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View Full Version : Do you buy for bling, or do you want to hear it sing?



Eyeguy
04-19-2013, 05:26 PM
Age old debate - buying primarily for looks or for sound.

Obviously, it's nice to get both, but we all know that fancy bindings and exotic inlays and the like have no genuine effect on tonal qualities, and that fancier, more exotic tonewoods and designs do not necessarily result in great sounding instruments - Lord knows how many bling laden expensive guitars have sold for a King's ransom but sound dead as a dishrag. Still, how many nonetheless put aesthetics at the top of their priority list when purchasing, ordering, or simply dreaming of an expensive uke.

Asked another way, assume you have won a contest and a uke store is going to give you a ukulele free of charge. Both are hand built by a well known and highly respected luthier. First, though, you are blindfolded and the two ukes are played for you by an accomplished player and you must pick the one that sounds best to your ears. You are clearly and easily able to do this, but find much to your surprise when the blindfold is taken off that the uke you have chosen is a plain Jane with absolutely no bling whatsoever - no binding, inlays, exotic woods, not even a headstock logo, while the one you clearly passed on sound wise was decked out to the hilt with everything from extra sound ports to exotic tonewoods to tree of life fingerboard inlays, etc.etc.

Assuming you must keep the uke and not re-sell it, which do you choose?

There is no right or wrong answer here by the way, just curious about what the uke crowd thinks. As well, some may have already noticed immediately, if not sooner, that I avoided answering the question myself.

OldePhart
04-19-2013, 05:31 PM
I'll play a weathered 2 X 4 and a used bedpan with barbed wire for strings if it sings...

John

UkeKiddinMe
04-19-2013, 05:32 PM
Wanna hear it sing.

I downright - don't like the bling. I would never be comfortable playing an instrument that looks like a work of art.
I want something basic looking - that sounds Great.

fumanshu
04-19-2013, 05:32 PM
I want it sings 100000%!!!!!!!!

https://soundcloud.com/baouke

janeray1940
04-19-2013, 05:35 PM
Not a fan of bling, at all. My needs are simple: non-curly koa or plain mahogany, no binding, no inlays - and perfect intonation.

ickybaby
04-19-2013, 05:36 PM
To me, it has to sound good , feel good, and be built well. Looks are very secondary. That being said, I think ukes with anything more than a tasteful rosette or some simple fret markers are ostentatious. I like the look of the wood. The uke is too small to sport a bunch of stuff on it.

rubber necker
04-19-2013, 05:42 PM
I want it sings 100000%!!!!!!!!

https://soundcloud.com/baouke


can you tell me what ukuleles you have played just wondering thank you

lakesideglenn
04-19-2013, 05:56 PM
No brainier...it's all about the tone and feel...instruments are a lot like women!

Dan Uke
04-19-2013, 05:58 PM
both !

BIGDB
04-19-2013, 06:04 PM
I agree with nongdam but ill go with sound over looks

weerpool
04-19-2013, 06:15 PM
this thread made my day. ive noticed that most peeps who shell out ridiculous amounts of hard earned dollars tend to have what i call " visual-over-aural-denial-titis" . at the end of the day, its just a damn ukulele.

808boy
04-19-2013, 06:16 PM
Me three, both but not over blinged, just tastefully done................

Ahnko Honu
04-19-2013, 06:23 PM
I prefer a great sounding but subdued 'ukulele. When I was having my custom Emil Bader Milo Wood pineapple made he asked me what kind of bling I wanted. I gave him a bunch of native hardwoods so he said he would make whatever I wanted. I just went with plain jane the main thing being sound and did not want to distract from the Milo wood itself. I couldn't be happier.

PereBourik
04-19-2013, 06:38 PM
Neither bling nor sound quality will make me a better player. Only practice will do that. But I have always had a preference for the simple and traditional. In my youth Jimmy Soul sang, "If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life never make a pretty woman your wife..." Now I married a beautiful woman, both inside and out. It is my constant struggle to "live up" to the marriage I made. That's work enough. I don't need my ukulele to make the same demands on me. Simple does it. But she must sing.

bborzell
04-19-2013, 06:40 PM
Not sure here if "bling" is a generic term that covers everything from inlays and the like that are simply for appearance all the way to finely crafted instruments that have already received the necessary attention to construction and materials that results in fine sound and, along to way to completion, are given finely constructed additional esthetic appeal.

Some of the real lookers that people here own are also some of the best sounding ukes around. It doesn't seem to do them justice to make the comparison between plain ukes with great sound and flashy ukes that don't sound as good as the plain Jane. It is possible to have both great sound and killer esthetics.

remy26
04-19-2013, 06:56 PM
If I have to choose one, I want it to sing for sure. But I do like some bling too, so I typically shop for both. Maybe I'm shallow.

gyosh
04-19-2013, 07:09 PM
Both.

I ordered a custom because the builder is the best IMO.

I added bling because I want it noticed as a custom and not just something you could grab off a big box wall.

joekulele
04-19-2013, 07:20 PM
For me, sound over bling. Easy
-joe

Newportlocal
04-19-2013, 07:44 PM
I always buy for the sing,
Sometimes just for the sing,
Sometimes with bling and sing,
It is a nice thing when it has a good ring.
Never hurts to be able to say you sexy thing.

electrauke
04-19-2013, 07:52 PM
I wanna hear it sing, that is all that really matters anyway.

Tigeralum2001
04-19-2013, 08:29 PM
Obviously "sing" is the most important. Often it is a choice, especially in the lower and mid price points. But you can have both! If it is a choice between the two, then I will always choose "sing" but I think this is a false dichotomy.

tigersister
04-19-2013, 08:43 PM
I always buy for the sing,
Sometimes just for the sing,
Sometimes with bling and sing,
It is a nice thing when it has a good ring.
Never hurts to be able to say you sexy thing.

Nice one, Rich.

Sing over bling for me, but a little bling don't hurt. I love interesting grain in wood.

