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View Full Version : $1k - Factory or Custom?



Paul December
03-20-2013, 08:04 AM
With a budget of $1k max, would you go Factory or Custom? Why?
...to keep things simple, please stick to new, single uke, no "for a bit more", and no pocketing the difference on a cheaper uke ;)

Ken Middleton
03-20-2013, 08:11 AM
With a budget of $1k max, would you go Factory or Custom? Why?
...to keep things simple, please stick to new, single uke, no "for a bit more", and no pocketing the difference on a cheaper uke ;)

With that amount you could get a really nice factory uke. I would go for one of the K brands.

I am afraid $1000 is not going to buy you a custom uke from a first class luthier. You could go for a less well-known maker, but that may be a bit hit and miss.

mm stan
03-20-2013, 08:15 AM
Depends on your budget...I can have fun with any uke....but a custom is made the way you like it....you develop a bond with the builder and ukulele..
I have a couple budget ukes I treasure too....a custom will not instantly make you a better player...but with it's inspiration from beauty and great playability and comfort
it sure will set you in the right direction to motivate you.... the better you get, the better you can play and make most ukes sound nice...:)

Patrick Madsen
03-20-2013, 08:18 AM
I aggre with Ken. For a less well known luthier, I like Brian Griffin from Griffinukuleles.com. The incredible wood he uses, craftsmanship and intense French Polish are ony matched by his love of making an incredible instrument. He's retired so doesn't make the instrument for need of money but for the love of wanting a quality instrument that will be played a 100 years from now

Dan Uke
03-20-2013, 08:24 AM
I would go for K as I've tried several of the custom luthiers under $1,000 and I don't think they are better than a K brand.

I agree with Ken and the Brian Griffin tenors for sale right now are $1,200

didgeridoo2
03-20-2013, 08:37 AM
What size uke are you considering? I'm assuming tenor.

Stevelele
03-20-2013, 08:39 AM
If you want to get while the gettin's good, you need to go here and check out Vento ukes: http://koaguitars.wix.com/ventomusichawaii

You can get an awesome custom for $1000. You won't believe what you get for your money. Actually, I'm quite sure many of you won't believe it!

Macmuse
03-20-2013, 08:44 AM
Would semi-custom count? If so, I'd go for a LoPrinzi concert Nova (as I don't consider this factory any more than the CRs).

There's one that wavers from $949-1049 on eBay right now (they keep periodically putting a short-term discount on it that brings it below that $1k threshold) so I'd wait for the discount to roll again.

I think there are a couple other luthiers out there who are willing to do concert sized who I'd consider also ($1k should allow for the tuners and finish I'd like from them).

hawaii 50
03-20-2013, 08:47 AM
If you want to get while the gettin's good, you need to go here and check out Vento ukes: http://koaguitars.wix.com/ventomusichawaii

You can get an awesome custom for $1000. You won't believe what you get for your money. Actually, I'm quite sure many of you won't believe it!



Hey Steve I let you know about Vento..I get my Koa A body soon..full abalone body and headstock..you not going to believe the price..(but I think prices went up since I made my order)

Fred Vento was the finish tech for James Goddall guitars while he was on the Big Island has a one person shop in Hilo and has been building for 10 plus years

JamieFromOntario
03-20-2013, 09:53 AM
What about a Boat Paddle? http://www.boatpaddleukuleles.com/instruments.php

So long as you don't need all the bling or a pick up, you can easily pick up a brand new one for under a grand. I've never played one myself but have nothing but good things about them.

ChaosToo
03-20-2013, 10:52 AM
A grand? Surely that's a custom all day long? It might not be one of the more exclusive customs, but it would be YOUR custom and a mighty fine one at that!

I'd love to have your predicament, that's for sure!

OldePhart
03-20-2013, 12:59 PM
Hmmm...interesting question. It's a quandry I'd like to be in...

The customs I want are all in the $1400+ range, so I guess I'd go with a K-brand, but only because you're not allowing me to wait until I can add the $400 :)

John

Doc_J
03-20-2013, 01:52 PM
Paul, what are you looking in your 1k$ uke?

Wood and grade, finish, inlay, tuners, sound qualities, etc. ?

mds725
03-20-2013, 01:54 PM
Interestingly, your parameters -- specifically, your “$1K max” and “no 'for a bit more' " mandates -- eliminate any Kamaka other than a soprano (a new concert is "a little bit more" at $1,045, and a new tenor is $1,245), any Kanile'a other than the base model soprano ($835) or concert ($915), as a base model Kanile'a tenor is $1,075, and any KoAloha other than a soprano or concert (a KoAloha tenor is $1,075, unless you can find a second at the KoAloha factory. So if you want to buy a tenor, I would advise getting a custom because it appears that you can't buy a K brand tenor new for $1,000 without paying "a little bit more." As for customs, I've heard great things about both Vento ukuleles and Brian Griffin's ukuleles. I bought an "off-the-rack" Willie Wixom for under $600 and I like it, but it's a bit heavier than comparable ukuleles and I think his prices have gone up with an increase in demand just after I bought mine.

connor013
03-20-2013, 02:01 PM
You could throw Pohaku, Covered Bridge, Black Bear, Kepasa and Earnest into the mix, especially if it doesn't have to be a tenor.

Although, I don't know if you'll count them as custom if they're already made.

seneystretch
03-20-2013, 02:10 PM
With a budget of $1k max, would you go Factory or Custom? Why?
...to keep things simple, please stick to new, single uke, no "for a bit more", and no pocketing the difference on a cheaper uke ;)

These are purty http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/loprinzi-model-a-koa-soprano

http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/loprinzi-custom-koa-special-soprano

Or look at
http://sprucetreemusic.com/ukes_loprinzi.html They also sell Imua, they're purty too. A bonus is Madison has a climate similar to Chicago.

