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View Full Version : For people who play "affordable" ukes.



iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 04:54 AM
I made a thread suggestion in regards to making 2 sub forums one for high end and k brand ukes and one for affordable ukes, i doubt that will happen, so i'm making a thread for those of us who have ukes under 500 dollars to discuss brands and upgrades with in small budgets.

Currently i own a blue star konablaster electric baritone ukulele (over 300 and my most expensive) a cheap rogue baritone acoustic which living water strings have made it sound very nice, a amahi snail tenor (my newest edition and slightly under 200 dollars) and a cheap diamond head soprano (my beater).

Maybe discuss suggestions for strings and set ups to improve the sound, suggestions for good affordable brands and comparisons? discuss...

coolkayaker1
06-30-2014, 04:56 AM
I have a laminate Ibanez concert with quilted maple, a cutaway, purfling and fretboard binding. It was made overseas.

It looks great. It sounds good.
68370

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 04:58 AM
I have a laminate Ibanez concert with quilted maple, a cutaway, purfling and fretboard binding. It was made overseas.

It sounds good.

I have not tried ibenez ukes i love their guitars. I haven't seen any
sold in any shops but i would like to check em out. I saw one that was
shaped like the iceman seemed kind of cool and sounded good in the video.

coolkayaker1
06-30-2014, 05:00 AM
I have not tried ibenez ukes i love their guitars. I haven't seen any
sold in any shops but i would like to check em out. I saw one that was
shaped like the iceman seemed kind of cool and sounded good in the video.

Yes, an iceman shaped ukulele is cool.

I had a Koloha inexpensive solid body, same as a Silver Creek, and it sounded lousy. Dead and thin.

Hey, this talking about cheap ukes is fun!

RAB11
06-30-2014, 05:01 AM
I have a laminate Ibanez concert with quilted maple, a cutaway, purfling and fretboard binding. It was made overseas.

It looks great. It sounds good

I really like those. Played on in a store when I was shopping around for my 'next' uke and loved it. Ended up being just out of budget though. Maybe one day.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 05:02 AM
Yes, an iceman shaped ukulele is cool.

I had a Koloha inexpensive solid body, same as a Silver Creek, and it sounded lousy. Dead and thin.

Hey, this talking about cheap ukes is fun!


More people should try blue star guitar companies konablasters (the baritones or tenors)
very good quality hand made electric ukes and their not super cheap or overly expensive.
There is a brand 'vorson' that looks like they make electric steel strings similar to risa but at 100
bucks, considering buying one when i can afford it.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 05:02 AM
I really like those. Played on in a store when I was shopping around for my 'next' uke and loved it. Ended up being just out of budget though. Maybe one day.

ill have to check it out if i can find one.

coolkayaker1
06-30-2014, 05:14 AM
Does anyone have advice on cheap strings for a cheap uke? I mean, it's sort of silly to have a $100 ukulele with $10 Southcoast strings. If a $1k uke uses $10 strings, I'm looking for $1 strings for a $100 uke. Anyone suggest the cheapest "good" strings for an inexpensive "good" laminate? Thanks in advance for any good advice.

ukemunga
06-30-2014, 05:19 AM
Does anyone have advice on cheap strings for a cheap uke? I mean, it's sort of silly to have a $100 ukulele with $10 Southcoast strings. If a $1k uke uses $10 strings, I'm looking for $1 strings for a $100 uke. Anyone suggest the cheapest "good" strings for an inexpensive "good" laminate? Thanks in advance for any good advice.

Martin M600s.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M600/

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 05:19 AM
Does anyone have advice on cheap strings for a cheap uke? I mean, it's sort of silly to have a $100 ukulele with $10 Southcoast strings. If a $1k uke uses $10 strings, I'm looking for $1 strings for a $100 uke. Anyone suggest the cheapest "good" strings for an inexpensive "good" laminate? Thanks in advance for any good advice.

Expensive 10 dollar strings actually improve the sound of the instrument (we all know that)
thats again devaluing the instrument saying you can not make that kind of upgrade
paying 150 dollars for a uke and 10 dollars for strings 160 dollars and getting a better
sound is still more affordable than buying a 600-1000 dollar uke.
and its a cheap upgrade. No reason to be sarcastic i'm trying to spark a real discussion.

Stevelele
06-30-2014, 05:25 AM
I have an ohana soprano which is an awesome instrument. No, it's not as good as my custom instruments, but I have to say, it really sounds great and is so easy to play

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 05:27 AM
I have an ohana soprano which is an awesome instrument. No, it's not as good as my custom instruments, but I have to say, it really sounds great and is so easy to play

I've seen a lot of thigns from ken middleton about them and hes a good player ( i know he works for them now).
They seem like very good factory made ukes, im considering them in the future.

katysax
06-30-2014, 06:04 AM
Martin M600s.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M600/

Martin M600s are my favorite "cheap" strings. I get them off Amazon for $5 with free shipping but usually they are an "add-on" so they have to come with some other order. It's funny on my more expensive ukes I usually use Living Water or PhD. I used to use Worth Clears. But I feel funny putting expensive strings on a cheap uke so I use the Martin's. I also use them a lot on more expensive ukes. I am still unsure that any differences in quality I perceive between these and the more expensive strings are real differences or a placebo effect. (That was a whole different long thread no need to rehash here). Like CoolKayaker I do feel the need to put cheaper strings on cheaper ukes.

if the uke needs to be louder or is inherently too bright sometimes I use D'addario strings that I get for $5 off of ebay.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 06:08 AM
Martin M600s are my favorite "cheap" strings. I get them off Amazon for $5 with free shipping but usually they are an "add-on" so they have to come with some other order. It's funny on my more expensive ukes I usually use Living Water or PhD. I used to use Worth Clears. But I feel funny putting expensive strings on a cheap uke so I use the Martin's. I also use them a lot on more expensive ukes. I am still unsure that any differences in quality I perceive between these and the more expensive strings are real differences or a placebo effect. (That was a whole different long thread no need to rehash here). Like CoolKayaker I do feel the need to put cheaper strings on cheaper ukes.

if the uke needs to be louder or is inherently too bright sometimes I use D'addario strings that I get for $5 off of ebay.

I put living waters on a cheap rogue baritone and it transformed the sound i think its a great cheap upgrade to make
cheap ukes sound better. I think its a worth while invested me that doesn't cost to much.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 06:12 AM
Martin M600s are my favorite "cheap" strings. I get them off Amazon for $5 with free shipping but usually they are an "add-on" so they have to come with some other order. It's funny on my more expensive ukes I usually use Living Water or PhD. I used to use Worth Clears. But I feel funny putting expensive strings on a cheap uke so I use the Martin's. I also use them a lot on more expensive ukes. I am still unsure that any differences in quality I perceive between these and the more expensive strings are real differences or a placebo effect. (That was a whole different long thread no need to rehash here). Like CoolKayaker I do feel the need to put cheaper strings on cheaper ukes.

if the uke needs to be louder or is inherently too bright sometimes I use D'addario strings that I get for $5 off of ebay.

my recent test of oasis strings on my tenor vs aquila leads me to believe there is no 'placebo effect' strings make a HUGE difference
in shaping the tone you want on your uke. Oasis was tooooooo bright and high tension where as aquila was slightly fuller and warmer
and has less tension which i preferred. there is a huge difference in paying 10 bucks for strings to make your 150 dollar uke sound better vs
paying 1000 bucks for an expensive uke you can not afford, its a cheap upgrade and really improves the sound of a uke you can afford on a small budget.

Wicked
06-30-2014, 06:25 AM
Yes... Better strings give you the highest return on your investment than any other modification. Don't skimp.

Besides, you don't have to worry about corrosion, as you would with steel strings, so they should last a good long time.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 06:28 AM
Yes... Better strings give you the highest return on your investment than any other modification. Don't skimp.

Besides, you don't have to worry about corrosion, as you would with steel strings, so they should last a good long time.

agreed, this is one of the reasons why i love unwound baritone strings too you don't have to worry about the sweat from your
fingers rusting the wound strings. not to mention less 'boomy' sound.

Icelander53
06-30-2014, 06:58 AM
Does anyone have advice on cheap strings for a cheap uke? I mean, it's sort of silly to have a $100 ukulele with $10 Southcoast strings. If a $1k uke uses $10 strings, I'm looking for $1 strings for a $100 uke. Anyone suggest the cheapest "good" strings for an inexpensive "good" laminate? Thanks in advance for any good advice.

I don't think it's silly at all if you get a huge upgrade in sound for that $10. Not everyone can afford high end instruments. But maybe you're on a different level than the rest of the unwashed rabble that spend less than a grand on their ukes.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 06:59 AM
I don't think it's silly at all if you get a huge upgrade in sound for that $10. No everyone can afford high end instruments. But maybe you're on a different level than the rest of the unwashed rabble that spend less than a grand on their ukes.

'unwashed rabble' not even sure what you mean there.

coolkayaker1
06-30-2014, 09:29 AM
I don't think it's silly at all if you get a huge upgrade in sound for that $10.

