Should you trust a ukulele review?

actadh

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If is wasn't for some of the previous reviews on here, I would never have sent a pm on a marketplace Brueko within an hour of it being posted. And, I have been very happy with it.

By the same token, I purchased a ukulele based on reviews and was somewhat meh - my Harmony which is now slated for a grandkid.

Lastly, my first real ukulele was a Luna, which gets slammed as a piece of junk. I think it is a fine solid top in its price range, and I am glad I went with my own decision to buy.

I read reviews - on Amazon, here, music box stores. But, I realize how subjective they can be. I look for trends over time, more than one gushing or disparaging review.
 

Recstar24

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I would say that for a free online forum, no one has any obligation to aim for the highest level of objectivity in reviews. We as readers it is our responsibility to filter out "signal from noise", it is not realistic to expect every random person on the Internet to pre filter their noise and bias and leave purely objective impressions.

The only obligation for a free online forum and users posting impressions is that if they have any monetary connection to a vendor or builder or receive discounted or free product based on positive impressions ("shilling"), that clearly is not appropriate or at minimum should be stated up front. Otherwise, we should all remember this is the Internet with all sorts of weird and strange people from all sorts of different places, and considering this is a ukulele forum, we are all a little strange and weird for even being here (no offense).

I see nothing wrong with sharing but people should take it as that. Many come on to UU and do research to buy a uke.

I understand that it is hard to get out and try ukuleles and perhaps we have obligation. That obligation is to list even the negatives of an instrument, no matter the price. So that when people do their research, they get a better picture.

My point is that this would be hard. Since most people are not able to even see any negatives about their purchases.
 

Inksplosive AL

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My 20's Harmony is in a class of its own. It sounds old, it smells old, it has had some serious repairs to keep it playing and newer tuning pegs but the sound. Is it a KoAhola sound hell no but its a classic sound somewhere between a banjo and a ukulele. I must admit I cringe at hearing someone might be giving an irreplaceable antique to a child when a cheap Dolphin ukulele would suffice. Have you tried different strings or tuning to reentrant D-tuning where it was made to sing?

I do so like the realization in this thread which basically boils down to "not every opinion matters as much as every other". Too many people today forget the educated opinion always trumps the general opinion thinking their opinion as good as any other. A point Ive made in the past using the electoral collage vote as an example.

Ive been told I run the negative, I'm too hard on others and analyze everything too much. I know I'm not your average person and honestly I analyze myself the most so honestly I would have no issue pointing out flaws in something no matter the price. I'm not very afraid to face my own stupidity and might just cry out to try to guide others from making the same mistakes I have. It's just my nature.

~AL~
 
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Rakelele

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You've made that same point several times now, and there's no denying that you are right - to some extent. If you rely on a single review from an unknown source, you might end up with something you don't like. Even in science, reviews are biased by people's opinions. So are they virtually useless? Not at all. In a scientific approach, you gather as much information as possible, and evaluate the sources. What is their background, what are their frames of reference, and what are their motifs?

In this approach, every review is a valuable piece of information; the more you can gather and compare to, the more likely you'll be able to make a well informed decision. So if anything, more people should be encouraged to write about their personal experiences and sentiments. What you'll make of it is up to you. But ignoring them altogether, might not be the smartest advice.
 

Freeda

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How many NUD has anyone read about a negative of the instrument? What I want to point out here is the influence of the group on peoples' decisions. We read these opinions and think we will get a perfect instrument. Then to our surprise when we buy the same one, disappointment comes through or we convince ourselves that it is good.


Now, if we take a cheaper instrument then you will see people point out more things out in their review usually. You will not see this as the price goes up. It's just not human nature.


There for a while on this list, it seemed that there was a new custom builder cropping up ever couple of months. So everyone would start buying these ukes. Some nicknamed this phenomenon "the flavor of the month" builder. This is some of the group think that I was referencing in my first post.
You seem to be fascinated by "confirmation bias". You might enjoy the book You're Not As Smart As You Think, which explores this and other ways we lie to ourselves and others.
 

UkieOkie

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Ok, so I only read the first page of this thread. The OP's concept is part of why I did the thread yesterday about people posting two sound samples of ukes unknown to the rest of us. With all other things being equal, we could listen, and form opinions based purely on the sound sample. It would be fun then to reveal what ukes they actually were. Undoubtedly most of the time the nice high end ukes are going to recieve good reviews from listening, but occassionally if we did it enough, the consensus would be that some cheapy actually sounded better than a high end.

