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flyingv8
08-23-2012, 07:50 AM
So I have been picking at sales all summer and selling on E-Bay with the intention of buying a really nice ukulele. I posted recently that I wanted a Kiwaya KS-1 but now I sold a few more things and am thinking I want to buy an instrument that I will just fall in love with. I think I want a Kamaka HF-1. My second choice is a Koaloha. I want a soprano. I am also leary of buying used since I want a good set-up and warranty. The Pono Mahogany soprano looks nice too. Since I don't have the ability to try before I buy here in Erie I was hoping I could get some opinions on what you would buy if you had $500-$600. I like to play beautiful songs, do some fingerpicking and singing. I need excellent tone and intonation. What do you fellow ukers think?
Thanks!

janeray1940
08-23-2012, 07:57 AM
Speaking from experience, I agree that you should be cautious when buying used. Frankly, I wouldn't ever do it again, unless I could play the instrument in person before buying it.

My first two nice ukes were a Koaloha Pikake soprano, and a Kamaka HF-1. While I didn't care for the aesthetics so much, I think the Koaloha was a better instrument - and you can pick one up new for about $500 (IIRC mine was about $475 with tax). I'd recommend checking with Hawaii Music Supply for one - I've never bought from them since I have a number of uke stores nearby to choose from, but everyone I know who has dealt with HMS has been pleased.

I don't own one, but I've played a couple of Kiwaya KS-1s and have been impressed - they're really good for the price, and they don't have that "laminate" sound that lesser quality lams I've encountered seem to have.

ukulelepuapua
08-23-2012, 08:02 AM
So I have been picking at sales all summer and selling on E-Bay with the intention of buying a really nice ukulele. I posted recently that I wanted a Kiwaya KS-1 but now I sold a few more things and am thinking I want to buy an instrument that I will just fall in love with. I think I want a Kamaka HF-1. My second choice is a Koaloha. I want a soprano. I am also leary of buying used since I want a good set-up and warranty. The Pono Mahogany soprano looks nice too. Since I don't have the ability to try before I buy here in Erie I was hoping I could get some opinions on what you would buy if you had $500-$600. I like to play beautiful songs, do some fingerpicking and singing. I need excellent tone and intonation. What do you fellow ukers think?
Thanks!

You could probably check out Kelii and valley made, as well as a base model of Kanilea (k1s) too if your looking for hawaiian made in that range.

UkuleleSprinter
08-23-2012, 08:10 AM
I'm a big Kamaka fan. I just love the way they sound. Personally I own a HF-1 (1997 model) w/ Worth Brown strings, and it sounds the way a soprano ukulele should sound.

I may be comparing apples to oranges but, a friend of mine has owns a Koaloha concert (2001 model) w/ GHS strings. For me, the construction of it is no match to a Kamaka, mainly the absence of kerf linings along the inside of the ukulele between the sides and top/bottom. Maybe they have them on the newer models? Secondly, the koa wood isn't book matched in the front or back, which is a cosmetic thing. Lastly, maybe it's just the strings/setup of this particular ukulele but I feel like it doesn't have the best playability.

GKK
08-23-2012, 08:13 AM
$500 won't buy a new K-Brand Soprano but, I highly recommend this Pono: http://www.theukulelesite.com/pono-mhs-mahogany-pro-classic-soprano-w-oahu-case.html

This is a limited run Soprano Pono Pro Classic series which Sounds and Looks Amazing!...These Pono's are some of the highest quality ukulele's made and should be considered a K Brand. (Maybe they should be called "Kono!").

I also, just bought an Islander Soprano MS-4 from Hawaii Music Supply (AKA-The Ukulele Site) as a gift for my sister in law and it is the LOUDEST Soprano I've ever heard! I'm not kidding! This Uke has some Volume! I was even thinking of changing the Aquila strings for some mellower ones to tone it down a bit but, the Islander uke's sound amazing and Hawaii Music Supply did a great setup job. I also, like the 1 1/2" wide neck which allows for a little more room on the soprano fingerboard.

