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70sSanO
08-01-2014, 10:40 AM
Whenever my wife and I go on a trip or when I have to head somewhere on business I always set aside time to search out some local ukulele/acoustic shops. Over the years I've stumbled upon Dusty Strings in Seattle, Tejon Street Music in Colorado Springs, Gyphon, McCabes and Buffalo Brothers in California among others.

At one time it was almost certain that one of these shops would typically have something that would send me wandering around in a serious discussion with myself on yes-no-want it-need it-maybe-etc.

Over the past few years it seems that the selections are pretty much limited to mainstream low to mid level ukuleles with maybe a token Kamaka or Martin. I happened to recently stop by Acoustic Vibes in Arizona and found the typical selection, and a lot fewer than I had expected.

I have nothing against less expensive ukuleles as I have not spent a lot on my ukes. I'm just wondering if I'm just hitting the wrong shops, or are the selections at most stores less than in years gone by?

John

tangimango
08-01-2014, 10:46 AM
Youll be happy when you visit oahu. Waikiki northshore etc. has most high end ukes to try freely. From devines to ldfm kinnards custom k brands

greenie44
08-01-2014, 10:48 AM
I actually went to Gryphon last summer specifically to check out higher end ukes, and found a real nice assortment - Martins, K brands, Collings, Maui Music and others.

janeray1940
08-01-2014, 11:08 AM
McCabe's in Santa Monica still has a good balance of low to high end. The lower end ukes hang in easy reach on the walls of a hallway; the higher end ukes are hung overhead in the main room (out of reach of shorties like myself, for which my bank account is thankful!). There's usually a decent selection including Kamaka, Koaloha, Collings, a few vintage Martins, and so forth. Not a lot in terms of customs, but I suspect that's true of any retailer - retailers stock brands and models that they know will sell. This is where I've bought all of my Kamakas.

Last time I was on Oahu (3 years ago) I was rather disappointed in the uke selection at the shops I stopped in - didn't make it to HMS unfortunately, but the selection at most of the shops skewed toward the lower end, with a few K-brands thrown in for good measure. I was specifically on a mission to bring back a Kamaka pineapple, and there were none to be found! I ended up buying mine a couple months later at McCabe's.

70sSanO
08-01-2014, 11:21 AM
I actually went to Gryphon last summer specifically to check out higher end ukes, and found a real nice assortment - Martins, K brands, Collings, Maui Music and others.

That is good to know. I went by there a while ago and didn't find that much of a selection. Must have hit it at a bad time. I would have like to have tried a Maui Music.

John

tbeltrans
08-01-2014, 11:24 AM
Here in the Twin Cities, Willie's carries Collings, Martin, Kamaka, Blackbird, Flea, and probably a few others. Guitar Center has lower end ukuleles, and Groth Music has low and mid range ukuleles. There are many music stores around, so there are probably many others that I have not visited with an eye on ukuleles yet. I continually hear that ukuleles are selling very well these days around here. There is somehow a "magic" to the ukulele that puts the fun back in music, and I think those new to playing a musical instrument as well as those with prior experience are becoming aware of this, just as I have. I know the ukulele has had its "fad" periods in the 1920s and then in the 1950s, but I think maybe this time it may have a bit more staying power. It seems to me there are more of the "hobbyist" types as we culturally shed that stupid myth that "some gots it, some don't" and replace it with the truth that EVERYBODY can learn to play something. The ukulele is a great candidate for that "something" for all of us.

Tony

Rick Turner
08-01-2014, 11:51 AM
I can tell you that Gryphon has a nice selection of my Compass Rose ukes right now, but they tend to put the higher end ukes...mine and Collings...in with the high end acoustic guitars near the back counter, so if you were just looking in the uke room, you would not see everything.

