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Paul December
03-12-2013, 10:02 AM
Other than Pono, what brands would you put into the "Tier 2" category?
...all I can think of is Koalana and Mexican-made Martin.

For the record, I consider most Ohana, Mainland, and Kala "Tier 3"...
...though a few "Limited Editions" reach "Tier 2" level (and their lower stuff hits "Tier 4".

"Tier 2" ukes seem to be underrepresented in the market...
...possibly a difficult sales position to be in :confused:


CLARIFICATION
Tier 2, as I've defined it is purely based on Price: $400-$700.
This range is typically higher than Ohana, Mainland, Kala, Lanikai, and etc. .... but below the K's.

nighthunte29
03-12-2013, 10:31 AM
What about Mele?
...All I can think of though! :p

Dan Uke
03-12-2013, 10:32 AM
Define what Tier 2 is? Even Tier 1 is not consistent in everyone's definition.

I personally think Pono is better made than Koalana and Martin...Lower end might be similar but Pono slotted head with cutaway with gloss finish are really nice and might be considered Tier 1 by some.

Dave-0
03-12-2013, 10:43 AM
I'm sorry...but I don't think that one can really answer this question.

Any definition of "tiers" is totally subjective and open to opinions and interpretation.

Do you define "teirs" in terms of cost?...or wood used?...or place of origin?....or sound?....you certainly can't define them in terms of manufacturer because of the wide range of instruments in some makers' product lines.

Plus, any subjective categorizing will only serve to denegrate the choices made by some people because their favorite instrument might end up in a lesser "tier" then what they believe is appropriate. So what if someone plays (and enjoys) a cheap Diamond Head, and happens to think it is the bomb, even though in some peoples' minds it might be a tier 5 or lesser instrument?

gyosh
03-12-2013, 10:48 AM
Define what Tier 2 is? Even Tier 1 is not consistent in everyone's definition.

I personally think Pono is better made than Koalana and Martin...Lower end might be similar but Pono slotted head with cutaway with gloss finish are really nice and might be considered Tier 1 by some.

Not to be a downer too, but maybe a price point would be a better way to categorize? Just a thought. When I was at HMS they had a slot head, cutaway spruce top w/rosewood back and sides that IMO, sounded better than anything else in the shop at the time (I didn't play the Jukulele but I did play quite a few of the K's on hand).

Stevelele
03-12-2013, 10:49 AM
To avoid the issues related to calling something a 'tier 1', 'tier 2', maybe you can rephrase the question to say what are the best ukuleles in certain defined price ranges. E.g. less than 1k, less than $800, less than $500, etc.

Dan Uke
03-12-2013, 10:53 AM
hmmmm....didn't we have an issue before trying to define luthiers :p

nighthunte29
03-12-2013, 11:04 AM
I look at it a bit like cars!
From the Tier 4 Mondeo, to the Tier 1 Lambo!
Some of it is subjective, but I'd say it is down to the quality of the build and the parts more than money!

Dan Uke
03-12-2013, 11:06 AM
I look at it a bit like cars!
From the Tier 4 Mondeo, to the Tier 1 Lambo!
Some of it is subjective, but I'd say it is down to the quality of the build and the parts more than money!

So you must put Pete Howlett and Ken Timms in Tier 4 since we know U.S. made is the best!! JUST KIDDING

Kanaka916
03-12-2013, 11:19 AM
hmmmm....didn't we have an issue before trying to define luthiers :p
Yup . . . . and that thread was closed. And eventually this thread will probably follow the yellow brick road. We'll see how it plays out.

Paul December
03-12-2013, 12:37 PM
:eek: Oops... I forgot this is Ukulele Underground, the place where people can't ever just answer the damn question, but will tell you how your question is wrong! :mad:
I'm kidding, you guys know I love you (kind of) :o

I'll clarify...
...By "tier" I simply mean price.
Generally, I think "Tier 2" falls in the $400-$700 range.