No one has participated yet, but I think its a neat concept.

Happy Strumming,

Trevor
 

JustinJ

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Rakelele,

You make a several good points especially about people giving their experiences. If someone offers a counter opinion in this forum that goes against a brand then there is usually a negative reaction to the poster.

If someone has a different experience then what the group thinks, they will not speak up. If anything a lot of times, people will just repeat what they've read or heard.





Recstar,

I had to laugh about not being normal. I like to play a little instrument with four strings and go on a forum and talk about it :). Oh yeah, you could buy a used car for the price of my little instrument with four strings. It's a little strange when you think about it. Oh well, I'll just embrace the strangeness.

Freeda,

You are correct. I'm fascinated by human behavior. What started a lot of it for me was reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman . It helps to question ourselves and our beliefs.

I will take a look at the book you referenced.
 
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Rllink

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Being objective, using common sense, thinking logically, all of that is subjective in itself. I managed an aquatics center before I retired, and this older lady would come there every day during adult waterwalking and lap swimming, and for some reason, she was obsessed with where people parked their bicycles and what lanes people used to swim in. And her favorite argument was, "common sense and logic would tell someone", then she would launch into her latest bitch. But I realized, her logic and common sense were not the same as mine. Her common sense and logic came from having never owned a bicycle that cost more than fifty dollars, and having never raced in a triathlon. But the thing is, that where people were parking their bikes, and where they swam was not the issue. It was not hurting her in any way. The issue was that people were not conducting themselves in accordance to her common sense and logic, and her common sense and logic took offense to that. I tried to point that out to her, but it just assaulted her common sense and logic that I could not see the common sense and logic of her argument. So I became a good listener. A lot of people get really upset about a lack of conformity in other people. If you want to learn a lot about people, manage an aquatic center.
 
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dalamaricus

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The uke community is fairly small and friendly, so I think that makes reviews focus more on the positive side of the experience. Especially with custom instruments, when people get to know the builder as a person, then they're less likely to point out small flaws, or to work out issues directly with the builder. Having said that, every so often you still do read about problems with higher-end instruments.

Also there are things which bother some people but not others. I wouldn't notice if a side fretboard dot was slightly off center or if the 12th fret was slightly out of tune and wouldn't mention that in a review (ok now I've thought of it), but others might care a lot. As Recstar24 said, reviews on UU aren't done by professionals so you shouldn't treat them as such. Knowing the reviewer is an important part of understanding what to take away from the review.
 

Dan Uke

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I don't think this forum is all about being brutally honesty but a community that encourages all ukes and players. A review is just a subjective opinion anyways and thinking my opinion is very accurate could be seen as parochial.
 
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spookelele

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How about this:

Yes we should trust reviews. I see no reason someone is trying to lie about their experience. Even if that experience is colored by personal excitement. Objectivity and honesty are not interdependent and that should be kept in mind with your grain of salt.

But no, you shouldn't rely solely on someone else's opinion to form your own.

The sticky bit comes.. when you don't have enough experience to form your own opinion though. Like the pono's in the market place thread. Alot of people go looking for something better than their entry. And the forum overwhelming points to pono's. But is an entry pono actually better than a Kala cedard top? The group think says it is... but honestly I'm not sure I'd tell my friends that.

I don't mean to start a war with that, just saying that an opinion is still just an opinion no matter how many times you're seeing it. But say for arguments' sake, the entry pono isn't really better... that doesn't make it wrong to suggest a pono either, because to someone it is better for various reasons.

One guy hates the "fat" pono neck. I personally love it. We can both be right, and to say don't trust one of those opinions I think is a dishonest thing to say.
 

Steveperrywriter

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I saw this topic on a guitar forum. It was about how unreliable reviews can be as the price of the guitar goes up. I thought about all the nice ukes that have been showing up in the marketplace.

As the price of a uke goes, should you take the review more critically? Also, is someone going to criticize their ukulele purchase when we start looking above the $1300.00 price mark. In other words, people are not going to be honest about the uke they bought.

There is a post-purchase rationalization which occurs with more expensive items https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-purchase_rationalization

One of the funniest things I've noticed in the marketplace is how people praise the uke for sale as the best sounding and playing, but they're selling it.

