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View Full Version : New Monkeypod uke but there's a couple issues...



Loudster
04-10-2013, 03:47 PM
So, new uke arrived today (Lanikai smp-tca) and it wasn't _quite_ what I was expecting. I'm going to get in contact with the seller, but before I do I wanted to run a couple thoughts I'm having about this uke past you all, to see if you think I'm being overly picky about an "inexpensive" uke, or if these are genuinely things I should be concerned about. It's solid wood and on the higher-end of lanikai's offerings, but it's still not an overly pricey instrument. I purchased from one of the "big 3" sellers that do set-ups on their instruments before sending them out.


So here're my thoughts/impressions:
1- I requested it be set up low-g and it's definitely set-up as a high. I'm assuming this was just an oversight, not a huge deal overall since I can always change the strings.

2- Picture #1 and 3: there's a "blemish" on the soundboard near the neck. I went back and looked at the pictures that were on the ad, and to be fair it is there. I missed it, chances are the seller did as well. I don't think anyone's trying to sneak a blemish by me, but this seller does offer blemished ukes on their site at a discount so it's a little frustrating that I spent more and still have a spot on the soundboard.

3- Picture #1 and 3 again: I don't think it shows up in the picture, but there's a little bump in the finish just beneath the spot where the finish is very slightly flaking off. I'm less concerned about the blemish, but if the finish (which is an open-pore, very thin finish) is flaking, is that something that could lead to bigger issues in the future?

4- Picture #2: At the very top of the neck, the fretboard is missing a small chunk. It's on the underside of the fretboard, so playability is fine, and it's on the "bottom-side" when played so it's not like I'm going to see it all the time.

5- Intonation: It was set-up. On my chromatic tuner it reads the tuning to the cent. My Kala is pretty spot on @ the 12th fret with only a +/- 1 or 2 cent difference. This Lanikai is showing me generally -10 to -15 cent difference (except the C string which is only 5 cent different than open). Am I correct in saying that the intonation is off? Isn't that part of a set-up?

6- photo 4, nearly forgot. The binding on the back has this small area where it's bowed out and away. It's probably 1/4" is all, but when I press on it I can see the gap disappear.


I know it's not an upper-end instrument in comparison to a lot of other brands so I'm trying to be realistic with my expectations. I appreciate all your guys's input and thoughts about this. What would you do? I want to avoid messing with sending it back and I'm even open to the idea of fixing some of this stuff myself (like the bowed binding) if possible.

Also, feel free to let me know if this is the wrong subforum for this kind of post.

gitarzan
04-10-2013, 04:03 PM
Looks like a second to me.

bnolsen
04-10-2013, 04:57 PM
definitely a second. I don't see how someone could miss that gap on the edge in addition to all the other stuff. Definitely ding their ebay rating big time!

Likely they took too much off the saddle when they set it up. Grab a cereal box, cut a couple of strips that will fit under the saddle, put one or both in, tune it up, check the intonation at the 12th fret and add/remove as needed. The 'c' string will be sharper than the others because of its thickness. You could try to fix that as well but I'm not exactly sure how to do per string compensation properly (make the string longer).

A "set up" dolphin I bought I had to add 4 strips of cereal box under the saddle and its still a bit flat.

Bill Mc
04-10-2013, 05:08 PM
My first uke was a Lanikai NK-T. No imperfections whatsoever in fit or finish and an ultra smooth player. The same quality with my Lanikai solid spruce top baritone and a solid spruce top /quilted ash back & sides concert I bought for one of my grand children. Nearly forgot, I had a Lanakai solid mahogany tenor that was real sweet a beauty and gave it to my sister who now enjoys playing it. You've got yourself a second and ought to send it back because some of those problems will only get worse and will nag at you. Yes, correcting intonation to an acceptable tolerance is definitely part of a set up. 10, 15 20 cents off does not cut it. In the words of the iconic Krass Brothers from Philly, "You wuz robbed !"

