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View Full Version : Is a high-end Uke a bad idea for a rookie?



AirCanuck
04-21-2013, 02:41 AM
I've been taking lessons for approximately 4 months, but I have always loved the Uke, Hawaiian music, and the culture. I simply love the sound of the Koa Tenors, it honestly puts a smile on my face and I believe they are a work of art. I could spend 4-5 hours per day just uking around when my time is truly my own.

I make a comfortable living and take great care of my things, but would it be completely asinine of me to drop 1000-1500 on a Hawaiian Koa Tenor as a rookie player? I'm not worried about the love affair ending, I'm not worried about the financial side, I'm more curious as to the practicality side. Hell if I lost both my arms, I'd be content to hang it on the wall just to stare at.

I don't want to be the 16 year old with the sports car, or the over equipped skier on the bunny hill...you know the types, I don't want to be "THAT guy". :cool:

Thanks ukers!

PereBourik
04-21-2013, 02:51 AM
Go ahead and be that guy. Ukers don't judge too much and a grand is not too extravagant for a good ukulele. In the long run it's cheaper because you haven't acquired 2 or 3 "gateway instruments" while you're getting warmed up. Enjoy it.

stevepetergal
04-21-2013, 02:51 AM
You've covered all the bases. You should go for it.

Skrik
04-21-2013, 03:03 AM
would it be completely asinine of me to drop 1000-1500 on a Hawaiian Koa Tenor as a rookie player?

No. It's your money, and your life, and your call.

AirCanuck
04-21-2013, 03:13 AM
Thanks guys, how about the abuse factor on a nicer instrument? I have so much still to learn, obviously, and will make many mistakes with every new lesson. I thought I can still use my Kala for practicing, but I will still make my screw ups on any instrument. Will the Hawaiian K-ukes be forgiving enough?

Again, thanks for the insight. If I am ever in the position to pay it forward, it will be done!

connor013
04-21-2013, 03:26 AM
I've found I'm much more likely to use the things I like.

Go get that beautiful tenor!

Edited to add: I wouldn't worry too much about abuse. You could opt for a gloss finish and a good case. A long as you don't use it to open bottles or jack up your car you'll be fine.

GinnyT11
04-21-2013, 03:33 AM
Thanks guys, how about the abuse factor on a nicer instrument? I have so much still to learn, obviously, and will make many mistakes with every new lesson. I thought I can still use my Kala for practicing, but I will still make my screw ups on any instrument. Will the Hawaiian K-ukes be forgiving enough?

Again, thanks for the insight. If I am ever in the position to pay it forward, it will be done!

Do your practicing on the good instrument—you'll want to practice more and you'll learn faster. Yo-yo Ma practices on the cello he performs with.

As to "abuse" of a fine uke: Playing a uke can leave some wear, and handling it increases the likelihood of dings. But that's putting your own mojo into the instrument.
You might find a super buy on a beautiful used koa uke on the Marketplace here. If it already has a little ding, it spares you that feeling of wanting it to keep it pristine forever.

AirCanuck
04-21-2013, 03:51 AM
Just awesome advice guys, much gratitude. I guess the hunt begins...to UU Search button I go!

GinnyT11
04-21-2013, 03:53 AM
Actually, the UU search function is the not the strongest feature of this awesome site. Just go to the UU Marketplace section first every day. Or, if you make a "WTB Hawaiian-made koa tenor" post, it might bring you some options.

The Big Kahuna
04-21-2013, 03:56 AM
Actually, the UU search function is the not the strongest feature of this awesome site

Which is the reason I made this:

http://www.google.co.uk/cse/home?cx=006086160372685481724:y43bmh-bwgc (http://www.google.co.uk/cse/home?cx=006086160372685481724:y43bmh-bwgc)

Slap it on your link toolbar :)

ichadwick
04-21-2013, 07:03 AM
No worse than getting a Jaguar as your first car... but price doesn't always make a better instrument.

AirCanuck
04-21-2013, 07:15 AM
Price isn't really the dance here, quality is. I just wasn't sure if a high quality instrument is too soon for a dum dum. But yea, I don't expect a Kamaka to sound better than my $25 Denver with dental floss for strings that travels to the arctic at 35000ft numerous times per month, not a chance, never. Price is most certainly going to make a better instrument in my case. :rolleyes: ;)

And no, the new Koa based Tenor will not be going traveling to inhospitable environments, I promise! :cool:

gyosh
04-21-2013, 07:22 AM
Thanks guys, how about the abuse factor on a nicer instrument? I have so much still to learn, obviously, and will make many mistakes with every new lesson. I thought I can still use my Kala for practicing, but I will still make my screw ups on any instrument. Will the Hawaiian K-ukes be forgiving enough?

Again, thanks for the insight. If I am ever in the position to pay it forward, it will be done!

My first uke is a Kamaka HF-3

I knew the stories of the K brands, I knew that koa is getting more and more expensive as it becomes harder to find, I knew that I wanted to learn the ukulele.

Why not?

I've since purchased a Kala that I keep on my desk in my classroom and a couple of sopranos mostly in hopes that my 5 y.o. son will start playing. Scratches, strum marks and dings just add to the story of your uke. Love marks if you will.

