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Thread: How do YOU determine the price for a used ukulele ?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Southern California


    For his second career, my father bought modest rental houses, which he upgraded before selling. He told me many times, "It doesn't matter what you feel it's worth—it's only worth what the buyer is willing to pay."

    I have observed on UU that new ukes that are marked down 25-30% will sell fairly quickly. The first owner should expect to take a big hit on resale.
    The unpredictable territory is if you're the second owner of a uke you're selling. Second (or later) owners want to sell for close to what they spent, but buyers of used ukes want them to cost less for each subsequent sale. Rarity or specialness of the uke for sale will attract more buyers, but the seller will probably get no return on person-specific customization.

    If you want to sell quickly, set your price lower than you were hoping for. And, if you can offer ease in the transaction (like included shipping), your uke for sale will be more attractive. It also helps to be forthright, as well as nice, in all communication—it fosters trust and good word-of-mouth about you as a seller.

    Last edited by GinnyT11; 12-15-2014 at 10:04 AM.

    Leave every place better than you found it.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2009


    There is no easy answer to the OP's original question, but I would think that starting at 25% off the original street price would be a good starting point. As someone that has bought and sold many ukes here over the years, I have seen prices vary significantly on different brands. It is all supply and demand. But more so based on the demand.

    I remember back in 2010 and 2011 KoAloha's were extremely popular and always in demand. Pop's specialty models, the scepter and the Pineapple Sunday were all the rage and held their value very well. Now you would be lucky to get 50% of their retail price in a sale. Times and demands change.

    Speaking of demand, over the years there have been numerous individuals here that have been bitten by the UAS bug, including myself. These people can drive the market. The more people that are afflicted with UAS and are active on the Forum at the same time, the more competitive the atmosphere has been here on the secondary uke market. I would say that at the present time there are fewer of these people here. I see more ukes for sale, both higher and lower end, with fewer buyers. And that has meant lower prices.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Cerritos, CA


    Everyone has made a great point. The internet is a great tool to do research as many ukes have prices listed including how much the seller bought it for. I don't have any issue with someone making a profit but there's a chance someone will call them on it, which is fine too because that info is public.

    I definitely think the used uke market has gone down for most brands. If a used Kamaka sold for $850 a couple of years and still fetches $850, the main reason that is because the retail price has gone up so the original seller is taking a bigger hit.

  4. #14


    When I was playing guitars, I bought and sold and traded some, gave one away, and wound up with three classicals. Each had its attraction: I had a good beater, and two customs, both made for me. I played each of them frequently.

    I was at the top of the mountain, and I couldn’t conceive of selling any of them, nor did I need another. No GAS left.

    Fast-forward six years:

    When I began playing the ukulele, and spent less time with the guitars, my attachment to them lessened. The beater wound up at my grandson’s; I considered selling one of the the customs, and eventually, did sell it.

    Not particularly for the money. More than anything, it was because it was such a good guitar that it deserved to be played, by somebody who would love and appreciate it more than it was getting at my house.

    A great instrument that sits in a case and never comes out? What is the point? Nobody gets any joy there.

    I contacted my luthier and asked if he knew anybody who wanted one of his guitars, but who couldn’t afford a new one. He allowed as how he knew of a serious student who did. So the luthier cleaned it up, sold it for more than I paid originally, and he and I both made a little money, plus the player got a good and timely deal. (The luthier’s current pricing is 50% more than mine cost me, and his waiting list is also a couple of years long.)

    I was happy to get a profit, though I was perfectly willing to take less — I had already gotten my money’s worth from that guitar, and then some.

    Value for me is what I decide it’s worth to me. If you buy a new instrument already thinking about how much you can get for it if you sell it, there’s nothing wrong with that, of course, and there are investors who buy and sell all kinds of things without getting attached to them.

    Time and circumstance change things, and it may happen one day that I feel I must sell one of my ukuleles. I don’t see it now, but neither did I see it with my guitars. Should that day arrive, I’ll do what I do, but meanwhile, they are keepers, and worth more to me than what I could get for them.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009


    I came to this thread to read multiple posts saying the buyer decides the price...
    ...wasn't disappointed

    I think certain brands have specific issues that affect resale.
    For example Pono. Everyone selling a used one has to compete with "micro blems" sold new and recenty heavily-discounted models. Really nice ukes, but when it's time to sell, feels like you're competing with the manufacturer/dealer.
    I Remember once seeing a photo of higher-end, imperfect guitars in a pile waiting to be destroyed by the manufacturer (Martin?). I thought they were doing this just to protect their image, but now appeciate what it does for all those who have already bought a guitar from them.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Toronto, ON


    Quote Originally Posted by PhilUSAFRet View Post
    toughie. I try and buy used ukes at a price that will allow me to resell it for at least what I paid without great difficulty. Trades are another topic.
    I agree with Phil.

    There is a sea of ukes and if DownUpDave doesn't buy them all ... there will be lots for all of us to buy reasonably!
    How bad is your UAS?

  7. #17
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Sumter County, FL


    I figure that if I buy a used one, I'll sell it for about as much as I paid for it - sort of. Let's say I buy a uke used for $300 including shipping. I'll sell it for about the same, including shipping. That means my cost for using the uke is whatever the shipping I'm paying is. May drop the actual price a couple bucks, but not more.

    If I buy an instrument new, unless someone twists my arm to buy it for whatever reason, I usually trade my new purchased instruments for something else used. Can usually come up with a much fairer deal that way.

    Since I'm not out to make a profit, it's easier to negotiate something reasonable.

