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View Full Version : Flea clone for 33 bucks ?



Pukulele Pete
06-04-2012, 12:45 AM
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ukulele-Parrot?item=221040825509&cmd=ViewItem&_trksid=p5197.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26itu%3DUCI%26otn%3D5%26po%3D LVI%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D8895004334315440011

I just ordered one , hope its nice . Seems too good to be true.

consitter
06-04-2012, 12:51 AM
Let us know when you get it. I would be interested in a decent beater uke.

missameeames
06-04-2012, 01:06 AM
Whoa....I'm tempted to buy one for my 2 year old.

Pukulele Pete
06-04-2012, 01:12 AM
Did some research and these are also available at Amazon. Keeping my fingers crossed .

webby
06-04-2012, 01:15 AM
Includes: Pick & Extra String


awesome !

The Big Kahuna
06-04-2012, 01:17 AM
I'd be surprised if the Flea design wasn't protected. That looks like an exact copy. I'm guessing they come direct from china.

ukulefty
06-04-2012, 01:19 AM
Listed under: Baby > Baby Gear > Other

Haha!

I guess for the price you can't really go wrong. Looks good so if the sound sucks, just hang it on the wall. :)

Luana Gouvea
06-04-2012, 01:20 AM
Wow, that looks very Deal Extreme stuff! haha
Take some pics for us, I'm curious about it!

Luana Gouvea
06-04-2012, 01:22 AM
Listed under: Baby > Baby Gear > Other

Haha!

I guess for the price you can't really go wrong. Looks good so if the sound sucks, just hang it on the wall. :)

And is being sold by a SPORTS store!!!!

ukulefty
06-04-2012, 01:26 AM
And is being sold by a SPORTS store!!!!

Because the sound/setup is so bad it's better suited for beach cricket?

RichM
06-04-2012, 01:30 AM
Looks like Schoenhut has a long history of marketing bargain ukuleles:

http://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1927-84-24-SECTION-2/MTR-1927-84-24-SECTION-2-12.pdf

webby
06-04-2012, 01:47 AM
Because the sound/setup is so bad it's better suited for beach cricket?

hahahahahhahahhahha

1931jim
06-04-2012, 02:02 AM
Shipping: Not Available to Canada
| See all details
International items may be subject to customs processing and additional charges.
Item location: USA, United States
Ships to: United States See exclusions

The Big Kahuna
06-04-2012, 02:05 AM
I seriously doubt this is actually in the USA. I bought a lens hood from ebay which stated it was despatched from here in the UK. After a little bit of research I discovered that they were shipped from china and the lying #@^£(*&^'s who imported them were using the fact that they then posted them from inside the UK to claim England as the point of origin.

fernandogardinali
06-04-2012, 02:51 AM
"Not available to Brazil"... The designs are crap, but for that price, I'd buy it.

Pukulele Pete
06-04-2012, 03:00 AM
"Not available to Brazil"... The designs are crap, but for that price, I'd buy it.

I think " Amazon " ships worldwide . Just checked and they don't . Does anyone know why ?

ukuraleigh
06-04-2012, 03:17 AM
A different design available on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Schoenhut-Flag-Ukulele-White-Blue/dp/B0074HSV12/

I just ordered one - for grins! ;)

fernandogardinali
06-04-2012, 03:21 AM
I never found any uke on amazon with intl shipping

Freeda
06-04-2012, 03:27 AM
Different strokes...I think they are cute! Ordered both.

RevWill
06-04-2012, 03:28 AM
I wouldn't be surprised to find that it has the look of a Flea with the sound and playability of a First Act. But it's very tempting to get hold of one before the lawsuit.

bpedaci
06-04-2012, 03:33 AM
I bet that's a lot closer to what it actually costs to produce a Flea.

mm stan
06-04-2012, 04:09 AM
Sure looks like a Flea with just a Parrot design on.....could be one from the factory or it was done afterwards... it is 6 years old..
Now that is a real deal if it is...but they have 6 which is odd...now that may be copyright infringement...who knows..

Freeda
06-04-2012, 04:20 AM
Evidently they also make a butterfly model http://www.toypiano.com/view_inv_photo_large.asp?html_model_number=5400BF

1931jim
06-04-2012, 05:09 AM
I tried Amazon.ca........not available.
I tried Amazon.com and received the following reply.
"" We're sorry. This item can't be shipped to your selected destination. You may either change the shipping address or delete the item from your order. To delete an item, change its quantity to 0, then click Update.""
Free trade??? NAFTA ??? Big joke is on me. Canadian EH.!!
PS: $28.04 for your patriotic paint job for your July hotenannies. HaHa!!

peewee
06-04-2012, 05:37 AM
I don't know about this uke, but Schoenhut toy pianos are definitely lust inducing:
http://youtu.be/E5g1-hapjlk
http://youtu.be/FwAthwxk8K0
If there was ever a piano for ukulele players...

Kem
06-04-2012, 05:38 AM
Amazon.com ships only certain items internationally (mostly books and DVDs). They have never had international shipping for musical instruments. Amazon.ca is more limited in its scope; it has some electronics, but it doesn't sell musical instruments at all. Though I've been resigned to this for years, it can be frustrating when you first discover it. There's no clue on the site until you actually try to buy the item.

Shazzbot
06-04-2012, 06:08 AM
Imitation is flattery, I guess.
I am proud to own an American made flea, fluke and firefly - they are darn fine instruments.
It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds.

ukuleledaveey
06-04-2012, 06:10 AM
I don't know about this uke, but Schoenhut toy pianos are definitely lust inducing:
http://youtu.be/E5g1-hapjlk
http://youtu.be/FwAthwxk8K0
If there was ever a piano for ukulele players...

:drool: wow wow wow i love those piano's i so want one, im going to see if they are available in the UK :)thanks for opening my eyes to the toy piano Pewee :)

bluesuke
06-04-2012, 06:14 AM
I'm proud to own a original as well . Is every thing about price?

Freeda
06-04-2012, 06:18 AM
I'm proud to own a original as well . Is every thing about price?

Not everything. But it certainly is a factor for many. I've wondered if I would like a Flea for a while now, as they have such love it/hate it reviews. Playing with that shape of uke may very likely spin my maybe into a solid yes. Win/Win/Win.

jmw
06-04-2012, 06:22 AM
:drool: wow wow wow i love those piano's i so want one, im going to see if they are available in the UK :)thanks for opening my eyes to the toy piano Pewee :)

I'm right there with you! My thought process went from, "Oooh, a cheap Flea!" to "Where can I get that piano??!!"

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
06-04-2012, 06:23 AM
I'm proud to own a original as well . Is every thing about price?

Good for you. This is a criminal rip off of jim Beloff's creative work and should not be supported in any way IMO.

DaveY
06-04-2012, 06:40 AM
Most people sell a product or service to make a living. What if someone created a crappy version of your product or service, made it look like what you sold, priced it way below what you sell it for -- and then people started buying the crappy version because it made them feel like they had a great deal (and even said that your pricing was ridiculously high in the first place, so the crappy-version price is probably the correct price anyway -- and that trying the crappy one will help them decide whether to buy the real one)? (I'm addressing this to the majority of posters, not to Chuck Moore.)

Freeda
06-04-2012, 06:53 AM
Most people sell a product or service to make a living. What if someone created a crappy version of your product or service, made it look like what you sold, priced it way below what you sell it for -- and then people started buying the crappy version because it made them feel like they had a great deal (and even said that your pricing was ridiculously high in the first place, so the crappy-version price is probably the correct price anyway -- and that trying the crappy one will help them decide whether to buy the real one)? (I'm addressing this to the majority of posters, not to Chuck Moore.)

Sounds like Walmart's business model. ;) And Forever 21 (along with a billion other "fast fashion" retailers).

I can't be the only person who has ever gotten a cheap "try it out" version of something. A $40 knock off purse to decide if that size and style was for me before committing to the $300 Coach version. A $60 Lanikai before a $400 Mainland, maybe to try out and see if I like a tenor size before I commit to the "real thing". For me personally, it is more likely to put money INTO the hands of the high end producer when it's all said and done.

Everyone says "try before you buy", but I like to try things out for a while and see if they stick with me. I doubt anyone wants to lend me their Flea for three months? Their Kamaka 8 string tenor? (Which I am lusting after but will probably buy a cheaper Lanikai 8 string first ... to see if I like it.)

hoosierhiver
06-04-2012, 06:53 AM
Good for you. This is a criminal rip off of jim Beloff's creative work and should not be supported in any way IMO.

I'm with Chuck on this one. Jim Beloff can be given a ot of credit for bringing back the popularity of ukuleles and he's a great guy. I say no thanks, I don't care how cheap they are the person who copied these is a slimeball.

Hiddencross
06-04-2012, 06:57 AM
I wouldn't buy this because I feel they are are infringing on the Flea design and Jim Beloff has been a great supporter of the ukulele community. I'm not saying i'd buy it if Mr. Beloff was a jerk, but I would feel absolutely horrible buying this knowing that the makers behind the Flea (and Fluke, and numerous songbooks, etc.) where being blatantly (and likely poorly) copied.

bluesuke
06-04-2012, 07:02 AM
Sounds like Walmart's business model. ;) And Forever 21 (along with a billion other "fast fashion" retailers).

I can't be the only person who has ever gotten a cheap "try it out" version of something. A $40 knock off purse to decide if that size and style was for me before committing to the $300 Coach version. A $60 Lanikai before a $400 Mainland, maybe to try out and see if I like a tenor size before I commit to the "real thing". For me personally, it is more likely to put money INTO the hands of the high end producer when it's all said and done.

Everyone says "try before you buy", but I like to try things out for a while and see if they stick with me. I doubt anyone wants to lend me their Flea for three months? Their Kamaka 8 string tenor? (Which I am lusting after but will probably buy a cheaper Lanikai 8 string first ... to see if I like it.)



How ever you want to justify it.Thats your business but wrong is wrong.

PoiDog
06-04-2012, 07:12 AM
I won't be getting one of these, but my feelings about it sort of fall into a middle trough area.

On the one hand, I despise these rip-off guys who just blatantly steal every aspect of someone else's work in order to make a quick buck off the reputation, sweat, and integrity of the original. It's just plain sleazy.

On the other, it seems to me that the cost of a Flea/Fluke is a bit high. $300 for a uke that's mostly molded plastic? Maybe I honestly don't understand the costs associated with it, but having been involved with folks making things that use molded plastic, I do know that the per-unit cost of something like this is really low. Maybe the Flea/Fluke do cost a lot more than I know to manufacture, but as someone with at least some passing knowledge of these things, I doubt it. Which then brings up the whole thing of whether the Fluke/Flea is following the music industry model of pricing, which is to maximize the profit margin as much as possible.

Personally, that's fine (if true). The Fluke/Flea people have every right to get as much profit from their instruments as they can. But at the same time, I know I am not going to pay $400 for a plastic uke any more than I will pay $40 for a cheap rip off.

Just my two cents.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
06-04-2012, 07:21 AM
Sounds like Walmart's business model. ;) And Forever 21 (along with a billion other "fast fashion" retailers).

I can't be the only person who has ever gotten a cheap "try it out" version of something. A $40 knock off purse to decide if that size and style was for me before committing to the $300 Coach version. A $60 Lanikai before a $400 Mainland, maybe to try out and see if I like a tenor size before I commit to the "real thing". For me personally, it is more likely to put money INTO the hands of the high end producer when it's all said and done.

Everyone says "try before you buy", but I like to try things out for a while and see if they stick with me. I doubt anyone wants to lend me their Flea for three months? Their Kamaka 8 string tenor? (Which I am lusting after but will probably buy a cheaper Lanikai 8 string first ... to see if I like it.)

The problem with that idea is that some people may buy the knock-off and realize what a piece of crap it really is and never buy the original product which may be a lot better than the clone. A toy ukulele (which is how I see this one) is never a good idea as an entry level uke. The clone is a blatant rip-off and a criminal act IMO.

Freeda
06-04-2012, 07:24 AM
How ever you want to justify it.Thats your business but wrong is wrong.

That's kind of a contradiction. And it's probably due to the difference between the consumer perspective and the manufacturer perspective.

Ethics in purchasing is great. But it isn't a mandate. Do you always "buy American"? Only drink fair trade coffee that is ethically sourced? If you get any of your items from foreign countries, are you tracking the factories to see which have human rights violations? If you do, good for you.

Most people, I would be willing to bet, are following a different mandate: balance their needs and their desires with their budget. Consumer choice and competition are fundamentals of a market economy. Beloff has legal redress available to him if chooses and can sue if he wants. (If it were me I probably would. In fact, my great grandpa went broke suing someone who ripped off one of his agricultural processing designs, finally getting a victory but losing his fortune in the legal process.)

While this is a fairly blatant copy, there's also something to be said for where the line is drawn between copying and inspiration and how that line is to be monitored and/or enforced. Who made the first slot head? If you make a slot head, are you ripping off that person? Should you mail them a dollar every time? Who was the first person to put in a pickup? Should they have the exclusive right to make ukes with pickups?

Not really trying to be argumentative, though I often come across that way. I think intellectual property law is a fascinating area of study, as is consumer psychology.

Pukulele Pete
06-04-2012, 07:30 AM
I may be wrong , but I think a patent is only good for 20 years. If you really think about it , all you builders are making copies of the first ukuleles and I bet the guy that made the first one would be pleased how it all turned out , not angry with your work. IMHO

The Big Kahuna
06-04-2012, 07:34 AM
I'd be surprised if the Flea design wasn't protected. That looks like an exact copy. I'm guessing they come direct from china.

As I said earlier, I'm almost certain they will be made in the land of copyright, trademark and patent infringement...or china, to use its correct name. Would you believe that there's a chinese car manufacturer that's built an exact copy of the BMW X5, and every attempt by BMW to stop this has been blocked by the scum sucking waste of blood and organs that passes for the chinese government.

janeray1940
06-04-2012, 07:37 AM
On the other, it seems to me that the cost of a Flea/Fluke is a bit high. $300 for a uke that's mostly molded plastic?

I've wondered about this as well, but have always figured it's because the Fleas/Flukes are made in USA - which honestly is something I will *gladly* pay more for, knowing that my purchase helped keep somebody in my country employed.

His Sinfulness
06-04-2012, 07:43 AM
I live in the land of copyright infringement (Asia). Literally everyday I see fullblown knock offs of everything, from bags to clothes to watches to lingerie - just about anything you can think of. These imitations are generally of terrible quality and dubious provenance. Technically, coppyright infringment is illegal here too, but the problem is just so widespread that there is no way to stop it all.

Are the originals overpriced? Possibly, but that is no reason to reward the hacks who profit from the hard work of the original creators and the foolishness of buyers.