Lori
04-21-2013, 07:23 AM
I think you should definitely get a nice ukulele. You will love it, and grow into it. No shame there. It saves you money in the long run, and you end up getting really comfortable playing that particular uke, with all the positions of the frets and thickness of the neck placed firmly in your muscle memory. If you ever want to sell it, you will have a better resale value than on a cheaper uke. My Kanile'a gloss is very sturdy, and looks as good as new even after 2+years. If you can play some ukes in person first... that is the best way to select a uke, especially an expensive one.

Happy shopping!

–Lori

hibiscus
04-21-2013, 07:26 AM
Yes, just what Lori said!

AirCanuck
04-21-2013, 07:29 AM
I think you should definitely get a nice ukulele. You will love it, and grow into it. No shame there. It saves you money in the long run, and you end up getting really comfortable playing that particular uke, with all the positions of the frets and thickness of the neck placed firmly in your muscle memory. If you ever want to sell it, you will have a better resale value than on a cheaper uke. My Kanile'a gloss is very sturdy, and looks as good as new even after 2+years. If you can play some ukes in person first... that is the best way to select a uke, especially an expensive one.

Happy shopping!

–Lori

Ooooh, Lori, I should have consulted you when I was in negotiations with my wife over this one. Those are dynamite points. Thanks!

Trinimon
04-21-2013, 07:57 AM
I say get the uke you want if you can afford it rookie or not. Getting a uke you really like, to me at least, really encourages you to want to play more. A coworker of mine got a really sweet Kanilea as her first uke and she only learned to play the uke during her vacation cruise.

UkeKiddinMe
04-21-2013, 08:01 AM
If you can afford it, enjoy it.

My only caution would be - if you anticipate that you could Never afford doing this again. If that were the case,
then it would possibly be prudent to log more time so that you truly figure out what you want in a uke.

Outside of that, if you have the bucks, have fun, and keep us posted so that we can have some fun on your journey. :) :cool:

Tigeralum2001
04-21-2013, 08:04 AM
Do it! If you want to save a little money, buy something from the Marketplace. There are some incredible deals there right now, you could save hundreds!

kvehe
04-21-2013, 08:26 AM
Do it! If you want to save a little money, buy something from the Marketplace. There are some incredible deals there right now, you could save hundreds!

:agree:

Yep, what he said.

More generally, yes, buy what you want.

Nickie
04-21-2013, 08:44 AM
We are always here and ready to encourage your shopping...

UkeKiddinMe
04-21-2013, 09:02 AM
We are always here and ready to encourage your shopping...

Niiiiiice. :D

OldePhart
04-21-2013, 09:08 AM
I don't want to be the 16 year old with the sports car, or the over equipped skier on the bunny hill...you know the types, I don't want to be "THAT guy". :cool:

Thanks ukers!

My standard advice to anybody contemplating taking up any musical instrument is simple...buy absolutely the best instrument you can afford. That doesn't necessarily mean a lot of showy bling (that's just a matter of personal taste). But, quality will out in a musical instrument - as a beginner you really will learn faster, play better, and be inspired to play more often when you have a really good instrument.

You do not have to "play well enough to justify" an instrument...an instrument needs to be good enough to justify your spending valuable time with it.

Whenever parents ask me to help them choose an instrument (usually guitar because I have a longer history with those) I always ask them the same thing: "Do you want your kid to fall in love with music and become a very good player and maybe even one day a rock star, or are you hoping they'll soon lose interest in this silliness and become a doctor or lawyer or something practical like that?"

They think I'm kidding, but I'm serious. I tell them if you want them to love music and playing, get them the best instrument that you can afford. If you are hoping they'll lose interest, buy them the cheapest piece of junk you can find advertised as "perfect for beginners." :)

John

UkeKiddinMe
04-21-2013, 09:11 AM
My standard advice to anybody contemplating taking up any musical instrument is simple...buy absolutely the best instrument you can afford. That doesn't necessarily mean a lot of showy bling (that's just a matter of personal taste). But, quality will out in a musical instrument - as a beginner you really will learn faster, play better, and be inspired to play more often when you have a really good instrument.

You do not have to "play well enough to justify" an instrument...an instrument needs to be good enough to justify your spending valuable time with it.

Whenever parents ask me to help them choose an instrument (usually guitar because I have a longer history with those) I always ask them the same thing: "Do you want your kid to fall in love with music and become a very good player and maybe even one day a rock star, or are you hoping they'll soon lose interest in this silliness and become a doctor or lawyer or something practical like that?"

They think I'm kidding, but I'm serious. I tell them if you want them to love music and playing, get them the best instrument that you can afford. If you are hoping they'll lose interest, buy them the cheapest piece of junk you can find advertised as "perfect for beginners." :)

John

Very wise. Good advice.

OldePhart
04-21-2013, 09:14 AM
Thanks guys, how about the abuse factor on a nicer instrument? I have so much still to learn, obviously, and will make many mistakes with every new lesson. I thought I can still use my Kala for practicing, but I will still make my screw ups on any instrument. Will the Hawaiian K-ukes be forgiving enough?

Again, thanks for the insight. If I am ever in the position to pay it forward, it will be done!

