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Gordonjen
08-30-2012, 08:24 AM
What ukulele would you buy in this price range? Would you buy a factory made Collins,kamaka or an individual luthier made ukulele?

sukie
08-30-2012, 08:34 AM
A custom. Definitely a custom.

mds725
08-30-2012, 08:37 AM
I would buy a custom as well. I haven't done a lot of custom shopping (I have two Mya-Moes, but MMs are more made-to-order than custom), but I get the impression that beyond a certain price point, the additional amount you'd pay for a custom is for the bling -- inlays, upgraded woods, fancier rosettes and binding, etc.

janeray1940
08-30-2012, 08:39 AM
A couple questions:

Do you have the opportunity to actually try ukes out in person, or will you be ordering sight unseen?
Which is most important to you - looks/bling, or intonation?

My most recent uke purchase was a custom luthier-made uke, after learning that what I wanted did not exist off-the-shelf. While I own several really good factory-made ukes, I've also owned some disappointing factory-made ukes. The disappointments were all ukes that I bought sight unseen, something I'm not likely to do again unless it's a custom from a luthier with a money-back guarantee.

When I was last uke shopping, I found some real inconsistencies in factory-made ukes in terms of intonation and overall playability. Probably nothing that a good luthier couldn't remedy, but my thinking was that if I was paying full retail, it had to be perfect from the start. Even the brands that I admire - Kamaka, Collings, Kiwaya - had their issues, so I ended up going custom (for a lot less than your budget, actually, but as you can see in my profile pic, my uke is very plain - it's usually the inlay work that drives the price up).

All of that being said - if I was going to buy another uke, I would not hesitate to order another custom from the luthier I bought from. However, I'd also keep on the lookout for a good off-the-shelf Kamaka or Collings.

ukeeku
08-30-2012, 09:02 AM
What ukulele would you buy in this price range? Would you buy a factory made Collins,kamaka or an individual luthier made ukulele?

First off, welcome to UU. nice way to introduce yourself. ;)
I would say custom. but I would try a bunch before committing to one. We all love Moor Bettahs, but his list is long, or maybe closed at this point, and we could point you to some. I would go to festivals if you can and check them out. Most uke players will let you play their uke.
My fav customs have been the Moore Bettahs and the Boat paddles. both different in almost every way except that they make ukuleles.

gyosh
08-30-2012, 09:05 AM
Custom.

I'm having a custom built right now and my first priority was tone. It was very hard to stay away from all the beautifully figured wood, but in the end my uke is going to have a great sounding, but plain looking adirondack spruce top, chosen for the tone.

When the vain part of me wanted the uke to be noticed as a custom, to visually stand out really, I added some purfling and a custom inlay on the fretboard. I don't really like sunburst so my top is going to be completely black to allow the purfling bling to stand out even more.

Brain wanted a great sounding instrument . . . my heart/ego wanted something pretty. So yeah. Custom.

Now I need to work on my playing so I can actually do it some justice when it arrives :)

ukulelecowboy
08-30-2012, 09:33 AM
I would go custom as well. I'm having a custom built right now and I was able to work with the luthier to have it built with a nice integration of his and my ideas. Really great experience and there were some design and configuration elements that I was able to work into the final build.

I figured that at this price point, you should be able to work with the luthier directly.

WhenDogsSing
08-30-2012, 09:36 AM
I highly recommend Mya-Moe. You can get just about anything you want through them and their instruments are simply top-of-the-line in all respects. Their attention to the customer is also simply an experience to cherish. They make great sounding, beautiful looking, well built, and easy playing instruments with on the spot intonation. All at a price well under the $2500 you quoted. Their current wait time is about 6-7 months.

PedalFreak
08-30-2012, 09:57 AM
Scary thing with a custom is you have no idea what it'll sound like. I've played a lot of customs that people have made and I can't see what they are hearing when they say it's a great uke. There are some builders though that I think you are very safe going with Chuck Moore, Eric Devine being two of those. Just because it's a custom and expensive doesn't mean it's going to sound good.

As others have said I'd definitely suggest trying out as many as you can first.

Sporin
08-30-2012, 10:23 AM
Don't take this the wrong way, I swear it is all meant with the most positive of tone...

Presumably if you want to drop $2500ish on a ukulele you are at least a somewhat experienced player, right? Surely you have an idea of who makes the kind of ukes you like visually, who makes the kinds of ukes that are pleasing to your ear. Right? I mean, you must have some idea of what you like?

