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View Full Version : More about the Flea and maybe other ukes too..



fitncrafty
09-14-2012, 04:40 AM
So I haven't gotten a new uke in a long time.. over a year and half.. It's high time...
I don't get t play many different ukes and shops only have crap ukes around here so there really isnt much to try. Although I do from time to time. There is one shop with some nice Luna's but I already have a luna...

So my questions about the flea are this.. I know they sound great and are so durable easy to dray around etc.. However when I go in and add on the extras I would like it becomes a pricey little investment uke!
I like a concert size for sure.. then add the rosewood fretboard and peghead tuners.. ouch...
So what would you not live without on a flea? No hard case, fretboard, peghead tuners etc...

I am looking around $300 max... if not a flea what else would you suggest?

Thanks so much!

ScooterD35
09-14-2012, 05:34 AM
If I were you, I'd save a bit and get either a walnut or a Mahogany Flea. They both come with the rosewood fretboard as standard (I could easily live without pegheads but I do like the wood fretboard). Increase to concert size and add a gigbag and you're right around $350.

Even if you go for one with a design and add the wood fb and gigbag, it comes to $348+shipping. I know they're a bit more expensive than imports but I think they're well worth it. My Fluke is by far my most-played uke.

FWIW, you might try calling Fleamarket Music at 800-459-5558 and ask about "seconds". These are ukes that have very minor blemishes that they usually sell at a pretty good discount.



Scooter

Newportlocal
09-14-2012, 05:36 AM
Personally, my previous tiki soprano and current pineapple tenor flea are just fine with plastic fretboard and their standard tuners. I have had more expensive ukuleles. It's not just a money thing. The plastic fretboard and standard tuners are just fine. I just saw new ones on eBay and elsewhere for $195-$225 I didn't get a hard case for either. First time a standard bag with it, the tenor I got the new backpack style bag not on their website at flea market yet. Both bags were just fine.

PedalFreak
09-14-2012, 05:36 AM
I think the standard fretboard is great. So I'd dump the Rosewood Fretboard. I like the PegHed's on them, but again I don't think they're necessary. If you don't plan on doing major travel the hard case also isn't needed.

I've owned about 4-5 Flea/Flukes. I think the standard issue is great. Although I have had the rosewood fretboard, and I think the plastic fretboard has better intonation. I would travel on planes with mine with the standard gigbag.

I have been itching to get a tricked out Fluke lately though :)

DaveY
09-14-2012, 05:45 AM
I think people tend to like the version they have. My concert Flea has the rosewood fretboard, which I like; but if I'd never had one, I probably wouldn't much care. I would definitely skip the hard case; I've traveled on planes, trains and automobiles with it and never felt that it was vulnerable. (On planes, it's under the seat.) I like the standard tuners fine, but then I started out on a Flea, and still have no problem with friction tuners. You even could skip the gig bag, if you're willing to put it in a small duffel or something; I often put it (in the gig bag) inside a duffel that carries other stuff. And I think that with the Fleas/Flukes you're also paying for great customer service, FWIW.

janeray1940
09-14-2012, 06:07 AM
I don't own one but I've played a few, and if I was planning to buy one I'd definitely upgrade from the plastic fretboard for two reasons - I don't care for how it feels, and I find the black frets to be nearly invisible - of course, the latter could be more a reflection of my middle-aged vision than anything else :) But I always lose my place on the plastic fretboard since I can't see the fret "wires," and since the neck is wider than I'm accustomed to, I can't rely on "feel" alone.

I'd also upgrade to the Pegheds because I love the darned things, but if you don't already have a uke with Pegheds then this probably won't matter - you won't know what you're missing, and the standard tuners should be just fine.

One other thing worth mentioning - I do find the plastic backs on the Fleas and Flukes really challenging to hold. They are slippery little buggers! If you've never played one before, and can't try it out before you buy it, this is just something to be aware of.

Have you considered the Firefly? This would be my next uke purchase if I was in the market. Like the Fleas and Flukes, they're great little ukes, and if you don't already have a banjo uke in your collection - hey, added justification for a uke purchase!