Here is Gryphon's current stock of ukes...and it's a lot:

http://gryphonstrings.com/inventory/instrument_page.php?I=6

Nickie
08-01-2014, 12:16 PM
Thanks Rick....I wish I hadn't seen that Favilla...darn it....:drool:

actadh
08-01-2014, 05:01 PM
I always like to stop at Victor Litz in Gaithersburg, Maryland when I visit my family. They have a great staff.

Last time I was there, every ukulele I picked up was clean and in tune, which is kind of litmus test for me.

TheCraftedCow
08-01-2014, 08:37 PM
There is a place on the I-5 corridor in Salem,Oregon that has a wide range of kinds-woods-sizes and good prices. The Crafted Cow thecraftedcow@comcast.net
I am not far from the freeway.

boogie10
08-01-2014, 09:14 PM
If you're in the Los Angeles area, U Space in Little Tokyo is an ukulele/coffee shop. Really great people, good selection and great service.

SteveZ
08-02-2014, 02:42 AM
Don't know how many high end instruments a local shop sells by walk-in business. The overhead costs of maintaining a significant inventory could be more than a lot of shops are willing to invest/spend. If the stock does not turn over in a reasonable time frame, then it's tpugh to justify the business expense.

chikon2000
08-03-2014, 04:53 AM
I don't know whether this is germane to the thread, but i actually find going to music stores to check out ukuleles to be a frustrating experience more often than not, as they tend to be way out of tune and are not set up.(And I'm not just talking Guitar Center here, but many local music stores). It's a wonder that anyone would want to take up the uke after trying out some of those instruments! As a result, I order my ukes online, but that means that I don't have an opportunity to try them out first. Or perhaps, I'm just going to the wrong music stores.

thenewb
08-03-2014, 05:27 AM
If you are in Michigan, worth paying a visit to Elderly. A decent selection of ukes, but I really enjoyed their mandolin and guitar selection :D

Yeah ukes don't hold their tune well, especially the new instruments, but personally I bring my Snark tuner, haha.

Rllink
08-03-2014, 05:57 AM
I don't know whether this is germane to the thread, but i actually find going to music stores to check out ukuleles to be a frustrating experience more often than not, as they tend to be way out of tune and are not set up.(And I'm not just talking Guitar Center here, but many local music stores). It's a wonder that anyone would want to take up the uke after trying out some of those instruments! As a result, I order my ukes online, but that means that I don't have an opportunity to try them out first. Or perhaps, I'm just going to the wrong music stores.The one and only local music store here in the town that I live in has three ukes, two Cordobas and a Fender. All three are way out of tune, and no one there is ever very interested in getting them tuned up to play them.

PereBourik
08-03-2014, 06:09 AM
I went to Gryphon in three times this spring. Nice selection: Kamaka, Martin, Kremona, Collings, Compass Rose, and more. All were set up and close to in tune. One of the Martins jumped off the wall and wrestled me to the ground so I bought it.

janeray1940
08-03-2014, 06:50 AM
Just thought of something else on this topic - the buyer at my local store has told me that some of the higher-end companies place a cap on how much a dealer can order from them at any given time. So for example - if a dealer can order X-amount of X-brand, and X-brand sells out quickly, then it can be several months before that brand gets restocked. This seems to be especially true with K-brand tenors - they always sell the fastest, I'm told. So if a one-time visit coincides with this happening, a store can appear to not stock a good selection of X-brand ukes at any given time.

brimmer
08-03-2014, 06:54 AM
Music Emporium near Boston has Collings, Martin, Pono and Kamaka ukes hanging on the wall in most sizes and woods. But they seem to have dropped Kiwaya. I can't find any stores with a good selection higher end ukes anywhere on the east coast south of NYC.

Ukejenny
08-03-2014, 07:09 AM
If I want to try ukuleles, I will be driving to Atlanta, to Uke Republic. Totally worth the drive, though I still haven't made the pilgrimage.

Osprey
08-03-2014, 08:25 AM
If I want to try ukuleles, I will be driving to Atlanta, to Uke Republic. Totally worth the drive, though I still haven't made the pilgrimage.

