PDA

View Full Version : Dead ukulele?



bellgamin
06-01-2014, 09:41 PM
Is there such a thing as a dead ukulele?

I bought a solid mahogany baritone from VietNam. It has very poor volume and sounds muddy & dull. I have tried strings from Southcoast, D'Addario fluoro, Martin fluoro, Mya-Moe fluoro & tunings to D linear, A linear, and B flat linear. All combos have been muddy & dull.

It is like night & day when compared to my Kala spruce top bari. The Kala is resonant, loud, & beautiful to hear. It is everything that the VietNam bari is not. I'm taking the VN to a luthier tomorrow to see if he can resurrect the dead. If he cannot, the VN uke is built solid enough to use as a self-defense weapon. Who knows? It might save my life some day.

Has anyone here ever encountered a dead uke? Any ideas as to possible reasons why this uke is like this? Any ideas for fixing it?

Icelander53
06-01-2014, 09:57 PM
Well I'll fly in for the funeral. Just PM me with the time and location and which uke superstars will be attending. I'd like to play Danny Boy if that spot is not already taken by James Hill.

mm stan
06-01-2014, 10:30 PM
Poor Design and build are probable causes...most times I would just chauk it up to a total loss.. your last hope may be the try Oasis strings, Hawaii Music Supply has them...
I'm not sure who your builder is, but many have had some issues with those Vietnam ukes...even if its under a builders name, it might be built by others..
I've heard that before...some I've heard got them and the shipping was more than the actual price of the uke....Good Luck
I wouldn't even attempt to try to sell them or pass it on, maybe good for some firewood for BBQ's...

theabsurdman
06-02-2014, 12:24 AM
i've got a similar Vietnamese soprano -- looks fantastic but weighs a ton, with volume consistent with it being in a box (within another box) even with Aquila strings.
The difference between it and my feather-light, barky Favilla is night and day.
I think it's just massively over-built -- body mahogany too thick and too much internal bracing used.
I tried playing with the action but no diffference.
the tone is reasonable and i use it sometimes as a quiet practice uke but it isn't much fun to play really.

billten
06-02-2014, 01:15 AM
Agreed on the overbuild. I live some of the year in Cebu Philippines, an area known for it's multitude of back garden luthiers. They sell ukes left and right and they are consistently overbuilt, dead, dull sounding bling machines. The first thing you notice is how heavy they are and then you notice how bad they sound. I'm pretty sure that it's because they all learned their craft making guitars and scaled down the build to a uke, but still use all the same weights of wood and bracing and everything. Look very nice if you are into gold chains and such though...
Bill

Hammond
06-02-2014, 02:12 AM
Agree to some of above posts about construction matter (build method) of the uke. Plus you compare it to the spruce wood top model which usually significantly brighter, more volume and sustain. It makes the different between two ukes even larger.

Ukejenny
06-02-2014, 08:13 AM
Give it to your favorite artist friend to paint up and make it a wall hanger if the luthier can't get some sweetness out of it.

iamesperambient
06-02-2014, 08:17 AM
Is there such a thing as a dead ukulele?

I bought a solid mahogany baritone from VietNam. It has very poor volume and sounds muddy & dull. I have tried strings from Southcoast, D'Addario fluoro, Martin fluoro, Mya-Moe fluoro & tunings to D linear, A linear, and B flat linear. All combos have been muddy & dull.

It is like night & day when compared to my Kala spruce top bari. The Kala is resonant, loud, & beautiful to hear. It is everything that the VietNam bari is not. I'm taking the VN to a luthier tomorrow to see if he can resurrect the dead. If he cannot, the VN uke is built solid enough to use as a self-defense weapon. Who knows? It might save my life some day.

Has anyone here ever encountered a dead uke? Any ideas as to possible reasons why this uke is like this? Any ideas for fixing it?

I'd just put it back on ebay and sell it 'as is' get your money back or some of it
and buy another baritone.

Nickie
06-02-2014, 03:41 PM
Yep, the first OU I ever picked up was a total dud....I put Aquilas on it, still dead....over built....I gently told my friend she got ripped off....

Tube
06-03-2014, 08:42 AM
Why should someone living an Oahu Island buy a vietnamese ukulele...
Anyway, you could put steelstrings on and use it as a semi hollow or sand down the top to 1,5 mm, maybe that helps.

SailingUke
06-03-2014, 08:47 AM
Put a pickup in it !

kohanmike
06-03-2014, 09:27 AM
My recent experiences with Vietnam ukes; saw this UTT model mandolele five months ago being auctioned on eBay via Bruce Wei Arts. All caught up in UAS, I bid and won it for $51 US, plus $70 shipping. Solid wood all the way around; spruce top, curly maple body, maple neck, rosewood fret board.

http://www.fairfax67.com/images/mandolele B grade.jpg

When it arrived, I found that it was not built well at all, binding was very rough where it meets the body, frets needed full dressing, top was very thick, the uke was quite heavy, and though listed as a tenor, it was about 2" bigger all the way around. The nice things about it were the design and finish. I decided it was worth the $51 (but wish the shipping was less) and sent it in for a string change and minor setup, no fret work. Played it for a while, even with the poor projection and sustain.