You'll make fewer mistakes on the Hawaiian instrument to begin with. Besides, unless you're just extremely clumsy or careless nothing you can do while playing a uke is going to damage it. At the worst, you might break a string - that's about seven bucks and they have to be replaced periodically anyway.

As for strum marks and such - that's not "mistakes" so much as just differences in playing style and it doesn't affect playability of the uke. Some of the best players on the planet beat the living snot out of their instruments! Others can play it for ten years without leaving a mark. Different strokes for different folks and at the end of the day what matters is what you get out of an instrument and what marks it leaves on you, not what marks you leave on it.

John

UkeKiddinMe
04-21-2013, 09:17 AM
Ever see the "marks" Willie Nelson has on his primary guitar? It's gotta friggin big Hole in it. :)

ksiegel
04-21-2013, 09:20 AM
My standard advice to anybody contemplating taking up any musical instrument is simple...buy absolutely the best instrument you can afford.

Which, basically, is what I used to tell people about computers back when I sold/did tech support on them.

What I would say about a uke is: Try a lot. All price ranges. Buy the best sounding/feeling instrument that you can afford. A simple modification to what John said, but if you can afford a $1500 instrument, but find that there are a bunch of $800 instruments that just feel/sound better to you, choose from that group.

Yes, I've got a KoAloha Sceptre. I played every non-vintage instrument at Ukulele Source, and never looked at the price tags. The one that picked me wasn't the most expensive, nor the least by any means, but the feel, the sound, the responsiveness of the instrument was overwhelming. It was also more than I had budgeted, so I didn't choose anything.

I slept on it, and my wife and mother-in-law decided I should get it, so I called Smiley the next day, telling him I would be by to pick it up, and he held it for me.

I had been playing for about 7 months at that time, and had 7 ukuleles. I now have 13, with 2 more on the way, after about 2-1/2 years of playing.

Go for it.



-Kurt

AirCanuck
04-21-2013, 10:56 AM
Which, basically, is what I used to tell people about computers back when I sold/did tech support on them.

What I would say about a uke is: Try a lot. All price ranges. Buy the best sounding/feeling instrument that you can afford. A simple modification to what John said, but if you can afford a $1500 instrument, but find that there are a bunch of $800 instruments that just feel/sound better to you, choose from that group.

Yes, I've got a KoAloha Sceptre. I played every non-vintage instrument at Ukulele Source, and never looked at the price tags. The one that picked me wasn't the most expensive, nor the least by any means, but the feel, the sound, the responsiveness of the instrument was overwhelming. It was also more than I had budgeted, so I didn't choose anything.

I slept on it, and my wife and mother-in-law decided I should get it, so I called Smiley the next day, telling him I would be by to pick it up, and he held it for me.

I had been playing for about 7 months at that time, and had 7 ukuleles. I now have 13, with 2 more on the way, after about 2-1/2 years of playing.

Go for it.



-Kurt

I'm really feeling good with the guidance guys thanks. Kurt, the part that is giving me a little grief in the search is my location. Being in Canada, I only get to try Ukes up to around $600. I know I like the tenor size, I have tried that but a lot I am basing my search on comes down to hearing them played online, UU reviews, blogs and what pleases my eye. I do know that every time I hear something that sounds amazing, I end up finding out it was a Hawaiian made Koa Tenor. Usually a Kamaka or a Kanile'a. Pretty hard to get my hands on up here.

I'd buy the Kanilea K-1T UV Premium Tenor Ukulele right now based on my research, but I still need some more education.

allanr
04-21-2013, 11:05 AM
My standard advice to anybody contemplating taking up any musical instrument is simple...buy absolutely the best instrument you can afford. That doesn't necessarily mean a lot of showy bling (that's just a matter of personal taste). But, quality will out in a musical instrument - as a beginner you really will learn faster, play better, and be inspired to play more often when you have a really good instrument.

You do not have to "play well enough to justify" an instrument...an instrument needs to be good enough to justify your spending valuable time with it.

Whenever parents ask me to help them choose an instrument (usually guitar because I have a longer history with those) I always ask them the same thing: "Do you want your kid to fall in love with music and become a very good player and maybe even one day a rock star, or are you hoping they'll soon lose interest in this silliness and become a doctor or lawyer or something practical like that?"

They think I'm kidding, but I'm serious. I tell them if you want them to love music and playing, get them the best instrument that you can afford. If you are hoping they'll lose interest, buy them the cheapest piece of junk you can find advertised as "perfect for beginners." :)

John

This sounds great to other musicians, but is not really helpful to most beginners. Especially those who might buy MUCH more instrument than they need to begin playing. It's could be like telling a parent to buy a Ferrari if they expect their kid to be a good driver.

If you really want to be helpful, take them shopping yourself. Show them what to look for, what to listen for, and what makes some instruments cost so much more than others.

In a nutshell, yes, buy the best instrument you can afford - but one that allows you to move up when your ready... or sell without heartbreak and tears if you don't connect.

The Big Kahuna
04-21-2013, 11:09 AM
I'd buy the Kanilea K-1T UV Premium Tenor Ukulele right now based on my research, but I still need some more education.

I bought one of those in Kauai after only a few months playing. I'm trying to think of a reason why you shouldn't just ask Andy, MGM, Aaron and Corey at HMS to pick the best looking/sounding one that they have, set it up and then mail it to you.