I'm just looking for cheap ukulele strings that are good, that's all. Thanks, brother ukemunga, I have never seen Martins so inexpensively.

The cheapest ukulele strings are monofilament fishing line. Perhaps that's good enough for inexpensive ukuleles, since it works on higher end ukes (as seen on many previous and epic threads). What do you think, iamambient?

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 09:35 AM
I'm just looking for cheap ukulele strings that are good, that's all. Thanks, brother ukemunga, I have never seen Martins so inexpensively.

The cheapest ukulele strings are monofilament fishing line. Perhaps that's good enough for inexpensive ukuleles, since it works on higher end ukes (as seen on many previous and epic threads). What do you think, iamambient?

68371

yep im going to use dental floss on mine for now on screw aquilas.

Icelander53
06-30-2014, 09:36 AM
Maybe you mean fluorocarbon "fishing line"

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 09:39 AM
Maybe you mean fluorocarbon "fishing line"

pretty sure thats what he meant. Regarding 'fishing line' i think living waters are some
of the nicest strings i have tried on baritone really love them! made by such a good
player i wouldn't expect any less.

coolkayaker1
06-30-2014, 09:47 AM
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?18975-fishing-line-ukulele-string-recipe&highlight=fishing+line

A little light reading for you, iamsambient.

When I say fishing line, I mean fishing line.

(Ice knows)

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 09:52 AM
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?18975-fishing-line-ukulele-string-recipe&highlight=fishing+line

A little light reading for you, iamsambient.

When I say fishing line, I mean fishing line.

(Ice knows)

tahitian ukuleles use that all the time. I'm sure it can work i just would rather not go through the hassle
and i have found nylons sound better to my ears on smaller ukes.

Pueo
06-30-2014, 10:07 AM
My favorite inexpensive strings are Hilo brand. Usually $4 a set around here. My "nice" ukuleles wear Worth strings.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 10:13 AM
My favorite inexpensive strings are Hilo brand. Usually $4 a set around here. My "nice" ukuleles wear Worth strings.

here hilos black nylon? have not tried them yet.
so far for me out of what i tried and settled on for now baritone = living water
soprano = worth clear, tenor = aquila concert = aquila.

peaceweaver3
06-30-2014, 10:42 AM
Are Fleas cheap? Because I really want to join in here, and I've finally stopped resisting the fact that the Flea, and not some "better" (read: and more expensive!) uke is my favorite!

As for strings, I've been using the La Bella Uke Pro series. I buy an extra wound string for low G, but the reentrant set is usually under $5. Really great strings! Unfortunately it's the shipping that gets you, especially if it's a string-specific retailer, but you'll have this. :)

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 10:43 AM
Are Fleas cheap? Because I really want to join in here, and I've finally stopped resisting the fact that the Flea, and not some "better" (read: and more expensive!) uke is my favorite!

As for strings, I've been using the La Bella Uke Pro series. I buy an extra wound string for low G, but the reentrant set is usually under $5. Really great strings! Unfortunately it's the shipping that gets you, especially if it's a string-specific retailer, but you'll have this. :)


gotcha i will check em out. I don't consider the flea cheap i say its mid range i guess? i dont know its not a cheapo
but its not 'high end' either its a nice uke for people who want quality with out paying insane prices.

Jools1050
06-30-2014, 11:40 AM
In keeping with this thread- this little gem is on its way to me as we speak
6837968380

Rick Turner
06-30-2014, 11:46 AM
Your neighbor's cat could do...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRQq_0VM110

Pundabaya
06-30-2014, 11:53 AM
Dude, we're already at a disadvantage because of our 'price tag challenged' ukes, now you want us to get our hands scratched to pieces wrestling cats...

I keep meaning to try those Martin strings, everyone on here who uses 'em swears by them. My Fluke's 6 month string change is up soon... But I like thoes Fremonts a lot. Hmm.

On the subject of cheap ukuleles, us Brits are at a disadvantage, our cheap ukes are quite expensive!

Ukejenny
06-30-2014, 11:58 AM
I have an ohana soprano which is an awesome instrument. No, it's not as good as my custom instruments, but I have to say, it really sounds great and is so easy to play

Love me some Ohana!!!

Rllink
06-30-2014, 12:07 PM
I have a Makala concert uke and I really like it. And for me, it isn't about money. I could come up with the money to buy a zoot uke, but I'm just not the kind of guy who needs an expensive ukulele. And to me that's the thing. I have a $65 ukulele, and I'm getting along fine with it. I don't think it is holding me back, and if I ever get to that point, I'll buy a better one. But right now, I'm doing fine. I'm also not the kind of guy who takes real good care of things that are meant to be used. If it needs to be in a climate controlled cabinet, it isn't of much use to me. You know, I'll haul that uke around with me, I'll throw it in the Jeep, and I'll have a great time. Someday someone will sit on it, step on it, or I'll throw something on top of it, and when I do, I'll decide then if I need a more expensive one. Until that happens, what the heck.

Stevelele
06-30-2014, 12:09 PM
am i the only person wondering how human gut would sound? yeah probably :mad:

Your neighbor's cat could do...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRQq_0VM110

jcarlos
06-30-2014, 12:12 PM
I've gone through many low end ukes and a few expensive ukes, I only have 1 expensive uke at the moment and the rest are cheapos. All in the $50 - $200 range, but I've found that for ukes, theres really a good market in that range, whenever I get some spare money I find my UAS creeping back in lol. I can see the allure of hand crafted instruments, but I've found that route just isn't for me. I never played the expensive ukes whenever I had them, but I won't hesisate to take out my cheapos or even travel with them. Thats just me though, so what i would say has already been said, just upgrade the strings and if your intonation is good, you should have a ball with your cheapo, I know I do :D.

jcarlos
06-30-2014, 12:14 PM
am i the only person wondering how human gut would sound? yeah probably :mad:

No i was thinking the same thing when I was watching it and I had the thought that maybe centuries ago thats what they used, making that violin extra creepy as I imagined it having human hair for the bow and human guts for the strings, ewww

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 12:24 PM
Your neighbor's cat could do...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRQq_0VM110

I'm sorry as an animal rights supporter i find this disgusting i would never use gut strings!!!!!!!

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 12:25 PM
I have a Makala concert uke and I really like it. And for me, it isn't about money. I could come up with the money to buy a zoot uke, but I'm just not the kind of guy who needs an expensive ukulele. And to me that's the thing. I have a $65 ukulele, and I'm getting along fine with it. I don't think it is holding me back, and if I ever get to that point, I'll buy a better one. But right now, I'm doing fine. I'm also not the kind of guy who takes real good care of things that are meant to be used. If it needs to be in a climate controlled cabinet, it isn't of much use to me. You know, I'll haul that uke around with me, I'll throw it in the Jeep, and I'll have a great time. Someday someone will sit on it, step on it, or I'll throw something on top of it, and when I do, I'll decide then if I need a more expensive one. Until that happens, what the heck.


makala dolphins do pack quite a punch for a cheap instrument . Makala is a great investment you get a decent
sound for a real value nothing wrong with makala at all or kala great brand.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 12:27 PM
Dude, we're already at a disadvantage because of our 'price tag challenged' ukes, now you want us to get our hands scratched to pieces wrestling cats...

I keep meaning to try those Martin strings, everyone on here who uses 'em swears by them. My Fluke's 6 month string change is up soon... But I like thoes Fremonts a lot. Hmm.

On the subject of cheap ukuleles, us Brits are at a disadvantage, our cheap ukes are quite expensive!

if someone ever hurt a cat for a f-ing string i would beat the sh!t out of them and use them for a string!
disgusting, fine thats the history of how they used to make strings, out of sheeps gut and all that but
i think nylon/carbon sounds better and nothing gets hurt in the process not cool.

Kayak Jim
06-30-2014, 12:30 PM
I really like Southcoast Medium strings on my mahogany Mainland. Many Ponos are also under the specified "affordable" mark of $500 (as was my used Koaloha). The solid wood ukes I've heard sound best to my ears with greater sustain. This is not news.

I also have a couple of laminate ukes (Kalas) to have handy during the dry winter season.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 12:33 PM
I really like Southcoast Medium strings on my mahogany Mainland. Many Ponos are also under the specified "affordable" mark of $500 (as was my used Koaloha). The solid wood ukes I've heard sound best to my ears with greater sustain. This is not news.

I also have a couple of laminate ukes (Kalas) to have handy during the dry winter season.


to me pono is a nice make i wouldn't put it in the same league as affordable ukes like kala or lanikai its a step up for sure
their very nice. i haven't tried south coast strings yet i feel a bit overwhelmed by their site im not sure where to start
and can't figure out what gauges to get for my tenor and baritone. if anyone can help me figure it out i would consider
trying them...they seem like very high quality just seems very complex to figure out...or maybe im just stupid haha

OldePhart
06-30-2014, 12:36 PM
I have a few Mainland ukes and an Eleuke concert solid-body electric. All are decent playing ukes or I wouldn't still have them (life is too short to play something you don't love, regardless of price). I also have an Oscar Schmidt Willie-K 5-string tenor (laminated, but very good nonetheless). It was going to be my "festival" uke but now that I've repaired my long neck soprano KoAloha and converted it to 5-string I will probably sell the Willie-K as the smaller KoAloha will fit on my bike more easily.

