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View Full Version : Lanikai replacement: what's the likelihood I'll get a "good'un"?



Lopsidedtiger
04-05-2014, 11:44 AM
...that I'll get a "good'un"?

Hi, I'm new here and I was hoping for some opinions from those with some experience on the subject.

First things first. I have, so far, received excellent, EXCELLENT customer service for my problem. This is not a gripe or bash thread. Ok, now that I've gotten out of the way...

Here's the story. Got a solid mahogany tenor (LM-T) from my husband, purchased from Amazon. Loved it and was willing to see past the fairly sloppy finish work because I knew it wasn't a high-end handmade instrument. And it was a gift. And purchased sight-unseen. It played really nicely for not being professionally set up. Great intonation.

A few months later the top started separating from the binding. I emailed Lanikai and received a very prompt reply from Hohner (parent company). Sent in some pics and was offered a replacement. Since the model I had was discontinued, I was offered a Monkey Pod one (SMP-T) as a replacement. I accepted, and am waiting for it to arrive (should ship on Monday). The whole process was painless. But...

From my research I've learned that the both ukes were made in the same factory and have had similar problems reported over and over. On the flip-side, I've also read reviews from happy owners of SMPs. But they all seemed like they had either gotten to cherry-pick or had purchased from a dealer that weeds out the questionable ones.

So I'm hoping to hear from those who have seen many SMPs (dealers?), SMP owners, or those who have received a warranty replacement uke from this company. What's your experience with the quality of these ukes? Do you think I can expect a better quality instrument than the one I purchased? Or do I just have to cross my fingers and hope for the best? What happens if I get another lemon?

I was told all warranty product is inspected by techs before it is sent out, but I still wonder...

Should I just chill the heck out, lol?

Thanks in advance!

dickadcock
04-06-2014, 09:05 AM
Yeah, I think chillin' is in order, & you should take encouragement from the fact that you were dealing with Lanikai, & not just Amazon. Rather than getting another dusty box off the shelf, it looks like they will try to please you. just don't let your guard down. You've done the right thing so far
I bet you'll be all smiles in a few days, but let us know.

~ Dick

UkerDanno
04-06-2014, 11:28 AM
Yeah, I think chillin' is in order, & you should take encouragement from the fact that you were dealing with Lanikai, & not just Amazon. Rather than getting another dusty box off the shelf, it looks like they will try to please you. … just don't let your guard down. You've done the right thing so far …
I bet you'll be all smiles in a few days, but let us know.

~ Dick

+1 on the above...

Lopsidedtiger
04-06-2014, 12:24 PM
Thanks for the encouraging words, guys. Attempting the shift into chill-out mode. I'll give an update when it arrives (oh, the suspense!).

Freeda
04-06-2014, 12:40 PM
Chill, but next time order from Mim.

vanflynn
04-06-2014, 12:45 PM
hi LST, I ordered a SMP-C (concert) from my local music shop in southern MN. The first one that came had two knots in the side with some cracks. The shop sent it back to Lanikai, no questions, and got another one. This had some cosmetic flaws but nothing I couldn't live with. The bottom line is look it over and let them know if there is something you don't like. It may take a little more time but in the long run it will be worth it

I like my SMP. After about 3 months it really sounded better. I also found that Fremont Black strings work good with the dense wood. Also use a humidifier when you turn your furnace on.

Lopsidedtiger
04-06-2014, 01:00 PM
Chill, but next time order from Mim.

That seems to be the consensus around here, and for good reason, I'm sure. The original uke was a gift; I definitely would've gone that route (Mim) had it been an option. If only Lanikai could have offered me a voucher or credit or the like. Then I wouldn't be sitting on the edge of my seat!

Oh well, at the rate I'm acquiring ukes there's sure to be a next time. :)

pixiepurls
04-06-2014, 01:11 PM
That seems to be the consensus around here, and for good reason, I'm sure. The original uke was a gift; I definitely would've gone that route (Mim) had it been an option. If only Lanikai could have offered me a voucher or credit or the like. Then I wouldn't be sitting on the edge of my seat!

Oh well, at the rate I'm acquiring ukes there's sure to be a next time. :)

hehe UAS, hopefully your next one is a nice upgrade. I have two ukes and my Kala was $300 and I adore it. Seems like anything over $200 is pretty nice from what I've seen.

Lopsidedtiger
04-06-2014, 01:18 PM
hi LST, I ordered a SMP-C (concert) from my local music shop in southern MN. The first one that came had two knots in the side with some cracks. The shop sent it back to Lanikai, no questions, and got another one. This had some cosmetic flaws but nothing I couldn't live with. The bottom line is look it over and let them know if there is something you don't like. It may take a little more time but in the long run it will be worth it

I like my SMP. After about 3 months it really sounded better. I also found that Fremont Black strings work good with the dense wood. Also use a humidifier when you turn your furnace on.