I've recently sold-off some ukes and was thinking of blowing around $600 on a new concert and was struck on how few choices there were in this price range outside of Pono & Mexican-made Martin.

Paul December
03-12-2013, 12:50 PM
:confused: I wonder if this is a difficult place for a manufacturer to place itself.
... Looks like Kamoa & aNueNue are having a difficult time at it.

Of course there are Tier 3 brands that reach to this level and Tier 1 brands with entry level stuff, but I'm thinking of brands that center themselves at this point.

hawaii 50
03-12-2013, 12:52 PM
Define what Tier 2 is? Even Tier 1 is not consistent in everyone's definition.

I personally think Pono is better made than Koalana and Martin...Lower end might be similar but Pono slotted head with cutaway with gloss finish are really nice and might be considered Tier 1 by some.


I agree with you Daniel..

hawaii 50
03-12-2013, 12:53 PM
Not to be a downer too, but maybe a price point would be a better way to categorize? Just a thought. When I was at HMS they had a slot head, cutaway spruce top w/rosewood back and sides that IMO, sounded better than anything else in the shop at the time (I didn't play the Jukulele but I did play quite a few of the K's on hand).



I agree with you Gary..

jwieties
03-12-2013, 12:53 PM
If you are simply asking for a recommendation at that price point... I would save up the couple extra bucks and pick this up.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?75941-FS-New-Concert-Koa-Ukulele-by-Black-Bear
Hard to imagine getting a nicer concert for the money!!!
At that $600-$700 mark you can start adding some small builders who offer some simply appointed models such as Black Bear, David Newton, Covered Bridge and others. Coming from acoustic guitars, I'm still stunned by what these 1st class ukulele builders can offer at such prices.

Paul December
03-12-2013, 12:56 PM
I agree with you Daniel..

I clarified my question. Purely based on $$$, and not at the extremes of their lines, but rather makers that center themselves at that point.

Paul December
03-12-2013, 01:00 PM
If you are simply asking for a recommendation at that price point... I would save up the couple extra bucks and pick this up.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?75941-FS-New-Concert-Koa-Ukulele-by-Black-Bear
Hard to imagine getting a nicer concert for the money!!!
At that $600-$700 mark you can start adding some small builders who offer some simply appointed models such as Black Bear, David Newton, Covered Bridge and others. Coming from acoustic guitars, I'm still stunned by what these 1st class ukulele builders can offer at such prices.

I'm not looking for recommendations, but that kind-of makes my point...
...is it a matter of "just a few more bucks and I can get....".

Paul December
03-12-2013, 01:05 PM
Just thought of another one: Big Island

So...
Pono
Martin (Mex)
Mele
Big Island
aNueNue

Pueo
03-12-2013, 01:22 PM
Are you trying to incorporate import versus domestic?
Islander might be a tier 2 if you are going by that criteria, and where would you put Mainland?

I think that Pono products do seem to be a bit nicer than the others, just my opinion though.

I was thinking maybe Imua, as those are made in Hawaii, but those are above that price point.

By the way, I have three ukuleles that are hand made in Hawaii from local wood, and two of them I got for well below $600, and I would call them tier one instruments all the way, especially this one.
50199
You can find a good deal if you know where to look!

Paul December
03-12-2013, 01:30 PM
Are you trying to incorporate import versus domestic?
Islander might be a tier 2 if you are going by that criteria, and where would you put Mainland?

I think that Pono products do seem to be a bit nicer than the others, just my opinion though.

I was thinking maybe Imua, as those are made in Hawaii, but those are above that price point.

By the way, I have three ukuleles that are hand made in Hawaii from local wood, and two of them I got for well below $600, and I would call them tier one instruments all the way, especially this one.
50199
You can find a good deal if you know where to look!

Please seem my clarification post above...
...Tier 2, as I've defined it is purely based on Price: $400-$700.
This range is typically higher than Ohana, Mainland, Kala, Lanikai, and etc. .... but below the K's.

