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View Full Version : My Dream Uke: To Sell or Not to Sell?????



Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 09:27 AM
Hi, folks! I am having/in a dilemma/predicament: my heart is telling me one thing, my body is telling me one thing, and my mind is telling me one thing...and they're all different!

Herein lies the problem...a month ago, I bought my dream ukulele -- a KoAloha tenor. I always wanted a Hawaiian tenor uke -- I fell in love with this uke the first time I saw her on the HMS web site; I fell even MORE in love with this uke when I heard how this uke sounded after I played her.

Over the past year, I have bought and sold many ukes trying to find "the one" -- you know, the one that has it all -- sound, looks, playability. It has been an interesting journey, but also an expensive one. :-) What I learned along the journey is that (at least for me) playability is crucial and most important, again, for me personally. I also learned that the tenor scale is also where I want to be.

I have been combating wrist/forearm pain along the UAS journey; to help these issues, I've really focused on trying to play relaxed and lightly; I've tried to use better/more correct position while playing; I've learned that having a proper set-up with low action (no buzzing) is paramount; I always play with a strap as well.

Back to the dream uke -- my KoAloha: I've learned a couple of new things here which I didn't realize up until I played this uke. The nut is a wee-bit wider and the neck is slightly thicker than my old tenor, a Kala model. When I played my Kala, my pain issues were non-existent. I have attributed this to the nut width being more narrow and the neck profile being thinner.

Is there such a thing as "shaving down" a uke neck? I had given thought to this and I contacted my local guitar guru to ask. He said yes, it could be done...but, there was some hesitation and what I sensed to be a "but I wouldn't recommend it" coming. He didn't say that, but I did sense some trepidation in his voice.

I asked another knowledgeable uke person and this person said that shaving the neck down would affect the sound of my uke, not in a good way either.

Then, I thought it would be CRAZY to do this to my beautiful KoAloha...which then lead me to the heartbreaking conclusion that I should re-home this amazing uke...my dream uke. And so it was listed here on UU and on FMM.

My heart doesn't want to let go of this uke...but if I am having pain...what else can I do? Should I try to see if a luthier can shave the neck down? I don't want to ruin this beautiful instrument...but I am afraid to keep playing and possibly cause permanent damage to my wrist...and then NO playing period. I am really upset and am looking for helpful advice, suggestions.

One person told me to give my body more time to adjust...makes sense to me, but I thought about how I played other uke brands that had similar nut widths and neck profiles...and those also aggravated my pain. Back then, however, I thought it was due to the smaller concert and soprano scale sizes. In hindsight, perhaps it was just the wider nut width and larger/thicker neck profile.

Sigh...what to do...

Thanks for any support and for taking time to read my story.

CTurner
09-02-2013, 09:40 AM
I will suggest a difficult thing: don't play the uke for 48 hours. Then pick it up and play very easily for no more than ten minutes. How does it feel in your arm, hand and fingers? For the next few days, don't play more than 10 to 15 minutes a day. Then, and only if there is no pain, you very gradually lengthen your sessions up to 20 or 25 minutes. Even better, don't play for more than ten to 15 minutes at a time. Force yourself to take at least a five minute break (better ten minute break) between sessions in one day.
Are your shoulders really relaxed and loose? Can you shake your hands and arms and shoulders in a really relaxed and loosey-goosey way for at least a minute and feel relaxed? (This is a good relaxation for the hands and fingers and you should do it a lot).
It is possible that the uke is just different enough in construction and measurements that you need to adjust. Little changes in finger/hand/wrist angles can mean a lot!
I hope this can help!

Patrick Madsen
09-02-2013, 09:48 AM
I have shoulder and wrist challenges also. I've found a thin, low actioned RADIUSED neck really helps bigtime. The type of shape also makes a difference. I like a C shaped neck over the D shaped neck for comfort. I'm having the neck shaved down on my Griffin by Brian as we speak. He didn't feel it was a big deal to do it. Should be ready this weekend.

