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Thread: Ukulele for the automobile

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    Default Ukulele for the automobile

    Hi, long time lurker, but I've got bitten by the uke bug, so time to ask some questions.
    I tried to search for car ukulele, but it's too short and automobile didn't pop up any titles of posts.
    Anyhow, I live in Michigan, and was wondering what people leave in the car in extreme weather. Would a Kala Waterman hold up, or would the cold make it brittle? With the wind chills, it's been 10 degrees below zero a couple of times lately. I get an hour lunch break, but it's too far to go home, and sometimes, I just have to get away and go park somewhere to decompress after I eat lunch.
    So any ideas, other than buying a cheapie wood and hauling it in and out with me?
    I see those tiny, cheap tourist ones that are around 18" that I might spring for. I'm a home care/ hospice worker so I'm already carrying a big work bag around, and I can't haul a ukulele into client's homes with me, so some days, I wouldn't be able to have one with me, I got too much to carry as it is.
    I've bought an old Supertone that's on the way right now, but that's going to stay at home.
    Thanks, Lisa

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Close to Boston, Massachusetts
    Posts
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    Outdoor Ukulele!!
    I have a green tenor that lives behind the passenger seat. It has survived several years of New England temperature swings.
    "Life is short. Opera is long."

    Anonymous


  3. #3
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    Dec 2009
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    USA
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    Yes, Outdoor Ukes. Get it...then forget it! (Well, at least forget about humidity or heat issues). They are cool, go-anywhere ukes.
    John

  4. #4
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    Jan 2014
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    West Virginia
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    Outdoor Ukulele here as well. Love, love mine.

    However, for two years, I did use those little $18 plastic First Act ukes with no problems with weather.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    - Laura

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    I have a concert Flea strung with Martin M600 strings. It has been to three continents and presently lives in my car, enduring 115 summer temperatures and subzero winter temps. It hasn't warped, come apart, popped a bridge or a string, and it sounds better than you might expect, certainly better than a Waterman or Outdoor Uke.
    Justice is like a train that is nearly always late, - Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

    62,400 repetitions make one truth. - Bernard Marx, character in Brave New World, Alduous Huxley

    Dig In-finity! - The Naz, in the words of Lord Buckley

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    U.K.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LisaD View Post
    Hi, long time lurker, but I've got bitten by the uke bug, so time to ask some questions.
    I tried to search for car ukulele, but it's too short and automobile didn't pop up any titles of posts.
    Anyhow, I live in Michigan, and was wondering what people leave in the car in extreme weather. Would a Kala Waterman hold up, or would the cold make it brittle? With the wind chills, it's been 10 degrees below zero a couple of times lately. I get an hour lunch break, but it's too far to go home, and sometimes, I just have to get away and go park somewhere to decompress after I eat lunch.
    So any ideas, other than buying a cheapie wood and hauling it in and out with me?
    I see those tiny, cheap tourist ones that are around 18" that I might spring for. I'm a home care/ hospice worker so I'm already carrying a big work bag around, and I can't haul a ukulele into client's homes with me, so some days, I wouldn't be able to have one with me, I got too much to carry as it is.
    I've bought an old Supertone that's on the way right now, but that's going to stay at home.
    Thanks, Lisa
    I’m not in the USA but guess that Michigan experiences cold winters and warm summers. This might represent typical weather for the area : “Michigan has a temperate climate with well-defined seasons. The warmest temperatures and longest frost-free period are found most generally in the southern part of the lower peninsula; Detroit has a normal daily mean temperature of 49F (9C), ranging from 23F (–5C) in January to 72F (22C) in July. Colder temperatures and a shorter growing season prevail in the more northerly regions; Sault Ste. Marie has a normal daily mean of 40F (4C), ranging from 13F (–11C) in January to 64F (18C) in July. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the state is –51F (–46C), registered at Vanderbilt on 9 February 1934; the all-time high of 112F (44C) was recorded at Mio on 13 July 1936. Both sites are located in the interior of the lower peninsula, away from the moderating influence of the Great Lakes.” Read more: http://www.city-data.com/states/Michigan-Climate.html .

