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katysax
01-04-2014, 07:33 AM
It seems that for a while there was a lot of Willie Wixom uke talk on this board, and several people purchased from him.

Looking at his web site he has some nice looking ukes, and from the reviews they sound and play great. Why hasn't there been much discussion of his ukes lately?

Edit: I am editing this post to say that I am satisfied with the answers that I have received.

mds725
01-04-2014, 10:46 AM
For those who don't know who Willie Wixom is, here's a link to his website.
http://wawixomukuleles.com/

haolejohn
01-04-2014, 11:13 AM
It seems that for a while there was a lot of Willie Wixom uke talk on this board, and several people purchased from him.

Looking at his web site he has some nice looking ukes, and from the reviews they sound and play great. Why hasn't there been much discussion of his ukes lately?

My theory is because most people that wanted or would be willing to buy one of his Ukes did already. Most people won't deviate from the mainstream. They are going to purchase what they see.

haole
01-04-2014, 01:32 PM
They were popular around here when he first started building because they were really affordable for custom ukes, and his waiting list was short. A lot of people ordered one so they could have their first taste of a custom uke, and the wait got a lot longer from all the new orders. I guess the interest died down when the wait time got longer. A bunch of them showed up very lightly used on the marketplace in the following months.

The general consensus seems to be that they're a great value for a custom instrument, but they're also not quite as refined or fancy as customs from more established builders. I'm guessing a lot of the used ones on the marketplace were sold when people wanted to step up to a nicer custom, but there are still a few folks here that are really happy with theirs.

TheCraftedCow
01-04-2014, 08:31 PM
Some people believe if you don't drive a Ford pickup, you are driving junk. Some people think if your buck isn't a finished champion he's a cull. Some people believe that if your ukulele doesn't start with a K or an M it is grade C, or at best grade B. I haven't got fingers of the hands and fingers of the feet enough to count all of the fine builders who are never mentioned on this forum. There are many who were at one time mentioned, and are sufficiently backlogged that it doesn't disturb them that they have time to fill the orders they have. For some of us, the beauty of the wood is minimised with well crafted , beautiful in their own right, inlay work. I doubt if Willie is lacking for work.

coolkayaker1
01-05-2014, 03:38 AM
My theory is because most people that wanted or would be willing to buy one of his Ukes did already. Most people won't deviate from the mainstream. They are going to purchase what they see.

Agreed. And that includes resale. Buying a lesser known uke maker in a declining uke popularity market means being certain, before buying new, that you wish to keep it forever. Or "give" it away.

mds725
01-05-2014, 06:22 AM
Agreed. And that includes resale. Buying a lesser known uke maker in a declining uke popularity market means being certain, before buying new, that you wish to keep it forever. Or "give" it away.

I don't agree with the premise that it's a "declining uke popularity market," a conclusion I believe your reached after not being able to sell one of your own ukuleles in the used ukulele market. Retailers I know who sell ukuleles say that sales for this year were similar to sales for last year, with many of the purchasers being first-time ukulele players or buying an ukulele for someone who is, known custom makers like Mya-Moe have wait lists longer than ever before, and, anecdotally, our local ukulele meetup group continues to grow. I do agree that many people now venturing into the high end market are sticking with high end production models, like the K brands, or with popular and well-known luthiers. Willie Wixom made a splash by showing up one year at the Reno Ukulele Festival and catching the attention of MGM, whose video report about Wixom Ukuleles went viral on UU. I imagine that Wixom, who is a retired woodworker, builds as many ukuleles as he wants to and could increase his visibility if he wanted to by appearing at more ukulele festivals. Toni Malloon, who builds Anakoneke Ukuleles in San Francisco, saw a huge uptick in demand for her ukuleles after attending a few local ukulele festivals. Maybe Willie Wixom is yesterday's news, but it's more likely because he's as busy as he wants to be or he hasn't made any recent attempts to be visible in the marketplace, not because of any "declining uke popularity market." Just my two cents.

