Beginners should just buy from Amazon

GF1

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
47
Points
6
Ugh. A bit of a rant...

I've mildly spammed the forum over the last couple of days looking for advice for a beginner. I've also read around the subject myself as much as possible.

I fully appreciate the value in advice to buy from a local store, and avoid the big online resellers with their dodgy/non-existent quality control, their questionable reviews, and the problems you may have with customer service.

I decided to buy from a local music shop via their online store. The GBP70 entry-level ukulele I have received from them came without a cardboard carton, instead just wrapped in bubble wrap and shipped in a recycled keyboard box. It was missing the case, and any other accessories (a booklet and some stickers I think, to be fair - not a big deal!).

On inspection, the ukulele had some scuffs, and a very small scratch, as well as some minor inconsistencies in the varnishing. There was a patch of significant colour variation on the back, which almost looks like sun damage. The bridge is splintered in one corner with a small (1mm x 2mm x 14mm) splinter missing, and a hairline 20 mm crack in a different corner.

Overall it looks like I got sent the well-used shop floor model. I've emailed them and they have responded essentially to ask if I'll accept a discount. I've responded, but I'm just starting out and have no idea how to price for all these issues. Whatever happens it seems likely to involve more faff and awkwardness.

I was a bit miffed and decided I should see about actually going into another local stockist, so I rang them up. I asked if they stocked the ukulele I wanted to look at, and was told "no". There was no offer to get it in. I asked if they could get it in and how much it would be, and was told "it'll mean having to delve into the system - Actually I'll probably have to call them [the manufacturer]". Again, no offer to do so. I said thanks, and the call ended.

Add to that the awkwardness of going into these shops as someone completely starting out, and it makes for a pretty underwhelming experience.

Then compare that to Amazon, where I was able to buy a ukulele in a size down from the model I wanted for a ridiculously low price in a sale, which I know Amazon will take back in an instant if I find anything wrong with it, but which turned up seemingly faultless, and all present and correct.

I completely appreciate that for someone more experienced, who knows what they want, and where the purchase price is sufficiently high enough to awaken the shop owner from their slumber, it's a completely different proposition, but as someone just starting out my experience has differed greatly.
 

kerneltime

UU VIP
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
1,320
Points
38
Ugh. A bit of a rant...

I've mildly spammed the forum over the last couple of days looking for advice for a beginner. I've also read around the subject myself as much as possible.

I fully appreciate the value in advice to buy from a local store, and avoid the big online resellers with their dodgy/non-existent quality control, their questionable reviews, and the problems you may have with customer service.

I decided to buy from a local music shop via their online store. The GBP70 entry-level ukulele I have received from them came without a cardboard carton, instead just wrapped in bubble wrap and shipped in a recycled keyboard box. It was missing the case, and any other accessories (a booklet and some stickers I think, to be fair - not a big deal!).

On inspection, the ukulele had some scuffs, and a very small scratch, as well as some minor inconsistencies in the varnishing. There was a patch of significant colour variation on the back, which almost looks like sun damage. The bridge is splintered in one corner with a small (1mm x 2mm x 14mm) splinter missing, and a hairline 20 mm crack in a different corner.

Overall it looks like I got sent the well-used shop floor model. I've emailed them and they have responded essentially to ask if I'll accept a discount. I've responded, but I'm just starting out and have no idea how to price for all these issues. Whatever happens it seems likely to involve more faff and awkwardness.

I was a bit miffed and decided I should see about actually going into another local stockist, so I rang them up. I asked if they stocked the ukulele I wanted to look at, and was told "no". There was no offer to get it in. I asked if they could get it in and how much it would be, and was told "it'll mean having to delve into the system - Actually I'll probably have to call them [the manufacturer]". Again, no offer to do so. I said thanks, and the call ended.

Add to that the awkwardness of going into these shops as someone completely starting out, and it makes for a pretty underwhelming experience.

Then compare that to Amazon, where I was able to buy a ukulele in a size down from the model I wanted for a ridiculously low price in a sale, which I know Amazon will take back in an instant if I find anything wrong with it, but which turned up seemingly faultless, and all present and correct.

I completely appreciate that for someone more experienced, who knows what they want, and where the purchase price is sufficiently high enough to awaken the shop owner from their slumber, it's a completely different proposition, but as someone just starting out my experience has differed greatly.
The best bet is to buy from reputed ukulele sellers such as TheUkuleleSite or Mims. They put in a lot more care and experience into selling ukes.
 
