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View Full Version : My new Lanakai LU21 Soprano



dhoenisch
11-26-2012, 03:44 PM
OK, so it's nothing special, but it's a great beater.

I am currently saving up for my Donaldson concert, and after that I want a Mainland soprano, so I was not in the market for a uke right now.

A few weeks ago, I took my mom to a music store so she could purchase another tenor uke, and while I was waiting on her to play a couple of choices, I was messing around with an LU21 soprano. I was really enjoying it and felt that it had a great sound and feel, especially for being a laminated uke. I had recently given away my Mahalo red soprano as I just couldn't get a good feel for that one (though have played many that sounded great). So, I no longer had a beater uke that I was comfortable with keeping out all winter long.

So... I was looking around on eBay, as I do from time to time, and saw an LU21 with a Uke Crazy semi-hard case with a buy it now price of $47 with free shipping. It was missing a string and supposedly had a couple scratches on the neck. Seemed like a heck of a deal, especially since the cases alone are $40, so I jumped on it.

Once I finally got it, I noticed the fret ends were quite sharp, so I filed them down, crowned them, polished them, etc. Performed a setup as the action was a bit high at both ends. Oiled the fingerboard and installed new strings. The supposed scratches on the neck are dang near invisible. And the case was pretty much like new.

So, now I have my own, and it sounds and feels just as good as the one did in the store. Yeah, again it's just an entry level laminated soprano, but the sounds and feel are what I like, so what difference does that make anyhow.

Here's my uke. Normally these look rather plain, but mine has some nice streaking in the nato laminate.

http://i118.photobucket.com/albums/o92/dhoenisch/DSCN2165-1.jpg

Dan

Pondoro
11-26-2012, 04:05 PM
I've got one that, just like yours, needed a lot of set up, but it was a good starter uke, trained me how to do set-ups, and was my beater travel uke for many trips. Enjoy it! I got mine in 2006 and got a lot of flack on the boards to buy a real uke, the boards are more tolerant of cheap ukes now.

OldePhart
11-26-2012, 04:05 PM
That does look nicer than most of the LU-21 and LU-11 ukes I've handled. If you want it to look (and feel) even nicer, a good buffing with a paste wax will smooth out the kind of rough surface of the wood and darken it a little, too. Most of the Lanikai nato wood ukes (21 and 11) I've handled have a pretty rough surface, the wax makes a huge difference in how these feel and look, though doesn't really do anything good or bad for the sound.

I use Renaissance wax because I have it but it is expensive and I wouldn't buy a tin just for this - any good paste wax should do much the same.

Edit to add: As Pondoro mentions these often need a bit of setup to play really well in tune and make the Bb chords easy and so on. They're nowhere near the basket case that I've seen in some other ukes, though. I've probably had about ten 21's and 11's go through my hands (grandkids). All were basically playable and "good enough" for a player without a refined ear but all also had at least one string that needed some minor touchup at the nut to bring the first fret completely in tune. Well, all except the one I bought from MGM and that was because he did the setup for me.

My very first uke was an LU-21C and I still have it (well, my wife does). It needed a little setup and, as mentioned, the wax really prettied it up some, but they're good basic ukes that don't require a second mortgage.

John

ukegirl
11-26-2012, 05:15 PM
Very nice! A favorite uke does not have to be expensive....I've owned/own top shelf stuff and still reach for my laminated Kamoa more often than not!

ukeeku
11-26-2012, 05:19 PM
I did this to a kala tenor KA-T
Looks awesome and does not change sound or playability
http://stores.ebay.com/Jockomo-InlayStickers/Ukulele-/_i.html?_fsub=19593266&_sid=639778940&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322

dhoenisch
11-27-2012, 03:13 AM
Thanks all. I know there are much better ukes out there, and I do own much better ukes. I am just impressed with this little LU21. Actually, I have always been impressed with Hohner made ukes in general. They do a darn good job for not too much money. The setup was already expected. I've done a setup on all of my instruments, including ones that come set up already, like my Martin guitar. I'm just anal about my instruments, and I have to tweak every one of them to my liking. that, and it makes the instrument more "mine" after I get my grubby hands on it :)

OldePhart, tell me more about this paste wax idea. I just put on brand new strings, so I may not do this until the next string change, or maybe hit the back and sides, and do the top at a later time, but I do have a can of Johnson's paste wax kicking around, so I'd like to give it a try.

Dan

OldePhart
11-27-2012, 01:20 PM
Happy to oblige. Several years ago the guy who made some of my custom Native American Flutes recommended a product called Renaissance Wax when I told him I wanted a flute that just looked like natural wood but was protected. It's a very expensive product used by a lot of wood turners and the like (you can find it online at wood worker's supply places). Supposedly it is used by several museums to preserve wood and metal relics.

It's hands-down the best wax I've used on anything and I've been using it for years now on flutes, guitars, ukes, and even my firearms.

It has less tendency to make satin things shiny than some other waxes do. For example, on my satin finish mango soprano the only thing that happened when I applied the wax was the finish got very slightly darker and it "popped" the curl a bit.

Anyway, most of the Lanikai nato ukes I've gotten have had a surface, especially on the soundboard, that was pretty rough - enough so that it almost feels like you could get a splinter rubbing it (though I never have actually gotten a splinter). Anyway, the wax made the grain lay down and be less "fuzzy" - made them look a little nicer and darker, too. I suspect almost any good paste wax would do that, though if you have a lot of instruments you might want to look at the Renaissance Wax. I bought a small tin about ten years ago for around $25 - it's a good investment because I still have probably a third to a half of the tin left.

I've started using the renaissance wax on my uke fretboards, too, instead of lemon oil. I started that when I got my KoAloha and realized that oil on the open-pore natural koa fretboard would probably darken it - I used the Renaissance Wax and really liked how it worked so now I use it on all my fretboards unless I buy an instrument that has some very thirsty-appearing rosewood or the like. When I do that I will oil it a few times until it starts looking healthy, then switch to the wax.




Thanks all. I know there are much better ukes out there, and I do own much better ukes. I am just impressed with this little LU21. Actually, I have always been impressed with Hohner made ukes in general. They do a darn good job for not too much money. The setup was already expected. I've done a setup on all of my instruments, including ones that come set up already, like my Martin guitar. I'm just anal about my instruments, and I have to tweak every one of them to my liking. that, and it makes the instrument more "mine" after I get my grubby hands on it :)

OldePhart, tell me more about this paste wax idea. I just put on brand new strings, so I may not do this until the next string change, or maybe hit the back and sides, and do the top at a later time, but I do have a can of Johnson's paste wax kicking around, so I'd like to give it a try.

Dan

dhoenisch
11-27-2012, 02:03 PM
Cool, thanks for the info. For now, I'll try the paste wax I currently have and see how it goes. I may end up buying a can of the Renaissance Wax if I like the outcome. Heck, I hardly paid anything for the uke, so it's worth a try.

Dan

Pondoro
11-27-2012, 02:29 PM
Cool, thanks for the info. For now, I'll try the paste wax I currently have and see how it goes. I may end up buying a can of the Renaissance Wax if I like the outcome. Heck, I hardly paid anything for the uke, so it's worth a try.

Dan

The true beauty of a cheap uke is that you can try stuff like this with no regrets. I made a new saddle for my Lanikai, installed a strap button and adjusted the nut slightly. When I realized that I hadn't messed it up it gave me the confidence to try similar things on my more expensive ukes.

mm stan
11-27-2012, 02:43 PM
Congrats on your new lanikai...I love chinese ukes too and indonesian......they have the sound of the traditional simple old ukes that I like...and some are comfortable to play
with the thin fast necks...Happy Strummings..