minority report. Do you like your Acacia ukulele? Does it fit your hands? When you hook it to a tuner, does it stay very close to dead on at the 12th fret? I represent the www.lehuaukuleles.com line. I have very carefully traced the fret spacings and nut widths of all four models. A person does NOT have to have to have a full instrument to put your fingers in the middle of the frets of a simulator. You can tell just on a flat sheet of paper how far you need to stretch. Does the shape of the back of the neck have anything to do with how an instrument feels? Yes, it does, but it does not change the stretch of the fingers to span for certain chords. If you like the body sound of the tenor and the neck of a concert, consider a cavaquinho/cavaco. There are some really talented ukulele builders who build great playing/sounding instruments which do not have lots of inlay work or AAAA koa. It seems those are instruments for players who are not "Brand Conscious".

coolkayaker1
03-28-2012, 05:58 PM
I'd rather have ten $100 ukes in my kitchen, in my car, next to each crapper, by my nightstand and in my treehouse, than have one $1000 uke next to a humidor in a velvet case.

(Well, not really, but someone had to give original poster a new viewpoint).

mandrew
03-28-2012, 08:19 PM
Do I need a Steinway when I never play outside my home? Probably not. Affordability is not the same as need. I will never be more than average, and that is OK. A nice Pono is as high as I need to go.

Hippie Dribble
03-28-2012, 08:26 PM
i feel very torn on this topic. I have been selling off all my expensive instruments lately. do I want to sell them? no. But do I still enjoy playing ukuleles whether they are worth 25 dollars or 1500 dollars? yes. i f i could afford to keep them I would, believe me but I love music. fullstop. Any ukulele will bring you joy if you have the ability to play it and keep it in tune. stay within the range of what you can reasonably afford without getting into financial trouble and give joy to as many people as you can whichever uke you are playing. :)

His Sinfulness
03-28-2012, 09:24 PM
Ok, this may sound a bit silly, but here goes...

For me, playing any instrument is a sensory experience that goes beyond the ears. I like even just holding my favorite instruments. The materials and craftsmanship combine to create a device that creates certain tones (accurately, you hope), but that device is a bit of art in its own right before it ever makes a sound. Enjoying that aspect of the instrument makes you want to play it more, making you a better player. That experience might cost $100 or it might cost $1000 - each of us has to decide that line on our own.

Thinker
03-29-2012, 05:19 AM
If I were to play economist, for a second, it seems to me the question is this: Assuming I can get a really great Pono or Keli'i or something else for around $600ish +/-, is the net marginal benefit of playing, listening to the Kamaka HF3 worth the extra funds - particularly when, like the poster, I'll never be great. (in my case, I've barely even started...but I'm thinking along the same lines as I've been trying out ukes). Beyond money - if you're in the buying mood - is it also worth the delay. I had no idea these things were so hard to come by!

didgeridoo2
03-29-2012, 05:52 AM
If I were to play economist, for a second, it seems to me the question is this: Assuming I can get a really great Pono or Keli'i or something else for around $600ish +/-, is the net marginal benefit of playing, listening to the Kamaka HF3 worth the extra funds - particularly when, like the poster, I'll never be great. (in my case, I've barely even started...but I'm thinking along the same lines as I've been trying out ukes). Beyond money - if you're in the buying mood - is it also worth the delay. I had no idea these things were so hard to come by!
In the long run, it would be worth it to me.

Mandarb
03-29-2012, 06:25 AM
If I were to play economist, for a second, it seems to me the question is this: Assuming I can get a really great Pono or Keli'i or something else for around $600ish +/-, is the net marginal benefit of playing, listening to the Kamaka HF3 worth the extra funds - particularly when, like the poster, I'll never be great. (in my case, I've barely even started...but I'm thinking along the same lines as I've been trying out ukes). Beyond money - if you're in the buying mood - is it also worth the delay. I had no idea these things were so hard to come by!