Last edited:

Graham Greenbag

Active member
Joined
Apr 15, 2017
Messages
1,393
Points
38
Your best bet is simply to return the Uke that you have and get a refund. It’s messy and time consuming but better than the alternatives - please don’t ask me how I know.

Physical stores vary a lot in terms of honesty and what support they offer. Some of the shops that I have in my local community will not get much if any business from me again, but occasionally I have a duff on-line purchase too. Yes, I do like to support small local shops and viewing before buying can save you from costly mistakes but some (so not all) physical shops simply view the customer as someone to exploit - beginners and little informed customers are particularly at risk. There are many reasons why Amazon, eBay and mail order thrive and one of them is customer dissatisfaction with their local stores.

Small stores sell what they sell and, from a business perspective, ordering specials in for customers is a time consuming, risky and potentially costly process. I can understand their reticence and some will have had unhappy experiences with ‘bad’ customers too - it cuts both ways.

To avoid the disappointments of mail order instruments I learned to set-up my own Ukes and tend to buy off of eBay, but there are some specialist shops in the U.K. that sell Ukuleles and might supply what you would like. As far as I know World of Ukes in Carlisle has a justifiably good reputation ... and a couple of Uke Club pals who visited the shop whilst on holiday were pleased with both their purchases and the sales support. If I were to suggest an on-line supplier it would be WoU.

I mentioned Uke set-up above. Some stores say that they set-up instruments but in reality they either don’t or don’t do a good job. Now to be fair set-up takes a lot of time (as an occasional task by an amateur it takes me a few hours) and the profit margin is not there on cheap Ukes to support that work/cost. It’s wise not to expect anything that you don’t really pay for.
 
Last edited:

wqking

Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2021
Messages
130
Points
18
Beginners should not buy from Amazon, or should not buy from anywhere that doesn't do setup.
Beginners should buy from reputable website such as TheUkuleleSite or Mims, which do good setup.
Unless the Ukulele has been setup well in the factory, the setup from the deal is very important. Without good setup, for example, if the action is too high, that will make it difficult to play and that's good reason to prevent the beginners from continue.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
204
Points
18
When people have told me they’re interested in buying their first guitar or ukulele, I always offer to help them figure out which one they want to get and explain pros and cons of the models. Then I put them in touch with reputable shops (as opposed to just shops).

For the longest time, a lot of music stores weren’t exactly friendly places. Often the staff were condescending elitists who didn’t have the time to give a normal customer but visibly hated new players. There were some shiny examples to the counter, but overall they felt more like clubhouses for the initiated than what you would expect a store to feel like.

But then Guitar Center opened and then online started to become a real thing and mom-and-pops started to suffer. The sour ones I knew of didn’t take the opportunity to reevaluate their practices - they just complained about how the internet was taking them down.

So I can see the benefit of shopping online. It’s pretty nuts that I get better customer service from Amazon than I do at any guitar store I lived nearby in my youth.

But there are plenty of shops that are going above and beyond with their customer service that are independent and worth your time. And when it comes to cheap acoustic instruments, these stores are a must because the QC from the factory never seems to be very high. They’ll make their profit in volume if you know what I mean. But a good shop can do a lot to make that uke more playable and enjoyable. It’s almost essential for some of the ukes I’ve tried and I always have doubts when it comes to idea that I would get anything like that from Amazon.
 
Last edited:

GF1

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
47
Points
6
Your best bet is simply to return the Uke that you have and get a refund. It’s messy and time consuming but better than the alternatives - please don’t ask me how I know.

Physical stores vary a lot in terms of honesty and what support they offer. Some of the shops that I have in my local community will not get much if any business from me again, but occasionally I have a duff on-line purchase too. Yes, I do like to support small local shops and viewing before buying can save you from costly mistakes but some (so not all) physical shops simply view the customer as someone to exploit - beginners and little informed customers are particularly at risk. There are many reasons why Amazon, eBay and mail order thrive and one of them is customer dissatisfaction with their local stores.

Small stores sell what they sell and, from a business perspective, ordering specials in for customers is a time consuming, risky and potentially costly process. I can understand their reticence and some will have had unhappy experiences with ‘bad’ customers too - it cuts both ways.