1931jim
06-04-2012, 07:44 AM
Picture this. Early 1950's. Guy with very little money would love guitar. Sears Roebuck catalog. Sears Guitar $19.95. Solid birch everything...back, side, top, fretboard and neck. I get it and the action makes my fingers bleed. What did I learn. I learned how to adjust the action and the nut and everything else about stringed instruments over the years. A person will graduate from inexpensive (I don't like the word cheap) instruments if they so desire. "You gotta starta somewhere". Harmony would put anyone's name on the guitar if you ordered 1000. Chicago taught the Far East everything about marketing.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
06-04-2012, 07:44 AM
The price of materials in the product is insignificant. The Flea was built on years of research, development, creative design, advertising and good will. That comes with a cost, something these rip-off artists never have to pay. Do you think you'll ever see one of them at an ukulele festival, the kind that Jim and his wife frequently attend and support? Probably not.

Freeda
06-04-2012, 07:45 AM
Interestingly, this is on their company's "about" page.


For several years, a staff of craftsmen (numbering 20 to 36, depending on the season) hand-built all Schoenhut toy pianos and other musical products at our factory in Florida. As the business grew, so did our exposure. Competitors began manufacturing slightly altered copies of Schoenhut toy pianos in China. Unfortunately, the majority of retailers demanded "lower costs" over "made in the USA." To stay in business and remain competitive, most Schoenhut toy pianos are now manufactured at our facilities overseas. Many Schoenhut products are still made here in the USA, such as thumb pianos, psalteries, and harps, with other musical instruments soon to follow.

I wonder how they will respond to my email inquiry about the uncanny resemblance to the Flea. ;) Seeing as how they were similarly "victimized".

The Big Kahuna
06-04-2012, 08:02 AM
I emailed the link to the Amazon page to the Flea/Fluke people this morning. Be interesting to see if they respond.

hoosierhiver
06-04-2012, 08:11 AM
I emailed the link to the Amazon page to the Flea/Fluke people this morning. Be interesting to see if they respond.

I emailed Jim as soon as I saw it, might have to write the Schoenhut people too.

jameswlee
06-04-2012, 08:11 AM
@ Pukulele Pete's comment

+1 (also, a design patent is only 14 years, I think).

RevWill
06-04-2012, 08:20 AM
Part of what you get when you buy from Fleamarket Music is a relationship with Jim, Liz, Dale and Phyllis - all of whom are tremendous people. They have a genuine passion for their customers as well as instrument, and they stand firmly behind their products. I'm definitely a fan. (I have a tiki Flea and 2 Flukes - one concert, one tenor). I will continue to support FMM by purchasing from them and by continuing to talk up my love for their products.

I don't want to jump to conclusions here - I have no idea where these ukes were manufactured or whether Schoenhut licensed the design from Jim and Dale, but I'm definitely skeptical.

JT_Ukes
06-04-2012, 08:29 AM
Very interested in where this goes. My first Uke was King Ooku.. (concert Tiki Flea :) )


oh and Jim will be at the Tampa bay Ukulele Getaway this November! (tickets on sale soon! www.tampabayukulele.com )

:)

Pukulele Pete
06-04-2012, 08:36 AM
Remember , this uke is only $32.99 including postage , how good can it be. A cheap uke is a cheap uke . A cheap copy of a Martin wont compare with a real Martin. I'm not expecting too much here, I'm just hoping for a good beater uke. I'm sure the Beloff's have nothing to worry about.

RevWill
06-04-2012, 08:40 AM
The biggest consideration for the Beloffs and Webbs, IMO, would be that the Flea design is SO distinctive.

Let's assume the Schoenhut plays and sounds like a $30 uke. Problem is it looks so much like a Flea that others will play it or hear it, mistake it for a real Flea, and assume Fleas are crummy. Bad for business.

Shazzbot
06-04-2012, 08:41 AM
For $33 there is no way they can come anywhere near the quality, fit, finish and sound of the real thing.
I don't care how low Chinese labor is.

Flea Market ukes are serious, high quality musical instruments.
They don't have a warehouse full of them, they assemble the components after you order.
The attention to detail equals or surpasses any uke I have tried in that price range.
Typically people slam them because they don't like the look/shape or have never played one before.

But then again, I am biased. I haven't set foot in a WalMart in 10 years.

tattwo
06-04-2012, 08:52 AM
For $33 there is no way they can come anywhere near the quality, fit, finish and sound of the real thing.
I don't care how low Chinese labor is.

Flea Market ukes are serious, high quality musical instruments.
They don't have a warehouse full of them, they assemble the components after you order.
The attention to detail equals or surpasses any uke I have tried in that price range.
Typically people slam them because they don't like the look/shape or have never played one before.

But then again, I am biased. I haven't set foot in a WalMart in 10 years.

:agree: As long as people keep buying cheap crap from china things will never change.

janeray1940
06-04-2012, 08:56 AM
:agree: As long as people keep buying cheap crap from china things will never change.

Yes. This!!!

The Big Kahuna
06-04-2012, 08:57 AM
:agree: As long as people keep buying cheap crap from china things will never change.

And that's probably why the UK and USA will have the Yen as their unit of currency in 10 years ;)

The Big Kahuna
06-04-2012, 09:01 AM
I should also mention that, unless I have absolutely NO option, I will avoid buying anything made in china. That's more to do with their appalling record on human and animal rights than anything else. When they stop skinning dogs or killing everything in sight for some bullshit folk remedy, or censoring the web to within an inch of its life in an attempt to keep the population ignorant, I might start to think slightly better of them. Until then, they can bite me.

Freeda
06-04-2012, 09:03 AM
Some readings on the post industrial society are relevant here. This one addresses intellectual property, although from a writer/authorship perspective.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1759725

RevWill
06-04-2012, 09:05 AM
Just to be clear - I don't blame anyone for buying these. A decent $30 uke is hard to come by.

But I'm free to blame Schoenhut for making them if they are, in fact, violating a patent or intellectual property.

fernandogardinali
06-04-2012, 09:09 AM
I think if the copy is good, maybe it will lead Flea Market Music to lower their prices... That would come in handy.

hoosierhiver
06-04-2012, 09:12 AM
But I'm free to blame Schoenhut for making them if they are, in fact, violating a patent or intellectual property.

Regardless of the legality, I think it's a raunchy and dishonest thing to do.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
06-04-2012, 09:20 AM
Regardless of the legality, I think it's a raunchy and dishonest thing to do.

EXACTLY! Show some common sense when you buy.

PoiDog
06-04-2012, 09:21 AM
I should also mention that, unless I have absolutely NO option, I will avoid buying anything made in china. That's more to do with their appalling record on human and animal rights than anything else. When they stop skinning dogs or killing everything in sight for some bullshit folk remedy, or censoring the web to within an inch of its life in an attempt to keep the population ignorant, I might start to think slightly better of them. Until then, they can bite me.

This.

Not to spin off topic too much, but I've also grown tired of Chinese products. Not only for the reasons you mentioned, but also becuase it seems the Chinses corporations will cut any corner and risk any outcome for a profit. There are far too many instances of Chinese goods resulting in injury and/or death, involving anything from cheap drywall that emits noxious poisons, to food that is contaminated with lethal toxins. I just don't see the bargain in paying some wealthy oligarch to kill me.

Of course, the same can be said about most corporations throughout the world, if left to their own devices. Thankfully there are laws in most countries that prohibit that kind of behavior.

As for this uke, well, maybe it isn't laced with dangerous chemicals and won't be harmful. But the blatant stealing of the design is enough to turn me off. And, as I said, Flea/Fluke prices are enough to turn me off them. So, I guess there won't be any whimsical injected molded plastic ukes in my immediate future!

tattwo
06-04-2012, 09:22 AM
I think if the copy is good, maybe it will lead Flea Market Music to lower their prices... That would come in handy.

I hope you are kidding.

Hippie Dribble
06-04-2012, 09:24 AM
I never found any uke on amazon with intl shipping
nor me Fernando...I tried heaps of times ...they just refuse. Man, they won't even ship a snark tuner to Australia!!! WTF???

.

Freeda
06-04-2012, 09:26 AM
I think if the copy is good, maybe it will lead Flea Market Music to lower their prices... That would come in handy.

I doubt they will ever do enough volume to have much of an impact. It's poorly marketed, to be sure. Not even in the "right" categories on Amazon, and no reviews. The designs are "love 'em or hate 'em" with the company logo smack in the middle of the face of it, and they don't offer a simpler design.

And as others have noted, the higher price of the Flea is legitimate, given that they manufacture in the U.S. If it's going to be in competition, the quality, visual appeal, and manufacturing environment are what Flea Market Music has to rely on as being more important to their target market than the price point. It definitely looks like a "kids' toy", as compared to the pictures of the Fleas and Flukes online.

Hippie Dribble
06-04-2012, 09:27 AM
And that's probably why the UK and USA will have the Yen as their unit of currency in 10 years ;)
scary but so true brother. Add Australia to that list plus a whole bunch of others...

fernandogardinali
06-04-2012, 09:32 AM
I should also mention that, unless I have absolutely NO option, I will avoid buying anything made in china. That's more to do with their appalling record on human and animal rights than anything else. When they stop skinning dogs or killing everything in sight for some bullshit folk remedy, or censoring the web to within an inch of its life in an attempt to keep the population ignorant, I might start to think slightly better of them. Until then, they can bite me.

Schoenhut is an North-American company. United Statian and European export their plants to the third world to spend less on labor and use the natural resources of the commodity producer countries. Who is to blame, the countries that earned a chance to modernise itself with industry and depend less of exporting commodities or 1st world companies that produces outside? Who's the "bad guy"?

fernandogardinali
06-04-2012, 09:38 AM
And as others have noted, the higher price of the Flea is legitimate, given that they manufacture in the U.S.

I don't believe the fact that the Flea is manufactured in the U.S. is a legitimate reason to make it more expensive. What makes a difference is the quality of the handcraftship. For me, it doesn't matter if is American, Chinese or from Mars. I wouldn't buy a brazilian ukulele for double the price of one of the same quality.

If the price is higher, is because the quality is higher, in this case it's obvious it is. But FMM products COULD be cheaper. They are expensiver than they should be. 1st world companies produces in the 3rd world because the labor in the 1st world is expensive, because it is more sophisticated. Mainland is a good example of that, they produce in Asia and finish it and manage it in the USA, and they are much better ukes than the flukes and fleas, solid body and high higher quality. K brands are extremely expensive, but they are handcrafted and use expensiver woods. Fleas use plastic and laminate.

Bradford
06-04-2012, 09:42 AM
Let's not confuse the yen with the yuan. I am with Chuck, Mike and Terry on this one, the fact that some people can rationalize purchasing this kind of blatant ripoff saddens me greatly.

Brad

Freeda
06-04-2012, 09:44 AM
I don't believe the fact that the Flea is manufactured in the U.S. is a reason to make it expensiver. What makes a difference is the quality of the handcraftship. For me, it doesn't matter if is American, Chinese or from Mars. I wouldn't buy a brazilian ukulele for double the price of one of the same quality.

But it is, to a degree. If you have to pay someone $1 per hour in China, but you have to pay someone $12 per hour (a fair rate for injection plastic and small assembly) in Indiana (for example - I have no idea where Fleas are actually made), labor cost is a big deal. Providing insurance, etc, for the employees...Overhead of maintaining a manufacturing facility in the U.S. is also higher than in a far East nation with a completely different economy.

Location matters. A lot.


There's also the matter of ... cultural values, I guess you could say? Recently someone posted about getting a Bruce Wei instrument. On this page I posted a link to some photos of a child laborer in the Bruce Wei workshop. LINK (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?65248-Impulse-buy!/page2&highlight=bruce)

Some people have no issue with children working. Some do. Everyone's value system - which is cultural and therefore to a degree geographic - influences their purchasing behaviors.

Hippie Dribble
06-04-2012, 09:46 AM
gee, sometimes words fail...there's so very many things wrong about this...morally, ethically, legally... The basest aspects of our fallen nature on display. The thing is a disgrace. The close up shots make it pretty bloody clear how dodgy the build is. And the ugliest silkscreened logo across the face...eeeeew, nasty. Hey, you might get lucky and get a half decent sounding one, but the principles that underpin such an operation are totally abhorrent to me on a number of levels. I hate courts but this is the kind of thing that needs a lawsuit.

Just for what it's worth...you can buy your own soundboards off Dale for about 10 bucks and paint em yourself....I reckon I could do a better job than what these guys are offering.

DON'T ANYONE BUY THESE!!!!


(aaah, I feel better now)

Pukulele Pete
06-04-2012, 09:46 AM
Is it a rip off if the Flea patent has expired and the design is open to be copied? There are plenty of Martin clones around , great ones and bad ones.

The Big Kahuna
06-04-2012, 09:46 AM
Who's the "bad guy"?

Honestly ? I'd have to say The Consumer. We demand more and more, and always for less and less. We have driven manufacturers out of our own countries and into the far east. I don't think we have to carry all of the blame, but a significant enough proportion is there that we should all feel slightly ashamed. Just read back through this thread and take note of the number of people who are either complaining about the price of Flea/Fluke Ukes or who are hoping that the price will drop. Please don't think that the previous sentence is in any way a criticism of those people...we are naturally predisposed to seek the "best deal". We just need to realise that it's this behaviour that has left us in the situation we are in.

janeray1940
06-04-2012, 09:48 AM
Who's the "bad guy"?

The person who wants MORE STUFF FOR LESS. In other words, the average consumer.

The Big Kahuna
06-04-2012, 09:51 AM
Update...I have just (literally this minute) received an email from Phyllis at magicfluke saying "thanks, we're currently working on it".

fernandogardinali
06-04-2012, 09:51 AM
But it is, to a degree. If you have to pay someone $1 per hour in China, but you have to pay someone $12 per hour (a fair rate for injection plastic and small assembly) in Indiana (for example - I have no idea where Fleas are actually made), labor cost is a big deal. Providing insurance, etc, for the employees...Overhead of maintaining a manufacturing facility in the U.S. is also higher than in a far East nation with a completely different economy.

Freeda, it is clear that chinese labor is cheaper than american. But in what degree it worth it? A non-specialized chinese worker and non-specialized american worker might have very similar productivities.

Pukulele Pete
06-04-2012, 09:53 AM
Why does everyone assume this $32.99 including postage ukulele is going to be anywhere as good as the $200.00 Flea . I think we are talking apples and oranges.

PoiDog
06-04-2012, 09:53 AM
But it is, to a degree. If you have to pay someone $1 per hour in China, but you have to pay someone $12 per hour (a fair rate for injection plastic and small assembly) in Indiana (for example - I have no idea where Fleas are actually made), labor cost is a big deal. Providing insurance, etc, for the employees...Overhead of maintaining a manufacturing facility in the U.S. is also higher than in a far East nation with a completely different economy.