AndrewKuker
04-19-2013, 11:18 PM
So say you walk in to a store shopping for a uke, and you want the best sounding uke. sound first , right? but the beast sounding uke has bindings and purflings and gorgeous wood with a gloss finish, but it's The Sound you want. Perhaps more time went into voicing it. Perhaps sanding flush for bindings and purflings made just the right springboard along the edge. for whatever reason, the bling sings your song! are you gonna discriminate against bling? Shopping only with your eyes? How shallow! go take out a loan, second mortgage, whatever you gotta do. and don't forget to close your eyes as your play this hideous fancy thing. :p

keliiyama
04-19-2013, 11:29 PM
Both all the way;) I actually only get ukes that look and sound great. The best of both worlds since some of the craziest looking ukes in the world sound the BEST! Way to go Chuck.

guitharsis
04-19-2013, 11:36 PM
Sound first with good playability and gorgeous premium koa with little or no bling.

mm stan
04-19-2013, 11:53 PM
Of course the great sound would come first naturally....That is why you buy from Chuckie....he has made it his mission to dispell the old myth that nice ukes don't sound good...Believe me
if you are blindfolded, you will still know his ukes anywhere....his ukes have the great un mistaken sound and tone by anyone who has good enough experienced ears...if you are still new and cannot tell the difference, by all means get the other uke.....only Moore Bettah owners will truely understand this....

Kevs-the-name
04-19-2013, 11:57 PM
I think at my level of ability, the 'sing' factor is difficult to achieve / appreciate consistently. I could probably make the most perfect instrument sound awful!
Visually appealing instruments however, are quite important to me unless it just sounds rubbish or is impossible to play (tuning issues etc) a rough looking instrument just wouldn't appeal to me even if it sounded good (At present). I like nice looking ukes.
As with everything though, looks and sound requirements differ for everyone at different times. What is perfect for one wouldn't be for another.
I am SURE things will change as my ability improves?

Hippie Dribble
04-20-2013, 12:16 AM
Of course the great sound would come first naturally....That is why you buy from Chuckie....he has made it his mission to dispell the old myth that nice ukes don't sound good...Believe me
if you are blindfolded, you will still know his ukes anywhere....his ukes have the great un mistaken sound and tone by anyone who has good enough experienced ears...if you are still new and cannot tell the difference, by all means get the other uke.....only Moore Bettah owners will truely understand this....
Well, like 99% of the members of this forum, I don't own a Moore Bettah and never will but I love my ukes to bits. They are all equally pretty to me and have very pleasing tones that I adore. I am not a lover of bling, but I am a lover of pretty wood grain. However I must confess that I do actively discriminate against ukes that are blinged out, especially with abalone purfling and rosettes as they somehow look artificial and gaudy to my eyes. No matter how good it sounded I would never buy an instrument like that. So yeah, I guess if two ukes sounded the same I would always choose the more simple, understated and traditional looking instrument without the visual accessories.

Unless you owned a MB you wouldn't understand? Wow Stan, that's a loaded statement!

AndrewKuker
04-20-2013, 12:57 AM
Unless you owned a MB you wouldn't understand? Wow Stan, that's a loaded statement!

I think he's just on a new uke high. Can't be offended by what people say while intoxicated.

mm stan
04-20-2013, 01:43 AM
Alooha Jon and Andrew,
I too don't care for much abalone myself, he he but certainly a blinged instrument doesn't hurt my eyes...but I am sure if you played
my Moore Bettahs, you both would agree that they sound incrediable...you are both welcome to try it if you come over...but no strum mark please..LOL :)

Cornfield
04-20-2013, 01:51 AM
I have mostly purchased plain looking but quality ukes like Kamaka's. I'm beginning to think I should buy flashy ukes though so that people will see how nice they look and ignore my brutishness.

coolcow
04-20-2013, 02:09 AM
It has to be Both ^^

The Orange Mage
04-20-2013, 02:15 AM
I buy mostly for sound. I will rarely buy because of looks. However, there are times that an otherwise okay sounding uke is ruined by a design choice for me, like certain woods or body shape or what have you. Basically, I really really hate zebrawood. :p

AndrewKuker
04-20-2013, 02:19 AM
Alooha Jon and Andrew,
I too don't care for much abalone myself, he he but certainly a blinged instrument doesn't hurt my eyes...but I am sure if you played
my Moore Bettahs, you both would agree that they sound incrediable...you are both welcome to try it if you come over...but no strum mark please..LOL :)

I'm sure they do sound incredible, and I don't make strum marks, and I'm totally coming over right now. Two insomniacs waking the neighbors up chalangin away on uke. Cheehoo!
But the thing is, some people think his are real nice but not the best sounding. Others think they are the best sounding. And even Chuck won't claim to be the best because he knows there's no such thing. It's totally subjective. But I'm stoked for you and I officially got invited over! You know I want to Stan...so just pm me your address, lol. Neither of us sleep so what the hell, mine as well hang out :D

chrimess
04-20-2013, 02:24 AM
Sure, I love bling, why would I pick my uke differently than my wives.

mm stan
04-20-2013, 02:33 AM
I'm sure they do sound incredible, and I don't make strum marks, and I'm totally coming over right now. Two insomniacs waking the neighbors up chalangin away on uke. Cheehoo!
But the thing is, some people think his are real nice but not the best sounding. Others think they are the best sounding. And even Chuck won't claim to be the best because he knows there's no such thing. It's totally subjective. But I'm stoked for you and I officially got invited over! You know I want to Stan...so just pm me your address, lol. Neither of us sleep so what the hell, mine as well hang out :D
Chhehooooooo you gotta bring some Ko'olaus over then....imagine playing the best of the best ukes, so sorry no chicks because you are married he he :)

mm stan
04-20-2013, 02:35 AM
Sure, I love bling, why would I pick my uke differently than my wives.

Aloha Christian...who can ask for anything more...:) hee hee

Pundabaya
04-20-2013, 02:43 AM
I have to say, if someone gave me one of those Moore Bettah things, I'd take a can of flat black spray paint to it to make it presentable in polite company.

Doc_J
04-20-2013, 02:52 AM
Come on folks!

If sound quality was equal for 2 ukes, the overwhelming majority (if not all) would buy the prettiest.
It is human nature.

I want both sound quality and good looks. Although, personally I have neither. :)

chuck in ny
04-20-2013, 02:55 AM
too bad antonio stradivari isn't living nowadays, you can only imagine..