IMO, the wider width and thicker neck and flat fretboard is compunding your problems. I've found a radiused, thinner neck is key. Brian Griffin has been concentrating on making his necks much thinner and with a really nice radius. You could check him out as he is just starting up three new tenors and I trust would make you one to your specs or possibly shave yours. He's in Bellingham, Wa.http://www.griffinukuleles.com/index.html

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 09:55 AM
I will suggest a difficult thing: don't play the uke for 48 hours. Then pick it up and play very easily for no more than ten minutes. How does it feel in your arm, hand and fingers? For the next few days, don't play more than 10 to 15 minutes a day. Then, and only if there is no pain, you very gradually lengthen your sessions up to 20 or 25 minutes. Even better, don't play for more than ten to 15 minutes at a time. Force yourself to take at least a five minute break (better ten minute break) between sessions in one day.
Are your shoulders really relaxed and loose? Can you shake your hands and arms and shoulders in a really relaxed and loosey-goosey way for at least a minute and feel relaxed? (This is a good relaxation for the hands and fingers and you should do it a lot).
It is possible that the uke is just different enough in construction and measurements that you need to adjust. Little changes in finger/hand/wrist angles can mean a lot!
I hope this can help!

Hi, Craig! Thank you so much -- this is awesome advice! Ok, so a bit more: after the MM picnic, I actually took a whole week off from playing because my pain was really bothering me. Then, the next time that I played, I played 20 minutes and I did have pain. I played the next day, again, 20 minutes (no breaks, but just light playing -easy things so I could stay relaxed...yep, pain. The pain wasn't as bad as it has been in the past, but it was still there. I haven't played since...that was about five or so days ago. In the past, when I had really bad flare-ups, I rested for a week and I'd feel better. But, I did go back to playing 45-60 minutes or even longer. I also do a lot of manual labor, which also aggravates things...I've had to make adjustments there as such to compensate as well (lighter tools, less time spent doing the work by hiring someone to help me from time to time).

Dan Uke
09-02-2013, 09:59 AM
Sounds like you need to get a smaller width, radius fretboard, and it seems like you like the brighter uke...get a Mya Moe!

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 09:59 AM
I have shoulder and wrist challenges also. I've found a thin, low actioned RADIUSED neck really helps bigtime. The type of shape also makes a difference. I like a C shaped neck over the D shaped neck for comfort. I'm having the neck shaved down on my Griffin by Brian as we speak. He didn't feel it was a big deal to do it. Should be ready this weekend.

IMO, the wider width and thicker neck and flat fretboard is compunding your problems. I've found a radiused, thinner neck is key. Brian Griffin has been concentrating on making his necks much thinner and with a really nice radius. You could check him out as he is just starting up three new tenors and I trust would make you one to your specs or possibly shave yours. He's in Bellingham, Wa.http://www.griffinukuleles.com/index.html

Hi, Patrick! Thanks for checking in and for your help, too -- yes, yes -- I have also wondered about the radiused fretboard in addition to the thinner neck and more narrow nut. Brian would be an excellent resource on this, I agree! I'll have to contact him, for sure, to see what his thoughts are! Thanks, again, for your help!

connor013
09-02-2013, 10:02 AM
What a bummer.

Craig gives good advice on this one, but I think I'm with Patrick: it may be worthwhile to find/make a thinner neck. You could call up KoAloha and see if they're up for it, or you could check out some of the excellent builders known for thinner neck profiles. Loprinzi immediately comes to mind -- they're excellent instruments, and they have the thinnest, fastest neck I've played.

Good luck.

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 10:02 AM
Sounds like you need to get a smaller width, radius fretboard, and it seems like you like the brighter uke...get a Mya Moe!

Hi, nongdam! Yes, I have thought about the MM, too! I hear (read!) people swear by how comfy they are to play! Thanks for your comments!

The Great Bedini
09-02-2013, 10:12 AM
On loPrinzis, you are right, the neck is amazing, slim and fast. They are sort of the Taylor of the Uke world for necks. I'm lucky, I play everything from acoustic guitar to strat to electric bass to 3 different ukes (including my Loprinzi) and haven't had any problems, except for arthritis, old age, and lack of talent.

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 10:15 AM
What a bummer.

Craig gives good advice on this one, but I think I'm with Patrick: it may be worthwhile to find/make a thinner neck. You could call up KoAloha and see if they're up for it, or you could check out some of the excellent builders known for thinner neck profiles. Loprinzi immediately comes to mind -- they're excellent instruments, and they have the thinnest, fastest neck I've played.

Good luck.