Happy shopping :)

haole
09-14-2012, 06:13 AM
You can safely pass on the Pegheds if you're okay with friction tuners. The stock tuners are good and I've never had a problem with them. The rosewood fretboard does feel better to me, but there's nothing wrong with the plastic. Skip the hard case; the gig bag is good and you can even put a concert Flea in one of those generic canvas/foam soprano cases. Overall, Fleas are good enough with the standard stuff that you won't be kicking yourself for skipping the pricier options.

v30
09-14-2012, 06:22 AM
I've had a couple and if I get another, it will have the rosewood fretboard for the reasons janeray1940 mentioned. Also, I've noticed that after only about a month of playing the strings start to wear on the plastic frets. I'm not sure if it just kinda starts and stops or if it continually gets worse since I didn't own them for long enough to say.

csibona
09-14-2012, 06:44 AM
I have a rosewood fretboard on my tenor-sized Fluke and like it. The stock tuners are fine - once you gain experience with them.

-C

Lori
09-14-2012, 06:58 AM
I have a concert neck flea, with standard tuners and plastic fretboard. I normally hate friction tuners, but the Flea's standard tuners are fine. If you have any finger pains, Pegheads would be easier on your hands. I added fret markers to the side of the neck (sharpie), and I don't look at the frets much, so the black on black is not too much of a problem for me. Ken Middleton's "Living Water Strings" sound great on it. I have tried a koa topped Flea, with rosewood fretboard, and it did sound nicer than mine, but that is a bit more money. The hard case is not really necessary for everyday travel, the gig bag is sufficient.

Happy shopping!
–Lori

bazmaz
09-14-2012, 07:00 AM
I've always found their standard tuners just fine. My plastic fretboard has started to wear a bit on frets now, so I'd def go wooden if buying again

OldePhart
09-14-2012, 07:21 AM
I'd go with a Mainland, or an Ohana solid wood or maybe a Kala solid wood but only from a shop like HMS, Mim, etc., who will make sure it is set up properly. Any of those would be in your price range in a concert size.

I know a lot of people love the Fluke but even if I liked the tone (which I'm frankly not crazy about) I don't think I could bring myself to pay that much for one. If I was going to go with a fluke I'd probably have to upgrade to the wood fretboard simply because I would most likely put fluorocarbon strings on it and I suspect that the hard fluorocarbon would probably wear the plastic frets even more quickly than nylon or nylgut strings would.

John

wconley
09-14-2012, 09:10 AM
I did the same thing you did and once I started adding the extras I decided I didn't want to spend that much on a Flea. I was lucky and found a like new concert flea with plastic fretboard on Craigslist for $85. I snapped it up and didn't look back. It sounds and plays great, is safe for travel and the beach, and I have no problem with the plastic fretboard. It's also kid safe which was the big reason for getting it. I think that at $350, there are a lot of good ukuleles to compare to it.

Tootler
09-14-2012, 10:49 AM
I love my Flea. It's just a standard soprano Flea with plastic fretboard and default tuners and I have no problems with either. I changed the Aquila strings for Ken Middleton's Living Water Strings which I find both more comfortable to play and give a less brash tone. It has attracted quite a lot of interest because of its slightly unconventional look and most people seem to like the tone.

Mine came with the denim gig bag which I did not like partly because it didn't have a pocket for knick knacks but also because of the minimal padding. I bought a better quality gig bag with pockets and more padding and it acts as my "carry about" ukulele.

I don't think it's worth the extra money to have peghead tuners and a rosewood fretboard fitted. In standard form, it's worth its money because of the quality of manufacture, its ruggedness and tone, but the added extras add too much to the price in my view.

Hippie Dribble
09-14-2012, 11:12 AM
hey Carrie, I've got the same issue. Been onto FMM myself a couple of times in the past year but everytime the final tally comes up I abort immediately.

I would want the wooden fretboard, I could live without the hardcase or gigbag and the pegheds. If I had your money I would order a mango flea concert and a set of Lucy's coloured friction tuners for 20 bucks...very cute, simple to install.

hope you work through it mate and are happy with what you end up with.

Chris Tarman
09-14-2012, 01:15 PM
My Flea is strictly standard, and it's great just as it is. I've never had any problems with the plastic fretboard, and I actually prefer friction tuners and am very used to them.
I believe that you can send a Flea or Fluke to the factory and get the fingerboard changed at any time, so what you COOOOUUUULD do would be to get a standard one in a color you like and enjoy playing it for a while. Then later, if you decide it's necessary, you could send it in and get the upgrade(s).
Just my two cents. I really love my Flea and think everyone should have one!