To avoid the disappointments of mail order instruments I learned to set-up my own Ukes and tend to buy off of eBay, but there are some specialist shops in the U.K. that sell Ukuleles and might supply what you would like. As far as I know World of Ukes in Carlisle has a justifiably good reputation ... and a couple of Uke Club pals who visited the shop whilst on holiday were pleased with both their purchases and the sales support. If I were to suggest an on-line supplier it would be WoU.

I mentioned Uke set-up above. Some stores say that they set-up instruments but in reality they either don’t or don’t do a good job. Now to be fair set-up takes a lot of time (as an occasional task by an amateur it takes me a few hours) and the profit margin is not there on cheap Ukes to support that work/cost. It’s wise not to expect anything that you don’t really pay for.
Thanks for that reply, Graham. That all makes a lot fo sense. My thread title was intended as a slightly tongue-in-cheek effort to provoke, but certainly I maintain there's an element of truth in there.

As an update, the music shop accepted my offer and so I'm keeping their Uke. It was only ever supposed to be the lowest priced acceptable entry-level model I could find, and a few imperfections in exchange for a discount serves that purpose well. Now I need to find a case.

....as does The Southern Ukulele Store down South - https://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/ - I bought many ukes from them. :)
Yes, they seem like some of the good guys. If I stick at the ukulele for any length of time my next purchase will be from them or World of Ukes.

Beginners should not buy from Amazon, or should not buy from anywhere that doesn't do setup.
Beginners should buy from reputable website such as TheUkuleleSite or Mims, which do good setup.
Unless the Ukulele has been setup well in the factory, the setup from the deal is very important. Without good setup, for example, if the action is too high, that will make it difficult to play and that's good reason to prevent the beginners from continue.
I read a few guides to how to tell a decent set up, and I've been lucky to have received instruments that all pass the basic checks I've read about. If they didn't I'd have sent them back, which would have been fairly easy. That said, I recognise the value in what you're saying.

When people have told me they’re interested in buying their first guitar or ukulele, I always offer to help them figure out which one they want to get and explain pros and cons of the models. Then I put them in touch with reputable shops (as opposed to just shops).

For the longest time, a lot of music stores weren’t exactly friendly places. Often the staff were condescending elitists who didn’t have the time to give a normal customer but visibly hated new players. There were some shiny examples to the counter, but overall they felt more like clubhouses for the initiated than what you would expect a store to feel like.

But then Guitar Center opened and then online started to become a real thing and mom-and-pops started to suffer. The sour ones I knew of didn’t take the opportunity to reevaluate their practices - they just complained about how the internet was taking them down.

So I can see the benefit of shopping online. It’s pretty nuts that I get better customer service from Amazon than I do at any guitar store I lived nearby in my youth.

But there are plenty of shops that are going above and beyond with their customer service that are independent and worth your time. And when it comes to cheap acoustic instruments, these stores are a must because the QC from the factory never seems to be very high. They’ll make their profit in volume if you know what I mean. But a good shop can do a lot to make that uke more playable and enjoyable. It’s almost essential for some of the ukes I’ve tried and I always have doubts when it comes to idea that I would get anything like that from Amazon.
There are definitely very good shops out there, who have done a lot to help beginners like me. Southern Ukuleles's videos have been really helpful. WHile I can't afford a ukulele from them I've bought some strings to try out (I know! Lucky them being graced with my heady spending)
 

Steve_S

New member
Joined
Sep 9, 2019
Messages
19
Points
3
The four outlets in the UK that I think everyone can recommend are World of Ukes, Southern Ukulele Store, The Uke Room and Eagle Music. The last is a more general music store but has an excellent selection of Ukes. They are the UK supplier for the brand Mainland for example. I have personally bought from them and World of Ukes. All four have what I would consider as beginner instruments, basically from about 70 pounds and upwards.

Good look on your ukulele journey :)
 

tm3

Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2019
Messages
202
Points
18
Then compare that to Amazon, where I was able to buy a ukulele in a size down from the model I wanted for a ridiculously low price in a sale, which I know Amazon will take back in an instant if I find anything wrong with it, but which turned up seemingly faultless, and all present and correct.

I completely appreciate that for someone more experienced, who knows what they want, and where the purchase price is sufficiently high enough to awaken the shop owner from their slumber, it's a completely different proposition, but as someone just starting out my experience has differed greatly.