DewGuitars
04-20-2013, 03:11 AM
I preface this by saying that I don't "buy" any instruments anymore, since I can build whatever I want (not that I ever actually do that much), but I'm always after the perfect tone, along with aesthetics that really click with me. I don't need a lot of really fancy inlay, but am most impressed with Chuck's work. I don't need the fanciest woods, but a little figure is nice. I'm a big fan of Brazilian Rosewood and Red Spruce in guitars, and Mahogany and the Acacias in ukes. Heck, I love them on guitars too. I do prefer the wood to have nice figure, but I've got some Cuban Mahogany that is fairly plain which just rocks my enthusiasm for the stuff. It's beautiful wood. Mostly I'm after the perfect tone. I've gotten rid of some otherwise really nice guitars in my day, but if the tone isn't there, it doesn't matter how nice looking it is. I want it all. As a result, I've spent a small fortune amassing a hoard of tonewood to build with. Sadly lacking though is a great supply of primo Koa. But Tas Blackwood (aka black acacia, acacia melanoxylon) I have aplenty. It won't sop me from buying more of course.
Give me a great sounding uke or guitar, with tasteful appointments, and I'm happy. It doesn't need to be over-the-top bling, but a little is nice too.

Sporin
04-20-2013, 03:13 AM
Obviously "sing" is the most important. Often it is a choice, especially in the lower and mid price points. But you can have both! If it is a choice between the two, then I will always choose "sing" but I think this is a false dichotomy.

Well said.

I have to say it's interesting reading this thread and seeing people try to out-plain each other... yet Chuck Moore has a waiting list a mile long and everyone fawns over the NUD posts with beautiful inlays and details. ;) :) :)

While I think we can all agree that a plain ukulele that sounds amazing (Martin comes to mind for me) is wonderful, when I look at what people are buying (via NUD posts) and going ga-ga over, I'm not seeing a "plainer is better" trend at all.

I'm not afraid to admit that if I'm dropping hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on an instrument that I want it to be fantastic looking as well as sounding incredible.

Interestingly enough, I'm not an abalone fan, it just doesn't appeal to me aesthetically. But I have a serious appreciation for fine woodworking, and the artistic blending of different woods and finishes. I love some of the more artistic headstocks and maker-marks.

I like pretty things.

brUKEman
04-20-2013, 03:15 AM
As someone who just sold a High End Blinged out uke that looked and sounded gorgeous, for me it was the "Feel" of the uke. I loved the looks and sound of my uke but it just didn't feel right in my hands. I would probably get the same brand uke again but this time I would make sure the neck was right for me.

Pondoro
04-20-2013, 03:40 AM
I'll admire the bling on a custom uke but I prefer my ukes plain. As little decoration as possible and satin finish. Not sure why, it is just what I like.

OldePhart
04-20-2013, 04:06 AM
So say you walk in to a store shopping for a uke, and you want the best sounding uke. sound first , right? but the beast sounding uke has bindings and purflings and gorgeous wood with a gloss finish, but it's The Sound you want. Perhaps more time went into voicing it. Perhaps sanding flush for bindings and purflings made just the right springboard along the edge. for whatever reason, the bling sings your song! are you gonna discriminate against bling? Shopping only with your eyes? How shallow! go take out a loan, second mortgage, whatever you gotta do. and don't forget to close your eyes as your play this hideous fancy thing. :p

Heh, heh. For myself, I'm not "anti-bling" as it sounds that maybe some here are. It's just much lower on the priority list for me. I like ogling beautiful instruments but at the end of the day the sound and playability seal the deal. So, yeah, in your scenario, if the blingy uke was significantly better sounding and feeling than all the less blingy ukes I'd probably be walking out with it. But, the bling wouldn't stop me from gluing a patch of non-skid rubber matting on the back when I got it home, either. :biglaugh:

Also, some bling isn't just bling (as you know, here I am lecturing Andrew! LOL). Bindings have real practical value in that they protect the delicate cut edge of the top (and back) wood. Fretboard bindings often make for smoother sliding up and down the neck without getting hung up on fret ends. I don't much care for contrasting fretboard bindings, but if it's contrasting binding or none I'll take the contrasting binding for purely practical reasons.

Actually, maybe I am a little bit anti-bling but for a practical reason - it's harder to keep a blingy instrument looking respectable. When I had a custom electric guitar built several years ago I could have had a fancy transparent burst finish over some really beautiful flame maple for exactly the same price - but I spec'd a simple aged ivory paint job because I knew I was going to be gigging with it every week and with a simple paint job I could touch up the nicks and dings that were sure to happen. Sure enough, I put the first small chip in it not three weeks after I got it (after waiting almost a year for it).

John

SailQwest
04-20-2013, 06:53 AM
Acoustics for sing. Solid bodies for bling.

If I heard two instruments in a blind test and one clearly sounded better, of course I would choose that one. Bling or no bling is not a big concern for me, as long as it has a nice sound and plays well.

For me, an ideal uke is beautiful sounding, and at least a little blingy. A lot blingy would be the icing on the cake. Yum, cake.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-20-2013, 07:09 AM
I hope nobody is thinking that sound and appearance are the only two criteria considered when choosing an ukulele. Playability and durability are equally as important, as is good craftsmanship. Some of the "best" sounding ukes I've heard come from the makers with the worst return record, as they are built too lightly (or poorly) to withstand the test of time. And some of the "prettiest" ukes I've seen were virtually unplayable because the builder was more artist than luthier. You can't build exclusively for sound, or for looks or for any of the other things I mentioned. A good builder will try to do his best to address all of these issues. If your uke scores 80-90% on each of these factors; sound, looks, playability and durability, then you've got a real winner. It's doubtful that an instrument exists which will score 100% on all four of these categories but in my mind it's an incomplete assessment if you ignore the other things I've mentioned.

fumanshu
04-20-2013, 07:20 AM
I hope nobody is thinking that sound and appearance are the only two criteria considered when choosing an ukulele. Playability and durability are equally as important. Some of the "best" sounding ukes I've heard come from the makers with the worst return record, as they are built too lightly (or poorly) to withstand the test of time. And some of the "prettiest" ukes I've seen were virtually unplayable because the builder was more artist than luthier. It's doubtful that an instrument exists which will score 100% on all four of these categories but in my mind it's an incomplete assessment if you ignore the other things I've mentioned.

