View Full Version : Sizing Up a Use Uke "In the Wild"

05-27-2012, 05:18 AM
I'm a brand-new uker but already suffering from UAS. I travel a lot for work, and now that they're on my radar I keep running into used ukes in odd places - antiques shops, junk shops, sidewalk sales, etc.

I wonder if the more experienced folks have a mental checklist of points they consider in situations like this - where the uke is old/used, isn't in a situation (i.e., a music store) where the seller necessarily knows anything about it, and it might or might not be a good buy. Or, for that matter, if the old/used uke is in a music store, and the seller still may not know anything about it.

I can think of the obvious/commonsense things to look for (make/model, breaks, cracks, missing tuners/other bits, destroyed finish, mice nesting in the soundhole) - but I'm sure there's more to deciding on the spot whether the uke is a) playable and b) worth a shot.

Any thoughts? My usual rule is "When in doubt, don't buy." But I'd like to reduce my doubt levels a bit, so if an oldie-but-goodie comes into view I can snap it up and give it a good home.

05-27-2012, 05:54 AM
Ho, Brah!

There's a lot of UU members who love old, used, and vintage ukes and I'm sure that they'll chime in with good advice on what to look for. Give it a couple of days because of the Memorial Day weekend. Good luck with your uke acquisition adventure!



05-27-2012, 06:34 AM
Don't worry, the UAS suffering only gets worse.

05-27-2012, 06:58 AM
Hello franklin.habit,
Welcome from a fellow snow shoveller. You seem to have most of the evaluations down, but here are a couple of extras. Before you even strum your prospect. Look at the back for obvious abuse. Tap test to check for loose ladder braces or fan struts on the sound board. Dipping between the bridge and the sound hole. Then if satisfied, see how much work you will have with the action, remember you haven't even strummed it yet. Hold strings at the 12th fret with little finger and then press with index finger halfways or so towards the nut. Observe for the slight clearance. This will also let you determine the condition of the bow or back bow. Good luck and good hunting. Oh yeh! I almost forgot, strum it if all is worthy of a strum. HaHa!

05-27-2012, 07:05 AM
Franklin - I wrote this piece a little while ago regarding exactly what you are talking about


Buyer beware!

05-30-2012, 08:07 AM
Thanks so much, to all of you. Great advice.

Bazmaz, I devoured your article.

So good to have a group like this to help avoid pitfalls.