Clara or Flea Travels and Durability

ghostrdr

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So, we're leaving for two weeks in Hawaii (Kauai and Big Island). I'm thinking of bringing either my Blackbird Clara or Concert Flea, BUT without a case. In other words, I would stick it in my backpack with the headstock sticking out the top. I like to travel light and don't want to bring a separate case, even if it is a Mono bag.

Is this a terrible idea?

I get with temperature changes, the strings my go out of tune and such, but I would like to continue practicing even while on vacation. (funny, that i'm considering bringing the non-Hawaiian ukuleles that I own to Hawaii).

Thoughts?

Bonus question: any fun uke related things to do on those two islands?

Cheers everyone!
Rich
 

ookooleilei

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My guess is that the Clara's Ekoa would hold up just fine, but I'm not sure I'd want to have such an expensive instrument bouncing around in my backpack! I'd 100% go with the Flea, but that's just one man's opinion... either way, have a great trip!
 

badhabits

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I would think the flea would be more easily replaced, just in case...so that would be my choice. I do the same sometimes, but with a cheap kala soprano (used to be an outdoor but I got tired of the sound of that thing)
 

rhiggie

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So, we're leaving for two weeks in Hawaii (Kauai and Big Island). I'm thinking of bringing either my Blackbird Clara or Concert Flea, BUT without a case. In other words, I would stick it in my backpack with the headstock sticking out the top. I like to travel light and don't want to bring a separate case, even if it is a Mono bag.

Is this a terrible idea?

I get with temperature changes, the strings my go out of tune and such, but I would like to continue practicing even while on vacation. (funny, that i'm considering bringing the non-Hawaiian ukuleles that I own to Hawaii).

Thoughts?

Bonus question: any fun uke related things to do on those two islands?

Cheers everyone!
Rich
I'm with everyone else, they both will probably handle the weather/humidity changes, but a neck/tuners sticking out of a backpack would be an issue with either if it hits something right (or wrong). I'd risk the Flea before the Clara. Sorry I only know fun uke related stuff on Oahu and Maui. Have a blast!
 

Knows Picker

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I love the Flea, I bought one to take down to the beach. But then I decided it was too nice for that.

Maybe just a cheap nylon bag to keep it from snagging on anything and everything?
 

man0a

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No one humidifies ukuleles in Hawaii, if that is what your question is. I would be more worried about the ukulele getting crushed on the airplane.

Regarding ukulele things to do on Kauai, go see Aldrine Guerrero perform. Call the restaurant in advance to see what his schedule is. In last week's Ukulele Underground podcast, he said he loves to see Ukulele Underground fans at the show. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Locatio...69-Oasis_on_the_Beach-Kapaa_Kauai_Hawaii.html

For Hawaii island, this blog is from before the pandemic. Call ahead to see what is still open now. https://medium.com/@amelialin/a-guide-to-hawaiis-big-island-for-the-ukulele-enthusiast-249bd620f72
 

ghostrdr

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No one humidifies ukuleles in Hawaii, if that is what your question is. I would be more worried about the ukulele getting crushed on the airplane.

Regarding ukulele things to do on Kauai, go see Aldrine Guerrero perform. Call the restaurant in advance to see what his schedule is. In last week's Ukulele Underground podcast, he said he loves to see Ukulele Underground fans at the show. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Locatio...69-Oasis_on_the_Beach-Kapaa_Kauai_Hawaii.html

For Hawaii island, this blog is from before the pandemic. Call ahead to see what is still open now. https://medium.com/@amelialin/a-guide-to-hawaiis-big-island-for-the-ukulele-enthusiast-249bd620f72
I'm not really worried about humidity. Rather, I'm curious about people's experiences traveling (and flying) with a loose uke, not in a gig bag or hard case, but just in a backpack. I'm traveling with my family and they bring a lot of gear, so I try not to.