You should go. Not that far and Mike is a heck of a nice guy. Lots of ukuleles and assorted accessories
Cliff

tbeltrans
08-03-2014, 11:18 AM
So I read a thread like this, where we all have at least one or two nice ukuleles, usually more ... and wonder why we continue to go to music stores to look at still more. I just did it last week, stopping in to Willie's and strumming a few to just to hear how they sound, feel how they feel, and see how they look. I posted earlier in this thread what I experienced.

However, I have to ask myself WHY? I have two very nice ukuleles with a combined cost of around $6,500 (one from the factory tuned low G and the other high G). I did trades so I really recycled money I had already spent some years before for the most part, but that was their value at the time of the deals I did, and as verified on the makers' web sites. Why would I possibly be interested in yet more ukuleles? It is fun to look, to window shop. But being newly retired, I don't yet have a feel for how my monthly budget REALLY fits together. What if I encounter a ukulele that I just HAVE to have, despite having perfectly fine ukuleles already that more than serve my needs?

Luckily, I like what I have much better than what I experienced in the shop, but will that always be the case? Who knows. Been there, done that with guitars and finally settled down to two very fine instruments - one acoustic (McPherson 3.5XP) and the other a fine vintage archtop (1974 Gibson Johnny Smith). Do I REALLY need to do that with ukuleles? They are truly magical instruments (not just mine, but ukuleles in general) and certainly worth our attention, but how many is enough? In AA, they say that one drink is too many and a thousand are not enough. Is that also what UAS is about? It does seem a really slippery slope.

Just thinking out loud as I try to talk myself out of succumbing to UAS...

Tony

brimmer
08-03-2014, 12:01 PM
I don't *need* any more ukes. I can play and arrange for the uke pretty well, but I'm not a professional player. and even if I were a pro, I would probably find that at most 2 ukes would suffice, a low G tenor for fingerstyle and a high G concert. My favorite player, Herb Ohta Sr basically only plays a Martin soprano, either tuned to high or low G. Of all the ukes out there (including some excellent instruments that carry his name), he settled on one maker and one size, and that's all he plays. I assume Ohta-san has more than one instrument so he doesn't have to swap strings.

Could I get by with one or two? Of course the answer is yes. Why more than 2? For me, the answer is simple : I collect ukes. Playing and arranging for uke is one of my hobbies; collecting ukes is the other. I like the look, sound, and craft of new ukes, and the antique appeal of vintage ukes.

Jim Hanks
08-03-2014, 12:02 PM
how many is enough? In AA, they say that one drink is too many and a thousand are not enough. Is that also what UAS is about? It does seem a really slippery slope.

Just thinking out loud as I try to talk myself out of succumbing to UAS...

How many is enough? Just one more. :rolleyes: there are legitimate reasons for "needing" several ukes but most of us UAS sufferers have gone beyond that. I have 6 with 2 on order and that's too many to justify keeping them all - to me anyway. I will be rehoming a few as though two come in. Then I'm going to have to stop or implement a "rotating uke" program as I've seen some other members do. That way, you still get to look and explore without becoming a hoarder.

janeray1940
08-03-2014, 02:02 PM
So I read a thread like this, where we all have at least one or two nice ukuleles, usually more ... and wonder why we continue to go to music stores to look at still more.

I think there are many reasons "why." One has already been touched on by others, and that is that they are collectors. No matter what my hobbies or passions have been over the years, I've always joked that there are two kinds of people in the world: collectors, and those who aren't collectors. I'm definitely the latter*, in part because of my small house and even smaller bank account, both of which keep me... realistic about buying things.

Personally I don't go into music stores (or any other stores, I absolutely despise shopping) unless I have a specific need, other than the shop I mentioned before - I'm there several days a week because I have friends there and I take lessons there, but I almost never even bother to try out the ukes. My last two purchases there, my Kamaka pineapple and my Ohta-San, happened totally organically - both were ukes that I was pretty certain I wanted, and both tend to be a bit hard to come by. As I'm a big believer in try-before-you-buy, rather than order online, I waited until they came in stock. In both cases, I had a good long time to ponder my purchases, rather than making an impulse buy online or because I happened to look in a shop I was passing by - two things I've done with ukes in the past, once in each case, and both are ukes I no longer own.