OldePhart
03-12-2013, 01:47 PM
By the way, I have three ukuleles that are hand made in Hawaii from local wood, and two of them I got for well below $600, and I would call them tier one instruments all the way, especially this one.
50199
You can find a good deal if you know where to look!
And you live there... :) LOL

All this talk of tiers and such is kind of funny, but, frankly mostly meaningless. My absolute best uke is a Mainland blem mahogany soprano that cost me less than $180. If I were to sell it I would be lucky to get $120 for it, but I would put it up against any Kamaka, Martin, or KoAloha soprano that I've played (admittedly, I've only played a couple of each and never a "vintage" of any of them). It equals or betters my $700 KoAloha in every category; it is as loud, the open tone is as nice (though different, of course), the intonation up the neck is better, and the "chime vs. thud" up the neck is far better. Oh, and the KoAloha longneck isn't an unusually poor specimen, by any means, it is very similar in most every way to the KoAloha concert that I owned before it. My mango Mainland soprano is also good, but I would rank it just a little behind the KoAloha although, like the mahogany one, it also intonates better up the neck and has better chime vs. thud ratio up there.

In the larger bodies my Mainlands don't stack up quite as well though they're still good value for the money ... I would rank my Pono baritone superior to my Mainland baritone and slightly superior to my Mainland tenors.

Of course, if one looks at resale value as a percentage of purchase price the KoAloha wins hands-down followed by the Pono with the Mainlands bringing up the rear.

So...maybe talk of tiers isn't completely meaningless, but I think that maybe a more useful way to establish what belongs in a given tier is maybe by resale frequency or value...something to think about, anyway.

I think the bottom line is that at anything less than a "K-brand" or work from a well-recognized luthier there is simply enough variation that one should apply the "caveat emptor" rules - if at all possibly play it before you buy it and if that's simply not possible then make sure the seller has a good return policy.

John

Paul December
03-12-2013, 02:04 PM
And you live there... :) LOL

All this talk of tiers and such is kind of funny, but, frankly mostly meaningless. My absolute best uke is a Mainland blem mahogany soprano that cost me less than $180. If I were to sell it I would be lucky to get $120 for it, but I would put it up against any Kamaka, Martin, or KoAloha soprano that I've played (admittedly, I've only played a couple of each and never a "vintage" of any of them). It equals or betters my $700 KoAloha in every category; it is as loud, the open tone is as nice (though different, of course), the intonation up the neck is better, and the "chime vs. thud" up the neck is far better. Oh, and the KoAloha longneck isn't an unusually poor specimen, by any means, it is very similar in most every way to the KoAloha concert that I owned before it. My mango Mainland soprano is also good, but I would rank it just a little behind the KoAloha although, like the mahogany one, it also intonates better up the neck and has better chime vs. thud ratio up there.

In the larger bodies my Mainlands don't stack up quite as well though they're still good value for the money ... I would rank my Pono baritone superior to my Mainland baritone and slightly superior to my Mainland tenors.

Of course, if one looks at resale value as a percentage of purchase price the KoAloha wins hands-down followed by the Pono with the Mainlands bringing up the rear.

So...maybe talk of tiers isn't completely meaningless, but I think that maybe a more useful way to establish what belongs in a given tier is maybe by resale frequency or value...something to think about, anyway.

I think the bottom line is that at anything less than a "K-brand" or work from a well-recognized luthier there is simply enough variation that one should apply the "caveat emptor" rules - if at all possibly play it before you buy it and if that's simply not possible then make sure the seller has a good return policy.

John

No, my question is "pointless", please reread it.
I have posted several clarifications and even edited my original post.

I am not making value judgements on the instruments, just am discussing why few manufacturers position themselves at that price point.

RichM
03-12-2013, 02:08 PM
:eek: Oops... I forgot this is Ukulele Underground, the place where people can't ever just answer the damn question, but will tell you how your question is wrong! :mad:

If you don't want opinions, don't ask questions.

Paul December
03-12-2013, 02:12 PM
If you don't want opinions, don't ask questions.