Nope, still can't think of a reason. Go on, you know you want to :)

Trinimon
04-21-2013, 11:13 AM
Usually a Kamaka or a Kanile'a. Pretty hard to get my hands on up here.

I'd buy the Kanilea K-1T UV Premium Tenor Ukulele right now based on my research, but I still need some more education.

Broadway Music in Orangeville is a Kanilea dealer. Not sure if they have anything at the moment but they can bring one up for you BUT the drawback is that you might not have much options on choosing wood grain or sound testing. The other option is to check out a reputable online reseller like Hawaii Music Supply.

kvehe
04-21-2013, 11:15 AM
I don't think John's advice is unhelpful, but it doesn't apply to all instruments (yes, I know, we're not talking about all instruments here, we're talking about ukes). For example, in the flute world the "beginner" flutes are more forgiving and easier to start out on than the more expensive ones. A beginner might have a very tough go with a $ 5000 Miyazawa, but get along fine (at first, anyway) with a $ 500 student-model Pearl. (Yet another reason I like ukes. Imagine if a Dolphin or Kala KA-S were $ 500! How many uke players would there be???)

UkeKiddinMe
04-21-2013, 11:18 AM
Give
http://zenukes.com/
a chance.

mm stan
04-21-2013, 11:19 AM
Yes good advice given here....since you said you have the budget..get the best you can afford...It's not only a better sounding and asthetics but also a more better comfort,tone and playabilty
you've got to enjoy what you play, to play more and get creative and motivated.... a better instrument might not directly make you better instantly, but it will encourage to make you play
more to become a better player... plus you eliminate going through the process of having all the upgrades that in the long run may cost even more and a house full of sub par ukes later
on when you get better...many of us then develop I can't get rid of this because I gotten attached and it has a sentimental value senerio....when buying online, call them and ask them
to play it for you on the phone...and always buy from a reputable uke store...I suggest HMS....you might pay more, but they will stand behind their instruments and give you something
to play rather than be a dust collector....if it dont sound good, no matter whay you pay...you've wasted your money, intrest and time....get it right the first time...Good Luck and Happy Strummings

UkeKiddinMe
04-21-2013, 12:06 PM
:cool::D:cool:
I don't think John's advice is unhelpful, but it doesn't apply to all instruments (yes, I know, we're not talking about all instruments here, we're talking about ukes). For example, in the flute world the "beginner" flutes are more forgiving and easier to start out on than the more expensive ones. A beginner might have a very tough go with a $ 5000 Miyazawa, but get along fine (at first, anyway) with a $ 500 student-model Pearl. (Yet another reason I like ukes. Imagine if a Dolphin or Kala KA-S were $ 500! How many uke players would there be???)

gyosh
04-21-2013, 01:55 PM
You know I've changed my mine from my initial response. I still feel you should buy the best you can afford but then you should send it to me for safe keeping and to break it in for you. You keep playing the Kala and when you feel ready and worthy of the instrument, send me an email and I'll send it back to you.

Sound like a good plan?






You've got a lot of good advice here, from a ton of experience.

Happy hunting for that perfect-for-you uke!!! :)

BIGDB
04-21-2013, 02:18 PM
I always thought its good to get a high quality instrument even if you've barley been playing if you enjoy playing and and plan on learning I'd do it

Tonya
04-21-2013, 03:53 PM
I'll address the "I don't want to be the uber-equipped skier on the bunny hill" concern. Umm, that's me in the ukulele world.

After eight or nine years with a couple of quite nice instruments, I still play pretty beginner-like. Yep, I'm pretty sure some uke folks must roll their eyes when see me pull out my Moore Bettah and then proceed to definitely *not* nail any song with any great ability--but nobody I've met (27 uke festivals and counting) ever makes me feel like I don't deserve the instrument. Plus, I always let anyone play my ukuleles who wants to--and it's a good way for at least *some* great playing to be deposited in the koa grain!

In short, with ukulele players, it just doesn't seem as if anyone begrudges anyone else's nice ukulele. So follow your heart and get what you want.

Dan Uke
04-21-2013, 04:04 PM
Buy the best you can and don't look back!!

UkeKiddinMe
04-21-2013, 04:06 PM
Which, basically, is what I used to tell people about computers back when I sold/did tech support on them.

What I would say about a uke is: Try a lot. All price ranges. Buy the best sounding/feeling instrument that you can afford. A simple modification to what John said, but if you can afford a $1500 instrument, but find that there are a bunch of $800 instruments that just feel/sound better to you, choose from that group.

Yes, I've got a KoAloha Sceptre. I played every non-vintage instrument at Ukulele Source, and never looked at the price tags. The one that picked me wasn't the most expensive, nor the least by any means, but the feel, the sound, the responsiveness of the instrument was overwhelming. It was also more than I had budgeted, so I didn't choose anything.

I slept on it, and my wife and mother-in-law decided I should get it, so I called Smiley the next day, telling him I would be by to pick it up, and he held it for me.

I had been playing for about 7 months at that time, and had 7 ukuleles. I now have 13, with 2 more on the way, after about 2-1/2 years of playing.

Go for it.



-Kurt

13? I guess I can not feel too guilty about having my second on the way - after about a month and a half. :)

Capital district. Any clubs there?