One of my best ukes is a blem Mainland mahogany soprano. I'd save it before many of my more expensive ukes (until I bought my PS and BP custom 5-string tenor that hog is the first uke I would have grabbed in case of a fire...before my other KoAlohas, even). That's an exception, though. The Mainlands are excellent value and I'm a big fan of them and of Mike...but I've owned enough of them to know that most are just very good values...they aren't real competition for a "high end" like that hog is.

John

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 12:41 PM
I have a few Mainland ukes and an Eleuke concert solid-body electric. All are decent playing ukes or I wouldn't still have them (life is too short to play something you don't love, regardless of price). I also have an Oscar Schmidt Willie-K 5-string tenor (laminated, but very good nonetheless). It was going to be my "festival" uke but now that I've repaired my long neck soprano KoAloha and converted it to 5-string I will probably sell the Willie-K as the smaller KoAloha will fit on my bike more easily.

One of my best ukes is a blem Mainland mahogany soprano. I'd save it before many of my more expensive ukes (until I bought my PS and BP custom 5-string tenor that hog is the first uke I would have grabbed in case of a fire...before my other KoAlohas, even). That's an exception, though. The Mainlands are excellent value and I'm a big fan of them and of Mike...but I've owned enough of them to know that most are just very good values...they aren't real competition for a "high end" like that hog is.

John

how does the 5 string sound? ive heard an 8 and 6 string never heard a 5 string which string is doubled?
im guessing the c?

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 12:46 PM
What about those vorson solid body's anyone try those?

LloydAZ
06-30-2014, 12:53 PM
All of the instruments that I have would be considered on the low end.

Makai - UK-55 Soprano ($40)
Cordoba - UP-100 Concert ($100)
Makala - MK-T Tenor ($90)
Oscar Schmidt - OU28T 8-String Tenor ($90)
Eddy Finn - EF-BU1 Concert Banjolele (Most Expensive - $272)

I've only been playing a few months so these suit my needs at the moment. When I get a little better with my playing then I can think about saving up for at least one better instrument and start passing these along to someone else.

As for strings, I've just stuck with Aquila on all of them and they suit my needs for the moment. Aquila seems to work pretty good on laminates.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 12:54 PM
All of the instruments that I have would be considered on the low end.

Makai - UK-55 Soprano ($40)
Cordoba - UP-100 Concert ($100)
Makala - MK-T Tenor ($90)
Oscar Schmidt - OU28T 8-String Tenor ($90)
Eddy Finn - EF-BU1 Concert Banjolele (Most Expensive - $272)

I've only been playing a few months so these suit my needs at the moment. When I get a little better with my playing then I can think about saving up for at least one better instrument and start passing these along to someone else.

As for strings, I've just stuck with Aquila on all of them and they suit my needs for the moment. Aquila seems to work pretty good on laminates.



yep aquilas for my tenor, worths for my soprano and livings waters for my acoustic baritone.

my pride and joy is my solid body konablaster baritone uke in my signature.
(cost 325) not super expensive but for me it took a little while of saving and honestly
its everything i wanted in an electric ukulele.

hmgberg
06-30-2014, 01:01 PM
I wouldn't overlook vintage bargains. Solid mahogany Harmony sopranos are nice sounding ukuleles. You can generally find them for around $50.00 on Ebay. I have several with brass frets in the neck, i.e., not plastic fret boards. The brass frets are not crowned, so I crowned them. They play fine.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 01:05 PM
I wouldn't overlook vintage bargains. Solid mahogany Harmony sopranos are nice sounding ukuleles. You can generally find them for around $50.00 on Ebay. I have several with brass frets in the neck, i.e., not plastic fret boards. The brass frets are not crowned, so I crowned them. They play fine.

I want to get a vintage harmony baritone just because it will be an affordable baritone with a nice solid top for a good price.

OldePhart
06-30-2014, 01:11 PM
how does the 5 string sound? ive heard an 8 and 6 string never heard a 5 string which string is doubled?
im guessing the c?

I'm pretty well convinced the five string is what God meant the ukulele to be. LOL

Seriously, though, I really do find that I love them. I do a LOT of finger rolls but I've never cared for how they sound on a low G uke. On a 5-string it is the G that is doubled, with one low and one high G. The high G is on the outside so you can do fast finger rolls with reentrant sound, yet if you want a bass run it's pretty easy to pick just the low-G string...and then you get great full-sounding strums, too.

It was the desire for a really good five-string that finally tipped me into ordering my first custom uke...the availability of 5-strings is kind of sparse and the few K-brands that are available would have set me back more than the Boat Paddle that I had Jerry build for me.

Even the Willie-K is decent, though. Overpriced for what it is, but the best laminated uke I've played. If I had to make a choice between playing really nice 4-string ukes or the Willie-K five-string the Willie-K would win simply because of that fifth string.

John


John

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 01:13 PM
I'm pretty well convinced the five string is what God meant the ukulele to be. LOL

Seriously, though, I really do find that I love them. I do a LOT of finger rolls but I've never cared for how they sound on a low G uke. On a 5-string it is the G that is doubled, with one low and one high G. The high G is on the outside so you can do fast finger rolls with reentrant sound, yet if you want a bass run it's pretty easy to pick just the low-G string...and then you get great full-sounding strums, too.

It was the desire for a really good five-string that finally tipped me into ordering my first custom uke...the availability of 5-strings is kind of sparse and the few K-brands that are available would have set me back more than the Boat Paddle that I had Jerry build for me.

John

oh wow best of both worlds low and high G how much was this uke?
i actually am interesting in getting this than sounds really cool!!!!

wayfarer75
06-30-2014, 01:14 PM
I'm looking to get an inexpensive tenor one of these days, after I buy a sorta spendy soprano. I'd like to be able to afford "nicer" ukes, but I don't see myself paying more than a grand for any uke ever. I'm no professional, just a hobbyist. It seems like the bigger the uke gets, the less the price seems to matter in the sound. At least to me it does.

OldePhart
06-30-2014, 01:17 PM
Note that I was editing my post as you were typing, so there is a little more info there now.

As for cost, I think the Willie-K is a bit overpriced at almost $400 street price. It's got decent electronics and mine came set up almost perfectly even though ordered from Amazon.com - but it's still a laminated uke. I think they'd sell more of them if they'd drop the gold tuners and the abalone purfling and lower the price. If you check my youtube channel (PortlyKnight) I did a video review of the Willie-K back in February or March, I think it was.

John

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 01:21 PM
I'm looking to get an inexpensive tenor one of these days, after I buy a sorta spendy soprano. I'd like to be able to afford "nicer" ukes, but I don't see myself paying more than a grand for any uke ever. I'm no professional, just a hobbyist. It seems like the bigger the uke gets, the less the price seems to matter in the sound. At least to me it does.

i recently aquired a amahi snail tenor cost 150 sounds and looks amazing for the price tag in fact elderly music carries the rose wood model
their very good ukes for the price better than kala and lanikai i think.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 01:22 PM
Note that I was editing my post as you were typing, so there is a little more info there now.

As for cost, I think the Willie-K is a bit overpriced at almost $400 street price. It's got decent electronics and mine came set up almost perfectly even though ordered from Amazon.com - but it's still a laminated uke. I think they'd sell more of them if they'd drop the gold tuners and the abalone purfling and lower the price. If you check my youtube channel (PortlyKnight) I did a video review of the Willie-K back in February or March, I think it was.

John

thats not that bad for what it is, honestly i haven't seen anyone make those (at least not under a grand ) so i think its a fair deal.
I'll put it on my 'must have' list.

igorthebarbarian
06-30-2014, 01:23 PM
2nd'ed. They're affordable and sound good. Similar to Worth Clear's but significantly less (obviously you don't get two sets like you do with Worths) and easier to find.


Martin M600s.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/M600/

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 01:25 PM
2nd'ed. They're affordable and sound good. Similar to Worth Clear's but significantly less (obviously you don't get two sets like you do with Worths) and easier to find.

im guessing these are martin's stock strings i used to own a martin soprano im not 100 % sure but i thikn these
are what it came with.

hmgberg
06-30-2014, 01:29 PM
I want to get a vintage harmony baritone just because it will be an affordable baritone with a nice solid top for a good price.

They're all solid, not just the tops. They sound good, too. You might have to adjust the saddle a little, but I've seen them selling for under $100.00 lately.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 01:30 PM
They're all solid, not just the tops. They sound good, too. You might have to adjust the saddle a little, but I've seen them selling for under $100.00 lately.

nice still a step up from my rogue baritone which i actually like but would like something a bit more resonate.