:eek: Hey Rich, you are now correcting me and that wasn't even a question! ;)




So that we don't keep going off-topic, would people please read my original question (now clarified).

hawaii 50
03-12-2013, 02:14 PM
If you don't want opinions, don't ask questions.



I agree with you Rich

Paul December
03-12-2013, 02:21 PM
I agree with you Rich

:rolleyes: Good grief!
I give up! ...
... How many times do I have to clarify myself?!

Know-it-all's have a way of taking the fun out of this forum.
Moderators, feel free to lock the thread :(

OldePhart
03-12-2013, 02:22 PM
No, my question is "pointless", please reread it.
I have posted several clarifications and even edited my original post.

I am not making value judgements on the instruments, just am discussing why few manufacturers position themselves at that price point.

I guess I didn't express myself well. The reason I said it was "pointless" is simply because I don't think that price point means that much. I gave the example of my Mainland soprano - that is literally a case of my absolute cheapest uke being hands down better than a "tier 1" if you go by price. Maybe my point would have been clearer if I'd also given an example at the other end of the spectrum...

I've seen very expensive "custom" ukes in the marketplace with some downright sloppy work. If I'm going to pay several hundred dollars for a "luthier" uke I really expect that maybe it shouldn't be asking a lot for things that should line up in a straight line to do so, for example. And while I don't really care that much about the purely aesthetic elements of such flaws (I love to buy cosmetic blems) they do raise very real questions in my mind about what unseen flaws might be lurking to rear ugly heads down the road - especially when no mention is made of the flaw in the marketplace listing, nor is any discount offered to offset the flaw.

Okay...if all you want to know is the rather academic question of why there are few manufacturers at a specific price point, I would say that it has to boil down to the fact that there is little demand at that price point relative to the producibility at that price point. Market pretty much always follows demand. If a lot of people want $500 ukes, someone will supply $500 ukes. However, to instill and maintain that demand those $500 ukes have to be consistently and noticeably better than the $300 ukes while being significantly cheaper for the manufacturer to produce than the $700+ ukes. And therein lies the most likely problem - it takes a lot of hands-on proactive work to keep quality up and prices down at the same time. That kind of proacive work is exhausting so if too much of your potential market is either inclined to be satisfied with the slightly lesser ukes at $300 or to save the relatively small amount needed to step up to the $700 ukes then you're working for relatively little return.

I know I used the work relative a lot, but we are talking marketing, after all... LOL

John

Paul December
03-12-2013, 02:31 PM
Someone actually read & answered the question! :)


I guess I didn't express myself well. The reason I said it was "pointless" is simply because I don't think that price point means that much. I gave the example of my Mainland soprano - that is literally a case of my absolute cheapest uke being hands down better than a "tier 1" if you go by price. Maybe my point would have been clearer if I'd also given an example at the other end of the spectrum...

I've seen very expensive "custom" ukes in the marketplace with some downright sloppy work. If I'm going to pay several hundred dollars for a "luthier" uke I really expect that maybe it shouldn't be asking a lot for things that should line up in a straight line to do so, for example. And while I don't really care that much about the purely aesthetic elements of such flaws (I love to buy cosmetic blems) they do raise very real questions in my mind about what unseen flaws might be lurking to rear ugly heads down the road - especially when no mention is made of the flaw in the marketplace listing, nor is any discount offered to offset the flaw.

Okay...if all you want to know is the rather academic question of why there are few manufacturers at a specific price point, I would say that it has to boil down to the fact that there is little demand at that price point relative to the producibility at that price point. Market pretty much always follows demand. If a lot of people want $500 ukes, someone will supply $500 ukes. However, to instill and maintain that demand those $500 ukes have to be consistently and noticeably better than the $300 ukes while being significantly cheaper for the manufacturer to produce than the $700+ ukes. And therein lies the most likely problem - it takes a lot of hands-on proactive work to keep quality up and prices down at the same time. That kind of proacive work is exhausting so if too much of your potential market is either inclined to be satisfied with the slightly lesser ukes at $300 or to save the relatively small amount needed to step up to the $700 ukes then you're working for relatively little return.

