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Tigeralum2001
04-01-2012, 07:49 PM
Not to open a huge can of worms, but what is the best sounding ukulele you have ever heard? I ask because I am looking for an absolutely amazing uke.

I recently had the chance to play a Pepe Ukulele and a couple Tony Grazianos. The Steve Van Pelt that MGM showed looked and sounded amazing, though I have never seen it in person. My dream uke is a Moore Bettah, but I have never seen one in person, either. Then there is also the vintage Martin 5K that demands a fortune. Also, there are many other ukes out there- Collins, Compass Rose, all of the Ks, etc..

So, what sounds best, or at least the best you have heard?

AC Baltimore
04-01-2012, 09:10 PM
Such a subjective question. I don't know if anyone can really answer it. Of the ones I have played or owned including the kala acacia and couple major k brands, I honestly like my mahogany mainland tenor best. Followed by my Ohana solid zebrawood soprano. Many will say I'm nuts, like I said, very subjective. Happy hunting :)

garywj
04-01-2012, 09:54 PM
All the ones you mention sound good. Moore Bettah, Martin, Santa Cruz and Collings are outstanding to my ear. The Blackbird CF also sounds good. Unfortunately, I could probably add a few more names, which doesn't narrow anything down very much. I usually like an instrument that sounds and feels good. Moore Bettahs are hard to beat on that count.

localmana
04-01-2012, 10:38 PM
best advice: play them first. The first time I played a compass rose......I was hooked. Now, I have one.

liuzli
04-01-2012, 10:49 PM
My ohana CK 20S...it sounds realy great !even better than some koa uku...

Lalz
04-01-2012, 11:36 PM
Best I've heard in the flesh was a solid-wood concert-size ukulele from Uke of Northumberland. It was made of century-old birdseye maple and oregan pine. Incredible sound.
I haven't had the chance to try some of the other high-end ukes like Mya-Moe etc, but I'm sure they all sound amazing at this level.

kamaka_4_life
04-02-2012, 12:03 AM
I think I am being a bit biased here, but I have to say... KAMAKA!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL :p jk but its all personal preference and what sounds good to your ears. No two ukes are the same, even from the same brand, so just try them all, experiment, and see which one suites you best. What sound good to one ear/person may not sound as good to another...

Hippie Dribble
04-02-2012, 02:50 AM
Two stand out to me. A Mya-Moe soprano made from mango wood is the sweetest sounding uke of that scale I ever heard. The other, a Collings UC2, mahogany body with adirondack spruce top. Unbelievable rich and full tone, so loud and yet so warm with the most incredible sustain.

ukulelecowboy
04-02-2012, 03:03 AM
I would have to go with my '64 Guild Baritone. The tone of this solid mahogany ukulele is wonderful. Nicely balanced, with great mellow body. Perfect for Jazz standards. Hard to find but worth it if you do.

1014
04-02-2012, 04:40 AM
and it looks cool too.

http://home.comcast.net/~alleman.b/bill/graphics/Hilosoprano.gif

GX9901
04-02-2012, 04:42 AM
I think it really depends on what you are looking for in the sound. I've got a few ukes that sound great to me but very different from one to another. I do think a good all-koa body uke probably has the most well rounded sound to my ears. In this case the best all-koa ukes I've personally played are a Glyph mezzo-soprano and an Koa Works tenor.

Even though I've not really played a Moore Bettah (I've played a couple 4 years ago that were not setup, so kind of unplayable), I don't think you can go wrong with one because Chuck Moore has tons of experience with all-koa ukes and by all accounts, his ukes are outstanding.

ksiegel
04-02-2012, 05:21 AM
Totally subjective, of course.

To me personally, the best I've ever played is my KoAloha Sceptre - followed VERY closely by a 1920's era vintage Martin soprano (couldn't guess at the model), a wonderful Compass Rose Rosewood 5-string at Sylvan Music in Santa Cruz, a National Concert Resonator, Gillian's 6-string Kamaka Tenor, David Roth's Mya-Moe Concert, and a Pineapple Sunday at Ukulele Source in San Jose.

There's a custom made banjo uke that Ron Gordon owns (don't know the maker) that is absolutely superb, as well.

Looking forward to playing something from Mike Devine, Check Moore, Brad Donaldson, and Pete Howlett one of these days...



-Kurt

gyosh
04-02-2012, 06:24 AM
Head to Gryphon Stringed Instruments and grab the Flamed Maple Compass Rose on the wall. You might walk out with a much lighter wallet. It was all I could do not to buy it when I was there last week. Might be the best sounding uke I've ever heard and that's comparing it to other Compass Rose ukes I've heard.

