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View Full Version : First ukulele, advice needed!



MopedDork
05-16-2014, 10:00 AM
First off, hello! My name is Adam and I'll be buying my first ukulele pretty soon. I've taken my friends' ukes and I learned to play relatively well, and I know for a fact I already have quite a passion for it, as I have fallen flat on my face already learning guitar and piano(cursed giant's hands), therefore the uke has proven to be the instrument for me!

Problem is; I'm on a budget. A tiny one. As it stands, I can only afford about $25-35 for a uke right now, In the future I can afford upgrades, but I'll be moving soon (I live in Europe, and I'll be heading to Oregon for university this coming summer). This presents me with a few options, but I'm not sure which is the best bet for right now.

OPTION 1(ONE)
The Diamond head cheap thing (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008277N80/ref=oh_details_o00_s01_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
initially, then some time down the road I would purchase some nice strings for it, as I bought some Aquila strings for my friend's uke, and straightened that cheap POS up.

and the obvious
OPTION 2(TWO)
I could buy a proper beginner ukulele in a few months, in the $50 price range such as this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LU1SFO/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001LU1SFO&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20) or this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00172UVG8/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00172UVG8&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20)

Please, please help me out, do you guys know of any ukes in this price range which you swear by?
Do you know of strings that can revitalize any uke?
Tips to make a cheap uke play like a pro?
Maybe even a used ukulele?

Anything helps!

MopedDork
05-16-2014, 10:08 AM
Oh wow, what a bad start. I didn't do a search until just now, could I get this moved maybe??

kmac66
05-16-2014, 11:47 AM
The Kala KA-15s comes with Aquila strings, which is a plus.

WhenDogsSing
05-16-2014, 12:42 PM
http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/makala-dolphin-soprano-mk-s

One of these will be set up and you get your string upgrade at no extra charge. These are great for starter ukuleles.

Doug W
05-16-2014, 02:30 PM
Adam,

I recently bought a Mahalo, (budget uke), from CraigsList for $15. They are not great ukes to begin with, but in reality we must have bought at least a dozen Mahalos in the past to give away to people. It is a rare Mahalo that has no intonation issues. I had to lower the nut and and compensate the saddle to get the thing to play in tune.

You must have some European equivalent to CraigsList-right? I have played some Diamond Head ukes and they have sounded as good to me as the Makala Dolphins, though I never played the model that you linked to in your post.

I like Bill1's idea in the above post. Borrow a uke from a friend for a while until you can afford to browse some music stores in Oregon.

Ukejenny
05-16-2014, 03:40 PM
I visited with a ukulele club last night and they had a table with about 6-8 ukuleles on it. They use that for folks who want to walk in off the street and try it out. I asked where these ukuleles came from and the lady said "Essex", which is a bargain type store. She calls every week and asks if they have ukuleles. When they do, she goes and has a look. Every uke she has bought is from there, including her personal ukulele.

They looked nice and played well. And she said the prices were crazy low.

Here's the website - http://www.bargainhunt.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=54&lang=en

I really like the idea of borrowing someone's ukulele until you have enough money to get something you will enjoy. What Bill1 said.

And if you have any ukulele clubs near where you live, get in touch with them and see if they can hook you up with something until you are able to go shopping.

MopedDork
05-16-2014, 10:04 PM
Would it be possible to fix up the Diamond Head, do a home setup, and put some new strings on it for better sound?

Doug W
05-16-2014, 11:02 PM
Would it be possible to fix up the Diamond Head, do a home setup, and put some new strings on it for better sound?
Keep in mind that I am just an amateur at uke facelifts, I am not a builder or expert by any stretch of the imagination but I have been able to make some cheapo ukes play in tune, mostly by reading up on it here and from other online sources.

Cheap ukes usually come with pretty sketchy strings and a new decent set should help.

You are probably going to buy this uke anyway, my psychic senses tell me that you will have pulled out your credit card and bought this instrument by the time I wake up tomorrow, so go ahead. It can be your camping uke when you upgrade after graduating from the university.

vanflynn
05-17-2014, 04:37 AM
Hi Adam. I bought an old car (MGB) and my brother told me "remember, you can't make chicken salad out of chicken sh*t no matter how much mayonnaise you add". This will probably be true with the Hilo. The ones I have seen had very poor quality tuners, needed the frets dressed and the action was more suitable for using a slide instead of chording. One of them had bad intonation due to an improper bridge placement. It would cost more to fix than their worth

The above Kala or Dolphin would be a much better instrument. If you get one that plays hard and sounds bad you won't be enjoying playing as much as you should. Buying from a reputable dealer that knows ukes is critical for a starter. They will weed out the bad ones for you.

Good luck and keep us posted

MopedDork
05-17-2014, 07:26 AM
I'm looking at that dolphin that was linked, as it seems to be the best value, but shipping is ~$20, jacking price to 70. Does anyone know if this can be circumvented? I'm at an APO address, so everything ships for about half price, if that helps.

EDIT; Are there any ukes listed above or on your mind that may be a better deal than the one I'm buying (http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/makala-dolphin-soprano-mk-s)?

EDIT EDIT;
looking at a few, now it's between A (http://www.amazon.com/Kala-KA-MK-C-Makala-Concert-Ukulele/dp/B00172YM9U/ref=sr_1_28?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1400315963&sr=1-28), B (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LU1SFO/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001LU1SFO&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20), C (http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/makala-dolphin-soprano-mk-s) , and D (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00172UVG8/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00172UVG8&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20)
Of the four, which comes the most highly recommended?

MopedDork
05-17-2014, 07:39 AM
So I'm trying to order the dolphin (http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/makala-dolphin-soprano-mk-s) that was recommended, as it seems to be the best value, and worth the extra, but I go to ship and suddenly price jacks up to ship at ~$70 total. Can this be circumvented? Am I missing something?

Additionally, I am still up to almost all suggestions, and the four I'm presently looking at are as follows
dolphin, mentioned previously.
(http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/makala-dolphin-soprano-mk-s)
Kala KA-15S
(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LU1SFO/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001LU1SFO&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20)
Makala MK-S
(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00172UVG8/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00172UVG8&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20)
and Kala KA-MK-C (http://www.amazon.com/Kala-KA-MK-C-Makala-Concert-Ukulele/dp/B00172YM9U/ref=sr_1_28?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1400315963&sr=1-28)

EDIT;
Sorry, thought it needed to be specified. I am beginning, and I'd LIKE something bigger than a traditional, so a concert would be nice, as linked previously, but would a concert size, specifically the one I found be (http://www.amazon.com/Kala-KA-MK-C-Makala-Concert-Ukulele/dp/B00172YM9U/ref=sr_1_28?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1400315963&sr=1-28) be recommended?

MopedDork
05-17-2014, 07:55 AM
So I'm trying to order the dolphin (http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/makala-dolphin-soprano-mk-s) that was recommended, as it seems to be the best value, and worth the extra, but I go to ship and suddenly price jacks up to ship at ~$70 total. Can this be circumvented? Am I missing something?

Additionally, I am still up to almost all suggestions, and the four I'm presently looking at are as follows
dolphin, mentioned previously.
(http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/makala-dolphin-soprano-mk-s)
Kala KA-15S
(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LU1SFO/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001LU1SFO&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20)
Makala MK-S
(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00172UVG8/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00172UVG8&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20)
and Kala KA-MK-C (http://www.amazon.com/Kala-KA-MK-C-Makala-Concert-Ukulele/dp/B00172YM9U/ref=sr_1_28?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1400315963&sr=1-28)

EDIT;
Sorry, thought it needed to be specified. I am beginning, and I'd LIKE something bigger than a traditional, so a concert would be nice, as linked previously, but would a concert size, specifically the one I found be (http://www.amazon.com/Kala-KA-MK-C-Makala-Concert-Ukulele/dp/B00172YM9U/ref=sr_1_28?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1400315963&sr=1-28) be recommended?

MopedDork
05-17-2014, 07:58 AM
So I'm trying to order the dolphin (http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/makala-dolphin-soprano-mk-s) that was recommended, as it seems to be the best value, and worth the extra, but I go to ship and suddenly price jacks up to ship at ~$70 total. Can this be circumvented? Am I missing something?

Additionally, I am still up to almost all suggestions, and the four I'm presently looking at are as follows
dolphin, mentioned previously.
(http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/makala-dolphin-soprano-mk-s)
Kala KA-15S
(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LU1SFO/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001LU1SFO&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20)
Makala MK-S
(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00172UVG8/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00172UVG8&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20)
and Kala KA-MK-C (http://www.amazon.com/Kala-KA-MK-C-Makala-Concert-Ukulele/dp/B00172YM9U/ref=sr_1_28?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1400315963&sr=1-28)

EDIT;
Sorry, thought it needed to be specified. I am beginning, and I'd LIKE something bigger than a traditional, so a concert would be nice, as linked previously, but would a concert size, specifically the one I found be (http://www.amazon.com/Kala-KA-MK-C-Makala-Concert-Ukulele/dp/B00172YM9U/ref=sr_1_28?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1400315963&sr=1-28) be recommended?

Doug W
05-17-2014, 06:45 PM
Every uke player must buy at least one $30 instrument in their life. It is a law of nature.

coolkayaker1
05-17-2014, 08:31 PM
Every uke player must buy at least one $30 instrument in their life. It is a law of nature.
As each must, too, own a $3000 uke, if for no other reason to see that there's little difference between it and the cheap one.

