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Thread: Updated Bruce Wei Consensus?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    Default Updated Bruce Wei Consensus?

    Obviously the Bruce Wei instruments are gorgeous. What's the quality of build and sound like? Do they come already setup? Are they packaged well for international shipping?

    I've read past reviews on here that were mixed, but it seems like the quality control may have gotten better in the past few years. So I'm just trying to get an updated feel for what the current line of ukes for sale are like. Thanks for your opinion!

  2. #2
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    Feb 2012
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    I'm curious to see what kind of answers you get. I was ready to commit to a Bruce Wei custom uke that would replicate the look of a uke I saw in a video IF I could rely on getting a nice sounding ukulele. He came back with a price I would have been willing to pay so I started to do my research. I read all that I could find on the internet but the reviews were so mixed I didn't want to spend that much money on a roll of the dice or just "hope for the best". I listened to all the videos I could find and I was pretty much disappointed with what I heard. I wanted more than just "acceptable" which was pretty much the best I heard. I ended up abandoning my Bruce Wei dream and went another (read "more reliable") direction.
    Last edited by mikelz777; 01-03-2019 at 03:23 PM.
    Ohana CK-42R concert - solid sinker redwood top, solid rosewood back and sides, maple binding, Ltd. Edition
    Kala KA-FMCG concert- solid spruce top, laminate spalted flame maple back and sides, mahogany binding
    Ohana CK-120G - all-solid acacia, mahogany binding, Limited Edition
    Kala KA-ZCT-C - all-laminate ziricote, walnut fretboard, satin neck

    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a ukulele which is basically the same thing.

  3. #3
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    I have played one at the SF UKE festival, was not impressed.. You will have better luck sound wise by buying an Ohana from some one like Mims, uke republic or walking to a store and trying ukes.
    Unless you want a specific look.. then maybe it is worth the try..
    Current Set:
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    I bought a Bruce Wei acacia concert ukulele when there was chatter about whether or not he would keep making ukuleles. That was the summer of 2017.

    The ukulele is quite beautiful and lacks the ornate fretboard often sold on those instruments.

    I keep it humidified during the winter (like my other solid wood ukuleles) and have had no problems with the instrument itself.

    It isn’t the first ukulele I go to, and it isn’t that loud—but the sound is pretty and well balanced and I like it.

    I think it was $120 or something, shipped. It was an absolute steal at that price. It was bought directly off eBay.

    I made a couple video reviews when I bought it—and some time later, Bruce contacted me (I had not communicated with him at any point previously) and thanked me for the positive review.

    The Bruce Wei Model that still calls out to me is the mandolin acacia models. Thankfully, all of them have the ornate fretboards, which keeps me away!
    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.

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  5. #5
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    I think I've become the authority on Bruce Wei ukes since in the last 5 years I've had six of them, four custom and two ready made. One important thing to note is about 4 years ago he stopped allowing other builders to sell in his eBay store because he was getting too many bad reviews for ukes he didn't build.

    I think they sound and play very well, especially for the price. The setups have been good, I tell him to make the action lower on the customs, the two ready made were fine for me. The only negative I can say is on one custom, the fret ends need to be dressed, they have sharp edges. I recommend Bruce Wei ukes, but with one qualifier, like Choirguy, I too don't like the ornate inlay on the fretboards, but I did buy a ready made paddle uke with Hawaiian Island sound holes that was too good a price to pass up, so I'll live with the angel fish inlay.


    8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

    Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kohanmike View Post
    I think I've become the authority on Bruce Wei ukes since in the last 5 years I've had six of them, four custom and two ready made. One important thing to note is about 4 years ago he stopped allowing other builders to sell in his eBay store because he was getting too many bad reviews for ukes he didn't build.

    I think they sound and play very well, especially for the price. The setups have been good, I tell him to make the action lower on the customs, the two ready made were fine for me. The only negative I can say is on one custom, the fret ends need to be dressed, they have sharp edges. I recommend Bruce Wei ukes, but with one qualifier, like Choirguy, I too don't like the ornate inlay on the fretboards, but I did buy a ready made paddle uke with Hawaiian Island sound holes that was too good a price to pass up, so I'll live with the angel fish inlay.


