Anyone ever bought a uke from Luis Pilarte?

AmyDee

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He is in Nicaragua and makes instruments out of Cocobolo. I admired one of the ukes he posted on facebook and got into a conversation with him. When I initially passed on his $400 tenors, he offered me one of his concert sized instruments at a price ($250) that seems too good to be true. I was ready to go ahead with the purchase, but when he said he wanted payment via Western Union I started getting a little uneasy and have concerns that I'm being scammed. Has anyone on this forum ever heard anything about him, or has purchased one of his instruments?
 

MopMan

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Never did, but a quick google search yields this:
http://www.classicalguitardelcamp.com/viewtopic.php?t=88897
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/luis-pilarte-classical-guitars.1620918/

Looks like some people believe they own a Pilarte... but they seem to have purchased via eBay, which means they used PayPal. I'd insist on paying via PayPal just to be safe. Maybe offer him 10% more for PayPal instead of Western Union? If it's legit I don't know why he'd turn it down.


Edit: searching more on the Internet I identified at least three Facebook pages about Guitarras Pilarte, and the web addresses linked in their sidebars all appear to be down...
https://www.facebook.com/guitarraspilarte/
https://www.facebook.com/Guitarras-Pilarte-352118824891071/
https://en-gb.facebook.com/luispilarteuk/

each of the above links here: www.guitarraspilarte.com (down at the time of posting)

That UK Facebook page has some videos with truly satisfied-looking customers playing their "Pilarte" instruments, which sound pretty nice, BTW. The sheer volume of instruments listed in the last year makes me think "Luis Pilarte" must be more than one man.

Something abut this feels a bit off, I agree, but if you are willing to gamble $250 you might end up with a highish quality instrument. There are too many satisfied people on those Facebook pages for Luis Pilarte to be a total scam.
 
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Booli

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I dont know anything about this seller, but there was a uke brand from Nicaragua called 'Cocobolo Ukuleles' that lots of folks were fond of, and kind of a frenzy here on UU about a year ago. If you search 'cocobolo' you can find those threads. if you are set on a uke from this wood, there are other options that maybe just this one seller/maker....

In general, I'd avoid using Western Union (WU) completely.

The only confirmation you get from the service is 'money received' but not by whom, and there's lots of fraud done via WU.

If the seller claims they never received it, you have no way to trace the money, nor to get it back and there are zero protections for the sender.

The ONLY scenario when I could envision WU being an option is if you are sending to someone you know and trust, and they are in a third-world country without any cash and need to get home, but you could also just buy them a plane ticket - and lots of scams on this same story are played out over the day all the time look up 'grandma scam' for all the variations...

but paying for goods and services via WU is generally a bad idea, and PayPal is better in many ways, and if the seller does not want to use a paypal account, then how about direct credit card? Credit cards have protections built-in.

if the seller does not take credit cards, then maybe they are not legit?

Also, NEVER EVER EVER send your credit card info or US Soc Sec # info via email. Emails are NOT encrypted in transit and can be easily intercepted (known as Man-In-The-Middle or MITM exploit)and the info used without your intent/permission.

Either use a web payment page that is encrypted via SSL (the green closed padlock icon in your browser address bar) or via telephone...otherwise you are wide open to scams and fraud...

Hope this helps. :)
 

UkeStuff

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There was a flare up on the I’ve Got a Ukulele Facebook group from the owner of Cocobolo and the owner of Pilarte, as well as some disgruntled buyers. Much of it was later removed. I won’t say any more, but there was some angst there, so just proceed with caution and if you go that route, let us know how it goes.
 

Rakelele

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My advice: go with brands and dealers that have a good reputation here on UU.
 

AmyDee

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Thank you to everyone who has responded. I think I'm going to back off from this purchase. I was hoping that I'd get a resounding endorsement from someone here, but I'm only getting more cautionary tales. That's why I love this group - information I can TRUST.
 

Nickie

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Hate to dig up an old thread, but someone else might need to know.
This is what I got from Kevin Keith, of the REAL Cocobolo Ukuleles, after asking him about this:

"Luis Pilarte is a different luthier here in Nicaragua who doesn't have any affiliation with us. He has been building guitars and selling them locally for years, but now is building ukuleles.

It is clear from his pictures that he is trying to replicate our success as much as possible, even to the point where some of our best customers, such as yourself, do not know if he is affiliated with us. However, pictures can be deceiving, and there are some major differences in our drying processes, construction techniques and in the supplies that we use with our ukuleles.

