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View Full Version : My trip to the uke store today left me once again questioning solid ukes vs laminates



kissing
07-14-2012, 05:00 AM
When I first got into ukes, I was told that solid wood ukes are the best, and that laminates are cheap and sound dull.
After a while, I got into laminate ukes, because I found that they sounded quite good and were more durable against humidity.

Then I got into solid wood ukes again, because I somehow got convinced that they do sound better, and are thus better instruments..


Until I walked into a music store today, and had the following experience.


1. The store:
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y121/pactio_kiss/2012-07-14161807.jpg

2. The winners:
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y121/pactio_kiss/2012-07-14161754.jpg

3. The expensive wall of shame:
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y121/pactio_kiss/2012-07-14161913.jpg


Basically, the Anuenue U900's with the bunny/bear soundholes outperformed every other uke in the store in my view.
They are packed with tone, volume and clarity that made the rest sound dull and lifeless.

This is including some high end all-solid ukes of all sizes, some costing $700+
Solid Koa, Acacia, Spruce, Mahogany.. they were all there... but still sounding duller than these pair of soprano laminates.


These Anuenue U900's are amazing o.O
They even outperformed more expensive ukes made by the same company.

coolkayaker1
07-14-2012, 05:15 AM
I agree with you, kissing. Solids overrated, laminates under-appreciated (assuming proper set-up on all).

Someday, I'd like to see a blindfolded test, where someone hands a player, say, five ukes, of all different prices and builds. Would be interesting.

katysax
07-14-2012, 07:08 AM
I also agree. I have a few solid ukes and one laminate - a laminate Islander concert. For a number of reasons the Islander is my favorite. It's the one I take out and play outside - I just don't love the fluke or even like it that much. It's the one I take out to play with other people. I don't worry about it - it's durable and not affected so much by the weather. If I ruin it or it gets stolen I'll just buy another just like it. I've played the solid Islanders and I do think they sound better - a little. A well setup laminate will play just as well as a solid wood uke. It will be more durable and less expensive. It still has to be properly set up and of good quality with good build and good design, but I'd much rather have a good laminate than a mediocre solid wood uke.

gyosh
07-14-2012, 07:20 AM
Congratulations on finding a uke you love . . . . for now :)

UAS is a demanding mistress!!

If you're happy, than it's a GREAT uke!!!! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

(I have all solid instruments btw)

WhenDogsSing
07-14-2012, 07:57 AM
I agree with you, kissing. Solids overrated, laminates under-appreciated (assuming proper set-up on all).

Someday, I'd like to see a blindfolded test, where someone hands a player, say, five ukes, of all different prices and builds. Would be interesting.

MGM did one with 12 ukuleles a couple of years back. Here's the link to the thread:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?17055-Enough-talk-Let-s-do-the-Walk-The-great-MGM-ukulele-challange

PhilUSAFRet
07-14-2012, 08:05 AM
Some musicians can detect tones and subtleties that some of us cant. What soundsgood to you sounds good..period. Lots of great ukers out there that will never aspire to anything more than a Kala and that's ok. Those litte ukes sound great. Playing is supposed to make you happy and high end ukes won't always do that for each and every one of us. All we can say is some laminate ukes sound better than some solid ones, and leave it at that. It's your money...you get to decide. What sounds good to my ears sounds good to me and that's all there is to it. Good luck.

Gmoney
07-14-2012, 08:20 AM
So... where was these photos taken? Because, even the "expensive wall of shame" looks like all factory made mass marketed ukes.

I agree, the aNueNue u900 "twins" are fun to play & probably sound better than all in that first photo AND all of the over-built, setup-impaired & intonation-dubious "expensive" ukes. BUT, my well setup Mainland soprano pineapple (solid wood) & Kamoa Grand Concert (laminate) sound GREAT - both easily beat the Kala "Mighty Uke" that was badly setup when I got it & my couple of Makala dolphins.

As others have noted, we all play for enjoyment (even the pros have to love what they are doing), so enjoy. I'd be the last to say that only a solid uke will sound the best all the time.

Mahalo!

BlackBearUkes
07-14-2012, 08:20 AM
Saying that solid wood ukes are over rated and that laminates sound as good or better is painting the uke market with a very broad brush, wouldn't you say? In the inexpensive uke market you may be correct, the laminates will sound as good as a solid. Why? The answer is because in the low end market all these ukes are built without regard to the type of wood used. They are slung together in a uke factory where every uke gets the same attention. Its a hit and and miss atmosphere where some ukes will sound OK and other lousy regardless of the wood used. Thus is not planned, it just happens. Because a uke is made of solid woods means nothing, it how the uke is made and by whom. By the looks in your photos, I don't see any hand made high end ukes on the wall, and I don't mean over priced factory made ukes with thick plastic finishes.

If you were to say that some laminates sound better then high end ukes like some of the fine luthiers that post here, they I would say you need to get your hearing checked out. And in fact, if these laminates do sound as good to you as some high end ukes, then by all means you should play a laminate and be happy with what you have.

coolkayaker1
07-14-2012, 11:19 AM
If you were to say that some laminates sound better then high end ukes like some of the fine luthiers that post here, they I would say you need to get your hearing checked out.

Yep, that's what I'm saying. My Kiwaya eco-laminate sounds as good as some of the high end ukes on here. Notice I didn't say better, I said just as good. Yep.

Thanks for the link to the MGM old thread comparing ukuleles blindly. It proves the point.

v30
07-14-2012, 11:35 AM
Interesting thread. Can you post some sound samples with the inexpensive ukes compared to something solid and higher priced ?

OldePhart
07-14-2012, 12:37 PM
I've said it before and I'll say it again, theoretically a properly built laminated instrument should sound better than a solid one because strength and stability of laminates go up at a higher rate than does the inflexibility of laminates (i.e. you can build the same amount of strength using a thinner laminate that actually vibrates more freely than the required thickness of solid wood).

However, in practice that's pretty rare (the Kiwaya eco-ukes are one of the few possible exceptions - my Kiwaya longneck doesn't match my KoAloha longneck, or even my Mainland standard sopranos, but it beats every laminated uke I've ever heard). In practice the use of laminates is usually a cost saving measure that is usually accompanied by other "cut corners." The laminates used are not the high-tech materials that offer very adventageous strength to flexibility factors - they are usually inexpensive materials with a 1/64" (or thinner) "bling" finish meant to impress the eye while saving money.