    To me it sounds like you don’t experience the worst extremes of the USA’s weather and on that basis I wonder whether you would be best advised to try out a cheapish 2nd hand and well set-up laminate beater to see how you get on - if it breaks you will not have lost much of financial value and if it doesn’t you’ll have avoided a more expensive purchase. For what it’s worth my beater is a second hand $20 Dolplin, but I have the skills to set it up properly so it sounds and plays much better than most others. As far as I know the way Ukes fail in cars is due to humidity changes and excessive heat, humidity can cause solid wood instruments to distort and split and excess heat can cause the glue to soften and then give way. A laminate Uke is more robust against humidity changes and your car might be cooler in the summer than in some other and more southerly states - so excessive heat issue is probably less of an issue for you.

    The Waterman Ukes aren’t popular with players, the Outdoor Ukes are liked but a bit dearer - definitely worth the extra though - a Flea is more money again but will sound better again too.

    https://www.outdoorukulele.com/colle...oprano-brown-1
    https://www.magicfluke.com/product-p/flea_standard.htm

    A part of your decision is budget and you haven’t suggested what you might feel comfortable with. Another part of your decision is size and you haven’t (I think) given that detail though Waterman and Supertone imply Soprano to me. For use in a car I’d suggest a Soprano and a late model Soprano Outdoor Uke is a simple choice that seems to tick most boxes - as a cost saving they are sometimes available second hand but be aware that the design improved a few years back.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 01-24-2019 at 03:26 AM.

  7. #7
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    I, too, think a laminate may well fit the bill, just keep it in a gig bag, but me being me, I'd suggest a long neck soprano, it will allow you to keep the size down, whilst giving you the comfort of a concert scale, & a low G if , like me, you prefer it.

    Check out the Kala KA-SLNG.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Walla Walla, WA
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    855

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    You might try a Flight TUS or Mahilele--they are the same. Very similar to a Flea in construction and sound, but with an ABS neck, so only the top is wood. I keep one in the trunk and it can be well over 100 F. here, for over a week at a time. They only cost about $50, so in the same range as a cheap laminate.
    Kala KA-ASAC acacia baritone
    Tiny Tenor spruce/mahogany
    Kiwaya KTC-2 mahogany concert
    aNueNue Khaya I mahogany soprano
    Flight Travel soprano

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Raleigh, NC
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    For Michigan winters, I'd recommend the Outdoor uke. Temps below zero (Fahrenheit) can be common and summers are downright hot and swampy. Even a laminate standard uke would have trouble surviving the extremes.
    Martin C1K Famous by Kiwaya FS-1 <yippee!!> Ohana CK-50WG concert (solid cedar top) Ohana SK-35G solid mahogany soprano <yay!!> Firefly maple concert banjolele <yee-haw!> Flea koa soprano Lanikai LU22CFM laminate flame maple concert Islander MAT-4 spalted maple tenor Makala MK-CE concert Woodrow "Steelers" soprano <eyeroll>

    Raleigh Uke Jam:

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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    Thanks for all the responses so far, it’s very helpful to me, and any other beginner looking for a hardy uke for the automobile.
    I live in Marquette in Upper Michigan, about two blocks from Lake Superior. I’m about 450 miles north of Detroit, so think Canada or Minnesota as to our weather.
    Hendulele has it right, extremely cold in the winter, average temp for January is 18 degrees with about 12 feet of snow a winter. Summers are swampy, in the 80’s, but with very high humidity.
    I think I’ll be looking at a plastic type of material, wood just isn’t going to survive. I’ll keep my eyes open for a used Outdoor brand, but maybe take Laura’s advice for the time being, and get a cheap plastic First Act. If nothing else, it’ll help toughen up my fingers and build hand strength during my lunch break. I’m not looking for amazing tone, just something to get some skills built up, I’m hoping the ancient Supertone I purchased will have a pleasing tone. I play dulcimer a little, but it has fine, metal strings and super low action, it’s not hard to press down at all. Sometimes I use a “noter” a little wooden dowel to press the strings down instead of my fingers, as it traditional, so right now, I got soft baby fingertips and pads, lol.

    Again, thanks for all the responses, I feel very lucky that there is such a responsive forum to help me out.
    Lisa

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