BIGDB
08-23-2012, 08:23 AM
im very satisfied with my martin S-1 and that costs 380 plays good sounds good. and i got a misi pick up put in for i think 140 and thats been really good so you can get it then maybe scrape a little more money to get a pick up put in

coolkayaker1
08-23-2012, 08:30 AM
http://elderly.com/new_instruments/items/KPSMU.htm

I just got this soprano in the mail yesterday from Elderly; I had a gift card from them and had to use it.

Best soprano I have ever owned. I adore it. I have had Koalohas in the past, but this one is better somehow. It's cheaper here than most websites, but HMS and PuAPuA are excellent, too.

I'm with Janeray1940--I'd never buy used...new has warranty and guaranties and returns and such. G-luck.

flyingv8
08-23-2012, 08:32 AM
I really like that one! Right in my price range too!

haolejohn
08-23-2012, 08:34 AM
I'm a big Kamaka fan. I just love the way they sound. Personally I own a HF-1 (1997 model) w/ Worth Brown strings, and it sounds the way a soprano ukulele should sound.

I may be comparing apples to oranges but, a friend of mine has owns a Koaloha concert (2001 model) w/ GHS strings. For me, the construction of it is no match to a Kamaka, mainly the absence of kerf linings along the inside of the ukulele between the sides and top/bottom. Maybe they have them on the newer models? Secondly, the koa wood isn't book matched in the front or back, which is a cosmetic thing. Lastly, maybe it's just the strings/setup of this particular ukulele but I feel like it doesn't have the best playability.

I would post the video and some pictures but lots of websites and pictures are blocked by work. You should see the video and pictures of the folks at KoAloha standing on their ukes. Their bracing is just as good as anyone else's bracing.

$500 budget should land you a very nice soprano. Though I love the high quality imports (Mele, Pono, Big Island, Kiwaya) I don't personally think they are as nice as the Hawaiian brands. I Love KoAloha the most. Kamaka makes a very hard to beat soprano though.

Good Luck in your search and regardless of what we think...It is really what you think that matters the most:)

janeray1940
08-23-2012, 08:37 AM
im very satisfied with my martin S-1 and that costs 380 plays good sounds good.

Great that you found a good one! But to the OP - be wary of the Martin S-1s. The quality control seems bad - I've seen glowing reviews on UU but every one I've encountered in the wild has been pretty disappointing - bad intonation, high action, and all have been in need of a setup. If you can't try it before buying, I'd avoid these unless buying from a seller who offers a full refund if not satisfied.

haolejohn
08-23-2012, 08:40 AM
As far as new vs. used...

I've bought my fair share of new and used instruments. New I buy from Mele, KoAloha or UkeRepublic (Mele-b/c I have played many of their ukes and Cheryl taught me my first chords, KoAloha b/c my KoAloha story, and UR b/c I used to be able to drop in and try his ukes out and we were friends before having a business relationship).

I'd consider buying new from Mainland, Mim, HMS, and some others as well.

Used is my preferred method of buying. I have bought multiple of ukes here at UU and FMM. I've never been burned. I did trade a very high end uke for a high end uke and the one I received was damaged by the weather. The UU member here was so apologetic and it wasn't even his fault. Luckily we both bought insurance on our ukes. Problem solved. I also sold a uke once to a UU member and allowed him to return it b/c he didn't like the 6 string feel. No problem there either. Most of us UUers (older members at least, not sure of the newer guys) have no problem with try it out periods. I understand the logistics and the lack of quality ukes to try out.

But when you buy used from a UU member, you get a deal. You know they cared about their uke. That goes a long way.

Newportlocal
08-23-2012, 08:43 AM
In your price range I would buy this. It is brand new.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/koaloha-soprano-koa-ksm-00-w-hard-case.html

flyingv8
08-23-2012, 08:45 AM
Good advice. Thank you!

Newportlocal
08-23-2012, 08:51 AM
Good advice. Thank you!