Both dealers are reliable, which I think is more important than the particular brand.

Paul December
03-20-2013, 02:56 PM
Paul, what are you looking in your 1k$ uke?

Wood and grade, finish, inlay, tuners, sound qualities, etc. ?

I was more interested in general ideas, and if the K's are still worth the $$$$ since they've upped-their-prices :(

To be honest though, I have been toying with the idea of a $1k concert. Only requirement is that it must be gloss finish.

Doc_J
03-20-2013, 02:59 PM
Maybe a gently used uke is where you get the most uke for your money.
Does it have to be new?

Dan Uke
03-20-2013, 02:59 PM
I was more interested in general ideas, and if the K's are still worth the $$$$ since they've upped-their-prices :(

To be honest though, I have been toying with the idea of a $1k concert. Only requirement is that it must be gloss finish.

Knowing it's a concert, I would go custom as they are cheaper. I hear good things of Vento.

One thing you might want to consider is that if "K" Brands continue to raise prices, they will retain their value more as they appear to be bargains relative to the new price.

mm stan
03-20-2013, 03:02 PM
I'd keep a eye in the marketplaces and buy second hand custom ukes.....be patient and have the money ready to jump as soon as possible..wont last long for good deals
by the time you are waiting you can save more for a better deal.....good luck and happy strummings..

Newportlocal
03-20-2013, 03:08 PM
I was more interested in general ideas, and if the K's are still worth the $$$$ since they've upped-their-prices :(

To be honest though, I have been toying with the idea of a $1k concert. Only requirement is that it must be gloss finish.

If I was buying a ukulele for around $1000 I would pay the extra and get a Kamaka HF-3,
but with your parameters I would consider the Koaloha concert. Although, this is probably what I would actually end up buying.
http://www.theukulelesite.com/koaloha-pineapple-long-neck-ksm-03.html

Hippie Dribble
03-20-2013, 03:08 PM
like, a high gloss? a custom high gloss finish will be very expensive if you have a 1000 dollar limit, that would be my only concern. All my three favourite builders would build a beautiful, detailed customised concert uke for under 1000 but the gloss finish option is pushing it a bit. Otherwise, go 2nd hand in the marketplaces, always a bargain around.

anyway, good luck in the hunt Paul. s'pose you could go a new kamaka concert but my experience is their gloss finish tarnishes quite quickly with any kind of hard playing

Toucan Mango
03-20-2013, 03:25 PM
I just picked up a brand new Kamaka concert with the Kamaka logo case for $987.42 out the door from Dan's Guitars, that would be my vote. A custom I always figured I would have to spend more like 2k + to get what I want.

pdxuke
03-20-2013, 03:29 PM
Factory Kamaka.
Factory Martin.

Both can be had for under $1k.

My Martin 2M was under 900 clams.

coolkayaker1
03-20-2013, 03:34 PM
Factory Kamaka.
Factory Martin.

Both can be had for under $1k.

My Martin 2M was under 900 clams.

I agree with the man behind the Fry-o-later.

Newportlocal
03-20-2013, 03:38 PM
I am a big fan of Kamaka and didn't have any issues with the finish on mine. I recommended Koaloha due to the O.P.s previous comments on wanting more "chime like" on a previous thread. Can't go wrong with either.

Paul December
03-20-2013, 04:56 PM
I am a big fan of Kamaka and didn't have any issues with the finish on mine. I recommended Koaloha due to the O.P.s previous comments on wanting more "chime like" on a previous thread. Can't go wrong with either.

You sir are correct :)

Dan Uke
03-20-2013, 04:57 PM
And he like loud ukes so Koaloha is a good choice!

hawaii 50
03-20-2013, 05:01 PM
And he like loud ukes so Koaloha is a good choice!


Yes Daniel..I am playing my KoAloha super concert right now..and it is loud..if you want to stand out in a group of uke players get a KoAloha

Paul December
03-20-2013, 05:28 PM
And he like loud ukes so Koaloha is a good choice!

:cool: You guys seem to know me better than I do!
...on a related note, please feel free to forget my post about the transvestite in Brazil :o

stevepetergal
03-20-2013, 06:56 PM
Koaloha Factory.

dirtiestkidever
03-20-2013, 07:56 PM
like, a high gloss? a custom high gloss finish will be very expensive if you have a 1000 dollar limit, that would be my only concern. All my three favourite builders would build a beautiful, detailed customised concert uke for under 1000 but the gloss finish option is pushing it a bit. Otherwise, go 2nd hand in the marketplaces, always a bargain around.

anyway, good luck in the hunt Paul. s'pose you could go a new kamaka concert but my experience is their gloss finish tarnishes quite quickly with any kind of hard playing

Haha. The fact that Eugene has not one but three favorite builders is one of the reasons I took his advice in deciding on my first nice uke purchase. I still don't own a nice one yet but the custom route just seems like a lot more fun.

Skrik
03-20-2013, 11:14 PM
I'd simply buy a Timbuck.

guitharsis
03-21-2013, 12:30 AM
Another option: A G string long neck soprano: www.alohau.com

KoAloha or Kamaka always a good choice.

Raygf
03-21-2013, 12:46 AM
These are purty http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/loprinzi-model-a-koa-soprano

http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/loprinzi-custom-koa-special-soprano

Links like this could get a person in big trouble. A concert is on the horizon.

guitharsis
03-21-2013, 01:16 AM
Links like this could a person in big trouble. A concert is on the horizon.

That is gorgeous! Beautiful koa with a nice rosette and MOP markers.

Imau ukes look very interesting too. Uke Republic has a great inventory to match their reputation.