coolkayaker1
01-05-2014, 06:49 AM
I don't agree with the premise that it's a "declining uke popularity market," a conclusion I believe your reached after not being able to sell one of your own ukuleles in the used ukulele market. Retailers I know who sell ukuleles say that sales for this year were similar to sales for last year, with many of the purchasers being first-time ukulele players or buying an ukulele for someone who is, known custom makers like Mya-Moe have wait lists longer than ever before, and, anecdotally, our local ukulele meetup group continues to grow. I do agree that many people now venturing into the high end market are sticking with high end production models, like the K brands, or with popular and well-known luthiers. Willie Wixom made a splash by showing up one year at the Reno Ukulele Festival and catching the attention of MGM, whose video report about Wixom Ukuleles went viral on UU. I imagine that Wixom, who is a retired woodworker, builds as many ukuleles as he wants to and could increase his visibility if he wanted to by appearing at more ukulele festivals. Toni Malloon, who builds Anakoneke Ukuleles in San Francisco, saw a huge uptick in demand for her ukuleles after attending a few local ukulele festivals. Maybe Willie Wixom is yesterday's news, but it's more likely because he's as busy as he wants to be or he hasn't made any recent attempts to be visible in the marketplace, not because of any "declining uke popularity market." Just my two cents.

Got it, Mark.

I'm basing it ion much more than my inability to sell a uke, but, regardless, no way to prove your point or mine. No need to do so. We, simply, differ in opinion based on our own set of observations. Fine and good.

***** But, back to OPs thoughts: As to buying a non-K brand, less known uke, I have sold, perhaps, 25 or so ukuleles in the past three years: trust me, a lesser known brand--as others have said here, and I agree with them--will garner much less in resale price, and chance of resale. So, my point is simply to think about this before buying as it will be a "keeper" in many senses.***

haolejohn
01-05-2014, 07:14 AM
It can be frustrating trying to sell a lesser known ukulele. I love my Meles, however their resell value is about half their new cost. It's frustrating because you see lanikai, kala, ohana etc selling better in the market. But maybe that is because once you get into the high import range you are in the low range of k brands? I personally like re willie wixom ukes but I've never played one. Would I buy one? Not sure. I'd get a brad Donaldson first because I've actually played a few of his ukes.

didgeridoo2
01-05-2014, 08:54 AM
Got it, Mark.

I'm basing it ion much more than my inability to sell a uke, but, regardless, no way to prove your point or mine. No need to do so. We, simply, differ in opinion based on our own set of observations. Fine and good.

***** But, back to OPs thoughts: As to buying a non-K brand, less known uke, I have sold, perhaps, 25 or so ukuleles in the past three years: trust me, a lesser known brand--as others have said here, and I agree with them--will garner much less in resale price, and chance of resale. So, my point is simply to think about this before buying as it will be a "keeper" in many senses.***
Cool, you've been claiming it's been declining for a couple years now. I just figured it to be your schtick.

coolkayaker1
01-05-2014, 09:22 AM
Cool, you've been claiming it's been declining for a couple years now. I just figured it to be your schtick. Ive only been on UU for 2.5 years. lol. You're wrong, friend. It's only been 10 months that the decline has been evident.

Again, as haolejohn and others say, be careful buying lesser known ukes IF one ever has a plan to sell it in the future. Even high end ukes (like the Kamakas, KoAlohas on UU now) do not sell well any longer (certainly not like they did 2.5 years ago). I follow them very closely on eBay and see the trend on listing prices, sale prices, frequency of listings, etc. That is the only point I wanted to make to OP.

As to Wixsom ukes, I have never desired or owned one, so I cannot comment on that brand specifically. I agree with other commenters that they were heavily touted as a relatively inexpensive custom uke about 12-18 months ago, and they are seldom spoken of today. If you do get one, katysax, do post your opinion.

didgeridoo2
01-05-2014, 09:35 AM
Ive only been on UU for 2.5 years. lol. You're wrong, friend. It's only been 10 months that the decline has been evident.