While buying from one of the specialty shops that does a setup is probably the safest bet overall, there is an associated cost in terms of shipping (both ways, if one decides to return the uke) and possibly in the price of the uke as compared to, say, a comparable Enya. Some may not want to, or may not be able to, afford that extra cost.

I think your approach using Amazon is certainly viable, and could be fine tuned a little by using an inexpensive gauge to measure the string height to make sure it is within spec.
 

GF1

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
47
Points
6
The four outlets in the UK that I think everyone can recommend are World of Ukes, Southern Ukulele Store, The Uke Room and Eagle Music. The last is a more general music store but has an excellent selection of Ukes. They are the UK supplier for the brand Mainland for example. I have personally bought from them and World of Ukes. All four have what I would consider as beginner instruments, basically from about 70 pounds and upwards.

Good look on your ukulele journey :)

Thanks for that. I'd not seen mention of the Uke Room and Eagle Music so they're good to know about. I've ended up with what seems to me to be a decent instrument to learn on for GBP25, so I'm happy enough.

While buying from one of the specialty shops that does a setup is probably the safest bet overall, there is an associated cost in terms of shipping (both ways, if one decides to return the uke) and possibly in the price of the uke as compared to, say, a comparable Enya. Some may not want to, or may not be able to, afford that extra cost.

I think your approach using Amazon is certainly viable, and could be fine tuned a little by using an inexpensive gauge to measure the string height to make sure it is within spec.
I actually salvaged some card from the recycling, marked out a 3mm line on that, and used it to measure the action height. It seems to work fine.
 

merlin666

Active member
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
1,708
Points
38
Buying from a local store online makes little sense. The whole point of the experience is being there in person, touching and trying various ukes, and having a knowledgeable staff member demonstrate the instruments and explain their differences. While this was difficult for more than a year it hopefully should be feasible again in most places.
 

ripock

Active member
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Messages
1,724
Points
38
The original poster may be a beginner at ukes, but he/she isn't a beginner at life. Ukes are like automobiles, which are like sandwiches, which are like floral arrangements, which are like prostitutes: you get what you pay for. If you go cheap, you get cheap. Which is cool, as long as you go into the transaction with your eyes wide open. Yes, my first ukulele was from Amazon. It was a cheap $200 uke. It wasn't the best, but i knew that going into the purchase.

What beginners really need to do is read less and play more. There's a ton of info out there about tone-woods, nut width, string spacing, tunings, etc. etc. However it is just a bunch of static and advertising. Cancel your internet provider for two months and just learn to play a song or two. All that other crap just won't matter. Later, you can upgrade to another uke but learn to play first.
 

clear

Member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
836
Points
18
Add to that the awkwardness of going into these shops as someone completely starting out, and it makes for a pretty underwhelming experience.

I think your bad experience comes from the specific store/employee you encountered. There's no better way to buy a uke than to be able to play the one you are considering buying. I think it is even more important for a beginner to go to a store to try many different ukes.

The online stores I've bought from all have way, way better service than Amazon. Actually, Amazon has no service at all, you only see a picture and decide whether to buy or not. The online stores I buy from all have people I can call (and I do call and email) to talk about the uke and what setup I want done. To do this phone call is impossible with Amazon; to do the email takes days or weeks on Amazon.

It's too bad you were unlucky with the your experience, but generally, I'd take any music store where there are live people I can just call up over Amazon.

Interestingly, I've never bought a uke in person because I started during the height of the pandemic, but I've bought many guitars in person. You simply cannot beat buying in person in this case.
 

GF1

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
47
Points
6
Buying from a local store online makes little sense. The whole point of the experience is being there in person, touching and trying various ukes, and having a knowledgeable staff member demonstrate the instruments and explain their differences. While this was difficult for more than a year it hopefully should be feasible again in most places.
In terms of acquiring knowledge, there's surely an argument the internet is as good if not better than the shop staff member you end up speaking to (highly dependent on the shop, for sure). In terms of trying out and comparing the ukuleles, I can see that has value, but it's possibly more valuable to experienced players than beginners.

The original poster may be a beginner at ukes, but he/she isn't a beginner at life. Ukes are like automobiles, which are like sandwiches, which are like floral arrangements, which are like prostitutes: you get what you pay for. If you go cheap, you get cheap. Which is cool, as long as you go into the transaction with your eyes wide open. Yes, my first ukulele was from Amazon. It was a cheap $200 uke. It wasn't the best, but i knew that going into the purchase.