OldePhart
06-30-2014, 01:32 PM
thats not that bad for what it is, honestly i haven't seen anyone make those (at least not under a grand ) so i think its a fair deal.
I'll put it on my 'must have' list.

I think Ohana makes a 5-string uke but without the cutaway and electronics. It's a bit less and is all solid wood. If electronics and cutaway aren't important to you, that is probably the better deal.

John

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 01:33 PM
I think Ohana makes a 5-string uke but without the cutaway and electronics. It's a bit less and is all solid wood. If electronics and cutaway aren't important to you, that is probably the better deal.

John
:) THANKS! actually i dont care for cutaways as much and don't need the electronics so perfect will check this out thanks a lot!

ukemunga
06-30-2014, 02:26 PM
I'm just looking for cheap ukulele strings that are good, that's all. Thanks, brother ukemunga, I have never seen Martins so inexpensively.

Glad I could bring them to your attention. ;) But that is a good deal with the free shipping!

Dane
06-30-2014, 02:27 PM
I have a special place in my heart for my Ohana Mahogany TK-35g Tenor. It's what inspired me to play and what I created most of my tunes on. I prefer it with Fremont blacklines on it, good tone definition. Neck is a bit thick though.

I also absolutely love my Kala Acacia Tenor, strung up with low G Fremont Blacklines. Just sounds great, nice skinny neck too.

Nickie
06-30-2014, 03:36 PM
I'll chime in....I've only had two ukes that cost over 500....one I gave away....the other I sent back....all my ukes are less than 400....and I love them all....the Ohana is my fave.....and I agree that it makes more sense to get a cheap uke, as long as it's set up right, and use good strings, than to buy expensive ukes....unless you're made of money....

chefuke
06-30-2014, 04:10 PM
I found that a proper set up: level and dress frets, optimize action and on some really bad ones resetting the bridge for the right intonation worked wonders on very cheapo ukes - I just gave away a mahalo to an old uke player and he is stunned how good it actually sounds. Similar success was had with vietukes and kalas - good people like Jake Wildwood do that to vintage ukes and the results are defenatly worth the time and effort. Also if your into tinkering a 40 buck uke is perfect to learn these relatively simple procedures.

gouacats
06-30-2014, 04:16 PM
I have a Makala concert uke and I really like it. And for me, it isn't about money. I could come up with the money to buy a zoot uke, but I'm just not the kind of guy who needs an expensive ukulele. And to me that's the thing. I have a $65 ukulele, and I'm getting along fine with it. I don't think it is holding me back, and if I ever get to that point, I'll buy a better one. But right now, I'm doing fine. I'm also not the kind of guy who takes real good care of things that are meant to be used. If it needs to be in a climate controlled cabinet, it isn't of much use to me. You know, I'll haul that uke around with me, I'll throw it in the Jeep, and I'll have a great time. Someday someone will sit on it, step on it, or I'll throw something on top of it, and when I do, I'll decide then if I need a more expensive one. Until that happens, what the heck.

I could have written this! I have a Flea, but everything else is spot on, including the Jeep part! I need my uke out where I will pick it up and start playing at a moments notice. Living in AZ, I don't want a solid top that I'd have to worry about humidity control all the time. Also, the uke is definitely not holding me back. If the time comes when I feel it is holding me back, I may think about upgrading.

Dearman
06-30-2014, 04:21 PM
I picked up a Lanikai Quilted Ash on sale for $100. Looks great, sounds good and affordable. Used the stock aquillas for a year now so thinking of trying worth clears or other flourocarbon as the first upgrade.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 04:35 PM
I picked up a Lanikai Quilted Ash on sale for $100. Looks great, sounds good and affordable. Used the stock aquillas for a year now so thinking of trying worth clears or other flourocarbon as the first upgrade.

give living water strings a try their amazing strings!

Tigeralum2001
06-30-2014, 04:58 PM
Who decided $500 was affordable? What if I have 5 kids and make minimum wage? What if I am Warren Buffett?

Tigeralum2001
06-30-2014, 05:17 PM
On the topic of inexpensive strings, a certain uke shop of excellent repute has Oasis strings on sale for $8.95- and they make 2 sets, so that is the equivalent of $4.48 per set. Oasis is relatively new, but people seem very happy with them.

Dwjkerr
06-30-2014, 05:18 PM
Affordable, for me, is a lot less than $500. However, more people can afford a $500.00 Uke than a multi thousand dollar custom. Therefore a $500 uke is more affordable than a custom made uke.

Dearman
06-30-2014, 06:23 PM
give living water strings a try their amazing strings!

I may. I read great things about them but struggle to hear it on YouTube. It's hard to know what to buy without first hand experience. The sound I like best is the clear bell ringing tone high on the fretboard. Do you find a particular brand/type that will bring this out better than others? To return to your original topic, are there other suggestions to get the most out of an affordable model other than strings?

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 06:41 PM
I may. I read great things about them but struggle to hear it on YouTube. It's hard to know what to buy without first hand experience. The sound I like best is the clear bell ringing tone high on the fretboard. Do you find a particular brand/type that will bring this out better than others? To return to your original topic, are there other suggestions to get the most out of an affordable model other than strings?

look up ken Middleton playing with living water
he's he owner of living water strings and also
one of the best ukulele players out there.

Rick Turner
06-30-2014, 06:53 PM
One could always take my "Build a Uke in Four Days" course for $425.00 and be quite in control of the quality of build of a soprano or tenor pineapple uke, get four days of lutherie instruction, and walk away with a fine sounding uke made out of solid woods. That may be the best deal in uke-dom.

iamesperambient
06-30-2014, 07:23 PM
One could always take my "Build a Uke in Four Days" course for $425.00 and be quite in control of the quality of build of a soprano or tenor pineapple uke, get four days of lutherie instruction, and walk away with a fine sounding uke made out of solid woods. That may be the best deal in uke-dom.

That would be great if that were real, although i feel many people still would walk away making really shitty ukes myself included i could barely put together legos let alone try to build an instrument.

chefuke
06-30-2014, 07:24 PM
One could always take my "Build a Uke in Four Days" course for $425.00 and be quite in control of the quality of build of a soprano or tenor pineapple uke, get four days of lutherie instruction, and walk away with a fine sounding uke made out of solid woods. That may be the best deal in uke-dom.

That sounds fantastic! I assume its in America and out of reach for me. Damn just can't have it all...

NewKid
06-30-2014, 07:26 PM
I've had great luck with Kala:
$80 for their long neck soprano laminate - a perfect starter uke
$150 for a used solid mahogany soprano with surprising volume
$225 for a solid mahogany tenor that is so sweet-sounding

My wife also has a $300 solid Acacia soprano from Pono with a genuine Hawaiian sound.

I've also had two vintage solid mahogany baritones for less than $300 each - a Harmony and a Favilla. Both had Brazilian Rosewood fretboards. Both wonderful players.

Finally, one of the best values in uke-dom, along with Rick Turner's make a ukulele in 4 days class, is a used Ken Timms Style O - the absolute real deal in a handmade instrument - right around $500 and easily worth twice that amount.

I let all these wonderful instruments go (except my wife's) in favor of my current high-end line up.

i highly recommend Antebellum Instruments and Jake Wildwood as a great source of vintage, solid wood instruments, that have been restored for great playability.

Hammond
06-30-2014, 07:38 PM
For my $300 uke, I love SouthCoast strings, the strings let the uke perform its best. with stock Aquila strings, it sounded like $100 uke. I try Worths & Living Water, they sounded like $200 uke. Then all four types of D'Addario, same. At the end the SouthCoast Heavy Medium / Medium Linear sets, the uke finally sounds like a real $300 uke.

Finding the better match for the uke is a fun process. I suggest you could try the SouthCoast to see if your uke like it or not. Some ukes may sounds better with Aquila, some with Worths/Living Water. Thats keep the world not boring.:)

I only have 2 ukes, the above talking about my beginning uke.

Hammond
06-30-2014, 07:39 PM
One could always take my "Build a Uke in Four Days" course for $425.00 and be quite in control of the quality of build of a soprano or tenor pineapple uke, get four days of lutherie instruction, and walk away with a fine sounding uke made out of solid woods. That may be the best deal in uke-dom.

That sounds fantastic! I wish I live near enough to attend the workshop.:iwant:

itsme
06-30-2014, 08:14 PM
One could always take my "Build a Uke in Four Days" course for $425.00 and be quite in control of the quality of build of a soprano or tenor pineapple uke, get four days of lutherie instruction, and walk away with a fine sounding uke made out of solid woods. That may be the best deal in uke-dom.


That would be great if that were real, although i feel many people still would walk away making really shitty ukes myself included i could barely put together legos let alone try to build an instrument.
Rick, that sounds like it could be a lot of fun. :)

But I'm kinda with iamesperambient. There is no way someone can become a competent luthier and craft a really top-notch instrument in only four days. I'm going to guess it's more along the lines of a supervised kit building class with you supplying the parts instead of them all coming in a box.