Finally, while I've heard some pretty decent laminated ukes (especially the Kiwaya noted) even the good ones are at one disadvantage against solid ukes - they are never going to get better with age and use. Now, the "playing in" phenomenon is often disputed but I've experienced it on a couple of instruments (guitars and ukes, both) so drastically and quickly that it just couldn't be denied. (I don't, however, think it always happens with a solid wood instrument and I'll concede that in some cases the "playing in" might actually go downhill, though I've never seen it.) But, laminated materials are so stable in multiple dimensions that they are unlikely to change much over the life of the instrument. Of course, if you're looking at harsh treatment and environment, that can be a good thing... :)

John

AndrewKuker
07-14-2012, 12:39 PM
often, especially with companies that mass produce, they will make the solid wood ukes thicker than laminate because solid woods are more likely to warp and crack. or they will have good solid wood line and then a number of them warp, they get some complaints, and the company will start making them thicker to prevent problems. they should address the woods being exactly quarter sawn or having the factory climate controlled so the woods don't go into shock as they hit the west coast, but it's easier to just make them thicker. So the laminate ones will often have more volume and resonance from having a thinner top. However, almost every day in the store I will see MGM showing ukes and he'll say, "but now here's a Hawaiian uke" strum strum, and the customers say things like.."oh wow" or "boy, they really do sound better". And it is pretty obvious to all which is tonally superior. It is not the fact that it's solid. Though it should be noted that solid instruments "open up" with time and laminates won't. But hey, I end up playing my daughter's $80 Luna Honu more than anything because it's laying on the couch or table and it's fun. But if I was recording or really trying to compose something.....

Kekani
07-14-2012, 01:18 PM
This is dreadfully misleading thread for any noob luring the forums.

I agree with Duane (& Andrew et al), the generalistic broad strokes taken and stated in this thread are the very ones that support the infamous "Internet expertise" that serves to degenerate focused forums into "rumor is the truth" and results in unknown ridicule of that forum elsewhere.

Jumping off my box, $700 "wall of shame" is nowhere near "high end", and depending on where that pic was taken, I would imagine any high end instruments would not be hanging on the wall next to thosed depicted.

Let's not even go into how much better customs instruments can be "played" compared to rack instruments, if you really want to talk about high end. If you don't know what his means, then you don't have the right custom for you.

Bttl (back to the lounge).

Aaron

nohoval_turrets
07-14-2012, 01:25 PM
When I got my Kiwaya KTS-7 I was pretty underwhelmed at first. It didn't seem to compare to the couple I'd tried before (other people's), and seemed little better my cheap applause (which I still like by the way). I was a bit disheartened - it was a very expensive instrument, and a big investment for me.

Gradually the sound opened up, and it felt like something quite different was emerging. Something bright and sparkly and full of life. The tone on this uke is amazing now. And it's not just wishful thinking - I can still compare it to the Applause and the difference is just astonishing.

The point is that with good solid instruments, the instrument you try in the shop is not the one you end up with after a few weeks of playing. With laminates, what you get is what you get.

Just my opinion.

ksiegel
07-14-2012, 01:32 PM
Last summer, when I visited Ukulele Source in San Jose, I played every uke in the store - laminate and solid. Some of the laminates sounded wonderful, some I put back after the third strum.

But I did the same thing with a couple of the solid Hawaiian-made ukes.

When I picked up the KoAloha Sceptre, a solid Koa Hawaiian-made instrument, I was hooked. Not just the sound - which my wife, sitting across the room immediately noticed - but the feel and resonance of the instrument as I played, both picking and strumming.

I also had a wonderful reaction to a Kamaka Lili'u and one of Rick Turner's Rosewood Compass Rose 5-strings I played at other locations.

The important thing about any instrument or string is to remember how subjective the experience is. This has been pointed out with members of the violin family, guitars, mandolins - pretty much anything. Factor in the skill of the player, and how good the hearing of the listener is, and there is no one answer.

Its like politics, religion, and computers: Declare an absolute, and you will have people declaring you absolutely wrong.



-Kurt

scothut
07-14-2012, 01:49 PM
It's amazing how good laminates can sound in relation to solids. With far more models to choose from and cheaper prices they are a great option.

BlackBearUkes
07-14-2012, 02:06 PM
One thing I have noticed over the years of selling and building instruments, people almost always play an instrument that is the same level as their musical abilities, not always but 95 % of the time. You don't see beginners playing high end ukes (unless they have the means). The main reason they don't is because they can't tell the difference. You also don't see pros playing cheap laminate imports no matter how well made, because they can tell the difference. Laminates have their place and if you can't tell the difference its because you can't tell the difference. For most folks who play for fun and will never be professionals, laminates are good enough and I don't mean that in a disparaging way.

AndrewKuker
07-14-2012, 03:57 PM
we have a lot of customers that aren't gerat players but definitely enjoy a high end uke and can tell the difference. Sometimes it can help them progress musically because the instrument sounds and feels so good that they are more often inspired to play it. but ya, if you can't hear the difference then don't spend the difference. there can't be a serious debate that the best ukes are laminate though. it's just that a lot of solid wood instruments aren't very good. the most crucial factor is the builder. Anyone ever play that pallet guitar at Taylor's factory? Not too far from their others in tone.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
07-14-2012, 04:19 PM
Laminated sides (only) are becoming quite the thing on high end instruments, for various legitimate reasons. Solid tops will always reign supreme though.

coolkayaker1
07-14-2012, 04:46 PM
often, especially with companies that mass produce, they will make the solid wood ukes thicker than laminate because solid woods are more likely to warp and crack. or they will have good solid wood line and then a number of them warp, they get some complaints, and the company will start making them thicker to prevent problems. they should address the woods being exactly quarter sawn or having the factory climate controlled so the woods don't go into shock as they hit the west coast, but it's easier to just make them thicker. So the laminate ones will often have more volume and resonance from having a thinner top. However, almost every day in the store I will see MGM showing ukes and he'll say, "but now here's a Hawaiian uke" strum strum, and the customers say things like.."oh wow" or "boy, they really do sound better". And it is pretty obvious to all which is tonally superior. It is not the fact that it's solid. Though it should be noted that solid instruments "open up" with time and laminates won't. But hey, I end up playing my daughter's $80 Luna Honu more than anything because it's laying on the couch or table and it's fun. But if I was recording or really trying to compose something.....
I read what you wrote twice, Andrew. There's a ton of truth in what you wrote, and you'd know with all the ukes flying in and out of HMS. Thanks for explaining this laminate vs solid phenomenon.

southcoastukes
07-14-2012, 05:51 PM
... there can't be a serious debate that the best ukes are laminate though....

Absolutely sure about that?



Beau Hannam Ukuleles
Solid tops will always reign supreme though.

Ever heard of a double top?

webby
07-14-2012, 08:23 PM
Of course there are the type of strings used at the shop floor display level to consider.

Can't wait to go into the next big music shop i find and ask them if they could re string every uke with a matching set of strings so I can asses the difference between their 30 dollar mahalos and their 2000 dollar+ range, I'm sure they will just LOVE to do that for me :)

I'll offer to go grab lunch while they do it to give them an hour or 2 so they can have the conditions and set ups just right for me.

I'll let you know how that works out :)

Bwahahahhahahahahaa.

kissing
07-14-2012, 08:46 PM
Wow, I didn't realise my little shop experience would spark this much discussion.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make a sweeping generalisation.
Nowhere did I say that laminates are superior to solid wood, nor vice versa.