Good questions - that is probably why you are the Thinker.




To the OP: I agree with the many posts that say go for it if you can afford it. Good luck and enjoy whatever you decide upon. Enjoy!

OldePhart
03-29-2012, 06:38 AM
I'd rather have ten $100 ukes in my kitchen, in my car, next to each crapper, by my nightstand and in my treehouse, than have one $1000 uke next to a humidor in a velvet case.

(Well, not really, but someone had to give original poster a new viewpoint).

Heh, heh. Glad you added that last bit. One thing I learned in years of playing guitar is that four $300 guitars are not worth one $1200 guitar. I've actually seen guys trying to trade four or five or six really crappy guitars for "a really nice Gibson Les Paul" or what have you on Craig's list. Whenever I see one of those I'm always thinking, "dude, if somebody already has a nice guitar why would they want your five pieces of junk???" LOL

That's why I always advise to get the best you can afford - in the long run it's cheaper.

John

bazmaz
03-29-2012, 06:41 AM
@Thinker. My wife has a vet pretty $600 Pono. It really is a nice instrument. But to our collective ears, the leap in tone when my Kanile'a Tenor is compared to it is really noticeable.

I personally think the K1 Kanilea (about 650 in the UK) is where high end ukes hit point of diminishing returns on tone. The tone is so good, though only bottom of the line Kanilea. I think that spe ding more that that on a K brand and you are paying for bling, woods, polish etc.

Does my 600 uke sound twice as good as a 300 uke? No of course not, but it is noticeable. Then again, is a 300 uke twice as nice a sound as a 150 uke - no, same answer

kalmario
03-29-2012, 01:36 PM
ever been to a store and played everything they had?

personally its fun, and the best (for you ) will stand out a mile.
(when i've done this guitar shopping, price is not always indicative but the serious end stuff usually plays like butter, sadly)

the trouble here in nz is your limited in comparing kala's with kala's sadly.

now if i lived in hawaii that would not be a problem at all.........

kalmario
03-29-2012, 01:38 PM
p.s. if your doing the above take a tuner with you, so the comparion is fair.

Thinker
03-29-2012, 05:15 PM
Here's a hard one - do I grab a Koaloha Tenor Uke now or wait for a Kamaka Uke in a few weeks? So hard when you're ordering remotely.

didgeridoo2
03-29-2012, 05:24 PM
No reason to wait if the KoAloha speaks to you. Unless you're enamored with the Kamaka history. The quality will be top notch for both. My wife almost begged me to buy a KoAloha tenor at a festival a couple years back. Let me repeat myself.My wife wanted me to spend $800+ on a ukulele. That never happens.

ksiegel
03-30-2012, 04:04 AM
No reason to wait if the KoAloha speaks to you. Unless you're enamored with the Kamaka history. The quality will be top notch for both. My wife almost begged me to buy a KoAloha tenor at a festival a couple years back. Let me repeat myself.My wife wanted me to spend $800+ on a ukulele. That never happens.

When my wife and I visited Ukulele Source last year, the KoAloha Sceptre I played was far and away the best instrument I'd ever touched. Unfortunately, it was about twice what I had budgeted/saved up.

The next day, she told me that we were going back, and I was buying it. Things worked out, and we are both VERY happy with that instrument.




-Kurt

Thinker
03-30-2012, 05:43 AM
I've read wonderful things about the scepter and been listening to it online - but that's beyond my reach. Frankly, the rarified air in which I'm looking at now is a little nutty for a beginner. But I feel it's the right choice, given what motivates me by sound. (Like the original poster - sorry - don't want to hijack!)

OldePhart
03-30-2012, 06:42 AM
Frankly, the rarified air in which I'm looking at now is a little nutty for a beginner...

Not at all...that is wisdom, pure and simple.