Plainsong
09-14-2012, 02:30 PM
I had the koa top flea and felt it was a cut above and really competed with the big boy brands. In that sense, it's more than the sum of its parts and worth the cost. It's that type of uke.

However... I've also been really happy with just a yea olde basic flea with plastic fretboard. Intonation great, ringing sound, comfy to play, and tons of designs and colors.

So I guess I'd go with either extreme, either koa with all the fixings, or basic in the color or design I wanted.

Olarte
09-14-2012, 07:32 PM
I totally agree with Plainsong.

It's funny I have 21 ukuleles from pineapple sunday, mya moe, kiwaya ts4 etc, and a fluke and a flea.... And you know what?, my Surf fluke low g and Pineapple flea high g are the ones that I will take with me for most occasions.

Yes they are expensive by the time you add it all up, but oh so worth it. I splurged on rosewood fretboards and pegheds so it was close to 400 each, but what I did to compensate for this was to call FMM directly and ask if they had 2nds on the models I wanted.... Well wouldn't you know it, on both separate occasions, they had the exact models I wanted, a pineapple, and a Surf available.

They sent me pictures of the boards, and its crazy but I saved close to 50 each on the boards that had a ridiculous minor fading on a spot.... The best part is the fading actually suits both designs perfectly. So in both cases I had a custom "high end" instrument with a great discount, in my hands within two weeks. It was even a fun experience dealing with FMM to select the exact instruments I wanted, right down to the color of the gig bags!

So to me, finding myself reaching for these two ukes most times as I pack for an outing, and loving the quality of the instruments, sound and durability.... It's was really worth the initial investment.

One more thing, it may sound silly to go all out on the extras, but that is part of the beauty of these ukes. You can get a really great instrument that is a pleasure to play, easy to tune, and fairly rugged, especially if you invest in the rosewood fretboards, and if you appreciate the easy tunning and quality that pegheds provide.

My initial impression before I knew better was to laugh at the crazy price for "plastic" ukes, but now having had 4 (one I gifted, and the other is the firefly banjo, which is also wood fretboard but regular tuners) I can only say that these instruments are among the best, and again well worth it. And like a high end Mya-Moe, you can be assured that they retain their value.

And on top of everything else I've met Jim Beloff and his wife at the NYC Ukefest, and they are some of the nicest people I've met. And living in Massachusetts about two hours from FMM, I'm very happy to have dealt with them directly, and buying from a local company.

So as you can see, I'm a huge fan of these ukes. In fact my best friend, his daughter (who is the one I gifted my first flea to) and his sister also ended up with flukes and fleas, so between all of us we have about 1/2 dozen of them.:shaka:

HoldinCoffee
09-14-2012, 10:55 PM
One of my favorite features of the Fleas and Flukes is that they sit upright. Mine stay out in the open as little showpieces and the Fleabags are quite sufficient for carrying around, so I'd stay away from the hardcase. The only reason I would upgrade the fretboard is if I planned on using wound strings, and that being said, I wouldn't do that with a Flea... perhaps a tenor Fluke. As for the tuners, if I were to buy another Fluke I'd upgrade the tuners. Actually, I was looking at a tenor neck Flea and after figuring the upgraded tuners, I ended up buying a less expensive regular tenor uke. Although on quiet nights, really late, sometimes I hear a subtle calling from my longnecked Flea.

ksiegel
09-15-2012, 03:40 AM
Carrie, you know that you can always borrow my Fluke Tenor and Firefly to try them out - and after seeing the Fluke get knocked over twice last Monday, you know how well they hold up.

As you know, which of course means I'm going to tell you, I bought my Fluke directly from MagicFluke as a second, when I visited the shop last year. There were about 8 factory seconds at the time - mostly fleas, a concert fluke, and the tenor fluke. I played them all for a goodly amount of time, and kept coming back to the tenor. It just happened to have pegheds and the rosewood fretboard, as well as a b-band pickup (the older style).

I compared it to the new ones, and couldn't really tell a difference - except that the strings had settled down already in the factory second.

It was my first experience with Peghed tuners, and I loved them. The Grover tuners that are standard are just fine - I happened to like the pegheds more.

