What is the point of plastic ukes?

rhiggie

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I'm a sailor and a strummer. I have some nice ukes but on a boat it's almost always high humidity. I started sailing with a beater, then an Outdoor tenor and later graduated to a Blackbird Clara for better sound/playability (at a far greater cost). Also love the beach and for leaving a uke on the beach blanket, the Outdoor uke is great! That said, I could buy a bunch of decent laminate ukes when they one stopped being playable for what my Clara cost :cool:
 

Mfturner

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I viewed the Enya and the Flight TUS as equivalents when looking for a cheap beater uke, and choose the Flight for its slightly brighter sound on YouTube reviews, but would have been happy with either. I do travel from desert SW USA to the east coast with large humidity and temperature variation, so some plastic seemed useful at the time.

Having said that, it can be a slippery bar of soap depending on what I'm wearing. Anybody know if the Enya, or even the Flea, has a different, more grippy texture, or does anyone put dots of black silicone on the back of theirs to help with this?
 

Wukulele

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Short answer: no need for hygrometer & futzing with /adjusting ambient humidity levels come shoulder season/fall, when heaters get turned on.

Enya Nova also have an advantage other plastics lack: compensated saddle for more precise intonation up the fretboard. Some Flight TUS models have compensated saddles, some do not.

My semi-plastic made in Massachusetts USA Magic Fluke Flea Concert, has equally precise intonation as my Enya Novas.
As an aside, fun fact: my Magic Fluke Flea appreciated 55% from price paid for it new, 3 years ago.
I also have their Cricket fiddle, which gets more time played than my almost 2 centuries old violin.
Magic Fluke’s production is more like small companies like Kamaka, likely less like big-factory assembly (lines) than Flight TUS’s.

The Flight TUS’s have a linden wood top, last I checked. So the comparable isn’t Enyas, OutdoorUkulele, nor Kala waterman. It’s actually more like Magic Flukes.

I almost got a Flight TUS, but at the time, the reviews on the one I was interested in made me think “wait til the QC issues settle down”.
 

Brad Bordessa

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I like the harsh timbre. I like that it kind of sounds insectile. Someone playing one of those was what drew me to buy a uke.

So does my old roommate from IHM. It really fits his style and it's his favorite uke. But for most people, I don't think the tone is as universally pleasing as a traditional uke.

Brad! Great to see your reply. I’m a big fan of your podcast! I know you’ve travelled a lot with your Outdoor. Do you find the extra durability makes it worth having the OU over a laminate (or Flight)? Other than water, the other pros you list above should apply to laminates too? (If not worrying about theft or losing the instrument, I’d take a Kiwaya laminate in such situations!).

Great point about the ‘specific’ application of these ukes. In many situations, I’d take my solid-top Ohana without worrying. Between that and the Flight, I think I don’t need a fully ‘plastic’ uke.

I have no doubt that a laminate uke would have been destroyed within months (or days) if I treated it like my OU. No question. No contest. That's the reason I bought it and still have it - so I can treat it like total garbage: beat, bang, sling, fling, smash, hot, cold, wet, dry, train, stain, aeroplane, etc... It's totally exceled at this task. Perhaps a laminate uke could have been used if I was more careful, but it would have increased the stress and worry on my travels.
 

VegasGeorge

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Assuming one is not getting the instrument wet, .....

UU, I'm keen to hear your thoughts!
Well, hold there a sec, pard! "Getting the instrument wet" is the whole idea of the thing. I play my plastic Ukes in the bathtub, shower, in the rain, on the river, and soon in my new spa. If you weren't going to be getting her wet, what good would she be? :p
 

actadh

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I take my Outdoor tenor and Enya Nova U concert with me when I camp. Wood smoke, bug spray, sticky s'mores - no problem.

I also have taken then with me on the trails in my SXS. The amount of dust is incredible at times, and they are constantly jostled. I don't worry about the ukes at all.
 

Veritas99

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The other consideration is who else will get their hands on it. My wife and I got Outdoors to leave out around the house and take on family hikes, etc. Thanks to my 5 year old, the amount of things I have had to wipe off those ukes and the number of avoided dings from drops is substantial. That said, I would not want either as my primary uke from a sound perspective.
 

Voran

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The other consideration is who else will get their hands on it. My wife and I got Outdoors to leave out around the house and take on family hikes, etc. Thanks to my 5 year old, the amount of things I have had to wipe off those ukes and the number of avoided dings from drops is substantial. That said, I would not want either as my primary uke from a sound perspective.
Oh God...and people pressure me to have children. No thanks.
 

Pixiegod

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Having said that, it can be a slippery bar of soap depending on what I'm wearing. Anybody know if the Enya, or even the Flea, has a different, more grippy texture, or does anyone put dots of black silicone on the back of theirs to help with this?
If "stuff" (=ukes) is too slippery, and a strap does not help or is not an option, you might consider a "pickers cloth". It is a thin rubber sheet you put between you and your hopefully not too massive "front" that prevents slipping (something like this: https://schneidermusik.de/shop1/product_info.php/products_id/17564/language/en).
 

BBegall

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Ah, fair call! I guess I meant ‘fully plastic’ ukes (Enya Nova, Waterman, OU, etc.) as opposed to the Flight/Fluke/Flea semi-plastic ukes. I have a Flight TUSL—which I like a lot—but was curious what an Enya would add beyond the ability to play in the rain or the surf!
The Enya Nova is not "fully plastic" and the new tenor is, according to Baz at Gotaukulele, 40% carbon. They are neither plastic nor carbon fibre but a mix. I've owned a Waterman very briefly and a Nova pro. They are not comparable.
 

Voran

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I'm getting my Waterman soon and for some reason I can't shake the feeling that I'm 'cheating' on my black wood uke with it.

Ridiculous, I know. You can't play a wooden instrument outside in the peeing rain.
 

DownUpDave

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I have a few plastic ukes and as others have mentioned they are great to keep in the car and not worry about weather changes. I also am into Bikepacking and cycle touring and being able to bring one along and play around the campfire beside my tent is wonderful.
 

WestyShane

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Camping. I live in Montana and camp most weekends in the "summer". Our daytime/nightime temperature swings are pretty severe. Add the "campfire factor" (front of uke is extremely hot, back is much less so) and you could probably really mess up a nicer instrument. Add the "drinking whisky in front of the campfire factor" and it could spell disaster!

That said I don't have a plastic uke. I'm usually ok taking my laminate Kala, if not I'll take my Mahalo.

My Martin and Kamaka don't leave my yard.
 

merlin666

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My local store has Waterman and when they had a booth at a fair a few years ago they displayed them in an aquarium tank full of water and stuff. They still carry them so must be selling well here. I think they are on the edge between toy and instrument though.