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View Full Version : Suggestions from all you Uke experts please



notgeorgeformby
10-16-2013, 10:44 PM
So with Christmas looming I'm looking to ask Santa for an addition to my uke collection. I have my eye on the Kala SMHT because I love the sound of the mahogany baritone and I reckon it would be sufficiently different in tone from the two other tenors I already have.

But I'm also tempted by the Lanikai LM-TCA electric tenor which is also solid mahogany, and Butlermusic is selling a few factory seconds at massive discount. I know this could be risky, buying unseen from overseas etc, but the lure of the bargain and all that.:drool:

So I'm wondering which you would go for, or should I be looking at something else entirely. All suggestions welcome.

mm stan
10-16-2013, 10:57 PM
What is your budget.....and buy from HMS free setup and maybe shipping if you spend a certain amount....http://www.theukulelesite.com/

PhilUSAFRet
10-17-2013, 01:15 AM
Butler has some great deals on firsts, but watch those seconds. Notice how many screwed up Lanikai's there are on ebay? I just bought that Kala with cutaway and pickup for $159....probably won't see that price again, but it's an example of what you find. Factory first. Lanikai blems however a slightly different story....only cosmetic.

notgeorgeformby
10-17-2013, 01:19 AM
What is your budget.....and buy from HMS free setup and maybe shipping if you spend a certain amount....http://www.theukulelesite.com/

I'm thinking up to 300 or thereabouts. But price isn't my first concern. If I fancy something outside that range it would make more sense to save up a while longer.

I like the HMS website but buying from overseas isn't ideal (I'm in the UK).

notgeorgeformby
10-17-2013, 01:21 AM
Butler has some great deals on firsts, but watch those seconds. Notice how many screwed up Lanikai's there are on ebay? I just bought that Kala with cutaway and pickup for $159....probably won't see that price again, but it's an example of what you find. Factory first. Lanikai blems however a slightly different story....only cosmetic.

Yes, blems is what I should have said, thanks. I take it you wouldn't warn me off them then?

ChaosToo
10-17-2013, 08:56 AM
HMS do free international shipping over $800 - currently that's 495 - so not massively over your budget, especially if you're willing to stretch it as you say.

If you take into account the free shipping by spending that little bit extra, then the savings on 'like-for-like' ukes is massive (we're talking hundreds of pounds on some ukes!), compared to what you'd pay for the identical model over here - plus, like Stan says, you get the setup for free too.

:D

Hms
10-17-2013, 10:03 AM
Shipping may be free, but there will still be import duty, 3 or 4% iirc, customs clearance charges of say 15, add that together with the purchase price, then pay 20% VAT on the total cost.
So a 500 uke becomes 639, about 28% extra.
Probably the reason that as much as we'd like to use HMS, MIM, or other US vendors, we don't.
H

Tootler
10-17-2013, 10:49 AM
Southern Ukulele store have a Kala KA-SMHB Solid Mahogany Baritone for 215 Here (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/335/Kala-KA-SMHB-All-Solid-Mahogany-Baritone-Ukulele)

Is that the one you meant? I assume the "T" at the end of the model no you quoted in your OP actually meant Tenor.

They also have Ohana and Pono mahogany baritones

ChaosToo
10-17-2013, 11:35 AM
Shipping may be free, but there will still be import duty, 3 or 4% iirc, customs clearance charges of say 15, add that together with the purchase price, then pay 20% VAT on the total cost.
So a 500 uke becomes 639, about 28% extra.
Probably the reason that as much as we'd like to use HMS, MIM, or other US vendors, we don't.
H

Koaloha Concert - 669 From SUS (as an example) including postage. Same uke is 661 from HMS including shipping and all UK taxes and duties - or 535 if you're lucky and don't have it stopped - or have it sent as a 'gift'. :p

Pono ATSH5 Pro Classic - 958 from SUS inc postage - same model from HMS is 840 including all taxes and duties, or 679 if you don't get it stopped by customs!

Worst case scenario for the Koaloha is that you get the HMS setup and a free humidifier (both examples offer a free case) for slightly less than you'd pay for one from over here ....... Worst case on the Pono is you get the setup, a free hard shell case and humidifier and STILL save nearly 120! Best case is a saving of nearly 300!