    8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    • Member The CC Strummers www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video
    You mentioned the issue of sharp edges of the fret and want them dressed well, so, I'm wondering how you would like to dress them so that you will feel satisfied.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Uke View Post
    You mentioned the issue of sharp edges of the fret and want them dressed well, so, I'm wondering how you would like to dress them so that you will feel satisfied.
    Anything that chafes is a no no.

  8. #8
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    I've mentioned before that I doubt that Bruce Wei makes "his" ukuleles. Do a google search, there are way too many different instruments to come from one guy. I'm pretty sure he buys them from small time builders (sometimes contracts with them) in Vietnam and claims he builds them. Vietnam is a very poor country and the ongoing problem with small Vietnamese builders like that, is that they don't wait for the wood to dry adequately so a few months down the line you end up with serious problems.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/hoosierhiver

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  9. #9
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    Like Hoosierhiver mentioned, there have been many reports of cracking ukes from Bruceweiarts because the woods were not properly dried. Also, I have read many comments from people who were not impressed with the sound. Even Mike, who commented positively above, has previously written many complaints about dull sound and poor intonation of some of the ukes he bought from Bruce Wei (here is just one example). At best, there seem to be some pretty crass quality control issues. My advise would be to stay away - or order only if you like to play this kind of lottery, as there is a fair chance that you'll end up with something that might only serve as a wall hanger.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Uke View Post
    You mentioned the issue of sharp edges of the fret and want them dressed well, so, I'm wondering how you would like to dress them so that you will feel satisfied.
    They need to be smppthed down, a common operation by a good luthier, who I use all the time, Eric's Guitar Shop in Van Nuys, CA.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barrytone View Post
    Anything that chafes is a no no.
    I don't feel it when I play, only when I specifically run my fingers along the edge of the fretboard.

    Quote Originally Posted by hoosierhiver View Post
    I've mentioned before that I doubt that Bruce Wei makes "his" ukuleles. Do a google search, there are way too many different instruments to come from one guy. I'm pretty sure he buys them from small time builders (sometimes contracts with them) in Vietnam and claims he builds them. Vietnam is a very poor country and the ongoing problem with small Vietnamese builders like that, is that they don't wait for the wood to dry adequately so a few months down the line you end up with serious problems.
    Bruce told me that he builds his customs, and has a couple of workers do the ready mades. As I said, he stopped letting other builders sell on his store about 4 years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rakelele View Post
    Like Hoosierhiver mentioned, there have been many reports of cracking ukes from Bruceweiarts because the woods were not properly dried. Also, I have read many comments from people who were not impressed with the sound. Even Mike, who commented positively above, has previously written many complaints about dull sound and poor intonation of some of the ukes he bought from Bruce Wei (here is just one example). At best, there seem to be some pretty crass quality control issues. My advise would be to stay away - or order only if you like to play this kind of lottery, as there is a fair chance that you'll end up with something that might only serve as a wall hanger.
    I forgot about that first one over 5 years ago, that's the one that prompted me to ask Bruce and he told me about not letting other builders sell on his site anymore. He refunded my money and shortly after I ordered a custom from him in the same style and it came out really good. Also, when I first received the custom gypsy jazz I had him make 4 years ago, I mentioned that it did not have the projection I expected, but recently I found it opened up and sounds good now.

    In the almost 5 years of owning Bruce Wei ukes, none of mine have cracked, but since they're all solid wood, I have them in a humid controlled cabinet. Cracks come from not taking care properly, in fact the only uke to crack on me was a solid Zebrawood Lanikai, which prompted me to make the cabinet. Would I then tell people don't buy Lanikai ukes, no, it was my responsibility to take care of them properly.

    You all are quoting old, very old information. If anyone has not actually bought one of Bruce's current ukes or had any direct contact with him then you're just assuming, and you know what is said about that.

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