This is soooooo true all what you are saying Mr. Moore!!!!

https://soundcloud.com/baouke

Tim Mullins
04-20-2013, 07:37 AM
I fell for a pretty face and bought online a beautifully made figured koa Collings UC-2K concert. When it arrived it just didn't have the sound and I sent it back. It's great if a ukulele has both looks and sound, but it has to have the sound.

quiltingshirley
04-20-2013, 07:46 AM
Well, since I can't make any ukulele really "sing", I think a little bling to look at helps folks tolerate my playing. (Since I'm playing it, I don't really see it anyway.)

Hippie Dribble
04-20-2013, 09:53 AM
I want both sound quality and good looks. Although, personally I have neither. :)
he he Doc... :biglaugh:

Hippie Dribble
04-20-2013, 09:57 AM
Alooha Jon and Andrew,
I too don't care for much abalone myself, he he but certainly a blinged instrument doesn't hurt my eyes...but I am sure if you played
my Moore Bettahs, you both would agree that they sound incrediable...you are both welcome to try it if you come over...but no strum mark please..LOL :)

he he...bummer...I'd turn it into sawdust before your very eyes mate, guess that's me out then :o

neurorolex
04-20-2013, 10:03 AM
Function first always.What do you regard as bling?Definition please?

Newportlocal
04-20-2013, 10:13 AM
Bling vs sing is a slippery slope. Obviously, starting with a top luthier stacks the odds in your favor. I have one being built with no inlay, and another with inlay. I don't think inlay done right will effect tone. Where it gets tougher is wood choices. The one with no inlay was based purely on tonewood choices. Even the binding was chosen for projection. The other will have very high quality wood, but not purely based on tone. I have heard a top luthier say to me no one would want a ukulele built with the wood they would pick purely based on tone. So it becomes a balancing act.

gyosh
04-20-2013, 12:02 PM
Bling vs sing is a slippery slope. Obviously, starting with a top luthier stacks the odds in your favor. I have one being built with no inlay, and another with inlay. I don't think inlay done right will effect tone. Where it gets tougher is wood choices. The one with no inlay was based purely on tonewood choices. Even the binding was chosen for projection. The other will have very high quality wood, but not purely based on tone. I have heard a top luthier say to me no one would want a ukulele built with the wood they would pick purely based on tone. So it becomes a balancing act.

But then again, my woods were chosen for tone and then bling was added to suit my eye.

Anything wrong with both?

As far as I know, one isn't exclusive of the other.

Newportlocal
04-20-2013, 12:18 PM
But then again, my woods were chosen for tone and then bling was added to suit my eye.

Anything wrong with both?

As far as I know, one isn't exclusive of the other.

Gary,
Absolutely nothing wrong with getting both.
You have me confused. I think all of my statements agree with what you just said.
Especially in regards to your custom ukulele.
If I had added inlay on my Compass Rose. It certainly wouldn't effect tone.
There are however choices. If you want custom with a fancy Koa it may have a slight effect on tone vs a plainer Koa.

Stevelele
04-20-2013, 01:30 PM
I know we've discussed all these things before, but I still like these threads. Seems like most people are saying that they care about sound the most, which makes sense. I agree. But I do want to support mr. looks for a second here. I know that the debate has defined looks as 'bling'. But as a few people have said, appearance is important and it's not all about abalone and inlay (although I certainly appreciate both). To me, if I'm buying a nice ukulele and the craftsmanship has obvious flaws, I'm probably not going to buy it and it'll bother me. I'm talking about obvious gaps, pores unfilled, excess glue clearly visible. Small little things--no problem, but if anything looks like sloppiness, carelessness or a lack of concern, then it's hard for me not to think about and constantly notice those things. And on the positive side, when you find a uke with great construction and attention to detail--it's part of the pleasure I get--the entire experience of holding, interacting with and looking at something that has been so carefully constructed can be a great pleasure. And I've got to say that oftentimes (not always), there is a good relationship between sound and obsessively careful construction. And it makes sense. Guys like Eric Devine and Chuck care about all aspects of what they create, so it makes sense to me that their ukes would sound amazing AND look amazing--these guys are meticulous in all respects. Anyhow, I know the OP probably meant sound vs decorations, but I thought I would just talk a bit about how much we also appreciate great construction overall

mm stan
04-20-2013, 02:16 PM
he he...bummer...I'd turn it into sawdust before your very eyes mate, guess that's me out then :o

Aloha Bruddah Jon,
If you come over....we can tape my soundboard or better yet we can tape your finger tips....better hop on a plane here, I will let you play all my ukes this way... :)

dkcrown
04-20-2013, 02:25 PM
Everyone obviously cares first and foremost about the sound of their ukuleles. Perhaps the question should be "do you want it to sing with or without bling?"

OldePhart
04-20-2013, 02:58 PM
...To me, if I'm buying a nice ukulele and the craftsmanship has obvious flaws, I'm probably not going to buy it and it'll bother me. I'm talking about obvious gaps, pores unfilled, excess glue clearly visible.
Those are the sorts of things that don't really bother me on a medium-to-high-end "production" uke but on an expensive custom build I'm with you - they would make me furious simply because I have high expectations when I start spending that kind of money, go on waiting lists, etc. The crazy thing is I see $300 ukes where things like tuner alignment, bridge holes, etc are flawless because factories use jigs. Then I see expensive "luthier" ukes that are beautiful but have such obvious flaws that are so easily avoided if they would just create and use jigs. The guy who built my custom guitar a few years ago wouldn't pick up a tool without a jig. My guitar was a one-of-a-kind design that I had specified (body shape like an SG, but thicker, with chambered mahogany body and maple cap, etc.). The chance that he would ever build another like it was pretty darned close to zero, but he built and tested jigs for every hole, every part placement, etc. It was that attention to detail that I was paying for. He's local, so I got to watch him in his shop a couple of days, and it was a real eye-opener.


