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View Full Version : Only $219 ? How is this possible? (Not a Moore Bettah, but...)



Kmetzger
03-29-2014, 07:53 AM
I own two Moore Bettah ukuleles, neither of which I felt comfortable to take to a tropical beach resort we're vacationing at in April. So thought it was time to try and find something that would be pleasing to play and hear, but at a price that wouldn't bother me if the uke got completely trashed or even stolen. I didn't have high hopes as I began this search, because I've never heard an inexpensive uke that made me want to play it.

So imagine my surprise when I happened upon a $219 ukulele from Gretsch that is *solid* mahogany and sounded (at least in the videos on line) really good. Good sustain, full and deep sound. Not what you'd expect for $219 or even three or four times that price. I first heard it played by one of the guys at Hawaii Music Supply at the following link: http://vimeo.com/51815414 (This uke won Hawaii Music Supply's best in show at the 2012 NAMM.)

I went to a local music store here in Northern California to play one. They had it priced at $279. It sounded surprisingly good - perhaps better than what I could hear from the video. Playability was a little funky - kept feeling my hands getting caught on the fret edges. But I went ahead and ordered it from Hawaii Music Supply not only because their price was less (I think it totaled $239 with 2-day shipping, gig bag and humidifier) but because they have a great reputation for setup.

It arrived yesterday. Asked them to set it up with a Fremont Soloist low G and Worth heavy clears. It had been set up expertly - good action. (And they're not charging you for the time to do that - which is something most local music stores are not going to do at all.) Frets had been smoothed. Plays really nice. Good overall intonation, descent sustain and pretty full sound.

Now I'm *not* saying it comes anywhere near approaching my Moore Bettahs. But certainly good enough. And if you're considering something at a price point under $1,000, I'd suggest you consider this ukulele. (Btw…there is also a different model 9120 with a laminated top, which I am *not* recommending. So make sure you're looking at the 9120 followed by the letters "SM" - for solid mahogany).

Here is the link to the ukulele on Hawaii Music Supply's web site (which happens to be sold out at the moment): http://www.theukulelesite.com/gretsch-solid-mahogany-tenor-ukulele-pack-9120-sm.html

Keith

OldePhart
03-29-2014, 08:09 AM
There are more and more "decent" ukuleles coming on the market at reasonable prices - largely because of the rising popularity of the uke, I think. It's been possible to get a really good acoustic guitar for ~$300-$400 for many years - you just have to know what you are about to avoid all the relatively poor specimens, sometimes from the same brand! I think at least some uke manufacturers are beginning to recognize that there is a similar market for ukuleles that are playable and have reasonable sound without breaking the bank. Before, I think manufacturers largely thought of two categories of uke buyer...the dedicated who will spend dollars for a custom or a K-brand and the unwashed masses who don't know enough to even notice that their instruments are crap. So I think the biggest change is the attitude of manufacturers toward their target market.

Or...I could be full of crap... LOL

John

UkerDanno
03-29-2014, 09:33 AM
(Btw…there is also a different model 9120 with a laminated top, which I am *not* recommending. So make sure you're looking at the 9120 followed by the letters "SM" - for solid mahogany). Keith

what's wrong with the laminate? Just wondering, I was kind of wanting the 9110.

WashAshore
03-29-2014, 10:16 AM
Being new to Ukes, a $200.00 piece is no throw-away, and I would be pissed if someone stole it.
I think that the "crap" level of a Uke is relative to the player's wants, needs and ear.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-29-2014, 10:40 AM
Moore Bettah ukes are made at or very near a tropical beach. Apart from security, i don't know why you would not take them to a tropical location. I think they also come with a good warranty and can be insured and repaired.

I agree. If you've only got one nice uke I can see why you might want to leave it at home. But if you've got two, why not bring one along? I know people who take their good ukes camping, hiking and to the beach. Why deprive yourself just because you're traveling? Your uke may even be safer with you when you travel than at home alone......

pixiepurls
03-29-2014, 11:00 AM
I own two Moore Bettah ukuleles, neither of which I felt comfortable to take to a tropical beach resort we're vacationing at in April. So thought it was time to try and find something that would be pleasing to play and hear, but at a price that wouldn't bother me if the uke got completely trashed or even stolen. I didn't have high hopes as I began this search, because I've never heard an inexpensive uke that made me want to play it.

