View Full Version : UAS -- I think I'll just look at it as a future money saver.

03-11-2013, 07:10 AM
I picked up the ukulele because I wanted to learn an instrument that is portable and versatile. You know, something inexpensive to enhance time with, a creative outlet that doesn't cost much, a straight-forward instrument for little money.

A bit over two weeks later, all I can say is, "Yeah, right!" ;)

I blame this forum a bit, and I mean that absolutely lovingly. All the talk about custom ukes, expensive brands, string types, pros and cons of different sizes, wood types, and so on have left me wondering, and I concluded that UAS is probably a necessary "evil" (fun one, but evils often are!) to find the answer what is really best for me.

I started with a Stagg concert with Nylguts. It wasn't too badly set up (but not perfectly, the strings are a little high), but it all felt a bit cramped. So, after reading this forum intensely, I bought a solid acacia tenor (same factory that KPKs come from) with a slightly wider neck (string width 29.5mm at the top, 45mm at the bottom) with high-g Martin strings. It sounds much "happier" and "fuller". By the time it came, the concert felt much less cramped already. The tenor has large frets and until I tried Bb, I thought chords were always easier. It is, however, a little large and not as portable. Feels more like a small guitar.

So, then next I wondered if perhaps a soprano might not be so bad. I am relatively sure that the fretboard will seem too cramped for me, but I have seen people with huge hands and thick fingers play sopranos just fine. My hands and fingers are of average size, so theoretically it is something I can learn if I put my mind to it, and it feels like a challenge. Overly spontaneous (read: possibly irresponsible) as I seem to be, I just bought a solid mahogany soprano (26.5mm/42.5mm, so at least mid and bottom are a little wider than some others). Nothing fancy, and "only" a bit under $200. Cheaper than the tenor! It comes set up, and with Martin flourcarbons (which, after trying, I do prefer to Nylguts).

And I already know that I'll probably get a nicer, solid concert eventually too. It seems sort of inevitable to me and I get to a point where I think I'll just accept it. Like fate, you know. Not under my control, at all! In the long run, I really only want ONE ukulele. Just one! Not to rule them all and bind them, but because I'm not actually a packrat and I do enjoy living "lightly". Stuff gets you stuck. Of course, right now I do the exact opposite. I figure, though, that there is no way to really figure out what I enjoy unless I spend a few months with each size, ideally(?) simultaneously. Just holding one in a shop doesn't cut it for me.

I suppose I look at UAS as a bit of an investment that will lead to more satisfaction later on, and save me money. (Yeah, right! :D). The plan is to get a custom uke in a couple years when I turn forty-two. The number that is the answer to everything, and hopefully by then I'll know the answer to a simpler question: which size I prefer. It seems a little backwards to spend a total of $750 (if I bought a solid concert too) to get an idea how to best spend $2000 later on, but ... but ... yes, it probably is silly and I'm just making excuses to myself.

Then again, in the larger picture it isn't really much money. Realistically looked at this, plenty of my coworkers and friends have hobbies that are far more expensive (and less reasonable, like collecting trading cards or buying a new iPad every six months), who constantly eat out, spend a couple thousand a year on vacations, etc. So it should be OK. Right. Right?!

Anyway, I'm excited about the new purchase. It is like self-induced Christmas. Much better than fretting about the size question!

03-11-2013, 07:15 AM
Yup. You've got it alright. Another UAS victim...I mean, survivor.

03-11-2013, 07:20 AM
You're going to need a resonator concert with low G, and another set up with a high G. mThe you'll need a banjo uke make that a couple banjo ukes. A dedicated instrument room with a high capacity humidifier is in order as well.

Welcome to UAS. Muhaha

03-11-2013, 07:25 AM
Welcome to the club. Resistance is futile.

I have justified getting better ukes by having the lesser quality ukes be temporary/permenant loaners to freinds.

It's works so far with my bride!

03-11-2013, 07:26 AM
"Stuff gets you stuck."