It was just a personal account. I'm quite aware that the ukes that are considered highly are often solid wood ukes. I totally respect that, and the ukes I intend to purchase next are all-solid ukes (but it's definitely not any from that store :) . I'm ordering from HMS). In this particular store, the solid wood ukes at a typical $300-1000 price range, I felt underperformed compared to the pair of $129 laminate ukes by Anuenue. I guess my use of the term "high-end" was a bit open to interpretation, as some would consider $500 to be "high end", while for others its $5000.

I was just posting about my experience of visiting this particular music store, given the selection of ukes they had at a range of prices - that was my experience. Hence, on a personal level, it challenged the idea in my head that solid woods always outperform laminate wood. My post is not a declaration of an absolute or an idealistic philosophy, but a recount of the surprise I felt from my visit.

But some of the replies have been quite interesting. I never realised that some people consider laminates to be for noobs, because they can't tell the difference anyway.
I'm amazed that some people will even imply that someone is incapable of knowing what good tone is because they rated a laminate uke higher than some solid wood ukes.
I did not realise that one's preference of tone of an expensive ukulele was directly proportional to one's skill level either. Great insights!

webby
07-14-2012, 09:21 PM
I guess my use of the term "high-end" was a bit open to interpretation, as some would consider $500 to be "high end", while for others its $5000.

I have very limited experience of so called "High End" ukes, like you I have been in a few music shops that had some solid wood ukes around the 1000 dollar range and I too was totally underwhelmed by them, So without any real reason I have mentally considered "High End" must mean ukes over say 2 grand.


some people will even imply that someone is incapable of knowing what good tone is because they rated a laminate uke higher than some solid wood ukes.

Yeh I put that down to someone being upset because they bought a really expensive uke and have been disappointed that no one is constantly fawning over how good it sounds and so put other people down to compensate and make themselves feel better.


I did not realise that one's preference of tone of an expensive ukulele was directly proportional to one's skill level either.

It's not, that makes absolutely no sense at all, just spend an hour flipping through a high end HI-FI magazine and you will see that people with no playing ability at all have amazing skills for detecting the subtlest variations in tone and sound from all sources, and also I would think a conductor would know what sounds good across the range of an entire orchestra even though he may not be a virtuoso of every instrument.

Or next time you are recording anything in a professional studio ask the chief sound engineer if he is a master of every instrument he mixes.

Plainsong
07-14-2012, 11:54 PM
Price only matters in luxury goods. We're not talking about that here, we're talking about instruments. High end isn't so much about the price as it is build quality. If it was built to be good, accurate, and by people who give a damn, then it's a gigging instrument that can hold its head up high. Now whether you got no bling and it's between 600-2000 usd or all the bling and it's 3000-10000, is up to you.

The generalizations they are painful, but it seems to be how the forum is evolving. The OP didn't say half of what he was accused of, though I didn't see any uke in that pic that wasn't an import with a dodgy reputation... He also didn't say all of x is greater than y either.

If it sounds good then it is good. It shouldn't be about the price tag being high enough to please the cool kids. It should be about the instrument feeling and sounding how you want, and making something with that.

bodhran
07-15-2012, 12:53 AM
As a novice and 'hobbyist' ukulele player on a low budget I only aspire to play 'cheap' ukuleles for two reasons:

1 - I cannot afford to buy a luthier built instrument
2 - I very much doubt that I could do justice to a luthier built instrument if I had one.

Having now tried quite a few 'low end' ukulele's I had come to the conclusion that (at least with the instruments I had played) that there appears to be quite a variation in sound between the same model in a given maker's range. Trick is to play a few and decide what sounds nice to you. As it happens the ukulele that 'clicked' with me was a laminate, very plain looking and not a maker I had considered before - it just sounded right to me. I played several of the same model and this particular one sounded 'right' to my ears so I bought it.

I have been lucky enough to have some help from someone who is a very competent player and performs publicly. He has a luthier built ukulele and it sounds wonderful - but then my cheap ukulele sounded far better when he played it than it does in my hands!

niceguyrob
07-15-2012, 01:11 AM
High end isn't so much about the price as it is build quality. If it was built to be good, accurate, and by people who give a damn, then it's a gigging instrument that can hold its head up high.

If it sounds good then it is good. It shouldn't be about the price tag being high enough to please the cool kids. It should be about the instrument feeling and sounding how you want, and making something with that.

I completely agree! You could get a ukulele that was knocked together by some poor kid in the depths of a sweatshop somewhere in the middle of asia that "could" sound better than a high end $2000+ uke (if he got lucky!... REALLY lucky!). Its all to do with build quality and every instrument sounds different! If its built "just right" it will sound amazing whatever its made of. Even I can accidentally make a decent uke every once in a while. That being said, the thing to be said of solid woods is the tone of the wood TYPE! You know you're getting all Koa or Rosewood Or Mahogany etc. Not a mix of whatever was in the mix with a Koa etc. veneer on top! You also have to get the right part of the tree! Not all koa's were created equally! Where the wood was grown, cut and the run of the grain all contribute to individual tone and sound. This variance cannot exist in a laminate so you can lose something there. Also an all solid uke will get better with age as it is played in but a laminate will only ever be as good the day you brought it.

niceguyrob
07-15-2012, 01:18 AM
As a novice and 'hobbyist' ukulele player on a low budget I only aspire to play 'cheap' ukuleles for two reasons:

1 - I cannot afford to buy a luthier built instrument
2 - I very much doubt that I could do justice to a luthier built instrument if I had one.

Having now tried quite a few 'low end' ukulele's I had come to the conclusion that (at least with the instruments I had played) that there appears to be quite a variation in sound between the same model in a given maker's range. Trick is to play a few and decide what sounds nice to you. As it happens the ukulele that 'clicked' with me was a laminate, very plain looking and not a maker I had considered before - it just sounded right to me. I played several of the same model and this particular one sounded 'right' to my ears so I bought it.

I have been lucky enough to have some help from someone who is a very competent player and performs publicly. He has a luthier built ukulele and it sounds wonderful - but then my cheap ukulele sounded far better when he played it than it does in my hands!

I feel your pain! we are all novices still learning to do things better. You will never know it all. There will always be something you can improve! but if you're looking for a cheap decent custom uke than look no further than Bruko from gemany. He made me a solid custom concert for about 280 inc a hard case! That was about 16 months ago now and its still my favorite!

v30
07-15-2012, 03:28 AM
Its too bad you didn't get some sound samples and then let members guess which was the high end and which was the cheap laminate. That would have been fun.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
07-15-2012, 04:59 AM
Ever heard of a double top?

I've only played/heard a double topped (NOMEX) guitar which i watched being made. Sound quality was not better but with 2-3 times as much work not to mention that tops are so thin that no repair work could ever be done on them and the nomex kinda shadowed through the spruce. I've never heard a double topped uke though which may fair better with a hardwood top, but with the same other inherent problems associated with the (NOMEX) technique.

coolkayaker1
07-15-2012, 05:48 AM
Kissing, now that you've stirred the heat right to the top of the laminate versus solid pot and left it over boiling like an unattended stew, what's next? Friction versus geared? We haven't steamed about low G vs high G for a week or two.

