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View Full Version : I guess the ukulele craze has subsided...



bborzell
04-07-2013, 04:58 AM
...and it had only just started for me.

So here I am less than a month into my uke thing. Saw Jake in Maui, checked out a uke shop within a fews after returning home and bought a Pono tenor. Been playing every day. Also been noticing that the 7 mandolins, 8 guitars, 2 dobros, 1 weissenborn, 2 electric lap steels and 2 basses (including my 1968 Ric 4001) have been sitting on the sidelines.

So after beginning a search for another tenor (might as well have both G strings at the ready), I start calling around to see if anyone has any remaining stock of the maple/spruce Ponos. I checked out one of the larger and very well known acoustic stringed instrument stores and, after being told that they had sold their last maple/spruce Pono, the guy added with a chuckle that "things have really slowed down after the most recent uke craze came along; it looks to us like it's over so we are not stocking as much as we were earlier".

Well, here I go again. I missed the initial Microsoft public offering as well as Apple. I passed on the Smart cars and don't even ask me about hydroponic tomatoes. And now, it looks like I managed to jump on a passing train that was heading for the last siding.

Oh, well, at least I can hope that manufacturers will continue to make strings for as long as my new uke holds itself together.

wayfarer75
04-07-2013, 05:02 AM
Ukes aren't going away. If the "fad" is really dying down, there could be a lot of hipsters selling some nice ukes secondhand. ;)

mm stan
04-07-2013, 05:04 AM
Don't know which dealer told you that, but I do not even think the ukulele has slowed down, it fact I think it is peaking now and will continue to do so for a long time...enjoy the journey

wayfarer75
04-07-2013, 05:06 AM
Don't know which dealer told you that, but I do not even think the ukulele has slowed down, it fact I think it is peaking now and will continue to do so for a long time...enjoy the journey

Very true, that is one dealer. Didn't Andrew from HMS post lately that they've been crazy busy? Maybe people are figuring out where not to buy an ukulele is all.

Pete Howlett
04-07-2013, 05:57 AM
The UK distributor for all things ukulele sells all shipments, is back ordered and just can't get enough. In the midst of a serious recession I and other builders are still in business while guitar makers are crying into their boots... that, quick frankly is the state of play for me who has taken orders for 30 instruments already this year!

hawaii 50
04-07-2013, 06:27 AM
I agree with Stan..i lived in Calif for over 30 years and moved back to Oahu 3 months ago..
I think the Ukulele is more popular than ever,,here everyone plays..

don't know what Store gave you that info..but if is was someone like Guitar Center in Calif..they might say something like that..
some stores may use that theory if they can not get access to a certain product..i know Pono's are not sent to many shops in the Mainland so kind of a confusing statement

ukuleles here in Hawaii huge business lessons,sales.cds,shows,builders etc..

btw not to mention the Asian market China,Taiwan,Singapore,Japan etc..Kamaka,Kanile'a,Ko'olau and KoAloha don't build enough ukes every month to keep them happy ..they always asking for more..

ChrisRCovington
04-07-2013, 06:36 AM
I went to a local music store and one of the clerks told me they were selling more ukuleles than guitars. I think the guy at your store didn't know what he was talking about. Maybe they don't market them well?

igorthebarbarian
04-07-2013, 07:00 AM
It was probably a Guitar Center/ Sam Ash-like store... With the advent of websites such as UU, newbies such as myself can find reputable online dealers (MIM's, UkeRepublic, Mainland, etc) and buy them from there knowing they'll get a better product for about the same price. Thanks UU!

pootsie
04-07-2013, 07:16 AM
It was probably a Guitar Center/ Sam Ash-like store... With the advent of websites such as UU, newbies such as myself can find reputable online dealers (MIM's, UkeRepublic, Mainland, etc) and buy them from there knowing they'll get a better product for about the same price. Thanks UU!

Plus they find out right away that BigBoxMusic, Inc. has treated the uke community so poorly that they don't buy at those mega-stores. My local Guitar Center stocks ukes but treats them and the people interested in them like crap.

I have bought from online folks (you may meet some here) and spent my money on people who treat the instrument and the customers with respect.

bnolsen
04-07-2013, 07:21 AM
It may truly mean that "impulse buys" are down. That should be the primary buyers at these big box stores. I would suspect that the continued bad economy, etc has put a damper some on these type purchases.

haole
04-07-2013, 08:06 AM
Plus they find out right away that BigBoxMusic, Inc. has treated the uke community so poorly that they don't buy at those mega-stores. My local Guitar Center stocks ukes but treats them and the people interested in them like crap.

I have bought from online folks (you may meet some here) and spent my money on people who treat the instrument and the customers with respect.

This has been exactly my experience with the chain stores. I'm guessing a lot of people buy their first uke at one of these stores, wonder why it sucks, visit UU and learn a little more, and do all their future uke business with better dealers. Having ukes in stock will draw in customers, but having dry, cracked, out-of-tune ukes that aren't even worthy of being factory seconds and providing clueless or sarcastic service is going to make sure people don't make the same mistake twice.