So imagine my surprise when I happened upon a $219 ukulele from Gretsch that is *solid* mahogany and sounded (at least in the videos on line) really good. Good sustain, full and deep sound. Not what you'd expect for $219 or even three or four times that price. I first heard it played by one of the guys at Hawaii Music Supply at the following link: http://vimeo.com/51815414 (This uke won Hawaii Music Supply's best in show at the 2012 NAMM.)

I went to a local music store here in Northern California to play one. They had it priced at $279. It sounded surprisingly good - perhaps better than what I could hear from the video. Playability was a little funky - kept feeling my hands getting caught on the fret edges. But I went ahead and ordered it from Hawaii Music Supply not only because their price was less (I think it totaled $239 with 2-day shipping, gig bag and humidifier) but because they have a great reputation for setup.

It arrived yesterday. Asked them to set it up with a Fremont Soloist low G and Worth heavy clears. It had been set up expertly - good action. (And they're not charging you for the time to do that - which is something most local music stores are not going to do at all.) Frets had been smoothed. Plays really nice. Good overall intonation, descent sustain and pretty full sound.

Now I'm *not* saying it comes anywhere near approaching my Moore Bettahs. But certainly good enough. And if you're considering something at a price point under $1,000, I'd suggest you consider this ukulele. (Btw…there is also a different model 9120 with a laminated top, which I am *not* recommending. So make sure you're looking at the 9120 followed by the letters "SM" - for solid mahogany).

Here is the link to the ukulele on Hawaii Music Supply's web site (which happens to be sold out at the moment): http://www.theukulelesite.com/gretsch-solid-mahogany-tenor-ukulele-pack-9120-sm.html

Keith

That is a lot prettier then my slot head Kala solid mahogany tenor.. I have no idea if they play much different, mine was about $300 from a local shop, setup. I prefer the look of that gretch to be sure but I am very happy playing my kala! Seems like a very affordable nice instrument for sure.

blacula
03-29-2014, 11:15 AM
I think the Gretsch models are a great value as long as someone like HMS is doing QC and setup. See my dig.

Icelander53
03-29-2014, 11:22 AM
I own two Moore Bettah ukuleles, neither of which I felt comfortable to take to a tropical beach resort we're vacationing at in April. So thought it was time to try and find something that would be pleasing to play and hear, but at a price that wouldn't bother me if the uke got completely trashed or even stolen. I didn't have high hopes as I began this search, because I've never heard an inexpensive uke that made me want to play it.

So imagine my surprise when I happened upon a $219 ukulele from Gretsch that is *solid* mahogany and sounded (at least in the videos on line) really good. Good sustain, full and deep sound. Not what you'd expect for $219 or even three or four times that price. I first heard it played by one of the guys at Hawaii Music Supply at the following link: http://vimeo.com/51815414 (This uke won Hawaii Music Supply's best in show at the 2012 NAMM.)

I went to a local music store here in Northern California to play one. They had it priced at $279. It sounded surprisingly good - perhaps better than what I could hear from the video. Playability was a little funky - kept feeling my hands getting caught on the fret edges. But I went ahead and ordered it from Hawaii Music Supply not only because their price was less (I think it totaled $239 with 2-day shipping, gig bag and humidifier) but because they have a great reputation for setup.

It arrived yesterday. Asked them to set it up with a Fremont Soloist low G and Worth heavy clears. It had been set up expertly - good action. (And they're not charging you for the time to do that - which is something most local music stores are not going to do at all.) Frets had been smoothed. Plays really nice. Good overall intonation, descent sustain and pretty full sound.

Now I'm *not* saying it comes anywhere near approaching my Moore Bettahs. But certainly good enough. And if you're considering something at a price point under $1,000, I'd suggest you consider this ukulele. (Btw…there is also a different model 9120 with a laminated top, which I am *not* recommending. So make sure you're looking at the 9120 followed by the letters "SM" - for solid mahogany).

Here is the link to the ukulele on Hawaii Music Supply's web site (which happens to be sold out at the moment): http://www.theukulelesite.com/gretsch-solid-mahogany-tenor-ukulele-pack-9120-sm.html

Keith

I have something in that ballpark (same price actually and also got a best in show) that was just delivered by HMS. The Gretsch cutaway tenor with solid wood top and laminate sides. http://www.theukulelesite.com/gretsch-solid-top-tenor-cutaway-fishman-active-pickup-gig-bag.html

I'm blown away by how nice it sounds. You're going to be very happy with your choice.

janeray1940
03-29-2014, 11:33 AM
Even though I don't own any myself, every now and then I pick up a lower-end but solid-wood uke at the shop and am really surprised by the quality. A couple that come to mind are the Ohana mahogany concert pineapple, and the koa Martin concert and tenor ukes. This is the second rave review I've heard about the Gretsch mahogany ukes this week!