You are so right! I only want 2 ukuleles, so I can have one set up in low G...but I'm cured of UAS...I got sick...and in America, that's a guarantee of poverty, unless you are super rich...
oh, well...
congratulations on your uke, and welcome to UU

03-11-2013, 07:31 AM
I have gone through many ukes in my journey. For the money collectively that I have spent, I could have owned several custom builds or vintage high end uke's. I began on a tenor and then concert size. After playing soprano, I knew that is the sound I was after. I am 6'5" and have no problem playing soprano-but it took a while-putting my hands on the fretboard almost daily even if for only 5 minutes. Through all that, I found the size and sound I was after. Tall, short, big hands, little hands don't matter (IMHO), when you find what is comfortable (sound/wood/maker etc...), that long journey becomes worth it. I don't look back in regret over the money I have lost when I sell or trade to get a new uke...it was part of my education and quite fun too.

03-11-2013, 09:48 AM
Something I wondered about is the possibility that one of my lower middle class ukuleles may actually just grow on me, and will turn out to be all I want or need. While some of the customs or top end ukes I see (in photos) look very appealing and downright fascinating, I worry that if I had one of those I might be afraid of getting it scratched, having it drop on the floor, anything else going wrong with it, and as a result rarely use it. I generally prefer stuff that is replaceable, but that isn't necessarily compatible with higher end quality, I guess.

Also, at my current level of experience (which is minimal!) I actually can't hear a difference between differently priced ukuleles of the same wood type, at least in Youtube videos. In fact, I can't even tell if it's a laminate or not, provided it isn't a $20 model and has good strings. You could probably sell me $300 uke as a $2000 one and I would go on about how great it sounds and how well it was crafted. Perception is everything! :)

@Nickie: Good wishes for recovery! A friend of mine in the US had a surgery a few days ago, without insurance -- the amount she now has to come up with is staggering.

03-11-2013, 10:17 AM
Hey! It is money well spent, still a relatively inexpensive passion and makes you happy. It is all a learning experience and as a lifetime musician, I am finding that I can play these quite well, along with guitar, which I never had the chance to earlier in life.:shaka:

Dan Uke
03-11-2013, 10:45 AM
Buy whatever makes you happy...also, buying expensive instruments doesn't always cure UAS.

03-11-2013, 10:46 AM
I think I'm ready for UAS Rehab! hehe Congrats on your new hobby but buying your first uke is a slipperly slope leading to harder woods. hehe

If one has some disposable cash, UAS will hit big-time like it did with me. It takes a few years to break the UAS once you've ordered one too many. The thing that broke the UAS for me was bad quality ukes and also ultimately having ONE TOO MANY UKES in the house! The moment when I realized I didn't know what ukes I had anymore, it was time to do some housecleaning.

One is always afraid with more expensive ukes... accidentally putting dings in them. There is no way to avoid that save keeping it in its case and never playing it.

Have fun exploring your UAS to its fullest! hehe


03-11-2013, 10:53 AM
After a little over 2 months, I had three ukes in my collection - soprano first, quickly followed by a concert, then even more quickly by a tenor. My soprano, being the least expensive, is the one I learned both to play on and play with - that being my almost obsessive urge to 'fix' things that I'm not even sure are broken!

I still have the urge to add to the collection - with plenty catching my eye on a daily basis! An Epiphone Les Paul would be nice - a Risa Les Paul would be even nicer!

But I also want to build one - a kit is most likely where I'll start, but I just know that the urge to build one from scratch is not going to go away.

And then there's the draw of owning a uke made by a real craftsman especially for me.

UAS, like you say - it's a necessary evil..... :D

03-11-2013, 11:09 AM
I woke this morning not knowing I wanted another uke. Someone posted about this one http://www.ebay.com/itm/130862196886?ossPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649 and I bought it immediately.

This gets added to the
Mahalo Soprano, Kamaka Soprano, Oscar Schmidt Concert, Regal Resonator Concert, Kala SUB U-Bass, Kamaka Tenor, Kamaka Tenor 8 string + 3 guitars, 2 cornets

03-11-2013, 01:43 PM
I had to agree to get rid of 2 in order to get a new one. And my partner still rolls her eyes when the subject comes up and she says, "HOW many do you have now?" I think I'm gonna stay in check to some degree whether I want to or not. :iwant:

03-11-2013, 02:00 PM
Oh, I did get a rhetorical "You already have two?", followed by that "uh huh" kind of giggle when I tried to explain, but she has her hobbies, I have mine, and she knows it is futile anyway. Besides, she won when I wanted the latest iPad, because she was right that the one I have does all I need. That money now went into the ukes! ;)

Then a friend of mine said something about "Shouldn't you first practice more with the one you have?" (he didn't know about the second one!), and I changed the topic. You folks make much better friends anyway!