What beginners really need to do is read less and play more. There's a ton of info out there about tone-woods, nut width, string spacing, tunings, etc. etc. However it is just a bunch of static and advertising. Cancel your internet provider for two months and just learn to play a song or two. All that other crap just won't matter. Later, you can upgrade to another uke but learn to play first.
Thank you for replying, and no disrespect intended, but that really has reminded me of an old comedy character, Swiss Toni! "Buying a ukulele is like making love to a beautiful woman!" ;)

A lot to unpick there, but I agree - I fully intend to read less and play more the moment I have read about what to buy and have something to play. Unless you're suggesting I don't ask and instead buy the first "21 inch, 23 inch perfect starter Mahogony ukulele mini guitar comes with Bag, Clip-On Tuner, Extra Strings, Strap, Plectrum, Fret Stickers, Chords Card, Polishing Cloth, Black perfect for beginners" I can find on Amazon" - I've not seen that advice before ;)

I think your bad experience comes from the specific store/employee you encountered. There's no better way to buy a uke than to be able to play the one you are considering buying. I think it is even more important for a beginner to go to a store to try many different ukes.

The online stores I've bought from all have way, way better service than Amazon. Actually, Amazon has no service at all, you only see a picture and decide whether to buy or not. The online stores I buy from all have people I can call (and I do call and email) to talk about the uke and what setup I want done. To do this phone call is impossible with Amazon; to do the email takes days or weeks on Amazon.

It's too bad you were unlucky with the your experience, but generally, I'd take any music store where there are live people I can just call up over Amazon.

Interestingly, I've never bought a uke in person because I started during the height of the pandemic, but I've bought many guitars in person. You simply cannot beat buying in person in this case.
Thanks. Sound advice. The problem I have (like all beginners, presumably, by definition) is that I can't play the things to try them out! From the limited experience I've had, it's a lottery and the advice and help of people online has better than I've had from people from bricks-and-mortar shops.

I want to hate Amazon as much as the next person but I just got a ukulele from them, made by a reasonably well-regarded manufacturer, perfectly set up (according to the checks I've read about, at least), for less than a quarter of its list price, the day after I ordered it, safe in the knowledge that if there was anything wrong with it, I could send it back without the slightest faff.

Don't get me wrong. For my next purchase (when I'm a budding uke aficionado) a well-regarded bricks-and-mortar shop will definitely be the order of the day. But for people starting out, online offers a bit more than is sometimes made out to be the case.
 

Kenn2018

UU VIP
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
3,510
Points
48
There are pros and cons to both buying local or from an organization like Amazon. Valid points to both.

I will point out that a ukulele generally costs much less than a guitar. Beginners are clueless when they have no instrument or musical background. I know I was. As suck, they want to pick the brains of the shop owner or sales person about the instruments. Which is fine if things are slow. Not so good if the store is busy. Where is the sales person's time better spent? Selling a guitar, or selling an ukulele?
 

donboody

Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2021
Messages
137
Points
18
May as well weigh in with everybody else.

If you're a beginner with $500 to spend on something you've never tried before, then go for it. If you have the money, that's your prerogative.

If you're a beginner with only $100 to spend, you can still get a fine beginner's ukulele. And when I say "fine" I don't mean "merely satisfactory," I mean you can get a very nice instrument. My Cordoba 15TM tenor uke is $100 brand new online. Even with the stock aquilas, the instrument sounds beautiful. Throw on the Uke Logic Pink Sandia Super carbons I put on a few weeks ago, and playing music on this instrument will make you feel literally beautiful.

I like to avoid suggesting to people that if you don't get a decent ukulele as a beginner, you'll become discouraged because you'll be secretly good at the ukulele and not know it because the instrument sucks. That is the case if you're dealing with a wildly bad ukulele, so bad that you're not going to buy it in the first place because the internet will tell you it sucks through reviews. But there are a ton of decent entry level instruments and you can become an excellent ukulele player without ever spending more than $100.
 

wheatpenny

New member
Joined
Jun 24, 2021
Messages
3
Points
0
I bought mine from Amazon and I couldn't be more satisfied. $129 electric-acoustic Baritone Uke with gig bag, spare strings, and a couple other accessories. It came already tuned correctly. I've had it for several weeks and it seems to hold its tuning. My only complaint is that the built-in tuner seems to be inaccurate, but it's possible I might not be doing it right (I have no previous experience with electronic tuners).
 