I don't travel much, and have travelled a few times with a Kamaka in the past with no problems, but I always worry a little about what is going to happen to it while it's alone in the hotel room. At one point I bought a travel uke; took it on one trip and found that playing it was so NOT enjoyable that I didn't play much on that trip, so I gave up on that idea. Aside from the hotel room issue, generally my thinking is in line with Chuck's above - my ukes are probably safer with me while travelling than they are left all alone at home in my circa 1920 rental house that is probably a bit lacking when it comes to code compliance and security - and just happens to be in earthquake country as well! In the end, I figure all of that is what insurance is for - not that I ever hope to have to use it.

Kmetzger
03-29-2014, 12:45 PM
Being new to Ukes, a $200.00 piece is no throw-away, and I would be pissed if someone stole it..

Let me qualify some things I wrote...

When I say "wouldn't bother" me if the $219 Gretsch got stolen or damaged, what I mean is relative to if one of my Moore Bettah's got stolen or damaged - which would absolutely and thoroughly crush me and break my heart into millions of pieces. (Not only because we're talking thousands of dollars, but because they are close to impossible to acquire.) But let me add that $200 bucks is still $200 bucks and losing that amount is not something I do willingly or eagerly for any reason.

I've taken my Moore Bettah a couple of times back to Hawaii with me, on many vacations throughout California where I live, and even to Australia for three weeks last year (where we were not only in the big city of Sydney, but in beach and tropical areas like Byron Bay and Cairns). I try not to deprive myself too much, for being without it is admittedly a form of deprevation. But this upcoming vacation is a little different. We're going to a very large beach resort on the Yucatan pennisula in Mexico where even beach front hotels are pushed back a ways from the beach, meaning that a walk from your room to the beach is at least five minutes. I want to be able to take a uke to the beach with me, jump in the Caribbean sea with my family to go snorkling, without obsessing about the uke I left on the towel on the beach 100 yards away. Or when my family decides to stop snorkling and go for a long walk on the beach before heading back, I can now go comfortably with my Gretsch gig bag on my back, instead of telling them to wait fifteen minutes while I run my uke back to my room and return.

(I may live to regret this decision, and may pine away for my Moore Bettah with every strum or pluck of the Gretsch. We'll see.)

With regards to Ukerdanno's question about what's wrong with laminates: I don't prefer them as they sound muted to me. But the main reason I was stressing that point, is mainly because the two Gretsch's share the same model number (except for the letters) and I didn't want to leave a false impression about a ukulele that I had not played or heard.

Btw...Andrew from Hawaii Music Supply saw my post today and emailed me back to say that Gretsch had actually discontinued the 9120SM and that is why they're out of stock!! (My timing was good this time.)

Keith

PhilUSAFRet
03-29-2014, 01:32 PM
Lookd like the Cordoba 20TM CE I had. It also sounded great. Gretsch probably a little nicer, hopefully tuners better, and maybe a bone nut/saddle.

Swampy Steve
04-21-2014, 05:03 AM
Im seeing these on ebay for 249-279,,, maybe they were not discontinued?? when I first got back into this is was NOT going to get a tenor again,, but the bug has bit again, after playing a kala kt this wknd.

Is this Gretch a recommended buy for under 300? it sounded good in the 7 ukes under? vid
Steve

kissing
04-21-2014, 05:32 AM
This Gretsch is an amazing uke:
http://www.theukulelesite.com/gretsch-solid-top-tenor-cutaway-fishman-active-pickup-gig-bag.html

Solid mahogany top, cutaway, Fishman active pickup AND built-in tuner. + Lovely Gretsch gigbag

Sound is amazing, setup is amazing, build quality is amazing... uses quality Grover tuners too..

Why not get one?

Swampy Steve
04-21-2014, 05:44 AM
kissing,,, that link was very nice, its now on my short list. When I got back into this ,, I wanted to just strum & sing,,, but it seems Im much more comfortable fingerpicking,,, than singing along with strumming. I can fingerpick, my singing leaves a lot to be desired. thanks much

kohanmike
04-21-2014, 08:26 AM
I bought the Gretsch G9121 A.C.E as my third uke for $199 including shipping about 6 months ago. It's a very nice uke, good presence and sustain, better than my Lanikai quilted ash and mandolele, but my recently purchased Kala KAATP-CTG-CE solid cedar and acacia koa that sells for $370 is definitely better (I got it for $150 after trading in three ukes).

http://www.fairfax67.com/images/u3Gretsch.jpg
http://www.fairfax67.com/images/Kala cedar 2.JPG

Yukon Cornelius
04-21-2014, 08:41 AM
I own two Moore Bettah ukuleles, neither of which I felt comfortable to take to a tropical beach resort we're vacationing at in April. So thought it was time to try and find something that would be pleasing to play and hear, but at a price that wouldn't bother me if the uke got completely trashed or even stolen. I didn't have high hopes as I began this search, because I've never heard an inexpensive uke that made me want to play it.