Lol. Fun stuff.

Gmoney
07-15-2012, 06:14 AM
Kissing, now that you've stirred the heat right to the top of the laminate versus solid pot and left it over boiling like an unattended stew, what's next? Friction versus geared? We haven't steamed about low G vs high G for a week or two.

Lol. Fun stuff.

I think that we must also have another "endangered woods" discussion as well... I'll start - everybody ought to be playing carbon fiber ukes. Let the trees grow unmolested by instrument lovers!

Markr1
07-15-2012, 06:34 AM
Ive never played one but I just can't get used to the idea of having a carbon fiber uke or guitar. I'm from the old school. I like wood and solid wood at that.

kvehe
07-15-2012, 06:45 AM
I am a (very, very) novice player, but I (really, really) like my BlackBird. Of course, I expect some to say that this means that my (very, very) untrained ear just doesn't know what it should be listening for! LOL! Love this forum!

Kathryn

salukulady
07-15-2012, 07:09 AM
Where is this store?

ksiegel
07-15-2012, 07:38 AM
I am a (very, very) novice player, but I (really, really) like my BlackBird. Of course, I expect some to say that this means that my (very, very) untrained ear just doesn't know what it should be listening for! LOL! Love this forum!

Kathryn

It means that your "untrained ear" should be listening to/for what sounds good to you.

I haven't played a Blackbird, but I've been inclose proximity to one being played (2-3 feet away) and it sounds great acoustic, or through an amp. Can't justify the cost, but wouldn't mind having one - especially with the heat/humidity swings we get here in Upstate NY.


-Kurt

OldePhart
07-15-2012, 08:40 AM
...
2 - I very much doubt that I could do justice to a luthier built instrument if I had one.


Okay, now you've done it, I have to knock you down and kick sand in your face because you pushed one of my buttons! :) You do not have to be a good enough player to "do justice" to an instrument, the instrument has to be good enough to deserve you! You are going to spend hours and hours and hours with that instrument and your time is worth something, spend that time with the very best instrument that you can afford! That doesn't necessarily mean luthier built, and doesn't necessarily mean that your current uke isn't good enough, but I can almost guarantee that you will get better, faster, and develop a better ear, the better the instrument you play.



Having now tried quite a few 'low end' ukulele's I had come to the conclusion that (at least with the instruments I had played) that there appears to be quite a variation in sound between the same model in a given maker's range. Trick is to play a few and decide what sounds nice to you.

Very true - and doubtless part of the cause of "brand wars" around here and elsewhere. Somebody gets a good Kala and a bad Lanikai and for them Kala will always be the better brand, and vice versa. There is actually a certain amount of variation in all brands and price ranges, and to a far lesser extent even in instruments from the same luthier - wood is a strange beast after all. The difference is that the higher you go, and especially when you get to the Hawaiian brands and then even higher to the top luthiers, that variation becomes smaller and even the "worst" of the herd tends to be quite acceptable, even delightful.



As it happens the ukulele that 'clicked' with me was a laminate, very plain looking and not a maker I had considered before - it just sounded right to me. I played several of the same model and this particular one sounded 'right' to my ears so I bought it.

Chances are the one that you selected had lower action at the nut, and thus better intonation on the open or "1st postion" chords. Even people who think they have no ear can often detect intonation problems they just don't know that what they are hearing is out of tune notes - they just know that uke A sounds "sweeter" than uke B. In the factory lines it is very common to find some ukes with very poor intonation, some with fair to decent intonation, and the occasional gem with excellent intonation.

The good news is that even if you have one of those "uke B's" that has poor 1st position intonation it can almost always be improved with a little time with the proper file and sandpaper - true basket cases where the fretworks is so uneven that the nut slots can't be lowered without introducing a buzz are blessedly rare in all but the very cheapest of ukes.


I have been lucky enough to have some help from someone who is a very competent player and performs publicly. He has a luthier built ukulele and it sounds wonderful - but then my cheap ukulele sounded far better when he played it than it does in my hands!

Yeah...join the club... :( :)

John

coolkayaker1
07-15-2012, 09:46 AM
Ive never played one but I just can't get used to the idea of having a carbon fiber uke or guitar. I'm from the old school. I like wood and solid wood at that.

If you honestly feel that way, Mark, according to Gmoney and I, you are a "murderer".

Seriously, how can you sleep at night? ;) LMAO

Markr1
07-15-2012, 11:09 AM
So that explains why I've been having trouble sleeping since playing the uke. Lol.
If you honestly feel that way, Mark, according to Gmoney and I, you are a "murderer".

Seriously, how can you sleep at night? ;) LMAO

coolkayaker1
07-15-2012, 12:06 PM
So that explains why I've been having trouble sleeping since playing the uke. Lol.


I wonder if anyone's done a study of how much electricity, barrels of crude fossil fuels and factory carbon fiber footprint it takes to manufacture a carbon fiber ukulele.

Markr1
07-15-2012, 12:18 PM
It sounds like I may not be the only one losing sleep.
I wonder if anyone's done a study of how much electricity, barrels of crude fossil fuels and factory carbon fiber footprint it takes to manufacture a carbon fiber ukulele.

Blue Skies
07-15-2012, 05:26 PM
One thing I have noticed over the years of selling and building instruments, people almost always play an instrument that is the same level as their musical abilities, not always but 95 % of the time. You don't see beginners playing high end ukes (unless they have the means). The main reason they don't is because they can't tell the difference. You also don't see pros playing cheap laminate imports no matter how well made, because they can tell the difference. Laminates have their place and if you can't tell the difference its because you can't tell the difference. For most folks who play for fun and will never be professionals, laminates are good enough and I don't mean that in a disparaging way.

I beg to differ. I just started playing ukulele and can readily tell the difference between say, my Dads 30$ Rogue and my Cordoba which is nowhere near a many hundred or thousand $ instrument. I can also tell the difference between mine and other folks in the class I'm taking. I can also tell the difference on YouTube and the sound bite clips between cheapos and expensive o's...ment more between the sound of ones that sound bad verses good. So, its not just in being a newbie that one can or can't tell the difference. Everybodies got ears!!! I think that in quoting playing an instrument at their level, maybe they don't have the $$ to purchase a better instrument, but would like to? I would love to play a high-end uke, but just don't have the funds to do so. That's the main reason I don't. Plus, I would like to give it time so that I can figure out which one will be my next without rushing into a purchase I won't be happy with in the long run. I don't aim to collect them as some do. So, ya got a baritone to spare???;) (at my price?)

The Big Kahuna
07-15-2012, 09:04 PM
I wonder if anyone's done a study of how much electricity, barrels of crude fossil fuels and factory carbon fiber footprint it takes to manufacture a carbon fiber ukulele.

Bah, I was just trying to find this thread so I could post something akin to this. Reminds me of the debate over the Toyota Prius, and whether the environmental impact from the manufacture of the batteries outweighs the benefit to the environment for Hybrid Power.