-Gary

OldePhart
04-02-2012, 06:51 AM
I've not had the opportunity to actually play or hear in person all that many ukuleles. Even of those I've actually owned I'd have a hard time picking a "best." I suppose if I had to pick just one I'd say the KoAloha longneck soprano. But I also like the tone of my Mainland mango tenor and low G mahogany cutaway tenor though they are completely different from the KoAloha and from each other. The KoAloha concert that I sold after I got my longneck was also stunning.

Why do we always insist that there has to be a "best" of everything? :)

John

fumanshu
04-02-2012, 07:22 AM
Seriously, I don't think that there's ''the best'' sounding uke... I think there are a lot of nice builders out there that build some amazing ukes but to say that this one is a lot more better than another one is like not opening your mind and ears to appreciate all kind of colors that can bring different ukes...

I think it's all about how you want and perceive the sound of what should an uke sound like.

If you like the traditional sound like GX9901 said, best bet is probably an all koa uke.....and for that, guys and company such as MB, koaloha, kanilea, kamaka all do very nice ukes...

But if you want something different then luthier like Luis Feu de Mesquita (LFDM uke) and Mike Peireira (MP ukulele) are building some that has not the ''traditional'' uke sound....but they do sound amazing though!!!

So it's more about different color and sound presentation than best sounding...

My favorites ukes are still the LFDM and MP ukes even if my Pahu Kani is just another amazing uke but more traditional all koa sounding...

ukecantdothat
04-02-2012, 07:45 AM
A 30's Martin soprano is the best thing I've heard, but my exposure to different uke is very limited. The Martin was shockingly good sounding.

mds725
04-02-2012, 08:31 AM
My two favorites of the ukuleles I own are a Kamaka tenor and a Mya-Moe myrtle tenor. I love playing them both, but for different reasons. The Kamaka has a more traditional percussive ukulele sound, and the Mya-Moe has a somewhat more twangy sound, but they both sound wonderful to me and I don't think I could pick one of them as being the "best." As others have said, you should try to play and listen to as many ukuleles as possible, and decide which is the best for your ears.

Dan Uke
04-02-2012, 08:37 AM
I like my Donaldson tenor. I like crisp precise notes and the uke does a fantastic job.

Gadzukes!
04-02-2012, 08:42 AM
You guys are all wrong! It's clear from reading the posts on here that the best sounding ukulele is always the one you just bought. ;)

gyosh
04-02-2012, 08:59 AM
You guys are all wrong! It's clear from reading the posts on here that the best sounding ukulele is always the one you just bought. ;)

Actually, I think it's the next one I'm GOING to get!!:love:

hmgberg
04-02-2012, 10:15 AM
Martin sopranos, hands down. I played a 20's Style 2 that was ridiculously good. My wife was with me in the shop, and when I played it even her jaw dropped - rich, resonant, loud. I have a few Martins that are almost as good as that one was. Sadly, the ukulele was about twice the price of the same model and vintage ones available at other stores, even though it had a replacement bridge. I walked away and continue to regret it.

ProfChris
04-02-2012, 10:50 AM
There ain't no such animal.

This soprano is my "best-sounding uke", in that its sound grabs everyone who hears it - louder than some Martins I've heard, balanced sound, rings like a bell. Made it myself, a 4-piece yew top and mahogany sides.

35829

But it's only the best for some songs. For others the cherry soprano I made to the same plan, or my Kumalae, sound better. Sometimes only a banjo uke will do.

That's why we all have lots of ukes.

angusdegraosta
04-02-2012, 11:57 AM
That is the coolest looking body shape - the headstock is fun too.

Plainsong
04-02-2012, 12:00 PM
I typed out this huge thing only for the forum to lose the post with a "Page expired" error, and the back button just went back to the thread and not the post! :mad:

The short version:

G String concert - sounds exactly like the benchmark of how a uke should sound

Kanilea superconcert - similar but different. The world's best intonation, just in all ways supberb if you like a deeper voice that still has all the range in the treble.

Koaloha concert - different but different... and also perfect. The previous two ukes have an earthy tone, while the Koaloha is more in the sky. It's even more bell like. I had two sopranos and thought they'd be the same sorta. Well no, they're the same but epic.