<soapbox mode="favorite rant">
An instrument must justify your playing of it, not the other way around! A better instrument will result in your becoming a better player, faster. Practice will be easier and more pleasing so you will be encouraged to practice more. You will spend less time hung up on "difficult" fingerings. Best of all, you will know that it is not the instrument holding you back and that will encourage you to work through problem spots instead of buying another uke!
</soapbox>

None of the above is meant to disparage lesser instruments. If truly all you can afford is a very cheap instrument then try to find someone to help you set it up to play as easily as possible and then wear the frets plumb off it! :)

But...if you can afford better then buy better. Think about it this way - you are probably going to spend hundreds, even thoushands, of hours playing the ukulele - shouldn't you have one that makes the best use of your precious time?

Also, lets say that over a period of five years you are going to spend 1000 hours playing ukulele (for some of us it's more, for others, less, but this makes the math easy). When looked at that way a $100 uke costs ten cents per hour. An $800 uke sounds expensive but it's still cheap at eighty cents an hour - name almost any other leisure activity that is that cheap! (In comparison, watching cable TV is a much higher hourly rate unless you watch tons of TV and have very inexpensive cable service.

John

mr moonlight
03-30-2012, 09:46 AM
Not at all...that is wisdom, pure and simple.

Also, lets say that over a period of five years you are going to spend 1000 hours playing ukulele (for some of us it's more, for others, less, but this makes the math easy). When looked at that way a $100 uke costs ten cents per hour. An $800 uke sounds expensive but it's still cheap at eighty cents an hour - name almost any other leisure activity that is that cheap! (In comparison, watching cable TV is a much higher hourly rate unless you watch tons of TV and have very inexpensive cable service.

John

So true. I don't even have a TV because just the cost of cable puts me at $600+ annually. Over 5 years that's $3000. Instead I subscribe to Netflix and Amazon prime. Minus the cash I usually spend on upgrading my shipping, it comes to me spending around $100 a year. So I end up around $2500 in the positive after 5 years. That buys a pretty damn nice uke or two or three.

You can get a really nice Pono for $600 or one of the standard K brand ukes for around $1K. For the price of cable, you can buy a nice uke and take nice little vacation. What will you appreciate more? Vegging out in front of the tube or a trip for two to Hawaii for a few days to pick up your new uke? And you can still veg out every night. There's an endless amount of TV shows available for download.

ceviche
03-30-2012, 11:03 AM
So what if a nice "K" uke seems--and I stress the word seems--above your pay grade? If you can afford it, get one. Like Mr. Moonlight mentioned, it's possible to find a way to scrounge up the bucks. Like, shouldn't you be practicing uke instead of watching TV, anyway? Scrap the cable and put the monthly bill into a jar. At the end of the year, go buy yourself the best uke your cash can buy. Try a custom 100% koa build from KoAloha. Paul Okami would love to love putting the LUV into that project!

I have three K ukes and they all sound terrific and one of them in particular does make people sound better than they really are. I'm so honest about that. My GF can't play, but that soprano KoAloha does sound real good when she's doing nothing more than dinking with it. The right one might even motivate you to work harder, you know? That's what my soprano did for me! No glass ceiling when it comes to motivation.

kalmario
04-12-2012, 07:24 PM
Not at all...that is wisdom, pure and simple.
Also, lets say that over a period of five years you are going to spend 1000 hours playing ukulele (for some of us it's more, for others, less, but this makes the math easy). When looked at that way a $100 uke costs ten cents per hour. An $800 uke sounds expensive but it's still cheap at eighty cents an hour - name almost any other leisure activity that is that cheap! (In comparison, watching cable TV is a much higher hourly rate unless you watch tons of TV and have very inexpensive cable service.