I've not seen someone point out any flaws in their custom or expensive uke, only accolades. Are we ignoring the flaws in the more expensive ukes? I've seen a few expensive ukes above the $3000.00 mark that have some flaws in them or do not sound the best. I'm not naming any makers but I just saw one recently with the trim done poorly in one of the corners.

Is there a group think that goes on in a forum? In other words, it's a type of religion but the object is not gods or god but certain ukes. Some ukes are revered while others are looked at as inferior. This brand of ukulele is the preferred one because it's what the group likes. There is no rationality only emotions and if you want to be part of the group then you buy the same uke brands.

Fascinating how often this topic, or a slight variation of it comes up -- Say, are you really getting your money's worth from that expensive ukulele?

You didn't say that this time, but you have said it before, and it kinda seeps through. Last time we went round, you blocked me for a while, and I am not trying to be nasty here, just wondering.

Why would anybody expect objectivity from a NUD review? Surely you expect we know this?

Anybody here not know it?

If I just spent several thousand dollars having a uke built by an expert luthier who included me all along the way, sent pictures, asked for my input as to woods and frippery, and he did his job like he was supposed to, why would I not offer a rave if it is exactly what I wanted?

Looks great, sounds great, plays great? Just what I asked for, right down the line?

Yeah, but you know, there's a pore on the fretboard, right there under the C-string, ninth fret, can't really see it, but I know it's there, so I need to point that out ...

Maybe not. Maybe it being handmade is part of the deal.

DownUpDave said it, this does seem to bug you in some way. If you don't have a problem with people buying more expensive ukes, why keep bringing it up? Yes, one speaks to a passing parade, so repetition is sometimes necessary for the fresh faces, but as often as not, this topic draws the same folks each go-round Some of us agree, some don't, if you are looking for converts, I suspect you won't find many ...
 
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Booli

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For anyone thinking deeply about this topic...

Maybe it's worthwhile to keep these three ideas in mind when looking at these issues online:

1. A review is an OPINION, nothing more, nothing less. It is NOT gospel, advice, nor absolute. However, it allows the reviewer to SHARE their experience.

2. NUD posts are like 'Show and Tell' from grade school, which allow folks to SHARE their experience.

3. FOR SALE posts may have a marketing or propaganda angle, this is 'how it works' for selling anything in general as sellers compete for your hard-earned dollar. Caveat Emptor/Buyer Beware, Tempus Fugit, etc...

With ALL of the above, one might want to frame these items in reference to the reputation of the person posting them, and IN CONTEXT, use what makes sense to you and discard the rest. It's that simple.

i.e., a newbie opinion, uninformed review, gushing NUD, or sales post scarce on details will be indicative and obvious, as opposed to ones that can justify the perspective given, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

It is up to YOU, the reader to have an eye of skepticism, and a mental filter in order to be able to see past the bias of the person and information in question, while also tempering that with your OWN bias(es) and/or preferences and/or needs.

This too is a SKILL, that can only come from EXPERIENCE. Without this ACTIVE thinking, you are joining the herd of the blind leading the blind.

I personally reject the herd mentality as often as possible, and it has served me well. But this is MY experience, and as they say 'YMMV'. :)

But then again, please keep in mind, that this is only my OWN little opinion, and maybe has little bearing on the lives or thinking of others, and may or may not resonate with anyone else, and either way it's all good.

:shaka:
 

ksiegel

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I have done two reviews - one on a set of strings, one on an ukulele that was sent to me for my thoughts and opinion, which I then sent on to someone else.

In both reviews, I posted extensive sound samples, with different styles of playing. I gave both positive reviews, because - in my own humble opinion - they deserved them. Not because I am an expert - far from it; I am simply someone who enjoys playing the ukulele. I've played a lot of them, and I've had very different thoughts on them.

For example, the first Compass Rose I played, at Sylvan Music, was a lovely rosewood 5-string tenor. It had a great sound, and the action was perfect. And I didn't care for it. I found the feel too guitar-like, and it really did nothing for me. A year or so later, I played two CR ukes - one Cherry, and one Koa - and would have cut off intimate parts of my anatomy to own them - they were just That Good. So I asked Rick Turner what had changed - the instruments, or the player? He told me that how I played, how I approached an instrument, and my expectations in that year had undoubtedly evolved. He knew exactly which uke I was referring to at Sylvan, and said I would have a completely different experience with it if I picked it up and played it one year out.

