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Thread: More time and $'s on setup or go newer, more expensive?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    12

    Default More time and $'s on setup or go newer, more expensive?

    I have been on Maui for the last 4 weeks and trying out a large number of K ukuleles and others, tenors and concerts.

    There are some wonderful instruments here but what I noticed most is how easy it is to play expensive ones. The action on them is so refined. I am guessing that most of the cost is reflected in just how much time has been spent on setting them up.

    Back home I have a solid Koa tenor which I like very much. It has a great sound and it has survived the adjustment to a slightly less damp atmosphere in Vancouver, Canada.

    There are two ukuleles here that I would like to buy but I would like to try and figure out how much better the one at home can be become with more work.

    What are some of the considerations I need to look at or think about?
    Thanks in advance.
    John

  2. #2
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    Nov 2015
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    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
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    String height at the nut & bridge, & what strings are on it would be a starting point; but you can always buy another uke to use in the meantime.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Pickering, ON, Canada
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    4,661

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    Quote Originally Posted by Croaky Keith View Post
    String height at the nut & bridge, & what strings are on it would be a starting point; but you can always buy another uke to use in the meantime.
    Dido and dido. I have had ukes set up after the fact and it will and does make a difference.
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Walla Walla, WA
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    Been on Maui for the last four weeks? Argh! Who cares about your ukulele issues, you lucky person!

    (You know you're going to buy one, but a good setup helps , of course.)
    Tiny Tenor spruce/mahogany
    Kiwaya KTC-2 mahogany concert
    Timms 1K soprano
    Kiwaya KS-5 soprano
    Flight Travel soprano

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota
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    1,682

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    I went through the process of adding water to my ukulele humidifiers tonight. I have six ukuleles that require humidification, and I played them all. I like all of them (and there are more laminate ukuleles in my house), but when I get to my best ukuleles (KoAloha Opio Concert and Tenor), the sound is just so much above the others—even though the other four ukuleles are solid wood instruments that I like very much.

    My guess is that you are enjoying the sound that comes from those K ukuleles versus just the set-up. I don’t know if they set up the ukuleles before they hit the sales floor, but I have followed The Ukulele Site close enough to know that the K brands need set-ups, too, and that there are duds in those instruments, too (A video from the Kamaka factory, for example, stopped by the “needs service” instruments that had been rejected along the way).

    I’d say this: I am going to go to Hawaii someday and when I do, I will be buying at least one ukulele as a playing souvenir from my trip. I purposely have not bought a Koa instrument for that reason. Sure, they may cost more in Hawaii (I’d be a tourist), but that would make the ukulele very special.

    So...buy it if it makes you happy. Unless you get back to Hawaii all the time...and if that is the case, just go and play the one you like the most until they offer a deal to keep you out of the store!
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...lele-found-you

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Kapolei, Hawaii
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    1,928

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnRC View Post
    I have been on Maui for the last 4 weeks and trying out a large number of K ukuleles and others, tenors and concerts.

    There are some wonderful instruments here but what I noticed most is how easy it is to play expensive ones. The action on them is so refined. I am guessing that most of the cost is reflected in just how much time has been spent on setting them up.

    Back home I have a solid Koa tenor which I like very much. It has a great sound and it has survived the adjustment to a slightly less damp atmosphere in Vancouver, Canada.

    There are two ukuleles here that I would like to buy but I would like to try and figure out how much better the one at home can be become with more work.

    What are some of the considerations I need to look at or think about?
    Thanks in advance.
    John
    Considerations:
    Does the factory setup the instrument, or did the dealer?

    What makes it easier to play? Action, strings. . . . . . . . neck shape (of course I had to add that one in)?

    Most instruments could stand setup work, unless its a custom, which should be setup for the client. This means if you've never had your instrument setup, it could probably use a bill thrown in that direction.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    393

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    You're in Hawaii, the home of the ukulele. Buy one whilst you're there! Certainly a pipe dream of mine to do just that and I've got plenty of ukes at home.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Tampa Bay, FL
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    7,310

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    Lovely! I dream about going to Hawaii often. mmstan lives there, look him up! He has lots of ukes. You might be able to talk him out of one, for less than a new one!
    I would think that ukulele shopping in Hawaii would be more fun than hanging ten!
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Herts, UK
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    The thing to do is to identify the areas in which your current instrument doesn't match up to the ones you like. Realistically, some things you can change a lot, some things you can change a little, some things you can't really change significantly.

    Things you can change a lot:
    • Playability
      You can change action at the bridge and the saddle, level and polish frets, adjust neck relief (easy with a truss rod, difficult but possible without).
    • Cosmetics
      Depends how much time and work/money you want to spend on finishing and bling.


    Things you can change only a little:
    • Volume and tone
      The differences you can make with string changes and changes in technique don't alter the fundamental character of your instrument.


    Things you can't really change without getting drastic and expensive:
    • The shape and size of your uke
    • The weight
      An uncomfortable instrument for your size and build is just what it is and you can't do much about that.


    Stuff in the first category just takes time and work if you have the tools and experience. If you don't then it takes money and the advice/services of a good tech, repair guy or luthier.

    Stuff in the second category takes time, trial, error and some cost if you experiment with strings.

    Stuff in group 3 is what it is.

    IMO, every instrument deserves a good setup and should not be judged without one. Some modest instruments can be great with the right setup.

    That said, There is a point where you just have to admit if your instrument just doesn't match up to what you want. Only one person can decide that.
    And whether the blood be highland, lowland or no,
    And whether the skin be black or white as the snow,
    Of kith and of kin we are one, be it right, be it wrong,
    As long as our hearts beat true to the lilt of a song.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Oak Park, Illinois
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    You must buy the best one you can find while you're there. Then have the instrument you left at home set up buy a reputable technician. Then you tell us which is more worthwhile.
    If everybody wanted peace instead of another TV, then there would be peace.
    -John Lennon-

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