Thanks so much for the feedback! I think I've seen you around here on UU- you're in Mankato, right? Don't know about you, but I've got my furnace off and windows open today for the first time since November- ahhhhh....:)

I've got pretty decent humidity in my house in the wintertime according to my furnace thermostat (35%), but I don't want to take any chances. What kind of humidifier do you use? I was considering an Oasis, but it seems a bit like overkill, plus my other instruments might get jealous. They don't receive any star treatment like humidifiers. Heck, some of them don't even get their own cases. ;)

Lopsidedtiger
04-06-2014, 01:29 PM
hehe UAS, hopefully your next one is a nice upgrade. I have two ukes and my Kala was $300 and I adore it. Seems like anything over $200 is pretty nice from what I've seen.

That's all I want, a ukulele that I adore. Is that too much to ask? :)

vanflynn
04-06-2014, 02:17 PM
I have homemade humidifiers using water crystals from a garden center http://www.homedepot.com/p/Miracle-Gro-0-75-lb-Water-Storing-Crystals-100831/202563065 for $9 you have a life supply!

The Oasis humidifier at most music shops work good too.

(Who would of thought that opening windows would be such a thrill !?!?)

Lopsidedtiger
04-06-2014, 03:23 PM
I have homemade humidifiers using water crystals from a garden center http://www.homedepot.com/p/Miracle-Gro-0-75-lb-Water-Storing-Crystals-100831/202563065 for $9 you have a life supply!

The Oasis humidifier at most music shops work good too.

(Who would of thought that opening windows would be such a thrill !?!?)

Yes...Oasis. That's what I meant. Not Ovation. Duh.

I've read about the crystals as replacement ones for the Oasis, what do you use as a container for yours? Or if you have a link to a similar rig, I'd be happy with that too. :)

Thanks.

vanflynn
04-06-2014, 03:44 PM
If you want the in sound hole thang then the oasis is the way to go. I just have some small containers (pill box, nicknack boxes, ...) with small holes in the top filled with the water crystals and put them by the headstock

Lots of debate on whether just having them up there is good enough. So far no problems for me yet.

Ukejenny
04-06-2014, 04:28 PM
Chill, but next time order from Mim.

Bazinga! I agree. I think Lanikai will send you a good replacement. We have two Lanikai ukuleles and both of them are very nice.

itsme
04-06-2014, 04:37 PM
Or do I just have to cross my fingers and hope for the best?
Mass produced factory-made ukes can be a crapshoot, kind of like a bell curve, where on one end you have a few that are truly exceptional, on the other end a few that are total duds, with the majority falling at varying degrees of "ok" in the middle.

Lopsidedtiger
04-07-2014, 12:52 PM
Mass produced factory-made ukes can be a crapshoot, kind of like a bell curve, where on one end you have a few that are truly exceptional, on the other end a few that are total duds, with the majority falling at varying degrees of "ok" in the middle.

I totally agree. I have a beautiful Eastman mandolin considering it is mass-produced; definitely on the "exceptional" side of the curve. I also have a few of the middle-of-the-road examples of various instruments. I can't wait until I can afford to shop above the mass-produced category. But right now I'm novice/poor enough that I can't really justify buying something truly high-end. I can be patient, though, and practice/play my fingers off in the meantime!

Still, I'm so in love with the uke right now that I look at everything else I own and can't help but ponder what a gorgeous uke I could have bought with all the money I spent on my many mediocre instruments!

itsme
04-07-2014, 01:10 PM
But right now I'm novice/poor enough that I can't really justify buying something truly high-end. I can be patient, though, and practice/play my fingers off in the meantime!

Still, I'm so in love with the uke right now that I look at everything else I own and can't help but ponder what a gorgeous uke I could have bought with all the money I spent on my many mediocre instruments!
I was at a meetup yesterday and heard an incredible sounding and absolutely beautiful tenor. When I found out it was a Pepe Romero, I didn't even want to touch it for fear I'd fall in love with it, since I absolutely cannot afford or justify buying one. :(

Lopsidedtiger
04-07-2014, 01:29 PM
I was at a meetup yesterday and heard an incredible sounding and absolutely beautiful tenor. When I found out it was a Pepe Romero, I didn't even want to touch it for fear I'd fall in love with it, since I absolutely cannot afford or justify buying one. :(

Oh, I've been there!

Lopsidedtiger
04-15-2014, 11:32 AM
Just thought I'd give an update. I received the SMP-T this past Friday. No cracks, sounds good. Pretty woodgrain pattern. I enjoy playing it. But like its predecessor, it's got cosmetic flaws; ugly enough that I would designate it a Second (or Blem, I guess) if it came out of MY factory. Not that I have a ukulele factory.