The necks and bodies seem pretty sturdy so that's why I was thinking of doing that. I would carry it on and be somewhat selective in how I place it in the overhead compartment. I wouldn't bring like a Kamaka, or the KoAloha anniversary models without a hard case.

Thanks for everyone's input so far. Sounds like the flea is getting the most votes so far...
 

rainbow21

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I side with others on the Flea. Like the others, just thinking of replacement cost. The airplane may be the least of your worries as a carry on. Rather it can bang around everywhere, including throwing things into the rental car or setting your pack down for meals. I brought my Flight TUS to Oahu and left it unplayed for the week. Heading back there next week and unsure if I will bring one. Again, irony of Hawaii being the one place I may be without an uke (though Uke sellers and makers are high on my list of stops).

Added: Kauai will have very little nightlife options. So you may have a lot of time to sit on your lanai (porch) and playing. It is also a very wet island. The mountain there has the highest annual rainfall on earth. Hawaii has some nightlife depending on location. It is a much hotter and drier island. Crossing the island may take 3 hours by car.
 
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bbkobabe

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I'd take the flea... I leave my tenor fluke in my trunk for days on end. Pack a small screwdriver just in case one of the tuners needs a tightening...

And maybe you could hedge your bet some and wrap the head in a layer of bubble wrap or foam where it sticks out of your pack.
 

BigJackBrass

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And maybe you could hedge your bet some and wrap the head in a layer of bubble wrap or foam where it sticks out of your pack.
One of those novelty cartoon character socks you can get to put on golf clubs would look rather fetching.
 

Ukecaster

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Flea 100%. I've packed my concert Flea in my suitcase between clothes many times for airline trips. A cheap gigbag rolled up small is added for daytrips once I get there. Concert Fleas are short, and fit in many medium backpacks too, they even fit in many soprano gigbags like my inexpensive Kaces bag.
 

Patty

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It’s the overhead compartment on the plane that I’d worry about. You might put it up there ever so carefully, only to have some late comer stuff his huge 40-lb. carryon bag, rollers first, on top of your uke. Crunch!
 

Doug W

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I took my $40 Mahalo on an overnight bicycle camping trip. It was in the "less than a gig bag" thingy that cheap uses come with and it traveled in a bike basket. The neck was cracked when I got home, but in an easy to glue spot so I repaired it. I have traveled with the same uke on planes, with the uke stuffed into my travel bag protected by socks and t-shirts without incident. I didn't walk around all day with the uke sticking out of my backpack but you should go ahead and go with your plan and let us know how it works out.
 

DaveY

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I don't mean to dissuade you from the Clara vs. Flea choice, so this is more about the general what-to-travel-with issue. But if I wanted a worry-free, enjoyable-to-play small uke to travel with, it would be my Enya Nova concert. It's a thin-body cutaway made of plastic and carbon fiber, and when I just now played it after playing my Fluke, I found the Enya sounded totally fine (and actually is easier to play, due to the Fluke's neck shape). I wouldn't recommend the soprano and tenor Novas, as they sound unpleasant to me. The concert Enya is $90 ($76 when on sale at Jeff's House of Horrors), which would further diminish my worries.
 

besley

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I would NOT take the Clara if you are not going to use a case. Yes the Ekoa body is tough, but remember the top is a foam sandwich that is probably not that difficult to dent (or worse). Take the Flea, or better yet, take David's advice above and get an $80 Enya Nova.
 

Joe King

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If it were me, I would forget traveling with a uke, and instead seek out HMS/TUS and just buy a simple ~150 instrument, maybe an Islander or similar (Kanile'a's budget line) with a polyfoam case or light gig bag, and play and enjoy it, and then maybe the day before returning home, either re-sell it back to a nearby music store (or HMS/TUS, maybe work out a sort of 'rental agreement' in advance), or maybe gift it to some random stranger.

Not sure if your finances allow such generosity, but if I could afford it, I'd rather travel light as I am always experiencing lots of anxiety and stress when traveling by air, and if I did not have to worry about an instrument, that would make me feel better, and if I was able to perform an act of Aloha and donate the ukulele to a worthy soul, that would also make me feel better, especially if I knew that it was bringing some joy to the life of another human being.