OldePhart
04-21-2013, 04:10 PM
I don't think John's advice is unhelpful, but it doesn't apply to all instruments (yes, I know, we're not talking about all instruments here, we're talking about ukes). For example, in the flute world the "beginner" flutes are more forgiving and easier to start out on than the more expensive ones. A beginner might have a very tough go with a $ 5000 Miyazawa, but get along fine (at first, anyway) with a $ 500 student-model Pearl. (Yet another reason I like ukes. Imagine if a Dolphin or Kala KA-S were $ 500! How many uke players would there be???)

Well...I admit...most of my experience is with stringed instruments. And, I know that with some instruments a beginner really can damage them by playing improperly (ruining the reed plate of a harmonica while learning to bend is a pretty common occurrence and "good" harmonicas are more easily damaged than cheap ones). But, even in the case you cite (I know nothing about "real flutes" I only have NAFs) would you rather have a beginner on that $5k Miyazawa or a $100 Chinese eBay special? I bet that even if those expensive flutes are a little more difficult to play a beginner would still be better off starting on one of those than on eBay junk!

I know a couple of folks in the music-store business and every school year they are flat-out inundated with crappy unplayable band instruments that parents bought on eBay for peanuts, then the music teacher rejects them and says they need repair and adjustment to be made playable, and then those parents get angry at the music store for having the nerve to charge them a living wage for repairs to something that wasn't worth buying in the first place. That's the sort of scenario I'm trying to avoid with my advice to parents. A few years ago I happened to be in that music store when a parent was fuming about a repair bill that was less than a hundred dollars on a POC horn they'd gotten off eBay. The woman kept screeching that she was being robbed, that they were charging her more than she paid for it. After paying the bill and illustrating a stunning lack of vocabulary she stormed out and burned rubber out of the parking lot in her European luxury car (Mercedes, if I remember right, but it's been a few years, it might have been a BMW).

After she left my friend in the store told me all the work his repair guy had to do to make the horn playable and he'd clearly taken a loss on the repairs. He said he'd done it for so little because the lady had seemed nice and her kid grief-stricken when they'd first brought the horn in. He doesn't even touch instrument repairs for eBay specials, now.

John

OldePhart
04-21-2013, 04:12 PM
You know I've changed my mine from my initial response. I still feel you should buy the best you can afford but then you should send it to me for safe keeping and to break it in for you. You keep playing the Kala and when you feel ready and worthy of the instrument, send me an email and I'll send it back to you.


That's what I love about the ukulele community. Everyone bends over backwards to be helpful... :biglaugh:

John

OldePhart
04-21-2013, 04:20 PM
If you really want to be helpful, take them shopping yourself. Show them what to look for, what to listen for, and what makes some instruments cost so much more than others.

Actually, I've done just that many times. I've also set up dozens of guitars over the years for free and in most cases shown the kid what I was doing and why (mostly electrics 'cause those are dead simple compared to most acoustics). I never will forget the kid with the Ibanez with a Floyd Rose tremolo (gosh what a pain in the arse those things are). Anyway, he'd let his buddy who was an "expert" set it up for him - his buddy lined up all the saddles so they were in a straight line and adjusted the pickups so high they were almost touching the strings. LOL

John

Katz-in-Boots
04-21-2013, 11:55 PM
...I make a comfortable living and take great care of my things, but would it be completely asinine of me to drop 1000-1500 on a Hawaiian Koa Tenor as a rookie player? I'm not worried about the love affair ending, I'm not worried about the financial side, I'm more curious as to the practicality side. Hell if I lost both my arms, I'd be content to hang it on the wall just to stare at.
... I don't want to be "THAT guy". :cool:


Go ahead and be that guy. Ukers don't judge too much and a grand is not too extravagant for a good ukulele. In the long run it's cheaper because you haven't acquired 2 or 3 "gateway instruments" while you're getting warmed up. Enjoy it.

I am that guy, uh girl. I bought two x 'gateway' instruments & found myself contemplating two more, before I realised I should just go for what I want. I was lucky to get 2 x K brands, a Kanilea from the UU marketplace and a KoAloha from ebay. All within 3 months of getting my first Lanikai. Definitely more money than talent at this time and I don't care. I love my ukuleles, they give me such pleasure and sound so good. GO for it!!!

kvehe
04-22-2013, 12:39 AM
Yep, absolutely, $ 100 Chinese FSOs are a "whole nother ball game".

Jon Moody
04-22-2013, 01:24 AM
I haven't read all five pages, but as a working musician, I always try to recommend that you get the instrument that makes you want to play, and play on a very regular basis, regardless of the price tag. When you are beginning, you may or may not have the skills or technique to fully appreciate a high-end instrument; that's no reason not to get it. However, the biggest downside I could see in your position is that after playing only four months, you still may not know exactly what you like in an instrument and as such, may buy a high end instrument that, while it's very nice and well made, doesn't inspire you to pick it up all the time and play it.

My advice would be to play as many ukes as you can in various pricetags, if this is possible. By that, you're trying out different woods, styles, etc. so that you can start creating a mental list of "This is what I like" and "This is what I don't care for." That way you're better equipped to find a high end uke that fits your personal and musical needs over just buying one to do it.