Then there's the extra environmental damage cause by the fact that every Prius I see on Britain's motorways is being driven like it was stolen. No doubt a form of compensating behaviour due to the driver realising the huge mistake he's made in buying a Prius, and how much of a c**k everyone else on the road thinks he is.

Pukulele Pete
07-16-2012, 01:37 AM
Back to Solids vs. Laminates. My first uke I bought used on Ebay . It is a koa laminate souvenir uke.It says " Hawaiian Ukulele" above the bridge like the Duke Komona whats his name ukes. I'm still not sure if the top is solid or lam but I'm thinking laminate. It is one of the best sounding ukes I own. My Brother in law thinks it sounds better than my Martins. Then on the other hand I have a good laminate with solid top uke that sounds good but compared to a solid uke , it sounds more like a toy uke.

barefootgypsy
07-16-2012, 03:01 AM
I agree with you, kissing. Solids overrated, laminates under-appreciated (assuming proper set-up on all).

Someday, I'd like to see a blindfolded test, where someone hands a player, say, five ukes, of all different prices and builds. Would be interesting.I absolutely agree with you about the blindfold test! Would love a good player to do it and post the results! Anyone up for it?

barefootgypsy
07-16-2012, 03:16 AM
often, especially with companies that mass produce, they will make the solid wood ukes thicker than laminate because solid woods are more likely to warp and crack. or they will have good solid wood line and then a number of them warp, they get some complaints, and the company will start making them thicker to prevent problems. Thanks for making this point, it's a very interesting one and makes a lot of sense to me....

WhenDogsSing
07-16-2012, 04:43 AM
I absolutely agree with you about the blindfold test! Would love a good player to do it and post the results! Anyone up for it?

It's been done. Here is the link:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?17055-Enough-talk-Let-s-do-the-Walk-The-great-MGM-ukulele-challange

TG&Y
07-16-2012, 05:21 AM
Ford or Chevy?

haolejohn
07-16-2012, 06:24 AM
Yep, that's what I'm saying. My Kiwaya eco-laminate sounds as good as some of the high end ukes on here. Notice I didn't say better, I said just as good. Yep.

Thanks for the link to the MGM old thread comparing ukuleles blindly. It proves the point.

I haven't revised that thread but if my diminishing memory is correct...that Kanilea was the overwhelming choice as best sounding...

coolkayaker1
07-16-2012, 06:42 AM
Kanilea? That's interesting that the overwhelming blinded choice was Kanilea.

This video by Andrew from the ever impressive HMS shows ten upscale ukuleles played impeccably by Corey.

The Kanilea? Dead. This is how I hear it-- but it is subjective, and I'm not judging Kanilea. Just how it came off in this video. I don't believe any of these ukes are laminates.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e-MuDoJk2c

PhilUSAFRet
07-16-2012, 12:49 PM
Kanilea dead?

OldePhart
07-16-2012, 01:06 PM
I wouldn't describe the Kanilea in that last video as "dead" by any means but it definitely emphasized the lower tones at the expense of some of the upper level "chime." Whether that's good or bad depends on what you're looking for in a uke. For me, I would choose any of the other ukuleles in that sample of ten ukes before the Kanilea's in that video, but I can easily understand how someone else might zero in on the Kanilea as being exactly what they're looking for.

Tone is very subjective; one man's "dead" is another's "great low end" while someone else's "too bright" might be Steve's "just right" and so on. I think it would probably do all of us a lot of good to play what we enjoy playing without giving much thought or weight to how someone else chooses to characterize, or demonize, it. :)

John


John

haolejohn
07-16-2012, 01:25 PM
Kanilea? That's interesting that the overwhelming blinded choice was Kanilea.

This video by Andrew from the ever impressive HMS shows ten upscale ukuleles played impeccably by Corey.

The Kanilea? Dead. This is how I hear it-- but it is subjective, and I'm not judging Kanilea. Just how it came off in this video. I don't believe any of these ukes are laminates.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e-MuDoJk2c

I'm not a kanilea fan. As a matter of fact of all them I've ever played there was only two I would have bought. They were both sound monsters. I just remember that treaty MGM did. There were some decent sounding laminates out there. And when comparing cheap laminates to cheap solids then there isn't much difference. It's the cheap to cheap comparison. Regardless of the what's better debate what matters is what you hear. I've played thousands of ukes in my life. I can't tell a major cortege between a nice import (mele, pono, BI, mainland, etc...) and a k brand, but I can normally tell a difference. I'm a uke snob. I'm not afraid to admit it. So I'll pick solid over laminate in quality any day of the week.

coolkayaker1
07-16-2012, 02:37 PM
For me, I would choose any of the other ukuleles in that sample of ten ukes before the Kanilea's in that video, but I can easily understand how someone else might zero in on the Kanilea as being exactly what they're looking for.
John

For me, I would choose any of the other ukuleles in that sample of ten ukes before the Kanilea's in that video, and I can't understand how someone else might zero in on the Kanilea as being exactly what they're looking for.

lol

Skottoman
07-16-2012, 04:06 PM
Having 2 Koaloha's, and 1 Kanilea, The samples in this video to me, sound spot on in my experience with these 2 brands.

Koaloha is brighter and louder, Kanilea is deeper and smoother. Both different, and good.
The Kanilea does have a great resonance in the body of the uke that I've not experienced in anything else.

That said, I have 10 ukes in my collection, and once I added a Koaloha Concert, and a G-String concert, I sold my laminate Kala, because the body of the uke felt/sounded dead to me.

Tone is one thing, feel is another. I don't ever recall my kala feeling resonant like my Kanilea or even my Martin S0 for that matter. It's a feel thing.
Cheers,
Skottoman

Markr1
07-16-2012, 04:27 PM
I have a Kanilea and love the sound of it but didn't care much for the sound of the one he was playing. I would have to place it at #10 also. It sure doesn't sound like mine.

kissing
07-16-2012, 04:39 PM
In that video, the Kelli'i's performance, given price:tone ratio, is amazing!

wickedwahine11
07-16-2012, 04:45 PM
Having 2 Koaloha's, and 1 Kanilea, The samples in this video to me, sound spot on in my experience with these 2 brands.

Koaloha is brighter and louder, Kanilea is deeper and smoother. Both different, and good.

I agree completely. My KoAloha tenor is extremely bright and very loud. My Kanilea tenor is very mellow and smooth is a good word for it.

They are different both are nice though. I find sometimes after exclusively playing the Kanilea I long for the loud, bright tones of the KoAloha and am always pleasantly surprised by the difference. Then after playing the KoAloha for a while, I find I need a respite from the ultra bright tone and resort back to the Kanilea, which then sounds soothing to me.

I didn't care for the first Kanilea in that video, but I thought the second didn't sound bad. I actually liked the Ko'olaus the best.

Nickie
07-16-2012, 05:47 PM
Scottoman,
I wondered when somone would mention FEEL.
This is quite a thread!
My 1st really serious uke purchase was a laminate
Cordoba. I liked the way it felt, and was pretty satisfied that it sounded okay, while I was a beginner. The better I got, the better it sounded, of course, but it never did "open up."
When I got my 1st solid wood uke, my present Kala, that baby started opening up almost right away. Then I was real disillusioned with the Cordoba. That Kala blew that 1st uke right outta the water for me. It should be no surprise that the laminate is gone.
Some of my buddies play laminate Lanakais, and I wouldn't own one, but they sound great when they play them. Those guys are way better players than me, too, and seem to have no desire to own a fancy solid wood uke. Really, I just haven't seen any Lanakai, solid or laminate, that I was impressed with. Pretty, but dead... to me. No offfense to my Lanakai loving brohters and sisters...
There is a need for solids and a need for laminates. And Jon is right about the uke needing to be good enough for the player, not the other way around. My Kala is good enough for me, but will it always be? I hope so. That being said, I still just had to have a solid koa uke, hence me waiting and doing some nail biting over a new WW concert model... I bet it's way good enough for me.
I am probably done buying laminate ukes for myself, but maybe as gifts for kids, etc. I'm spoiled.
Thanks to the OP for this interesting thread.

AndrewKuker
07-16-2012, 10:47 PM
Right when I first saw this thread it made me think of a video/blog I did a while back addressing this. I wanted to address some of these preconceived notions. We are often helping people that can't try for themselves. They may not have even played many ukes ever, but still have lots of 3rd hand info that is sometimes too black and white. The title of my blog article was, "What makes an ukulele good?". My personal opinion is that every size, shape, finish, country of origin, and type of wood or laminate can or can not be a good value and musical instrument. Here's is Aaron giving his take. Not the best audio but hopefully you can take something from it. BTW, the video above with 10 Hawaiians was mostly for fun because true sound comparisons should have multiple songs and players. For instance, strumming was not shown, and only one player demo'd. That can often make a big difference. Your attack and style could make the results sound totally different. something to keep in mind, just to be fair.

https://vimeo.com/26710078

pulelehua
07-17-2012, 12:02 AM
If I'm going to spend a lot of money on an instrument, I want:

1. Perfect intonation
2. Totally consistent frets, which are comfortable along the sides of the neck
3. No buzzing anywhere
4. Good tuners that keep it perfectly in tune for a session, and reasonably in tune between sessions
5. Consistent volume up and down the fretboard (I find this is maybe the trickiest thing for builders to get right)
6. Good dynamic range (top instruments can be played BOTH softer and louder)
7. A comfortable, fast neck, which mostly involves shaping, but also is hugely influenced by the shape of your hand, and the way you hold the instrument
8. Good action. Incredibly low action is always stressed, but higher action has some tonal and volume benefits, so depending on the instrument, I don't need the strings to be hovering nanometres above the frets.

Nowhere have I discussed tone, which for 90% of this thread, is the way people seem to have of telling if a ukulele is "good".

Most video clips you see on YouTube (but by no means all) involve playing exclusively below the 7th fret. Give me a series of sound clips where someone plays octaves all the way up to the 15 fret on the A string, and I bet I can tell you which ukuleles are the cheap laminates, because their volume is going to drop off massively, and the intonation is going to be horrendous.

I LOVE playing my son's Makala Dolphin, but there are things I don't play on it, because a Makala Dolphin is not an all-rounder. And the problem which has been mentioned is that if you're an aspiring player, and try to play something which your ukulele can't accommodate, it's going to sound bad, and you as an inexperienced player might think it's YOUR fault, when it's not.

A good instrument can handle everything you want to throw at it. And that, to me, is what you're paying for.

AndrewKuker
07-17-2012, 01:48 AM
but kissing thought the aNueNue laminates outperformed the solid instruments. he described the other instruments as being dull in comparison, sound wise. so why someone would think that is what was being discussed, for the most part... many people like the sound of laminates. laminates often have no fan braces so volume is good, especially with aquila strings being a very light tension compared to uke strings of the past, most laminates have no tone bars and are fine and stable. so volume is good and the feel can be good on most anything.

All these other things you mention, Pulelehua, are why we know it's totally worth it to get a great instrument. But just being solid wood or $700 doesn't cut it. It's #1-#8 and then awesome tone you love. BUT... it's really not true that you need to spend a lot to progress in your playing. It helps, but you gotta live within your means. And if you have $100, you can get a "good" ukulele. I am sure everyone here will agree that a laminate uke is better than no uke. Music is within you and will rise above everything not being perfect. like the intonation being 2 cents off at the 11th fret. (which would be those darn knock off Aquilas floating around China!lol)

PoiDog
07-17-2012, 04:20 AM
Well, first off, congrats on finding another fine addition to your family. I know from first-hand experience that aNueNue makes some really good ukes, so it really isn't a surprise that the U900 is a sweet uke.

But you know, I don't really recall anyone here saying that ALL laminate ukes are horrible or that ALL solids are great. Making a statement like that is as foolish and ignorant as someone saying that ALL laminates are great and ALL solids are overrated. If not uninformed, then certainly a sign of perhaps talking before thinking.

At the very low end, the laminates are pretty horrible, while at the upper stratosphere, the solids are quite sublime. Then there is the middle, where things can get very mixed, and where some lams are much better than some solids. For instance, along with your U900, I would rate the Islander lam as being at least as good in sound and playability, if not better, than most low-end solids (like Kalas or Lanikais, for example). Does that mean all lams are as good as solids, and all solids are overpirced vanity ukes? Not even close, and to believe so seems just to be silly.

Anyway, congrats again on getting a nice new uke. aNueNue makes good stuff, and really do deserve more attention.

kissing
07-17-2012, 07:13 AM
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y121/pactio_kiss/onedoesnotsimplyukes.jpg

Sporin
07-17-2012, 08:16 AM
For me, it's strictly a money issue. At my playing level, and in my climate, I just can't justify spending 2, 3, 10 times as much money on a high end, solid wood uke. If I was loaded, I'm sure I'd have a few nice K-brand solid ukes to play.

I'm sure they sound fantastic. But I'm extremely happy with my laminate ukes, especially at the significant cost difference.

kimmylele
07-17-2012, 08:19 AM
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y121/pactio_kiss/onedoesnotsimplyukes.jpg

:worship::worship::worship:

wearymicrobe
07-17-2012, 08:40 AM
So... where was these photos taken? Because, even the "expensive wall of shame" looks like all factory made mass marketed ukes.
Mahalo!

+1

There is not a single thing on that wall of "solid" ukes that I would even consider calling expensive or representative of quality instruments.

MariKev
07-17-2012, 08:42 AM
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y121/pactio_kiss/onedoesnotsimplyukes.jpg

Hilarious and informative thread, thanks!

