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Kevinyellow
11-15-2012, 10:45 AM
Hey guys, I've been searching non stop for about 48 hours now and I haven't come to a conclusive decision on which Ukulele to buy as a beginner.
I really want a Tenor or a Concert but I'm stuck on which brands are quality brands and suitable for beginners? I plan on taking the ukulele seriously and hopefully find myself excelling in it; and then maybe moving onto guitar later on.
Anyways, my price range is up to £100 max max max!! which is equivalent to $150-$160~
I'm from London, UK if that helps. :)

I have come across a few Kala uke's that seem suitable, but I thought I'd ask the community first. If I see any one of the products I have my eye on appear multiple times as suggestions, I'll go with that one.
But don't hesitate to bring new suggestions to the table, that's what I'm looking for!

Thanks,
Kevin. ;)

wallyboy
11-15-2012, 11:51 AM
i have same headache going for upgrade, so many to choose from we are off to shop sunday to try a few out,
good luck with your search

Kevinyellow
11-15-2012, 01:36 PM
Haha, I know right? Ugh, I want just want a warm yet crisp, loud Ukulelee. Haha.
Help me guys! :D
Thanks, and good luck to you too Wallyboy.

wolfchs
11-15-2012, 02:55 PM
With your budget, I'd probably get this:
http://www.theukulelesite.com/islander-acacia-concert-ukulele-pack.html
Islander Acacia Concert and it comes with the famous HMS setup (I've bought two laminate ukuleles from them, and it really makes a huge difference compared to buying a non-setup ukulele) a hardshell canvas case... for $169, can't beat that! Don't know how much international shipping is though.

The Big Kahuna
11-15-2012, 07:50 PM
Anyways, my price range is up to £100 max max max!! which is equivalent to $150-$160~


Actually, while you might assume that to be the case based on the exchange rate, what you'll find in practice is that the cost in Pounds will be the same as the price in Dollars.

For example, a Ukulele that is $ 160 in the USA will be priced at £ 160 here in the UK. It's been that way for as long as I can remember (and I worked in instrument retail 30 years ago). The 1:1 ratio is an unfortunate physical law of the universe.

The Big Kahuna
11-15-2012, 07:53 PM
With your budget, I'd probably get this:
http://www.theukulelesite.com/islander-acacia-concert-ukulele-pack.html
Islander Acacia Concert and it comes with the famous HMS setup (I've bought two laminate ukuleles from them, and it really makes a huge difference compared to buying a non-setup ukulele) a hardshell canvas case... for $169, can't beat that! Don't know how much international shipping is though.

Shipping $ 75
Import duty 3.2% - which is calculated on the cost of the goods, excluding shipping
VAT (what we in the UK call Tax) 20%

Therefore, it would cost approximately £ 175, which would make it the equivalent of $ 280

Newportlocal
11-15-2012, 08:17 PM
How about a Bruko. I have heard good things about them.
http://www.brueko.de/en/

Patrick Madsen
11-15-2012, 08:58 PM
I'd suggest looking into a good used uke> Many are for sale here at more than reasonable prices and great condition. Whatever you choose to buy, it is extremelly important that it is setup properly.

For myself, I always look at what's for sale used before buying new. The only new ukes I've bought were always from a custom luthier; the rest, a '62 Martin baritone, was bought used.

The Big Kahuna
11-15-2012, 09:52 PM
^^ What Patrick said.

I would NEVER buy a new Uke in England. For £ 100 you are getting a $ 60 Uke. Bruko have had some excellent reviews on here. By all means look on Ebay, but be careful what you buy. Don't be tempted to buy a Bruce Weiart Uke if it's your first one, whilst many UU members have bought them and are happy, their quality control seems to be sloppy at best, and it would probably cost you another £ 45 to have it set up, if you could even find anyone near you who could do it.

I'd also think about what you want to achieve further down the line. Looking at your comment about maybe moving to guitar, I get the impression that you are looking at the Uke as a stepping-stone to guitar playing. It isn't...it's a totally different animal. If you want to play guitar, buy a guitar. If you want to play Uke, buy a Uke.

Hippie Dribble
11-15-2012, 10:14 PM
hey Kevin, good luck with your shopping mate. If you haven't already, I'd try the Southern Ukulele Store (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/) as a starting point. But I have to agree with Kahuna, very different instruments. Funnily enough it's actually easier to start on guitar and then migrate to ukulele than the other way around. All the best brother.

Ipsofacto
11-15-2012, 10:27 PM
Looking at your comment about maybe moving to guitar, I get the impression that you are looking at the Uke as a stepping-stone to guitar playing. It isn't...it's a totally different animal. If you want to play guitar, buy a guitar. If you want to play Uke, buy a Uke.

Agreed, tried to play guitar for about 3 years but could never click with it... Uke on the other hand I've picked up rather quickly / actually find it a joy to practice due to smaller frets / less strings (but then again, I did play bass before guitar quite well, so 4 strings seem to be my thing).

The Big Kahuna
11-15-2012, 10:36 PM
Having played guitar for 35 years before moving to Ukulele in May, my acoustic guitar now feels like I'm wrestling an Elephant.

hammer40
11-15-2012, 11:07 PM
If you plan on moving to guitar, it might not be a bad idea to just start with a baritone then since the tuning is DGBE. That is similar to the guitar (top 4 strings) and would make your transition much easier.

I would say to start with the best uke you can afford as well. It can be very motivating to keep up with practicing when you have a quality uke. Not just for the feel of having a nice uke, but as you begin to play properly you can really hear the difference. That isn't always the case with starter ukes, so it can be difficult to realize when you are actually improving.

I started with a Pono, of course at first it all sounded bad. As I started to actually improve, it actually sounded like I knew what I was doing. I could also hear when I did things right how good the instrument can sound. That also kept me motivated to keep going and doing more.

Ipsofacto
11-16-2012, 12:22 AM
Having played guitar for 35 years before moving to Ukulele in May, my acoustic guitar now feels like I'm wrestling an Elephant.

It's always felt like that to me Kahuna xD Playing any 'B' or 'F' chord at the top of the neck is an absolute nightmare with my chunky fingers!

The Big Kahuna
11-16-2012, 04:03 AM
"Fingers like pigs tits"

MARCOVGV
11-16-2012, 04:51 AM
I vote koa pili koko... ive tried many and you get great bang for your buck!


hey Kevin, good luck with your shopping mate. If you haven't already, I'd try the Southern Ukulele Store (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/) as a starting point. But I have to agree with Kahuna, very different instruments. Funnily enough it's actually easier to start on guitar and then migrate to ukulele than the other way around. All the best brother.

Lalz
11-16-2012, 05:08 AM
Hey guys, I've been searching non stop for about 48 hours now and I haven't come to a conclusive decision on which Ukulele to buy as a beginner.
I really want a Tenor or a Concert but I'm stuck on which brands are quality brands and suitable for beginners? I plan on taking the ukulele seriously and hopefully find myself excelling in it; and then maybe moving onto guitar later on.
Anyways, my price range is up to £100 max max max!! which is equivalent to $150-$160~
I'm from London, UK if that helps. :)

I have come across a few Kala uke's that seem suitable, but I thought I'd ask the community first. If I see any one of the products I have my eye on appear multiple times as suggestions, I'll go with that one.
But don't hesitate to bring new suggestions to the table, that's what I'm looking for!

Thanks,
Kevin. ;)

Since you're in London I would advice to go to Duke of Uke (http://www.dukeofuke.co.uk/) on Cheshire Street nearby Brick Lane (E2 6EH) and try some ukes in the flesh, so you get a better sense of what it is you're looking for. I'm not completely sure if they set-up their ukes or not but do ask for a set-up once you've chosen what you like best. In your price range a Kala is usually a good choice. If you can't find one for a good price in the capital and you happen to find yourself somewhere near Bournemouth in the South or Whitley Bay in the North East, try Southern Ukulele Store (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/) resp. Hound Dog Music (http://hounddogmusic.co.uk/). Great service, great assortiments and great prices! SUS sells ukes online as well.

The Big Kahuna
11-16-2012, 07:01 AM
None of the Uke stores in England that I spoke to offered a setup, even at an extra cost. I think Andrew Kitakis should open a UK branch of Hawaii Music Supply. In fact, considering my background in instrument retail, and handy central location within the British Isles, I should run it for him!

Kevinyellow
11-16-2012, 09:20 AM
Ahaha, thanks alot for all the replies guys! Really? I didn't realise the price was at a 1:1 ratio. :( That's really disappointing.
I'll have a look into all the suggested Uke's.


^^ What Patrick said.

I would NEVER buy a new Uke in England. For £ 100 you are getting a $ 60 Uke. Bruko have had some excellent reviews on here. By all means look on Ebay, but be careful what you buy. Don't be tempted to buy a Bruce Weiart Uke if it's your first one, whilst many UU members have bought them and are happy, their quality control seems to be sloppy at best, and it would probably cost you another £ 45 to have it set up, if you could even find anyone near you who could do it.

I'd also think about what you want to achieve further down the line. Looking at your comment about maybe moving to guitar, I get the impression that you are looking at the Uke as a stepping-stone to guitar playing. It isn't...it's a totally different animal. If you want to play guitar, buy a guitar. If you want to play Uke, buy a Uke.
Thanks for the reply Kahuna. Haha, although my OP might seem to suggest I'm using the uke as a stepping stone; that's definitely not my intention. But I had seen a number of posts saying being able to play a Uke could help in learning to play the guitar...which left me thinking I could learn to play both; for the intent of knowing to play multiple instruments as opposed to the intent for reaching a main goal in one preferred instrument. I actually favour the goal of being deft at the ukulele than the guitar tbh haha. But yeah, just to clarify. :)
Oh btw, here are two Uke's I came by and have considered within my price range.
Kala Ka-T & Oscar Schmidt OU4...thoughts on those? Thanks!
And thanks to all those who wished me luck ;)

The Big Kahuna
11-16-2012, 10:18 AM
I haven't played either of those pal, but I'm sure someone who has will be along in a minute :)

For what it's worth, I seem to recall reading a few Oscar Schmidt reviewers on here who commented that they were "over built". The Kala Ka-T was almost the first Uke I bought, and seems to get good reviews in a "cheap but workmanlike beginner Uke" kind of way.

As an old guitarist but new Uke player, I can confirm that (within reason) the more you spend on a Uke, the more rapidly you will progress. A cheap piece of crap will be almost unplayable, and will hold you back at best. At worst, it will make you give up the Uke and take up the drums.

Rather than buy the Kala in England, I waited until I visited New York, and bought a Uke at USA prices, meaning I got a bit more for my money. This resulted in a much happier experience from a beginners point of view. The Kanile'a I recently bought could be considered extreme for a beginner (actually, there's no "could" about it...it IS extreme, but I wanted it, dammit!!), but it's demonstrated to me that you really DO get what you pay for with Ukes.

Rambling aside, my point is this: a crap sounding Uke that plays like a dream is infinitely preferable to an awesome sounding Uke that plays like a piece of crap when you're learning. Playability and intonation is everything.

The Big Kahuna
11-16-2012, 10:25 AM
And to reinforce my last point:

Give Jake Shimabukuro a well set-up Uke made of Balsa Wood, and he'll still sound like Jake.

Give him a solid Koa K-Brand with crap intonation and an action you could pass a Hamster through, and he'll sound like me.

If you have the option, save up some more money...but only if you're ABSOLUTELY sure you want to learn the Uke. If you buy something cheap because you're undecided, the experience will persuade you that the Uke isn't for you after all.

Kevinyellow
11-16-2012, 01:27 PM
Ahaha, thanks alot Kahuna.
So what do you think would be a solid, ideal Ukulele for me to start and progress on until I can spend a significant chunk more? And can you elaborate a little bit by what you meant by Oscar Schmidt's being overbuilt? Haha, sorry I'm new to all of this; but extremely interested.
Also, I have family going to China this December and I was wondering whether there are any good Chinese Uke makes that produce outstanding Ukes.

Oh btw, I found another Uke that looks decent.
So now it's between the following 3:
Kala Ka-T
Oscar Schmidt OU4
Ohana TK-10

Thanks again!
Kevin.

Yestyn The Great
11-16-2012, 02:47 PM
I would look into the solid spruce top lanikai tenor. In my opinion lanikai tenors are nicer then kala tenors.

The Big Kahuna
11-16-2012, 09:01 PM
Kala Ka-T
Oscar Schmidt OU4
Ohana TK-10

Out of those, I'd probably go for the Ohana, purely on the basis that Ken Middleton (UU member and regular poster on here) is International Marketing Manager for Ohana, and he's no mug. They also get exceedingly good reviews. Regarding the phrase "over built", I imagine it means that the body laminates are quite thick, and it's over-braced, leading to a slightly "choked" sound and less resonance. That's a guess though.

bodhran
11-16-2012, 11:01 PM
Hi Kevinyellow

you have been given some very sound advice; go for a Ukulele with a good setup. As others have said - a good setup makes a world of difference.

From personal experience I can recommend Highly Strung http://www.highlystrung.co.uk/ I recently ordered a cheap ukulele from them and asked them to set it up for me. It arrived the next day and was nicely setup. I then fitted a set of Ken Middleton's Living Water strings to it and, as a result, have a very good 'starter' ukulele which sounds ok and is easy to play due to have decent action and intonation.

ukuhippo
11-16-2012, 11:06 PM
None of the Uke stores in England that I spoke to offered a setup, even at an extra cost. I think Andrew Kitakis should open a UK branch of Hawaii Music Supply. In fact, considering my background in instrument retail, and handy central location within the British Isles, I should run it for him!

Try Courtney and Walker.

Kevinyellow
11-17-2012, 04:45 AM
Hey and thanks yet again for the replies.
@Kahuna: Ahh okay, understood. I'll probably look into the Ohana a little more then, I did some youtube research and the Ohana did sound pretty great; although funnily enough I think the Oscar Schmidt sounded better to my ears. But maybe it was down to the way they were strung by the player or whoever set it up?

@Bodhran I'm not sure any of my nearby shops do set ups. I did a little search online and the only one that seems to offer setup is a store quite far from London. But I'll call up some nearby retailers on Monday and see if they offer any support. I also found the same Ukes on the highlystrung site for cheaper on a few other sites; and since I run it through a middleman site that guarantees to knock off some from the price stated on any UK site; I doubt they'd be able to sort out the setting up. :(

@Hippo Thanks, I'll check them out now. :)

Lalz
11-19-2012, 11:21 AM
None of the Uke stores in England that I spoke to offered a setup, even at an extra cost. I think Andrew Kitakis should open a UK branch of Hawaii Music Supply. In fact, considering my background in instrument retail, and handy central location within the British Isles, I should run it for him!

Both Southern Ukulele Store and Hound Dog Music do. HDM on all of them by default. Highly Strung does set-ups too and a few others do as well...
Which stores did you talk to?

Lalz
11-19-2012, 12:56 PM
More UK/Euro online sellers that do set-ups: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?69613-Online-Shops-that-Do-Set-ups-International-Edition

The Big Kahuna
11-19-2012, 07:03 PM
Both Southern Ukulele Store and Hound Dog Music do. HDM on all of them by default. Highly Strung does set-ups too and a few others do as well...
Which stores did you talk to?

I spoke to SUS on the phone. The salesman said they didn't do setups.

Bill Mc
11-19-2012, 07:42 PM
You said you want loud. Ohana SK-38A or Brüko maple flat soprano. Excellent quality with both and you'll not have to apologize for the sound. I own both and play both every day. Someone recommended KPK. They are very nice ukuleles with a great set-up by Jason but loud they are not - sweet they are.

Lalz
11-19-2012, 10:54 PM
I spoke to SUS on the phone. The salesman said they didn't do setups.

Was it recently? To me they said just a few weeks ago that they do. Not systematically but definitely if you ask them to.

Wongo
11-20-2012, 05:57 AM
None of the Uke stores in England that I spoke to offered a setup, even at an extra cost. I think Andrew Kitakis should open a UK branch of Hawaii Music Supply. In fact, considering my background in instrument retail, and handy central location within the British Isles, I should run it for him!

:agree: make it happen

ukuhippo
11-24-2012, 12:34 AM
I spoke to SUS on the phone. The salesman said they didn't do setups.

That's my experience to with them. Strange how the experiences with them seem to differ from time to time. Both HighlyStrung and Courtney and Walker were very clear on what (good things) they do with the ukes before sending them out, I had great experiences with both of those companies. I would really like to buy from an specialized-uke-store like SUS, but their inconsistent answers keep me from doing so.
It's not even a matter of what they do or don't do, but a matter of getting their act together with clear and consistent communication to their customers.

cahaya
11-24-2012, 02:23 AM
Anyways, my price range is up to £100 max max max!! which is equivalent to $150-$160~
I'm from London, UK if that helps. :)


With that price range, I am thinking of Makai TK-55 Tenor

You can find more information about this product from here:
http://www.theukulelesite.com/makai-tenor-tk-55-w-package-options.html

You can also find more review from here:
http://theukulelereview.com/2012/03/21/what-makes-an-ukulele-good/

HMS does not carry this one at the moment but you can find others who may sell them. As many of the UU mates suggested, if you decide to buy on-line, best if you buy it from reputable store who also setup the uke before dispatching it

Hope this help :)

EDIT: some more reviews on Makai uke
http://ukulelehunt.com/buy-ukulele/brands/makai-ukulele/

The Big Kahuna
11-24-2012, 04:32 AM
I would really like to buy from an specialized-uke-store like SUS, but their inconsistent answers keep me from doing so

Both the "Kamoa" stores on Kauai are what you'd describe as "specialist Uke stores"...doesn't make them any good though. SUS look great from their website, but I've read far too many bad reports on here and elsewhere to ever consider doing business with them. I'm sure many people have had a great experience with them though.

lovinforkful
11-24-2012, 04:44 AM
I think Ohanas are nice for starter ukes. The price range is friendly enough to make it a starter, but you won't outgrow the quality.