And, hey, some of us can be more than a little challenged by "some assembly required" products. :p

mds725
06-30-2014, 09:01 PM
Rick, that sounds like it could be a lot of fun. :)

But I'm kinda with iamesperambient. There is no way someone can become a competent luthier and craft a really top-notch instrument in only four days. I'm going to guess it's more along the lines of a supervised kit building class with you supplying the parts instead of them all coming in a box.

And, hey, some of us can be more than a little challenged by "some assembly required" products. :p

I took the class. Some of the parts -- the soundboard, back and sides -- are precut (and in the case of sides, pre-bent, but we carved and glued on our own braces, glued the parts together ourselves, carved our own necks, hammered in our own frets (the fret slots were pre-sawn), designed and made our own headstocks, installed the tuning machines, glued on the bridge, shaped and installed the nut and saddle, and strung and set the ukes up ourselves. Mine still needs final sanding and finish, but it sounded great at the end of the class. Mine's the one on the right.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=38264&d=1338017857

chefuke
06-30-2014, 09:14 PM
They both look very nice! I really like the headstock design.
How are you going to finish it? Laquer? Polish? Or just oil?


http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=38264&d=1338017857[/QUOTE]

hawaii 50
06-30-2014, 09:30 PM
I took the class. Some of the parts -- the soundboard, back and sides -- are precut (and in the case of sides, pre-bent, but we carved and glued on our own braces, glued the parts together ourselves, carved our own necks, hammered in our own frets (the fret slots were pre-sawn), designed and made our own headstocks, installed the tuning machines, glued on the bridge, shaped and installed the nut and saddle, and strung and set the ukes up ourselves. Mine still needs final sanding and finish, but it sounded great at the end of the class. Mine's the one on the right.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=38264&d=1338017857



Hey Mark...you forgot to mention...that you get to spend 4 days with the Legend himself Rick Turner...one of the nicest most respected guys in the Luthier world/craft....must of been fun getting real first hand info from a master.....

silveraven
06-30-2014, 09:37 PM
One could always take my "Build a Uke in Four Days" course for $425.00 and be quite in control of the quality of build of a soprano or tenor pineapple uke, get four days of lutherie instruction, and walk away with a fine sounding uke made out of solid woods. That may be the best deal in uke-dom.

Gawd :iwant:

mds725
06-30-2014, 10:09 PM
Hey Mark...you forgot to mention...that you get to spend 4 days with the Legend himself Rick Turner...one of the nicest most respected guys in the Luthier world/craft....must of been fun getting real first hand info from a master.....

Actually, we ended up condensing the class into three days, due to a problem on the second day with Rick's car. But it was cool getting to know Rick, listening to his stories, and watching and listening to him talk about building ukuleles. He's a cool guy with a lot of information and great insights. Plus, it was the beginning of the idea of my getting a custom CR, which turned into my octave uke and my steel string baritone.

UkulelePlace
06-30-2014, 11:26 PM
One could always take my "Build a Uke in Four Days" course for $425.00 and be quite in control of the quality of build of a soprano or tenor pineapple uke, get four days of lutherie instruction, and walk away with a fine sounding uke made out of solid woods. That may be the best deal in uke-dom.
Any chance you'll be coming to Sydney to do this course? :iwant:

Rick Turner
07-01-2014, 01:16 AM
Actually, I taught it with Allen McFarlen in Cairns a few years ago with 14 students, and in Hobart (that's in Tasmania for you non-Aussies) as a mandolin making course three times, so it is a portable course. All I need is a woodworking shop in which to teach, enough clamps, and a day ahead with a sheet of plywood with which to make workboards for the students. I can pack up to 15 instruments worth of parts in a suitcase, and the Aussie customs folks seem right happy having me do this. I'd love to teach in Sydney.

Freeda
07-01-2014, 01:30 AM
I didn't read the whole thread, but the idea of defining "affordable" as up to $999.99 seems a little silly to me. That's more than most people's car payment, and almost as much as a mortgage payment (if not more in many areas).

Freeda
07-01-2014, 01:32 AM
Does anyone have advice on cheap strings for a cheap uke? I mean, it's sort of silly to have a $100 ukulele with $10 Southcoast strings. If a $1k uke uses $10 strings, I'm looking for $1 strings for a $100 uke. Anyone suggest the cheapest "good" strings for an inexpensive "good" laminate? Thanks in advance for any good advice.

GHS is now making some surprisingly decent fluorcarbons.

Kayak Jim
07-01-2014, 02:09 AM
I didn't read the whole thread, but the idea of defining "affordable" as up to $999.99 seems a little silly to me. That's more than most people's car payment, and almost as much as a mortgage payment (if not more in many areas).

The OP defined "affordable" as less than $500 in post #1.

wayfarer75
07-01-2014, 02:09 AM
i recently aquired a amahi snail tenor cost 150 sounds and looks amazing for the price tag in fact elderly music carries the rose wood model
their very good ukes for the price better than kala and lanikai i think.

That's a good idea. I've been thinking about making a trip up to Elderly--it would be a little bit of a road trip for me, but their collection of ukes is far more outstanding than anything local to me.

RichM
07-01-2014, 02:32 AM
i highly recommend Antebellum Instruments and Jake Wildwood as a great source of vintage, solid wood instruments, that have been restored for great playability.

+1 on Jake Wildwood and Antebellum Instruments. The biggest risk in buying vintage is getting a dud, and Jake rehabs all of his instruments for structure and playability (and stands behind them). He usually has several cool ukes for under $300 (sometimes much under), and presents a great alternative to the import market.

Edited to add: Here's what $300 or less will buy you from Antebellum Instruments (including shipping!). NFI for me, I just love what he does.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-M9xZp868W_0/U3Ss3OJrj_I/AAAAAAAACLU/g14zIzSpTaI/s1600/ossm-1.jpghttp://2.bp.blogspot.com/-P_bSn052n_M/U4jpzA_8DMI/AAAAAAAACg0/a3S-W0IX7Rg/s1600/joos-1.jpg

Sporin
07-01-2014, 03:21 AM
I started this adventure on a gift from my wife... a Kala Concert sized from Amazon. I didn't know better, I loved it but quickly wanted something bigger and "better."

First uke I purchased was an Islander MT-4 (early 2012 laminate mahogany, purchased from, and set up by, HMS with a Pono passive pickup installed. Loved it.

But "cheaper" ukes got nicer and nicer each season and I wanted to upgrade to something with a solid top, preferably spruce as I had come to really like the sound of a solid spruce top. The newest Kala's were getting rave reviews for their build quality and tone so I sold the Islander and bought a Kala KA-STG with Aloha Twin Spot pickup. (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?94915-NUD-Kala-KA-STG-from-HMS)

Both the Islander, and the KASTG came in a bit over $300 with pickup ($100) installed and shipped HI to VT.

I think there are SO MANY excellent ukes below $500.. some well below there. My next uke will be a solid Mahogany of some sort, probably a Mainland.

SteveZ
07-01-2014, 03:23 AM
Originally Posted by Rick Turner - One could always take my "Build a Uke in Four Days" course for $425.00 and be quite in control of the quality of build of a soprano or tenor pineapple uke, get four days of lutherie instruction, and walk away with a fine sounding uke made out of solid woods. That may be the best deal in uke-dom.


Rick, that sounds like it could be a lot of fun. :). But I'm kinda with iamesperambient. There is no way someone can become a competent luthier and craft a really top-notch instrument in only four days. I'm going to guess it's more along the lines of a supervised kit building class with you supplying the parts instead of them all coming in a box.

And, hey, some of us can be more than a little challenged by "some assembly required" products. :p

No course like Rick's is meant to train someone to be a professional luthier. Think of it like a "drivers ed" course, where a person can understand how it works, how to do basic set-up and how to handle simple maintenance. For someone who sees many years ahead of them with this type of instrument, such knowledge and skill can be invaluable.

I got some basic instruction like this many years ago with guitar and it has made a world of difference in being able to examine new/used instruments before acquiring them. It has saved me a lot of money taking care of my stuff and helped me make better deals. So, if the goal is to have an "affordable" musical experience for many years, getting a few basic hands-on skills in instrument set-up and maintenance plus knowledge on how the instrument really works can end up saving a lot of money.

coolkayaker1
07-01-2014, 04:21 AM
I think there are SO MANY excellent ukes below $500.. some well below there. My next uke will be a solid Mahogany of some sort.

I agree with you, Sporin. Many great ukuleles at the $500 mark. In fact, I think the biggest jump in "benefit" is going from a $250-ish uke to a $500-ish ukulele for refinement, feel, and sound. I also second and encourage your thoughts about a mahogany ukulele. To my ear, mahogany trumps them all when done in a thin and lightweight build method (Martin, Collings, etc.). Heavy mahogany builds can be a true drag.

Windsor, VT. I grew up in northern MA and was out in your neck of the woods just a few months ago photographing the famed covered bridge and taking the Harpoon Ale tour. What a lovely brewery and a great tour! Snuck up to St. Gauden's place, chased Salinger's home (saw his mailbox and his wife, Colleen, walking their dogs) and generally had a fun time of it all.