You are welcome.:D

ramone
08-23-2012, 09:02 AM
I was in similar situation just a few months ago. $500 budget, which decent uke to get, where to buy and have it set up. I narrowed it down to 4 or 5 models and then called HMS for advice. after discussing each model, I asked for their recommendation and what set it apart from the others. the answer was Pono for several reasons. I decided to get the Pono and I have been very happy with the uke (the AT model with a pickup). imo, it's worth the time to call HMS and talk to them about your needs. they were very heplful and I would not hesitate to order from them in the future. hope that helps and good luck!

coolkayaker1
08-23-2012, 09:02 AM
You are welcome.:)

A small consideration but a real one: although I love and own Pono, KIwaya, and many other fine brands, there is no quicker and easier and close to purchase price resale as the "K" brands, such as Kamaka and KoALoha. We all think we will own all our ukes forever, but most of the time we don;t.

See ya. G'luck.

Teek
08-23-2012, 09:32 AM
I agree that used is a crap shoot, but I will add that out of 25 + ukes (I have lost count) I have bought, all but five were bought used without playing first. The one that came with the twisted neck was made by an overpriced IMO Island builder, was well used and damaged in that usage, and offered on eBay by a very high end specialist Hawaiian reseller who shockingly to me did not disclose the visible damage and thus I would not buy from him again. The cheap used Kala that came smelling of pipe tobacco and smoke finally aired out. A few others were not to my exact taste but they were ukes I wanted to try. I figure it was worth the few dollars I didn't get back from resale to "rent" and enjoy them, and I paid on average half to two thirds retail, which let me get a higher end uke than if I bought retail. Usually I got a case as well and did not have to pay tax, just shipping.

If I wasn't willing to try buying used, I would not have my pre-fire Maui Music six string, and I do not see ever being able to afford a new Peter Lieberman build. It needed a minor setup which I did, it has busage and it is awesome. I waited over two years for an MM I could afford, and I had tried to buy and missed several during that time. I buy my cars used too, I have never owned a new car. I let other people pay full price, and I get a cream puff a few years down the road at half or 1/3 the retail. Our newest car was $40K new, we got it with 60K miles 7 years later for $6K. I get $80-$100 shirts (I love Territory Ahead) for $6 at Goodwill. I guess it is mostly a mindset.

If one doesn't have the ability to check out and setup a uke then new with a setup is the way to go. Play it for awhile, sell it for another if you aren't well satisfied. I have had more issues with Kamakas than any other brand, and I'd say play those in person. I bought one used in person, one used online that had an issue but which was due to age and correctable. They show up on local Craigslist out here in Los Angeles periodically.

I would also vote for Pono as excellent build quality and sound, I had one previously that was circa 2005, the quality has come way up since then. I would also be interested in the KoAlanas made by KoAloha in Thailand that will be available soon. They will be mahogany. My mahogany Pono six string is awesome. I don't think you could go wrong with any of the Ponos.

delray48209
08-23-2012, 10:00 AM
Great that you found a good one! But to the OP - be wary of the Martin S-1s. The quality control seems bad - I've seen glowing reviews on UU but every one I've encountered in the wild has been pretty disappointing - bad intonation, high action, and all have been in need of a setup. If you can't try it before buying, I'd avoid these unless buying from a seller who offers a full refund if not satisfied.

I just purchased a Martin S1 about two weeks ago. It is perhaps the sweetest sounding soprano uke that I've played in a long time. It blows the water off the Ohana S-35 that I own. The build quality is impecable. However, I think you should not buy one without first playing one yourself. When the S1 was introduced last year, I played a few that just came out on the market. The build quality was great however, the sound was not typical of a Martin. I think Martin has tightened the quality control at their manufacturing plant in Mexico.

flyingv8
08-23-2012, 11:38 AM
This is the ukulele I want! Thanks!