Appalachian picker
04-22-2013, 04:14 AM
I'm sure we all know people that have started some sort of avocation like playing music and after a brief or even lengthy period of time gave it up for whatever reason. That in my mind is the only downside, but even then a portion of your "investment" could be recouped. (Given recent prices in the UU Marketplace, all but the very highest end ukes seem to lose a little of their dollar value at resale.)

Besides, ukuleles, even the most expensive, are relatively inexpensive. Consider the guy down the street from me who has a teenaged son that is a budding bicycle racing stud. He wants a bicycle that is on the NORTH end of $10,000 with additional sets of $3,000 wheels just for training. Not to mention the expensive technical clothing, helmets, shoes, traveling to bike races etc etc. Or my wife with her horse addiction. Not only did the horse cost more than a few thousand dollars, but we had to get a $20,000 trailer and an upgraded pick-up to pull it, then there's the cost of boarding and feed, and the saddles...well I think you get the picture.

Go for it already!

-Emma-
04-22-2013, 05:02 AM
I'm a beginner and recently bought a Kamaka HF-2+ and I don't regret buying it at all. My first uke that I started out playing was a Fender laminate Koa, and there is a big difference in the sound of my inexpensive uke in comparison to my Kamaka. The kamaka sounds so much fuller and richer in comparison to my fender uke.

If you find a uke that you really want to buy and you can afford it, then go for it. Life is too short!

I was thinking the other day how people go and spend fortunes on gadgets. A top of the line iPhone here in Australia is $999 and nobody would bat an eyelid if you said you'd bought an iphone. But you could spend a similar amount and get yourself a Hawaiian made Koa uke for that kind of money.

sukie
04-22-2013, 05:19 AM
I believe it is your money and will be your ukulele. Buy exactly what you want.

I like a nice ukulele myself. It makes me want to play more. And I sound better than I would on a crappy one. Which is not to say a crappy one can't sound good. Jake played my first ukulele. He made it sing. Can I? No.

26tiki
04-22-2013, 05:25 AM
Go for it! The feel and sound of a 'better' uke encourages you to play. As for wear and tear, ukuleles are made to be played! I would much rather have a coupla dings and knocks than not have had the pleasure of playing them;)

AirCanuck
04-22-2013, 05:59 AM
The kind responses have been overwhelming guys, this is a great education. For what its worth, this Uke is currently on my radar:

http://www.hawaiianukuleleonline.com/kanilea-prem-tenor-ukulele.html

My most sincere appreciation!

Neil

kvehe
04-22-2013, 06:55 AM
It's beautiful! I love the contrast.

Show us pix when it arrives. :D:D:D

LOL. Not that we're pressuring you to buy it or anything...... :drool:

OldePhart
04-22-2013, 07:24 AM
The kind responses have been overwhelming guys, this is a great education. For what its worth, this Uke is currently on my radar:

http://www.hawaiianukuleleonline.com/kanilea-prem-tenor-ukulele.html

My most sincere appreciation!

Neil

Yep...just about impossible to go wrong with one of those! :)

John

Stevelele
04-22-2013, 07:39 AM
The advice I'd give you is a little bit different from what most have said. I would be all for buying the best you can afford, but the problem is, since you are a beginner, you don't know yet what you'll consider 'best'. It's true that our tastes may continue to evolve and change, even after we're experienced, but I do think there is a good chance that you won't know what you like until you've had a chance to play for a little while. It took me a while, for example, to determine that I really like radiused fretboards, and that I need 14 frets to the body and that certain tones, although I can appreciate them, aren't for me. If I had a really limited budget and knew I could only buy one really nice ukulele, I'm not sure I would have been best served by spending it all at the outset. The best thing for you to do is to try them out as much as you can. But if that is not possible, you ought to work with a vendor, like Hawaiian Music Supply (www.theukulelesite.com) that will help you pinpoint what you're looking for and that has a good return policy. Good luck!

The Big Kahuna
04-22-2013, 07:53 AM
The kind responses have been overwhelming guys, this is a great education. For what its worth, this Uke is currently on my radar:

http://www.hawaiianukuleleonline.com/kanilea-prem-tenor-ukulele.html

My most sincere appreciation!

Neil

Yay! Buy that and we can be Kanile'a buddies:

http://www.thebigkahuna.co.uk/kanilea.jpg

If you're planning on buying it from a store on Oahu, and you're expecting to pay around $ 1300 to $ 1400, then buy it from HMS. The same price, their famous setup and one of the best reputations for customer service in the business.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/

AirCanuck
04-22-2013, 08:02 AM
I just sent an a message to the ukulelesite, thanks for the referrals guys. Maybe you guys can score some referral bonuses out of it :o

The Big Kahuna
04-22-2013, 08:03 AM
The UU member AndrewKuker is the owner.

Kayak Jim
04-22-2013, 09:46 AM
Broadway Music in Orangeville is a Kanilea dealer. Not sure if they have anything at the moment but they can bring one up for you BUT the drawback is that you might not have much options on choosing wood grain or sound testing. The other option is to check out a reputable online reseller like Hawaii Music Supply.

I was at Broadway for the first time on Friday and they had a couple of Kanileas, a long neck concert and a tenor (and sweet little put-away-new 1971 Kamaka soprano). Neither were premium's if I recall but you could get a general feel of them (if not mistaken, the Kanileas have a wider neck?).