John

absolute genius

mr roper
04-13-2012, 02:06 AM
OK, cards on the table here people. As you may know from a previous post I am looking to get a high end Tenor. Thing is I am never going to be a star player on the stage. At 53 and a begginer thats not going to hapen lol. So, question is this. If only playing for friends and to make me a happy man. Is there any point in spending a huge amount on a K brand or custom. To my untrained ear, will I spend big and then think to myself, I cant tell a huge difference in sound quallity? I have a Kala KA-ASACS Acacia Concert at a cost of 240 as my first ukulele. So not a cheap end model. I am now tending to lean towards getting the same model in a tenor at a cost of 270. So honest answer here, if your only playing for your own pleasure is there a huge difference in sound to justify spending big money?

Thanks for looking,
ETF :cool:

But, will a $2000 uke make you five times the player and give you five times the pleasure of a $400 uke?

frankiefirefox
04-13-2012, 02:26 AM
I have been debating this very issue for a couple months. The argument that you will play an instrument that you love more than one that doesnt sound quite as good was a winning argument with me. I bought a Ko'Aloha on wednesday. I love phart's $.10/hour v $.80/hour theory. Its brilliant and so very right!!!!

GinnyT11
04-13-2012, 04:01 AM
So, etf, some time has passed since you started this thread...what did you choose? Concert or tenor? Same brand or a higher price? Inquiring minds want to know how it's working out.

ksiegel
04-13-2012, 05:05 AM
But, will a $2000 uke make you five times the player and give you five times the pleasure of a $400 uke?

More importantly, will a $2000 uke give you five times the enjoyment of a $400 uke?

I love my Sceptre. ($1200, MSRP). I love my Vita Uke (around $279, MSRP, I think.) My Kala had an MSRP around $500, and about $250 MSRP for the Cordoba.

All are great players, and I enjoy playing them. However, the resonance, tone, and the feel I get playing the KoAloha Sceptre, not to mention the joy it brings, makes it my favorite instrument. Hands down.

The Vita Uke is tied for #2 with the Fluke tenor, and those two are about as different from each other as night and day. But they are still loads of fun. I still like the Kala and Cordoba, and still play them - but the other 3 I listed, along with my FireFly, are the most played instruments I currently have.

Worth the expense? Oh, yeah. For me, it certainly was.

Could that change in the future? Perhaps - watch this space.



-Kurt

savagehenry
04-13-2012, 06:05 AM
I wouldn't argue against the theory that a better instrument will help you to become a better player. I just think that too many people rationalize that they need a better instrument to get better.

I think it's cool to try out different brands and models, rarely does a beginner even know what they like until they have tried different things. If you know what you like in a ukulele, spend as much as much as you can afford to get exactly what you want. But don't just go out and buy a high end ukulele because everyone says that it is great.

I think that if you have to rationalize or convince yourself and or family that you "need" a particular instrument, then it's probably not a good idea. If you "want" one and can afford it, buy it.

Just my opinion.

fitncrafty
04-13-2012, 07:27 AM
I have more than one high end tenor.

And, I suck pond water.

I startled my kids I laughed so hard when I read this!! (not at you, but I say that same thing about my playing and even more on my singing) With that said, I don't own any high end instruments it's not in the budget however even as a scourge of pond water, and I don't even like to play for my family and friends and I will buy the best I can afford when I can...
Best of luck with your decision!

barefootgypsy
04-13-2012, 10:29 AM
But, will a $2000 uke make you five times the player and give you five times the pleasure of a $400 uke? That, my dears, is wisdom!

gyosh
04-13-2012, 10:34 AM
That, my dears, is wisdom!

but it's not as simple as a math problem.

barefootgypsy
04-13-2012, 10:44 AM
but it's not as simple as a math problem. But to some degree, it is! Unless you have bottomless pockets, of course! Someone said on a thread here the other day, that this forum is constantly grooming its readers to buy more ukuleles, and more expensive ukuleles - and I think there's truth in that.

costaricadave
04-13-2012, 11:42 AM
I am waiting on a Custom Tenor right now and just the thought of it has got me playing more and more. I am not one to really have a lot of Ukes in fact I sold my starter as soon as I got my Mainland. Once my custom gets here I will be done. The Mainland for travel and beat around and the custom for daily playing. But I figured I may as well drop the $$$ on the best I could do and be done with it.

