View Full Version : Identifying a uke

06-09-2014, 11:31 AM
I'm new here, pointed here by a friend of mine who owns an uke, but wasn't able to help. I couldn't find a more appropriate place to post this in, so do excuse me if it should have gone in the marketplace (or an alternative area).

I was considering buying a uke, and saw one fairly cheap in a local thrift shop, but I'm not sure what make/model it is, or what I should be looking for to make sure it's not damaged/bad quality/whatever. Mostly though, I was interested in the make.
I've had a look around various places, but haven't been able to identify it.

Is anyone able to help?

Or at the very least, let me know if 35 (about $58) is cheap for an unused second-hand uke. I've seen some on ebay go up to about 40 to 80, not including shipping.

Any help would be much appreciated!

06-09-2014, 11:40 AM
Well first off, if it's cheap, it's probably bad quality no matter what condition it is in. There are some exceptions, but not very likely. You did say a thrift store, and not a pawn shop. A pawn shop might know somethings worth, but a thrift store might not.... who knows. But from the picture, I can't really tell much of anything. But that fretboard looks very dry, I don't see a headstock logo, and I don't even see a label inside so it could be some cheapo chinese made for all I know.

I am not that knowledgeable, as I just play the ones I own, and don't really shop around or collect like others do.

More than likely someone will show up who knows what it is and where it came from.

06-09-2014, 11:45 AM
Welcome, Combicon.

I'm sorry I can't help you in identifying this uke, but will say for your first purchase, I'd pass on any unknown/unmarked ukes. There are plenty of decent entry level ukes out there that eliminate any good reason to buy a gamble on your first foray into the uke world.

Looking at that one in particular, I see a screwed on bridge and sloppy glue work through the soundhole. Unused doesn't mean playable. And playable is what you need. I've seen folks lose interest on an instrument because they got a cheap instrument looking object, and decided it was too difficult. The problem wasn't their playing, but an instrument that couldn't hold tuning, had poor intonation, necks cut in a way that's just not comfortable, etc.

This is just my opinion, but if it were me, I'd pass and save my coin for something you can at least identify and research. While looking, add a little more to the stash and broaden your buying horizons. The right one will come along.

06-09-2014, 11:52 AM
Everything KevinV said.

I owned a cheapo, laminate, $100 dollar ukulele first. It took over a year to actually get into playing ukulele, and it was because that uke was such a piece of junk. It felt bad to hold, it was hard to fret, it sounded terrible, it was heavy. None of these things lead to a fun time while you're trying to also LEARN to play. It's hard enough to learn, now you have to worry about a crap ukulele?!

My advice, save a little bit, and at least buy a solid top instrument. The whole body doesn't need to be solid, but having the top solid is pretty nice. 2 of the 4 ukuleles I own (excluding my starter JUNK uke) are solid top with laminate sides and back, and they sound great!

The advantage to buying a ukulele that is decent, is if you find out ukulele isn't for you, you can sell it back into the community without losing much, if any, money.

EDIT: And buy from somewhere reputable that will make sure the ukulele is setup and plays well, like Hawaii Music Supply.

06-09-2014, 11:55 AM
The other posters are giving good guidance. It is very cheap, and is not worth the money they are charging for it. I recommend spending your hard earned money on something you will be able to enjoy and which you know will play and sound decently!

06-09-2014, 11:59 AM
Not sure about "unused", there seems to be a degree of staining on the fretboard from fingers. It's unusual to see an exposed screw-head on the bridge, could be an indication of a repair or maybe just "economic" manufacture, also the saddle, (the piece of white "plastic?" on the bridge) seems very thin, for a "quality" item.

No maker's name is always a source of suspicion ... maybe OK on a high-end custom hand-built instrument. If the top of the instrument is "solid" wood, maybe the price is OK assuming it plays well, the neck is straight etc., ... if it's laminate (ply-wood) I'd offer no more than half the asking price.

If it's "cheap and reliable" you're looking for in the UK, I can recommend a "Vintage"-brand as value for money ... available on Amazon. I won't dispute there are other good "starter" instruments at similar prices, but I've got a Vintage UK15 and am very happy with it :)

06-09-2014, 12:35 PM
Woah, wasn't expecting replies so fast, hah.
But okay! Thaks, looks like I'll be leaving it then and going somewhere a little more reputable. Only figured I'd ask because it's from a charity/thift store, so could have been given by someone who didn't want it.

Thanks for the advice though!

06-09-2014, 02:23 PM
Woah, wasn't expecting replies so fast, hah.
But okay! Thaks, looks like I'll be leaving it then and going somewhere a little more reputable. Only figured I'd ask because it's from a charity/thift store, so could have been given by someone who didn't want it.

Thanks for the advice though!

Sometimes people don't want things for good reasons, and one mans trash, is another mans trash too.

06-09-2014, 06:01 PM
The mirror ball looks interesting!

06-10-2014, 02:27 AM
Looks like a Blue Moon branded one: rather flat upper bouts, white-black-white soundhole decal, (g-)eared tuners, spruce top, bridge screwed on with two bolts, heavy black binding (painted on?).

Blue Moon is the budget line of the Hobgoblin/Gremlin chain of music stores; the ukuleles were either imported from Romania (made by Hora) or from China (this one); the spruce version seems to have been discontinued (probably only ran 2011-2013). It's Gremlin code used to be GR3501.

Just compare it yourself: http://www.sangitamiya.is/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Blue-Moon-Uke-Spruce.jpg. Mind you, your picture of the jailed ukulele didn't show the headstock and the fretboard ending.

It's not necessarily a stinker, the good news is that the top is even solid spruce. But 35 seems too high. Here's an identical one, but cheaper: http://shop.musical-money.co.uk/folk-instruments/2315-blue-moon-gr3501-soprano-ukulele.html. I'd even go down to 25, perhaps even try 20. The original price was 42, rapidly after introduction discounted to 30.

Here's two tips for buying a ukulele: take along someone who can tune it and play it (but make your budget and aspirations clear) and take along a kitchen scale: below 450g is OK for a soprano, above not.