Location matters. A lot.


There's also the matter of ... cultural values, I guess you could say? Recently someone posted about getting a Bruce Wei instrument. On this page I posted a link to some photos of a child laborer in the Bruce Wei workshop. LINK (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?65248-Impulse-buy!/page2&highlight=bruce)

Some people have no issue with children working. Some do. Everyone's value system - which is cultural and therefore to a degree geographic - influences their purchasing behaviors.

Freeda,

I never caught this the first time around, so thanks for reposting the link. My intuition regarding Bruce Wei are confirmed, and I'm now even more upset with myself for falling into his trap last year.

philpot
06-04-2012, 09:54 AM
Is it a rip off if the Flea patent has expired and the design is open to be copied? There are plenty of Martin clones around , great ones and bad ones.

There are "traditional" ukulele styles, and there are distinctive ukulele styles. Designer brands can't bring legal action against a company because "they also make a shirt with two sleeves and 8 buttons." Lots of grand pianos exist that LOOK exactly the same as another, because it's a traditional style, and that's simply how they're built. But clearly the quality is incomparable.

This is different. This is CLEARLY a direct knock-off of a unique, respected ukulele produced by a man who is respected in the ukulele community, a man who invested his own time, capital, and intellectual innovation to create an ukulele that's truly one of a kind. Directly copying the style of such a unique instrument is simple theft. Supporting someone who would do that is just as wrong in my mind as producing it.

The Big Kahuna
06-04-2012, 09:58 AM
I have replied to the email from Phyllis with a link to this thread, and suggested she might like to register on UU and add her input.

Hippie Dribble
06-04-2012, 10:00 AM
Why does everyone assume this $32.99 including postage ukulele is going to be anywhere as good as the $200.00 Flea . I think we are talking apples and oranges.

disagree here Pete, I think it's precisely because we're talking apples and oranges that is the problem...

Shazzbot
06-04-2012, 10:01 AM
You can get with a US flag motif.
http://www.amazon.com/Schoenhut-Flag-Ukulele-White-Blue/dp/B0074HSV12/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1338839803&sr=8-2
Irony or insult?

Hippie Dribble
06-04-2012, 10:03 AM
Some readings on the post industrial society are relevant here.
aaaaaarrrrrrgggghhhh...post-this, post-bloody that....the next step is surely hell itself :(

hoosierhiver
06-04-2012, 10:04 AM
You can get with a US flag motif.
http://www.amazon.com/Schoenhut-Flag-Ukulele-White-Blue/dp/B0074HSV12/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1338839803&sr=8-2
Irony or insult?

not "or", AND

UKISOCIETY
06-04-2012, 10:04 AM
I ordered one to make a comparison video against my Flea. If it's anywhere near the quality of my Flea, I'll not mention the brand name of the other one (and cover the name on the body with tape). But I doubt it will be in the Flea's league.

hoosierhiver
06-04-2012, 10:05 AM
I ordered one to make a comparison video against my Flea. If it's anywhere near the quality of my Flea, I'll not mention the brand name of the other one (and cover the name on the body with tape). But I doubt it will be in the Flea's league.

Didn't you just get two ukes this weekend?

fernandogardinali
06-04-2012, 10:08 AM
People are criticising the Flea copy, but what about some respected companies that produce in asia for example KALA? Anyone knows anything about their chain of production, the profile of the workers and stuff? Is the Kala model KA-S copying the Style 1 from Martin?

Shazzbot
06-04-2012, 10:13 AM
For those who don't like the price of a real flea, let's be accurate, a new flea starts at $179, not the $300 implied earlier.

UKISOCIETY
06-04-2012, 10:13 AM
Didn't you just get two ukes this weekend?

3 .

Pukulele Pete
06-04-2012, 10:17 AM
For those who don't like the price of a real flea, let's be accurate, a new flea starts at $179, not the $300 implied earlier.

I wrote $200 , I was including postage. Buy the expensive eyeglasses not the cheap ones. ( just kidding )

UKISOCIETY
06-04-2012, 10:19 AM
3 .

UAS comes in waves, I've found. :)

Luana Gouvea
06-04-2012, 10:21 AM
The person who wants MORE STUFF FOR LESS. In other words, the average consumer.

So the good guy is the rich guy?

This makes absolutely no sense if you live in a capitalist economy.

Unless everybody here only buys the most expensive of every product that they get.
But I don't believe that in the supermarket, for example, you'd only buy the most expensive of everything.

Like said, the thing that makes us paying more for anything is the quality of it, not the place where it was build.

janeray1940
06-04-2012, 10:35 AM
So the good guy is the rich guy?


The good guy is the consumer who does their research and buys from the most ethical source.

Of course, this means many different things to many different people.



This makes absolutely no sense if you live in a capitalist economy.

I most definitely do live in one. And at, for instance, the grocery store, I will buy the product that was grown here in California, rather than abroad, and grown without pesticides, and pay more for the privilege of doing so.

Is it a better product? Depends on what one means by better.

haole
06-04-2012, 10:37 AM
Looks like something they'd sell to you out of a big black garbage bag on Canal Street. O:

mds725
06-04-2012, 10:56 AM
nor me Fernando...I tried heaps of times ...they just refuse. Man, they won't even ship a snark tuner to Australia!!! WTF???

.


Jon, You just let me know how many Snark tuners you want and which models, and I'll buy them from amazon.com and send them to you. We don't need no stinking amazon.com intenrational shipping.

Freeda
06-04-2012, 10:58 AM
This is way off topic, but for an AU tuner I used http://www.allansbillyhyde.com.au/ and they charged $15 shipping. So it's not great, by any means, but better than nothing.

SweetWaterBlue
06-04-2012, 10:59 AM
I have no idea how good the quality will be on the $29 uke, but I suspect there will be some hit-or-miss on those. I paid $125 for my new Flea (delivered) a few years ago from a dealer in Florida.I have always been impressed with its quality and sound. Intonation was spot on from day one. Granted, its a plastic backed uke with a very thin laminated top (Australian Pine) not a piece of plywood from Home Depot (or worse) , but it still sounds great. The friction tuners are a few cuts above most I have used. My dogs have knocked it over numerous times, and it never seems to hurt it. It stays in tune for months on end. Its just a well made piece of ukulele history. I see a lot of Vietnamese inlaid ukes on eBay, but that doesn't make them Moore Bettahs.

I did wear a few grooves in the plastic fretboard from playing my genuine Flea so much, but when I contacted Phylis at FleaMarketMusic, she said just send it back with $15 for return shipping and they will replace the fretboard free. Unlike many companies today, they actually answer their email and phones. She didn't even ask me for any proof on how long I had owned, it although I have the original receipt. She also gave me plenty of options for putting on a rosewood fretboard for $85 (shipping included). When I mentioned that I had painted my top, but was thinking of doing a different design, she said that I could buy a new top for $10 to paint if I wanted it and they would put it on when they did the fretboard. You probably won't get service like that with the $29 uke when it breaks, or worse yet when it is unplayable when you get it. It will be interesting to read the reviews.

The ethics of blatant copying of someone who has done a lot for the uke community, and then selling the copies aside, I see that Jim Bellof came out with the original Fluke in 1999. I don't know if he patented it, but if it is a design patent(as opposed to a utility patent) it probably expires by 2013, and the sharks may be testing the water. The Flea came at least a year later.

austin1
06-04-2012, 11:47 AM
This.

Not to spin off topic too much, but I've also grown tired of Chinese products. Not only for the reasons you mentioned, but also becuase it seems the Chinses corporations will cut any corner and risk any outcome for a profit. There are far too many instances of Chinese goods resulting in injury and/or death, involving anything from cheap drywall that emits noxious poisons, to food that is contaminated with lethal toxins. I just don't see the bargain in paying some wealthy oligarch to kill me.

Of course, the same can be said about most corporations throughout the world, if left to their own devices. Thankfully there are laws in most countries that prohibit that kind of behavior.

As for this uke, well, maybe it isn't laced with dangerous chemicals and won't be harmful. But the blatant stealing of the design is enough to turn me off. And, as I said, Flea/Fluke prices are enough to turn me off them. So, I guess there won't be any whimsical injected molded plastic ukes in my immediate future!


Schoenhut is an North-American company. United Statian and European export their plants to the third world to spend less on labor and use the natural resources of the commodity producer countries. Who is to blame, the countries that earned a chance to modernise itself with industry and depend less of exporting commodities or 1st world companies that produces outside? Who's the "bad guy"?

going with what fernandogardinali said, I think much of our anti-Chinese products sentiment is misplaced, especially when those products are coming from North American companies who sell their presence overseas. To lure in our companies, China, Mexico, and plenty of other countries basically have to race to the bottom to land these companies on their soil. Who can abuse their employees and work them as much as possible for as little money as possible? Who can scrap environmental laws, worker insurance/protection, and anything and everything else that would put a hitch in profit margins? Congratulations, winner winner chicken dinner, you've won an Apple factory. Instead of blaming China in these cases, we should be turning our attention on ourselves and our own corporations, and asking why we let them do this.

/end China debate

As others have already said, the really good thing about this going on is that the Flea design is SO distinctive, it wasn't going to fly under the radar forever. I'm curious as to how the copies measure up--I'm pretty sure we're all in agreement that the rip-offs will most likely sound like zombie cats on bath salts in comparison to the real fleas, but I'd like to see a video for entertainment purposes :) My heart goes out to the folks over at fleamarketmusic though, I can't imagine a situation where having your designs shamelessly ripped-off would ever feel good. I hope there's something they can do about it, and if not, at least we have this thread as reference if anyone ever does a google search instead of buying a rip-off on sight.

austin1
06-04-2012, 11:49 AM
can I also just say, for the record, that I'm actually kind of surprised? I had no idea the uke market had expanded enough for such distinctive rip-offs!

RichM
06-04-2012, 11:53 AM
I'm curious as to how the copies measure up--I'm pretty sure we're all in agreement that the rip-offs will most likely sound like zombie cats on bath salts in comparison to the real fleas, but I'd like to see a video for entertainment purposes :)

I have nothing to add to this discussion, but I think Zombie Cats on Bath Salts would either make an awesome horror flick or a really rad band name.

austin1
06-04-2012, 12:01 PM
back to China, really really fast, if anyone's interested in the race to the bottom phenomenon, this article does a pretty good job of breaking it down in an easy to understand fashion:

http://ethicalfootprint.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/globalization-and-the-race-to-the-bottom/

or PM me! (anthropology masters student, I gots literature.)

JT_Ukes
06-04-2012, 12:32 PM
Note. the add that pops up for me on the main page for this thread.. is the amazon link for the very same 28 dollar Schloengut (sp) Flea rip off we are talking about.

yay targeted ads! :)

mm stan
06-04-2012, 01:06 PM
Last I saw it said 6 ukes available...now it is 10...I wonder how many he really has...

sim4lin
06-04-2012, 01:27 PM
Note. the add that pops up for me on the main page for this thread.. is the amazon link for the very same 28 dollar Schloengut (sp) Flea rip off we are talking about.

yay targeted ads! :)

Take that believers in a random universe! Mwaa ha ha ha ;)

PoiDog
06-04-2012, 02:04 PM
I think much of our anti-Chinese products sentiment is misplaced, especially when those products are coming from North American companies who sell their presence overseas. To lure in our companies, China, Mexico, and plenty of other countries basically have to race to the bottom to land these companies on their soil. Who can abuse their employees and work them as much as possible for as little money as possible? Who can scrap environmental laws, worker insurance/protection, and anything and everything else that would put a hitch in profit margins? Congratulations, winner winner chicken dinner, you've won an Apple factory. Instead of blaming China in these cases, we should be turning our attention on ourselves and our own corporations, and asking why we let them do this.

/end China debate



In light of this, and as a means of clarification, perhaps I will just say that I have a tendency to avoid products labeled "Made in China" regardless of where the parent company is located. The reason I have less affinity for "Made in China" than "Hecho en Mexico" or any other country is it seems (based on my perception, which may be very faulty), that products made in Haiti or India or Malaysia or Albania may be cheap and prone to breakage, but I don't recall many stories of their products resulting in deaths.

That may just be a function of simply more things being made in China. Perhaps. But if I avoid the "Made in China" label, even if it's a US, German, Canadian, or Japanese company I may end up sending some sort of message.

Sorry to continue the whole China thing.

austin1
06-04-2012, 02:10 PM
In light of this, and as a means of clarification, perhaps I will just say that I have a tendency to avoid products labeled "Made in China" regardless of where the parent company is located. The reason I have less affinity for "Made in China" than "Hecho en Mexico" or any other country is it seems (based on my perception, which may be very faulty), that products made in Haiti or India or Malaysia or Albania may be cheap and prone to breakage, but I don't recall many stories of their products resulting in deaths.

That may just be a function of simply more things being made in China. Perhaps. But if I avoid the "Made in China" label, even if it's a US, German, Canadian, or Japanese company I may end up sending some sort of message.

Sorry to continue the whole China thing.

respect your opinion :) don't apologize, this is a good discussion!

Freeda
06-04-2012, 02:12 PM
The fact that the offending company is located in the US is huge for Flea Market Music, in terms of having recourse. If it were based overseas it would be much more difficult to get a resolution.

ukuraleigh
06-04-2012, 02:16 PM
The fact that the offending company is located in the US is huge for Flea Market Music, in terms of having recourse. If it were based overseas it would be much more difficult to get a resolution.

They would need to have a patent to have any chance of preventing anyone from copying their design. They do appear to have "Flea Ukulele" trademarked, but I did not see (after a quick search) any patent. :(

I hope they do, for their sake.

ukeeku
06-04-2012, 02:29 PM
They would need to have a patent to have any chance of preventing anyone from copying their design. They do appear to have "Flea Ukulele" trademarked, but I did not see (after a quick search) any patent. :(

I hope they do, for their sake.
They do. it says it on the back of the uke

janeray1940
06-04-2012, 02:31 PM
Instead of blaming China in these cases, we should be turning our attention on ourselves and our own corporations, and asking why we let them do this.



The reason I have less affinity for "Made in China" than "Hecho en Mexico" or any other country is it seems (based on my perception, which may be very faulty), that products made in Haiti or India or Malaysia or Albania may be cheap and prone to breakage, but I don't recall many stories of their products resulting in deaths.

That may just be a function of simply more things being made in China. Perhaps. But if I avoid the "Made in China" label, even if it's a US, German, Canadian, or Japanese company I may end up sending some sort of message.

Sorry to continue the whole China thing.