I'm in about the same boat as you but plan to stick with my Mainlands for now, and within a year or so make a trip to HMS so I can try before I buy.

Shastastan
04-22-2013, 09:51 AM
Since I'm a rookie, I don't feel qualified to tell you which uke to buy. However, I'm an experienced trumpet player and I can say that playing a "quality" as opposed to "cheap" instrument is a real pleasure. As to damages/dings, the more you play it, the greater the chance for dings, etc.. However, you aren't buying it to just let it set in the case, you want to play as much as your enjoyment of it allows. You are fortunate to be able to play a nice instrument. Go for it! I'm not rich, but I didn't buy the cheapest uke I could find when I started. I'm also very fortunate to have what I do and I have no regrets with starting out with good ukes either.

mm stan
04-22-2013, 02:24 PM
the only way you know if it's the uke is right for you is that you like to play it alot because it is comfortable to play, sounds good and you pick it up everytime...happy strummings.
takes time to find the right one....beauty is secondary...ALWAYS :)

AirCanuck
04-22-2013, 04:59 PM
Head, been trying to do my research, got a lot of great feedback from you guys

Heart, yea its into it

Gut, Andrew at the Ukesite felt like the right fit

Head, Heart and Gut check passed...and voila:

52177

Newportlocal
04-22-2013, 05:01 PM
Congratulations on the new uke!

gyosh
04-22-2013, 05:02 PM
Head, been trying to do my research, got a lot of great feedback from you guys

Heart, yea its into it

Gut, Andrew at the Ukesite felt like the right fit

Head, Heart and Gut check passed...and voila:

52177

Very nice!

I'll pm you with my address so it'll be ready when you are :biglaugh:

mm stan
04-22-2013, 05:42 PM
Congrats on your new kanilea...it looks real sweet....Please update us how it sounds....Happy strummings..

Nickie
04-22-2013, 05:56 PM
Beautiful! I wanna go to Hawaii and get one!

Stevelele
04-22-2013, 06:31 PM
awesome! congratulations--that looks fabulous. And if Andrew vouches for it, you can be sure it is great!


Head, been trying to do my research, got a lot of great feedback from you guys

Heart, yea its into it

Gut, Andrew at the Ukesite felt like the right fit

Head, Heart and Gut check passed...and voila:

52177

hawaii 50
04-22-2013, 07:06 PM
nice Kanile'a..congrats
can't go wrong with Andrew and MGM at The Ukulele Site(aka HMS)
the Koa is really nice looking!

Trinimon
04-22-2013, 07:32 PM
Sweet uke! Congrats! Now the waiting begins... lol

-Emma-
04-23-2013, 03:05 AM
Congratulations! :)

kvehe
04-23-2013, 03:23 AM
This is great! So excited for you!

iDavid
04-23-2013, 03:34 AM
Kanile'a is a great choice. I found the Southcoast Strings work really well on it. It is one uke that can be strung with a high or low-g and sound great either way. When I got mine a few years back, it did not impress me all that much to begin with. A few weeks later it really sang. I bought straight from Joe at Kanile'a and he told me to give it a bit of time and he was so right.

You will really enjoy this uke.

kirbo
04-23-2013, 04:01 AM
I thought my UAS had gone into remission, but after reading through this thread, it's back.

OldePhart
04-23-2013, 04:09 AM
Head, been trying to do my research, got a lot of great feedback from you guys

Heart, yea its into it

Gut, Andrew at the Ukesite felt like the right fit

Head, Heart and Gut check passed...and voila:

52177

Super - that's a beauty and almost certainly plays like butter.

John

tigersister
04-23-2013, 08:31 AM
It's gorgeous! Well wishes for many moments of merry music making with your Kanilea. I think you'll really enjoy it.

AirCanuck
04-23-2013, 09:27 AM
It's gorgeous! Well wished for many moments of merry music making with your Kanilea. I think you'll really enjoy it.

8 pages of good will and guidance, this is such a great community. Thank you all so much for making me feel at ease with the move forward.

I have the overwhelming urge to jump in a plane and intercept my uke wherever it is at this point!

sukie
04-23-2013, 10:14 AM
You can't go get it. You must pace the carpet and wear out a path in it. Maybe call in sick on delivery day. The anticipation is the almost best part.

It's lovely. Congrats.

AirCanuck
04-23-2013, 10:20 AM
You can't go get it.

Now you tell me, thanks for nothin' guys. :p

AirCanuck
04-27-2013, 03:06 AM
The day has come and so has my new Kanilea to Canada! The toughest part was, that it came so quickly and I was away flying for 2 days so it actually waited for me. As advertised, Adam from http://www.theukulelesite.com was incredible; he set me up with an incredible instrument that I fell in love with after a few strums. I opened the case and played through lessons for 4 hours!

So to put this topic to bed, now, I will tell you that a beginner would definitely benefit from a higher-end ukulele. Definitely get the best instrument you can afford. I feel like I am learning a lot more from it because it rewards you with a beautiful sound when you do things correctly, and you still know when you're messing something up. Definitely a solid investment that put a smile on my face. I am a happy canuck with my canuckelele!

mm stan
04-27-2013, 04:28 AM
Congratulations Air Canuck...happy strummings...please do not fly the plane and play...have fun and enjoy though...:)

teruterubouzu
04-27-2013, 04:39 AM
Congratulations! That is one purty uke.