*To illustrate: I'm a woman who owns fewer than a dozen pairs of shoes. 'Nuff said :)

tbeltrans
08-03-2014, 02:48 PM
I think there are many reasons "why." One has already been touched on by others, and that is that they are collectors. No matter what my hobbies or passions have been over the years, I've always joked that there are two kinds of people in the world: collectors, and those who aren't collectors. I'm definitely the latter*, in part because of my small house and even smaller bank account, both of which keep me... realistic about buying things.

Personally I don't go into music stores (or any other stores, I absolutely despise shopping) unless I have a specific need, other than the shop I mentioned before - I'm there several days a week because I have friends there and I take lessons there, but I almost never even bother to try out the ukes. My last two purchases there, my Kamaka pineapple and my Ohta-San, happened totally organically - both were ukes that I was pretty certain I wanted, and both tend to be a bit hard to come by. As I'm a big believer in try-before-you-buy, rather than order online, I waited until they came in stock. In both cases, I had a good long time to ponder my purchases, rather than making an impulse buy online or because I happened to look in a shop I was passing by - two things I've done with ukes in the past, once in each case, and both are ukes I no longer own.

*To illustrate: I'm a woman who owns fewer than a dozen pairs of shoes. 'Nuff said :)

It never ceases to amaze me how much we are alike in certain ways involving the ukulele and music. From what I understand, you are into fingerstyle and chord melody ukulele and it appears your buying habits are similar to mine. I went to Wilie's last week largely because I know people who work there. I had breakfast with one of those people, the guy who did the deals on both of my ukuleles, and then we continued our conversation at the store. However, I was interested in trying some of the ukuleles they had largely because they are models that have been mentioned frequently in these forums. At least that way, I now know what people are talking about with the Collings, Martins, and Flukes. But I do have to ask myself is that the ONLY reason, or am I starting to look again? :)

At The Podium, I rarely played any of the instruments unless I was specifically buying. Like you, we have limited space in that we live in a two bedroom condo. It is roomy in that it is almost 1200 sq feet, but somehow a house just seems to have more room in general, given similar size.

This same friend whom I had breakfast has, on a number of occasions, passed on some words of wisdom to me that, in my own observation certain ring true for me. If I am not playing my own instruments and feel I am making progress, I am much more prone to shop for new instruments (what we in the guitar world called GAS - guitar or gear acquisition syndrome). When I was working, I went through long stretches of working very long hours. The pay was always very good, well into low six figures, so I had plenty of money for guitars, since my mortgage has long been paid off and I don't carry any debt. So, weekends, I spent in guitar shops instead of playing.

I don't know about others here, but if I don't play everyday, I feel as if I am going nowhere, instead trying to catch up on musical ground already covered and lost, when I do get to play. That is one reason I don't play golf. Unless I can do a thing every day consistently, I simply don't get anywhere, and golf apparently costs every time you want to do that. It would get awfully expensive for me if I were to get to where I could enjoy it and maintain that level. I don't mean pro, but at least somewhat good enough to relax and have fun with it. So it is a good thing for me that it was just before I retired (literally days) when I got my first ukulele. Since I am playing every day and having fun with it, just as my friend said, I am not looking for yet more ukuleles. The only reason I got a second ukulele is that I learned about high G and low G tuning, and did not want to be switching strings every other day.

I did get a pile of good books on chord melody and fingerstyle ukulele and a couple of DVDs and method books. I learned about these by going through the archives for UkeTalk and finding out what people recommended for the musical areas I am interested in. I am having lots of fun with those as well as experimenting on my own, finding my way around the instrument too. So, hopefully, that will keep me preoccupied and away from wanting still more ukuleles.