Well-said on both counts, and to bring this back to ukuleles - this is precisely why I refuse to buy any of the made-in-China ukes. There are certain things that are unavoidable - a few months back I tried to buy a new computer that wasn't made in that notorious factory in China (http://abcnews.go.com/watch/nightline/SH5584743/VD55173552/nightline-221-apples-chinese-factories-exclusive), and found that no matter what brand I chose, they all came out of the same place. Even if I built it myself, the parts would have come from the same place. Impossible; I don't know how to build a semiconductor from scratch, so my options were go without, or buy made-in-China.

But ukes - another story. We have choices, at least those of us who have some measure of disposable income. And I think we can send a message to those U.S. corporations that take advantage of the questionable overseas labor conditions by avoiding them.

Gmoney
06-04-2012, 02:32 PM
Good for you. This is a criminal rip off of jim Beloff's creative work and should not be supported in any way IMO.

Agree wholeheartedly, Chuck. I reported the seller(s) to Jim & they will be taking appropriate action.

People, Jim Beloff & Flea Market Music have given tirelessly to the Ukulele community at large & brought about much of the current renaissance we enjoy. He's really one of the good guys & this shameless attempt to bypass all that hard work in developing, designing, producing the Flea design is simply cut-throat. This vendor doesn't care a bit about this generation of players or the ukulele as an instrument in its own right. Please DO NOT purchase these cheap knock-offs even if you never buy a Flea. Personally, I'm going to add a Flea to my collection within the next couple of weeks specifically to vote w/my $$ for the Magic Fluke Co. & the Bellof's.

I am also reporting the sellers to both EBay & Amazon as clearly infringing on the designs of an American company.

Hippie Dribble
06-04-2012, 02:35 PM
Agree wholeheartedly, Chuck. I reported the seller(s) to Jim & they will be taking appropriate action.

People, Jim Beloff & Flea Market Music have given tirelessly to the Ukulele community at large & brought about much of the current renaissance we enjoy. He's really one of the good guys & this shameless attempt to bypass all that hard work in developing, designing, producing the Flea design is simply cut-throat. This vendor doesn't care a bit about this generation of players or the ukulele as an instrument in its own right. Please DO NOT purchase these cheap knock-offs even if you never buy a Flea. Personally, I'm going to add a Flea to my collection within the next couple of weeks specifically to vote w/my $$ for the Magic Fluke Co. & the Bellof's.

I am also reporting the sellers to both EBay & Amazon as clearly infringing on the designs of an American company.
Glenn, I wish there was a 'LIKE' button for posts like these....

:cheers:

Pondoro
06-04-2012, 03:07 PM
I'm with Chuck on this one. Jim Beloff can be given a ot of credit for bringing back the popularity of ukuleles and he's a great guy. I say no thanks, I don't care how cheap they are the person who copied these is a slimeball.

I agree as well. I've never bought a Flea but this makes me want an original.

SweetWaterBlue
06-04-2012, 03:49 PM
They do. it says it on the back of the uke

My Flea doesn't say its patented on the back. It just says "The Flea TM Made in USA." Only a trademark inside as well. Mine is serial # 16268, so I wonder if it depends on when they were made.

mm stan
06-04-2012, 03:59 PM
Piratecy at the highest level....and looks like he sold a few since this thread came up...we ukers need to boycott him for sure....

itsme
06-04-2012, 05:55 PM
I am also reporting the sellers to both EBay & Amazon as clearly infringing on the designs of an American company.
I know ebay has a policy on counterfeit goods, but this is a knock-off (design rip-off for sure). But it doesn't claim to be a Flea or even mention it.

If you look at their negative feedback, it seems the most complaints came from lack of communication and the fact that they list things as available/in stock that they don't have.

I'll be interested in hearing what the people here who've bought one think of it.

I make an effort to buy American/local when I can. But these days it's getting harder and harder to find American made products, especially at competitive prices. Many times in this economy, our wallets are dictating our purchases.

And they don't always make it easy. Look at the packaging that says COMPANY NAME, ATLANTA, GA, USA in big letters and way down in the fine print it might say Made in China.

For the record, I own a Flea and a Fluke. Both were bought used, so my dollars didn't directly go to FMM, but I'd like to think I'm part of the reason/demand that gives their products a good resale price and helps keep the uke community afloat with UAS. :p

nix
06-04-2012, 06:14 PM
I'm another very satisfied Flea and Fluke owner. I've actually been wondering for a bit now if the design was copyrighted because I was thinking about looking for a luthier who would build me an all wooden Flea since the design fits so comfortably with my body and playing style and I'd like to find out if an all wood Flea would sound even better than my plastic one. From all the posts here, it looks like the first thing I would need to do would be to contact FMM before approaching a luthier. This has been a really interesting discussion to read and I'm glad to be a part of a community that considers ethics so seriously.

Nix

joekulele
06-04-2012, 07:24 PM
I don't know anything about the company who is making these copies, but I know that the Flea ukulele is unique to the industry. I have never had the opportunity to meet the Beloffs, but I have dealt with the fine folks at Fleamarket Music both through email and directly on the phone and I can tell you this. It causes me great dismay to see their fine product so blatantly being infringed upon. I WOULD NEVER PURCHASE ONE OF THOSE FLEA KNOCK-OFFS, EVER. In my opinion it is a slap in the face to the Beloffs and Fleamarket Music, whom I consider pillars of the ukulele family.

The fact that their design is being copied is nothing new. It happens all the time, in many industries. It is an ugly side of the capitalistic world in which we live. It is also something that will continue as long as people continue to purchase these blatant knock-offs.

I would implore the people on this forum who have purchased those instruments to cancel your orders and purchase a real Flea instead. Then if you don't like it, simply resell it. There are plenty of folks who would buy it off you and the ukulele family would not fault you. As a proud owner of two Flea ukuleles, I would bet that you will find them well worth the money.

-joe

itsme
06-04-2012, 07:47 PM
From all the posts here, it looks like the first thing I would need to do would be to contact FMM before approaching a luthier.
Actually, I'd say asking a luthier to build you a pineapple shaped uke with a squared off bottom wouldn't be infringing at all. :)

Especially if they're not doing the molded back/sides or trying to imitate the Flea.

Plus, a custom order is far from anything mass produced.

Freeda
06-04-2012, 08:16 PM
I don't know anything about the company who is making these copies, but I know that the Flea ukulele is unique to the industry. I have never had the opportunity to meet the Beloffs, but I have dealt with the fine folks at Fleamarket Music both through email and directly on the phone and I can tell you this. It causes me great dismay to see their fine product so blatantly being infringed upon. I WOULD NEVER PURCHASE ONE OF THOSE FLEA KNOCK-OFFS, EVER. In my opinion it is a slap in the face to the Beloffs and Fleamarket Music, whom I consider pillars of the ukulele family.

The fact that their design is being copied is nothing new. It happens all the time, in many industries. It is an ugly side of the capitalistic world in which we live. It is also something that will continue as long as people continue to purchase these blatant knock-offs.

I would implore the people on this forum who have purchased those instruments to cancel your orders and purchase a real Flea instead. Then if you don't like it, simply resell it. There are plenty of folks who would buy it off you and the ukulele family would not fault you. As a proud owner of two Flea ukuleles, I would bet that you will find them well worth the money.

-joe

"the ukulele family would not fault you". As though it is one entity with one position? This is as diverse a group as any I have met.

I was thinking a lot about this today. Thinking about my shoes, which perhaps I shouldn't have purchased because while they are a different brand name, they are a converse styling. About the spartan brand cream of mushroom soup I used to make dinner instead of Campbell's. About the generic thyroid med I picked up from the pharmacy today.

Perhaps we should all get second jobs so that we can bypass affordable versions of things, because I bet the owners of Campbell's, Ed Hardy, and the drug company are swell guys.

The Beloffs (who are no doubt very nice and the new solar panels look great) are business people. This is part of running a business. I am sure they have legal counsel.

Why this effort to shame people who are engaging in a legal purchase transaction? Do you really feel lke my thirty bucks threatens the integrity of the ukulele community? A few have mentioned purchasing, myself included. I bet there's a dozen more who have done so as well without posting about it.

I understand the position of builders/ designers and am sympathetic to it. Knowing anyone can copy and undercut you must be very unsettling. It is the buyer loyalty (and borderline hostility) that I find interesting. All items a person acquires benefit from a halo effect. We see it here every day. Posters ask "which kind is best" and any one of a hundred people will jump to say "mine!".

It's 2am here so these are kind of random thoughts, sorry. But the other thing I wondered about is if the company even knew about the Flea to start with? Or did their foreign supplier of several instruments say "hey, want to add this to your lineup?". That is a very different scenario than deliberate copycatting on their part.

joekulele
06-04-2012, 08:45 PM
Freeda,
Please don't misunderstand me. You are certainly free to spend your money any way you want. I was posting my opinion only. Yes, I have a very high sense of buyer loyalty. That's just me. I sincerely apologise if my opinions have offended you, my post was not directed at you but was intended to be a general response to this thread (I read every reply and found it to be very interesting). I hope you are happy with your purchase.
-joe

MGM
06-04-2012, 11:16 PM
Seeing the ukulele thread gets my blood boiling....obviously it is a complete rip of the fleamarketmusic products innovations and idea. Problem is USA patent and trademarks are difficult..almost impossible to control in foreign counties. I cannot tell you of countless uke manufacturers who have designed and trained foreign companies to make products exclusively for them and only to have these companies not honor their contracts and handshakes and promises and offer it to anyone who will pay. In fact. There is a known copier of musical instruments in china who is trying to trademark Kamaka kanilea koolau koaloha and kelii with there known logos and trademarks in china. What a sad day will it be when they will start producing these fakes with the actual labels trademarks and logos and try to pass them off as the genuine item...only hurts the uke industry as a whole and who will know what they are buying. Rumors of fake Aquila strings are also in the mongooses ear and with some intonation problems in especially the a string and suddenly changing elasticity in their strings I am wondering if it is true. All this does is make me shake my head and wonder what ever happened to decency and ethics in this world.

bazmaz
06-04-2012, 11:21 PM
Totally agree Mike. Was horrified with the Flea ripoff news. The Beloffs have worked damn hard at that company, and in the uke world generally - to have their trademark product copied so completely just stinks.

Hippie Dribble
06-04-2012, 11:26 PM
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and insights with us Mike, much appreciated mate. That fake flea thing is an utter disgrace.

Plainsong
06-04-2012, 11:40 PM
And reading the rather obtuse defense of those justifying their purchases.. Like they actually believe the bullpuckey they are shoveling. If you're going to buy one fine, don't brag about it.

The cost of flukes and fleas feels high if you look at the spec sheet. But they're not made in a sweat shop, and intonation and sound is dead on, playing something you can take anywhere in any conditions..

Hey, you get what you pay for.

His Sinfulness
06-04-2012, 11:46 PM
As I said elsewhere - I live in Asia and I see knock-offs of EVERYthing all the time. It hurts the original makers/designers, it stifles innovation at Asian companies, it hurts the ordinary Asian employee, and it puts inferior crap in the hands of the buyer. Please don't support this stuff. Buy the original whenever you can.

bazmaz
06-04-2012, 11:47 PM
I'd totally support the Beloffs taking whatever action they can against this copy. I don't buy the argument that it's just the same as Kala making ukes that are shaped like Martins - you can't trademark the double bout with a waist shape of uke, guitar, whatever - its as old as the hills.

This copy though is a direct copy of something totally unique in the uke world. Man, they even copied the Flea trademark headstock!!

If they just did a plastic backed, flat bottomed boat paddle uke with standard headstock, that would be different. The flea is, after all, just that. But copy the neck, headstock, moulded fingerboard as well and you are going way beyond just making another type of plastic uke.

emmaemme
06-05-2012, 12:23 AM
As I said elsewhere - I live in Asia and I see knock-offs of EVERYthing all the time.

I don't think we can even begin to imagine.

I remember seeing an article about one of many Chinese music shops selling hundreds of counterfeit Fenders, Gibsons, Martins... sold as the real thing with the right decal. If Fender and Gibson can't do anything about it what chance has Flea got?

Apple has a hard time keeping the lid on fake Apple Stores selling fake ipads, iphones...

Pukulele Pete
06-05-2012, 01:10 AM
I'm surprised we haven't heard anything official from FMM . I'm sure this is not the first time they have heard of this copy. Is their design protected ? Does it have a patent?
I'm a little surprised and then again not surprised at the number of insults from members of this site to the other members who might buy one of these copies. You might disagree but do you have to insult the other members? Where are the complaints about the Mahalo Les Paul ,or the explorer and telecaster style ukes.

The Big Kahuna
06-05-2012, 01:24 AM
If this subject starts to decline into name calling and insults against other forum members, I hope the moderators have the good sense to close the thread. Yes, perhaps it is a little unwise posting about ones intention to buy one of these Ukes, but show a little class when taking the opposing view. Jeez, I thought this was a civilized forum.

And just to clarify, the above isn't directed at everyone, in case I inadvertently caused offense.

bazmaz
06-05-2012, 01:33 AM
I've not name called anyone.

Re the les Paul's - not really the same thing is it? That's a guitar shape copied by many guitar makers let alone uke makers. FMM is a small, independent maker of a totally unique looking uke.

ukeeku
06-05-2012, 01:40 AM
I e-mailed them

Tim,

Thanks for your email and concern. Yes, we’re all aware of this.

Best,

Jim Beloff
www.fleamarketmusic.com
"Uke Can Change the World"



From: Tim Szerlong <tim@ukeeku.com>
Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2012 19:39:34 -0500
To: <sales@fleamarketmusic.com>
Subject: Fake Fleas?

http://www.amazon.com/Schoenhut-Flag-Ukulele-White-Blue/dp/B0074HSV12/ref=?ie=UTF8&m=A3K90JHFOGRITA <http://www.amazon.com/Schoenhut-Flag-Ukulele-White-Blue/dp/B0074HSV12/ref=?ie=UTF8&amp;m=A3K90JHFOGRITA>

Please tell me you can sue this people. I am tempted to buy one to see what they are like in comparison, but that would mean I am supporting them.
Also, how is the new engraving laser working? Have you started to take custom orders yet?

Tim Szerlong

www.Ukeeku.com

ChrisRCovington
06-05-2012, 01:49 AM
I've read two interesting articles about China recently. The first was about the "French Fry Brother" an American student living in China. A video of him went viral because he bought a homeless woman french fries. The video has become something of a social commentray on the moral decay of the Chinese people. The other article was about an Apple store. The store was a fake and it sold fake Apple things. No suprise there, but it was identical to a real store. It was such a good clone the employees actually thought they worked for Apple. China as a whole has no decency or ethics. Very sad really.