I like the look of the rosewood fretboard, and it feels fine to me. Better than plastic? Longer lasting? I don't know - the only plastic fretboard I have is on a 60+ year-old Harmony, and it show no signs of wear.

So let me know if you want to borrow either uke.

And I'm pretty sure that Fred will let you try his Flea, if you want.

Of course, you could always check with Mim or Mike, and see if they have the Ohana Vita uke...



-Kurt

fitncrafty
09-15-2012, 04:10 AM
Wow. AS expected your feedback was amazing! I love how much all of you love your fleas and flukes no matter what the details are. I have a lot to absorb and take in. I am forutnate enough that Jim Belof will be in my neck of the woods next weekend for the uke festival and I hope to have the privelge to play several ukes before deciding.
I don't live very far from their MA workshop and would love to make a trip for the final tour...
As Kurt knows I do love the vita uke a lot. I don't think it would be the 'go to' drag around uke to play all the time though. It has a light airy feeling and if it had been kicked over like Kurts Fluke was I think we may be having a uke funeral right now...

I know a few said I should get a mainland or other solid uke, I don't love the binding on mainlands and even though they sound fantastic I don't think I would play it much because I don't like to look at them.. Sad but true. I considered buying one a few years ago when I got my luna, but the looks won over.. I love my luna and wish it was set up my HMS but they didn't sell Lunas at the time.. Never played any other Ohana's except the vita... We don't get much options around here.. The shops don't have anything but low end ukes except for an occasional second hand...
Thanks for all the wonderful feedback, Iwill keep you all posted..

Lori
09-15-2012, 04:51 AM
Wow. AS expected your feedback was amazing! I love how much all of you love your fleas and flukes no matter what the details are. I have a lot to absorb and take in. I am forutnate enough that Jim Belof will be in my neck of the woods next weekend for the uke festival and I hope to have the privelge to play several ukes before deciding.
I don't live very far from their MA workshop and would love to make a trip for the final tour...
As Kurt knows I do love the vita uke a lot. I don't think it would be the 'go to' drag around uke to play all the time though. It has a light airy feeling and if it had been kicked over like Kurts Fluke was I think we may be having a uke funeral right now...

I know a few said I should get a mainland or other solid uke, I don't love the binding on mainlands and even though they sound fantastic I don't think I would play it much because I don't like to look at them.. Sad but true. I considered buying one a few years ago when I got my luna, but the looks won over.. I love my luna and wish it was set up my HMS but they didn't sell Lunas at the time.. Never played any other Ohana's except the vita... We don't get much options around here.. The shops don't have anything but low end ukes except for an occasional second hand...
Thanks for all the wonderful feedback, Iwill keep you all posted..
I have several Ohanas, and would say they are as just as nice as the Mainlands, with more variety to choose from. The Flea/ Fluke is kind of a different animal than the rest of the uke herd. Because of the plastic pieces, and lack of gloss, it looks like it is not a serious instrument. But it is a real instrument, with a bit of durability added. It doesn't have the same "Musical Instrument" aesthetic that the other wood ukes have though. I resisted getting one for awhile, because I love the look and feel of real wood instruments with gloss finish. I would definitely keep one in my herd if I already had other wood ukes that satisfy that other "musical instrument" desire.
–Lori

stevepetergal
09-15-2012, 05:23 AM
Here's precisely what I would do. I'd look at the options I'm looking as objectively as I can. Examples:

Have I ever played a plastic fretboard? (I have and like them very much.) They do wear out after time, but doesn't the Flea company replace them? (Free? Cheap? Expensive? Have to find out.)

Pegheads. Do I really need them? (Objectively as I can answer for myself)

Hard case. Here I'll give you my opinion but won't ask you to agree. The Flea is loved by so many for several reasons, one of which is its durability (with the possible exception of the plastic fretboard). I wouldn't bother with a hard case. The standard would work for me.

Objectivity is hard to find when looking at something close to our hearts. But, you can do it.

The Flea is really a great instrument, in my opinion. They consistently play well, sound great, and are real workhorses. If you were ever to have a problem with one, easier to deal with a New York manufacturer than a Hawaii builder.

RevWill
09-15-2012, 05:45 AM
Yes, FMM does replace the plastic fretboard for free. I think you pay shipping, but still. My flea is 6 years old and the plastic (super-hard polycarbonate, I think) shows no signs of wear yet. The rosewood is a nice upgrade, but I certainly have no itch to send my flea in for a rosewood replacement.