I know I used the work relative a lot, but we are talking marketing, after all... LOL

John

Hippie Dribble
03-12-2013, 02:40 PM
I agree with you Daniel..

I agree with you Gary..

I agree with you Rich
My, you're a very agreeable chap today
:wtf:

Macmuse
03-12-2013, 02:41 PM
Please seem my clarification post above...
...Tier 2, as I've defined it is purely based on Price: $400-$700.
This range is typically higher than Ohana, Mainland, Kala, Lanikai, and etc. .... but below the K's.



and is an easy indicator for a seller to use to categorise products.

Okay, so based on these two points specifically:

The discussion that has occurred in our house has been "why are there so few choices between the $500-$700 range?" I've seen a few more recently and there are quite a few that "list" in that range but HMS and others don't seem to sell those at list price so there appeared to be a bit of a gap.

I'd guess you wouldn't consider LoPrinzi "production" necessarily but they fit right into that $600 slot with some models.

Pono seems to have the widest choice in the range and some really lovely instruments.

And while I agree with OldPhart's analysis


Market pretty much always follows demand. If a lot of people want $500 ukes, someone will supply $500 ukes.

It seems like and odd gap ... unless the proven return is just not sustainable and we're stuck with those up $500 and over $700 as the majority of choices. :(

hawaii 50
03-12-2013, 02:42 PM
My, you're a very agreeable chap today
:wtf:



Hey Jon..I figure I can not get in trouble that way Lol

peace brother

Paul December
03-12-2013, 02:54 PM
Okay, so based on these two points specifically:

The discussion that has occurred in our house has been "why are there so few choices between the $500-$700 range?" I've seen a few more recently and there are quite a few that "list" in that range but HMS and others don't seem to sell those at list price so there appeared to be a bit of a gap.

I'd guess you wouldn't consider LoPrinzi "production" necessarily but they fit right into that $600 slot with some models.

Pono seems to have the widest choice in the range and some really lovely instruments.

And while I agree with OldPhart's analysis



It seems like and odd gap ... unless the proven return is just not sustainable and we're stuck with those up $500 and over $700 as the majority of choices. :(


Yes, it seems like Pono has accomplished what others cannot, or don't want to.

RichM
03-12-2013, 02:55 PM
My, you're a very agreeable chap today
:wtf:

I agree with you, Jon.

Hippie Dribble
03-12-2013, 03:09 PM
I agree with you, Jon.
I think we're all in furious agreement :old:

Paul December
03-12-2013, 03:12 PM
Some people just don't how to drop it :(
Can we stop the back-slapping and stop hijacking the thread please?

Hippie Dribble
03-12-2013, 03:17 PM
Some people just don't how to drop it :rolleyes:
Can we stop the back-slapping and stop hijacking the thread please?

too much back slapping? O yes brother, I agree, back to Tier-Two Talk. If I had something worth contributing I would. Clearly I have nothing to contribute so I remain, yours, in total, unwavering agreement...

Hippie Dribble
03-12-2013, 03:19 PM
400-700?

I'd steer clear of a production uke and go with a handmade instrument from Black Bear, Covered Bridge, Argapa, Ono or Tiwi, all of which could easily fall within those price parameters given certain specs. If forced to go production it'd be LoPrinzi or Pono.

cletus
03-12-2013, 03:26 PM
Some people just don't how to drop it :(
Can we stop the back-slapping and stop hijacking the thread please?

I don't mind the back-slapping so much, but when the slapping hand keeps dropping lower and lower....

well:uhoh:

Kanaka916
03-12-2013, 04:12 PM
OK . . . let's keep things on topic. Really guys, no need for unnecessary remarks especially when they don't add anything relating to the subject at hand.

Macmuse
03-12-2013, 04:15 PM
Yes, it seems like Pono has accomplished what others cannot, or don't want to.