In your price range I would buy this. It is brand new.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/koaloha-soprano-koa-ksm-00-w-hard-case.html

OldePhart
08-23-2012, 01:06 PM
According to another thread it looks like the new Koalana ukes are going to be available soon and I'm just guessing but I suspect you should be able to get one in soprano with a decent case for your five bills...

At the higher end there's no particular reason not to buy used and many of the folks that offer ukes in the marketplace here will offer a few days for you to return it if you just end up hating it. Most of us value our reputations on UU more than a few hundred clams. :) In fact, I've given away brand new ukes that I didn't like because I felt they were not something I'd feel comfortable passing along in the marketplace.

Two of my ukes best ukes came from the marketplace here, in fact.

John

OldePhart
08-23-2012, 01:08 PM
In your price range I would buy this. It is brand new.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/koaloha-soprano-koa-ksm-00-w-hard-case.html

Wow...that's not a bad price given the recent price increase. I was expecting a Pikake at that price...

mm stan
08-23-2012, 02:11 PM
Aloha,
Everyone has a different preference....depends what type of uke you want...bright or warm... find one that plays easy and nice and is comfortable...your choice of new and buying second hand,
Whichever way you choose, I always say if you can.....try before you buy and if you are in a music store, try as many of the same uke and models because every uke has their own voice like
you and me...pick the best out of the liter....Good Luck and Happy Strummings..

coolkayaker1
08-23-2012, 02:43 PM
I'd never buy the first couple batches of any ukulele, so Koalana is out. For five hundred clams, get a Koaloha. When your sick of it, you'll get four Benjamin's back at least on it...and, you just might just want to keep it forever.

Hippie Dribble
08-23-2012, 03:01 PM
If I already had 500, I'd save another 100 or two and get a Pohaku soprano.

Lideruke
08-23-2012, 03:19 PM
If I already had 500, I'd save another 100 or two and get a Pohaku soprano.

Have you played one? They look really terrific. I wish he still had a steampunk uke for sale! And the Dole Pineapple uke looks awesome!

coolkayaker1
08-23-2012, 03:27 PM
Have you played one? They look really terrific. I wish he still had a steampunk uke for sale! And the Dole Pineapple uke looks awesome!

Steampunk 2 about a month away from completion, Peter told me. A concert 10!

connor013
08-23-2012, 03:41 PM
Just to make your decision more complicated, I would check out Loprinzis http://www.augustinoloprinzi.com/prod03.htm

If you're into finger picking, I've yet to find a uke that has better note clarity.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
08-23-2012, 04:39 PM
Ah, that's exactly what I spent on my Kamaka HF-1 a couple years ago. (Love it. Play it everyday. It's given me much more than $500 worth of good times so far.) If you're patient, you should be able to find an HF-1 in great condition in that price range. Look for one built before the recent price increase (like 2004 to 2011).

A new ukulele in that range? KoAloha's pineapple uke is terrific. Or any Kiwaya's soprano ukes---so nice.

hmgberg
08-23-2012, 04:40 PM
Just curious, what did you like better about the Koaloha as compared to the Kamaka?


Speaking from experience, I agree that you should be cautious when buying used. Frankly, I wouldn't ever do it again, unless I could play the instrument in person before buying it.

My first two nice ukes were a Koaloha Pikake soprano, and a Kamaka HF-1. While I didn't care for the aesthetics so much, I think the Koaloha was a better instrument - and you can pick one up new for about $500 (IIRC mine was about $475 with tax). I'd recommend checking with Hawaii Music Supply for one - I've never bought from them since I have a number of uke stores nearby to choose from, but everyone I know who has dealt with HMS has been pleased.

I don't own one, but I've played a couple of Kiwaya KS-1s and have been impressed - they're really good for the price, and they don't have that "laminate" sound that lesser quality lams I've encountered seem to have.

Hippie Dribble
08-23-2012, 04:49 PM
hey Don, you know what, as fun as it is to stick up for our fave brands, every uke is different, fullstop. I just have three points for you to think about...