Mfturner

New member
Joined
Jul 2, 2021
Messages
5
Points
1
My 2 cents, with covid and lack of local stores, I went the Amazon route for my first, three months ago. Admittedly this is USA centric with decent Amazon service. It has worked well for me, and at some point I will surely upgrade, a little more knowledgeable and confident about what I want to avoid Amazon next time. As a novice, it seems silly to give any advice, but what worked for me was lots of online research, and lots of thought into what might be useful even if I eventually upgrade (or cheap enough that if I abandon it I won't mind, but no risk of that at this point).

For online research comparing ukes, @bazmaz was hugely helpful, both website and YouTube channel. Bernadette and OneMusicSchool and a few others helped too, especially when comparing what I decided could be a travel/beater uke even if I eventually upgrade.

For features, I decided that a durable uke would be useful for the camper, plastic parts to handle weather and humidity changes would be preferred, and something that more than one reviewer seemed to enjoy playing, or at least not hate it. Without knowing much, I thought a zero fret and a molded plastic fretboard might improve the chances of a usable action or of the box. And maybe something durable and cheap might be useful as a beater uke, if I get caught in the rain out, or bang it against the bar while getting a beer I'll be OK. Oh, and for me, it has to fit in a drawer in the cabinet in our camper, so a soprano size was mandatory.

Those features and the YouTube comparisons pointed me to a Flight TUS-35, I would have been as happy with an Enya Nova U I'm sure. So far it's been great, playable enough to want to play every day, small enough for the drawer in our camper, quiet enough when needed to strum when family's watching TV, durable and cheap enough to take outdoors when rain is threatening or leave in the car in 95 degree sunny day. I'll use it until I break it from my mistreatment then replace with a Flea maybe. But I think a durable beater will always have value for me, and people like Bazmaz give the tools for online research to make this a good purchase for me until I can form an opinion about what I want and see some in person.
 

merlin666

Active member
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
1,708
Points
38
In terms of acquiring knowledge, there's surely an argument the internet is as good if not better than the shop staff member you end up speaking to (highly dependent on the shop, for sure). In terms of trying out and comparing the ukuleles, I can see that has value, but it's possibly more valuable to experienced players than beginners.
I could not disagree more. There is definitely some good information on the internet but sadly much more scam and misinformation. A beginner by definition is not able to distinguish good and useful information from marketing spoo and other lies. Even on a forum like UU it can get confusing quickly when members who certainly mean well are recommending the ukes they own and then there is a long list of long model acronyms that is meaningless. On the other hand staff in most instrument stores are also professional musicians who are well known in their communities and who know the instruments that they sell and through personal contact can find out what instrument may be a good fit. Corey from HMS is a good example and definitely not an exception to this. And these sales people are not on commission and often enjoy help a beginner find his first uke more than selling a high end instrument.
 

Nickie

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Messages
9,612
Points
48
I think your bad experience comes from the specific store/employee you encountered. There's no better way to buy a uke than to be able to play the one you are considering buying. I think it is even more important for a beginner to go to a store to try many different ukes.

The online stores I've bought from all have way, way better service than Amazon. Actually, Amazon has no service at all, you only see a picture and decide whether to buy or not. The online stores I buy from all have people I can call (and I do call and email) to talk about the uke and what setup I want done. To do this phone call is impossible with Amazon; to do the email takes days or weeks on Amazon.

It's too bad you were unlucky with the your experience, but generally, I'd take any music store where there are live people I can just call up over Amazon.

Interestingly, I've never bought a uke in person because I started during the height of the pandemic, but I've bought many guitars in person. You simply cannot beat buying in person in this case.

The last sentence is so true! I'll never forget my 1st experience with Mim. We met at the 1st or 2nd TBUG, I don't recall. We were alone in a hotel lobby, and she was setting up her booth. I told her I wanted to purchase an ukulele at the festival. She let me try several models, and I picked one. She examined it, and said, It's not quite right, you can't have it." She didn't have another of that model, so she promised to send me one after the festival.
She contacted me and told me all the ukes of that model went back to the factory, and she was sending me something else that met my criteria. It was another make, when I got it, I realized it was more expensive than the one I picked, but she didn't charge me a nickel more! And it was set up right, and after 10 years has never given me any trouble.
So even though it wasn't' exactly in person, it was as close as one can get.