We dry all of our tonewoods to 6% humidity in our solar dry kiln and store them at 45% relative humidity. Luis leaves his in the natural environment here in Nicaragua, which fluctuates from 60-80% most days. Luis builds his ukuleles with Spanish style construction, which means the top does not overlap the sides and connect strongly to the kerfing, but that the side of the top connect to the side of the side, which isn't a very strong connection and can lead to problems. We import all of our tuners, nickel frets, and strings. Luis uses electric guitar tuners that he buys locally because they are smaller and cheaper, guitar frets which are taller and wider than ukulele frets, and he uses cheap black nylon strings and plastic pins.

I hate to badmouth the competition, but I wish that more people knew what they were getting into before dealing with Luis. I have heard from several of Luis' customers that they were unhappy with the quality of their ukuleles and were unhappy when their ukuleles developed climate related issues after a couple of months. Luis only accepts Western Union payments, which means that the buyer is not protected with defective products and returns as they are with PayPal. In fact, these customers told me that Luis didn't even respond to their emails when they explained the problems to Luis."

So UUers have apparently saved another member from buying the wrong uke!
 
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vrieze

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luis pilarte ukulele

He is in Nicaragua and makes instruments out of Cocobolo. I admired one of the ukes he posted on facebook and got into a conversation with him. When I initially passed on his $400 tenors, he offered me one of his concert sized instruments at a price ($250) that seems too good to be true. I was ready to go ahead with the purchase, but when he said he wanted payment via Western Union I started getting a little uneasy and have concerns that I'm being scammed. Has anyone on this forum ever heard anything about him, or has purchased one of his instruments?

I just bought a lovely cocobolo tenor from Luis two weeks ago. Paid with paypal. It is an amazing instrument. Comes with Aquila strings. Am seriously considering Living Water strings in time. Tone is great. The panther paw sound hole on top of the upper bout gives it that Luna sort of feel. The only hang-up was the wait for US Customs, but it did, finally, get through. Well worth the wait. Would cost a lot more made on one of the islands.
 

Lillymo

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I just bought a lovely cocobolo tenor from Luis two weeks ago. Paid with paypal. It is an amazing instrument. Comes with Aquila strings... Tone is great... The only hang-up was the wait for US Customs, but it did, finally, get through. Well worth the wait...

Hi vrieze. Thanks for commenting on this thread from personal experience. I'm curious to know if you've had any issues with your Pilarte now that a few months have passed and your cocobolo tenor has had a chance to acclimate to its new home.
 
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AQUATOPAZ

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Hi vrieze. Thanks for commenting on this thread from personal experience. I'm curious to know if you've had any issues with your Pilarte now that a few months have passed and your cocobolo tenor has had a chance to acclimate to its new home.

No offense to vrieze meant, but I would personally be as careful with opinions from junior members without history on UU as I would be from an unknown vendor as you have as little knowledge of them as you do of the vendor.
 

Jerryc41

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I'd insist on PayPal. Offer to pay the fee he would pay them, so there would be no loss on his end.

As for the panther paw hole on vrieze's uke, my Cocobolo has what they call a dog paw cut into the side. It must be a Nicaragua thing.

I wonder if cocobolo trees in Nicaragua are in danger. So many ukes. :D (Just kidding, of course.)
 
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VioletLotus

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Hope y'all don't mind me reviving this old thread. Curious to hear if anyone's opinion has evolved about Luis Pilarte?
The other day I was admiring the photos of one he posted on Facebook; out of curiosity I asked the price and he insisted on telling me via messenger. I find it strange that he doesn't post his prices publicly. Did a search here and found this thread, which I found super helpful.
 

perep

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HEY LOOK, I have SEVERAL cocobolo ukes and SEVERAL Luis Pilarte, more coco's though, ALSO he has made me FOUR double neck cocobolo ukuleles, have couple for sale of those. Cocobolo IS a better uke, made & play & sound but cost more. I like both but Cocobolo is my choice if looking for just ONE. ASK me for more info. I have close to 100 ukes and have been around & have read & played many other ukes over the years
 

Jerryc41

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Hope y'all don't mind me reviving this old thread. Curious to hear if anyone's opinion has evolved about Luis Pilarte?
The other day I was admiring the photos of one he posted on Facebook; out of curiosity I asked the price and he insisted on telling me via messenger. I find it strange that he doesn't post his prices publicly. Did a search here and found this thread, which I found super helpful.

I know what you mean. The price is often the determining factor, yet so many sellers of all kinds make it hard to find the price. An item could cost $100 or $10,000. Price matters.
 

perep

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Yes Jerry, price keeps me away from eye candy above 3K passed up, longing for, not bragging BUT wish I had more,