The Big Kahuna
06-05-2012, 01:56 AM
I've read two interesting articles about China recently. The first was about the "French Fry Brother" an American student living in China. A video of him went viral because he bought a homeless woman french fries. The video has become something of a social commentray on the moral decay of the Chinese people. The other article was about an Apple store. The store was a fake and it sold fake Apple things. No suprise there, but it was identical to a real store. It was such a good clone the employees actually thought they worked for Apple. China as a whole has no decency or ethics. Very sad really.

You also missed the 2 year old chinese girl who was knocked down and run over twice and left to die, while 18 people just looked at her and walked on. I won't post any links to this as some may be upset by the images, and the story can be found easily on Google.

ChrisRCovington
06-05-2012, 02:00 AM
Yup that's another one. It is very sad because the Chinese folks I know are very caring people who would go out of their way for anyone. Maybe that's why they moved out of China?

The Big Kahuna
06-05-2012, 02:04 AM
Yup that's another one. It is very sad because the Chinese folks I know are very caring people who would go out of their way for anyone. Maybe that's why they moved out of China?

Yep. I have a number of chinese friends in England who are very dear to me, and if anything, they're even more vocal in their hatred of china and its government than I am.

seeso
06-05-2012, 02:12 AM
As others have said, please tread carefully when discussing your fellow members.

mketom
06-05-2012, 02:14 AM
Not meant to insult anyone but... If copying someone else's design down to the small details is wrong (And it IS!) then buying those copied products is also wrong. Stealing is a crime. Receiving stolen goods is a crime. Copying the Flea is only part of the equation. Buying the copy makes the endeavor profitable and therefore harms the original designer and his business potential. Let's not do this to Jim B.

This thread has kinda turned into a China hater discussion. Not all Popes are Polish, not all Chinese are bad. Some of my best friends are Chinese, living in China. Let's bring the Aloha back to the UU this morning. Thanks!!
:)

pulelehua
06-05-2012, 02:36 AM
"Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want." - Anna Lappe

The Big Kahuna
06-05-2012, 02:38 AM
Might I suggest, then, that we reserve judgement on those who have decided to purchase one of these until such time as the good folks at Magic Fluke let us know one way or the other if their design is protected.

glass
06-05-2012, 02:41 AM
Might I suggest, then, that we reserve judgement on those who have decided to purchase one of these until such time as the good folks at Magic Fluke let us know one way or the other if their design is protected.

I am surprised they haven't signed up to add any comments here?

Luana Gouvea
06-05-2012, 02:42 AM
This thread has kinda turned into a China hater discussion. Not all Popes are Polish, not all Chinese are bad. Some of my best friends are Chinese, living in China. Let's bring the Aloha back to the UU this morning. Thanks!!
:)

Exactly. Is very easy to throw some hate against 3th world countries when you have absolute no idea of the geopolitical question of it.

Let's bring this aloha and the thing that make us a great forum's colleagues: Ukulele. The thing that we have in common.



I have a Flea, my boyfriend has a Fluke, we have the Daily Ukulele and we love it all, because of it quality, not the place where was build.

The fake question will be solved by the parts envolved, and mine or anybody else's opinion won't matter for the them.

Aloha! :cool:

The Big Kahuna
06-05-2012, 02:43 AM
I am surprised they haven't signed up to add any comments here?

I did suggest that to them.

SweetWaterBlue
06-05-2012, 02:52 AM
I don't think we should make people who buy these things wear a big red C on their forehead, or otherwise attack them. I think most who will buy them didn't think about all the ramifications. Before this thread, if I didn't already own a real Flea, and know that you probably can't buy a good ukulele for $29, I would have been tempted. Effects on Jim Beloff would most likely not have entered my mind. We have been conditioned to seek the lowest price. So to me, the value of this thread is that it raises the conscientiousness about the effects of our actions. There have been similar conscientiousness raising threads on copying Chuck Moore's inlays, the use of almost extinct wood species etc.

SweetWaterBlue
06-05-2012, 02:56 AM
I did suggest that to them.


In legal matters, many times its best not to say too much outside of court. It reminds me that I recently watched a video on YouTube about why you should never talk to the police (beyond name rank and serial number) if you get arrested. Its amazing how many people in the video made matters worse for themselves by talking to much.

strumsilly
06-05-2012, 03:40 AM
I have been traveling and totally missed this thread.,. I have to admit, I was tempted to try one of these when I saw the first post. Then I read on and now I'll pass.Thanks to all you UUers who reminded me that we shape the world we live in by the choices we make. BUT these are REALLY TEMPTING 4 for 6 bucks!
http://www.partysuppliesdelivered.com/inflatable-ukulele.html?utm_source=amazon.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=CSEs&gdftrk=gdfV21650_a_7c1379_a_7c4725_a_7c401163#.T84 KHVJRqcE

RevWill
06-05-2012, 03:46 AM
It's important to keep a tone of reason regarding those ramifications as well. We might do well to avoid jumping to conclusions, making broad-based assumptions, and painting with too broad a brush.

Unless you know FOR A FACT that these particular ukuleles are manufactured in a (insert nationality here) factory that enslaves 4-year old children, slaughters puppies for the cafeteria, sucks the sunlight out of the sky and runs over grandmothers with forklifts, it's kind of useless to assert it.

One link for your consideration: Retracting Mr. Daisey (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/blog/2012/03/retracting-mr-daisey-and-the-apple-factory)

Pukulele Pete
06-05-2012, 04:04 AM
If you really think about it , Ovation guitars did the molded back waaayyy before the Flea ( the Flea just has a different shape ) ) and the molded fretboard was used by Harmony/Roy Smeck waayy before the Flea. Should they sue FMM ?

fernandogardinali
06-05-2012, 04:16 AM
If you really think about it , Ovation guitars did the molded back waaayyy before the Flea ( the Flea just has a different shape ) ) and the molded fretboard was used by Harmony/Roy Smeck waayy before the Flea. Should they sue FMM ?

And should Kamaka sue all the brands in the world for copying the pineapple shape?

janeray1940
06-05-2012, 04:24 AM
"Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want." - Anna Lappe

+1 for this.

Pukulele Pete
06-05-2012, 04:28 AM
I applied for and received a patent many years ago , and its a tricky process. Believe me, I am no expert but I don't see anything in the Flea design that is patentable ( is that a word? )

PoiDog
06-05-2012, 04:41 AM
I certainly don't mean to imply anything beyond this statement, and really it should be taken as a pondering and nothing more, but perhaps we are missing something obvious here ...

Has anyone considered that the person who will spend $30 on this knockoff is almost 100% certainly not going to be the sort of person who would even consider spending $200 on a flea/fluke? I mean, it's almost dead certain that the market for these $30 toys aren't real uke players, but either parents wanting to buy a toy for their kids, someone looking for a decoration or party favor, or a poseur who needs the uke as an accessory to complete their current hipster costume.

As for people who are interested in a real uke, it seems (and I am taking them at their word here), that they understand this is a piece of crap and are getting one for a hoot or perhaps as a test-drive for the style and feel of a flea. Not as a replacement for one at all. So in a very real sense, Jim and FMM aren't harmed by these since the people getting them would likely never even consider an original at the $200 start price.

Also, no one gets upset when somebody picks up a low-end pineapple Kala or Lani for $50 instead of the original Kamaka (who invented the pineapple shape) for $1000.

Just tossing that thought out there.

ScooterD35
06-05-2012, 04:57 AM
The first thing I did upon reading this thread yesterday morning was to call The Magic Fluke Co. and let them know about the situation (they already knew, of course). I had a nice, long conversation with Phyllis and hung up feeling even better than usual about my Fluke and the wonderful family business that created it.

I tend to be pretty loyal to manufacturers when it comes to musical instruments. I have a need to feel good about all aspects of the music I make. I love my Fluke (a Koa tenor), I love my 40's Martin Style 1 and I love my Martin guitars. I've been to the Martin factory dozens of time since the mid 80's and I've taken the tour 34 times so far. Chris Martin is the sixth generation of Martin's to run that company. I'm looking forward to getting up to The Magic Fluke Co. in Mass. one day soon. I hope that business survives into future generations as well.

I really hate it when I come across counterfeits and "knock-offs" that have no purpose other than to take money out of the hands of people I respect and admire and put it into the hands of thieves. I always report such things to the manufacturer as well as the site that sells them (or allows them to be sold).

I hope The good folks at Magic Fluke are able to get these things off the market and I hope they are able to successfully sue the criminals that are producing and selling them.

As an aside, here are some links to the nightmare that Martin has been dealing with for the past couple of years. The same sort of situation on a MUCH larger scale.


http://articles.mcall.com/2011-02-23/business/mc-allentown-martin-guitars-china-20110223_1_guitars-china-international-intellectual-property-alliance

http://www.musicincmag.com/News/2010/101214/101214_martin.html

http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/topic/110494/Chinese-company-legally-steals-C-F-Martin?page=1

http://www.mmrmagazine.com/3004/articles/trademark-infringement-counterfeit-mi-products-what-happens-next/


Scooter

pootsie
06-05-2012, 05:42 AM
Quick, take a guess what Amazon advert is at the top of my screen right now ...
Damn that adsense!

ricksan66
06-05-2012, 05:50 AM
Will not even consider purchasing one of these knock-offs. Too much love for my Fluke and respect for the Magic Fluke company.

Markr1
06-05-2012, 06:04 AM
After reading thru this whole thread I want to buy an original flea or fluke now. I've thought about it before but never considered it till now. I hope they make them in the tenor size.

bazmaz
06-05-2012, 06:21 AM
. I hope they make them in the tenor size.

They do Mark!

Markr1
06-05-2012, 06:24 AM
Great. Thank you. I'll soon be getting one then.
They do Mark!

RevWill
06-05-2012, 06:55 AM
Great. Thank you. I'll soon be getting one then.

Cool! I have a tenor Fluke with rosewood fretboard and an undersaddle pickup, and it sounds great plugged and unplugged.

Markr1
06-05-2012, 07:23 AM
I'll definitely want the rosewood fretboard and a solid top vs a laminated if there is that option.
Cool! I have a tenor Fluke with rosewood fretboard and an undersaddle pickup, and it sounds great plugged and unplugged.

Markr1
06-05-2012, 07:30 AM
Are the fleas and magic flukes both made by the Beloffs?

Shazzbot
06-05-2012, 07:32 AM
Lots of options....
Check it out Mark:
https://www.fleamarketmusic.com/Default.asp

bazmaz
06-05-2012, 07:33 AM
I'll definitely want the rosewood fretboard and a solid top vs a laminated if there is that option.

Yes both made by Beloff

Honestly though, you only need the laminated top - forget everything you read about laminates when you come to fleas and flukes. They are a marvel and shows what "good" laminate (as opposed to plywood) can do

Markr1
06-05-2012, 07:42 AM
Thanks for the help. I'm going to checkout the different options and try and decide which I want.

Dan Uke
06-05-2012, 07:46 AM
Take it to the next level!!

As uke players, we should extend this much passion for copyrighted music as well! No burning CDs that aren't ours, downloading MP3s that aren't ours. Copying music sheet, etc.

I remember there was a thread on getting a PDF of Eddie Vedder's song book that went on for awhile and a Mod finally closed it since it was illegal!! How many people got the free download without buying the book?

I'm guilty:( but going forward, I will buy. I have 3 song books and counting.

JT_Ukes
06-05-2012, 07:52 AM
Take it to the next level!!

As uke players, we should extend this much passion for copyrighted music as well! No burning CDs that aren't ours, downloading MP3s that aren't ours. Copying music sheet, etc.

I remember there was a thread on getting a PDF of Eddie Vedder's song book that went on for awhile and a Mod finally closed it since it was illegal!! How many people got the free download without buying the book?

I'm guilty:( but going forward, I will buy. I have 3 song books and counting.

books form big publishers? how much really goes to artists? cds from record companies.. same question.

I support the artists.. not the suits. :)

philpot
06-05-2012, 07:52 AM
I'm mildly intrigued by the notion that fleas are too expensive. From what I can tell, they're a quality instrument. Starting at around $200 with shipping, that's really not a lot. The back is plastic? Whop dee freaking doo, Ovation guitars do that and they're some of the best sounding guitars I've ever heard, the older ones at least. I would gladly pay that much for a quality instrument, and the convenience factor of not having to worry about humidity or where you take it? Priceless. I plan on getting one eventually as a camping uke. If you want a quality instrument, you're going to pay for quality. If you want a cheap instrument that sounds like garbage you spend 30 bucks on a piece of junk. Buy once, cry once.

The Big Kahuna
06-05-2012, 07:58 AM
Take it to the next level!!

As uke players, we should extend this much passion for copyrighted music as well! No burning CDs that aren't ours, downloading MP3s that aren't ours. Copying music sheet, etc.

I remember there was a thread on getting a PDF of Eddie Vedder's song book that went on for awhile and a Mod finally closed it since it was illegal!! How many people got the free download without buying the book?

I'm guilty:( but going forward, I will buy. I have 3 song books and counting.

All my song books (the few that I have) are bought. Music...I'll get back to you on that.

Markr1
06-05-2012, 08:07 AM
I'm guilty of downloading some guitar and ukulele tabs but I'm also guilty of buying somewhere in the area of 20 to 25 ukulele songbooks between myself and my kids. I've also downloaded some songs but I'm also the owner of around 400 CDs that I paid for.

PoiDog
06-05-2012, 08:07 AM
Take it to the next level!!

As uke players, we should extend this much passion for copyrighted music as well! No burning CDs that aren't ours, downloading MP3s that aren't ours. Copying music sheet, etc.

I remember there was a thread on getting a PDF of Eddie Vedder's song book that went on for awhile and a Mod finally closed it since it was illegal!! How many people got the free download without buying the book?

I'm guilty:( but going forward, I will buy. I have 3 song books and counting.

Um, sure. Piracy is one thing, but continuing along this extreme level will lead to this sort of silliness:


38674

Some of you are likely too young to recall the music industry's first attempt at limitations.

dnewton2
06-05-2012, 08:09 AM
books form big publishers? how much really goes to artists? cds from record companies.. same question.

I support the artists.. not the suits. :)

So not paying at all puts more money in the artists pocket?

Not to mention all the jobs record companies/publishers/flea and fluke ukulele create and support. (Administration, accounting, custodial....)

JT_Ukes
06-05-2012, 08:19 AM
So not paying at all puts more money in the artists pocket?

Not to mention all the jobs record companies/publishers/flea and fluke ukulele create and support. (Administration, accounting, custodial....)

look at my sig.. I own a Flea. I Buy music FROM the Artists i listen to. From their websites, or at their gigs. As I don't really listen to the radio, most of my favorite artists (Jonhatn COultan, George Hrab, The Barnkickers, Etc..) are independant and have their stuff for slae that way, sorry if I was unclear. :)

It's a brave new world, the old way of selling music and art is changing. thats all I'm saying.

PoiDog
06-05-2012, 08:36 AM
Well, considering the direction this discussion has taken regarding how (and how viscerally) we ought to support the artists/publishers/manufacturers, here's another pondering from me:

What about buying used? I get most of my books from used stores. Same with music and movies. I bought a uke and a guitar used. None of that money goes near the original artists/publishers/manufacturers, even though in most cases, the products I get are almost always indistinguishable from the new ones.

It seems the convenience of demonizing anyone not buying direct from the source is a bit of a mug's game here. Should I pay royalties for getting the tabs for Aloha Friday from a thread here on UU?

Too much black and white in opinions and all, and too many of these absolutes are impossible to uphold.

seeso
06-05-2012, 08:49 AM
The thread is beginning to veer off course, guys. Let's keep it on topic.

JT_Ukes
06-05-2012, 08:57 AM
The thread is beginning to veer off course, guys. Let's keep it on topic.

Love my Tiki Flea.. can't imagine a 30 buck copy would even come close.

UKISOCIETY
06-05-2012, 10:19 AM
Love my Tiki Flea.. can't imagine a 30 buck copy would even come close.

My thoughts exactly. That's why I bought one. I'll do a video and put all speculation to rest.

Paul December
06-05-2012, 11:06 AM
18 pages and nobody has actually played one of these?

luluwrites
06-05-2012, 11:28 AM
So not paying at all puts more money in the artists pocket?

Not to mention all the jobs record companies/publishers/flea and fluke ukulele create and support. (Administration, accounting, custodial....)

As a writer, I'd like you to buy my books -- preferably from independent bookstores which are one of the last places that are preventing stocking/retail decisions from coming down to just two people (the buyer at Amazon and the buyer at B&N. Even now, if the buyer at B&N decides not to stock your book, the publisher might cancel publication).

If you can't, I'd like you to borrow them from the library and make the purchasing librarian feel like she made a good selection. If you can't do that, I'd like you to support used bookstores and buy one there. If you can't do that, I'd like you to share a book with a friend.

The only thing I don't want you to do is download a pirated copy which, sadly, you can do right now pretty easily if you want to.

It's true. I only see a small royalty from each book purchased -- but that is more than I see from pirated copies, and since I don't want to get into the business of self-publishing and marketing right now, I'm happy if people support the suits and me.


Sorry. I went off-topic a bit. Knock-offs are different from pirated copies, it is true. But they're next door neighbors and neither is particularly good for artists.

Pukulele Pete
06-05-2012, 11:48 AM
18 pages and nobody has actually played one of these?

Right , crazy isnt it. It is sold by a company that makes childrens toy musical instruments and is most likely more a toy than a musical instrument .

itsme
06-05-2012, 11:49 AM
18 pages and nobody has actually played one of these?
You fail at 40 posts per page. :p I'm only on page 5. ;)

bigchiz
06-05-2012, 12:02 PM
38678

Start killing fleas within 15 minutes!

The ad at the top of the page, ironically.

Now, about that uke. I would not leave a $179 Flea in the back seat of the car as a permanent piece, something to noodle around on while waiting around when wearing my Daddy Taxi hat and driving the kids to and fro. Would not leave my $115 Kala tenor in the backseat of the car either. I would leave a $28 flea killer in the back seat though. Might just place an order for the flag themed model. The rebel / humorist in me then wants to work up the Star Spangled Banner and post it on Independence Day.

More about this guy. Promoting Daily Ukulele book sales at our local jam session location, dozens have sold at 100% retail price. Purchased my two ukuleles from a local music store. Have been commuting on a bicycle 11 miles to and from the office. Supports live music.

Have wanted a plastic uke but certainly cannot afford a Flea at this time. Not able to justify spending $150 more for a real Flea when there are mouths to feed at home. Would be nice to have something in the car to tinker with from time to time such as practicing scales, chord progressions, and writing new songs.

ukemunga
06-05-2012, 12:43 PM
One good thing... this thread is probably selling a hell of a lot of Fleas and Flukes!

Just sayin'

Lori
06-05-2012, 02:16 PM
Are the fleas and magic flukes both made by the Beloffs?
http://www.magicfluke.com/
The Fleas and Flukes are made by The Magic Fluke Company and are sold by Jim and Elizabeth Beloff through Fleamarket Music. Dale Webb designed the ukulele and the manufacturing process and his wife Phyllis is Jim's sister. It is a family business and they are very nice people.

–Lori

AndrewKuker
06-05-2012, 08:19 PM
I think the problem is -at this point, commerce is international, but Government laws are not. Recently saw that someone in China is trying to register our url theukulelesite.ch, someone has already registered Kamaka, logo and all.. in China. Most Hawaiian K brands for that matter. The same person is trying to get all of them and already sending letters saying all sales need to be through them in China. Which is a huge market. I am not sure what their final goal is with this... ukulele world domination? Hopefully this will be stopped. There is no knockoff for the real thing. and noone cares what you are playing. Just how it sounds. A great uke is real work, and a specialized artistry. You can't really copy that. There will always be a market for real diamonds and real hand bags and real ukuleles. And there will always be a market for the cheaper knockoffs. Everyone is free to do whatever they want or can afford. I seriously hope these fake flukes have decent intonation, because there is gonna be a ton of them out there now. Maybe China's first strike is to send thousands of horrible ukes to America!

njukeman
06-06-2012, 12:22 AM
China is trying to undermine our happiness by flooding the market with inferior ukulele and then when we are all so damn depressed we can't even smile at each other and the Aloha spirit is non existent they will walk into our country with false promises of a better life through communism and we will just say"ok"! Don't fall for it people!
Say NO to Chinese junk.

Luana Gouvea
06-06-2012, 12:37 AM
China is trying to undermine our happiness by flooding the market with inferior ukulele and then when we are all so damn depressed we can't even smile at each other and the Aloha spirit is non existent they will walk into our country with false promises of a better life through communism and we will just say"ok"! Don't fall for it people!
Say NO to Chinese junk.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Plainsong
06-06-2012, 01:47 AM
China is trying to undermine our happiness by flooding the market with inferior ukulele and then when we are all so damn depressed we can't even smile at each other and the Aloha spirit is non existent they will walk into our country with false promises of a better life through communism and we will just say"ok"! Don't fall for it people!
Say NO to Chinese junk.

Be careful how you word things. There's a fine line between fighting corruption and xenophobia against an entire people.

Thumper
06-06-2012, 02:52 AM
Ahem - back to talking about actual ukuleles...


Mine arrived yesterday - I ordered it from Amazon Monday after seeing this thread, and to my amazement it showed up on my doorstep the next day. (I live in FL, and it was apparently shipped from St. Augustine, FL.)

First, the visual side of it:

It's a TOTAL ripoff of a Flea. Incredibly identical. Cheaper tuning pegs, and the soundboard and neck are much more glossy. Other than that, it's scary how identical they are. Fit and finish are not as good, but the individual components are pretty much identical to the Flea, except for the "Schoenhut" logo molded into the back of the body in raised letters.

Now, the sonic side of it:

It comes stringed with 4 identical nylon strings (not a real set of uke strings of varied weight), and - predictably - sounds like crap. So, I took them off and put on a new set of Aquilas. Just like on my other Fleas.

And..............


It sounds like crap.


The intonation is good - gotta love a plastic fretboard for accuracy - but the sound is dull, muted, and well, very plastic-y. Not pleasant, not musical.

I A/B tested it with my own Flea (also strung with fresh Aquilas), and confirmed my initial impression. It's probably only a third as loud as a real Flea, and the tone is almost nonexistent. Nowhere near as nice as a Dolphin or cheap Lanikai. It sounds like what it is: a toy.

My verdict? It's going to become a piece of our patio decor.

Bottom line: It's NO substitute for a Flea. And frankly the price is about right - that's how much worse it sounds than a $179 Flea. It sounds very much like you'd expect a 28-dollar uke to sound: like crap. Seriously, it sounds bad enough that playing it isn't really any fun. That's why it's going to end up out on the patio.

Hope this is helpful!

- - - - - - - -

Some background: I'm a professional musician, and a loyal fan of Fleas and Flukes, and have bought four so far, and am currently configuring my next one in my mind, leaning towards the new walnut laminate. To me, Fleas and Flukes sound better than most ukes in their price range, and only a K-brand costing three or four times as much can really blow them away. Just my opinion.

emmaemme
06-06-2012, 02:52 AM
China is trying to undermine our happiness by flooding the market with inferior ukulele and then when we are all so damn depressed we can't even smile at each other and the Aloha spirit is non existent they will walk into our country with false promises of a better life through communism and we will just say"ok"! Don't fall for it people!
Say NO to Chinese junk.

One man's junk is another man's treasure. My Ohana was made in China and they did a damn good job of it.

strumsilly
06-06-2012, 03:20 AM
One man's junk is another man's treasure. My Ohana was made in China and they did a damn good of it.
ditto on my Kala and Lanikai

hoosierhiver
06-06-2012, 03:47 AM
Be careful how you word things. There's a fine line between fighting corruption and xenophobia against an entire people.

I'll second that. China is not our enemy despite what the rednecks at the gas station might say.

itsscottwilder
06-06-2012, 03:47 AM
I think there's probably a good reason this knockoff is sold in the toy section and not the musical instruments section of Amazon.


Ahem - back to talking about actual ukuleles...


Mine arrived yesterday - I ordered it from Amazon Monday after seeing this thread, and to my amazement it showed up on my doorstep the next day. (I live in FL, and it was apparently shipped from St. Augustine, FL.)

First, the visual side of it:

It's a TOTAL ripoff of a Flea. Incredibly identical. Cheaper tuning pegs, and the soundboard and neck are much more glossy. Other than that, it's scary how identical they are. Fit and finish are not as good, but the individual components are pretty much identical to the Flea, except for the "Schoenhut" logo molded into the back of the body in raised letters.

Now, the sonic side of it:

It comes stringed with 4 identical nylon strings (not a real set of uke strings of varied weight), and - predictably - sounds like crap. So, I took them off and put on a new set of Aquilas. Just like on my other Fleas.

And..............


It sounds like crap.


The intonation is good - gotta love a plastic fretboard for accuracy - but the sound is dull, muted, and well, very plastic-y. Not pleasant, not musical.

I A/B tested it with my own Flea (also strung with fresh Aquilas), and confirmed my initial impression. It's probably only a third as loud as a real Flea, and the tone is almost nonexistent. Nowhere near as nice as a Dolphin or cheap Lanikai. It sounds like what it is: a toy.

My verdict? It's going to become a piece of our patio decor.

Bottom line: It's NO substitute for a Flea. And frankly the price is about right - that's how much worse it sounds than a $179 Flea. It sounds very much like you'd expect a 28-dollar uke to sound: like crap. Seriously, it sounds bad enough that playing it isn't really any fun. That's why it's going to end up out on the patio.

Hope this is helpful!

- - - - - - - -

Some background: I'm a professional musician, and a loyal fan of Fleas and Flukes, and have bought four so far, and am currently configuring my next one in my mind, leaning towards the new walnut laminate. To me, Fleas and Flukes sound better than most ukes in their price range, and only a K-brand costing three or four times as much can really blow them away. Just my opinion.

kvehe
06-06-2012, 04:22 AM
Thumper - Are you going to review it on Amazon?

PoiDog
06-06-2012, 04:34 AM
My verdict? It's going to become a piece of our patio decor.

Bottom line: It's NO substitute for a Flea. And frankly the price is about right - that's how much worse it sounds than a $179 Flea. It sounds very much like you'd expect a 28-dollar uke to sound: like crap. Seriously, it sounds bad enough that playing it isn't really any fun. That's why it's going to end up out on the patio.

Hope this is helpful!



This kind of goes to my thought a few pages back that all this hair pulling about this toy stealing flea/fluke buyers is a tempest in a tea pot. Anyone considering buying a flea would never consider a $30 toy as a legitimate substitute, so there won't be any loss of potential flea buyers that way. I mean, I have a hard time believing that anyone would hemming and hawing over whether to get a flea or this thing, then after opting for this toy suddenly say they don't need their flea. Similarly, flea would never be able to get the consumer looking to spend a max of $30 - $50 on a uke, so it's not like they're losing there, either.

The question of the blatant ripoff of the style is another matter, and sadly one more indicative of a bigger problem. Ultimately, if the design isn't protected, the anger is sort of moot. Besides, no one seems particularly upset with Kala for making a ripoff of the Kamaka-designed pineapple body.
If the design is patented, well, flea will just be one of hundreds of companies/designers that have a beef with pirates.

But again, I have to believe that this cheap toy is not a threat in any way to flea/fluke. The two are targeting completely different demographics.

Plainsong
06-06-2012, 04:50 AM
This kind of goes to my thought a few pages back that all this hair pulling about this toy stealing flea/fluke buyers is a tempest in a tea pot. Anyone considering buying a flea would never consider a $30 toy as a legitimate substitute, so there won't be any loss of potential flea buyers that way. I mean, I have a hard time believing that anyone would hemming and hawing over whether to get a flea or this thing, then after opting for this toy suddenly say they don't need their flea. Similarly, flea would never be able to get the consumer looking to spend a max of $30 - $50 on a uke, so it's not like they're losing there, either.

The question of the blatant ripoff of the style is another matter, and sadly one more indicative of a bigger problem. Ultimately, if the design isn't protected, the anger is sort of moot. Besides, no one seems particularly upset with Kala for making a ripoff of the Kamaka-designed pineapple body.
If the design is patented, well, flea will just be one of hundreds of companies/designers that have a beef with pirates.

But again, I have to believe that this cheap toy is not a threat in any way to flea/fluke. The two are targeting completely different demographics.

My understanding is that this is a protected design. It's just... good luck enforcing that. Back in the day, my husband made graphics for PDAs and smartphone programs, called skins. His stuff was popular and copyrighted. A developer of a program asked him to make some stuff, but he didn't have time for the project. That developer made a username that rhymed with my husband's, and ripped off each graphic pixel for pixel.

The infuriating thing was reading posts made by people who really saw no problem with this, although they were very much in the minority. The developer defended the skinner he "hired" but it was apparent he was the one in question. The customization community didn't much like it, and he put the nail in the program's coffin when he admitted that because we weren't in the same location, that we couldn't sue him, and so he had the right to steal just by default, because he could. (His program later faded to nothing because no one used it.)

This is the same thing. They rip off because they can, no matter how protected the design is, it can be ripped off.

And it's a fair site different than the fair use of a general pineapple shape.

Edit to add: China I don't think is a GATT member... so what tiny protection that would give simply isn't there either.

Freeda
06-06-2012, 04:53 AM
I was wondering this morning... a U.S. patent is not a worldwide patent, right? So in theory filing a patent only protects you from other U.S. manufacturers copying your stuff? That would explain a lot. Wonder if, seeing as how it is such a global market now, someday they will try to implement a worldwide patent process? That would be quite an undertaking.