Thanks so much, connor013 -- I appreciate your feedback a lot -- another UU 'er, and some other folks, mentioned LoPrinzi to me as well. You're right, too, that this situation is a bummer -- I am so glad I put up this thread -- it is helping me a great deal to sort through things.

cantsing
09-02-2013, 10:15 AM
It sounds to me like you've diagnosed the problem and have already made a very, very difficult decision to sell. I know how excited you were when you got this incredible uke, so coming to terms with this problem and then deciding to sell must have been very hard. Pain is nothing to fool around with--like you said, you don't want to do permanent damage--so I think you are making the right decision to move on.

Did you get to play a MM at the picnic? They are attending a couple of ukulele festivals in Washington/Oregon in September, so maybe you can catch up with them and see how you like a radiused fretboard.

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 10:18 AM
On loPrinzis, you are right, the neck is amazing, slim and fast. They are sort of the Taylor of the Uke world for necks. I'm lucky, I play everything from acoustic guitar to strat to electric bass to 3 different ukes (including my Loprinzi) and haven't had any problems, except for arthritis, old age, and lack of talent.

Thanks for your comments, The Great Bedini! I do think part of my problem is age -- I've also had a bit of arthritis, too. For sure, I am lacking in the talent area, but I try nonetheless! :-)

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 10:22 AM
It sounds to me like you've diagnosed the problem and have already made a very, very difficult decision to sell. I know how excited you were when you got this incredible uke, so coming to terms with this problem and then deciding to sell must have been very hard. Pain is nothing to fool around with--like you said, you don't want to do permanent damage--so I think you are making the right decision to move on.

Did you get to play a MM at the picnic? They are attending a couple of ukulele festivals in Washington/Oregon in September, so maybe you can catch up with them and see how you like a radiused fretboard.

Hi, cantsing! You are so understanding, thank you, it is very hard for me. I am kicking myself over it, because I didn't try out a MM at the picnic -- I should have! I will see about catching up again with them soon as I do live near the Seattle area. I am so curious about that radiused fretboard!

Radio Flyer
09-02-2013, 10:22 AM
which is more important to you, playing the uke or having a beautiful uke? both would be the best, and you've got both! just not together. kala is a very nice uke but has no 'prestige', the koaloha has big chops but you can't enjoy playing it. maybe keep the koaloha as a work of art and find another 'player' if the kala doesn't do it for you. the pono uke has a radius and everything you could ask for except koa, would that work? don't try to paint another smile on the mona lisa, get a van gogh.

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 10:26 AM
which is more important to you, playing the uke or having a beautiful uke? both would be the best, and you've got both! just not together. kala is a very nice uke but has no 'prestige', the koaloha has big chops but you can't enjoy playing it. maybe keep the koaloha as a work of art and find another 'player' if the kala doesn't do it for you. the pono uke has a radius and everything you could ask for except koa, would that work? don't try to paint another smile on the mona lisa, get a van gogh.

Hi, Radio Flyer ~ thanks for writing -- I really just love the KoAloha sound the most -- that's what really does it for me. But, the KoAloha is beautiful in looks, too...it's just that sound I adore! I do love my Kala, too -- it's beautiful as well! There was (is) just something about how the KoAloha sounds that speaks to me. Thanks, again, for your feedback! :-)

dkcrown
09-02-2013, 10:29 AM
I wouldn't alter the neck on your KoAloha Chelle. If you feel that the neck size is definitely the issue with your pain, then price it to sell and move on from it.

Collings necks are the most slender that I have played, and they also have a radiused fingerboard. (I haven't played a Loprinzi) They are very light with great balance and it seems that they come up for sale fairly frequently in the Marketplace.

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 10:34 AM
I wouldn't alter the neck on your KoAloha Chelle. If you feel that the neck size is definitely the issue with your pain, then price it to sell and move on from it.

Collings necks are the most slender that I have played. (I haven't played a Loprinzi) They are very light with great balance and it seems that they come up for sale fairly frequently in the Marketplace.

Hi, dkcrown ~ thanks for your thoughts -- I admit I am concerned to alter the neck, too...that's why I decided to sell, largely, too. Sigh...as the saying goes..."this shall pass"...everyone's comments really do help!

caukulele
09-02-2013, 10:59 AM
Hi Chelle, do you know a physical therapist, or someone who can look at how you are playing to see if there is a better way to hold the uke. Also, check out this link of Dave Egan talking about Ergonomics of holding and playing the ukulele. I took a class from him last year at the Wine County Uke Fest, and I think it really helped me be more aware of how to avoid stress when I play.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM_3Sb-xfXk
If you can try and play a Collings or Loprinzi uke sometime, you might like them as well..both have thinner necks, and I think most of the Collings now have a radiused fretboard and both are very well made.

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 11:18 AM
Hi Chelle, do you know a physical therapist, or someone who can look at how you are playing to see if there is a better way to hold the uke. Also, check out this link of Dave Egan talking about Ergonomics of holding and playing the ukulele. I took a class from him last year at the Wine County Uke Fest, and I think it really helped me be more aware of how to avoid stress when I play.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM_3Sb-xfXk
If you can try and play a Collings or Loprinzi uke sometime, you might like them as well..both have thinner necks, and I think most of the Collings now have a radiused fretboard and both are very well made.

Hi, Denise! That was an awesome video -- so helpful and thanks for sharing this! I haven't seen a PT yet for my wrist/forearm issues, but I regularly see a chiro, massage therapist, and also an acupressure professional. I will have to check in with my PT, though (seen him for other issues) -- super idea and thanks for suggesting this! Thanks for all of your help! :-)

Hippie Dribble
09-02-2013, 11:46 AM
hey Chelle

sorry to hear of this situation.

I think it's good you are aware of the need to play relaxed and lightly. It's a shame in a way that you've decided tenor is the best fit for you, because of all the scales, that is the one that will put more wear and tear on your wrist : higher tension, wider frets = more pressure. In an ideal world, you'd find a beautiful slim-necked soprano and play it into sawdust with no pain at all. Many options abound on that front.

As others have said, don't shave the neck on your KoAloha. Cut your losses, price to sell and find another tenor uke. Many builders around who will help you design a uke that has a slim neck profile and narrow nut width to minimise your discomfort in playing, several I can think of who will do this at a very affordable price. I'll PM you.

mm stan
09-02-2013, 12:03 PM
Aloha Chelley,
So Sorry to hear your issues with your beautiful Koaloha...have you tried putting lower tension, lighter guage strings on.....Also if that does not work, You need a thin fast neck, I know my
vintage martin has it...this meaning the neck is no wider than 1 3/8" wide and a thinner proflile...maybe a concert maybe lower tension for you to think about....let me know

Bill1
09-02-2013, 01:31 PM
Can you post a video of your hands while you are playing? You may be able to save yourself a lot of stress and cash just by doing the work to change your playing style. Maybe if you really want to keep your Koaloha, you could use that as a reason to pay for some lessons or advice from a good teacher? If you sink say $200 into some lessons so you can keep the Koaloha until you wear it out and need to replace it, I think you would get a good return on your investment. There are teachers here on UU who do skype lessons, some of them may take only 30 seconds to save you from yourself once they see what you are doing.
Even if you do buy another ukulele, from the details you have given it seems you may be developing a problem which would benefit a lot from getting some medical advice from a doctor or physio-therapist.

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 01:56 PM
Can you post a video of your hands while you are playing? You may be able to save yourself a lot of stress and cash just by doing the work to change your playing style. Maybe if you really want to keep your Koaloha, you could use that as a reason to pay for some lessons or advice from a good teacher? If you sink say $200 into some lessons so you can keep the Koaloha until you wear it out and need to replace it, I think you would get a good return on your investment. There are teachers here on UU who do skype lessons, some of them may take only 30 seconds to save you from yourself once they see what you are doing.
Even if you do buy another ukulele, from the details you have given it seems you may be developing a problem which would benefit a lot from getting some medical advice from a doctor or physio-therapist.

Hi there, Bill1 ~ thanks so much for your advice and input; I appreciate it a lot! Actually, I have seen a chiro, a massage therapist, an acupressure professional, and also a MD. I was told that I have tendonitis. Additionally, I broke this same wrist a little over 10 years ago. I do take Skype uke lessons; I have with two instructors. Both have discussed this issue with me & have given me lots of great tips. I do feel like, because I've played a uke without issue -- my Kala tenor -- it's most likely an issue of me sticking with a more narrow nut size and slimmer neck profile. What I haven't tried yet is a radiused fretboard, so that's got me wondering further about adding this to help even more with playing comfort. Having said all that, though, definitely, I am working hard on trying to be relaxed and less-tense in my playing...and this has helped. That with rest, too (icing, etc.). In the meantime, I can play my Kala...but, really, I posted this thread to see if I am making the right decision to let my KoAloha find a new home. I really am quite enamored by the way it sounds. Anyhow, thanks so much for taking time to respond and give me your great advice. I am, again, very grateful -- it helps a lot!