1. Even across the same soprano line of Kamakas and KoAlohas, each instrument is different as every instrument is unique.
2. Sound is so subjective. What one of us may like may be nothing like what you like.
3. With the instruments you speak of at that price point, it is highly unlikely you will get a dud whichever way you lean.

So what I am saying is that it's impossible for any of us to give you meaningful advice here. Take the plunge and enjoy the ride!!!

Patrick Madsen
08-23-2012, 07:36 PM
[QUOTE=eugene ukulele;1026642]hey Don, you know what, as fun as it is to stick up for our fave brands, every uke is different, fullstop. I just have three points for you to think about...

1. Even across the same soprano line of Kamakas and KoAlohas, each instrument is different as every instrument is unique.
2. Sound is so subjective. What one of us may like may be nothing like what you like.
3. With the instruments you speak of at that price point, it is highly unlikely you will get a dud whichever way you lean.


Jon is so right, I might add that buying from one of the uke dealers on UU will help ensure a positive outcome. Setup is so important. Other than my Mya Moe, I think every instrument I've owned needed a little tweaking.

I went with HMS on the purchase of a Acacia UBass. Andrew said he would pick out the best one in stock, ensure that it was setup right and send it on it's way. He did just that.

It is fairly unsettling buying without trying but HMS sure has me sold on going with a reputable dealer rather than taking a chance with Ebay. I had a lot of questions about the model and fret vs fretless. Andrew answered them all with patience and an assurance I would be pleased orthey would make it right.

Does HMS or any of the others also have used ukes for sale?

coolkayaker1
08-23-2012, 07:48 PM
KoAloha's pineapple uke is terrific. Or any Kiwaya's soprano ukes---so nice.
Agree!!!!!!

we tigers
08-23-2012, 08:53 PM
I had to make the decision and I went with a Kiwaya KTS-4. I'm now awaiting delivery. Takes too long. Need. To. Play. Now....

flyingv8
08-24-2012, 02:45 AM
Hi Eugene! I know what you are saying and I agree completely. I was just looking for a general concensus knowing that many other players have been in this situation. The opinions do help. I would much rather try before I buy but there aren't any Ukulele dealers that sell the more expensive instruments here in Erie. I would not mind buying used from the marketplace here either to allow me to try one out and re-sell if I didn't like it.

Hippie Dribble
08-24-2012, 02:53 AM
yeah Don, I didn't mean to come across dismissive or impatient mate, tired and grumpy maybe. I know your problem all too well brother as I've never been able to buy a uke having seen and played it in person either. It's very frustrating and hit and miss at times for sure. I think my main point is that both the KoAloha and Kamaka sopranos have wonderful reputations and devoted followings and either would be a great choice for you. Slight prob that the Kamakas have increased so much in price lately and word that the KoAlohas are soon to follow. For what it's worth I've bought 2 Kamaka sopranos 2nd hand from the marketplace here and both were superb. My own feeling from experience is that the Kamaka sops are a tad mellower and heavier built, whereas the Koalohas are lighter and brighter and have a little more punch. Splitting hairs though as both are awesome I reckon!!!! All the best in what you decide upon mate and again, apologies if I came across a bit narky.

Jiva
08-26-2012, 01:49 PM
Hi,
I recently got a tenor KoAloha with pickup and I fell in love with it instantly. The sound is perfect. It has Worth strings on it. Andrew, MGM (MusicGuyMike) and everyone at HMS were great. Free shipping, free hardshell case, free humidifier.
The Hawaiian koa on it is amazing and quality excellent, I just can't say enough. There are so many videos to listen to on their website to get an idea of what they sound like. I personally like to listen to Aaron, I like his style of playing. There are video reviews of many of the ukes too. After all that watching and listening, call and they will talk to you on the phone and help you decide or at least narrow down your choices. Good luck!!!!

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
08-26-2012, 04:15 PM
Black Bear Ukulele just posted a beautiful koa soprano (http://www.blackbearukuleles.net/detail.html?itemid=420) in your price range. Beautiful.