Small little things--no problem, but if anything looks like sloppiness, carelessness or a lack of concern, then it's hard for me not to think about and constantly notice those things. And on the positive side, when you find a uke with great construction and attention to detail--it's part of the pleasure I get--the entire experience of holding, interacting with and looking at something that has been so carefully constructed can be a great pleasure. Exactly! In factory ukes I actually love getting a "second" if it will save me some money and doesn't affect playability. But, with a "custom" instrument that I've possibly waited months for and paid a significant fraction of a year's income - the builder better care enough to get it right the first time! That's not bling, that's just attention to detail. At the point that I'm going to commit big dollars and a lot of waiting time I expect the builder to commit to attention to detail. It's what I'm paying for.


And I've got to say that oftentimes (not always), there is a good relationship between sound and obsessively careful construction. And it makes sense. Guys like Eric Devine and Chuck care about all aspects of what they create, so it makes sense to me that their ukes would sound amazing AND look amazing--these guys are meticulous in all respects.

With you 100%. If I see minor flaws on a production uke they don't bother me much because I know that they are jig-built and once you cull any obvious problems (as the better mfrs and dealers do) the rest is pretty small potatoes. But, when I see those same flaws on a hand-built high-end instrument I have to ask myself why, if the builder cares so little about getting the things that show right, should I believe that he is more meticulous about getting the things that don't show right? I'm sure some of them are, but it just doesn't give me a warm fuzzy at all especially since any single builder's volume of work is typically low enough that really all you have to judge by is their meticulous attention to detail on every uke they ship - it's not like a production uke where they are shipping a few thousand a year and you can rely on the reputation (good or bad) that is established by that sort of volume.

John

UkerDanno
04-20-2013, 03:01 PM
Everyone obviously cares first and foremost about the sound of their ukuleles. Perhaps the question should be "do you want it to sing with or without bling?"

sound is the most important, a nice piece of wood is certainly important to me! Bling is a bonus! I wouldn't go for a lot of bling, but Moore Bettahs are great eye candy! Lumber, on the other hand is better suited for roof beams and such. :confused:

OldePhart
04-20-2013, 03:13 PM
Everyone obviously cares first and foremost about the sound of their ukuleles. Perhaps the question should be "do you want it to sing with or without bling?"

Good point. Maybe to refine the question even further, "If two instruments sound and play equally good, would you pay more for one with bling?" That's a question I can easily answer, "no."

Years ago I went shopping for a new acoustic guitar at my local guitar shop. This is a really nice, independent shop in the town where I used to live that has a great selection of Taylor and Martin guitars, including the signature and high end guitars - we're talking Taylor 800 and 900 series guitars, and Taylor and Martin signature guitars (all locked up in the high-dollar room). I had received a little windfall and was going to treat myself to a really good acoustic guitar. I pretty quickly settled on Taylor because I liked the necks better than I did the Martins. Then, I played every Taylor in the shop - I had the money I could have walked out with anything in the store. So, what did I come home with? A Taylor 300 series (314ce or 312ce -never can remember the model number without looking). It played as well and sounded as good as anything in the line, including the much more expensive series and the signature guitars (I did like the White Rose on the headstock of the Doyle Dykes model, especially since I'd heard him tell the story in a workshop, but I didn't like it enough to pay for it when the guitar, nice as it was, didn't sound or play any better than the three series I'd already played).

So...yeah...I'll pay for sound...maybe for attnetion to detail...but not for bling. :)

John

Kmetzger
04-22-2013, 06:04 AM
Maybe to refine the question even further, "If two instruments sound and play equally good, would you pay more for one with bling?" That's a question I can easily answer, "no."



I take the opposite view as John...

Without question it has to sound good. Can't imagine any reason to consider owning an instrument that you don't love the way it sounds and the way it plays.

But the idea of "bling" is pretty darn subjective. And I think it implies and is being used in this thread as synonymous to "excess". Not sure that's the right way to look at this. I'd prefer to ask: if sound and playability is good, then am I willing to pay more for additional ornamentation/aesthetics? The answer to that has to do with what pleases you. Some people just don't care - which isn't bad, it just is.

For me, I get so much additional pleasure every time I open the case of one of my Moore Bettah's and just stare at them, because of the aesthetics. (Or while playing looking down at the beauty in my hands.) Both of mine are on the less ornate end of what Chuck has done - which is what I prefer. But soaking in the richness and detail pleases me in a way that is indescribable and similar to looking at a beautiful piece of art. So it just adds that much more please to my ukulele experience.

I would buy one of Chuck's instruments regardless of what it looks like, because nothing sounds like a Moore Bettah and it is the sound I prefer. Both of the Moore Bettah's I've purchased were spec ukes (not custom to my wishes). And I committed to the second one sight unseen, because of how important his sound and playability is to me. But my enjoyment is dramatically enriched by the aesthetics: the astonishingly beautiful bear claw spruce, the koa binding between the dark Milo and light spruce, etc.

My two cents.

Keith

thejumpingflea
04-22-2013, 06:06 AM
I take the opposite view as John...

Without question it has to sound good. Can't imagine any reason to consider owning an instrument that you don't love the way it sounds and the way it plays.

But the idea of "bling" is pretty darn subjective. And I think it implies and is being used in this thread as synonymous to "excess". Not sure that's the right way to look at this. I'd prefer to ask: if sound and playability is good, then am I willing to pay more for additional ornamentation/aesthetics? The answer to that has to do with what pleases you. Some people just don't care - which isn't bad, it just is.

For me, I get so much additional pleasure every time I open the case of one of my Moore Bettah's and just stare at them, because of the aesthetics. (Or while playing looking down at the beauty in my hands.) Both of mine are on the less ornate end of what Chuck has done - which is what I prefer. But soaking in the richness and detail pleases me in a way that is indescribable and similar to looking at a beautiful piece of art. So it just adds that much more please to my ukulele experience.

I would buy one of Chuck's instruments regardless of what it looks like, because nothing sounds like a Moore Bettah and it is the sound I prefer. Both of the Moore Bettah's I've purchased were spec ukes (not custom to my wishes). And I committed to the second one sight unseen, because of how important his sound and playability is to me. But my enjoyment is dramatically enriched by the aesthetics: the astonishingly beautiful bear claw spruce, the koa binding between the dark Milo and light spruce, etc.

My two cents.