ChrisRCovington
04-13-2012, 11:59 AM
I've been meaning to post on this thread.

I think the extra cost *can* be worth it. For 99% of us we will never be more than hobby strummers. That doesn't mean we want to aspire to mediocrity but just that life hasn't dealt us pro-ukulele status. The way we get past the mediocrity is a lot of practice. Where the value of higher end instruments comes in (at least for me) is that they inspire us to pick them up and play them. A higher end instrument (most of the time) sounds better and is more forgiving of our errors. That same wiggle room that forgives us also allows us to be more creative if we have the skill. An example is a guitar my father gave me.

Dad gave me his old Ovation guitar he's been playing for years. He's always made it sing. He recently upgraded to something else that is much nicer. My girlfriend and I have been trying to learn guitar a little on the old Ovation. I'm not that good on it. When I go see my Dad and I pick up his new guitar I can play it better than the Ovation. I sound better. When I go to the Guitar Center I pick up some of their higher end guitars and suddenly I sound really good compared to my real skill level. My girl is the same. I could play some of those nice Gibsons and Martins and Taylors all day long. They are all way out of my price range. As for ukuleles I've found the same to be true.

Now that I have a Martin (ok it's an S1 but still I love it) I practice far more often than I ever did. In fact I play almost daily and have a hard time putting it down. I've even been scolded by the GF because she doesn't want it in the bed with us lol. But to be honest my playing ability has improved greatly in the past 6-9 months compared to the 10 years I've been playing an ukulele. Maybe it's just the headstock logo that inspires me? I dunno but the nicer instrument (more complex sound, better finish, nicer shaped neck, etc.) tells me to pick it up everytime I pass by. On the other hand...

I also have some laminate beater ukuleles all over the house, including the bathrooms (don't judge me). In their own way they inspire me to play, too. They're just sitting there and the inspiration I got from the nicer ukuleles carries over and makes me want to work out some rift or chord progression on the beaters, too. So my take on it: buy the best ukulele you can afford in the size you play the most as a muse, then also buy some cheaper ones that sound ok (I really like my Bad Aax... sounds much better than the $50 price tag, I like it better than all the the dolphins I've played) you can hang around in different rooms.

Btw, barefootgypsy I think you are right this place does inspire us to purchase more expensive ukuleles. I'm not sure if it is grooming us, but it sure does make you want one of those nice K-brands. The trouble is we get to hang out with people that seem to have unlimited ukulele funds and they share their awesome toys with us and makes us want them, too. I need to figure out what some of these folks do for a living because I want some of these awesome ukes!

Patrick Madsen
04-13-2012, 12:46 PM
I've played guitar for 52 years. A person usually ends up with some pretty nice instruments by then and many stories of the ones we let go. I knew when I was buying my first uke it would be in the mid to upper range. Mainly for the action and fretboard and I knew I would play it.. I feel as a person starts doing barre chords and up the neck stuff, they realize the need for a higher end uke for the better neck action.

A luthier can only do so much as far as set up. As long as first position chords sound good, any uke is great.

For me, If I was just starting out with little or no string experience, I would go with an entry level or one I could afford and get it setup properly. You'll know when it's time to upgrade. For me it was when I learned barre chords.

I think we are more apt to change around an entry level one ourselves and learn how to do it rather than always sending it off to a luthier.

We probably talk more expensive ukes because we are old(er) and feel we deserve it; which we do lol.

OldePhart
04-13-2012, 01:33 PM
We probably talk more expensive ukes because we are old(er) and feel we deserve it; which we do lol.

+1 - yep...I've worked hard all my life and earned every gray hair so now it's "me time!"

barefootgypsy
04-13-2012, 11:23 PM
I've been meaning to post on this thread.

