The rising cost of "hand"made ukes

John Colter

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"The term 'hand crafted' should be understood as a marketing term, that is often applied by Chinese manufacturers where unskilled labour quickly assembles instruments-"

Back to the drawing board!

John Colter
 

PeterRabit

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Oh my goodness, quibble quibble quibble! And over the tiniest things. "Handmade", "handcrafted" - I don't think there's any confusion in what is being discussed. Someone made a good point, how would you justify the only difference being extra inlays (by machine) but an extra £1000 added to cost? Or a £2000 uke compared to a £4000 where the only differences are the addition of extra "bling"?

I am not quibbling over £1000 or £2000 ukes made by skilled luthiers, in fact I have some of these. But more the rising price and as I gave an example, a price tag of £4000.

Whilst I appreciate the breadth of opinion I have to say that there are some people with really quite disagreeable ways of saying things. You don't agree, fair enough, but the degree of rudeness on this forum is really something else.
 
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John Colter

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And it is not rude to accuse people of quibbling?

You should have got the message by now. It is not for you, me, or anybody else to complain that some ukuleles are over priced. If you are not prepared to pay, then don't buy. If enough people do that, maybe the price will come down.

Probably not, but you can hope.:)

John Colter
 

Counter

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And it is not rude to accuse people of quibbling?

You should have got the message by now. It is not for you, me, or anybody else to complain that some ukuleles are over priced. If you are not prepared to pay, then don't buy. If enough people do that, maybe the price will come down.

Probably not, but you can hope.:)

John Colter

It's not so much a complaint as a topic for debate. A forum is a place for debating and asking questions. What makes a £4,000 ukulele a £4,000 ukulele is what is being asked. 'Don't buy it then' is not a very useful contribution.
 

PeterRabit

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And it is not rude to accuse people of quibbling?

You should have got the message by now. It is not for you, me, or anybody else to complain that some ukuleles are over priced. If you are not prepared to pay, then don't buy. If enough people do that, maybe the price will come down.

Probably not, but you can hope.:)

John Colter

Rude, not to the extent of some of the other comments. So excuse me for feeling a bit narked.

The general gist I'm getting is "shut up and get back in your hole". Or "warren" as others have quipped. Newbies aren't allowed an opinion, the established tribe have spoken?

My original post didn't say people can't charge what they like, but just questioned the rising cost and the extreme price of some ukes.
 

John Colter

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"Seems such a shame and not completely justified to squeeze people for every dime they're worth."

That sounds like a complaint to me, and the OP was also critical of a certain (unnamed) builder and his responses.

How do you think the price of a ukulele is arrived at? I very much doubt that it is the result of a detailed cost analysis plus a 'reasonable' profit margin. A builder, or a small company, will look at the price levels of similar products and pitch their price accordingly. Basically, they are pulling a figure out of thin air. I say again. They can ask whatever they choose to. The market will decide if they are charging too much.

I did not just say, "Don't buy then". I explained that this is the only effective way to express your disapproval. You could contact the builder and tell him/her that they are charging too much, but (as the OP stated) that approach doesn't seem to work. If people are buying these products, then that is their way of saying they think the price is justified.

What makes a £4,000 ukulele a £4,000 ukulele? A price ticket, of course.

John Colter
 

UkingViking

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With hand made I just meant that it is put together by hand. And while perhaps some plastic ukes are not, I assume that most are. Especially those of a reasonable quality, whether they are made by an independant luthier or a team in a factory. I assume that the decent quality factories have some luthiers to at least oversee the builds.

So some people believe that an ukulele made with non electrified tools are to prefer, and that the term hand made should be used to describe those?

To each his own. I prefer my ukuleles to be made using the best precision tools available.
 

Rllink

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With hand made I just meant that it is put together by hand. And while perhaps some plastic ukes are not, I assume that most are. Especially those of a reasonable quality, whether they are made by an independant luthier or a team in a factory. I assume that the decent quality factories have some luthiers to at least oversee the builds.

So some people believe that an ukulele made with non electrified tools are to prefer, and that the term hand made should be used to describe those?

To each his own. I prefer my ukuleles to be made using the best precision tools available.

I agreed with you actually, I mean they're made by somebody. I doubt that a ukulele that comes out of a Chinese factory was never touched by human hands.
 

John Colter

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Peter R. I, for one, welcome your question. It has caused a few folk to give thought to an important subject and has brought some interesting responses.

I would never spend £4,000 on a ukulele - even if I could afford to - for me, that is a ridiculous amount to pay. I can find a fine instrument that satisfies my needs for much less than that. That doesn't mean that some builders are ripping off the ukulele buying public. Nor does it mean that such prices are unjustified.

Just my opinion. As some sage once said, "We've all got one"

John Colter
 

kerneltime

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Rude, not to the extent of some of the other comments. So excuse me for feeling a bit narked.

The general gist I'm getting is "shut up and get back in your hole". Or "warren" as others have quipped. Newbies aren't allowed an opinion, the established tribe have spoken?

My original post didn't say people can't charge what they like, but just questioned the rising cost and the extreme price of some ukes.

It is ok to ask but when presented with logic and reasoning that adds up, it is time to change opinion.. unless you want to base your expectations on faith..

A luthier working alone or with some assistance spends all their time making a finite set of instruments in a year. Those instruments have to fetch enough money for it to be worth the effort.
There are 2 ways.. make the instrument really quick and good enough and churn a greater number through the year or build something desirable in every way possible (which takes time) so that enough people want it so that you charge more to account for the fewer numbers.
Right from selection of wood, to choice of quality of bracing to building the whole instrument, can be time consuming if you want the right sound..
Also, a luthier is justified in charging more for their years of experience.. even if it takes him/her same or less time to make an instrument over the years.