Sporin
07-01-2014, 05:49 AM
I agree with you, Sporin. Many great ukuleles at the $500 mark. In fact, I think the biggest jump in "benefit" is going from a $250-ish uke to a $500-ish ukulele for refinement, feel, and sound. I also second and encourage your thoughts about a mahogany ukulele. To my ear, mahogany trumps them all when done in a thin and lightweight build method (Martin, Collings, etc.). Heavy mahogany builds can be a true drag.

Windsor, VT. I grew up in northern MA and was out in your neck of the woods just a few months ago photographing the famed covered bridge and taking the Harpoon Ale tour. What a lovely brewery and a great tour! Snuck up to St. Gauden's place, chased Salinger's home (saw his mailbox and his wife, Colleen, walking their dogs) and generally had a fun time of it all.

Glad you enjoyed the area! Colleen comes to our church Turkey supper fundraisers every fall (Hartland UU church, next town over from Windsor). JD himself used to attend as well but that was before my time. :cheers:

iamesperambient
07-01-2014, 06:07 AM
The OP defined "affordable" as less than $500 in post #1.

ya I never said 999 was affordable
I don't even know where they got
that number from? affordable to me
is less than 500

iamesperambient
07-01-2014, 06:09 AM
+1 on Jake Wildwood and Antebellum Instruments. The biggest risk in buying vintage is getting a dud, and Jake rehabs all of his instruments for structure and playability (and stands behind them). He usually has several cool ukes for under $300 (sometimes much under), and presents a great alternative to the import market.

Edited to add: Here's what $300 or less will buy you from Antebellum Instruments (including shipping!). NFI for me, I just love what he does.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-M9xZp868W_0/U3Ss3OJrj_I/AAAAAAAACLU/g14zIzSpTaI/s1600/ossm-1.jpghttp://2.bp.blogspot.com/-P_bSn052n_M/U4jpzA_8DMI/AAAAAAAACg0/a3S-W0IX7Rg/s1600/joos-1.jpg

those are nice I was always thinking of checking
back with them for a vintage baritone
seems like they do a good job revamping
vintage instruments.

iamesperambient
07-01-2014, 06:11 AM
That's a good idea. I've been thinking about making a trip up to Elderly--it would be a little bit of a road trip for me, but their collection of ukes is far more outstanding than anything local to me.

never been there but ordered my
electric baritone from them and
it was a great buying experience
very helpful and fast shipping
excellent dealer to buy from.

coolkayaker1
07-01-2014, 06:13 AM
Glad you enjoyed the area! Colleen comes to our church Turkey supper fundraisers every fall (Hartland UU church, next town over from Windsor). JD himself used to attend as well but that was before my time. :cheers:

Oh, snap!!

peaceweaver3
07-01-2014, 06:41 AM
I took the class. Some of the parts -- the soundboard, back and sides -- are precut (and in the case of sides, pre-bent, but we carved and glued on our own braces, glued the parts together ourselves, carved our own necks, hammered in our own frets (the fret slots were pre-sawn), designed and made our own headstocks, installed the tuning machines, glued on the bridge, shaped and installed the nut and saddle, and strung and set the ukes up ourselves. Mine still needs final sanding and finish, but it sounded great at the end of the class. Mine's the one on the right.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=38264&d=1338017857

I'm way across the country. But I could totally do this! I've always wanted to build an instrument and have found many kits and classes, but not for ukes. And a pineapple uke? My favorite...

I'm blind. So my finished uke may well look like crap and have gluey fingerprints all over it. But it would sound the best I could possibly make it sound, and that's what matters most to me. Oh, and it would be silky smooth too. Just don't look and you'll be fine. :D

Ukejenny
07-01-2014, 07:15 AM
I took the class. Some of the parts -- the soundboard, back and sides -- are precut (and in the case of sides, pre-bent, but we carved and glued on our own braces, glued the parts together ourselves, carved our own necks, hammered in our own frets (the fret slots were pre-sawn), designed and made our own headstocks, installed the tuning machines, glued on the bridge, shaped and installed the nut and saddle, and strung and set the ukes up ourselves. Mine still needs final sanding and finish, but it sounded great at the end of the class. Mine's the one on the right.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=38264&d=1338017857

Those are gorgeous. I would love to do a class like this one.

stevepetergal
07-01-2014, 07:15 AM
I put living waters on a cheap rogue baritone and it transformed the sound i think its a great cheap upgrade to make
cheap ukes sound better. I think its a worth while invested me that doesn't cost to much.

I agree here. It's great to have an inexpensive ukulele. But, isn't it still part of the equation to make it as good as you can within budget. I use Worth clears on my $100 Oscar Schmidt. I would rather spend more on good strings (they're still pretty cheap) and love the sound than buy cheap just to keep it cheap. Plus, if I pay double and keep the strings on the instrument twice as long because I love the sound, the cost is the same.

That being said, I didn't realize the Martins were so inexpensive. I haven't tried them in years but, when I did, I thought there was no difference in sound or performance between them and the Worths.

janeray1940
07-01-2014, 07:27 AM
That being said, I didn't realize the Martins were so inexpensive. I haven't tried them in years but, when I did, I thought there was no difference in sound or performance between them and the Worths.

Personally I far prefer the sound and feel of the Martins over the sound and feel of Worths. I guess that means I use cheap strings on my expensive ukuleles! :)

UkerDanno
07-01-2014, 07:32 AM
Personally I far prefer the sound and feel of the Martins over the sound and feel of Worths. I guess that means I use cheap strings on my expensive ukuleles! :)

me too...:shaka:

iamesperambient
07-01-2014, 07:34 AM
I agree here. It's great to have an inexpensive ukulele. But, isn't it still part of the equation to make it as good as you can within budget. I use Worth clears on my $100 Oscar Schmidt. I would rather spend more on good strings (they're still pretty cheap) and love the sound than buy cheap just to keep it cheap. Plus, if I pay double and keep the strings on the instrument twice as long because I love the sound, the cost is the same.

That being said, I didn't realize the Martins were so inexpensive. I haven't tried them in years but, when I did, I thought there was no difference in sound or performance between them and the Worths.

its a cheap upgrade and really improves the sound.
I found living water re-entrant G strings are the optimal
strings for my baritone, and worth clears work well on my cheapo
soprano but i'm still searching for the optimal string for my tenor
so far aquila is winning but i feel there is a possibility of finding a set
of strings which are warmer and have a little less 'bite' to them. Still
on the hunt!

iamesperambient
07-01-2014, 07:35 AM
I'm way across the country. But I could totally do this! I've always wanted to build an instrument and have found many kits and classes, but not for ukes. And a pineapple uke? My favorite...

I'm blind. So my finished uke may well look like crap and have gluey fingerprints all over it. But it would sound the best I could possibly make it sound, and that's what matters most to me. Oh, and it would be silky smooth too. Just don't look and you'll be fine. :D

those look really nice, still under even the supervision of an experienced luthier
i still don't think i'd be capable of making a uke. Its a very special skill that
takes a very specific and special talent.

Newportlocal
07-01-2014, 07:49 AM
Are Fleas cheap? Because I really want to join in here, and I've finally stopped resisting the fact that the Flea, and not some "better" (read: and more expensive!) uke is my favorite!

As for strings, I've been using the La Bella Uke Pro series. I buy an extra wound string for low G, but the reentrant set is usually under $5. Really great strings! Unfortunately it's the shipping that gets you, especially if it's a string-specific retailer, but you'll have this. :)

Absolutely love flea ukuleles. I had a soprano tiki flea for years. I still have a pineapple tenor flea. Currently,I use PhD or Living Water low G strings on it. I think for what they are they are fleas and flukes are the best deal out there. Loved watching Seeso rock on his flea at NAMM, and even more at the Gandhi restaurant afterward.
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?76177-NAMM-Grassy-Knoll-Video-Waterfalls



Btw I would love to take Rick's class someday. I am sure I would learn a ton, get a great instrument, and he would be great to hang out with in person.

iamesperambient
07-01-2014, 07:54 AM
Absolutely love flea ukuleles. I had a soprano tiki flea for years. I still have a pineapple tenor flea. Currently,I use PhD or Living Water low G strings on it. I think for what they are they are fleas and flukes are the best deal out there. Loved watching Seeso rock on his flea at NAMM, and even more at the Gandhi restaurant afterward.
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?76177-NAMM-Grassy-Knoll-Video-Waterfalls



Btw I would love to take Rick's class someday. I am sure I would learn a ton, get a great instrument, and he would be great to hang out with in person.





which one is the tenor size?
im using flea is the soprano and flukes are the concert/tenor ones?
i've seen a few which looked pretty cool. Never really did to much
investigating on them i assume their all plastic?