Keith

I agree with Keith. Sound is first and foremost, but most of these luthier built ukes aren't just incredible musical instruments, they're pieces of art! Especially when Chuck Moore is the builder.

bnolsen
04-22-2013, 06:30 AM
A direct quote from one of GUGUG's youtube pages:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnGTV9vXicg


always use a crappy cheap instrument; don't worry about bum-notes, buzzes and rattles - they add to the sound

who dare defy the GUGUG gods?

RichM
04-22-2013, 07:51 AM
I don't think anybody wants a pretty but bad-sounding instrument. I think a good-sounding instrument can definitely be more desirable if it is also good-looking. I appreciate the visual art of luthiery in addition to the acoustic art, so why not have both, if possible? "Bling" implies gaudy; I have several instruments that are absolutely beautiful in their aesthetic design and aren't the least bit gaudy.

Barbablanca
04-22-2013, 08:03 AM
In general....
HE SINGS:
"Bling don't mean a thing,
If it don't help it sing...." ;)

Having said that, I did get my "Jack Daniels" tenor solely because I thought it'd look more bluesy for our blues band... and it does... ;)

hoosierhiver
04-22-2013, 08:05 AM
I sometimes get a customer who says they "want the prettiest uke I have", my response is always, "the prettiest uke doesn't always sound the best" and then there is usually a long pause as that sinks in.

sukie
04-22-2013, 08:54 AM
I like both. And my ukulele has both. But I realize I am just one very fortunate ukulele owner.

fumanshu
04-22-2013, 09:06 AM
I agree with Keith. Sound is first and foremost, but most of these luthier built ukes aren't just incredible musical instruments, they're pieces of art! Especially when Chuck Moore is the builder.

This is so true, like Matt said, most of these top builders are artists....so for sure most will sound as good as they look!!!


https://soundcloud.com/baouke

kdmccullum
04-22-2013, 09:51 AM
My first uke has just a bit of bling and my second uke has no bling other than the zebrawood. I am still figuring out how to make them sing but a plain uke will do for me if it sounds good.

Sound vs Bling is one thing but what about playability? I've picked up several ukes in the store and quickly put them down simply because I didn't like the way they felt when playing.

Kurt

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
04-22-2013, 10:56 AM
^^^I agree with Kurt.^^^

Three things attract me to an instrument: playability, sound, and looks.

A uke's look is certainly its initial attraction for me---bling isn't what draws my eye so much as quality of materials and craftsmanship. (It's true that many well-made ukes have some bling to draw the eye---woohoo!) Sound is the first thing I notice when I play an instrument---if a uke doesn't sound sweet, I won't play it for more than few seconds. If a good-looking, sweet-sounding uke feels great in my hands, I'll want to play it again and again. I don't know if I can say which is most important to me, though. Hmm...

OldePhart
04-22-2013, 11:56 AM
Heh, heh. I thought about something last night...if I ever get a chance to visit HMS in person to buy a high-end uke I am going to go in with a bandana, tie it around my eyes, and then ask them to start handing me ukes... That way I don't have to worry about being influenced by price or pretties. :)

John

Dan Uke
04-22-2013, 12:19 PM
Heh, heh. I thought about something last night...if I ever get a chance to visit HMS in person to buy a high-end uke I am going to go in with a bandana, tie it around my eyes, and then ask them to start handing me ukes... That way I don't have to worry about being influenced by price or pretties. :)

John

That's dangerous cuz you're favorite could be the most expensive!!

pabrizzer
04-22-2013, 12:32 PM
I break all the rules on buying that I see put most often on this forum.
I played none of my ukes before buying.
I bought on the internet and, once I decided on the model, on price alone.
AND I'm happy with every one of them!
I did do a lot of research on line before buying - including reviews and sound samples on places like youtube.
My very cheap Oscar Schmidt baritone is very unattractive (the veneer almost looks like wall paper) and when it arrived the frets where totally sticking out on one side of the neck and very sharp. The action is also probably a smidgin too low.
After some sanding of the frets it is now the uke I play most often. I love it.
I have all ukes from pocket to baritone (no pineapple though).
Only my Eddie Finn soprano is solid timber and none of them cost any where near $200 including postage - most were under$100.
Cheap and cheerful - VERY CHEERFUL!

When you spend THOUSANDS you have to convince yourself that it is MORE beautiful and MORE tonal and MORE resonant and MORE .......

Otherwise severe disappointment sets in with the realisation that 10 times more expensive is RARELY 10 times better.

Isn't there a ukelele brand called Morebetta or something like that? But it ain't right? (Unless YOU own one)

Now why and how they are so cheap does worry me - but not enough to stop buying.

Those living in the wilderness at the top of a mountain hand making every single instrument could never satisfy the world's appetite for this wonderful little instrument if we ALL decided to abandon the wonders of mass production with even a tiny bit of quality control.

OldePhart
04-22-2013, 12:34 PM
That's dangerous cuz you're favorite could be the most expensive!!

Yep...but at least I'd know that I'd chosen it for how it sounded and felt, and not because it was the most expensive and/or flashy! :)

Tigeralum2001
04-22-2013, 04:21 PM
Isn't there a ukelele brand called Morebetta or something like that? But it ain't right? (Unless YOU own one)

Now why and how they are so cheap does worry me - but not enough to stop buying.


I'd like to address these two points. Moore Bettah has a reputation for many very good reasons. If it doesn't sound good to you... well, then, more for me! :)

Secondly, we should worry about the labor practices of overseas manufacturing. There is plenty of legitimate "cheep" labor in many places. It does not cost a lot more to have ethical business practices (no sweatshops, child labor, paid OT, etc.). I love free market principles, but it needs to operate with fundamental fair market rules.

Now we return to our regularly scheduled programming. I like "bling," not for the sake of bling, but for art. It also should be in proportion to the instrument. If someone inlaid a bunch of flash on a dolphin (not for comic effect), this would be tacky and wasteful... like many of the "pimped out" cards from the 80s where the wheels cost more than the car is worth. However, if you take a nicely made instrument and add the art to it, especially if it tells a story, then I think it adds an extra dimension to the instrument. Plus, as others have said, if it distracts from my playing-- well, at my level that is another plus! ;)

hawaii 50
04-22-2013, 05:03 PM
That's dangerous cuz you're favorite could be the most expensive!!