My comments are hopefully not being taken as judgmental of anybody else and their buying habits. We all find our own means of pleasure in a pursuit such as this. I worded my post to point at me and ask questions of myself, and secondarily ask questions of those in this type of thread what they are doing. I am finding the followup posts to be quite interesting. I fully expected there would be collectors among us, just as there are with guitars, and then possibly others who claim to be under the influence of UAS. I did that for years with guitars, so I do understand that compulsion. As I prepared for retirement, I capped that off, settling for two very good guitars that directly address my musical interests and let the rest go. It is all good as far as I am concerned.

Tony

stevepetergal
08-03-2014, 04:01 PM
Chicago Music Exchange has an amazing variety, from Cordoba, Kala, and Gretsch to Collings.

Bernunzio Uptown Music in Rochester, NY has several low-medium brands, from Kala and Eastman to Islander and Fluke. Plus they have Kamaka (several including an Ohta San), Kanile'a, Martin, and one Blackbird Clara in stock now.

You name it, Elderly has it.

Do a search before you arrive at your destination. You'll find ukuleles. In fact, I think you'll find more than ever. Everybody's building them and it looks like sales are sagging.

tbeltrans
08-03-2014, 04:14 PM
I bought strings in quantity for both my ukuleles from Elderly and they were great to deal with. As for ukulele sales, everything I hear from the local shops is that they are selling really well, often out selling guitars. I would expect, under those circumstances, that there should be plenty of fine ukuleles around.

Tony

janeray1940
08-03-2014, 05:01 PM
It never ceases to amaze me how much we are alike in certain ways involving the ukulele and music. From what I understand, you are into fingerstyle and chord melody ukulele and it appears your buying habits are similar to mine.

...

I now know what people are talking about with the Collings, Martins, and Flukes. But I do have to ask myself is that the ONLY reason, or am I starting to look again? :)

...

I don't know about others here, but if I don't play everyday, I feel as if I am going nowhere, instead trying to catch up on musical ground already covered and lost, when I do get to play.


I think we are among the uke minority in both of these ways - the type of music we choose to learn, and our buying habits. I don't want to take this thread into too much of a derail, but - the third point above, I think, is directly related to the first. Fingerstyle and chord melody require a certain focus (or talent, if one is lucky that way - I don't think I am!) and repetition that more casual strumming/singing may not. So those of us taking on the former might just have less time/energy/money (hey, lessons aren't cheap!) to put into uke buying, perhaps.

As for that second point - I think it's good to know what's out there. When Collings was getting a lot of hype, I played a few and immediately knew that they just weren't my thing. When new stuff comes into the shop sometimes I'll check it out, more just to satisfy my curiosity than out of any desire to add to my "collection." (Someone once told me that having three of anything is the start of a collection; I've got three ukes so there you go. With two, you are just this side of collector territory, Tony! :))

Does that mean I'll never buy another one? Probably not, some day when I least expect it, something completely unexpected might tempt me. Never say never!

tbeltrans
08-03-2014, 06:50 PM
I think we are among the uke minority in both of these ways - the type of music we choose to learn, and our buying habits. I don't want to take this thread into too much of a derail, but - the third point above, I think, is directly related to the first. Fingerstyle and chord melody require a certain focus (or talent, if one is lucky that way - I don't think I am!) and repetition that more casual strumming/singing may not. So those of us taking on the former might just have less time/energy/money (hey, lessons aren't cheap!) to put into uke buying, perhaps.

As for that second point - I think it's good to know what's out there. When Collings was getting a lot of hype, I played a few and immediately knew that they just weren't my thing. When new stuff comes into the shop sometimes I'll check it out, more just to satisfy my curiosity than out of any desire to add to my "collection." (Someone once told me that having three of anything is the start of a collection; I've got three ukes so there you go. With two, you are just this side of collector territory, Tony! :))

Does that mean I'll never buy another one? Probably not, some day when I least expect it, something completely unexpected might tempt me. Never say never!

