View Full Version : A trip to Dusty Strings Seattle

08-26-2012, 06:42 AM
My wife and I went on a quick weekend getaway for our anniversary and I managed to talk her into letting me head over to Dusty Stings and try out some ukes. Let me start off by saying that I am from Canada and the selection of ukuleles in brick and mortar stores in Canada is extremely limited. I could probably cross the entire country and not get to play as many nice instruments as were sitting in front of me on the wall at Dusty Strings. Needless to say I was very excited to play some ukes that I have drooled over looking at online stores and the forums here.

The store is very nice and the staff is very friendly. If I was buying a guitar they have a huge selection of very very nice instruments. As far as ukes go the selection is smaller but still very nice. I am a bit of a leave me alone type of shopper and they were happy to leave me be and only check in once in a while to see if I was doing all right.

So here are some impressions of the ukes I got to play. I was mostly trying sopranos and concerts. There were quite a few surprises. I was most excited to get to play a Kamaka of which they have several, but I must admit I was a little disappointed. My favourite of the bunch was the pineapple. I'm not sure if it was the strings but they sounded kind of dull and thumpy to me. They also have a necks on the thicker side which is something I guess you would get used to but felt a little funny to me. I was planning on maybe buying a Kamaka at some point in the near future but I will be rethinking that.

The Keli'i's were a very pleasant surprise. They sounded great at half the price of a Kamaka. The necks were thin and nice. The sound was bright and I was very impressed.

Kiwaya was about what I thought it would be. Beautifully built, light as a feather and great sounding. I will be considering buying a soprano from them.

A few other things that I wasn't expecting. I didn't think I would, but I liked Banjo Ukes and Resonators. They had an old Gibson banjo that was great and a Firefly which was also cool. The Nationals were also amazing. I loved the Triolian. Maybe not for my next purchase but I have filed them one away as a maybe someday ukulele.

To sum up I had a great time there and it is a wonderful store. I think I might be more confused about my next uke purchase than I was was when I went there. I guess I'll just buy what I think I like and if it ends up not working out there is always the Marketplace! If you find yourself in the Seattle area it is well worth a visit especially if your are from uke poor country (ie not from Hawaii or nearby a major ukulele store.).

mm stan
08-26-2012, 08:21 AM
Aloha Collarbone,
Congrats on your anniversary and review of Dusty Springs...I have heard great things about them....sounds like you both had a great time..Happy Strummings....

08-26-2012, 12:42 PM
Had a similar experience last Sept. http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?52901-Dusty-Strings&highlight=dusty+strings <g>

08-26-2012, 01:34 PM
Cool, I live in Woodinville, just a 20-30 minute drive from Dusty Strings. I think I'll go one of these days soon! I can be very impulsive, who knows what I may walk out with!

08-26-2012, 02:42 PM
Cool, I live in Woodinville, just a 20-30 minute drive from Dusty Strings. I think I'll go one of these days soon! I can be very impulsive, who knows what I may walk out with!

Be sure to show us what you buy (note: not "if you buy something").

08-26-2012, 04:43 PM
Hey Collarbone,

I too live in BC and have been down to Dusty Strings. Great place. Its funny but I had the exact same feelings about the Kamaka as you. I had never seen one or played one but lusted after one after reading all of the positive feedback. The Kamaka was the first one that I picked off the wall when I got there and I told my GF "this is the one I want". When I played it I thought that it seemed a bit "over built" and muted. Beautiful to look at though - a real work of art. I have a Koaloha now and I love it.

Was the Martin 5k still there?

08-26-2012, 07:55 PM
Hey jbem,

They do have that 5K there. I didn't even pick it up. Something I will never be able to afford. Probably should have played it just like if you get a chance to drive a Ferrari you should but for some reason I passed on the opportunity.

I have been flip flopping on the Kamaka Koaloha desire for a while now. I really like the Kamaka look. For me it is what a ukulele should look like, but I guess looks aren't everything. The Koalohas get amazing reviews they just don't have that classic look, but I've never played one. I would say that having played those Kamakas I would now be more likely to go for the Koaloha.

08-26-2012, 11:13 PM
G'day from Downunder

My wife and I visited Seattle after playing for the 2nd year with the Newcastle Ukestra at Roy and Cathy Sakuma's 42nd Annual Ukelele Festival in Hawaii. At the Festival there were displays by all the major Uke makers in Hawaii and we had the opportunity to play most, if not all of them and I would say that the Koaloha is up there with the best. My personal preference of all those I tried was the Kanile'a, so much in fact I showed it to my wife and blow me if she didn't buy it (guess who paid), however she has promised to lend it to me from time to time..

While in Seattle in late July we managed to visit Dusty Strings and I can only agree the store is great. Their selection of all types of stringed instruments is second to none, as well as many various ukes, guitars, banjos, etc etc on display where else would you find 12 or more full size harps!!!

See some photos of Dusty Strings below (if I've managed to upload them correctly)


Mike, Newcastle Australia

Pu'uwai Custom Tenor
Kanile'a K1C Premium Tenor (when herself will loan it to me)