The friction tuners, as previously stated, are fine. They're good ones.

And I love the tone. My local guitar store carries Martin fluorocarbon uke strings, and they sound great on it.










Here's precisely what I would do. I'd look at the options I'm looking as objectively as I can. Examples:

Have I ever played a plastic fretboard? (I have and like them very much.) They do wear out after time, but doesn't the Flea company replace them? (Free? Cheap? Expensive? Have to find out.)

Pegheads. Do I really need them? (Objectively as I can answer for myself)

Hard case. Here I'll give you my opinion but won't ask you to agree. The Flea is loved by so many for several reasons, one of which is its durability (with the possible exception of the plastic fretboard). I wouldn't bother with a hard case. The standard would work for me.

Objectivity is hard to find when looking at something close to our hearts. But, you can do it.

The Flea is really a great instrument, in my opinion. They consistently play well, sound great, and are real workhorses. If you were ever to have a problem with one, easier to deal with a New York manufacturer than a Hawaii builder.

mm stan
09-15-2012, 06:29 AM
Aloha Fitncrafty,
I love my fluke to death..but I would not buy one if I only had only a couple uke and it would be a long time before I get another....they sound nice and the necks are thick.
but if you are at the factory, maybe they can slim it down for you...don't get me wrong it's a fun uke, good intonation and volume... but I'd get a nicer one you'd enjoy for the
overall long term....Good Luck and happy strummings...totally missed this thread...sorry...

nix
09-15-2012, 06:43 AM
I have a concert Flea with plastic fretboard and Peghed tuners. I also have a walnut concert Fluke with a walnut fretboard and Peghed tuners. Which one do I play constantly and take everywhere? The Flea. I love the feel of the plastic fretboard and after about 8 months of playing it doesn't have any noticeable wear. As many others have said, I wouldn't bother with the hard case or even the gig bag. I use a concert size Lanikai gig bag that I got pretty cheap and it fits great. I believe the Peghed tuners are worth it. I ordered a custom Boat Paddle with Pegheds just recently. Ever since I got the Flea with Pegheds I haven't bought an ukulele without them.

As an aside, I prefer Martin strings on my Flea. The Living Water strings didn't sound good with mine and sort of deadened the bright sound I like so much. I'm going to try them out on one of my solid wood ukes soon since I bought 2 packages.

Good luck with your purchase!

Nix

joekulele
09-16-2012, 08:11 PM
My first uke was a Pineapple concert Flea with plastic fretboard. Later on, I won a contest on FMM, a Uke Can Change the World soprano Flea with rosewood fretboard and a hard case. I liked the rosewood fretboard so much I sent the Pineapple back in and had the plastic changed out. IMHO the rosewood fretboard is worth the extra $. It looks and feels nice. The stock tuners are just fine for me. To be honest, I don't use the hard case much. Only for long travel trips when the back is loaded with gear. Otherwise the padded gig bag is fine.

joeybug
09-16-2012, 08:37 PM
I have a Poiple flea and got the plastic fretboard and canvas case. I'd never had an Uke with friction tuners before and the standard ones are fine, as is the plastic fretboard, though I do take the comments that it can wear when you play it a lot so I think it's all about choice and what you can live without. If I had to chose from the hard case, the pegheads and the plastic fretboard I'd do without the hard case, the canvas one is fine and the Fleas are built to last and very sturdy, I've dropped mine once or twice and it's not even scuffed or marked so I think you can do away with that.

Hope you get what you want, it's been too long since you had a New Uke Day and we all deserve new shiny things once in a while!

Good Luck and let us know what you choose!

fitncrafty
09-16-2012, 10:57 PM
I

Hope you get what you want, it's been too long since you had a New Uke Day and we all deserve new shiny things once in a while!

Good Luck and let us know what you choose!

Well you are right about that new uke day, last one was when my eleuke arrived, remember that day? You we practically here, that was fun! I will definitely let you know what I decide...

joeybug
09-17-2012, 01:34 AM
Well you are right about that new uke day, last one was when my eleuke arrived, remember that day? You we practically here, that was fun! I will definitely let you know what I decide...

I do remember, it was a great day! Looking forward to hearing what you end up getting :D