Nickie
04-10-2013, 05:18 PM
I hate to say it, but I think I'd ask for my money back and return it. One of those problems alone probly wouldn't bother me much, but ...

Loudster
04-10-2013, 05:20 PM
Thanks guys! I was worried you all would say, "yep, you bought a factory-made lanikai. Deal with it..." ;) (however, if I was making something out of nothing I'd also hope that people would tell me).

I actually didn't buy this off ebay, but rather from one of the more well-known sellers that consistently does quality work. I'm more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and say this isn't representative of their work.

I'll send an email tomorrow night after I sleep on it and take a day to think it over. Plus, I'll be checking in the meantime to see if anyone else on here has any other thoughts.

Markr1
04-10-2013, 05:26 PM
No need to sleep on it or think about it. If its one of the class acts out there that we know they will gladly take care of it without a question asked if you contact them.

Loudster
04-10-2013, 05:27 PM
But yeah, its just been kinda gnawing (Bill, nag is actually probably the best word for it) at the back of my mind all afternoon since I unpacked it. I bought this as a step up from my laminate side/back-Kala since this is all solid wood, bone nut/saddle, slotted head, but there's just that nagging thought of "yeah, I don't know if this is really a step-up..."

I'm glad I bought from a good seller, because I'm pretty confident they'll take care of it.

haolejohn
04-10-2013, 06:39 PM
So, new uke arrived today (Lanikai smp-tca) and it wasn't _quite_ what I was expecting. I'm going to get in contact with the seller, but before I do I wanted to run a couple thoughts I'm having about this uke past you all, to see if you think I'm being overly picky about an "inexpensive" uke, or if these are genuinely things I should be concerned about. It's solid wood and on the higher-end of lanikai's offerings, but it's still not an overly pricey instrument. I purchased from one of the "big 3" sellers that do set-ups on their instruments before sending them out.


So here're my thoughts/impressions:
1- I requested it be set up low-g and it's definitely set-up as a high. I'm assuming this was just an oversight, not a huge deal overall since I can always change the strings.

2- Picture #1 and 3: there's a "blemish" on the soundboard near the neck. I went back and looked at the pictures that were on the ad, and to be fair it is there. I missed it, chances are the seller did as well. I don't think anyone's trying to sneak a blemish by me, but this seller does offer blemished ukes on their site at a discount so it's a little frustrating that I spent more and still have a spot on the soundboard.

3- Picture #1 and 3 again: I don't think it shows up in the picture, but there's a little bump in the finish just beneath the spot where the finish is very slightly flaking off. I'm less concerned about the blemish, but if the finish (which is an open-pore, very thin finish) is flaking, is that something that could lead to bigger issues in the future?

4- Picture #2: At the very top of the neck, the fretboard is missing a small chunk. It's on the underside of the fretboard, so playability is fine, and it's on the "bottom-side" when played so it's not like I'm going to see it all the time.

5- Intonation: It was set-up. On my chromatic tuner it reads the tuning to the cent. My Kala is pretty spot on @ the 12th fret with only a +/- 1 or 2 cent difference. This Lanikai is showing me generally -10 to -15 cent difference (except the C string which is only 5 cent different than open). Am I correct in saying that the intonation is off? Isn't that part of a set-up?

6- photo 4, nearly forgot. The binding on the back has this small area where it's bowed out and away. It's probably 1/4" is all, but when I press on it I can see the gap disappear.


I know it's not an upper-end instrument in comparison to a lot of other brands so I'm trying to be realistic with my expectations. I appreciate all your guys's input and thoughts about this. What would you do? I want to avoid messing with sending it back and I'm even open to the idea of fixing some of this stuff myself (like the bowed binding) if possible.

Also, feel free to let me know if this is the wrong subforum for this kind of post.

Honestly it probably came from the factory that way. SO it may not be considered a blemished uke for whatever reason. Lani Kais are not know for their quality and I have seen plenty of their ukes with issues like this. SInce you bought from one of the big three, I am sure an email to them will be sufficient to get this taken care of.