(Some of the independent stores are equally awful in terms of ukes, and do a good job of scaring away future sales too.)

angrygnome
04-07-2013, 09:19 AM
Plus they find out right away that BigBoxMusic, Inc. has treated the uke community so poorly that they don't buy at those mega-stores. My local Guitar Center stocks ukes but treats them and the people interested in them like crap.

I have bought from online folks (you may meet some here) and spent my money on people who treat the instrument and the customers with respect.


This has been exactly my experience with the chain stores. I'm guessing a lot of people buy their first uke at one of these stores, wonder why it sucks, visit UU and learn a little more, and do all their future uke business with better dealers. Having ukes in stock will draw in customers, but having dry, cracked, out-of-tune ukes that aren't even worthy of being factory seconds and providing clueless or sarcastic service is going to make sure people don't make the same mistake twice.

(Some of the independent stores are equally awful in terms of ukes, and do a good job of scaring away future sales too.)

This is completely true. I was/am one of the lucky newbies who found UU before buying a uke. I wanted a nice, all solid instrument to start out with because (as many of you know) starting out on an instrument that doesn't sound good even if you can play it is very discouraging for a beginner. I ended up buying a Lehua Tenor directly from Music Guy Mic and it has been a fantastic instrument to learn on. A nice warm sound and a good compromise between cost and quality.

I recently discovered the Outdoor Ukulele through the UU forum posts and I immediately wanted one. However, I had never even held a Soprano before and I wanted to make sure it would be comfortable for me to hold/play. (I have pretty big hands.) In the interest of finding out, I went to a local Sam Ash (pretty much the only music store in my area) to see what a Soprano felt like. I found that I could play it without issue but, while I was trying it out, one of the employees walked past me, chuckled, smirked, said "Yeah, the small one looks great on you." He then rolled his eyes and walked on. His tone was more than offensive.

Needless to say, I will not be purchasing so much as strings from a Sam Ash.

I do not think the ukulele "fad" will end anytime soon. The popularity of the uke will wax and wane like everything else, but it's not going anywhere.

hawaii 50
04-07-2013, 09:31 AM
I went to a workshop at a Guitar Center in San Mateo Calif that Daniel Ho put on for Bose/Yamaha guitars..

the manager said it was the largest turn out for any workshop they had but even that did not give the store manager an idea of what is going on..what was funny was when he asked the group what a LowG string was..

most guitar fans that I knew shopped at Gryphon or smaller guitar boutique shops..way better quality and for sure customer service..but I did talk to one salesperson who was very friendly and did not seem like he was in to for the commission only

Cornfield
04-07-2013, 10:14 AM
I guess I'm blessed. There are lots of great dealers in my area. Hix Brothers, a local shop in Aurora/Naperville, IL. has a great inventory of Kamaka, Kanilea, Pono, Kala and other brands with playable ukes starting at $49. Lessona and groups for kids and adults. It's great shopping at a store that knows and promotes the product.

ArtfulDodger
04-07-2013, 11:45 AM
Does it matter if an instrument is popular or the latest fad/craze? If you enjoy it, can play it, make it sound good, have fun, want to get better at it, find it gives you a way to express yourself... isn't that enough? Players of other instruments less popular than guitars and keyboards don't seem to worry. Never heard a mandolin player or accordianist worrying that their instrument is fading into obscurity.

electrauke
04-07-2013, 01:46 PM
Ukes aren't going away. If the "fad" is really dying down, there could be a lot of hipsters selling some nice ukes secondhand. ;)

That would be great.

UKEonomics
04-07-2013, 06:51 PM
Our local music stores are stocking more ukes than ever before and ever time I go in they've sold the last batch and have new ones.

...don't think it's slowing down in the least.

bborzell
04-07-2013, 07:55 PM
My post was tongue in cheek (kinda thought the comment about hydroponic tomatoes would be a dead giveaway), but the store was real.

It was not any of the big box types. It was a well known east coast store that specializes in acoustic instruments. My guess is that I lucked into a real non uke sales guy who had to explain why they didn't have many ukes in stock by claiming that the demand had slacked off (as opposed to him simply stating that they were not keeping a broad uke stock level). Not exactly a smart manner of communication with a potential buyer of a $1K uke, but it was what it was. I don't really care about crazes, but I have to admit to a certain amount of good feeling knowing that more people appreciate the musicality of the uke.

hawaii 50
04-07-2013, 08:02 PM
even though www.theukulelesite.com

aka HMS in Hawaii order from them..you will get the right uke at the right prices..and all their ukes com with a setup N/C and free shipping(most orders)
nice thread ..got everybody into it..

guitharsis
04-08-2013, 12:49 AM
Yes, the right uke at the right price and set up perfectly. That describes the 2013 KoAloha Concert received from HMS this week. Sounds great and plays so easily. Andrew was great to deal with and MGM as well.