I've played a lot of Kamaka ukes, and none have turned my crank but one - Gillian's Liliu uke, which I was unfortunately not in a position to buy when she sold it.

I've never played a Pono - the only ones available for me to play have been baritones, and I have arm problems that prevent my from playing something that size.

When I visited Ukulele Source in San Jose, I played just about every instrument in the place - including the KoAloha Pineapple Sunday I really wanted, and got nothing. I mean, they were nice, but I had no desire to purchase any of them. So I picked up the last, unplayed instrument, which I thought was just too gimicky - the KoAloha Sceptre. Withing 30 seconds of starting to play, my wife and I looked at each other and just said, "Wow."

Is the Sceptre perfect? No, it isn't. There are a couple of minor imperfections, but nothing that affects how it sounds, plays, or looks.

I also have the custom Donaldson - my absolute favorite ukulele of the bunch. Are there some minor issues? Sure there are. Do I care? Hell, no. Would I buy another Donaldson if I had the opportunity? Damned Straight! I've already told Bradford that if he builds any sopranos on spec to let me know and I'll have the money to him within 30 minutes.

Remember that a Review is subjective, and is meant only as a guide. To be objective, your scorecard is strictly 0/1, yes/no, open/closed, black/white.

Music doesn't work that way.


-Kurt​
 

JustinJ

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* I would like to point out that I'm not criticizing reviewers. I do not even think it's intentional when we only mention the positives and ignore the negatives. I'm only saying and including myself that when I purchase something that I will justify my purchase.

As buyers, we should if possible play the instrument or have the option of sending it back. I purchased an expensive ukulele and had the option to send it back if it did not meet my expectations.

Following the herd will not always lead you to the correct decision for you. I think this especially applies to musical instruments, which are very subjective.


Booli,

You made a well thought out post.

You made some very good points. I like how you put things in categories.

I believe there are many brands underrepresented on the forum. I've seen it in other hobby forums. There are few that capture the audience and it seems to stick.
 
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Kiwiohana

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Just my two cents as a noob.......as other have pointed out, to me a NUD is not a review. It's sharing the joy of the latest UAS symptom. I have and will post NUDs under Uke Talk, but I wouldn't dream of posting something in the actual Review part of the forum, as I know I am nowhere near experienced enough for that, either in playing skill or in experience with lots of instruments.
 

Booli

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Booli,

You made a well thought out post.

You made some very good points. I like how you put things in categories.

I believe there are many brands underrepresented on the forum. I've seen it in other hobby forums. There are few that capture the audience and it seems to stick.

Thank you for your kind words.

Maybe those brands that are not seen often or as much as one might like, do not have enough market penetration and availability to vendors, and as such do not get as much hands-on play at retail or exposure with online sellers.

I've never been to NAMM (but many folks here on UU have) and it seems that for a manufacturer to get visibility is quite difficult unless you have the budget for the giant noisy booth, with famous musicians playing your gear to attract the attention of either the trade press, distributors, or 'buyers' (for the bigger stores)...so a smaller brand just get lost in the mix...

and as such those lesser known names are not seen often or at all.

I always look at reviews as showing me a new brand or model that might not have known about before. The NAMM videos that Aldrine and other UU crew have done over the years have always been informative to me.
 

ukeeku

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I have done over 50 reviews, and I am now out of the business. I have been told twice that I will be sued for slander because they did not like my review.
It is really hard to review something and point out the issues you see. Some companies will take them to heart (Gold Tone) and others will just send a return label and never talk to you again.
They are opinions and I never thought I was right, just hoped that my experience would help others.
Here is the most expensive review I have ever done, and I got a lot of flack for it. It was expensive so the WOW machine was in full force for a lot of people who had played it.
http://ukeeku.com/2012/03/07/lichty_tenor_review/

I always tried to do the review for the price range. if it is a sun $100 uke I did not expect as much as a $1000+ uke.
 
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igorthebarbarian

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Personally I trust this forum way more than I trust other websites. Most other websites are set up in order to sell you something and thus are going to have a bias toward promoting that product. This non-bias is what I love about this UU Forum. Because most of us are just amateurs (some super-beginner vs. some who are almost-pro's), so you get a broad spectrum of opinions, which is great.

NUD is for eyeball ogling. Just taunting me with those pics, feeding my UAS!