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 01:59 PM
Aloha Chelley,
So Sorry to hear your issues with your beautiful Koaloha...have you tried putting lower tension, lighter guage strings on.....Also if that does not work, You need a thin fast neck, I know my
vintage martin has it...this meaning the neck is no wider than 1 3/8" wide and a thinner proflile...maybe a concert maybe lower tension for you to think about....let me know

Thank you, Stan! So great to hear from you -- I'll email you! :-)

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 02:00 PM
hey Chelle

sorry to hear of this situation.

I think it's good you are aware of the need to play relaxed and lightly. It's a shame in a way that you've decided tenor is the best fit for you, because of all the scales, that is the one that will put more wear and tear on your wrist : higher tension, wider frets = more pressure. In an ideal world, you'd find a beautiful slim-necked soprano and play it into sawdust with no pain at all. Many options abound on that front.

As others have said, don't shave the neck on your KoAloha. Cut your losses, price to sell and find another tenor uke. Many builders around who will help you design a uke that has a slim neck profile and narrow nut width to minimise your discomfort in playing, several I can think of who will do this at a very affordable price. I'll PM you.

Hi, Jon! Thanks so much for your post -- looking forward to chatting via PM or email further on this -- thanks so much, again! :-)

Gillian
09-02-2013, 02:05 PM
Not to throw a blanket on all these alternative methods, but sometimes, as we get older, we develop carpal tunnel syndrome no matter how ergonomically aware we are. Women are more susceptible to it than men.

I have ukes with a lot of different necks and it makes no difference. When that numbness and tingling starts shooting down my thumb, index and middle finger, it's time for another cortisone shot. At Kaiser, they limit the use of cortisone to three shots. After that, they recommend the carpal tunnel release. I try to prolong time time between shots by wearing rigid wrist braces at night to prevent my wrists from flexing which helps.

Hochapeafarm
09-02-2013, 02:10 PM
Not to throw a blanket on all these alternative methods, but sometimes, as we get older, we develop carpal tunnel syndrome no matter how ergonomically aware we are. Women are more susceptible to it than men.

I have ukes with a lot of different necks and it makes no difference. When that numbness and tingling starts shooting down my thumb, index and middle finger, it's time for another cortisone shot. At Kaiser, they limit the use of cortisone to three shots. After that, they recommend the carpal tunnel release. I try to prolong time time between shots by wearing rigid wrist braces at night to prevent my wrists from flexing which helps.

Hi, Gillian ~ thanks for your post -- I have also heard that same thing re: women and wrist issues. I do a lot of manual labor and I do wear a wrist brace to help with that; I have also worn it when I've played my uke. It does help. Thanks, again, for your comments -- very much appreciated!

BlackBearUkes
09-02-2013, 02:39 PM
The longer tenor scale isn't going to help your problem either. If you tune up to pitch, the tension in the strings is stiffer, plus the chords stretches are longer. Perhaps you should try out a soprano for a week or two (after you take a break) and see if that helps.

Markr1
09-02-2013, 02:39 PM
Hi Chelle, My thoughts are that you should do exactly what your doing and try to sell or trade for a different uke. It would be a shame to change such a nice uke from it's originality and if it didn't help then it would have been a costly mistake given the cost of a luthier to do it and then the loss of value on resell for changing it.
Maybe someone out there has a Collings UT-1 they would trade. That would be a reasonable trade I would think.
Of all my ukes and the ukes I've played the Collings are the easiest to play as far as comfort and thin neck and the radiused fretboard and a big plus that they sound great.

Doc_J
09-02-2013, 02:59 PM
You're definitely getting some good pointers here about dealing with wrist pain.

I had some ukulele-related wrist pain a couple years ago and it really affected my playing. I'm good now.
Here is what I learned.

1. some ukes feel better/play easier than others. Keep the easy playing ukes, sell the others, no matter how much you like them. (thin necks, low action are good)
2. wrist/hand stretching exercises help
3. be conscious throughout your day what you do to your wrist, even during sleeping at night. Try to limit/prevent problems.
4. wrist braces can help
5. limited play and a gradual build up like Craig outlined will help.
6. A week away from playing may do you good.

Hippie Dribble
09-02-2013, 03:16 PM
Hochapeafarm is very grateful to everybody for the wonderful advice and has asked that this thread now be closed. Thankyou all for your contributions. Cheers all.