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Thread: Wallet friendly Ukes

  1. #21
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    this has been an amusing thread to read because it is so foreign to me. It is sort of like watching a National Geographic special on Borneo. What's so foreign to me is the whole sound-file thing. I have never listened to a sound clip before buying a ukulele because I already know what it will sound like. It's going to sound like a ukulele. Maybe it will be a bit brighter or a bit warmer, but I am confident that I know how it is going to sound. I focus more on looks and on set-up. If a ukulele is set-up in terms of intonation and string height, and it has the woods and bindings I want, then the sound will take care of itself. So, again, it is funny how united we are and yet how different.

  2. #22
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    Well I guess that’s one perspective and it works for you - no problems from me there and just respect to someone who has made many good posts. I think that there’s some logic to that perspective too, so I can envisage where you are coming from, but it just doesn’t match my experience of any product - whether musical or not - and I think that you might be looking at a higher priced instruments too. For $120 or less you rarely get solid wood Ukes and fancy bindings and the like are nice but not always present, expect a laminate Uke and (towards the top of that price band) maybe it might be nicely bound.

    What can you reasonably expect of laminate material and is one piece of laminate the same as an other? Well I would suggest to you that listening to a group test on YouTube of several similarly priced laminate Ukes will show you that they do sound different (Baz Maz has a good one of three similarly priced Sopranos, others exist where there is little to no commentary). My own experience of playing other wallet friendly Ukes in shops and clubs supports that too, but as with all things and all people YMMV.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 12-16-2017 at 10:38 PM.

  3. #23
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    Best uke I had as a newbie player was my Kala KA-SLNG, a laminate long neck soprano, spent my first six months with that uke as my go to uke, even though I was buying & using others, I kept returning to it.
    (You can hear & see it in videos online if it's not familiar to you.)
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Greenbag View Post
    Well I guess that’s one perspective and it works for you - no problems from me there and just respect to someone who has made many good posts. I think that there’s some logic to that perspective too, so I can envisage where you are coming from, but it just doesn’t match my experience of any product - whether musical or not - and I think that you might be looking at a higher priced instruments too. For $120 or less you rarely get solid wood Ukes and fancy bindings and the like are nice but not always present, expect a laminate Uke and (towards the top of that price band) maybe it might be nicely bound.

    What can you reasonably expect of laminate material and is one piece of laminate the same as an other? Well I would suggest to you that listening to a group test on YouTube of several similarly priced laminate Ukes will show you that they do sound different (Baz Maz has a good one of three similarly priced Sopranos, others exist where there is little to no commentary). My own experience of playing other wallet friendly Ukes in shops and clubs supports that too, but as with all things and all people YMMV.
    To explain myself a little bit further: I never listen to my ukes beforehand because I don't think there's much correlation between what some prodigy can do with the instrument on a video and what I can do with it--especially since I don't play "ukulele" music or strummy accompaniment, which is what is often demonstrated. And I do this in real life as well. On the rare occasion when I go to a ukulele store, I bring a tuner with me. I don't sit down and play the ukulele; I clip the tuner on and check the intonation at the dotted frets. I check to see how protruding the fret wires are. I check to see if Bb major is playable on the first fret. Salespeople aren't comfortable with this. They seem to want me to sit down and play "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" or something vampy from the vaudeville repetoire. So I acknowledge that I am the freak here.

    And there is one other variable at play here: my sense of adventure! For me, getting a new ukulele is like acquiring a mail-order bride: she's beautiful and you know how things are going to work in general. The fun is in learning the particulars and learning how to harness the quirks or adapt to them. For example, my next ukulele is a Rob Collins long neck tenor. I have never heard how his ukuleles sound but I commissioned him to make me the uke with 100% English wood. He says he has some plane tree wood and laburnum which sounds unique. That's all I needed to know to pull the trigger: it is a ukulele and will sound like a ukulele in general but it is going to have some idiosyncratic tendencies. I am on tenter-hooks waiting for this commission to arrive so I can start my life-long relationship with this beauty (at least, I assume it will be beautiful).

