Uke’s for low humidity

Melissa82

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Any rec’s on a uke for a low humidity area? I’m not the best at using case humidifiers. I have a mahogany Mainland concert I’ve owned for a pretty long time and it’s cracked on both sides of the seam. It’s pricey to fix so figure I’ll get a new uke.
 

hendulele

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Hard to beat a Famous or a Kiwaya (same maker) laminate if you can find one. Same with anything by Magic Fluke Company (Flea or Fluke). They’re great instruments that also resist changes in humidity.
 

EDW

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Yes, all of those are good suggestions. Kiwaya/Famous laminate woods are terrific. They sound better than many solid wood instruments. The Martin HPL laminates play and sound surprisingly good and are really sturdy instruments. They are also well made. I have not played the concert version, but have one of the sopranos.

 

Melissa82

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I thought the Kiwaya was too bright for my taste. I think I’m going to go with a tenor this time around. I like the Koa sound, so finding a laminate I like is tough. Blackbird is way too expensive for me.
 

kerneltime

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Flea or fluke should hold up well and sound good. The neck is solid wood but I think it should be ok. Also, all torrefied wood uke might do well as well... there are cheaper carbon fiber ukes as well, I have not tried them.
 

Justaguest

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I'm glad you are asking. I wanted to start a thread called "confessions of a non-humidifier". I'm in Arizona and have never humidified any of my guitars. Yeah. I'm repenting of my sin and now trying to humidify my home studio to at least 41 degrees RH so I can keep instruments displayed and not feel like I am putting instruments at risk. If the humidifier runs out of water it drops to 20 in a short time. I have 2 good ukes that I keep in humidified cases but want to find a good sounding laminate that I could leave out and not worry much. A laminate tenor of some variety. I'll keep watching the suggestions.
 

Ukecaster

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A standard tenor Fluke with polycarbonate fretboard and laminate top is my leave-out uke, and my house is regularly down to 24% humidity in the winter heating season. I pick it up after a few days of non-use, and it's still perfectly in tune and sounding great, with spot-on intonation. Other laminates with wooden fretboards come close to its durability, but they can can get fret sprout (sharp edges) in low humidity.
 

ripock

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Aren't you folks being a bit histrionic about humidifying? Using myself as a paradigm, once every 10 days or so I spend a minute filling a tube with water. And then every time I play the uke, I have to spend 5 seconds taking the tube out of the sound hole. Are you saying that you cannot be arsed with spending two minutes every fortnight to protect your uke? The benefit of this method is that you don't have to restrict yourself to certain ukes. You can play whatever you want. I too live in a desert but my ukes repose in 40% RH and I play custom made solid ukes without any restrictions.
 

hendulele

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I thought the Kiwaya was too bright for my taste. I think I’m going to go with a tenor this time around. I like the Koa sound, so finding a laminate I like is tough. Blackbird is way too expensive for me.
Koa Flea or Fluke; Martin 0XK concert (if you don’t need to go tenor). As said above, the 0XK is durable and has Martin playability for $300. A minor gripe I have with mine is that its low and midrange tend to mute any brightness. That may be in the sweet spot for you.
 

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An all-laminate uke will sound like a laminate regardless of the very thin outer wood layer used to make it look attractive. Koa, sycamore, monkey pod, bocote, zebrawood laminates will all sound much the same. If you see a listing that says: "All-Koa," it usually means it's a laminate body with a koa top layer. If it says: "Solid Koa" it means the top, back and sides of the body are made of solid koa wood. "Solid wood top" usually is a flag indicating that the back and sides of the body are laminate or plastic.

A solid wood top will give it some of the sound characteristics of that type of wood. But then you'll once again have the problem of humidification to prevent the top from splitting or warping.

The only materials truly impervious to a lack of humidity are synthetics such as plastic or carbon fiber. The Enya Nova U Pro tenor is pretty good. Magic Fluke tenors are highly regarded. They are rugged and you can get a solid or laminate top. The Blackbird all carbon fiber tenor is excellent, but runs about $1200 USD.

You may want to look instead at using a Boveda/D'Addario HumidPak in a wood ukulele's hard case. You leave one or two in the case and replace them about once a year. Though, you'll have to keep your uke in the case when you're not playing it in order for it to work.

Or, you can get a room humidifier and keep the uke in that room when not playing. You'll have to refill the humidifier with water every few days. And clean it on a regular basis. It's surprising how much water you'll use in a day to keep a room between 40% and 50% RH.

Those are essentially your options.
 

