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BIGDB
06-15-2013, 11:28 AM
Hello, Im wondering what you would do if you were me. So I've been playing for a year and a half and love playing so I put a deposit on a custom pretty fast and the wait time was about 8 months. So after waiting that long time I got it and was disappointed and it had a defect so I returned it. So If you were me would you put another deposit on a custom and wait the long wait list that most brands have? Would you buy a production brand like kanilea or kamaka? Or would you buy a used custom?

Thanks

bborzell
06-15-2013, 12:09 PM
There are a lot of custom builders and some deliver instruments that appear flawless and some don't. I have several mandolins including two customs. My most satisfying mandolin is an Eastman. It cost about the same as he customs, but the final finish and quality control on the production Eastman is superior to the customs. Sound quality on all three is comparable.

Of my two serious ukes, one is custom and the other production. While I really prefer the custom, the production Pono is flawless and plays and sounds beautifully. Depending upon who you order a custom from, you might have a higher probability of ending up with something that you are satisfied with if you try a few higher end production models and knowing what you will end up with when you take it home.

Doc_J
06-15-2013, 12:27 PM
Hello, Im wondering what you would do if you were me. So I've been playing for a year and a half and love playing so I put a deposit on a custom pretty fast and the wait time was about 8 months. So after waiting that long time I got it and was disappointed and it had a defect so I returned it. So If you were me would you put another deposit on a custom and wait the long wait list that most brands have? Would you buy a production brand like kanilea or kamaka? Or would you buy a used custom?

Thanks

Sorry to hear of a disappointing build experience.

Lots of good custom builders around. But, I've never been disappointed with Kanile'a. If you got the $ buy new from HMS or a good uke store near you, they'll make sure you are satisfied and help you get the right uke.

jwieties
06-15-2013, 12:27 PM
Some enjoy the hunt and some like to play an instrument for a while and move on. Others are looking for that one instrument that makes them forget all others. If you like to experiment, and have resources, don't be afraid to try a uke (used, bought from a dealer or custom) and be comfortable with the idea that you might move it along at some point in the future.

If you you know exactly what you expect in terms of craftsmanship and tone, you are best off going to a shop with a fair number of high end ukes and being patient until you find it.

Also, there are a fair number of builders who build spec ukes and list them for sale. I always think these are great. Generally the builder is building what they want how they want.

I went through so many guitars until I ended up with a Martin 00-18v. Now I never even think about buying another guitar. However I'm glad I got to own and play as many as I did. Kind of in the same place with my ukes right now, but there are just too many cool and reasonable priced ukes.

Good luck.

OldePhart
06-15-2013, 12:33 PM
In my opinion one of the high end Hawaiian ukes (Kanilea, KoAloha, etc.) is simply a safer bet at the price point. While some of the individual custom builders working around that price point have produced stunning work it seems to me that the consistency isn't always what it should be. I wouldn't buy a custom at that price point or below unless it was already available and I could play it. I realize that most of the builders do offer good guarantees and it's probably rare for people to lose out monetarily unless they choose to accept substandard work - but there is no way to repay the months waiting if you lose at that particular roulette wheel... :)

Now, when you start getting into the rarified atmosphere surrounding some of the top builders (all of whom have long waiting lists and prices considerably above the Hawaiian production ukes) the experience, and thus consistency, seems much better.

I'm proud of you for having the constitution to return the uke. I'm afraid there are an awful lot of people who, after paying lots of money and waiting breathlessly for months for a custom, simply can't admit that it wasn't worth the money or the wait. I suspect there are even more who order a custom without ever having played a really good production uke and don't even have the experience to realize that the custom they received isn't what it should be.

Don't get me wrong, many of the small builders do good work, and some are reasonably consistent. It's just that many of them don't have the track record of years of production to back up their reputations. There is simply more risk involved. I've played some "customs" that were not as good as a typical Kala or Ohana solid wood model. I recently got to play several ukes by one of the smaller builders in a retail shop. They were not terribly expensive - about 50% to 100% above the price of a Mainland or high end Kala or Ohana. They were all good ukes with good attention to aesthetic detail and tasteful bling (abalone rosette, etc.). However, the voicing was only average in my opinion. Not bad, but not significantly better than a good Asian factory uke properly set up. Of course, tone is very subjective, but none of these particular ukes made me feel the least tempted to dig in my wallet for the magic plastic rectangle. :)

John

strumsilly
06-15-2013, 12:54 PM
Sorry to hear of a disappointing build experience.

Lots of good custom builders around. But, I've never been disappointed with Kanile'a. If you got the $ buy new from HMS or a good uke store near you, they'll make sure you are satisfied and help you get the right uke.

yep, they don't get much better in a "production" uke than Kanilea. I love my K-1 tenor. good looking/playing/sounding.