But seriously, among other things, it's got a THICK permanent marker line under the fourth fret that extends across 3/4 of the fretboard. A glob of glue with a brush hair sticking out of it where the fretboard meets the soundhole. I don't see how they could list this at $520 (I know the list price is always ridiculously inflated, but still). I'm going to keep it. I don't feel like playing the ukulele lottery again. But I can say that after this experience I won't really consider another Lanikai in the future unless they really step up their game.

The silver lining? They let me keep the original mahogany, and it won't take much to repair the current damage. I only had to mark the label with a "D" (for defective) to prevent against future warranty claim attempts. I'd still rather have one quality uke than 2 blemished/damaged ones. Oh well. Live and learn (and purchase in-person or from a reputable online dealer with pics of the actual instrument).

Ukejenny
04-15-2014, 02:31 PM
Well, tough lesson learned, but you have two ukuleles to play now, and maybe later on you can sell one, or both, and get something you absolutely love. Like that old '60's song, "Love The One You're With".

Lopsidedtiger
04-16-2014, 11:37 AM
Well, tough lesson learned, but you have two ukuleles to play now, and maybe later on you can sell one, or both, and get something you absolutely love. Like that old '60's song, "Love The One You're With".

You are right on all accounts. And I had to laugh at your last line; that song has been my "theme song" of this whole situation! :D

vanflynn
04-16-2014, 01:19 PM
Any chance of sending it back?

Lopsidedtiger
04-16-2014, 02:15 PM
Any chance of sending it back?

I'm sure I could, but I explained and sent pics of all my gripes with the first one, including the sloppy glue job and other cosmetic stuff, and got more of the same. I made it quite clear what I thought was unacceptable. I asked the rep whether the replacement was just drop-shipped or if it would be inspected first, and she assured me the latter. I just don't see it being very likely I'll get anything better the next time around. Plus, by the end of it I was getting the impression from the rep's emails that she felt she was doing me a favor. I'd probably be labeled "the problem customer that won't be satisfied with anything" if I tried to pursue it further, lol. I'm just turned off by the whole thing.

Do you think I'm throwing in the towel prematurely? Would you pursue it further?

vanflynn
04-16-2014, 03:20 PM
Got any pics you could post here? That may help.

If they are bad I would send the company a copy and get on record that you aren't satisfied. Nothing lost with that.

itsme
04-16-2014, 04:01 PM
I asked the rep whether the replacement was just drop-shipped or if it would be inspected first, and she assured me the latter.

Do you think I'm throwing in the towel prematurely? Would you pursue it further?
You asked and the rep told you it would be inspected first. Either it wasn't, or their standards for quality control are so bad, they don't care.

Like vanflynn said, I'd definitely let them know that you weren't pleased with the replacement.

I've never owned a Lanikai, but I do have a Kala, an Ohana, a Mainland and a Cordoba, all factory made, and none of which I'd call high-end. I can't find fault with the QC on any of them. There are a lot of people here who've bought "blems" or seconds from Mike at Mainland who've said they can't even tell there's a flaw unless it's pointed out.

Given this thread and other comments I've heard, I wouldn't even consider a Lanikai when there are numerous alternatives in the same price range from companies who obviously care a lot more about customer satisfaction.

Heck, give them a link to this thread. They need to know what's driving people away from their products.

Condor
04-17-2014, 01:01 AM
I totally agree. I have a beautiful Eastman mandolin considering it is mass-produced; definitely on the "exceptional" side of the curve. I also have a few of the middle-of-the-road examples of various instruments. I can't wait until I can afford to shop above the mass-produced category. But right now I'm novice/poor enough that I can't really justify buying something truly high-end. I can be patient, though, and practice/play my fingers off in the meantime!

Still, I'm so in love with the uke right now that I look at everything else I own and can't help but ponder what a gorgeous uke I could have bought with all the money I spent on my many mediocre instruments!


Eastman is not exactly a "mass producer" along the lines of say, Lanikai or Kala. The instruments are carefully, individually crafted by luthiers working in a decent workshop environment - mandolin production, for instance, runs to only a few hundred a year, not quite like Johnson /Kentucky / Savannah and the many other mass produced (not great) mandolins out there. My Eastman 615 F with Schertler pickup is a finely crafted, fairly expensive instrument - they are over 1000 in the UK, which is not the same as the 149 mass produced cheap (usually unplayable) mandolins out there. In ukulele terms, I would say Eastman is rather like Pono - quality, hand-crafted instruments from individual luthiers. Apparently they are making ukes now, will be interesting to see one of them!


I guess I got lucky with my one and only Lanikai, I bought it from Butler Music and imported it to the UK, it is a concert bubinga limited edition, was very inexpensive and heavily discounted, but plays really well out the box and looks nice too. No blems or finish defects.

Never mind, enjoy playing and UAS will ensure you buy another uke sometime soon!