MK

coolkayaker1
07-17-2012, 08:44 AM
This is how a guy who pays a couple thou for a solid ukulele looks at a guy who plays, and plays well, a laminate.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmF_Phk6eIE

bodhran
07-17-2012, 09:00 AM
All these other things you mention, Pulelehua, are why we know it's totally worth it to get a great instrument. But just being solid wood or $700 doesn't cut it. It's #1-#8 and then awesome tone you love. BUT... it's really not true that you need to spend a lot to progress in your playing. It helps, but you gotta live within your means. And if you have $100, you can get a "good" ukulele. I am sure everyone here will agree that a laminate uke is better than no uke. Music is within you and will rise above everything not being perfect. like the intonation being 2 cents off at the 11th fret. (which would be those darn knock off Aquilas floating around China!lol)

Well said Sir

pulelehua
07-17-2012, 10:24 AM
but kissing thought the aNueNue laminates outperformed the solid instruments. he described the other instruments as being dull in comparison, sound wise. so why someone would think that is what was being discussed, for the most part... many people like the sound of laminates. laminates often have no fan braces so volume is good, especially with aquila strings being a very light tension compared to uke strings of the past, most laminates have no tone bars and are fine and stable. so volume is good and the feel can be good on most anything.

All these other things you mention, Pulelehua, are why we know it's totally worth it to get a great instrument. But just being solid wood or $700 doesn't cut it. It's #1-#8 and then awesome tone you love. BUT... it's really not true that you need to spend a lot to progress in your playing. It helps, but you gotta live within your means. And if you have $100, you can get a "good" ukulele. I am sure everyone here will agree that a laminate uke is better than no uke. Music is within you and will rise above everything not being perfect. like the intonation being 2 cents off at the 11th fret. (which would be those darn knock off Aquilas floating around China!lol)

I'm all for living within your means. And not everybody needs or should even want a really expensive instrument. I was just amazed about how, once again, a "good" ukulele discussion was focused almost exclusively on tone.

As for the progress point, I think it depends. I have a Kala solid acacia concert. It's a good instrument. But it has a few fret problems and it's intonation is ok. Not great. And when I was writing music on it, I found I would write something which should have sounded good, but was a bit off, and I'd rewrite to avoid my own instrument's imperfections. From a composer's point of view, disaster.

I appreciate that some of my needs are specific, and even a bit narrow, but I think it's as valid a point of view as anyone else's, so, there it is.

YooperUker
07-17-2012, 12:11 PM
One thing I have noticed over the years of selling and building instruments, people almost always play an instrument that is the same level as their musical abilities, not always but 95 % of the time.

Well, sorta. However, I think many of us (perhaps even that same 95% you mentioned) do tend to try for something that may be slightly above our playing ability (but not necessarily very much above), perhaps with the hope that it will make us sound better, whether we can really tell the difference or not.

Of course, many will use this same reasoning to go well beyond that, if their budget permits. ("If I can't impress anyone with my playing, at least I might still be able to wow them by wielding a much-covetted instrument.")

I think pulelehua was really onto something with the list of desirable traits that doesn't really include sound quality. Not being a performer, I'm more concerned that my uke plays easily (nice low action and comfortable neck/frets/fingerboard without buzz) and stays in tune than I am with whether someone across the room feels every note resonate in their skull. (Of course, there are limits. . .I don't want my chords, however in tune they might be, to be accompanied by an annoying treble ring or bass boom.)

If it's not easy to play notes in tune, you're going to sound bad regardless of your playing ability. However, if the intonation and "neck-feel" is right, skill is still going to shine through, even if the box has an unpleasant voice, IMHO.

For fun, I don't need it sound good; I mostly just want it to sound right.

(Truth be told, I almost never do anything beyond the fifth fret. After a couple decades of trying, I find that I will just never be able to develop the dexterity for it. I'm fretfully challenged when it comes to barre chords or anything beyond first position. I have enough problem just getting three fingers to obey me reliably.)

Dan

YooperUker
07-17-2012, 01:04 PM
rise above everything not being perfect. like the intonation being 2 cents off at the 11th fret.

Well, with a 12-tone equal-tempered scale, most chords are going to be imperfect anyway because the harmonics are not perfect partials of the root.

For instance, a justly intoned C chord would have C (I'll use Middle C at 261.626Hz in A440) as the root, plus another note at exactly 5/4 of that frequency (327.032Hz), and another pitched exactly 3/2 of the root frequency (392.483Hz).

However, because we divide octaves into 12 equally tempered tones, our fretboard (or piano keyboard, for that matter) does not have notes to match those pitches exactly. G (391.995Hz) comes close to the last one (albeit about 2 cents flat), but E (329.628Hz) is sharp by nearly 14 cents! (If I did my math right, that is. In any case, the chord cannot be considered perfect.)

Every chord we play will have similar problems, some more than others. It's a compromise we accept by dividing octaves into only twelve intervals. Of course, if we divided them into more (such as, perhaps, 60) the problems with partials would be greatly reduced, but who would want to play a uke with five times the number of frets in the same space?

Dan

beautifulsoup
07-17-2012, 03:34 PM
Every chord we play will have similar problems, some more than others. It's a compromise we accept by dividing octaves into only twelve intervals. Of course, if we divided them into more (such as, perhaps, 60) the problems with partials would be greatly reduced, but who would want to play a uke with five times the number of frets in the same space?

Dan

Sounds like something Harry Partch could have experimented with...

coolkayaker1
07-17-2012, 04:47 PM
Sounds like something Harry Partch could have experimented with...
Who's Hairy Patch?

beautifulsoup
07-17-2012, 05:26 PM
Who's Hairy Patch?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Partch

He was a composer who worked with microtonalism, and he built and adapted instruments for his music.

For example...

(This taken from the Harry Partch Information Center, HarryPartch.com):


Adapted Viola: Partch's first instrument, 1930, the adapted viola is a viola with an elongated bridge making it a fifth lower than the viola and an octave below the violin. It is played like a small cello, held between the legs. The fingerboard is marked with brads to facilitate playing Partch's 43-tone scale.

coolkayaker1
07-17-2012, 06:01 PM
I see. Wow, thanks. I read the wiki page you linked, and learned something. Thanks.

PTOEguy
06-06-2013, 07:08 PM
When I got my Kiwaya KTS-7 I was pretty underwhelmed at first. It didn't seem to compare to the couple I'd tried before (other people's), and seemed little better my cheap applause (which I still like by the way). I was a bit disheartened - it was a very expensive instrument, and a big investment for me.

Gradually the sound opened up, and it felt like something quite different was emerging. Something bright and sparkly and full of life. The tone on this uke is amazing now. And it's not just wishful thinking - I can still compare it to the Applause and the difference is just astonishing.

The point is that with good solid instruments, the instrument you try in the shop is not the one you end up with after a few weeks of playing. With laminates, what you get is what you get.

Just my opinion.

A very similar experience here - I was pretty worried about my Pono MT over the first few days- didn't even like it as well as my flea. A couple of weeks (and a few string changes) later I was feeling OK about it. Just yesterday I was playing it and thought to myself "wow, it really did open up". It's the uke I play the most now and it (and maybe my playing) just keep getting better.