I think the extra cost *can* be worth it. For 99% of us we will never be more than hobby strummers. That doesn't mean we want to aspire to mediocrity but just that life hasn't dealt us pro-ukulele status. The way we get past the mediocrity is a lot of practice. Where the value of higher end instruments comes in (at least for me) is that they inspire us to pick them up and play them. A higher end instrument (most of the time) sounds better and is more forgiving of our errors. That same wiggle room that forgives us also allows us to be more creative if we have the skill. An example is a guitar my father gave me.

Dad gave me his old Ovation guitar he's been playing for years. He's always made it sing. He recently upgraded to something else that is much nicer. My girlfriend and I have been trying to learn guitar a little on the old Ovation. I'm not that good on it. When I go see my Dad and I pick up his new guitar I can play it better than the Ovation. I sound better. When I go to the Guitar Center I pick up some of their higher end guitars and suddenly I sound really good compared to my real skill level. My girl is the same. I could play some of those nice Gibsons and Martins and Taylors all day long. They are all way out of my price range. As for ukuleles I've found the same to be true.

Now that I have a Martin (ok it's an S1 but still I love it) I practice far more often than I ever did. In fact I play almost daily and have a hard time putting it down. I've even been scolded by the GF because she doesn't want it in the bed with us lol. But to be honest my playing ability has improved greatly in the past 6-9 months compared to the 10 years I've been playing an ukulele. Maybe it's just the headstock logo that inspires me? I dunno but the nicer instrument (more complex sound, better finish, nicer shaped neck, etc.) tells me to pick it up everytime I pass by. On the other hand...

I also have some laminate beater ukuleles all over the house, including the bathrooms (don't judge me). In their own way they inspire me to play, too. They're just sitting there and the inspiration I got from the nicer ukuleles carries over and makes me want to work out some rift or chord progression on the beaters, too. So my take on it: buy the best ukulele you can afford in the size you play the most as a muse, then also buy some cheaper ones that sound ok (I really like my Bad Aax... sounds much better than the $50 price tag, I like it better than all the the dolphins I've played) you can hang around in different rooms.

Btw, barefootgypsy I think you are right this place does inspire us to purchase more expensive ukuleles. I'm not sure if it is grooming us, but it sure does make you want one of those nice K-brands. The trouble is we get to hang out with people that seem to have unlimited ukulele funds and they share their awesome toys with us and makes us want them, too. I need to figure out what some of these folks do for a living because I want some of these awesome ukes!That's a great, detailed post, Chris - very interesting. And I'm sure you're right in everything you say! The most important thing with the ukulele is the sound. I think I'm lucky with my little 50 Greg Bennett - It sounds really good. It's mahogany; I guess it's laminate but it's very THIN. Makes for good sound. I put Aquilas on it a few weeks ago and now I take it into shops to compare with new, prettier ukes. I'm finding that it's hard to find a uke that really sounds better. I found one yesterday, (tenor) but it cost 350. Solid cherry wood. I didn't find the sound on any other tenors impressive for the money - all laminates, and my little concert uke sounded as good or better. So whatever you do, I'd say try everything you can, and enjoy that journey.....

Nickie
04-13-2012, 11:28 PM
But to some degree, it is! Unless you have bottomless pockets, of course! Someone said on a thread here the other day, that this forum is constantly grooming its readers to buy more ukuleles, and more expensive ukuleles - and I think there's truth in that.

I agree, but don't you think it gives the economy just a little boost?