Hopefully you will be taken care of and I am sure you will be.

ChaosToo
04-10-2013, 11:06 PM
Aside from the obvious flaws in the finish, which I'd say are grounds for return and refund/replacement - I'd certainly ask why something like a re-string that you requested wasn't carried out - it may have been an oversight, but it's a pretty big one....

Also, your close up pics of the nut show some pretty heavy filing on the slots (with the dust from that filing still evident on the fretboard!) - did they do that, or you? Those slots look awfully close to the fretboard........

Loudster
04-11-2013, 03:25 AM
I noticed the dust as well. That's the way it came. I didn't think too much of it other than "just wasn't cleaned during the set-up" and I wiped it away after I took the picture. The action actually feels find in my hand and doesn't buzz, so I don't think it's as low as it looks in the picture.

I'm sending off an email as we speak.

wayfarer75
04-11-2013, 03:27 AM
I agree with Nickie. I wouldn't return the uke if it had only one of those issues, but all of them together would bother me. I own an even less expensive ukulele than your Lanikai--a laminate Kala soprano. It doesn't have that many cosmetic issues.

BTW, sometimes even the dealers most revered on UU screw up. Nobody's perfect, every retailer messes up sometimes and you may be the unlucky customer. If they're as good as everyone says they are, they'll try to make it right.

mm stan
04-11-2013, 04:05 AM
How does it sound.....I really don't care for Monkeypod....reason you don't see much of them around...how much was this uke if you wanna disclose to us....:)
if it sounds good to you...it could work you know :)

vanflynn
04-11-2013, 04:05 AM
The factory QA leaves a lot to be desired. I have the concert non-electric version of this I had ordered from a local music shop. The first arrived with 2 big knots with cracks in the upper left bount

51672

It should never have left the factory. I sent it back. The next one came and it wasn't until a month later that I noticed the neck wasn't installed square

51673

They installed the bridge correctly in line with the neck but it is all a bit skewed. The action will probably need work by someone.
Don't get me wrong, I like the uke. Monkey Pod is quite forgiving of minor bangs and with some high tension strings, sounds good. You just need to check it over before accepting it.

I would sent that one back.

Loudster
04-11-2013, 04:27 AM
You know, my kala cost half as much, is a laminate sides/back, and is overall a pretty decent uke. It feels more well-assembled overall and is just a great little uke. I also bought my girlfriend a kala CEM for valentines which is all laminate and I was pleasantly surprised with it. I ought to write a review for my tenor since there really weren't more than 1 or 2 reviews I could find when I bought it.

But yeah, I sent off the email this morning, asked to return it and asked for recommendations on ukes that I could potentially exchange it for. I wouldn't be surprised if this is all resolved as early as this afternoon.

Just to throw it out there, anybody have any other recommendations? I kinda feel like I got a lemon, so help me pick a winner. Here's what I was looking for:
- all-solid wood
- not a Kala (just looking to branch out a bit)
- not a huge fan of mahogany, I'm up for trying something different
- don't care one way or the other about a slothead
- cutaway
- tenor
- pickup is a plus, but that can also be installed afterwards
- I've only owned matte instruments (guitars and ukes), but gloss is fine. No real strong preference one way or another.
- around 300-400 or so

Kayak Jim
04-11-2013, 04:34 AM
Of the three ukes I've purchased over the past year (a Kala and 2 Mainlands) all three had fit and finish imperfections of about that same magnitude. None were sold to me as blems or seconds. I wondered about it at first (especially the Mainlands) but didn't address with the seller. It's a hassle for me to get the uke back across the border if the response is to "send it back". Now that I've played them for a while I don't worry about it. If it had been a premium brand I would have acted differently.

PhilUSAFRet
04-11-2013, 04:55 AM
Am surprised that it got by a reputable company that does setups. I don't think I could live with it unless I bought it as a second at a decent discount over regular street price.