Plainsong
06-06-2012, 05:00 AM
I was wondering this morning... a U.S. patent is not a worldwide patent, right? So in theory filing a patent only protects you from other U.S. manufacturers copying your stuff? That would explain a lot. Wonder if, seeing as how it is such a global market now, someday they will try to implement a worldwide patent process? That would be quite an undertaking.

Doesn't GATT also cover intellectual property rights? So the theory would be that a product's design that is protected in one nation is recognized in the other. Depending on how well that country enforces things. May be a question for my business law friend on facebook. :)

China isn't a GATT member, so this is all pretend.

njukeman
06-06-2012, 05:23 AM
Be careful how you word things. There's a fine line between fighting corruption and xenophobia against an entire people.

That was written with tongue in cheek, ie a joke. But whatever.

PoiDog
06-06-2012, 05:23 AM
My understanding is that this is a protected design. It's just... good luck enforcing that. Back in the day, my husband made graphics for PDAs and smartphone programs, called skins. His stuff was popular and copyrighted. A developer of a program asked him to make some stuff, but he didn't have time for the project. That developer made a username that rhymed with my husband's, and ripped off each graphic pixel for pixel.

The infuriating thing was reading posts made by people who really saw no problem with this, although they were very much in the minority. The developer defended the skinner he "hired" but it was apparent he was the one in question. The customization community didn't much like it, and he put the nail in the program's coffin when he admitted that because we weren't in the same location, that we couldn't sue him, and so he had the right to steal just by default, because he could. (His program later faded to nothing because no one used it.)

This is the same thing. They rip off because they can, no matter how protected the design is, it can be ripped off.

And it's a fair site different than the fair use of a general pineapple shape.

Edit to add: China I don't think is a GATT member... so what tiny protection that would give simply isn't there either.

I should clarify that I never intended for anyone to infer that I am defending or supporting blatant ripoff of design or creation. Actually, seeing it even when it isn't protected (like the pineapple) is troublesome to me, because it tells me that the person ripping it off is just trying to capitalize on someone else's work. Obviously some things have to be duplicated for functional reasons (like the basic structure of a bike), but once you go beyond that I just consider it disingenuous. And, honestly, I don't like the idea of other uke makers doing the pineapple for that reason. But that's my pet peeve. In this instance, while I totally agree with the bitterness toward the company for the blatant theft of the flea design, I just get the sense that FMM isn't really being victimized monetarily, since people who would get a Flea would never get this crap as a substitute, and people who get this likely wouldn't be in the market for a Flea (or would get one anyway regardless of if they got this toy or not).

Maybe that's got a bit of internal incongruity to it ...

pootsie
06-06-2012, 05:27 AM
The question of the blatant ripoff of the style is another matter, and sadly one more indicative of a bigger problem. Ultimately, if the design isn't protected, the anger is sort of moot. Besides, no one seems particularly upset with Kala for making a ripoff of the Kamaka-designed pineapple body.
If the design is patented, well, flea will just be one of hundreds of companies/designers that have a beef with pirates.


The signature look of a product in some may not be protected by patent but can be protected by trademark. The protection might not apply in foreign nations but could apply to domestic sales of foreign goods, as in the bottle war between Makers Mark and Cuervo:
http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/Legal/News/2012/05_-_May/Maker_s_Mark_wax_seal_deserves_trademark_-_court/

If the Flea/Fluke look is not trademarked they should get a lawyer on it ASAP. The look of their design with the body shape and open headstock is unique enough to get protection, I'm sure.

pootsie
06-06-2012, 05:33 AM
One another note, one of the bases for trademark protection is to avoid consumer confusion.

It seems to all here that the Schoencrud toy-lele is not in direct competition with FMM. (Anyone seeking a good uke would not buy the toy and anyone in the toy price range would not seek the FMM product.)

BUT there is still a big problem: What if someone considering the FMM product sees one of these toys and hears how bad it sounds, believes it to be an FMM product because of the unique look, and therefore decides not to buy from FMM? Thus FMM is harmed despite the absence of direct competition

Pukulele Pete
06-06-2012, 05:35 AM
What do you think of the Ohana sk-38 being a copy of a Martin style 2 ? Is that OK ?

The Big Kahuna
06-06-2012, 05:37 AM
I suppose you only have to look back to the late 70's and early 80's. I worked in one of the biggest music stores in England for several years at that time, and I'd say that roughly 25% of the guitars and basses in the shop were almost exact copies of Strats, Telecasters, Les Pauls, SGs, Jazz and Precision basses. There were also a few Kramer copies. All of these were characterised by one thing...they were shit. Manufacturers such as Hondo, Kimbara, Tokai, Ibanez, Aria and dozens more made their names off the back of these, and as far as I recall, the only manufacturer to get a letter from a major player was Tokai.

The only time there was the slightest danger of these copies taking genuine sales from the big boys (by genuine I mean, if you're pro and you want a Les Paul, you buy a Gibson, if you haven't got the cash, you buy a copy) was the odd Les Paul/SG with a fixed neck.

To summarise, nobody took them seriously. I still think MagicFluke should sue them so hard their ancestors hurt, though.

Lori
06-06-2012, 05:46 AM
I was wondering this morning... a U.S. patent is not a worldwide patent, right? So in theory filing a patent only protects you from other U.S. manufacturers copying your stuff? That would explain a lot. Wonder if, seeing as how it is such a global market now, someday they will try to implement a worldwide patent process? That would be quite an undertaking.
I am no expert, but have been dealing with this matter myself the last several years. A US patent can be either a Utility Patent or Design Patent. Utility patents are for the function of the invention, and Design is for the appearance. A US patent has to be paid for in intervals over a 20 year span. If you miss a payment, you lose the patent. The patent would prohibit imports (as well as domestic copies) from selling infringing items in the US. After 20 years it is in public domain (like the Kamaka pineapple). A copyright, like for books, music and art can be for much longer (more like the life span of the creator). For patents, each country has it's own approval fees and forms, and you have to fight infringers in their native countries. The European Union has a patent system now that covers those nations with one patent, but most other countries are a-la-carte. Trademarks are also dealt with separately, so, you can see if you try and get worldwide coverage for these things, it becomes very complicated and very expensive. If you miss any fees scheduled, you lose your patent for that country. I kind of laughed when I was offered a Chinese patent. Why waste all that money and effort when their culture has such a strong history in knock offs. It is just something they have always done, and I don't think they have a bad feeling about it. But, I think the Chinese government is attempting to give the appearance that reform is happening, by offering their own patents. I expect it will be a long while before it is accepted and honored by all their businesses. It will depend on how the Chinese patent office enforces their patents (assuming anyone pays for one).

–Lori

Freeda
06-06-2012, 05:50 AM
I am no expert, but have been dealing with this matter myself the last several years. A US patent can be either a Utility Patent or Design Patent. Utility patents are for the function of the invention, and Design is for the appearance. A US patent has to be paid for in intervals over a 20 year span. If you miss a payment, you lose the patent. The patent would prohibit imports (as well as domestic copies) from selling infringing items in the US. After 20 years it is in public domain (like the Kamaka pineapple). A copyright, like for books, music and art can be for much longer (more like the life span of the creator). For patents, each country has it's own approval fees and forms, and you have to fight infringers in their native countries. The European Union has a patent system now that covers those nations with one patent, but most other countries are a-la-carte. Trademarks are also dealt with separately, so, you can see if you try and get worldwide coverage for these things, it becomes very complicated and very expensive. If you miss any fees scheduled, you lose your patent for that country. I kind of laughed when I was offered a Chinese patent. Why waste all that money and effort when their culture has such a strong history in knock offs. It is just something they have always done, and I don't think they have a bad feeling about it. But, I think the Chinese government is attempting to give the appearance that reform is happening, by offering their own patents. I expect it will be a long while before it is accepted and honored by all their businesses. It will depend on how the Chinese patent office enforces their patents (assuming anyone pays for one).

–Lori

That is very interesting!

Magoosan
06-06-2012, 06:19 AM
It sounds to me like those in the uke community need to get out a bit more. Copying instruments just seems to be part of the business. Look at all the Fender Tele and Strat knockoffs, all the Martin dred knockoffs and Gibson Les Paul's or Gibson F5 mandolins. Most of those builders join in by offering lower cost Mexican or Asian built alternatives to their own instruments, ususally being, at least visually, identical. They take the philosophy if you can't beat them, you might as well join them. Consumers that are knowlegeable will know the difference and spend their money as they see fit. Even when patents exist, I suspect it may be difficult and/or expensive to defend them. If someone seriously thinks they can spend $35 and get the same quality and sound they would get with a real Flea, then we can only pity them.

ukuraleigh
06-06-2012, 07:14 AM
Before I post a quick review of this ukulele, please note this: I ordered this before everyone chimed in and pricked my conscience about buying something that might hurt the hard work of others. I tried to cancel the order, but it had already shipped. Returning it would probably cost half the price I just paid for it. :-(

So that said, here are my initial thoughts...

For a $35 ukulele it is pretty decent. As already mentioned, the strings were crap, so I just replaced those with Aquilas. It seems to be well made, with the only flaws being a few places were you can see the glue. The friction tuners are pretty bad, but I adjusted them with a screwdriver and they at least seem to be doing the job.

I do think that Magic Fluke needs to get on top of this. If they have the patent, they should prevent these imports. I don't see them hurting too many sales, but those that are new to the uke may be happy with this--not knowing the superior quality of the original. Perhaps Mahalo and Makala should be more concerned. I rate this above a Mahalo and about on par with a Dolphin.

As a $35 ukulele, I rate this an 8/10. As a comparison to a Flea, which I do not own, but have played, I would rate it a 3/10.

For now, it's going in the back of the Jeep as the ultimate beater (something I would not risk with a real Flea). If I find out that Magic Fluke does have an enforceable patent for this, I'll likely either send it back or see how well it does in a fire pit. ;)

Freeda
06-06-2012, 07:37 AM
I got an email from the company!




Schoenhut Ukuleles are currently the only models that have a body made of composite materials. In addition (unlike manufacturers of adult instruments), ours are targeted for children, incorporating design modifications in order to pass stringent safety tests for toys.

While our ukuleles do not match the tone quality of most adult versions, initial test markets show that children adapt easily to them, learning to play simple songs at an early age. This result is, and always has been, the goal of Schoenhut Piano Company… to produce affordable, quality instruments that encourage children on a path to music.

For many years Schoenhut products were all hand-built in the USA by us, along with a crew of craftsmen. With competitors offering similar children’s instruments at a fraction of the cost, we set up arrangements with a reputable manufacturer in China. My husband, Len, travels there every two-three months to oversee production, ensuring that Schoenhut’s sterling reputation (since 1872!!) stays intact. In addition, we have a full-time employee there to oversee operations.

We trust you will find the recently-ordered Schoenhut ukuleles well worth the low cost. Regarding a toy piano for your niece, if you do decide to purchase one, we will be happy to post her photo on the Gallery of Stars at http://www.toypiano.com/media_gallery.asp. Many a young musician has gone on to a career in music, as evidenced at http://toypiano.com/media_artist_roster.asp

Yours in the world of music,

Renee Trinca
Schoenhut Piano Company

Skottoman
06-06-2012, 07:38 AM
I'm hoping someone will post a video playing the china built, against a real flea. Would love to hear the difference.

hoosierhiver
06-06-2012, 08:29 AM
I got an email from the company!

They didn't reply to mine, but I probably wouldn't have either.

JT_Ukes
06-06-2012, 08:33 AM
They didn't reply to mine, but I probably wouldn't have either.

LOL.


heh :)

Freeda
06-06-2012, 08:35 AM
They didn't reply to mine, but I probably wouldn't have either.

I bet you were growly at them. :hug:

UKISOCIETY
06-06-2012, 08:42 AM
I'm hoping someone will post a video playing the china built, against a real flea. Would love to hear the difference.

I'll be doing that soon. I just got the Chinese one in the mail today. I don't have my Flea with me, but this one is obviously heavier. But it sounds pretty good, even with the stock strings on it. The design is obviously base on the Flea. The balance feels even at the 12th fret.

As a $30 uke it's a great buy. As a rip-off of Flea, I'm afraid it will take money away from the Flea/Fluke guys. Here's a sound clip with the stock strings on it:
http://soundcloud.com/ukisociety-jones/schoenhut-flea-knock-off

pootsie
06-06-2012, 09:05 AM
In 1971 an importer selling to Schoenhut won a tax case by arguing that the ukuleles they were selling were so bad that they could only be taxed at the lower rate for toys.



Carson M. Simon & Co. v. United States
Protest 68/44358 against the decision of the district director of customs at the port of Philadelphia
UNITED STATES CUSTOMS COURT, FIRST DIVISION
66 Cust. Ct. 107; 1971 Cust. Ct. LEXIS 2404; Cust. Dec. 4177
February 10, 1971, Decided
DISPOSITION:


* * *

OPINION

[*108] [*10] Maletz, Judge: The problem in the present case is [**2] to determine the proper tariff on items invoiced as ukuleles that were imported from Japan through the port of Philadelphia in 1964. The articles -- which the parties agree are in chief value of wood -- were assessed duty by the government at the rate of 34 percent under item 725.06 of the tariff schedules as "[o]ther stringed [musical] instruments." Plaintiff contends that this assessment is erroneous and that the importations are properly dutiable at 26 percent under item 737.60 as "[t]oy musical instruments." Alternatively, plaintiff claims that the articles are dutiable at only 16 2/3 percent under item 207.00 which covers "[a]rticles not specially provided for, of wood."

The imported article is in the shape of a standard ukulele and measures 20 3/4 inches in length and 6 1/2 inches in width (at its widest point). Its body is constructed of wood as are the tuning pegs. It has a plastic fingerboard and four strings made of nylon.

Turning now to the testimony, plaintiff's first witness, the president of Schoenhut, Inc., the ultimate consignee of the imported articles, testified that Schoenhut is in the sole business of manufacturing and wholesaling toys; that its only [**3] customers are toy stores and toy departments throughout the United States; and that it sells the imported articles as toys to such customers. He stated that Schoenhut paid $ 14.63 per dozen (approximately $ 1.22 each) for the imported articles and charged its customers $ 21.60 per dozen ($ 1.80 each). n1 On eight or ten occasions, the witness said he had seen the imported articles actually used. On such occasions he testified that he had seen the articles used by children. "Like most toys," he said, "they just bang on it or string on it."

FOOTNOTES

n1 The retail price of the articles was not supplied.