What do you already own for ukes?
What do you hope to get or advance from the uke you own now, to the $2500 uke?
Are you looking for a show piece? ie. an intricately detailed uke that is displayed?
Are you looking for a high quality sounding ukulele for regular playing?

All these things are questions you should ask yourself before dropping that kind of money on any ukulele in my opinion.

And again, all positive tone there, just genuinely trying to help you out.

Freeda
08-30-2012, 10:23 AM
I'd buy five. :)

Loz
08-30-2012, 10:26 AM
The experiences I have had with both Mya Moe and Ko'olau have been excellent. Thumbs up for both.

mm stan
08-30-2012, 10:29 AM
Customs are nice...you take the risk and feel obligated no matter how they turn out....the better the luthier, the better the consistancy..when buying just one uke...the risk is there.
Of course you can go in a big reputable shop and pay alot more and try one before you buy....cuts the risk and you know what you gonna get right on the spot...I tend to stick
with the big names when ordering customs....Moore Bettah, Steve Van Pelt, Devine...etc... ones I have deep trust in them.. you get what you pay for essentially....then there's
great luthiers of which you adore their ukes.....I have a few currently...

cheekmeat
08-30-2012, 10:59 AM
I'd buy five. :)

I laughed when I first read this. Then I thought about it--That is exactly what I would do with a $2500 uke-buying budget. 3-5 very nice ukuleles could be purchased for this.

Unless you already have a big collection, think seriously about what Freeda says.

The Big Kahuna
08-30-2012, 11:09 AM
I think the Aldrine Signature Uke' (can't remember the exact brand) is exactly 2.5k

Damn nice looking Uke.

GKK
08-30-2012, 11:09 AM
I'd buy a Ko'olau Custom Tenor uke!...:D

The Big Kahuna
08-30-2012, 11:10 AM
Kanile'a


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

The Big Kahuna
08-30-2012, 11:11 AM
http://www.kanileaukulele.com/custom_aldrine.php?osCsid=89d4cf8f4e782a6461478266 593dd051

Hmm, seems to have gone up by $ 400 since the video.

OldePhart
08-30-2012, 01:21 PM
I'd buy five. :)

I wouldn't buy five but I'd probably buy a Mya Moe concert, then save another $500 or so to put with what's left over and look for a really pristine vintage Martin baritone.

Except...right now I'd probably have to buy a new washer and dryer and have about $1300 left... :(

ukemunga
08-30-2012, 01:29 PM
All these things are questions you should ask yourself before dropping that kind of money on any ukulele in my opinion.

And again, all positive tone there, just genuinely trying to help you out.

What he said!

JT_Ukes
08-30-2012, 01:41 PM
I'd buy a nice Loprinzi or KoAloha and spend the rest on a trip to UWC V.

janeray1940
08-30-2012, 04:03 PM
Who has ever told anyone to buy three cheap laptops for $2500, or told anyone that you should not buy your first wide screen TV for $2500? Why is it that there is something about musical instruments in general that makes people think in such a narrow way when talking about prices and what you should get? Then there is the "worthy" argument, who is ever worthy to own a $2500 laptop, and why do you need to be worthy to own a $2500 uke? Sure well known makers have long order lists and deserve some respect for fine work and maybe their best work would be better in the hands of virtuosos, but many virtuosos can't easily afford a $2500 uke often enough to keep a good maker in business, so plebes are allowed to buy $2500 ukes if they reach an appropriate agreement with the maker. None of us can keep a uke for as long as it will last, death or forced sales always happen and then the instruments can gravitate to better players etc. When you buy a uke, consider the concept that it actually belongs to the ukeiverse and you are just leasing it while you have it, then forget about being "worthy".


Nicely said! I have never understood the quantity-over-quality argument, particularly when it comes to ukes. Having twenty ukes of questionable quality will not likely make anybody a better player. Will having a custom uke made by a well-respected luthier magically turn me into a virtuoso? Heck no, but I'll certainly enjoy playing it a lot more than I enjoyed playing my first $100 overseas-factory uke. And the fact that I enjoy playing it means I'll play it more. And by playing it more, I'll get better. And in my opinion - that makes me "worthy" enough to have a custom in my possession for the time that I'm "leasing" it :)

And for what it's worth, I didn't have to spend anywhere near $2500, or even wait very long (6 weeks!).

chrimess
08-30-2012, 04:21 PM
Best first post I have see on this forum.


