View Full Version : Does this sound like a good upgrade?

03-03-2014, 10:07 AM
Hi all, I have been playing the uke since December. I still suck, but I like it. I have found a teacher and will begin lessons this week. I currently have a Mahalo u-30. It is a cheapy, but it has been enough for me to learn that I like the uke. My teacher says I can use the mahalo for the lessons, but I want a "real" uke.

I have almost decided that I want a Kao Pili Deluxe Soprano. I want the solid acacia model. unless someone can make a case for the mahogany one.

Does this seem like a reasonable upgrade? Should I look for something cheaper since I am new? Any suggestions?


03-03-2014, 10:16 AM
Rule of thumb with up grades if spend as much as you can or whatever is in your buget. Because better quality instruments just feel better which will want you to play more and then make you a better player. So if you can afford that kao pili deluxe go for it or if you can afford more go for that.

As for the dfference in acacia and mahogany listen to sound samples see which sound you like better I have both a "koa" and a solid mahagony and they sounds completely different.

03-03-2014, 10:46 AM
I'm a beginner also but one thing I have learned is that it's best to go play and hear the uke you think you want to have before investing big bucks in it. Outside of that an upgrade is always a great idea if you can afford it.

03-03-2014, 10:59 AM
I've never owned a KPK - I've heard both good and bad of them. There are a couple of real fans of them around here someplace... :)

Actually, the most important thing when purchasing a mid-range uke is that you purchase it from a dedicated uke seller who will go the extra mile to set it up, etc. Folks like HMS, Mim, Uke Republic, and Mike and Tookta at Mainland Ukes all have good reputations around here - avoid buying a mid-priced uke from the big chains like Amazon.com, Musician's Friend, Guitar Center, etc. unless you know how to set a stringed instrument up properly (unlikely if you're a beginner, unless you have prior experience setting up guitars or what have you).

You will get far more from your lessons if your uke is set up with a decently low action (not crazy low, but low enough that intonation is good and barre chords like the Bb are not particularly difficult). It will be far more fun to play so you will practice more, and if the intonation is good you will develop an "ear" much more quickly.


03-03-2014, 11:05 AM
@kwall, I was thinking the same as you. Buy a better uke and I would be more willing to play more often.

@Icelander, unfortunately there is nowhere local to try decent ukes. Also, I am so knew, I don't think I would be much of a judge

@Oldphart, I plan to buy from the website others have recommended. http://pilikoko.com/. I will call them first to make sure they will set it up. Others have said good things.

Thanks for your input guys.

03-03-2014, 11:40 AM
Just a heads up there is a KPK acacia on the Fleamarket Marketplace right now for $130. No affiliation - just saw it a minute ago before logging on here.



03-03-2014, 12:44 PM
I think it's in the marketplace here too. http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?93039-Koa-Pili-Koko-Acacia-Soprano-Ukulele-(including-original-gig-bag)

03-03-2014, 01:13 PM
@Icelander, unfortunately there is nowhere local to try decent ukes. Also, I am so knew, I don't think I would be much of a judge

where are you from? always just randomly pop into guitar stores cause you never know. As well, you may not think you are a good judge, but it is your ukulele so it has to feel right for you. That would be why you test em cause it is all about feel.

03-03-2014, 02:14 PM
A quick question before you upgrade ukes. Have you every tried a concert or tenor uke or have you only played a soprano. If you have tried different sizes and like the soprano than go with the best one you can afford. If you haven't tried different sizes I would suggest you do so before making any decisions or purchases.

03-03-2014, 02:35 PM
Best sounding soprano I've played so far is a KPK pineapple that was donated to me to give to a child. I still miss that uke and joke with the boy I gave it to that I want it back!

03-03-2014, 03:42 PM
I have never played anything but a soprano. I see that a lot of people play others sizes. What would I gain by playing a different size?

03-03-2014, 04:39 PM
The frets are spaced differently (easier for fingers the larger it is IMO) and different sounds like more "full". For that I would listen to different sound bites cause some sound diffferent than others. If you are used to a soprano the neck thickness might get you on some ukuleles that are larger is my only concern. I'd just go to a store and pick up a couple different sizes to see what you like the feel of.

03-03-2014, 05:15 PM
I started on a blue Mahalo soprano, got hooked quickly, and started shopping online. There are no stores selling solid wood ukes around here and the three-plus hour drive to Atlanta couldn't be managed at the time. So, I shopped online and ended up on the Koa Pili Koko site. I had read some good things here and had done some research.

At the time, I thought the bigger the better, so I ordered a tenor deluxe. I love that thing. It sounds great. Looks great. And the setup is wonderful. It is as smooth as butter to play, as in the way the frets feel and how the strings react to my fingers. It has a wonderful sound. I would encourage anyone to try out a KPK. Every time I play it, I love it more.

I corresponded with the seller (can't remember his name right now) and he was great. He gave a lot of detailed answers and was very helpful.

I have started playing other sizes as well, and now play soprano quite a bit. I bet a KPK soprano would be very nice and I would like to have one myself.

03-03-2014, 10:39 PM
The resale on a less sought-after instrument like Koa Pili Deluxe soprano will be limited, so be sure to buy at a strong discount to begin with. More popular brands like Pono, the four K's, or an entry Kiwaya, for example, will have broader resale appeal and less loss when you love the ukulele and decide to sell it to upgrade again, or when you wish to sell as you ditch the uke altogether (both possibilities; but staying with the KPD as your sole instrument is unlikely).

Just another thing to consider in choice of instrument, Hadsdad. Upgrading, in general? Yes! Go forward, move ahead. Try to detect it. It's not too late. To whip it. Whip it good.

03-04-2014, 09:00 AM
Thanks for the help.
UkeJenny, I currently have the same blue mahalo.
Coolkayaker, I understand what you saying about the resale value, and I probably need to decide if I am going to want to upgrade again or just stop with the KPK?

My only uke aspirations are to play children's songs with my 2 year old daughter, so I can't foresee me needing another "better" uke, but I am sure many of you said the same thing once.

Lots to think about. Thanks for all of the help.

03-04-2014, 09:52 AM
Just a heads up there is a KPK acacia on the Fleamarket Marketplace right now for $130. No affiliation - just saw it a minute ago before logging on here.



Thank goodness I didn't notice that one or I'd be in trouble. LOL

KPK's are great ukes and always well set up. Keep in mind though, you'll need to buy a case separately--they come with a gig bag but a solid wood uke should have a case, and humidifier.

Acacia is often brighter than mahogany. I like it, but if you want a warmer, more mellow sound, go mahogany.

For that $150 or so, there aren't many better or even comparable solid wood ukes out there, especially with a good reputation like KPK.

03-04-2014, 01:43 PM
I have a Lehua all acacia blackwood soprano with Aquila strings mounted through the body that I will sell you at my dealers cost. It has been my personal instrument for two years. It is strung through the body, as are all of the new imports from Portugal. You can have it reentrant or with a low g. If you use a strap, I would install a button, and since I make the straps, you can have your choice of 18 different colours. $115 includes shipping in the USA.

03-06-2014, 03:28 PM
Thanks for the offer. But I think I am going to stay with the KPK. Now I just need to decide which one?