Very interesting comments, Janeray. I was amazed how many GOOD books on chord melody and fingerstyle there are for the ukulele. In some ways, the instruction in these books is (to me) superior to those on the subject for the guitar. Mostly with the guitar, you have books that show you how to "wiggle your fingers so the tune comes out" as a full arrangement, but little on the HOW these are put together. The books I have for the ukulele seem to cover the HOW as much as presenting finished arrangements. I would have thought that with that kind of book available, there must be a market for it. But you could well be right. I have very little exposure to other ukulele players at this point.

Hopefully (for my bank account's sake), I will remain this side of collecting. :) As you say, "never say never".

Anyway, thanks for the informative followup! Back to the regularly scheduled thread...

Tony

Rllink
08-04-2014, 04:08 AM
I've not been infected by UAS, although I now have two of them at home. Someone loaned me one, so it sits down in my TV room, and I strum it down there because it is handy, and mine is upstairs in the living room. But when I got started thinking about playing the ukulele, I looked all over for a music store that carried ukuleles. I could not find one anywhere. Then I bought one on line, and shortly after that I found two stores in Des Moines that had a pretty good inventory. However one of them just carries Kala/Makala brand and pretty much has their line and nothing else. The other has all different brands, sizes, and styles. I go down there on occasion and check them out.

I really wish that I had discovered them before I bought my Makala, as I would have probably bought one from them if I had. In time, I will probably replace my Makala. When I do, I doubt that I keep it as well. I will either trade it, sell it, or give it away, as I don't want a bunch of ukuleles sitting around gathering dust. In a way, I would like to buy one from the shop down in Des Moines. They are nice people and I like them, but I played a couple of Mainlands down at a uke festival in Missouri, and I really liked them and I haven't seen anything I like better at the moment. So I don't know what I'm going to do. But it is a ways off. I've promised myself that I was going to play the Makala for a year before I got another, so that is quite a ways off. On the other hand, I've broken promises to myself before, and I have no reason not to do it again. I was in contact with Mike at Mainland and checked to make sure he ships to Puerto Rico, just in case I lose my resolve this winter. Anyway, that is a lot of chatting that kind of went no where, but I'm sitting here drinking a cup of coffee with no plans for the day.

Rick Turner
08-04-2014, 05:58 AM
There are also quite valid musical reasons for wanting several ukes. The next one I'll build for myself will be a long neck (16 fret) Bb tuned tenor. With my group, Uke Ellington, we need to be playing in keys that are right for our singer, and some of those keys just don't suit a C tuned uke. After that I'll make an octave uke to fill that region between Sandor's uke playing and our bassist. Sandor switches among a low G tenor, a 6 string uke, a baritone, and a resophonic tenor, all to add different flavors to our arrangements.

tbeltrans
08-04-2014, 06:45 AM
It is probably a good thing that I have yet to find a Compass Rose ukulele around here in a shop to try. Judging by your work building guitars, as well as the comments in these forums about your ukuleles, I would most certainly own at least three ukuleles by now (my current two and at least one Compass Rose). You have provided perfect reasons to grow my almost-collection. :) My wife agrees when it is time to get another instrument if I need it for work in a band, though I don't foresee myself doing that with the ukulele any time soon. I have a lot of work yet to become anywhere near proficient. Knowing what "proficient" means on another instrument provides me with a pretty clear picture of what I am aiming for on the ukulele and the effort it takes to achieve it.

Good point about working in the singer's key. I forgot about that. With the guitar, it is quite easy to handle all keys equally well, and I do that when backing a singer. I would imagine the ukulele would be more limited in that regard. Also, good point about filling the sonic space between other instruments in the band. I am familiar with that for guitar likewise when playing with a keyboard player (i.e. staying out of his or her way). Again, since I have not (yet) worked with other musicians on ukulele, these points never entered my mind. Thanks for adding these points to the mix.

Tony