Trinimon
04-27-2013, 07:38 AM
Congrats! Hows the finger tips on your fretting hand doing? :)

AirCanuck
04-27-2013, 07:49 AM
Congrats! Hows the finger tips on your fretting hand doing? :)

They are completely RAW...you knew that didn't ya?

UkeKiddinMe
04-27-2013, 08:05 AM
That's my problem, too.

My practice is not limited, these days anyway, by energy, time or desire.
It's limited by - my sore finger tips.

UkeKiddinMe
04-27-2013, 08:07 AM
So, now that you have that beautiful uke, you have heard, haven't you, that we all need at Least two, so that you always have a stable tuned uke if you change strings on one.

So, when are you getting the second? :D

AirCanuck
05-12-2013, 03:23 AM
When I get a lot more proficient with my playing, we'll think about it.

That looks like something my wife would say. Let's run with that!

7warriorlion
05-12-2013, 11:18 AM
I've been taking lessons for approximately 4 months, but I have always loved the Uke, Hawaiian music, and the culture. I simply love the sound of the Koa Tenors, it honestly puts a smile on my face and I believe they are a work of art. I could spend 4-5 hours per day just uking around when my time is truly my own.

I make a comfortable living and take great care of my things, but would it be completely asinine of me to drop 1000-1500 on a Hawaiian Koa Tenor as a rookie player? I'm not worried about the love affair ending, I'm not worried about the financial side, I'm more curious as to the practicality side. Hell if I lost both my arms, I'd be content to hang it on the wall just to stare at.

I don't want to be the 16 year old with the sports car, or the over equipped skier on the bunny hill...you know the types, I don't want to be "THAT guy". :cool:

Thanks ukers!
So, what do you look for if you’re in the market for a ukulele?

“You want one that inspires you to play,” said Jake Shimabukuro, whose 2011 album, “Peace, Love, Ukulele” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard World Music charts. “It’s got to be comfortable, it’s got to be easy on your fingers and you have to feel like ‘this feels real good.’ Because then you’ll always be inspired to pick it up and practice.”

His advice is to spend a little extra to get the instrument you really love.

“Then you’re really going to respect the instrument and you’re gonna want to pick it up, you’re gonna want to show it to people, you’re gonna want to play it all the time and check on it and wipe it down after you’re done playing. I think it’s important to have that kind of bond with your instrument.”

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/music/2013-03-15/story/what-look-if-you-want-buy-ukulele#ixzz2T6ybZWMT
http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/music/2013-03-15/story/what-look-if-you-want-buy-ukulele

UkeKiddinMe
05-12-2013, 11:34 AM
Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/music/2013-03-15/story/what-look-if-you-want-buy-ukulele#ixzz2T6ybZWMT


I liked that article until I read this:

Fuller said there are three basic types of ukuleles, the soprano, the concert and the tenor.


Aw, cmon. [baritone player here - is my instrument not a Real uke? ;) ]

Keef
05-21-2013, 03:09 AM
my first uke was a KoAloha Secptre Tenor I know I should love it but I never play it and it costs alot
the uke I play all the time was given to me for Free and and seems to be a perfect match for me its a koa pili koko pineapple uke
price means nothing shop with your ears

Tootler
05-21-2013, 02:33 PM
I liked that article until I read this:


Fuller said there are three basic types of ukuleles, the soprano, the concert and the tenor.

Aw, cmon. [baritone player here - is my instrument not a Real uke? ;) ]

Naaa! It's a scaled down tenor guitar :nana:

equina
05-23-2013, 05:50 AM
I liked that article until I read this:


Aw, cmon. [baritone player here - is my instrument not a Real uke? ;) ]

Oh, it is a Real uke alright... just that it's a SPECIALTY uke--together with bass ukes, taropatches, and guitaleles--ukes that many mere mortals do not play; ukes that only uke aficionados play :)

willisoften
05-25-2013, 09:31 PM
To quote other people, and possibly repeat myself:
"buy cheap and you buy twice"

"quality is appreciated long after the price is forgotten"

More originally - my kiwaya kts 5 gives me a thrill of pleasure just opening damn the case, it's beatiful.

Finally to quote my father " Sure enough, the bank will keep your money all tidy, even when they're screwin' down your lid".

OldePhart
05-26-2013, 09:43 AM
Finally to quote my father " Sure enough, the bank will keep your money all tidy, even when they're screwin' down your lid".

Ooooh, that one's good enough I might steal it for my sig when you're not looking... :)

Johnnies Boy
05-29-2013, 03:05 PM
I figure why not learn to play on a good instrument. You learn good technique from the start instead of having to overcome the bad habits picked up from playing a cheap toy. I admit, I tend to go a little overboard when I pick up something new but WTH if I have a good piece of equipment that I dont use I can probably resell it. Go for the good stuff. Life's too short to play with cheap tools.

AirCanuck
05-30-2013, 03:10 AM
I'd say your advice has been validated, I do not regret purchasing my Koa Beauty!