Rick Turner
07-01-2014, 07:57 AM
I've had students as young as 14 and as old as 83 take either the mando or uke building course. Every one of my students (and I must be up over 100 now) has made a playable instrument, and sure, the craftsmanship level varies up and down, but if you can follow directions, you can put one of these together decently enough. In fact, some of my most problematic students have been fairly experienced woodworkers; they think they can rush ahead to the next step they imagine...and they screw up the sequence of operations which is of utmost importance in lutherie, and they essentially paint themselves into corners. One of the best was in my very first mando course at Telluride, and it was made by a kindergarten teacher who was very used to "herding kittens" and knew the value of paying attention to teacher! The hardest thing as a teacher is to get people to listen carefully to instructions and then follow them. A white-board is my friend when teaching. The hardest thing for students is the last day...setup including making the string nut. That turns into a solid nine hour plus day for me, and then I have to gather all my supplies and tools up and finish cleaning the shop.

Newportlocal
07-01-2014, 08:05 AM
which one is the tenor size?
im using flea is the soprano and flukes are the concert/tenor ones?
i've seen a few which looked pretty cool. Never really did to much
investigating on them i assume their all plastic?

Yes, all plastic. I take mine out in the yard when my dog is running back and forth at imaginary stuff kicking dust everywhere. It will stand on its own. I always have it out by my bed. Totally indestructible. I have four kids and never have to worry about it. Intonation is spot on. You can order a flea or a fluke with different neck lengths. I just prefer the flea body shape. It is my no worries uke.

iamesperambient
07-01-2014, 08:05 AM
I've had students as young as 14 and as old as 83 take either the mando or uke building course. Every one of my students (and I must be up over 100 now) has made a playable instrument, and sure, the craftsmanship level varies up and down, but if you can follow directions, you can put one of these together decently enough. In fact, some of my most problematic students have been fairly experienced woodworkers; they think they can rush ahead to the next step they imagine...and they screw up the sequence of operations which is of utmost importance in lutherie, and they essentially paint themselves into corners. One of the best was in my very first mando course at Telluride, and it was made by a kindergarten teacher who was very used to "herding kittens" and knew the value of paying attention to teacher! The hardest thing as a teacher is to get people to listen carefully to instructions and then follow them. A white-board is my friend when teaching. The hardest thing for students is the last day...setup including making the string nut. That turns into a solid nine hour plus day for me, and then I have to gather all my supplies and tools up and finish cleaning the shop.

sounds coool, its there options for different shapes/styles or kind of a set 'template' for each uke?

iamesperambient
07-01-2014, 08:06 AM
Yes, all plastic. I take mine out in the yard when my dog is running back and forth at imaginary stuff kicking dust everywhere. It will stand on its own. I always have it out by my bed. Totally indestructible. I have four kids and never have to worry about it. Intonation is spot on. You can order a flea or a fluke with different neck lengths. I just prefer the flea body shape. It is my no worries uke.

sounds cool and looks way better than those out door ukes for a plastic uke.
ill probably check them out at some point.

hawaii 50
07-01-2014, 08:15 AM
Actually, we ended up condensing the class into three days, due to a problem on the second day with Rick's car. But it was cool getting to know Rick, listening to his stories, and watching and listening to him talk about building ukuleles. He's a cool guy with a lot of information and great insights. Plus, it was the beginning of the idea of my getting a custom CR, which turned into my octave uke and my steel string baritone.

Hey Mark...

you should finish your uke with tru-oil...not as nice as Rick's polyester rr nitro,but very easy...I did it with my one and only build with Hana-Lima
one coat in the morning and one coat at night....just put it on with a rag...then wipe off right away the excess....

I would do it at least 7 days..but you can do more...maybe use steel wool very lightly and then do more coats....

tru-oil only about $7.00 for the small bottle...it will last awhile

Newportlocal
07-01-2014, 08:17 AM
I've had students as young as 14 and as old as 83 take either the mando or uke building course. Every one of my students (and I must be up over 100 now) has made a playable instrument, and sure, the craftsmanship level varies up and down, but if you can follow directions, you can put one of these together decently enough. In fact, some of my most problematic students have been fairly experienced woodworkers; they think they can rush ahead to the next step they imagine...and they screw up the sequence of operations which is of utmost importance in lutherie, and they essentially paint themselves into corners. One of the best was in my very first mando course at Telluride, and it was made by a kindergarten teacher who was very used to "herding kittens" and knew the value of paying attention to teacher! The hardest thing as a teacher is to get people to listen carefully to instructions and then follow them. A white-board is my friend when teaching. The hardest thing for students is the last day...setup including making the string nut. That turns into a solid nine hour plus day for me, and then I have to gather all my supplies and tools up and finish cleaning the shop.

I have always been impressed with your devotion to music, and your history. I know you do it for the love of it.
I don't know how you make such quality instruments at your price point. I know we had our differences. I think your shop is probably just super busy, but I always knew the quality of the instrument was phenomenal. Hope to take your build class one day.

mds725
07-01-2014, 09:17 AM
Hey Mark...

you should finish your uke with tru-oil...not as nice as Rick's polyester rr nitro,but very easy...I did it with my one and only build with Hana-Lima
one coat in the morning and one coat at night....just put it on with a rag...then wipe off right away the excess....

I would do it at least 7 days..but you can do more...maybe use steel wool very lightly and then do more coats....

tru-oil only about $7.00 for the small bottle...it will last awhile

For some reason, I've gotten the impression that Tru-oil is illegal in California now. I haven't had the time to finish sanding the instrument properly, but when I do, i'll find a way to get it finished.

TG&Y
07-01-2014, 09:28 AM
I handled one of those in a pawnshop. That quilted maple sure was purty.


I have a laminate Ibanez concert with quilted maple, a cutaway, purfling and fretboard binding. It was made overseas.

It looks great. It sounds good.
68370

strumsilly
07-01-2014, 09:37 AM
I want to get a vintage harmony baritone just because it will be an affordable baritone with a nice solid top for a good price.

I got a Favilla baritone for just a little more than the Harmony go for. It blows the Harmonies away. I like it so much I sold my Martin bari! I never played the Martin once I got the Favilla. It's an old one.

iamesperambient
07-01-2014, 09:38 AM
I got a Favilla baritone for just a little more than the Harmony go for. It blows the Harmonies away. I like it so much I sold my Martin bari! I never played the Martin once I got the Favilla. It's an old one.

the first baritone i ever played was my friends vintage favilla i loved it!
i would def like to get my hands on one again i agree it is much better
has a nice warm full, robust sound!

Rick Turner
07-01-2014, 11:18 AM
Yes, it's nearly impossible to get TruOil anymore here. Waterlox is a great substitute; you can get it at Woodcraft Supply stores. It's a tung oil varnish with phenolic and alkyd resins; they sell it as an oil finish, but technically it's a "long oil varnish". Great stuff.

hawaii 50
07-01-2014, 12:57 PM
For some reason, I've gotten the impression that Tru-oil is illegal in California now. I haven't had the time to finish sanding the instrument properly, but when I do, i'll find a way to get it finished.

did not know that....still can get it here I think...we have one Woodcraft store here...I like going in and looking at all the neat tools,woods etc....

Bill1
07-01-2014, 02:11 PM
Tru oil is based on linseed oil, it has had some processing and additives which make it dry faster. If you like the finish, find an art supply shop that sells "stand oil", it should be linseed oil that has been heated so that it starts to set and will be the consistency of honey. While you are at the art shop get "pure gum turpentine" this should be pure gum turpentine made from what you get out of a tree, not other chemicals. So moisten a rag with the turpentine, and use it to apply the stand oil, then use a similar process to applying tru oil taking note of how long it takes to set. These product should be simply pure real turpentine and linseed oil, no other additives. If you want food safe linseed oil go to your heath food shop and buy flaxseed oil, it is the same stuff processed to foodsafe standard, you can drink it, but the flaxseed oil will take maybe 10 days or more for each coat to set properley.
Anyway back to affordable, i have used the above process to wake up the finish on several old Harmony type ukes which cost much less than $100. So you do not have to buy a new uke, you can get some great aged ukes for well under $500. If you want to buy one, try it before you commit, and avoid structural damage. But if the finish is a little rough and all else is good, it could be a good buy. The product mentioned by Rick Turner or the stand oil can be used to wake up an old finish, or there is a thing called patina which is about leaving the old finish as it is and enjoying the aged look.

Rick Turner
07-01-2014, 02:27 PM
Bill, good explanation, but the subject came up regarding home finishing of new ukes...ones finished "in the white" in my class or elsewhere.

The only down side to unprocessed linseed is that it can go gummy whereas tung oil tends not to. Some linseed preparations also have "Japan dryer" added...it's often a cobalt solution that is an oxydizer.

Bill1
07-01-2014, 02:59 PM
Great input Rick, i have never made a uke. But i have made furniture and used the process on a new timber surface. For new timber, i paint on two sealing coats of shellac and leave it for a day or so. Then i use only two coats of oil, the first is applied fat and wiped off after 30-40 minutes. The second is thin. After it settles i use carnuba/beeswax paste applied with wet and dry or steel wool to buff up and smooth out the tiny wrinkles. I have some wood that is 15 years old that this process was used on and still looks fine. But the wood is not in a musical instrument.
Readers should check out Ricks resume and realise that he has been in the business since the 1960s, making instruments for many hugely popular musicians, when choosing which advice to follow. I have added my info for interest mainly, a sensible person would check out the products Rick mentions.