A couple months later I mentioned the problems to Bruce Wei when I was looking for custom Django/Selmer Maccaferri style uke. Bruce advertises himself as a custom builder on his eBay auction listings. He replied that those auction ukes are actually not built by him, he allows other builders to sell their lower end ukes (UTT) and better quality (UG, UA, UC) through his eBay store, but Bruce does stand behind them (I think the letter designation specifies which builder is doing the work, Uxx, Pxx, Gxx, Txx).

He called the UTT a "B" grade, simple bracing, no setup, using whatever materials the builder has at hand. I asked how I could get a better built "A" grade mandolele, he said he could make me one for $290 shipped, 30 day build, so I went for it (gave the UTT to my cousins 10 year old son). I asked that it be a true size tenor, and he's going to use good quality mahogany, good bracing, frets and binding. I've been given very positive feedback from members of UU about Bruce's custom builds. Should be ready in a couple of weeks. (I'm adding the tailpiece shown, and a preamp/pickup.)

http://www.fairfax67.com/images/Mandolele mahogany.jpg

theabsurdman
06-03-2014, 12:26 PM
You know, that's a great idea (adding a pickup)
I think I'll do just that.

ukegirl
06-03-2014, 01:50 PM
Neck angle and break angle can have a lot to do with it....

iamesperambient
06-03-2014, 02:52 PM
Put a pickup in it !

thats actually a really good suggestion.
What you could do is stuff it and seal it up
and turn it into a solid body type with a pick up
or you could mod it and mess with it and do a diy
resonator too im sure you could mod it in to something
that will produce some kind of unique sound results.

anthonyg
06-03-2014, 04:57 PM
I've bought numerous Vietnamese ukulele's over the years. A few of my treasured Vietnamese ukuleles arrived sounding a little dull. They have all brightened with age. They need to be 6-12 months old before you get a good idea how they will turn out. It's understandable if you flip it but I suggest that when you buy any of these Vietnamese ukuleles that sitting on them to see how they turn out is par for the course.

EDIT: Oh, and its not JUST Vietnamese ukulele's that this applies to. I have a Luthier made ukulele made in Canberra by John Copley. It was a little quiet to when new but it opened up nicely after 9 months.

Anthony

Hammond
06-03-2014, 06:15 PM
Good information. Thank you.


My recent experiences with Vietnam ukes; saw this UTT model mandolele five months ago being auctioned on eBay via Bruce Wei Arts. All caught up in UAS, I bid and won it for $51 US, plus $70 shipping. Solid wood all the way around; spruce top, curly maple body, maple neck, rosewood fret board.

http://www.fairfax67.com/images/mandolele B grade.jpg

When it arrived, I found that it was not built well at all, binding was very rough where it meets the body, frets needed full dressing, top was very thick, the uke was quite heavy, and though listed as a tenor, it was about 2" bigger all the way around. The nice things about it were the design and finish. I decided it was worth the $51 (but wish the shipping was less) and sent it in for a string change and minor setup, no fret work. Played it for a while, even with the poor projection and sustain.

A couple months later I mentioned the problems to Bruce Wei when I was looking for custom Django/Selmer Maccaferri style uke. Bruce advertises himself as a custom builder on his eBay auction listings. He replied that those auction ukes are actually not built by him, he allows other builders to sell their lower end ukes (UTT) and better quality (UG, UA, UC) through his eBay store, but Bruce does stand behind them (I think the letter designation specifies which builder is doing the work, Uxx, Pxx, Gxx, Txx).

He called the UTT a "B" grade, simple bracing, no setup, using whatever materials the builder has at hand. I asked how I could get a better built "A" grade mandolele, he said he could make me one for $290 shipped, 30 day build, so I went for it (gave the UTT to my cousins 10 year old son). I asked that it be a true size tenor, and he's going to use good quality mahogany, good bracing, frets and binding. I've been given very positive feedback from members of UU about Bruce's custom builds. Should be ready in a couple of weeks. (I'm adding the tailpiece shown, and a preamp/pickup.)

http://www.fairfax67.com/images/Mandolele mahogany.jpg

Skinny Money McGee
06-04-2014, 09:10 AM
Is there such a thing as a dead ukulele?



Here's a Dead Ukulele

BigMamaJ40
06-04-2014, 10:18 AM
I thought sound ports were supposed to go on the side of the instrument, not the back :)

BillM
06-04-2014, 01:19 PM
Gee, I thought clawhammer was something completely different... :rolleyes:

RichM
06-04-2014, 01:28 PM
Gee, I thought clawhammer was something completely different... :rolleyes:

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: