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View Full Version : Pawn Shop Uke Assessment Skillz



beeejums
01-29-2009, 03:02 AM
So up here in Virginia we teachers (and students) have been blessed with a couple of snow (ice) days... I finally finished learning the Staten Island Slide, and then I got cabin fever and went around to local pawn shops curious to see if there was anything for a ukulele player to see. Of course, there aren't very many ukulele players in Lynchburg, so I only found one ukulele--but I was unable to tell if it was worth my time. The guitar guy there had absolutely no clue where it came from, no clue whether it was solid wood or laminate (I couldn't tell), no clue how long it had been there... It felt really solid, so I tried to tune it, but the tuners were loose and it wouldn't hold a tune (also, there was a lot of noise in the room), so I gave up and went home. I'm pretty sure the uke wasn't what we'd call a serious instrument, but I'm curious if anyone out there has any tips for telling a good uke that one might find in a pawn shop from a crummy uke? This one had no identifying marks on it at all--no label in the soundhole, nothing on the headstock, nothing. I'm pretty sure it was a sopranino size... I play a tenor, but this one felt *really* small (I'm a total n00b, I could be very wrong).

Any wisdom to impart? Thanks in advance. :worship:

UKISOCIETY
01-29-2009, 03:31 AM
So up here in Virginia we teachers (and students) have been blessed with a couple of snow (ice) days... I finally finished learning the Staten Island Slide, and then I got cabin fever and went around to local pawn shops curious to see if there was anything for a ukulele player to see. Of course, there aren't very many ukulele players in Lynchburg, so I only found one ukulele--but I was unable to tell if it was worth my time. The guitar guy there had absolutely no clue where it came from, no clue whether it was solid wood or laminate (I couldn't tell), no clue how long it had been there... It felt really solid, so I tried to tune it, but the tuners were loose and it wouldn't hold a tune (also, there was a lot of noise in the room), so I gave up and went home. I'm pretty sure the uke wasn't what we'd call a serious instrument, but I'm curious if anyone out there has any tips for telling a good uke that one might find in a pawn shop from a crummy uke? This one had no identifying marks on it at all--no label in the soundhole, nothing on the headstock, nothing. I'm pretty sure it was a sopranino size... I play a tenor, but this one felt *really* small (I'm a total n00b, I could be very wrong).

Any wisdom to impart? Thanks in advance. :worship:

Take a screwdriver with you and tighten the tuner screws. If the uke sounds nice, get it - if you can get a reasonable price. Sound is everything with an instrument. If it sounds good, it is good!

As for price, (what was the price?), I can usually pull out a wad of cash that is a little less than the asking price and say, "This is all I got" and they'll take it.

Pictures would be nice to see, too!

Mediamst
01-29-2009, 03:46 AM
If it's really cheap you may even want to buy it for a collectors piece or to hang on the wall and paint etc. I have done that with old guitars just as decorations.

beeejums
01-29-2009, 08:43 AM
I might waltz in and just buy it... I might not. Either way, next time I find myself there, I"ll take picture of it. I'm sure it will be there. Music stores in my neck of the woods don't move ukes that well.

They wanted $30, which seems trivial, but I'm pretty low on the economic scale... $30 is a lot of fun money for me in one month. Perhaps I'll walk in and offer $20 and see what happens.

Stackabones
01-29-2009, 10:00 AM
Start even lower at $10 or $15. You'll have a little more wiggle room to get to that $20!

Gelli
01-29-2009, 10:20 AM
Start even lower at $10 or $15. You'll have a little more wiggle room to get to that $20!

Nah. I tried this method on a private garage-sellout and they really screamed at me and said I sould leave. Then I wanted to pay almost the full price (95%) but they didnt stop to scream at me :mad:

Stackabones
01-29-2009, 10:24 AM
Nah. I tried this method on a private garage-sellout and they really screamed at me and said I sould leave. Then I wanted to pay almost the full price (95%) but they didnt stop to scream at me :mad:

Different situation. Private garage-sellout is for priviledged members of society. Regular folks go to garage sales and pawn shops. Haggling works there. :D

h-drix
01-29-2009, 11:30 AM
whats a private garage sellout?? o.0

hoosierhiver
01-29-2009, 01:27 PM
Since they know nothing about it,I wouldn't offer too much.I guess you could snap a pic and post it here.Maybe someone would recognise it.

ukantor
01-29-2009, 02:38 PM
You really need to know more about it. The main thing is to decide if it is made of solid wood, or plywood. Look at the grain on the inside of the sides and back. Does the grain have the same pattern on both sides of the wood? The colour will be different of course, but if grain swirls and, perhaps knot marks, go right through, then it is solid wood. Look at the edge of the sound hole. It is often possible to see if the wood is three ply or solid. While looking inside, see what the standard of workmanship is like. It should all be neat and well fitting, with little or no glue-smear in evidence.

Assess its structural condition. Any cracks, splits or parting seams? Is there much wear on the fret board? Condition of the finish is not too important. Scratches, dings and strum marks are all part of its life story.

If it is solid wood, well made, and structurally sound, try to knock the price down, but even if you have to pay $30, it should be worth it.

Ukantor.

beeejums
01-30-2009, 01:49 AM
Thanks all! I'll definitely take all this advice... I'm headed back there after work today, so I'll let you know how this works out for me.

beeejums
02-01-2009, 03:55 PM
So I went back... and someone else had already bought it. Oh well, I'll just have to keep looking :)

oklo
02-06-2009, 03:24 PM
I went to college in Lynchburg! Which pawn shop did you go to? I've only had luck at the one downtown.

Pippin
02-07-2009, 04:59 AM
You really need to know more about it. The main thing is to decide if it is made of solid wood, or plywood. Look at the grain on the inside of the sides and back. Does the grain have the same pattern on both sides of the wood? The colour will be different of course, but if grain swirls and, perhaps knot marks, go right through, then it is solid wood. Look at the edge of the sound hole. It is often possible to see if the wood is three ply or solid. While looking inside, see what the standard of workmanship is like. It should all be neat and well fitting, with little or no glue-smear in evidence.

Assess its structural condition. Any cracks, splits or parting seams? Is there much wear on the fret board? Condition of the finish is not too important. Scratches, dings and strum marks are all part of its life story.

If it is solid wood, well made, and structurally sound, try to knock the price down, but even if you have to pay $30, it should be worth it.

Ukantor.

That's a great post.