Again, as haolejohn and others say, be careful buying lesser known ukes IF one ever has a plan to sell it in the future. Even high end ukes (like the Kamakas, KoAlohas on UU now) do not sell well any longer (certainly not like they did 2.5 years ago). I follow them very closely on eBay and see the trend on listing prices, sale prices, frequency of listings, etc. That is the only point I wanted to make to OP.
I'm just having fun with ya cool, as I'm sure you know. Although, I do recall you forecasting this for quite some time now.

Hippie Dribble
01-05-2014, 10:03 AM
The market has slowed, no doubt, and good value resales (at least for a seller) are harder to make than 12 months ago. It is certainly a buyer's market.

But WW had his day in the sun 12 months ago and by virtue of MGM, garnered a number of orders and, mostly, happy customers. Every maker it seems gets his 15 minutes on the forum at some point. I agree that WW is probably building enough ukes as he is comfortable with, though I'm only speculating. After one receives the exposure it is up to them.

mds725
01-06-2014, 10:11 AM
I think more people are observing the advice not to buy an ukulele without having a chance to play it first. That may hurt less-well known higher end ukuelles more than it hurts either well-known, high reputation brands like the K brands, Moore Bettah, Mya-Moe, etc., or well-known, high-reputation inexpensive brands like Kala. I'm more likely to spend a lot of money buying a Moore Bettah from the UU Marketplace or another online site than a lesser known custom. I have a Wixom ukulele that I bought from his website just as he was becoming popular. I love it but I don't play it much anymore (I seem to be migrating to baritone ukes and steel string ukes and tenor guitars, and when I play a tenor ukulele now, it's usually Hawaiian music, for which I usually use a Kamaka), but I'm inclined to try to sell it in person before trying an online site because I think someone is more likely to pay what it's worth if he or she gets to play it first.

OldePhart
01-06-2014, 12:03 PM
As I recall when Willie first came to the attention of folks here at UU he was just starting out and had a few very happy customers but also at least one quite vocal unhappy one and I noticed that at least one of his ukes seemed to change hands via the marketplace an unusually high number of times in short order. Any time I see one uke that just keeps coming back to the marketplace like a bad penny I am inclined to ignore the glowing words of praise everybody gives it and figure that there is probably something awry with that uke, even if other specimens from the same brand are superb. That goes even for ukes by established makers. I remember seeing one uke by a very well known and respected small builder that was sold and shipped so many times it probably earned a trip to Europe from the frequent flyer miles!

Now, I don't know Willie and for all I know he's got all the orders he can handle, but I'm just going by what transpired around here.

@mds725 - I hope you're right. I've played some real stinker "custom" ukes that were proudly handed over by beaming owners who had paid way too much money for a uke that was less than one can get from the high end of Kala, Ohana, Mainland, etc. Every one of them was by an unknown or relatively unknown "luthier." (I'm not talking about WW, BTW, I've never stumbled across one of his ukes.)

There is one guy who is approaching "established" status who produces very nice looking ukes but I've played probably at least a half-dozen of them and only about half of those came close to being worth the asking price.

John

bborzell
01-06-2014, 12:17 PM
I think that our perspective is often limited by the direction we happen to be looking toward.

Several years ago I ordered a custom mandolin from a luthier who specializes in induced arch flat top mandolins. I mentioned that I saw a few reviews and videos about his instruments on Mandolin Cafe and he mentioned that 95% of his instruments went to folks who probably don't know what Mandolin Cafe is. Not surprising perhaps, because a lot of talk on MC is about carved top mandos of the Blue Grass variety, although there are many sub forums about Celtic, old timey and other mando types.

But the point remains that there are many people who partake of different interests who do not spend much, if any, time on internet interest groups. Case in point; my wife and I ride recumbent trikes. We are constantly meeting new recumbent trike riders on muni trails who have never heard of the largest Recumbent bike/trike site on the internet.

Wixom's ukes got a strong following here for awhile but most of the folks who participated in those threads probably didn't buy Wixom ukes. I would not make any assumptions as to how well Wixom ukes are selling or how popular they are in the uke buying universe based upon how active Wixom threads are here.

mm stan
01-06-2014, 01:20 PM
I still think willies ukes are a good value for their price for ukers breaking into the custom market....many new and upcoming builders offer good prices when they start and
the thing is you take chances and risk there....as you know, many new luthiers build their reputation and their quality, so no matter how good they are at the start, their consistancy
level will be more risky than a seasoned luthier...it is the risk you take for a great price... every luthier may have lemons, nobody is perfect or any uke is perfect...I don't think you
can single out just one or a few bads ones and call the luthier not qualified...if it persists in more of a longer period, then I would worry.. otherwise dont judge a book by the title..

wendellfiddler
01-07-2014, 03:18 AM
As I recall when Willie first came to the attention of folks here at UU he was just starting out and had a few very happy customers but also at least one quite vocal unhappy one and I noticed that at least one of his ukes seemed to change hands via the marketplace an unusually high number of times in short order. Any time I see one uke that just keeps coming back to the marketplace like a bad penny I am inclined to ignore the glowing words of praise everybody gives it and figure that there is probably something awry with that uke, even if other specimens from the same brand are superb. That goes even for ukes by established makers. I remember seeing one uke by a very well known and respected small builder that was sold and shipped so many times it probably earned a trip to Europe from the frequent flyer miles!

Now, I don't know Willie and for all I know he's got all the orders he can handle, but I'm just going by what transpired around here.

@mds725 - I hope you're right. I've played some real stinker "custom" ukes that were proudly handed over by beaming owners who had paid way too much money for a uke that was less than one can get from the high end of Kala, Ohana, Mainland, etc. Every one of them was by an unknown or relatively unknown "luthier." (I'm not talking about WW, BTW, I've never stumbled across one of his ukes.)

There is one guy who is approaching "established" status who produces very nice looking ukes but I've played probably at least a half-dozen of them and only about half of those came close to being worth the asking price.

John

Actually, I believe own the uke you mention here - WW #130. I bought it for a good price and one of my students is considering buying it from me- that's often what I do with good instruments that I am able to get for a good price. I originally thought I might put a pickup on it, but if my student can use it, that would be fine. The problem with the uke in question is that 1. somebody beat it up quite a bit, but it's all finish damage and almost none of it is through the finish - it's just prematurely well worn, and 2, the setup on it when I got it was terrible. I had to adjust the action and level a couple of high frets. That could have been very frustrating to someone who didn't know how to remedy it. Lastly, the original owner asked Willie to put a strange bridge on it that requires you to pull a new string trough the uke top with a knot on it to attach it, rather than keep the tie bridge that was on it originally. When I figured out the history of it, I thought it was a pretty strange request. I believe the original owner posted something about being unhappy with it - bottom line on that is that Willie never should have agreed to change the thing for him. However, it works just fine unless you want to replace a string with a used one that already has a knot on it, since you really have to put the strings in from the top. So all of this means the uke is only worth half of what it was originally, and we're talking below Asian made Pono territory - but for the money it's a fine little instrument that plays well and sounds great - and is American hand-made. Some people appreciate that, I do. If my student doesn't decide to keep it, it might even turn up here for sale again. One could do much worse!

Doug

katysax
01-07-2014, 04:57 AM
You never know the style of playing. The level of skill and experience. The sound and feel preferences of who you got the uke from. There is an unfortunate tendency of some people to try to dump their clunkers on the marketplace without full disclosure. However, I've bought a few that I'm sure the previous owners thought were clunkers that needed nothing more than a change of strings to strings properly strung, proper humidity, or a couple of minor adjustments to be great ukes.

The problem I see with the small makers is that you really don't know what you are getting and buying one is a gamble. I recently bought a uke from a small builder that has some flaws but is also a gorgeous piece of work. He sold it to me for a price that fairly reflects its flaws. Some of the small builders make really great ukes at reasonable prices, but there are some people charging premium prices for stuff that is student work. When you buy new you usually have the option of returning the uke if you aren't satisfied. When you buy used you are usually stuck with it, but you get it at a discount. I love the individuality and character of the small shop ukes, but I am also aware of the risks. I didn't mean to stir up a big discussion bashing or praising Willie Wixom - I honestly just wanted to know why the buzz had died.