Dearman
07-01-2014, 03:15 PM
For some reason, I've gotten the impression that Tru-oil is illegal in California now. I haven't had the time to finish sanding the instrument properly, but when I do, i'll find a way to get it finished.

Life is known to the state of California to cause cancer...

stevepetergal
07-01-2014, 03:33 PM
I must be up over 100 now

Mr. Turner, you look Marvelous whatever your age.

UkulelePlace
07-01-2014, 03:55 PM
Actually, I taught it with Allen McFarlen in Cairns a few years ago with 14 students, and in Hobart (that's in Tasmania for you non-Aussies) as a mandolin making course three times, so it is a portable course. All I need is a woodworking shop in which to teach, enough clamps, and a day ahead with a sheet of plywood with which to make workboards for the students. I can pack up to 15 instruments worth of parts in a suitcase, and the Aussie customs folks seem right happy having me do this. I'd love to teach in Sydney.
Well if you're ever in Sydney teach a course, you can lock me in as a student!

VampireWeekday
07-01-2014, 04:21 PM
Hey Mark...

you should finish your uke with tru-oil...not as nice as Rick's polyester rr nitro,but very easy...I did it with my one and only build with Hana-Lima
one coat in the morning and one coat at night....just put it on with a rag...then wipe off right away the excess....

I would do it at least 7 days..but you can do more...maybe use steel wool very lightly and then do more coats....

tru-oil only about $7.00 for the small bottle...it will last awhile
Not to drift too much farther off topic, but I've been thinking about doing one of the Hana Lima build classes in the fall. Did you you like it?

kohanmike
07-02-2014, 08:44 AM
Of the 12 ukes I've gone through in the last year, 11 were under $200 by my own dictate. When I got a little better a couple of months ago, I let go of my cap and traded in 3 for a Kala that sells for about $380, ended up costing me $150. I've changed out strings and lowered the action on all my ukes, which has improved the sound and feel. So far when I try out the higher priced ones, they're not all that much better than the ones I have, if at all.

hawaii 50
07-02-2014, 10:05 AM
Not to drift too much farther off topic, but I've been thinking about doing one of the Hana Lima build classes in the fall. Did you you like it?

you need some experience with woodworking and the tools etc..but it was good.....
there is another person...Mike Uyeno that I hear is good too...

email Mike Chock and get info....www.hanalima.com

gyosh
07-02-2014, 09:29 PM
Of the 12 ukes I've gone through in the last year, 11 were under $200 by my own dictate. When I got a little better a couple of months ago, I let go of my cap and traded in 3 for a Kala that sells for about $380, ended up costing me $150. I've changed out strings and lowered the action on all my ukes, which has improved the sound and feel. So far when I try out the higher priced ones, they're not all that much better than the ones I have, if at all.


Congratulations! Sounds like you've found the perfect uke(s) for you.

gyosh
07-02-2014, 09:37 PM
you need some experience with woodworking and the tools etc..but it was good.....
there is another person...Mike Uyeno that I hear is good too...

email Mike Chock and get info....www.hanalima.com

I took Rick's class having exactly zero skills and or experience in woodworking but the instrument I walked away with I'd put against anything costing twice as much.

I listened.

I took notes.

When I was through with the class I "set up" the other ukes I had and they all play much nicer now. Rick's class is worth more than the price in transference of knowledge alone, and I have a great little pineapple tenor.

DownUpDave
07-03-2014, 12:10 AM
If you check my signature I have two ukes on the high end, KoAloha and Pete Howlett, two low end Gretsch and Islander. The Gretsch cost $140.00 and the Islander cost $120.00 and they both sound really good. I have had lots of compliments on the sound of my Gretsch, even the luthier that did the set up commented on how nice it is and a great value.

If it sounds good and plays good that uke has ticked the two most important boxes. I might call them my beaters but they get more play than my higher end stuff because they are sitting out and are within easy reach at all times.

As asked by the OP about set up. I have had both the Gretsch and Islander set up by a luthier that is a pro and does a LOT of ukes, real high expensive stuff mostly. It has made a world of difference. Both ukes came with ridiculosly high actions and spotty intonation, they play great now. Both are strung with Aquilas and I like the sound on each of them so I am not going to experiment. Going down the rabbit hole of tone chacing via string changing is too exhausting. I just want to play these two.

iamesperambient
07-03-2014, 06:50 AM
If you check my signature I have two ukes on the high end, KoAloha and Pete Howlett, two low end Gretsch and Islander. The Gretsch cost $140.00 and the Islander cost $120.00 and they both sound really good. I have had lots of compliments on the sound of my Gretsch, even the luthier that did the set up commented on how nice it is and a great value.

If it sounds good and plays good that uke has ticked the two most important boxes. I might call them my beaters but they get more play than my higher end stuff because they are sitting out and are within easy reach at all times.




As asked by the OP about set up. I have had both the Gretsch and Islander set up by a luthier that is a pro and does a LOT of ukes, real high expensive stuff mostly. It has made a world of difference. Both ukes came with ridiculosly high actions and spotty intonation, they play great now. Both are strung with Aquilas and I like the sound on each of them so I am not going to experiment. Going down the rabbit hole of tone chacing via string changing is too exhausting. I just want to play these two.

i see your cats don't like ukes either? mine will not stand me playing a soprano i think the plink plink makes her nervous.
Tenors though or baritone she is fine with, all though only if im playing a slower finger picked or slow strummed style
jazz or old timey quick change stuff makes her really upset. And for some reason the barred E chord
makes her bite me (something about the tone of it i guess).

Kayak Jim
07-03-2014, 07:02 AM
i see your cats don't like ukes either? mine will not stand me playing a soprano

Maybe the cats just have higher end taste in soprano ukes? More discerning hearing and all...

Icelander53
07-03-2014, 07:21 AM
I play a tenor but when I start my mastiff/Pit lays at my feet until I'm done. He really likes my playing. Now if I could only get people to like it.

SteveZ
07-03-2014, 08:02 AM
I play a tenor but when I start my mastiff/Pit lays at my feet until I'm done. He really likes my playing. Now if I could only get people to like it.

When I started playing tenor banjo my dog sat right beside me. I thought it was neat that my dog liked the sounds. Then, my spouse said, "The dog is very loyal and just wants to be in position to protect you from the people listening to you play."

I must be doing better, as the dog no longer pays any attention when the banjo gets playing time....

iamesperambient
07-03-2014, 08:23 AM
Maybe the cats just have higher end taste in soprano ukes? More discerning hearing and all...

I hope you are joking if not....pretty sad right there.
the point i was TRYING to make is the higher pitch of a soprano in general is shrill to a cats sensitive ears
and baritone and tenor is a little more mellow and they seem to like that tonal quality more than the higher
pitch which seems to make them nervous. But i'm sure its just she appreciates the finer things in life, she
keeps telling me she wants a a diamond name tag, and a gold water dish....ugh...now a K brand soprano yikes!

Vagrant
07-03-2014, 09:25 AM
Maybe the cats just have higher end taste in soprano ukes? More discerning hearing and all...

It is a well known fact that cats have a much higher standard when it comes to woods. We had a cat that used to cry with joy at burred walnut, but when she found out our kitchen worksurface was laminate... well, if a cat can look embarrassed...

SteveZ
07-03-2014, 09:33 AM
It is a well known fact that cats have a much higher standard when it comes to woods. We had a cat that used to cry with joy at burred walnut, but when she found out our kitchen worksurface was laminate... well, if a cat can look embarrassed...

Perhaps this might help with the cat...

https://www.jellynote.com/en/chords-lyrics/janis-joplin/mercedes-benz/5143466e1483c5012ebd6c7e

iamesperambient
07-03-2014, 09:34 AM
It is a well known fact that cats have a much higher standard when it comes to woods. We had a cat that used to cry with joy at burred walnut, but when she found out our kitchen worksurface was laminate... well, if a cat can look embarrassed...

uh huh .....

mr79
07-03-2014, 10:22 AM
so i'm making a thread for those of us who have ukes under 500 dollars

I was so excited when i saw this thread, but i'm confused about which of my two new ukes I can post about.

One cost me $550 locally.

The second cost me $350 but i had to pay $200 dollars shipping it from Australia and then a further $100 in Import Duty. In total that's $600.

Which is allowed?

wralyn
07-03-2014, 10:41 AM
I was so excited when i saw this thread, but i'm confused about which of my two new ukes I can post about.

One cost me $550 locally.

The second cost me $350 but i had to pay $200 dollars shipping it from Australia and then a further $100 in Import Duty. In total that's $600.

Which is allowed?

$499.99 or less retail, excluding taxes, coupons, or other sale prices or discounts. Shipping/import costs do not apply. Allowance will be made for strings in excess of $5.00, but not to exceed $19.99. Moderators maintain the right to suspend any accounts in violation of the price restriction.