I'm not having a dig at SUS, as they just happened to be a link I picked from my favourites bar, but it's indicative of the over inflated prices we generally pay for goods from the US and does show that there is good money to be saved by buying from overseas ..... :D

strumsilly
10-17-2013, 11:44 AM
if I were overseas, I'd probably buy an instrument from over there to save shipping.. Occasionally there are ukes that are for sale here to UK only buyers, and there are a some good builders over there.

notgeorgeformby
10-17-2013, 10:20 PM
Wow, interesting discussion.

@Tootler, I already have the Kala solid mahogany baritone and it is excellent. This is partly why I'm attracted to its little brother. :)

@ChaosToo, thanks very much for that comparison information. I have noticed a mark up on home sourced ukes, but assumed there would be too much expense and red tape in buying from abroad. But you've given me much to think about. I must say I'm tempted by HMS if only because of the setup. Have you bought from them? If so, does it take a long time to ship?

ChaosToo
10-18-2013, 01:02 AM
I've not bought anything from HMS just yet, so I can't answer that - but there are plenty on here from the UK that have bought from them, as well as other US based sellers (who also happen to be on here).

It would make for an interesting read to see what the general consensus is from those who've bought ukes as regards import duties, etc, because from my experience of buying other things from outside of the EU, they rarely seem to get stopped by customs.

Tootler
10-18-2013, 07:41 AM
Wow, interesting discussion.

@Tootler, I already have the Kala solid mahogany baritone and it is excellent. This is partly why I'm attracted to its little brother. :)


Your OP wasn't really clear that you already had the baritone otherwise I wouldn't have assumed you had made a typo and gone looking.

notgeorgeformby
10-18-2013, 07:47 AM
Your OP wasn't really clear that you already had the baritone otherwise I wouldn't have assumed you had made a typo and gone looking.

It's in my signature.

Tootler
10-18-2013, 07:49 AM
I've just got a Bruko tenor. Lovely instrument with great tone and very reasonably priced. I actually bought it from Omega music at the recent Grand Northern Uke Fest but I bought a Bruko concert direct from Germany a while ago. No import duty etc., reasonable shipping charges and it came well packed and with spot on set up.

I would recommend Bruko as excellent value for money and they set them up properly at the factory.

Tootler
10-18-2013, 07:55 AM
It's in my signature.

OK seen it. Must admit I don't always pay much attention to sig files.

notgeorgeformby
10-18-2013, 10:09 AM
I've just got a Bruko tenor. Lovely instrument with great tone and very reasonably priced. I actually bought it from Omega music at the recent Grand Northern Uke Fest but I bought a Bruko concert direct from Germany a while ago. No import duty etc., reasonable shipping charges and it came well packed and with spot on set up.

I would recommend Bruko as excellent value for money and they set them up properly at the factory.

Is that the solid mahogany one? I've never heard of Bruko before. Is that the one you are playing Wild Rover on on YouTube?

Tootler
10-18-2013, 10:33 AM
Is that the solid mahogany one? I've never heard of Bruko before. Is that the one you are playing Wild Rover on on YouTube?

It is a solid mahogany one and it's actually the one I'm playing John Barleycorn on You Tube. I'm playing The Wild Rover on a Bruko Rosewood concert. The concert was one of their special editions that they have from time to time. The tenor is their no9 model as shown on their website; http://www.brueko.de/en/

The Big Kahuna
10-18-2013, 10:42 AM
I like the HMS website but buying from overseas isn't ideal (I'm in the UK).

Andrew managed to get my Kala Travel Tenor to me without mishap. If you work out exchange rates, VAT and the 3.2% import duty, you can get a Uke from the US for about the same price as one from a UK shop, if you can haggle over the shipping a bit.

The downside is the wait, and a little bit of a faff over exactly which courier got chosen to deliver it UK-side. The advantage is the enormous selection available, when compared to the understandably limited choices in the UK. If a UK distributor or store is placing an order, they aren't going to order 10 of everything, because the UK Uke market is comparatively limited compared with the USA. They'll only order what they think will sell, not necessarily what is good.