Hey John I have seen MGM do that with customers..they turn their back and Mike plays 2 of them one after the other.. they almost always pick the more expensive ones..they are hoping it is the cheaper one..but it does not work like that sometimes..

so bring your bandana and lots of money ..Lol

Nickie
04-22-2013, 05:22 PM
I'll play a weathered 2 X 4 and a used bedpan with barbed wire for strings if it sings...

John

John...that's gonna sound like crap...sorry buddy...LOL

pakhan
04-22-2013, 05:36 PM
Really depends on what you call bling. To me all round mitered purfling is more bling than just an abalone top pufling.

I like to say that we catch people's attention with looks but hold their interest with tone.

Blind testing is a bit tricky because some ukes sound better to the audience and vice versa... and also depends on the person playing. For example I love the sound of ukes when Kimo plays them but somehow they don't sound as good when I play!

ChrisRCovington
04-22-2013, 05:40 PM
On "bling": I think a uke has to have balance. It has to have good proportions, that can means anything from size of the body, shape of the headstock or the inlay to wood ratio. I'm not sure if there is one single magic rule but everything has to be balanced. Most of the comments keep coming down Mr. Moore's ukuleles. I think there is a good reason for that, even his most blinged out pieces are balanced. There isn't too much bling and there isn't too little bling. It always seems just right. I think of some of those million mark Martin guitars and all I can think is "ugly!" The work is top of the line and the shapes of the guitars are all classic shapes but they just ain't right. Mr. Moore's skill with inlay is easily on the same level with what we see on those Martins but I've yet to see one of his ukes and say "too much!" Some of the other custom builders here are equally good at finding that right balance (DeVine, Compass Rose, red or black label KoAlohas, etc.). On the other hand a simple Martin 0 looks just as balanced.

Tigeralum2001
04-22-2013, 06:54 PM
OMost of the comments keep coming down Mr. Moore's ukuleles. I think there is a good reason for that, even his most blinged out pieces are balanced. There isn't too much bling and there isn't too little bling. It always seems just right. I think of some of those million mark Martin guitars and all I can think is "ugly!" The work is top of the line and the shapes of the guitars are all classic shapes but they just ain't right. Mr. Moore's skill with inlay is easily on the same level with what we see on those Martins but I've yet to see one of his ukes and say "too much!" Some of the other custom builders here are equally good at finding that right balance (DeVine, Compass Rose, red or black label KoAlohas, etc.).
I couldn't agree more about the Martins I think they are the 750,000 and 1,000,000. The artist is a master, but whoa! Too much- too busy. I also agree there are others doing good work out there.

gyosh
04-22-2013, 07:10 PM
I couldn't agree more about the Martins I think they are the 750,000 and 1,000,000. The artist is a master, but whoa! Too much- too busy. I also agree there are others doing good work out there.

Hey! That guy is doing my bling!!!

(mine is very tasteful and understated though) :)

Dan Uke
04-22-2013, 07:57 PM
Really depends on what you call bling. To me all round mitered purfling is more bling than just an abalone top pufling.

Wow, I like mitered purfling!! I feel like the luthier didn't take the next step if adding purfling without mitering it

drbekken
04-22-2013, 10:27 PM
I own nothing but cheap ukuleles. All of them are bought via the internet, and I always go for the plainest possible design. (Right now, I will be cleaning house, getting rid of a whole lot of them.)
However, if I ever manage to raise enough money to buy something real, I would look at Martins, or something with that classic look. My main concerns would be sound, plain looks, stability in a harsh Scandinavian climate, durability (if I buy a high-end instrument, I want it to last for life). Does that make me a boring viking? Well then; so be it.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
04-23-2013, 02:44 AM
i build both at once

mm stan
04-23-2013, 03:18 AM
i build both at once
Aloha Beau,
Your ukes are certainly up there too bruddah believe me..wow :)

OldePhart
04-23-2013, 03:29 AM
John...that's gonna sound like crap...sorry buddy...LOL

Ooohh, Nice one, Nickie!

guitharsis
04-23-2013, 03:44 AM
Yes, I agree about Moore Bettahs. They are balanced and beautiful, even the most "blinged out" pieces. Appreciate the beauty and balance even though I prefer less bling, such as the NSB. The G-String Sun Concert is the most bling I've had on a ukulele and I've grown to love and appreciate it. I was originally drawn to a the G-string long neck soprano at NC Ukulele Academy www.alohau.com but decided that I would play a concert size more.





On "bling": I think a uke has to have balance. It has to have good proportions, that can means anything from size of the body, shape of the headstock or the inlay to wood ratio. I'm not sure if there is one single magic rule but everything has to be balanced. Most of the comments keep coming down Mr. Moore's ukuleles. I think there is a good reason for that, even his most blinged out pieces are balanced. There isn't too much bling and there isn't too little bling. It always seems just right. I think of some of those million mark Martin guitars and all I can think is "ugly!" The work is top of the line and the shapes of the guitars are all classic shapes but they just ain't right. Mr. Moore's skill with inlay is easily on the same level with what we see on those Martins but I've yet to see one of his ukes and say "too much!" Some of the other custom builders here are equally good at finding that right balance (DeVine, Compass Rose, red or black label KoAlohas, etc.). On the other hand a simple Martin 0 looks just as balanced.

dhoenisch
04-23-2013, 03:47 AM
I have to admit that I love bling. Not so much the over-the-top bling where every inch is covered in something, but I like nice binding, rosettes, fingerboard inlays, and fancy headstocks. When I go into a music store, I am immediately drawn to the prettiest of ukes, but at the end of they day, I tend to go home with a plane Jane because it sounds and feels better to me.

If you look at all the ukes I have, the fanciest one is probably my Lanikai S-T, and that's only because it has binding. That's it. I've sold prettier ukes than I currently own. Look at my signature. I own what I own because I love the sound and feel of them, and they are probably some of the plainest ukes on this here forum (now that I look at my own signature, I think mine are all plain because i've sold nicer looking, newer ukes to purchase antiques). Heck, you should see my other instruments. The ONLY instrument with bling is my banjo, but that sounded and felt better to me than the others available at that time.