RichM
01-07-2014, 05:11 AM
It works both ways, too; I bought instruments from Brian Dean, Peter Coombe (both in the mandolin world), and Luis Feu de Mesquita before they were well known in their respective communities. My two Brian Dean mandolins sold for far more than their original prices as Brian's star (and prices) rose; and my Peter Coombe mandolin and LFdM ukulele are lifetime instruments.

mm stan
01-07-2014, 05:44 AM
There is always a risk buying custom ukes as you cannot play them before buying and you feel obligated when you get your ukulele, good or bad....Pick and select your luthier
on your own intuitions and from people who have them and not go on the hype...is it the luthiers style you want, budget right, and listen to videos or sound samples ..If you are budget
conscious and want a safer route, you can buy premimum ukes off the rack or custom builder ukes off the rack...the later you might pay for a middle man, but you get to try before you buy that cuts out the risk factor....

janeray1940
01-07-2014, 06:21 AM
I would not make any assumptions as to how well Wixom ukes are selling or how popular they are in the uke buying universe based upon how active Wixom threads are here.

For comparison, the builder I chose for my custom doesn't get much discussion around here, nor do very many of his ukes turn up in the Marketplace. Based on my experience and the few others who own one of his ukes, I'm guessing this is because we are all perfectly satisfied with what we have, and have no further need to discuss it.

This has been an interesting discussion to me because when I was seeking recommendations for a builder a couple years ago, my inbox got flooded with recommendations for Wixom, some of them badmouthing the builder that I was leaning toward (and ultimately chose). The hype was really, really strange; I chose to ignore it and go with my instincts, which proved to be the right thing for me.

rubber necker
01-07-2014, 06:37 AM
For comparison, the builder I chose for my custom doesn't get much discussion around here, nor do very many of his ukes turn up in the Marketplace. Based on my experience and the few others who own one of his ukes, I'm guessing this is because we are all perfectly satisfied with what we have, and have no further need to discuss it.

This has been an interesting discussion to me because when I was seeking recommendations for a builder a couple years ago, my inbox got flooded with recommendations for Wixom, some of them badmouthing the builder that I was leaning toward (and ultimately chose). The hype was really, really strange; I chose to ignore it and go with my instincts, which proved to be the right thing for me.

The strange thing about the Ukulele Underground, is that most members who have a opinion on a good ukulele or a bad ukulele never owned one or even played/seen one

I guess they can make their opinion on what they feel

RichM
01-07-2014, 06:54 AM
The strange thing about the Ukulele Underground, is that most members who have a opinion on a good ukulele or a bad ukulele never owned one or even played/seen one

I guess they can make their opinion on what they feel

Your evidence to back this up is... what? Or are you just basing your opinion on what you feel?

rubber necker
01-07-2014, 06:56 AM
Your evidence to back this up is... what? Or are you just basing your opinion on what you feel?

Lol,good one you got me
but it is only My Opinion and I was answering Janeray1940 not you

btw I will no longer be on the Ukulele Underground to keep you happy:)

Brian W
01-07-2014, 05:49 PM
This is a great thread, and one that I feel I should reply to. I am currently on Wiilie's build list for a custom designed soprano. If anyone remembers some of my threads from a few months ago, I was looking for a custom, hand-made instrument and had inquired about a number of different small-time builders. I must have talked to at least 10 different builders before making my final decision to go with Willie. I have talked to him over the phone on a number of occasions, and at times had quite lengthy discussions. He was the only one willing to give me complete answers to every technical build and set-up question that I threw at him. He is very knowledgeable about the building process and has admitted to making a few mistakes along the way--which he has learned from and remedied. I can assure everyone here that he has no shortage of work, and his current waiting list is about 6 months out. He is building me a soprano with a custom dreadnought body shape. I don't know why Martin doesn't offer a dreadnought soprano, considering they invented the dreadnought design for their guitars; I am hoping it will add a little extra volume to the sound. It will have a western cedar top and curly claro walnut for the back and sides. He was even nice enough to send me a number of pictures of the wood itself. The grain of the cedar is VERY tight, and should resonate real nicely. The walnut is chocolate brown in color, with a highly figured grain pattern. He should be ready to start the build at the end of March. I will start a thread of the build process, and include some pictures. I will also give a detailed review after receiving it and let everyone know my thoughts and impressions of the build quality.