So imagine my surprise when I happened upon a $219 ukulele from Gretsch that is *solid* mahogany and sounded (at least in the videos on line) really good. Good sustain, full and deep sound. Not what you'd expect for $219 or even three or four times that price. I first heard it played by one of the guys at Hawaii Music Supply at the following link: http://vimeo.com/51815414 (This uke won Hawaii Music Supply's best in show at the 2012 NAMM.)

I went to a local music store here in Northern California to play one. They had it priced at $279. It sounded surprisingly good - perhaps better than what I could hear from the video. Playability was a little funky - kept feeling my hands getting caught on the fret edges. But I went ahead and ordered it from Hawaii Music Supply not only because their price was less (I think it totaled $239 with 2-day shipping, gig bag and humidifier) but because they have a great reputation for setup.

It arrived yesterday. Asked them to set it up with a Fremont Soloist low G and Worth heavy clears. It had been set up expertly - good action. (And they're not charging you for the time to do that - which is something most local music stores are not going to do at all.) Frets had been smoothed. Plays really nice. Good overall intonation, descent sustain and pretty full sound.

Now I'm *not* saying it comes anywhere near approaching my Moore Bettahs. But certainly good enough. And if you're considering something at a price point under $1,000, I'd suggest you consider this ukulele. (Btw…there is also a different model 9120 with a laminated top, which I am *not* recommending. So make sure you're looking at the 9120 followed by the letters "SM" - for solid mahogany).

Here is the link to the ukulele on Hawaii Music Supply's web site (which happens to be sold out at the moment): http://www.theukulelesite.com/gretsch-solid-mahogany-tenor-ukulele-pack-9120-sm.html

Keith

Let's be honest...you just wanted a new uke.

All three ukes in your signature are made in Hawaii. Isn't Hawaii a tropical island (at least it was when I lived there for 5 years)?

Nickie
04-21-2014, 04:07 PM
All these views are very interesting.....I feel differently....I don't wanna go anywhere that I don't feel comfortable taking my ukes, any and all...
I don't have a Moore Bettah, and maybe I never will, but a uke, as special as they are, is still an inanimate object, and I don't want any of my things to own me....so I will probably not buy a uke I can't replace....I do get attached, even though I know better....

NoKaOi
04-21-2014, 04:31 PM
I agree. If you've only got one nice uke I can see why you might want to leave it at home. But if you've got two, why not bring one along? I know people who take their good ukes camping, hiking and to the beach. Why deprive yourself just because you're traveling? Your uke may even be safer with you when you travel than at home alone......

I can totally relate to Keith's quandary. While I split time between the SF Bay Area and Hawaii, my East Bay digs still house the majority of my stringed instruments, as I don't have the space constraints that present on island. I normally bring something really nice - few custom(s) or K-model(s) - to play on island out on the lanai & wherever it's safety is in the 90-percentile range -- not worried about it being jacked by a gang of Kanaka maolis or crushed by a misdirected Honu (sea turtle..) trying to learn the Uke fretboard ... it's the environmental concerns that require accompaniment of sub-standard 'little friends' to attain that playing catharsis on island..

This may sound lame, but if you've ever been out on any of Maui's shoreline (the entire island is a natural wind-tunnel..) locations ... it's not difficult to comprehend why one would not take something so expensive and somewhat fragile out to an environment that is likely to have 20 - 50mph buckets of sand flying towards your little coveted friend, not to mention your eyeballs, & even ... heaven forbid, the back of one's throat -- I've no doubt that I've swallowed enough sand to make soundhole & logo accouterments for a gaggle of custom Ukes.. :eek:

Thankfully, I don't often have to consider bringing instruments to locales like 3rd world countries (any part of Mexico qualifies here..) which unfortunately present daily challenges to keeps one's valuables safe -- it's sad, but a definite reality that the frequent traveler needs to contemplate booby-traps & weaponry to keep one's assets safe..