Dan

BlueLatitude
04-23-2013, 04:08 AM
Of course sound is most important; beyond that, I like bling. But as someone posted above, it has to be balanced, with excellent workmanship and care taken to choose each piece of "bling" with the whole piece in mind. I think that's why some of the luthiers mentioned here can pull off a lot of embellishment and it will still hang together and not overwhelm the eye.

hawaii 50
04-23-2013, 05:57 AM
i build both at once

Hey Beau..haven't seen you lately..are you still in Colorado? someone told me you moved back to Aussie land? if so how was the move..

you build beautiful ukes too..

Dan Uke
04-23-2013, 10:32 AM
Isnt plain koa considered bling over other woods?

ChrisRCovington
04-23-2013, 11:06 AM
Hey! That guy is doing my bling!!!

(mine is very tasteful and understated though) :)

I don't blame the artist but the client. The talent is certainly there and I'm sure the Martin company requested the crazy bling. Ya can't help it if your client is asking for the most fancy blinged out guitar in the history of the instrument (and then asks you to raise the stakes every 1/4 or 1/2 million guitars lol).

Nickie
04-23-2013, 01:54 PM
Wow, this has become a hot topic...I like what Chuck said...he hit the nail directly on the head, IMO...
Feel factor is sooo important to me...I adore the way my uke feels to me in my hands...it took a while to get used to a thicker neck, in fact it hurt at first...I loved the neck on my former Luna, but the amplifier plug was in my lap when i sat to play...very annoying...my uke is anything but fancy, I like the way it sounds, though...someday I'd like to have a fancier uke, I like pretty...but it has to sound good and feel good to play...

OldePhart
04-23-2013, 02:05 PM
...but the amplifier plug was in my lap when i sat to play...

That annoys the heck out of me. I can't imagine why Luna and Lanikai favor that position - it positions the plug right where the uke would rest on your thigh when sitting. On a couple of sopranos that I don't intend to use a strap with (and thus no reason to use an endpin jack) I put the jack on the lower side of the body but further forward in the waist, where it's not right against your leg.

If you should ever end up with another of those, though, get a cord with a right angle plug. It's still a tad annoying but far less so than with a straight plug.

John

rem50
04-24-2013, 02:08 AM
Definitely acoustics win with me. I bought a uke on line that I thought was nice looking and it sound so awful that I took it apart to see how it was made...... kept the neck incase I ever learn to make a body!

wickedwahine11
04-25-2013, 05:57 PM
I have to admit I am shallow enough to be swayed by looks. My Kanilea is my favorite uke and it is blingy with inlay and curly koa. That being said, I was playing my KoAloha today and I just love its sound, it is definitely better sounding than my prettier Kanilea, Kamaka and Kamoa ukes - each of which is curly. Don't get me wrong, they sound good - the KoAloha just sounds better

I would consider there might be truth to the old wives' tale about curly koa not sounding as good, but Jake, Brittni, Aldrine and Daniel Ho all have very curly koa ukes. Plus, the Moore Bettahs sound great and often have very curly koa.

I know that my dream uke is a curly koa KoAloha tenor (which I have never seen aside from customs), or a Moore Bettah - so I can have the best of both worlds, bling and sing to my heart's content.

guitharsis
04-26-2013, 12:24 AM
Well, okay if curly koa is considered bling, then . . . guilty. All of my ukes, even my KoAloha concert, are gorgeous curly koa. Also, I really do like the Hawaiian Islands Kanile'a. I would've liked to have one if I didn't already have a Kanile'a concert premium. Agree too that KoAloha ukes sound great!

coolkayaker1
04-26-2013, 12:44 AM
I like a uke that shines like a bowling alley because, in the end, they all sound the same.

Tootler
04-26-2013, 09:43 AM
Ideally, it should sing... but, if you haven't a shop near you with a good selection to try and have to buy on line, then appearance plus less then entirely satisfactory You Tube videos is what you have to go on.

That's the position I'm currently in.

patrickmcgill
04-26-2013, 10:19 AM
if it doesn't sing, you have no business playing the instrument

looks are an afterthought, sound trumps all

iDavid
04-26-2013, 12:45 PM
I don't like inlays nor abalone. However, I dig interesting wood.

1300cc
04-26-2013, 02:20 PM
i always prefer solid wood but if it doesnt sound good wont be interested....people always show n tell but no mention of good sound....it kind of same as cars. all show but no go.

Newportlocal
04-26-2013, 03:01 PM
i always prefer solid wood but if it doesnt sound good wont be interested....people always show n tell but no mention of good sound....it kind of same as cars. all show but no go.

Moore Bettah
http://youtu.be/CZNSm7N-tjc
Compass Rose
http://youtu.be/sy7Zxa7rIuU
Devine
http://youtu.be/tdfdq5QZAJQ

Newportlocal
04-26-2013, 03:02 PM
I like a uke that shines like a bowling alley because, in the end, they all sound the same.

Ordering you a dolphin and some fancy car wax. I will trade you for your favorite.:D

Dan Uke
04-27-2013, 07:30 AM
I like a uke that shines like a bowling alley because, in the end, they all sound the same.

You know what Steve, I'm starting to understand what you are saying. I've been listening to many high end koa ukuleles on HMS and the difference in sound is not that great. Taking looks out of it, it's the feel and playability that distinguishes them apart and you won't know that unless you play it.

If I was going strictly by sound without getting a chance to play, if two ukes were sounded similar, I would go by price and then looks.

5150ukulele
04-27-2013, 08:25 AM
I just like the fact that there is a choice !

UkerDanno
04-27-2013, 09:29 AM
obviously not for bling...my newly acquired Martin C1K:
52374

although I certainly wouldn't mind a Moore Bettah or Compass Rose!

hibiscus
04-27-2013, 10:49 AM
A bit of both, but definitely the SING

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
05-04-2013, 03:09 PM
Hey Beau..haven't seen you lately..are you still in Colorado? someone told me you moved back to Aussie land? if so how was the move..

you build beautiful ukes too..

Hi hawaii 50. I only just saw this message. Im back in Sydney for Visa reasons then back in the US around august :)