View Full Version : Solid Body & Steel String Electric Ukulele Prices

Paul December
09-25-2012, 02:24 PM
I recently saw Fender Squire Strats selling for $100 including an amp (Epiphones for not much more).
I'm not a guitarist, but can say the fit-n-finish was quite nice and the action was surprisingly good.
OK, I understand the concept of Economies of Scale, but you mean to tell me that a uke equivalent really would 5 times as much :confused:

09-26-2012, 02:28 AM
Firstly, it's a supply and demand thing.

Steel strung electric ukes... well their existence is not very widely known, so the big companies capable of mass producing cheap instruments have not exactly caught the bandwagon, nor see it as a profitable endeavour as of yet.

However, I totally agree that there is the potential for them to be cheaply produced, like some entry-level electric guitars are.
There are actually a few examples, such as this one:

Mahalo steel string electric (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mahalo-UE-30S-Surfboard-shaped-Solid-Body-Electric-Ukulele-Steel-Strings-/360477768853?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53ee263c95)

I've also seen a Harley Benton steel string cheapy somewhere too.. Kona blasters are cheap.. and I vaguely recall that Clearwater have a series of cheap steel-string electrics..

The expensive electric ukuleles, like Risa and Kamoa are expensive because they were made to a quality standard that puts them on par with expensive electric guitars.
Some guitars are thousands of dollars, then why are they worth 5 times more than a professional level uke?
If you want cheap steel stringed ukes, there is every potential for them to exist (and some already do, just not widely known). But their quality will suffer.

And my experience with entry level Fender Squire Strats were that they are quite hit-n-miss in quality control and ALWAYS need a full setup to be decently playable.

12-05-2012, 04:17 AM
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Harold O.
12-05-2012, 04:45 AM
Luthier (who no longer does repair work at Guitar Merchant) Chip Bennet, made an electric ukuele for his teenage son (of course). When the Canogahana Players saw it, we ordered a half dozen right away. So he made them for us. I have two. One is for sale. http://www.westhillswood.com/electric-ukulele-for-sale.html

The thing is, a regular ukulele player tends to go pickless. Steel strings will keep your fingers from finging if you don't use a pick. Next, the soprano size is cool, but dictates high tension. Again, regular uke players are accustomed to a softer feel. Thus it's not like you can pick one up and play it as easily as you can, say, a tenor vs concert or Mainland vs Ohana. Most 'big company' electrics are tenor sized for that reason.

This particular one is tuned gCEA so it has a neat, electrified uke sound as opposed to a small guitar sound. I think certain songs sound pretty good on it. I Hear You Knockin' comes to mind. But others sound different or even a little weird. Thus there is not much call for electric ukuleles from the ukulele world and the guitar guys have no interest in it whatsoever. That's part of why I still have one for sale. Even with a way bitchin' case.

Short answer: Since they cannot be sold/made in bulk, the cost remains relatively high.

12-05-2012, 04:50 AM
One should not underestimate the economy provided by volume of sales. My Kamoa Evolve (my current most favoritist instrument) is way cool, and of decent quality... but it does not really approach the quality of a similarly priced low-mid range Ibanez semihollow guitar (for example).

The Kamoa could certainly do with better pickups, wiring and controls.... But Ibanez is able to purchase in much higher volume - so I have no heartburn with Kamoa's pricing. I am currently in the design phase of a semihollow uke build (greatly inspired by my Kamoa), and my materials list alone will put me way over the cost of the Evolve... factor in what labor costs would be, and the Kamoa is truly a bargain by comparison.