Paul December
04-14-2012, 04:48 AM
I'm going to disagree with most of the posts here...
...IMO at around $300 the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in, so it takes a lot more $$$ to hear improvement with each gain.
Of course, if you can afford it, who cares and just buy the best.

kirbo
04-14-2012, 04:59 AM
You can always consider buying secondhand from the UU marketplace. I've only been on here a few weeks and I've seen a lot of action. High end ukes of various sizes selling for sometimes half their retail price. And if the size doesn't suit you, or you feel like it isn't worth the money, you can flip it without losing too much. Maybe just shipping costs. You won't really know unless you get one in your hands. Another thing is that the K brands I've seen posted move pretty quickly!

coolkayaker1
04-14-2012, 06:39 AM
I'm going to disagree with most of the posts here...
...IMO at around $300 the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in, so it takes a lot more $$$ to hear improvement with each gain.
Of course, if you can afford it, who cares and just buy the best.

Whether it's automobiles, houses, computers or ukuleles, I agree with Paul D. Exponential curve: increasing price much faster than gains in quality past a certain point.

Price and quality (of sound, wood, tuners, etc.) do not run in parallel lines.

kapahulu50
04-14-2012, 07:40 PM
Whether it's automobiles, houses, computers or ukuleles, I agree with Paul D. Exponential curve: increasing price much faster than gains in quality past a certain point.

Price and quality (of sound, wood, tuners, etc.) do not run in parallel lines.

Personally I'd have to adjust the curve up to around $2000, unquestionably better intonation, clarity, and sustain. And this post is definitely part of the UU "get you to buy more expensive ukes" conspiracy!

clayton56
04-14-2012, 07:49 PM
Think of it as the other way around. If you did play on stage you'd want an indestructible well playing uke with good electronics, but the sound the audience hears is determined more by your amp and pickup than the quality of the uke.

On the other hand, when it's just you in a quiet room (preferably an empty room with a hardwood floor) the quality of the uke itself really comes through, and no one but you is likely to tell the difference.

I agree in principle with the law of diminishing returns, but most makers have a basic pro-level model for $1000. If you start at $300 you're going to get laminates, or a solid that's just whipped together. I have some $300-$500 ukes I don't play since I got my Ko'olaus. The extra money went to having a skilled luthier fine-tune the details with a clear difference in tone and playability.

The really expensive models usually just have more "bling" and fancier wood selection, and may cost 2-3x as much yet sound the same. But if you love it, and it makes you happier to have it and play it, go for it. You only live once.

consitter
04-14-2012, 10:07 PM
Okay, my turn to wade in. I have played Koaloha, Kala, and a Martin. The playability on the Martin which was made in Mexico and the Kala's are good-no doubt about it. But when compared with any of my 3 Koalohas, they pale in comparison. I'm sure that will be true with any of the K brands when comparing them to "lesser" brands. Anyone with a good ear can tell the difference between higher quality ukes and even mid-quality ones. I can tell a difference even over the phone, when someone with any talent plays them.

But to more directly answer ETF's question from the original post: If it's a K brand you are wanting deep down, get it. If you get something else, it may satisfy you for the moment, but you will still wonder what the K brand would be like. Don't be that way. Get what your heart's desire wants. If that means saving for a little while, so be it. I waited 5 years on my custom and it was worth every minute. There's not a single time I've picked it up and played it that I've said to myself "I shouldn't have waited and bought something of lesser quality."

csibona
04-16-2012, 04:57 AM
I own three ukuleles - a Mya-Moe (low G), and Fluke (high G) and a Bean Sprout banjo ukulele. I play the Fluke most often - it's out of its case most often and I have fewer concerns about humidity and damage with this one compared to the Mya-Moe. But despite playing my Fluke more often I have to say that I enjoy playing the Mya-Moe more. The Mya-Moe just sounds better to my ears. I would have to say that all of the ukuleles have excellent intonation - you can listen to John King play a Fluke and clearly tell that the instrument is well made. Of course, there is the law of diminishing returns - but that isn't the same as saying that there are no returns - it's just that they are diminished. If you are looking for excellence it is likely that the instrument will cost more... They Mya-Moe and the Fluke sound different despite intonation that is excellent on both. The Mya-Moe has much better sustain and a very nice tone.