Dan Uke
06-15-2013, 01:01 PM
That's too bad...I wouldn't buy a custom from a newer uke builder unless they have experience in mando or guitar. You can also consider Jason Wolverton who lives in Southern California so you can actually try it out. http://www.jasonwolverton.com/index.php?/available-ukes/un-sospiro-tenor-ukulele/

For $900 or less, I would buy a K brand. Above $900 to $1,400, I would buy a used custom. Above $1,400, I would buy a new custom...this is for tenor sizes for me and just an estimate

strumsilly
06-15-2013, 02:25 PM
That's too bad...I wouldn't buy a custom from a newer uke builder unless they have experience in mando or guitar. You can also consider Jason Wolverton who lives in Southern California so you can actually try it out. http://www.jasonwolverton.com/index.php?/available-ukes/un-sospiro-tenor-ukulele/

For $900 or less, I would buy a K brand. Above $900 to $1,400, I would buy a used custom. Above $1,400, I would buy a new custom...this is for tenor sizes for me and just an estimate

last time I checked, there aren't any Koaloha, Kamaka, or Kanilea tenors new for 900 or less. I know there other K''s, but these 3... used yes.

Dan Uke
06-15-2013, 02:30 PM
last time I checked, there aren't any Koaloha, Kamaka, or Kanilea tenors new for 900 or less. I know there other K''s, but these 3... used yes.

My bad, I meant used...There's many K brands on the used market that I personally wouldn't buy new.

I would have purchased that MP on FMM for $450 shipped but already sold. That guy lives in Anaheim, same city as the 80 year old lady who sold the Kamakas. hahaha

fumanshu
06-15-2013, 02:35 PM
My bad, I meant used...There's many K brands on the used market that I personally wouldn't buy new.

I would have purchased that MP on FMM for $450 shipped but already sold. That guy lives in Anaheim, same city as the 80 year old lady who sold the Kamakas. hahaha

I second that, I'm sure a used MP is always a good buy specially at that price!! I've played and still play with my MP and still love them.


https://soundcloud.com/baouke

BIGDB
06-15-2013, 02:38 PM
Thanks everyone for the great advice so far. What is a MP though?

fumanshu
06-15-2013, 02:43 PM
Thanks everyone for the great advice so far. What is a MP though?

MP ukulele is the brand name of Mike Pereira a ukulele custom builder. He builded for me 4 or 5 customs already and I always like his work....he's also a gentleman to deal with.


https://soundcloud.com/baouke/lady-standby-by-lotus-notes

bborzell
06-15-2013, 02:45 PM
Thanks everyone for the great advice so far. What is a MP though?

The custom I mentioned in my first response is an MP. It is a beautiful build.

janeray1940
06-15-2013, 04:21 PM
The advice others have given to find a shop that has many ukes and just play them is spot on. But I have to ask - what are your reasons for wanting a custom?

I have two factory ukes (Kamakas) and one custom (DaSilva) and honestly - while they are all different, in my opinion they are all of equal high quality. My custom serves a specific purpose - I needed a 19-fret soprano with perfect intonation, and I got one - but had I not needed the extended fretboard, I could have happily gotten by with my two Kamakas. Both of those get played as much as the custom - I love them all equally.

This is not to say that all off the shelf high-end ukes are equally good - they aren't, which is why I went custom in the first place (high end factory 19-fret sopranos do exist, but I couldn't find one with the right sound and with good enough intonation). But if you shop around, you might just find the right one!

As for buying a used custom - I just don't get it unless you are a collector and really want a uke by so-and-so in your collection. I mean, it kind of defeats the purpose - a used custom was made to someone else's specifications, not to yours.

I think you're going to have to make the long journey to McCabe's one of these days, BIGDB :)

BIGDB
06-15-2013, 05:23 PM
The advice others have given to find a shop that has many ukes and just play them is spot on. But I have to ask - what are your reasons for wanting a custom?

I have two factory ukes (Kamakas) and one custom (DaSilva) and honestly - while they are all different, in my opinion they are all of equal high quality. My custom serves a specific purpose - I needed a 19-fret soprano with perfect intonation, and I got one - but had I not needed the extended fretboard, I could have happily gotten by with my two Kamakas. Both of those get played as much as the custom - I love them all equally.

This is not to say that all off the shelf high-end ukes are equally good - they aren't, which is why I went custom in the first place (high end factory 19-fret sopranos do exist, but I couldn't find one with the right sound and with good enough intonation). But if you shop around, you might just find the right one!

As for buying a used custom - I just don't get it unless you are a collector and really want a uke by so-and-so in your collection. I mean, it kind of defeats the purpose - a used custom was made to someone else's specifications, not to yours.

I think you're going to have to make the long journey to McCabe's one of these days, BIGDB :)

There's not really a reason for a custom besdies just having a one of a kind uke but I'm now more leaning toward a factory uke. I've been wanting to go to mccabes and island bazzar for a while its only like a hour away from me. Do they have a good selection of ukes? I'm having a hard time seeing mccabes website on my phone

janeray1940
06-15-2013, 05:39 PM
I'm having a hard time seeing mccabes website on my phone

LOL - McCabe's website isn't exactly optimized for mobile :) Kinda stuck in the 1990s still!

A week or so ago, if I remember correctly there were a few Kamakas and Koalohas, some Kiwayas, Martins, maybe a Collings or two... as well as a constantly changing inventory of vintage ukes, and a whole hallway of lower-end stuff. Stock is a little on the low side right now; I'll check again when I'm there tomorrow and if I see anything stellar I'll be sure to let you know.

Island Bazaar could also be worth a trip, but I'd call first - I've been there when they had so many high end ukes I didn't know where to begin, and I've also been there when it seemed to be nothing but Kalas.

I think you're wise to explore factory ukes before committing to a custom, unless you work with a luthier with a 100% satisfaction policy (they do exist).