EDIT: seems like Bill1 and I were typing at the same time with similar thoughts :)
 

tm3

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I recommend that you carefully review your airline's policy on carry ons, specifically the part about allowed measurements. If what you are carrying exceeds their limits, they can require that you check it which I believe would be the kiss of death for a ukulele sticking out of a backpack (I cringe when I imagine a Clara being tossed around with the checked baggage!). Of course this may not happen, and you will hear many anecdotes of folks who carried guitars, oversized bags, and all other manner of things onto the plane and got away with it. I was once on a flight that was "overfull" (??) and the airline arbitrarily required an entire section of passengers to check their carry on bags, whether they met size regulations or not, and no ifs ands or buts.

Airline travel in the USA is crazy now, and your ticket is a contract between you and the airline with the airline holding all the power.

I think that Bill1 and Joe King offer excellent ideas.
 

LSamuels

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I have travelled on some adventures over several days on a motorbike and a bicycle.

I have taken both a plywood Yamaha GL1 and an OU soprano on the adventures, without a hard case. The OU has been tied on the top of a rack without a bag of any sort. The Yamaha had a rain cover only. I posted the OU home in a parcel bag. So even a plywood uke will survive a lot on an adventure and the eKoa and MFC ukes are tougher than plywood, although like plywood you may need to have a rain cover to keep them dry.

The instruments did get some beausage, mostly because I was able to use them without a lot of unpacking. It is nice to be able to play a piece at a nice place where you stop for 20 minutes or less for a break and a photo.

I have seen an eKoa uke, but don't own one. The videos do not show you how tough they are for fun, the makers want you to use them. I would forget about being limited by the purchase price and focus on getting your money's worth by keeping the instrument in easy reach so you can use it without a lot of effort, especially if you are on a uke orientated adventure. Either the MFC or the Clara instruments would so the job.

For backpack carriage, I have made a simple box or holder or holster out of a material called signboard or Coreflute and duct tape. You put it in the backpack and it keeps the place of the uke when you pull the uke out, so it is very easy to get your uke out and put it back when you are travelling. As it hides inside a backpack, no-one sees it and you do not need to worry about cosmetics. Coreflute also offers some protection from scratches and stuff inside the pack. One of the ukes has a ripstop nylon liner bag for the corflute holster. First you measure the uke and trace around it onto the Coreflute, and you look at your backpack, and work out a top loading design, cut it out with scissors or a craft knife and tape it together. Get enough material to make a prototype, its not expensive. The prototype should be done as a practice which you may not use, once you get the idea it takes about an hour per uke. Also you can laminate two sheets of 3mm Coreflute together with the grain at right angles (I use double sided tape to hold them together) , and you get a very stiff and strong material 6mm wide which weighs a few grams. The ones I have made have the headstock down inside and the body at the top, this may not work on a shorter backpack, but it allows easy top loading.
That is a great idea about the placeholder--- thank you for sharing the idea and the details!
 

Patty

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If you are thinking of getting a cheap uke, and you are going to Hawaii where there are some of the best uke shops on the planet, buy one when you get there, enjoy the experience of a visit to the shop and pick up a uke for $30 - $50 to use while you are there and give it away or give it to the charity shop on departure. If you see a more expensive uke and buy it, see if you can play it on the island and then get it shipped to your home address.
Brilliant ideas, Bill1. I wouldn’t be surprised if some uke-loving tourists do just that.
 

badhabits

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gotta remember, Hawaii ain't cheap... think full retail+. I can't recall ever seeing a $30-50 ukulele, unless it was some pos plastic thing at the abc store. off Oahu (where HMS/TUS is located) the choices are even slimmer, although souvenir/craft shops sometimes have a few ukes. don't be afraid to bring a uke if you want; there will be down time, esp given time zones changes.