Sporin
06-07-2013, 05:53 AM
For me, it's strictly a money issue. At my playing level, and in my climate, I just can't justify spending 2, 3, 10 times as much money on a high end, solid wood uke. If I was loaded, I'm sure I'd have a few nice K-brand solid ukes to play.

I'm sure they sound fantastic. But I'm extremely happy with my laminate ukes, especially at the significant cost difference.

So that's my post from a year ago, and not much has changed except I've become a better player and am looking to step up to a better, preferably solid wood, ukulele now because I want to own and play a "nicer" instrument. I'm all-in now, I'll be playing ukulele for the rest of my life and I'm ready to make the financial commitment to a Pono, Mainland, or something in that range.

I mean, I can get to the store just fine in a Corolla, but if you have the means (and that's the #1 issue for me) and you appreciate cars, then wouldn't you want to drive a nicer one? ("Nicer" being YOUR totally subjective and personal criteria).

I think UU can suffer from a bit of a hive-mind mentality at times as well. To some, anything short of a high end uke is a waste of money. Yet at my uke club, the vast majority are playing low to mid range Kala's and Lanakai's and are monstrously happy with them. Who is anyone to judge the happiness of others?

When I started a thread to find the right higher end uke for me and my budget, I was berated for spending money on cheaper ukes in the past without resale value. :confused: As if I should have been able to see years in the future (I can't) and implying that what I have now was a waste (it's not, I love them all).

If you love it, and it sounds great to you, and you enjoy playing it.... then frankly... nothing else matters. Not impressing screen-names on a forum, not impressing people you play with, not anything. You and your uke, that's it.

So ... as others have said above and before... buy the uke that fits your budget and sounds best to YOU and ignore the peanut gallery who might try to force their own subjective opinions on you and rain on your parade. There are no shortage of wonderful instruments out there.

pulelehua
06-08-2013, 08:36 AM
This isn't targeted at anyone, and is just my own little perspective, but I can't imagine ever reselling an instrument. I know people do all the time, but I own a handful of instruments. That's it. I've given a couple away. I'm about to do that again.

I guess it must connect with UAS and the like. I just don't have enough of anything to sell them.

I remember reading about a luthier (can't remember which one) who wouldn't make a custom which wasn't re-sellable. Which seems odd to me.

Sorry to go off-piste... :)

David Newton
06-08-2013, 09:50 AM
RE: the luthier who wouldn't make a custom that wasn't resellable.
As a luthier, I'll bet the context was that the customer put a deposit on the uke, and if it had the customer's name in inlay down the fretboard, and he didn't pay the balance, the luthier would be stuck with an unsellable custom.

pulelehua
06-09-2013, 12:11 PM
RE: the luthier who wouldn't make a custom that wasn't resellable.
As a luthier, I'll bet the context was that the customer put a deposit on the uke, and if it had the customer's name in inlay down the fretboard, and he didn't pay the balance, the luthier would be stuck with an unsellable custom.

That's a good point, and one I hadn't thought of. Thanks!

Skinny Money McGee
06-09-2013, 12:55 PM
I don't know how anyone can tell anything about the sound coming from a compressed Youtube video, especially when more than likely it's being played back on a 10 dollar set of computer speakers or laptop speakers.

Aaron @ HMS did a string comparison video once, and I could not for the life of me tell the difference between any of them, and that included Kamaka strings that everyone seems to hate, and I have a sound card, Altec Lansing computer speakers with a subwoofer.

I feel there is a big difference hearing the instruments first hand

armchair_spaceman
06-09-2013, 02:07 PM
+1

There is not a single thing on that wall of "solid" ukes that I would even consider calling expensive or representative of quality instruments.

The shop is in suburban Melbourne. They generally (and proudly) pitch themselves at the "affordable" end of the spectrum and don't have any pretensions otherwise. Really nice folks too. Almost all their stock is at the lower price points and their "pricey" end tends to be laminates with electronics in them but last time I was in there they had a couple of David Aumanns that I thought were pretty nice. It's fair to say that you're not going to find a "K" brand in there, that's not their market position. FWIW the "high end" ukes that get talked about on UU are pretty thin on the ground over here, at least in the mainstream shops.

clayton56
06-11-2013, 12:35 AM
I have read (but not heard) that laminated piano soundboards are better than solid. They are long strips glued side by side, and the layers run in different directions. Whereas solid piano soundboards are just butted together. With the laminate, vibrations travel in all directions.

Sporin
06-11-2013, 03:36 AM
FWIW the "high end" ukes that get talked about on UU are pretty thin on the ground over here, at least in the mainstream shops.

As near as I can tell, that's the case most everywhere. I've never seen a K-brand in a shop near me. Ask about the "high end ukes" and most places will show you the upper priced Lanakai's and Kala's.

Until I started internet researching and found the UU Forums, I'd have never known the variety of ukes out there because no one locally sells any great assortment.

My wife popped into a relatively new guitar shop next to where we get our dog groomed the other day. I've been in there before and the guy was really nice and was trying to add some ukes. He had a wall full of $100 Eddy Finn's at the time. Anyway, my wife said he had some "very expensive" ukes there now and I'll be curious to see what those turn out to be.

PereBourik
06-11-2013, 06:04 AM
Most of us live in uke shopping "deserts." Of the 7 music stores I can get to in about an hour, not a single one regularly stocks ukuleles which retail above about $400 or so. Nor do they stock too many multiples of the ukes they do have on hand. Then there is the challenge of getting an instrument in tune and hearing it above the teenage shredders demoing the Fenders and Epiphones where the shop will make their money. For these reasons all my upper level ukulele shopping must take place on the interwebs.

HMS does a very good job of putting up representative video samples of the instruments they sell. One can make comparisons between them within the limitations of the technology (sound compression, &c).

In reality, absent a plane ticket to Honolulu, all I have to go on is the integrity of the merchant and the information and demonstrations they can give me by phone or web. I've gotten two ukes from HMS and both the instruments and the customer service have been first rate. There are other internet sellers with similar reputations. They are all that stand between most of us and yet another Lanikai LU-21 (or Kala, or fill-in-the-blank) that is the best of a series of bad bargains available to us at the local dealer. The uke market is still too small and the stocking costs are too high for us to have much choice at local music dealers.

I've singled out HMS because I have had a great experience with Andrew, Aaron, and the rest. I know that there are other dealers who maintain similar standards of integrity, honesty, and customer service.

Play what you love and love what you play. In my experience love is never cheap or easy, but sometimes lucky.

Skinny Money McGee
06-11-2013, 06:05 AM
I have read (but not heard) that laminated piano soundboards are better than solid. They are long strips glued side by side, and the layers run in different directions. Whereas solid piano soundboards are just butted together. With the laminate, vibrations travel in all directions.

I don't think laminated piano soundboards sound better, but they sure handle the humidity swings better.

RichM
06-11-2013, 06:25 AM
Every time I see this thread rise to the top of the list with the legend "started by Kissing," I think of all the other trouble I've gotten into in my live that was also started by kissing.