Most luthiers I know are not really living large on the money they make, they do it cause it is their passion and they are happy to build something that they like. Financially they are probably better off doing some other kind of wood working.. (maybe that is why some furniture and cabinet makers become luthiers for their retirement?)

At some point in time, there is enough demand due to reputation built over years that it is better to charge more, than have a very very long queue.
You make it sound as if they are obligated to make ukes that you can afford.. they are not. If you look at their financial needs, they are not charging enough in my opinion..

Also, it takes roughly similar time to build a uke or a guitar.. luthier built guitars go for a lot more..
 
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Bill Sheehan

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Well, the exchanges on this thread may have been a little "vigorous" at times, but it's actually a good thing to be able to consider the varying perspectives out there, and then decide whether our initial position on the issue at hand may genuinely be changeable based on points we hadn't really thought about before. I find that to be the case quite often here on the Forum, and I've learned a lot from the process, not only in terms of expanding the openness of my mind, but also in terms of learning a TON of things by observing the various discussions-- for instance, how the soprano size is the only "true" ukulele... JUST KIDDING !!!! Best to all! :)
 

DPO

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To Mr Rabbit my last comment to you on THIS subject is this. "Anything sold anywhere in the world, is worth what a willing buyer will pay, and a willing seller will accept."
 

etudes

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Well you all have helped sharpen my thinking on the subject. It's a hot button topic and understandably so. We're all in different places and our perspectives are constantly changing. I've considered making what I would consider a somewhat mad uke purchase (in the 3-4K range), but it's mostly a dream at this point. I'm glad there is a market for high end ukes and that the best luthiers can support themselves making lovely instruments that are indeed works of art.
 
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Peter Frary

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Also, it takes roughly similar time to build a uke or a guitar.. luthier built guitars go for a lot more..

Very true. A luthier friend of mine, Douglas Ching, once told me he loved building guitars (which sold for a pretty penny on a long waiting list) but he made a lot more money selling violins (a $25,000 violin is considered on the inexpensive side). So the motivation for a top luthier to build an ukulele tends to flow out of their passion for the instrument since guitars, violins, lutes, mandolins, etc., all sell for considerably more and take as much time and skill to build.
 

Barry Canada

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I suggest that the individuals who think luthiers charge outrageously unjustifiable prices should attempt to build a really fine custom made instrument! Afterwards return to this thread and comment. Most instrument makers who continue to build are driven by their passion for the art. Many end up just quitting and finding more lucrative jobs which probably pay a better hourly wage and may even come with added benefits like health insurance and/or pension!
 
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AQUATOPAZ

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Well you all have helped sharpen my thinking on the subject. It's a hot button topic and understandably so. We're all in different places and our perspectives are constantly changing. I've considered making what I would consider a somewhat mad uke purchase (in the 4K range), only to get knocked back down to earth when suddenly something in the house breaks down requiring an expensive repair. I'm glad there is a market for high end ukes and that the best luthiers can support themselves making lovely instruments that are indeed works of art.

I think I would have a heart attack if a 4k instrument hot accidentally banged up or if I neglected to properly humidify. I am definitely not a candidate for a 4k wooden uke. A metal body resolution maybe.
 

Wukulele

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The violin world seems like an entirely different universe.
Unlike most ukuleles, solid violin (usually purchased through a dealer) holds its value or appreciates. The dollar figures involved w/ violins is somewhat to very, very much on a different scale than ukuleles...

Digression:

This shop in Boston http://www.reuning.com/ has listings broken down by various price categories... the starting category starts around what gochugogi mentioned. The last category on the pull down menu for violins mentions an amount 20 times greater.

This shop https://www.potterviolins.com has been around in the DC area for decades & has served many students & professionals... "Most of the company’s revenue, about 60 percent, comes from selling violins, violas, cellos and basses. Instruments begin at $500 and can cost as much as $1 million. Bows can sell for $250,000 apiece. Twice a year, Kelly takes a trip to Europe — Paris, Amsterdam, sometimes northern Italy — to buy antique instruments and bows to restore and sell. He typically brings back six instruments and a handful of bows — a haul easily worth $40,000, according to Potter.
"“We prefer to pick things ourselves,” he said. “It becomes a personal challenge: Can we find the perfect bow to match that $150,000 violin?”
"The company’s smaller rental business brings in about $1 million a year by loaning instruments, mostly to students, for $35 a month."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/busi...64e6d8-274d-11e6-b989-4e5479715b54_story.html


Very true. A luthier friend of mine, Douglas Ching, once told me he loved building guitars (which sold for a pretty penny on a long waiting list) but he made a lot more money selling violins (a $25,000 violin is considered on the inexpensive side). So the motivation for a top luthier to build an ukulele tends to flow out of their passion for the instrument since guitars, violins, lutes, mandolins, etc., all sell for considerably more and take as much time and skill to build.
 

tonyturley

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I suggest that the individuals who think luthiers charge outrageously unjustifiable prices should attempt to build a really fine custom made instrument! Afterwards return to this thread and comment. Most instrument makers who continue to build are driven by their passion for the art. Many end up just quitting and finding more lucrative jobs which probably pay a better hourly wage and may even come with added benefits like health insurance and/or pension!
I'm just a hobbyist, but for me, crafting a good quality instrument is hard, really hard. I just demolished and discarded a tenor uke I had been building and had dozens of hours invested because I messed it beyond what I thought was reasonable. Odd thing is, I'm very pleased with how my first uke turned out, and I even added bindings, a sound port, and a pickup to it. I have a tenor guitar that I just completed that is hanging up while the Tru-Oil cures. It turned out well, also. So my hat is off to those who can make and sell these things at a sufficient rate to support themselves and their families.