What ukulele would you buy in this price range? Would you buy a factory made Collins,kamaka or an individual luthier made ukulele?

patico
08-30-2012, 04:55 PM
i agree
it's better one fine instrument than several low-mid instruments.

i normaly play a mainland tenor mahogany, it sounds nice, with nice action n intonation. but as a long time guitar player, i know i can get a little more from an other higher quality instrument. maybe this little extra is very little, but for me it's worth it. i just made un upgrade for myself...... hope it arrives soon.

one last thing, it's not all about the instrument.
i used to play on stage, and more than once had to play with my beloved overseas cheapo guitar instead of my traditional concerto guitar, and i finally understood that people enjoy anyways as long as you enjoy what you're playing

buddhuu
08-30-2012, 10:48 PM
I'm nowhere near good enough a player to spend 2.5k on a uke. I'd be more likely to spread the cash a bit. Maybe a Mya Moe concert, a Martin DRS1 guitar and the rest might go towards a better mandolin.

But I don't expect to have anywhere near that much spare cash in the near (or distant) future!

buddhuu
08-30-2012, 10:57 PM
[...]
one last thing, it's not all about the instrument.
i used to play on stage, and more than once had to play with my beloved overseas cheapo guitar instead of my traditional concerto guitar, and i finally understood that people enjoy anyways as long as you enjoy what you're playing

This is a great point. Most of the time the player cares more about what instrument he/she plays than the audience does. The next in line to give a darn are the musicians in the audience. Non-musician punters just want to have a good time.

There are exceptions, of course. Some classical music buffs might be able to tell the difference between my battered old German fiddle and a Strad or a Guarneri, but in a raucous pub session of folk, pop and rock music no one cares.

It makes sense to have the nicest instruments you can afford (not necessarily the same thing as the most expensive), but if you do find yourself working with a smaller budget it need not stop you rockin'.

BIGDB
08-31-2012, 06:20 AM
Get a Da Silve those are so awesome

thegentlesurprise
08-31-2012, 07:11 AM
I got the baseline koa Collings tenor, and it's still the best-sounding uke I've heard; I love it.

Sporin
08-31-2012, 08:58 AM
Just to be clear, I'm not at all against spending that kind of coin on a uke if I had it. Though I personally would spend half that on a very nice high-end uke and save the rest.

Freeda
08-31-2012, 10:08 AM
I laughed when I first read this. Then I thought about it--That is exactly what I would do with a $2500 uke-buying budget. 3-5 very nice ukuleles could be purchased for this.

Unless you already have a big collection, think seriously about what Freeda says.

One of the best posts I read on here was about how the "law of diminishing returns" works with ukuleles. It was very enlightening! Worth using the search tool.

Newportlocal
08-31-2012, 12:18 PM
How about a Pepe Romero ukulele? Just threw this out to keep it interesting.

OldePhart
08-31-2012, 01:37 PM
Nicely said! I have never understood the quantity-over-quality argument, particularly when it comes to ukes. Having twenty ukes of questionable quality will not likely make anybody a better player. Will having a custom uke made by a well-respected luthier magically turn me into a virtuoso? Heck no, but I'll certainly enjoy playing it a lot more than I enjoyed playing my first $100 overseas-factory uke. And the fact that I enjoy playing it means I'll play it more. And by playing it more, I'll get better. And in my opinion - that makes me "worthy" enough to have a custom in my possession for the time that I'm "leasing" it :)

And for what it's worth, I didn't have to spend anywhere near $2500, or even wait very long (6 weeks!).

(BTW, I read the following before hitting the post button and realized it could be taken as arguing with you and that's not how I meant to come across - in fact, I think we're probably saying pretty darned close to the same thing in different words...)

That's a very valid argument but on the other side of the coin is the simple fact that at some price point you're paying more for "bling" than for playability, tone, or lasting value (the only things that count to some of us). I think that point is well above $500 (the "five ukes" theory) but I also think it's well below the $2500 point whether you go custom or top-end production. I think you're probably going to find that you can get "as good a uke as can be got" at somewhere around the $1500 mark, give or take, assuming that you don't put much stock in highly figured woods, fancy inlays, and so on. While I appreciate beautiful instruments I just don't have any desire to possess blatant eye candy - I know for others the eye candy is very important.