Honorable mention goes to my old MP Concert, and a Boat Paddle Kayak tenor I briefly played once. The Kayak body shape was cumbersome, but it the sound and feel of everything else about it would put the M-style on a short list of tenors I want.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
04-02-2012, 12:28 PM
Best-sounding ukes I've played that leap to mind, in no particular order:

* Kamaka HF-1 (I've had mine for a year or so---just sounds better and better with each passing month.)
* vintage Martin style 0 and style 1 sopranos ukes (The classics.)
* KoAloha Pineapple (Sweet and mellow. Great, easy player, too.)
* Collings UC-1 (The local dealer retired and closed up shop, leaving me bereft.)

Dan Uke
04-02-2012, 12:31 PM
You guys are all wrong! It's clear from reading the posts on here that the best sounding ukulele is always the one you just bought. ;)

So true but that's the fun part of UAS...surely there can't be a better uke out there but need to check :p

philpot
04-02-2012, 12:47 PM
My Kamaka concert ;) It's a tie actually. a... 20s(??)Gibson Style 3, and a brand new Collings tenor I played. Those are definitely my favorite.

Joshypogi
04-02-2012, 12:57 PM
Its a Mya-Moe Brazilian body with Port Oxford Cedar top tied with KoAloha tenor for me.

SailQwest
04-02-2012, 01:19 PM
My husband's. It was a gift from me. If I didn't struggle so much with the tenor scale I would probably try to weasel it away from him. ;)

Leigh Coates
04-02-2012, 02:52 PM
35839

I just bought this one from the Twelfth Fret, in Toronto. It sounds pretty darned good,...

I hope my picture attaches itself to this post, but if it doesn't, and you just have to imagine what it looks like,..... it is a Collings UC-2 in mahogany.

Leigh

philpot
04-02-2012, 03:25 PM
35839

I just bought this one from the Twelfth Fret, in Toronto. It sounds pretty darned good,...

I hope my picture attaches itself to this post, but if it doesn't, and you just have to imagine what it looks like,..... it is a Collings UC-2 in mahogany.

Leigh

Same kind I played I believe. Gorgeous instrument. I would have snapped it up in a heartbeat if I had the funds available.

Nickie
04-02-2012, 05:26 PM
It's a toss-up.
Whatever that is that James Hill plays now, and my friend Steve Boisen's LoPrinzi...

ukejon
04-02-2012, 05:28 PM
Koa Works custom by Rich Godfrey of Kane'oe, Hawaii.

ksiegel
04-03-2012, 03:41 AM
You guys are all wrong! It's clear from reading the posts on here that the best sounding ukulele is always the one you just bought. ;)

Well, maybe the one that you're about to buy, or wish that you could afford...

What I loved about the KoAloha Sceptre is, how wonderful it was, but it was twice was I had budgeted.

The next day, my wife told me that we were going back, and I was buying it. Not "You should think about that ukulele again"- she said "Call them up and have them hold it for you - we're going back and getting it."


And people wonder why I support my wife's knitting habit...



-Kurt

Lanark
04-03-2012, 03:54 AM
A little while back I was in a local guitar store and they had a mahogany tenor by Gordy Bischoff (http://www.bischoffguitars.com/) that was one of the most amazing sounding and playing instruments I've ever held in my hands. (If I'd had any money to my name...) I've since gone there and noodled about on a couple more of his ukes and they are very very nice quality wonderful sounding instruments, but that mahogany one was something extra special. The planets aligned for that one in a special way. Someone with deeper pockets than I is a very lucky person.

BroadwayMusic
04-03-2012, 11:06 AM
Really really love the tone and the playability of the Breedlove American Tenor: Beautiful to look at and it feels like silk...The Worth Strings really make this solid mahogany uke sing like the angels...
35854

Joshypogi
04-03-2012, 11:19 AM
I agree with this 100%



Really really love the tone and the playability of the Breedlove American Tenor: Beautiful to look at and it feels like silk...The Worth Strings really make this solid mahogany uke sing like the angels...
35854

1300cc
04-03-2012, 11:47 AM
Does best sounding uke means expensive?

Tigeralum2001
04-03-2012, 06:05 PM
Does best sounding uke means expensive?

No, but best sounding typically means good wood choice and quality craftsmanship. Those two factors usually mean expensive. The stars may align on a Makala, but I doubt it.

UKEON TERRITORY
04-03-2012, 07:33 PM
My Sailor Brand Ukulele Company Maple Tenor . You'd be impressed . BEST bang for your buck on the market . American all hand luthier bulit .

3586735868
3586935870

tigersister
04-03-2012, 08:34 PM
The one I'm dreaming about owning next.:rolleyes::p

Steve vanPelt
04-03-2012, 09:43 PM
My unbiased opinion would be that Steve van Pelt uke that Tigeralum mentioned in the OP. Seriously, though, for me, its always been the one that got away.