MopedDork
05-18-2014, 12:03 AM
Alright, I bought the Makala MK-S in the end, and I will be outfitting it with some Aquila strings and most likely doing a home setup. Hopefully this isn't too bad for beginning?

Yukon Cornelius
05-18-2014, 09:37 AM
First off, hello! My name is Adam and I'll be buying my first ukulele pretty soon. I've taken my friends' ukes and I learned to play relatively well, and I know for a fact I already have quite a passion for it, as I have fallen flat on my face already learning guitar and piano(cursed giant's hands), therefore the uke has proven to be the instrument for me!

Problem is; I'm on a budget. A tiny one. As it stands, I can only afford about $25-35 for a uke right now, In the future I can afford upgrades, but I'll be moving soon (I live in Europe, and I'll be heading to Oregon for university this coming summer). This presents me with a few options, but I'm not sure which is the best bet for right now.

OPTION 1(ONE)
The Diamond head cheap thing (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008277N80/ref=oh_details_o00_s01_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
initially, then some time down the road I would purchase some nice strings for it, as I bought some Aquila strings for my friend's uke, and straightened that cheap POS up.

and the obvious
OPTION 2(TWO)
I could buy a proper beginner ukulele in a few months, in the $50 price range such as this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LU1SFO/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001LU1SFO&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20) or this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00172UVG8/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00172UVG8&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20)

Please, please help me out, do you guys know of any ukes in this price range which you swear by?
Do you know of strings that can revitalize any uke?
Tips to make a cheap uke play like a pro?
Maybe even a used ukulele?

Anything helps!
Option 3. Keep borrowing your friends uke and save up for a nice starter uke.

MopedDork
05-20-2014, 10:53 PM
I ended up doing just that basically, found a makala mk-s for dirt cheap, doing a home setup and restring with aquila nylgut, gonna keep up with that as I save up for a decent lankai or something(any idea what to get next?). Thank you for all your guys' help.

iDavid
05-20-2014, 11:46 PM
If you find you can't deal with the makala I have an Ohana Zebrawood that I could send you for free. I have an APO address so the shipping wouldn't cost me anything. I have TONS of ukes and this one doesn't get played. It is pretty nice however.

Let me know

iamesperambient
05-21-2014, 09:23 AM
First off, hello! My name is Adam and I'll be buying my first ukulele pretty soon. I've taken my friends' ukes and I learned to play relatively well, and I know for a fact I already have quite a passion for it, as I have fallen flat on my face already learning guitar and piano(cursed giant's hands), therefore the uke has proven to be the instrument for me!

Problem is; I'm on a budget. A tiny one. As it stands, I can only afford about $25-35 for a uke right now, In the future I can afford upgrades, but I'll be moving soon (I live in Europe, and I'll be heading to Oregon for university this coming summer). This presents me with a few options, but I'm not sure which is the best bet for right now.

OPTION 1(ONE)
The Diamond head cheap thing (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008277N80/ref=oh_details_o00_s01_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
initially, then some time down the road I would purchase some nice strings for it, as I bought some Aquila strings for my friend's uke, and straightened that cheap POS up.

and the obvious
OPTION 2(TWO)
I could buy a proper beginner ukulele in a few months, in the $50 price range such as this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001LU1SFO/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B001LU1SFO&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20) or this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00172UVG8/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00172UVG8&linkCode=as2&tag=bestreviewsadvisorcom-20)

Please, please help me out, do you guys know of any ukes in this price range which you swear by?
Do you know of strings that can revitalize any uke?
Tips to make a cheap uke play like a pro?
Maybe even a used ukulele?

Anything helps!

I have a diamond head soprano let me tell you its a real beater it sounds ok (it actually is brighter and better in D6).
I owned many ukes and sold them through out the 11 years I have been playing, in rough times. I sold 2 ukes recently
in a pinch. The best uke I ever owed as a martin soprano uke which i sadly sold when i was short on rent a few years ago.

The diamond head soprano will hold you over until you can afford something better, its not the greatest in terms of tonal
depth but it handles ok, lasts and with better strings really is a decent uke for how cheap it is.

Same with the rogue brand baritone uke, very rugged, has a nice deep tone and good intonation for the 40 bucks.
Some of these cheaper ukes sound actually very good, the one thing you won't get with most of these is a nice look
but to me sound is more important than looks, i would like something that looks nice, but my budget like you is very small.

For now go with the diamond head its really not that bad, its better to have a 30 dollar soprano uke when your broke than no uke at all.

I Ukulista
05-22-2014, 09:33 AM
Some years ago on this site I Stated that my first uke is a mahalo with the saddle lowered and fitted with Worth flourocarbon strings. I've played alsorts of great ukuleles Bruko, Pete Howlett, Carvalho, hand built Japanese, Ohana, Makala etc. They are all brilliant. However I've still got a yellow Mahalo with Worth strings. I teach with it and I gig with it and I love it.