I also travel frequently, sometimes to locales with significant climate diversity, so it's much easier to bring something not as sensitive to moisture diversity (TSA doesn't quite comprehend the utility of an Oasis humidifier..) although finding something built with a laminated body that doesn't sound like complete caca definitely also presents a major challenge..

A definite conundrum to say the least for those of us that need to pacify the Uke monkey on a daily basis.. :music:

I've considered attempting to concoct some type of tonal-quality glue to utilize for adhering viable soundboard slivers together, although the end product may end up costing as much as something with climate sensitivity anyway.. :rolleyes:

ralphk
04-22-2014, 05:02 AM
Just get a Flea and stop worrying about it.

Ukejenny
04-22-2014, 12:19 PM
My husband plays a Gretsch Deluxe tenor, solid mahogany, like the one in the vimeo link. He loves it. I love it. I'm so glad we got it. Gretsch has already discontinued that particular model (according to their website) and we think it is an amazing instrument for the price. They weren't in production very long and it looks like the Roots lineup has changed considerably. Instead of the solid mahogany, it looks like they are now offering koa for a higher price. The mahogany ukuleles they offer look to be laminates now. Wonder why the big change to koa?

Congratulations on your Gretsch. They sure are sweet ukes. Love that quarter sawn mahogany throughout.

NoKaOi
04-22-2014, 01:53 PM
Just get a Flea and stop worrying about it.

Not sure about Keith, but I'm just not a Fluke-y or Flea-type dude - perhaps a Blackbird!? Unfortunately, that doesn't solve Keith's problem, as we're still talking about something costing a grand+, & thus requiring a sitter/bodyguard whilst out frolicking with the fishys..

Haven't played the Ekoa "Clara" model, but was definitely impressed with the sound and build quality (hard to fault well-designed CNC, in spite of it's lack of artisan'esque craftsmanship ..) of their Carbon-fiber tenor. Just not quite sure I wanna make a financial commitment for a bullet-proof 4-stringer..

BLACKBIRD CLARA LINK-
(https://blackbirdguitar.com/clara_ukulele.html)

Sporin
04-22-2014, 02:44 PM
This Gretsch is an amazing uke:
http://www.theukulelesite.com/gretsch-solid-top-tenor-cutaway-fishman-active-pickup-gig-bag.html

Solid mahogany top, cutaway, Fishman active pickup AND built-in tuner. + Lovely Gretsch gigbag

Sound is amazing, setup is amazing, build quality is amazing... uses quality Grover tuners too..

Why not get one?

I'm not a huge cutaway fan but that is a great looking and sounding, uke. I considered it but really wanted a spruce top, which is how I got my Kala KA-STG (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?94915-NUD-Kala-KA-STG-from-HMS).

There's so many nice ukes around the $200 mark. I'm incredibly impressed with my Kala. It's light and balanced and the fit and finish is beyond perfect. It sounds amazing. I can't believe it only cost less than $200.

Kmetzger
05-07-2014, 11:52 AM
Followup report: just returned from Mexico. The Gretsch turned out to be a worthy companion - proving more than sufficient. And what it lacks in sound and playability (compared to my Moore Bettah 's) was made up for in my ability to completely relax with it, in a relatively challenging environment: whether pelted by wind and sand, embraced by my sunscreen soaked arms, absconded by my 14 year old daughter to noodle on, or baked in the sun next to me on my beach chair while I dozed (under the influence of Don Julio).

A photo included.

66616

lomafootSD
05-29-2014, 07:01 AM
Glad to see you are happy with it. I just received mine from HMS and am very happy. This is my transition uke from concert laminate to tenor solid body. It was also my first ukulele from HMS and let me say that the setup makes a huge difference! I didn't have any to try where I live so all my research on it was from forums and video reviews and HMS did me right. The neck is supposedly meatier than other tenor brands but it works for me. The Gretch 9120-SM should definitely be considered for someone with a $200-$300 budget but you better act quick because as someone said in an earlier post they are discontinued.

marcocolo
05-29-2014, 10:18 AM
I'll throw in my 2c too. I got one of the solid concerts from a dealer as a floor model cheap and didn't really like the "orangey" stain but the snowflake fret markers and headstock inlays were nice, it's light weight and I really liked the tone.
I reshaped the bridge and nut then sent it off to Jake at Antebellum for a proper setup and now I love it! It now plays like butter. Below is Jake's take on these. http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2014/05/c2013-gretsch-concert-ukulele.html#more
If you can get one cheap and put a little effort into it, I think they are a steal.