OldePhart
04-11-2013, 08:27 AM
Kind of surprised at that considering that I think I know where you got it. Still, anybody can have a bad day or make a mistake. The real proof of a good vendor is how they handle the occasional problem and if you got this from who I think you did I'm pretty confident it will be made right.

None of these are playability issues but, yeah, they definitely put the uke in the category of a second, especially with so many little "oopsies" on one uke. They are the sort of thing that wouldn't really bother me at all - assuming that I'd gotten a suitable discount (I love seconds, but only when it means I'm saving money).

Edit to correct: I just reread your post and noticed the intonation issues up the neck. That is a playability issue but it isn't terribly unusual, unfortunately, on ukes. Even my KoAloha longneck soprano is quite sharp by the 12th (about ten to fifteen cents with the factory strings). Usually you can improve intonation up the neck with string selection - it's a matter of finding what strings a uke likes. I've seen intonation at the 12th change by as much as fifteen cents by changing strings. In fact, I just recently went to Alohi strings on my KoAloha even though I don't like the tone quite as well as I do the fluorocarbon original strings because the ALohi strings intonate much better at the 12th (out by about five cents instead of 10-15).

Also, I've noticed intonation up the neck usually improves after the strings have settled in enough to hold their tuning through at least a half hour of play. In fact, I don't even bother checking intonation up the neck until the strings stabilize, anymore.

As for the poster who mentioned the nut slots being very low - that is very desirable assuming that they are not so low that the strings are buzzing. The lower the strings are at the nut the better the intonation at the first few frets will be and the easier it is to finger chords like the Bb. Basically, the nut slots should be as low as you can get them without buzzing - that is one of the most important parts, in my opinion the most important part, of a good setup.

All of that said I have noticed that it seems like Lanikai quality has slid quite noticeably just in the three years that I've been playing. Not an excuse for the vendor, by any means, this should have been caught, but just sort of cautionary to others who may be deciding between Lanikai or one of the other factory brands like Kala or Ohana.

John

haolejohn
04-11-2013, 09:07 AM
You know, my kala cost half as much, is a laminate sides/back, and is overall a pretty decent uke. It feels more well-assembled overall and is just a great little uke. I also bought my girlfriend a kala CEM for valentines which is all laminate and I was pleasantly surprised with it. I ought to write a review for my tenor since there really weren't more than 1 or 2 reviews I could find when I bought it.

But yeah, I sent off the email this morning, asked to return it and asked for recommendations on ukes that I could potentially exchange it for. I wouldn't be surprised if this is all resolved as early as this afternoon.

Just to throw it out there, anybody have any other recommendations? I kinda feel like I got a lemon, so help me pick a winner. Here's what I was looking for:
- all-solid wood
- not a Kala (just looking to branch out a bit)
- not a huge fan of mahogany, I'm up for trying something different
- don't care one way or the other about a slothead
- cutaway
- tenor
- pickup is a plus, but that can also be installed afterwards
- I've only owned matte instruments (guitars and ukes), but gloss is fine. No real strong preference one way or another.
- around 300-400 or so

Mainland. I would not hesitate to recommend mainland. Their mango and red cedar ukes are pretty sweet.

Loudster
04-11-2013, 01:13 PM
Mainland. I would not hesitate to recommend mainland. Their mango and red cedar ukes are pretty sweet.

Agreed, but I just _can't_ seem to get past the rope binding yet. They were on my list of differentials when I was trying to decide on which uke to get.


*Update for the whole situation* - I'm in contact with the seller and they are taking care of things. I'm happy with how it's been handled, and now we're looking to see if there's something else in stock around that same price point that might be a better fit.

Bao
04-12-2013, 06:11 AM
I bought the same ukulele you had (it's been a year or two now) from HMS and it came in perfect condition.
I guess these lanikais are hit and miss...I must have been the lucky one! Sorry about your one one though.

Loudster
04-12-2013, 02:12 PM
That seems to be the impression I'm getting about these too. Hit or miss is a good way to describe them.