When I had my custom solid-body electric guitar built several years ago I was very specific about a lot of things - including that I wanted a very simple off-white "aged ivory" finish. The luthier thought I was nuts because I could have had a very nice flame maple top with translucent finish for the same price. I didn't have the guitar three weeks when it slipped in my sweaty hands as I was putting it away after a gig and the metal rim of the hard case knocked a tiny chip in the finish. It was nothing to cry over, and if I really cared enough to worry about it I could easily touch it up, but if it had been a blingy translucent finish I'd probably have been bothered by it. :)

So, for me, to buy an instrument either with a lot of bling factor or to pay extra for a "premium" logo just doesn't make sense. I'd still buy a custom, but it would be for the playability and tone, only. I will probably never buy a Collings, for example, because while I know that they're very, very good instruments I also know that a fair amount of the price is wrapped around the name and I can get an instrument every bit as good from any of several luthiers for a few hundred less.

John

janeray1940
08-31-2012, 03:29 PM
(BTW, I read the following before hitting the post button and realized it could be taken as arguing with you and that's not how I meant to come across - in fact, I think we're probably saying pretty darned close to the same thing in different words...)

That's a very valid argument but on the other side of the coin is the simple fact that at some price point you're paying more for "bling" than for playability, tone, or lasting value (the only things that count to some of us). I think that point is well above $500 (the "five ukes" theory) but I also think it's well below the $2500 point whether you go custom or top-end production. I think you're probably going to find that you can get "as good a uke as can be got" at somewhere around the $1500 mark, give or take, assuming that you don't put much stock in highly figured woods, fancy inlays, and so on. While I appreciate beautiful instruments I just don't have any desire to possess blatant eye candy - I know for others the eye candy is very important.

When I had my custom solid-body electric guitar built several years ago I was very specific about a lot of things - including that I wanted a very simple off-white "aged ivory" finish. The luthier thought I was nuts because I could have had a very nice flame maple top with translucent finish for the same price. I didn't have the guitar three weeks when it slipped in my sweaty hands as I was putting it away after a gig and the metal rim of the hard case knocked a tiny chip in the finish. It was nothing to cry over, and if I really cared enough to worry about it I could easily touch it up, but if it had been a blingy translucent finish I'd probably have been bothered by it. :)

So, for me, to buy an instrument either with a lot of bling factor or to pay extra for a "premium" logo just doesn't make sense. I'd still buy a custom, but it would be for the playability and tone, only. I will probably never buy a Collings, for example, because while I know that they're very, very good instruments I also know that a fair amount of the price is wrapped around the name and I can get an instrument every bit as good from any of several luthiers for a few hundred less.

John

John, this is too funny - I've tried to reply to this twice now and each time my reply has somehow gotten eaten by a cyberspace gremlin! So I'll just say this - I don't take this as arguing at all, and in fact I agree with all of the above. Not a fan of bling myself, and frankly, I'm too cheap to pay for it even if I was!

And yes, I think the $1500 mark is a good target for a quality custom - one can get an amazing uke for that price. But the OP with the $2500 budget may be a fan of bling, or may want an impressive name on the headstock - we don't really know at this point. So it's still really difficult to answer the "what should I get?" question. If it was me, though, I know what the answer would be :)

gyosh
08-31-2012, 05:59 PM
John, this is too funny - I've tried to reply to this twice now and each time my reply has somehow gotten eaten by a cyberspace gremlin! So I'll just say this - I don't take this as arguing at all, and in fact I agree with all of the above. Not a fan of bling myself, and frankly, I'm too cheap to pay for it even if I was!

And yes, I think the $1500 mark is a good target for a quality custom - one can get an amazing uke for that price. But the OP with the $2500 budget may be a fan of bling, or may want an impressive name on the headstock - we don't really know at this point. So it's still really difficult to answer the "what should I get?" question. If it was me, though, I know what the answer would be :)

I think your $1,500.00 mark is about right for a great sounding custom. That's about the base price for mine. I spent the extra money to make my custom uniquely mine. Kinda like buying a nice car and then slapping on nice tires and wheels so it isn't the same as the other people who also bought that car.

For my uke, a little personalization that also adds a little protection and compromises nothing in tone doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

I guess I could buy multiple China built ukes and some art supplies and have a stable of ukes uniquely mine, but it doesn't seem the same. :). "To each, his own" and that's cool with me.

I also have to agree with a previous opinion. Best first post ever!!