mds725
01-07-2014, 08:24 PM
For comparison, the builder I chose for my custom doesn't get much discussion around here, nor do very many of his ukes turn up in the Marketplace. Based on my experience and the few others who own one of his ukes, I'm guessing this is because we are all perfectly satisfied with what we have, and have no further need to discuss it.

This has been an interesting discussion to me because when I was seeking recommendations for a builder a couple years ago, my inbox got flooded with recommendations for Wixom, some of them badmouthing the builder that I was leaning toward (and ultimately chose). The hype was really, really strange; I chose to ignore it and go with my instincts, which proved to be the right thing for me.

I recently had a chance to play a beautiful tenor made by the same person who built your ukulele, and it was magnificent.

janeray1940
01-08-2014, 07:13 AM
I recently had a chance to play a beautiful tenor made by the same person who built your ukulele, and it was magnificent.

As is my soprano :) I only hope that some day my playing will be worthy of it!

SailingUke
01-08-2014, 08:05 AM
As is my soprano :) I only hope that some day my playing will be worthy of it!

With a great ukulele like yours, your playing is bound to grow.
You also are talented !!!!
I love my tenor and I know it has assisted in my improvement.

janeray1940
01-08-2014, 08:11 AM
With a great ukulele like yours, your playing is bound to grow.
You also are talented !!!!
I love my tenor and I know it has assisted in my improvement.

Thank you :) *blush*

Not to derail too far, but I do know that having one uke I love to play so much has really helped. While I do love my other 2 ukes as well, all three fretboards are a little different and I do play best on the one I play the most.

808boy
01-08-2014, 09:17 AM
62836
This is a great thread, and one that I feel I should reply to. I am currently on Wiilie's build list for a custom designed soprano. If anyone remembers some of my threads from a few months ago, I was looking for a custom, hand-made instrument and had inquired about a number of different small-time builders. I must have talked to at least 10 different builders before making my final decision to go with Willie. I have talked to him over the phone on a number of occasions, and at times had quite lengthy discussions. He was the only one willing to give me complete answers to every technical build and set-up question that I threw at him. He is very knowledgeable about the building process and has admitted to making a few mistakes along the way--which he has learned from and remedied. I can assure everyone here that he has no shortage of work, and his current waiting list is about 6 months out. He is building me a soprano with a custom dreadnought body shape. I don't know why Martin doesn't offer a dreadnought soprano, considering they invented the dreadnought design for their guitars; I am hoping it will add a little extra volume to the sound. It will have a western cedar top and curly claro walnut for the back and sides. He was even nice enough to send me a number of pictures of the wood itself. The grain of the cedar is VERY tight, and should resonate real nicely. The walnut is chocolate brown in color, with a highly figured grain pattern. He should be ready to start the build at the end of March. I will start a thread of the build process, and include some pictures. I will also give a detailed review after receiving it and let everyone know my thoughts and impressions of the build quality.

Congrats on your upcoming new uke. I had Willie build me 2 ukes to MY specs and both are keepers and will be heirlooms. I have a May build slot but may not use it, got into fishing more now and put my ukes (35) on the back burner.
As far as his popularity, it was due to his prices that he offered for a custom built uke. Certainly caught my attention so I went to see for myself as I lived close enough. Seeing and trying his ukes sold me enough to order one built to my specs. Then a year later, another one.
Yes, he is busy enough to his standards being retired. Got on the list again when I picked up my second uke.
Willie is a nice person and easy to work with. Just remember, you get what you pay for.