Right. We have a couple Ponos on either side of that range though. :)

And someone like LoPrinzi isn't really custom and not "high number" production like Pono. They fall somewhere in between because they are available from vendors like HMS and ukurepublic in at least small numbers. Now that I've tuned it down a 1/2 step I really like the LoPrinzi cherry tenor and the price new is in that $600-ish sweet spot.

Newportlocal
03-12-2013, 04:30 PM
I think we're all in furious agreement :old:

I know I am. You need to leave Len alone.
You were already warned here.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?77820-Ukulele-you-wish-you-hadn-t-sold/page4&highlight=Regret
I don't like Bullies.

Dan Uke
03-12-2013, 04:49 PM
I guess the $400-$700 is like the middle class...shrinking.

coolkayaker1
03-12-2013, 05:22 PM
http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/price.html?limit=all

Mr December raises a point. I went on HMS and sort by price and in the 400 to 700 buck range, it's all Kalas and Ponos.

Indeed, Covered Bridge and some of the others mentioned shoot for that range, and are exceptional instruments. But, they are often overlooked when the uke enthusiast wants to leap from the Lanakai to the Koaloha.

It's an astute observation.

gyosh
03-12-2013, 05:29 PM
Nalu has ukes in that range as well as the Kamoa 500/700 series.

didgeridoo2
03-12-2013, 05:53 PM
I know I am. You need to leave Len alone.
You were already warned here.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?77820-Ukulele-you-wish-you-hadn-t-sold/page4&highlight=Regret
I don't like Bullies.
Seriously?
Jon ain't no bully.

Dan Uke
03-12-2013, 06:18 PM
Did I go to the wrong website and checking out Bizarro World? What's up with the vibe today?

coolkayaker1
03-12-2013, 06:29 PM
Did I go to the wrong website and checking out Bizarro World? What's up with the vibe today?

It's just the third wave of uke popularity crashing against the shoreline, Daniel. That's all.

Newportlocal
03-12-2013, 07:34 PM
This is leftover from a previous thread where interactions of others bothered me. A point was made. It isn't meant to be bizarro. Eugene and I have exchanged PMs. Honestly, If I can help anyone I try to go out of my way to do so. Not sure what the third wave comment is about. I have been around ukuleles for quite a while. Just not on UU. Things should remain civil on public threads between members without a "vibe" That is all.

Hippie Dribble
03-12-2013, 07:42 PM
All is a hangover from a thread some weeks ago where I took deep and perhaps exaggerated offense. I since posted several times on a thread targeting hawaii 50 in a vindictive way. This is what Newportlocal is referring to. I realise this is no-one's problem but my own. I have since apologised directly to both Newportlocal and to hawaii 50 and hope this is behind. In the meantime I return you to your scheduled announcements and the Two-Tier ukulele thread...

AndrewKuker
03-12-2013, 09:30 PM
I am hoping the new Cordoba tenors designed by Pepe will work out. (promised months ago!) Some of the Kiwaya.. Loprinzi… much goes into the higher range. Keli'i is good (after setup) A few other options in this price range I just don't believe in enough. Bunch of band wagoner business people that don't even have the heart to be great, let alone knowledge.

We have to be able to say that this ukulele is (arguably) the best for the price, set it up with a limited amount of frustration, critique it according to price and send it across the world with a guarantee of satisfaction.

The individuals and smaller companies that provide this price point are just too hard to stock. I will look more into it, I want to grow this range. Pono is family but I don't care. Every store trying to step it up with ukulele should have Pono. But I want to offer more options in this price range. That's why i read this post.

…random thoughts: in advocation of enjoyment and freedom, if you don't expect people to be a certain way, you won't be disappointed/irritated. Not like I'm above all that, but ever since my son stopped smearing poop on the wall everything just seems like gravy. Tolerance and compassion has been a hard road. Still on it. Len is a friend and I have always admired Jon. His response shows character. All of us good guys get misunderstood, or fail to overstand at times. These are not real problems.

PM me with thoughts on 2nd tier offerings. Might be more productive than keeping this thread alive.