    Anyway, I am rambling. I hope you haven't taken any of this as an argument--after all, it is the internet. I am just riffing off what is being said and alleviating a bit of ennui, since I don't have any analog friends with whom to speak about the instrument.

  5. #25
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    For wallet friendly Uke's I think you have to consider Caramel Ukulele ( Amazon or E-Bay). Baz didn't like the cheapest one (~$40) he reviewed, but I have had very good luck with their middle grades ($45-$90) ones. Others here have given them good marks for their solid tops and other models. They have improved on their setups over the last few years and the last three I bought needed no setup at all. They come with Aquila strings, but I prefer F-carbons so I always switch the strings out quickly.

    In all honesty I bought Caramels because they sounded good and Caramel specializes in Zebrawood which I'm hooked on.

    I played a lot of different ukes the first year or so at my local shop and found that to get much better sounding ukulele I'd have to spend another $200-$500 and then I'd be worried about the uke all the time.

    I don't have much money to spend on Ukuleles but sprang for a $320 Ohana Solid ceder and rosewood TK50 last year. However I get much more playing time on my Caramels. Go figure?

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackLuis View Post
    For wallet friendly Uke's I think you have to consider Caramel Ukulele ( Amazon or E-Bay). ....... I have had very good luck with their middle grades ($45-$90) ones.

    ...... the last three I bought needed no setup at all. They come with Aquila strings, but I prefer F-carbons so I always switch the strings out quickly.

    In all honesty I bought Caramels because they sounded good and Caramel specializes in Zebrawood which I'm hooked on.

    I played a lot of different ukes the first year or so at my local shop and found that to get much better sounding ukulele I'd have to spend another $200-$500 and then I'd be worried about the uke all the time.

    I don't have much money to spend on Ukuleles but sprang for a $320 Ohana Solid ceder and rosewood TK50 last year. However I get much more playing time on my Caramels. Go figure?
    Strangely I play my least expensive Ukes most too, and yes I do worry about damaging the more pristine and expensive ones.

    Thanks for the Caramel recommendation, if you know of a video showing them being played then please do add it to this thread. I find playing and no commentary most helpful, reviews have their place but for this thread I’m encouraging just playing and no talking.

    I’m neutral on the brand as I don’t have much experience next of them and I want to hear what others have to say too. This video doesn’t quite match my ideal but it gives an indication of what’s available / has been available: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IFmDZ_1_EFk .

  7. #27
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    Jumping in a bit late here but Ohana has some great ukes for the price and are readily available in the UK

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Greenbag View Post
    Strangely I play my least expensive Ukes most too, and yes I do worry about damaging the more pristine and expensive ones.

    Thanks for the Caramel recommendation, if you know of a video showing them being played then please do add it to this thread. I find playing and no commentary most helpful, reviews have their place but for this thread I’m encouraging just playing and no talking.

    I’m neutral on the brand as I don’t have much experience next of them and I want to hear what others have to say too. This video doesn’t quite match my ideal but it gives an indication of what’s available / has been available: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IFmDZ_1_EFk .
    Here is my Youtube channel with my Caramels and my Ohanas mostly Seasons of the Uke but all my reviews. I generally play dGBE so a lot of the reviews are of lower tunings. I hope that helps you. My Amazonionan tunes are instrumental strumming, my singing is rudimentary.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCew...HNc6zug/videos

  9. #29
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    Thanks Jack, that’s helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by vanflynn View Post
    Jumping in a bit late here but Ohana has some great ukes for the price and are readily available in the UK
    I’m sure that you’re right. It would be really helpful if you could put up a video link or two of one or two being played, just playing and no talking/vocals would be ideal. The idea is that the listener has the opportunity make to a judgement based on what they hear.

    This video isn’t ideal against my criteria but it does compare three affordable Ukes with some extended playing and not that much talking - what there is of that is mostly just information. A big percentage of people will have owned or played one of the three (the Dolphin) so the sound comparison could be additionally meaningful for them.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=17FJvWe0Tsk
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 12-19-2017 at 11:05 PM.

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