I have 4 Ukes, all from the USA. Unless someone from UU in England is selling a Uke I want, or if I'm ever lucky enough to have one made by Ken Timms or one of the other UK builders, I'll never buy one over here.

Flyinby
10-18-2013, 11:36 AM
So with Christmas looming I'm looking to ask Santa for an addition to my uke collection. I have my eye on the Kala SMHT because I love the sound of the mahogany baritone and I reckon it would be sufficiently different in tone from the two other tenors I already have.

But I'm also tempted by the Lanikai LM-TCA electric tenor which is also solid mahogany, and Butlermusic is selling a few factory seconds at massive discount. I know this could be risky, buying unseen from overseas etc, but the lure of the bargain and all that.:drool:

So I'm wondering which you would go for, or should I be looking at something else entirely. All suggestions welcome.

No matter what models you offer up, you will get redirected to "buy this brand from this place" here, and no doubt they're all good suggestions, but if everyone bought the same brand from the same place, there wouldn't be any more choices after a while. So in reference to your original candidates, Kala seems to make good solid instruments...not the 'high end' necessarily, but well constructed and some of the models are a great value, though I don't have experience with the particular model you mentioned. I do have a Lanikai LM-TCA, bought from Butler a while back when they got some sort of warehouse inventory buy on them, and it's fine, good solid build, all solid mahogany and nicely trimmed, good tone and intonation. The one minor gripe I have is that I don't care for the location of the controls on the Fishman electronics. the volume/tone are inside the hole, and while that's not a big deal unless you change settings a lot, I like the earlier version on my Lanikai Koa, which is the more conventional top console with easy access to controls and a tuner (I like having a tuner built in). But as far as the uke itself, that's the only complaint I have, it's well-made and very nice, especially considering the price.

I've bought seconds and blems from Butler, and they are very honest and straightforward about letting you know what the issues are...it may be a tiny crack that you can fill with glue and save yourself several hundred $ (or pounds, I guess). I have a Lanikai solid Monkeypod tenor that had a tiny crack easily fixed, and it's had no more issues, and plays great. Among the other second/blems I've gotten from them, I either couldn't find anything at all wrong, or it was less than I expected after their description. Certainly HMS will treat you right and give a fair price, but sometimes it's nice to find something they don't handle, or at a fraction of the price because of something that really doesn't matter, so use your own judgment.

bonesigh
10-18-2013, 01:49 PM
I've bought seconds and blems from Butler, and they are very honest and straightforward about letting you know what the issues are...it may be a tiny crack that you can fill with glue and save yourself several hundred $ (or pounds, I guess).

I agree with Flyinby. I have bought many a uke from Butler and they are very honest. I have a bari from them that has a slight buzz that I've meant to fix but doesn't bother me enough to get it done (:

J

notgeorgeformby
10-19-2013, 01:23 AM
@The Big Kahuna Good point about the choice factor. It doesn't surprise me some people here prefer to buy from the US.

@Flyinby Thanks, it helps to hear from someone who has actually bought one of those Lanikais. I have a starter tenor from them which is so easy to play I feel a special fondness for it. I just wondered how easy the LM-TCA is to play. And how important is the electronics? Is it only for performance?

@bonesigh Thanks. I got a good discount for my Kala baritone which is a blem (not from Butlers but a UK trader on eBay) but I couldn't find a thing wrong with it.

@Bill1 Thanks, I will check out those options.

Pundabaya
10-19-2013, 01:50 AM
Eagle Music (http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/) did a great job of setting up my Ohana Tenor, and they have Mainlands... just give them a shout to make sure they've got the model in stock.

Personally, I'd rather buy EU, because 1) I'd pay a premium to avoid the wait and hassle of importing anyway, b) if everyone bought from HMS, the EU shops would stop stocking ukes, which would be a bad thing for the 'scene', and III) if theres a problem with the uke, the idea of shipping it back to 'Murica gives me the heebies. Note: I said EU rather than UK, buying stuff from France or Germany is as painless as buying from the UK in my experience.