Steve

1300cc
04-03-2012, 11:57 PM
No, but best sounding typically means good wood choice and quality craftsmanship. Those two factors usually mean expensive. The stars may align on a Makala, but I doubt it.
good wood and quality = sound good = expensive. and for me expensive means above $500

UK Paulie
04-04-2012, 04:00 AM
I think as far as ukes we listen to rather than play, alot has to do with the technique of the player. I've heard a guy play a $30 Rogue bari and its sounded amazing, yet I also heard somebody clumsily strumming a collings and, well not so good.(sounded like me lol) The nicest I've played myself were a vintage martin 3K which had genuine gut strings, it sounded amazing! God I wanted that uke! For me, currently, production ukes - Koaloha. Custom - devine ukuleles. Paul and the guys at Koaloha make quality instruments with a sound all of their own. Eric devine makes the nicest and most balanced sounding ukes I've ever heard (although I have mainly heard them played by kimo hussey and Tyler Gilman lol)

Jnobianchi
04-04-2012, 09:19 AM
Martin sopranos, hands down. I played a 20's Style 2 that was ridiculously good. My wife was with me in the shop, and when I played it even her jaw dropped - rich, resonant, loud.

To my ear, it's the old Martins as well.

One instrument you nominated at the top of the thread was the Martin 5K. I will wager that with your eyes closed, a Martin Style 0, 1, 2 or 3 will sound just as good. Individual ukes even from the same shop sound slightly different, but with a Style 0 sounding about as good as a Style 5, I'd say that Martin Style 0's represent the best value in Martin vintage ukes. And since money is usually an object, the Style 0 wins the comparison hands down. :)

To my ear, vintage Gibson ukes also sound fantastic and they're cheaper than Martins, different, but also great. In new ukes: Ohana, Mya Moe and Kiwaya to me all sound fantastic.

mm stan
04-04-2012, 09:34 AM
I haven't found my holy grail as of yet...Gone through many many ukes...Yes there will always be a better uke...but as you try to top the previous best ones...it gets harder and takes more time
as time goes by...
But having the time of my life trying all that I can get my hands on...whether it's buying or testing them....Happy Strummings..

savagehenry
04-05-2012, 12:13 AM
My Sailor Brand Ukulele Company Maple Tenor . You'd be impressed . BEST bang for your buck on the market . American all hand luthier built.
I love my 6 string Sailor Brand, best sounding ukulele I have ever played. I also loved a cedar topped Sailor soprano, definitely on my list. Also Mim had a Kala Lacewood that just blew me away, I was very surprised.

hawaii 50
04-05-2012, 04:16 PM
best advice: play them first. The first time I played a compass rose......I was hooked. Now, I have one.

yeh i got one on order now rick very nice guy and he loves and plays ukes too...i have a all koa c model..it is going to take a while but it will be worth it..have you seen the new compass rose walnut on gryphons website...unreal!!!!

Raygf
04-05-2012, 04:43 PM
Two of the best I have ever heard are J. Walter Hawkes' vintage Martin soprano and the new Mike DaSilva James Hill model. (In James' hands, of course.)
Two of the best I have ever played are my Glyph custom tenor and my KoAloha long neck soprano.

TCK
04-05-2012, 07:31 PM
Vintage Martin 3M, have not found one that sounds that good yet.
Koaloha Concert was a close second, and if I could play one around here and find that sound- it would be mine.
Mya Moe tenor (spruce top, mahog sides I think I recall) was pretty darn close too, but that fretboard made me pure more than the tone

Jnobianchi
04-06-2012, 10:26 AM
Dave -

Matt Umanov has a perfect, like-new, Style 3 from the early 30s at retail for less than $2,900, which is rare. I played it with him for about an hour and I've never enjoyed playing a uke more. The only thing preventing me from getting it was $2,900 - or rather, the absence of it. :)

You can probably buy it from their website. I wish someone would, because I'm getting sad playing it every time I walk in and knowing I'm not walking out with it. :D

Aztec
04-06-2012, 10:45 AM
Dave -

Matt Umanov has a perfect, like-new, Style 3 from the early 30s at retail for less than $2,900, which is rare. I played it with him for about an hour and I've never enjoyed playing a uke more. The only thing preventing me from getting it was $2,900 - or rather, the absence of it. :)

You can probably buy it from their website. I wish someone would, because I'm getting sad playing it every time I walk in and knowing I'm not walking out with it. :D


You now have 400 more reasons to buy it :)

http://www.umanovguitars.com/store/details.asp?prodid=4574&cat=650&path=600,650