Justaguest

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Aren't you folks being a bit histrionic about humidifying? Using myself as a paradigm, once every 10 days or so I spend a minute filling a tube with water. And then every time I play the uke, I have to spend 5 seconds taking the tube out of the sound hole. Are you saying that you cannot be arsed with spending two minutes every fortnight to protect your uke? The benefit of this method is that you don't have to restrict yourself to certain ukes. You can play whatever you want. I too live in a desert but my ukes repose in 40% RH and I play custom made solid ukes without any restrictions.
I am early in this humidifying game and am no doubt over-reacting. Sound hole humidifiers make sense and would be way easier if it meant I did not have to humidify the room but instead put those in about 6 instruments and changed the water weekly. Thanks for that input.
 

Justaguest

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An all-laminate uke will sound like a laminate regardless of the very thin outer wood layer used to make it look attractive. Koa, sycamore, monkey pod, bocote, zebrawood laminates will all sound much the same. If you see a listing that says: "All-Koa," it usually means it's a laminate body with a koa top layer. If it says: "Solid Koa" it means the top, back and sides of the body are made of solid koa wood. "Solid wood top" usually is a flag indicating that the back and sides of the body are laminate or plastic.

A solid wood top will give it some of the sound characteristics of that type of wood. But then you'll once again have the problem of humidification to prevent the top from splitting or warping.

The only materials truly impervious to a lack of humidity are synthetics such as plastic or carbon fiber. The Enya Nova U Pro tenor is pretty good. Magic Fluke tenors are highly regarded. They are rugged and you can get a solid or laminate top. The Blackbird all carbon fiber tenor is excellent, but runs about $1200 USD.

You may want to look instead at using a Boveda/D'Addario HumidPak in a wood ukulele's hard case. You leave one or two in the case and replace them about once a year. Though, you'll have to keep your uke in the case when you're not playing it in order for it to work.

Or, you can get a room humidifier and keep the uke in that room when not playing. You'll have to refill the humidifier with water every few days. And clean it on a regular basis. It's surprising how much water you'll use in a day to keep a room between 40% and 50% RH.

Those are essentially your options.
I'm already finding it hard to keep up with keeping it filled and it's only been a week. I have really only 2 good ukes and they are currently in cases with Boveda packs. It takes up to 10 seconds to get them out of the case if I'm slow but I'd still feel better having something out that was cheaper to replace. Something like a Fluke would be good -- sturdy and sub $400 from what I see. I'm pretty sure I need one. Just in case.
 

Ukecaster

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As Bill1 mentioned previously, a Fluke with a solid wooden top may be no better at crack prevention than solid top laminate ukes.
However, I've never heard of cracking on a Fluke with their standard hoop pine laminate top, and expect that a stock Fluke would be just as durable (crack wise) as a CF uke, short of immersion in water. Don't use it as a boat paddle, despite the shape :)
 

EDW

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As Bill1 mentioned previously, a Fluke with a solid wooden top may be no better at crack prevention than solid top laminate ukes.
However, I've never heard of cracking on a Fluke with their standard hoop pine laminate top, and expect that a stock Fluke would be just as durable (crack wise) as a CF uke, short of immersion in water. Don't use it as a boat paddle, despite the shape :)
Yes, for that you need

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kerneltime

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A standard tenor Fluke with polycarbonate fretboard and laminate top is my leave-out uke, and my house is regularly down to 24% humidity in the winter heating season. I pick it up after a few days of non-use, and it's still perfectly in tune and sounding great, with spot-on intonation. Other laminates with wooden fretboards come close to its durability, but they can can get fret sprout (sharp edges) in low humidity.
They are built in Massachusetts, I think those folks would know the pains of dry air during peak winter.
amazing! 😂
 

Ziret

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As Bill1 mentioned previously, a Fluke with a solid wooden top may be no better at crack prevention than solid top laminate ukes.
However, I've never heard of cracking on a Fluke with their standard hoop pine laminate top, and expect that a stock Fluke would be just as durable (crack wise) as a CF uke, short of immersion in water. Don't use it as a boat paddle, despite the shape :)
I was thinking that on the very slight chance the hoop pine top cracked, that a replacement of the entire top and bridge would be easy and relatively cheap. You’d still have far less into it than a carbon fiber instrument.
 

Tin Ear

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Maybe take a look at a Kala Bamboo Tenor. I'd think the Bamboo should be pretty stable. And the price isn't too bad. I had a Concert early on and gave it to a friend. Bamboo might be another option to consider anyway. Otherwise pick out whatever you like in a laminate and keep it in a decent gig bag with a boveda pack. Experiment with different strings until you find a sound you like.
 

hendulele

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They are built in Massachusetts, I think those folks would know the pains of dry air during peak winter.

amazing! 😂
I asked the Webbs about humidity and the solid tops a few years ago. Phyllis said that the only concern is if you had the Uke close to a forced-air heating register, which pumps out extremely dry air. Otherwise, she said, they’re fine to leave out (although perhaps not outdoors).