    Usually prefer to trade. It's more fun and can get creative. Have done two-for-one trades when value needed to be balanced (heck, they do it in major league baseball all the time!) and it met both parties' needs.

    The best part of it all has been getting to meet and chat with some great folk.

    Ukuleles: Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)**
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T)*, Lanikai LB6-S (S)*
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)***

    * CGDA reentrant, **DAEB, ***GDAE, The rest are CGDA

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    McDonough, GA


    Maybe the question is "What are you willing to pay for a used a ukulele?"

    For a readily available production instrument, some percentage of a new instrument price, depending on condition, seems fair. Up or down from that value depending on supply/demand. There must be some incentive to not buy new.

    For top custom instruments of outstanding quality, not easily found, and with long wait lists or where the builder has retired, we have seen resale prices for more than new instruments from the same maker. These instruments cannot be bought any day of the week, so are "rare". This is really all about high demand and low supply. Percentages of new prices don't apply here, as long as there is a willing buyer. Sometimes it is about finding an incentive for the current owner to part with an instrument.
    Last edited by Doc_J; 12-14-2014 at 02:15 PM.
    Humble strummer of fine ukes.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2014


    I'd like to throw out a few things, some have already been mentioned, others haven't. The first is what you might expect to get from an insurance company if your instrument needs to be replaced. In most fields that is considered an accurate indicator of somethings value. So I did a little bit or research on insurance for musical instruments. And noticed that there are many types. The salespeople of music instrument insurance like to steer customers away from what is called "actual cash value" insurance for "agreed value" insurance. Having been friends with several insurance salesmen I have always wanted to look into the type of coverage that they steer me away from, because it is often a better deal in the long run.

    What these sales would rather you buy is "Agreed on Value" insurance. I would imagine for a couple of reasons. First I imagine that it seems like a customer would think this is a good / fair deal. Because that is what people expect from insurance. Second it costs a little more because you are not only insuring the instrument against loss and damage you are also insuring it against both appreciation and depreciation. "Agreed on Value" insurance is more time effective to determine for the insurance company, and the other type of insurance is going to make people upset, and eventually notice they are insuring something that might be worth much less than they paid for it, and may believe it to be worth.) Agreed Value insurance is also often priced to avoid any deductible for the claim, and often has an extra fee for the policy itself, which is a personal decision each person can make for themselves if that is a wise choice. Its likely "Agreed on Value" insurance probably plays a big factor in perceived value.
    Just as an aside, I did notice looking up insurance for musical instruments, that Home Owners insurance can and often does include musical instruments. And may be worth looking into. Be sure to mention if you investigate home owners, if you play an instrument professionally, and ask about deductibles. I don't know but I would guess that Home Owners insurance would pay similar to "Actual Cash Value" and have a deductible and it looks like it will often not cover an instrument for more than $2,000 and have a deductible of about $150-$200. You might also consider if that deductible is for each ukulele or for ALL of them, in the case of fire for example you might pay one deductible for your everything including both your couch and ukulele. If you run over your ukulele I assume it would be the entire deductible for the one item.

    Getting your money back for insurance one would assume is unlikely however, in the rare case when an item actually increases in value regardless if was insured or "self insured" that is what is happening. In other words when you pay more than the "actual value" in a way you are paying someone to keep it safe for you until you buy it.

    Another point I would like to explore has been mentioned a few times, and it is Supply and Demand. Particularly the Supply and Demand of niche markets. The question (that probably does not have an absolute answer) is if it is better to advertise to a small market such as here on UU or to a large market such as ebay. Obviously if you have 110 identical ukuleles to sell you don't want to advertize to a market of only 100 people. In that case you would likely want to reduce your inventory (supply) to entice at least 10 people to buy more than one. As a gift or to keep one in the bathroom or something.

    When you introduce a used product to the huge market of ebay (for example) it must compete against not only identical, similar, and new versions a ukulele will also compete against everything else there is to buy from mandolins to automobiles. However it is the same currency that is used to buy each item. Even if it is adjusted from dollars to pesos, it probably gives a closer idea of the actual value. Keep in mind as the third poster ITT mentioned be sure to ask questions of the seller. You also must be aware of shill bidding which although is against ebays rules (and illegal) for obvious reasons it is nearly impossible to report or prove without the hard to get cooperation from ebay itself.

    Finally, "Brand Names" and this will only apply to brand names that have the reputation and MSRP that they deserve which is subjective in and of itself. But it is my firm belief that brand names depreciate at the same rate any other similar item. That does not mean that a 10 year old $1000 ukulele will be worth the same as a 10 year old $100 ukulele it means that the brand name gets its premium up front. It starts off at a higher price and ends at a higher price although ends at a price lower than it originally sold for taking inflation into account. I believe this is true with very few exceptions. One exception would be if the ukulele was hypothetically made of gold. In January of 2006 gold was just under $600 an ounce, at its peak in 2011 it was three times that, today it is just double what it was in 2006. In this case the value of the ukulele is not in the fact that it is a ukulele it is in the fact that it can be melted down and sold as something else it matters very little if it has strap buttons, the value would be based on what it is made of minus the cost it would take to melt it down and make it into something else. So as mentioned in the OP brand names holding their value better than others is an emotional decision, but there is nothing wrong with emotional decisions for the seller but in the end a buyer must have an equal emotional choice to make. Sadly for the sellers, in most cases, custom items regardless of how long you had to wait for them tends not to be taken into account by buyers. A custom item is usually considered in most markets to be a frill for the original owner only. The original owner pays extra to have something particularly meaningful to them.
    Last edited by Brian1; 12-14-2014 at 01:13 PM.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2014


    A fascinating thread and one of the best I've read since joining UU.

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