Plaintiff's second witness was Vito Spiotta, a retired musician, who at the time he testified was a teacher of all fretted instruments, including the guitar, ukulele, mandolin, etc. He said that he had been playing these instruments since 1888 when he was six years old. He [*109] explained that stringed musical instruments had basic tuning requirements; that this was true of a ukulele; that a stringed instrument [**4] must be in tune in order to function as an instrument of music; and that if a stringed musical instrument does not keep its tune, it cannot be played alone nor with other instruments.

Spiotta testified that he had examined the import in question and had determined that it would not keep in tune "because the pegs * * * loosen up * * * and it gets out of tune." Using a pitch pipe, he tuned the imported article and then started to play a few chords. However, after about five seconds, it went out of tune. He then retuned it to demonstrate how far it had gone out of tune. He conceded that stringed musical instruments also go out of tune, but added that at least he could play a whole tune on a stringed instrument -- which he could not do on the import.

Finally, Spiotta testified that he did not consider the import to be a musical instrument because it did not hold a tune, and for that reason also he could not teach on it. He added that as a professional he would not use the importation because it assertedly had no tone. In his opinion, it was merely a plaything for children.


* * *
[**9] [*111] [*11] Considering now the legal aspects, "the intent under the tariff schedules is that an article should be classified as a true musical instrument rather than a toy musical instrument only if it is of such quality and character as would ordinarily be used for serious musical study or use." Montgomery Ward & Co. v. United States, 62 Cust. Ct. 718, 723, C.D. 3853 (1969). See also United States v. B. Illfelder & Co., 57 Treas. Dec. 687, T.D. 44002 (1930). Based upon the entire record, we conclude, for the reasons that follow, that the importation in question is not a true musical instrument but is, in fact, a toy.

For one thing, the record establishes that the import is an extremely inexpensive article, in the form of a ukulele, that is incapable of keeping a tune throughout an entire musical selection. In this connection, it was the opinion of plaintiff's witness Spiotta, an expert on stringed instruments, and the only witness with personal knowledge relating to ukuleles as musical instruments, that the importation could not keep a tune; that a stringed musical instrument could not be played with other instruments if it were not in tune; that [**10] he could not teach a student to play the ukulele by using the imported article; and that it was not a musical instrument but simply a toy. Further, the opinion of this expert was corroborated when it was shown at trial, in the course of several demonstrations, that the import could not keep a tune. Of course, an instrument which is incapable of keeping a tune throughout an entire musical selection is scarcely of such quality and character as would ordinarily be used for serious musical study or use.

The record, moreover, establishes that the consignee of the importation in issue handles only toys, and that the importations were sold as toys and then only to toy outlets. Such merchandising practices -- while not determinative -- have obvious probative value in ascertaining the nature of the import. See e.g., Montgomery Ward & Co. v. United States, supra, 62 Cust. Ct. at 724. A further consideration is the evidence that it was used by children as a toy to bang on or "string on it."

It is true that defendant's witness Giamo was (as we have seen) of the opinion that the imported merchandise constituted a musical instrument rather than a toy. However, in the circumstances [**11] of this case, the weight to be given to this testimony is somewhat impaired for the following reasons: First, he lacked any experience with or proficiency on the ukulele. Second, his opinion was based in part upon the fact that he considered the present importation similar in color and design to a ukulele he saw illustrated in a catalogue that he used as a reference. However, there is nothing in the record to establish that the import is, in fact, similar in material characteristics to the illustrated ukulele. For one thing, the retail price of the ukulele illustrated in the catalogue was $ 14.50, while the wholesale price of the [*112] importation was $ 1.80. Thus assuming the retailer of the imported article realized a markup of 100 percent and sold it for $ 3.60, the retail price of the illustrated ukulele would be some four times more expensive than the importation. Beyond that, while the ukulele illustrated in the catalogue is described therein as having a natural mahogany finish, the witness did not know whether the sample importation before him had "a mahogany front." In addition, the ukulele illustrated in the catalogue has what appears to be metal tuning pegs which [**12] are described as non-slip tuning pegs, as contrasted with the wooden pegs in the importation. n5

FOOTNOTES

n5 A further and more accurate comparison between the import and the illustrated ukulele, such as a comparison of their tonal quality and capability of keeping a tune, is, of course, not possible since the actual instrument depicted in the catalogue was not offered in evidence. It is to be noted that the judge presiding at trial offered to adjourn the trial to the next day to enable defendant to obtain and offer in evidence the ukulele illustrated in the catalogue. Defendant, however, did not avail itself of this opportunity.


We are quite mindful of the principle that when expert witnesses offer conflicting conclusions, the court should attach greater weight to the testimony of the expert who provides the details which influenced and supported his conclusion rather than to an unsupported expert opinion. See e.g., Grant Art Galleries v. United States, 2 Cust. Ct. 341, 354, C.D. 157 (1939). As to this, [**13] defendant insists that its witness supplied the details (i.e., his physical analysis of the sample importation) upon which he based his opinion and therefore his testimony should be given greater weight. But the plaintiff's expert witness had his opinion conclusively corroborated by the fact that the representative sample of the importation was shown at trial to be incapable of keeping a tune. True, defendant's expert witness offered an explanation for the importation's failure to maintain its tune for any length of time. However, considering (i) that such testimony was uncorroborated and (ii) that the witness lacked experience with or proficiency on the ukulele, we must conclude that the explanation is insufficient to rebut the weight of the evidence indicating that the import is not a serious musical instrument but rather a toy.
The protest is sustained. Judgement will be entered accordingly.


Carson M. Simon & Co. v. United States, 66 Cust. Ct. 107, 9-112 (Cust. Ct. 1971)

The Big Kahuna
06-06-2012, 09:50 AM
Reading stuff like that all day make your hair fall out dude ?

Brain got so big it pushed it all out from the inside.

hoosierhiver
06-06-2012, 10:30 AM
I'm starting to think Flea Market Music should start selling imported toy pianos at rock bottom prices Fight fire with fire.

ukuleledaveey
06-06-2012, 11:20 AM
I'm starting to think Flea Market Music should start selling imported toy pianos at rock bottom prices Fight fire with fire.

:) i'd buy one, they look fantastic, they could call it a fleiano

Blimey the schoenhut little red piano is £125 in the UK, i need a cheap fake one !!!!!!!

peewee
06-06-2012, 12:25 PM
In 1971 an importer selling to Schoenhut won a tax case by arguing that the ukuleles they were selling were so bad that they could only be taxed at the lower rate for toys.

I love the image of the 89 year old Vittor Spiotta tuning up and playing only to have the (probably loosened and lubricated) tuning pegs slip. I wonder what musical selection he attempted?

pootsie
06-06-2012, 02:30 PM
I love the image of the 89 year old Vittor Spiotta tuning up and playing only to have the (probably loosened and lubricated) tuning pegs slip. I wonder what musical selection he attempted?

I have to wonder if anyone in the courtroom had a small screwdriver handy. But the expert retained by the government in that case obviously was not that expert at his expertise. As a government lawyer myself, I like to think I could have won that one and proved that they were musical instruments. Really cheap, cruddy musical instruments.

Note also that the letter to Freeda from Schoenhut seems to differ from the statements by the Schoenhut witness in the case.

surfink
06-06-2012, 03:55 PM
In checking the links from e bay and Amazon, they pulled the product or sold out...

The Big Kahuna
06-06-2012, 07:58 PM
I heard that John Grisham is talking to the UU Supermods about buying the rights to this thread. "The Amazon Fleasco" will be out in hardback in December, priced $19.99

And in Wal-Mart in January, priced $2.99

Tigeralum2001
06-06-2012, 08:14 PM
I heard that John Grisham is talking to the UU Supermods about buying the rights to this thread. "The Amazon Fleasco" will be out in hardback in December, priced $19.99

And in Wal-Mart in January, priced $2.99
I'd pay $17 not to step foot in Wal-mart. To me there is no greater evil retailer than them. I don't care if they are giving it away.

addnos
06-06-2012, 11:10 PM
I'm not sure what the uproar is about. It sounds like most people think that design is one of a kind and therefore shouldn't be duplicated. If that were the case it would have been patented. But, I doubt it could be. The name can be trademarked, even registered, and maybe the tools and process for creating it can be patented, but why would you attack someone who is trying to make something cheaper and more available? Does anyone know the price point on a Flea model? Does it cost $120 to make or $12 to make? Is the manufacturer's margin $100 or $10? Are you overpaying for it because it's a Flea model? The Flea is a plastic uke for $150. There's no craftsmanship in it. It even has a plastic fret board. Maybe it would be ok to be upset that the Flea vendor is gouging the public by overcharging for a plastic uke. Is that a possibility?

addnos
06-06-2012, 11:17 PM
Does it matter where a uke is built, or does it matter that someone is playing a uke? What exactly do you want someone to do that just wants to play a cheap uke? Would you just prefer they not even play?

bazmaz
06-06-2012, 11:17 PM
There is no craftsmanship in it?? Do you know what you are talking about? How about the design work, how about the fact that Jim is probably one of the key figures in bringing ukes back into popularity? It's also made completely in the USA and not in a sweat shop. Oh and that plastic fretboard is one of the things that made Fleas so popular with beginners as its so damn accurate, unlike many $20 ukes.

The point being made by those are concerned is that the flea was designed by that team from the ground up, and they are famous for that design. You are prob right, the design probably can't be patented, but I still think it sucks that the most distinctive uke design around is being cheaply copied.

bazmaz
06-06-2012, 11:18 PM
Does it matter where a uke is built, or does it matter that someone is playing a uke? What exactly do you want someone to do that just wants to play a cheap uke? Would you just prefer they not even play?

Well for many people, yet it does. And I regularly recommend cheap ukes to people - like a Makala Dolphin. This copy however is trying to cash in on a premium design.

The Big Kahuna
06-06-2012, 11:32 PM
http://cdn.homebrewtalk.com/attachments/f14/62485d1337974796-russian-river-brewing-sucks-dont-feed-troll.jpg

addnos
06-06-2012, 11:37 PM
Can someone tell me how much money one has to spend to get a good sounding uke? I'm asking because you're all sounding like snobs about ukes as if someone can't be a member of "uke-world" unless they have a $300 uke. So, someone here tell me exactly how much someone is supposed to spend...oh, and while you're at it, exactly what design should they buy? You know, like a flea, a peanut, maybe a cigar box uke.

addnos
06-06-2012, 11:40 PM
I'm surprised we haven't heard anything official from FMM . I'm sure this is not the first time they have heard of this copy. Is their design protected ? Does it have a patent?
I'm a little surprised and then again not surprised at the number of insults from members of this site to the other members who might buy one of these copies. You might disagree but do you have to insult the other members? Where are the complaints about the Mahalo Les Paul ,or the explorer and telecaster style ukes.
You are exactly right. No one talks about those knock-offs, but OHHHH there's a toy uke that looks like the Flea! OMG, they can't do that!!! Whatever will we do. Oh the humanity

bazmaz
06-06-2012, 11:41 PM
Nobody is telling you that you need to spend that much at all. The ukulele I most commonly recommend to beginners is $35. But if someone wants to spend $300 there are choices there too.

addnos
06-06-2012, 11:46 PM
"the ukulele family would not fault you". As though it is one entity with one position? This is as diverse a group as any I have met.

I was thinking a lot about this today. Thinking about my shoes, which perhaps I shouldn't have purchased because while they are a different brand name, they are a converse styling. About the spartan brand cream of mushroom soup I used to make dinner instead of Campbell's. About the generic thyroid med I picked up from the pharmacy today.

Perhaps we should all get second jobs so that we can bypass affordable versions of things, because I bet the owners of Campbell's, Ed Hardy, and the drug company are swell guys.

The Beloffs (who are no doubt very nice and the new solar panels look great) are business people. This is part of running a business. I am sure they have legal counsel.

Why this effort to shame people who are engaging in a legal purchase transaction? Do you really feel lke my thirty bucks threatens the integrity of the ukulele community? A few have mentioned purchasing, myself included. I bet there's a dozen more who have done so as well without posting about it.

I understand the position of builders/ designers and am sympathetic to it. Knowing anyone can copy and undercut you must be very unsettling. It is the buyer loyalty (and borderline hostility) that I find interesting. All items a person acquires benefit from a halo effect. We see it here every day. Posters ask "which kind is best" and any one of a hundred people will jump to say "mine!".

It's 2am here so these are kind of random thoughts, sorry. But the other thing I wondered about is if the company even knew about the Flea to start with? Or did their foreign supplier of several instruments say "hey, want to add this to your lineup?". That is a very different scenario than deliberate copycatting on their part.
You are exactly correct. Thank you for posting that.

The Big Kahuna
06-06-2012, 11:51 PM
You are exactly correct. Thank you for posting that.

I'm sure I speak for everyone here when I say, thank you immensely for your approval. Speaking for myself, I don't know how I could have got through the rest of the day without your insightful, and totally non-trolling, posts. Really...how you've managed to read this entire thread, along with every other post on the entire forum, and not come to an uninformed and generalised opinion is beyond me. I salute you sir, you are truly one amongst many.

The Big Kahuna
06-06-2012, 11:54 PM
And if any mods are watching, I think the death of this thread is somewhat overdue.

njukeman
06-07-2012, 12:11 AM
And if any mods are watching, I think the death of this thread is somewhat overdue.

:agree: Here, here!

ukuhippo
06-07-2012, 12:25 AM
Well, it is, but I still want to see a vid with the Flea and the fake-Flea compared.

luluwrites
06-07-2012, 12:54 AM
"Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want." - Anna Lappe

I felt the need to bump this.

SweetWaterBlue
06-07-2012, 01:36 AM
Can someone tell me how much money one has to spend to get a good sounding uke? I'm asking because you're all sounding like snobs about ukes as if someone can't be a member of "uke-world" unless they have a $300 uke. So, someone here tell me exactly how much someone is supposed to spend...oh, and while you're at it, exactly what design should they buy? You know, like a flea, a peanut, maybe a cigar box uke.

Well, that just depends on who you ask. I know people that won't touch an under $500 uke, and others that are perfectly happy with a $50 one. Some of the best performances I have seen on YT were recorded on cheap ukes, and some on ukes that cost as much as small used car. Any uke you like to play is a good uke.

UkuleleHill
06-07-2012, 02:20 AM
Can someone tell me how much money one has to spend to get a good sounding uke? I'm asking because you're all sounding like snobs about ukes as if someone can't be a member of "uke-world" unless they have a $300 uke. So, someone here tell me exactly how much someone is supposed to spend...oh, and while you're at it, exactly what design should they buy? You know, like a flea, a peanut, maybe a cigar box uke.

You all were warned... I think its time to let this thread die off... Thanks for those that kept it going strong for so long...

addnos, I suspect you didn't read any of this thread. Next time please read before jumping to conclusions, or name calling.

For those of you that were going to do reviews, please post them in the videos and links section.