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Thread: Biggest uke "gamble"?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)

    Default Biggest uke "gamble"?

    I'm curious to hear any tales of "gambles" y'all have done in the uke world and whether it paid off or not. This could be a "too good to be true" that turned out to be true - or not.

    My biggest so far was probably the Lanikai baritone "gamblers special" that Butler Music did a few years ago. That turned out ok. Though that uke has since moved on, it was my first experience with baritone, and I now have 4 bari scale instruments.

    I've certainly spent much more on sight-unseen customs, but I don't really consider those gambles due to the reputation of the builders.
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, LW dGBEA
    Southern Cross concert GCEA
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, B reentrant
    Jupiter #71, E cuatro TI/Oasis


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.


    I guess my only gamble, as such, was on whether a £500 uke was really going to be worth it to me, other people raved about the brand, but I just wasn't sure, but I went & bought it, after quite some time thinking about it - it is a really nice uke, but I'm still not sure that it was really worth that much, but if you want something these days, you just have to pay the price, don't you.

    Yes, it was my solid acacia KoAloha long neck concert uke.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    St. Louis, MO, USA


    It was my LFdM, configured in May 2013/received in February 2014, and yes, a thousand times yes, it paid off.

    This wouldn’t be such a gamble now (for anyone), but it was for me almost six years ago. Luis’s instruments came highly recommended, but it was new to me at the time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Wiltshire, UK


    Biggest gamble was when one of our band members had her uke trodden on the day before a gig. I happened to be the only one able to get to a uke shop that day, so I selected her new uke. I sent a picture from the shop so I knew the look was ok, but I can tell you it was a huge relief to me when she played it and found she liked it. I wouldn't have been able to play it myself as I'm left-handed and it was a right-handed electro-acoustic.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2017


    I can’t say that I’ve taken what would be classed as big gambles but two that didn’t work-out for me come to mind, both are well thought of brands and it wouldn’t be fair to name them. The first one I bought mail order and it was so badly set-up that I should have sent it back but instead I sorted all the issues out myself and now play it, that Concert sounds the nicest of all my Ukes but it’s frets aren’t quite tall enough for my style of playing and hence I struggle to play barred chords easily on it. At some point I’ll let it go and loose about £80 ($100) in the process plus all the time I’ve put into it. The other is a very nice Soprano that I bought used and in beautiful condition, it needed setting up and after that it sounded fantastic if too bright for my tastes. It’s frets we’re also too low for me and that Uke was sold on for a loss of say £20 plus my time.

    You win some and you loose some, buying unseen and unheard is a gamble but overall mail order has served me as well if not better than any local shop.

    I can’t say that I’ve had any major successes because I don’t spend large sums on Ukes. However, whether new or second hand, the Makala’s, Kala’s and Lanikai’s that I’ve purchased have all been great once set-up. There’s been some success on prices for those too, check the market carefully because between suppliers a 25% gap is not at all unusual. In terms of bargains I think my Makala Concert was pretty good, I got it at a good price and once restrung and set-up well it played well. That Makala was sold to make space for something else and at some point I’ll replace it with a Kala KA-C (which is pretty much the same but with some refinements) and then let the Concert mention in the first paragraph go.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 02-02-2019 at 09:16 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    It's a dry heat


    A K-P-K longneck soprano pineapple. Absolutely horrid tone no matter what strings I used. Sounded like a banjo half-stuffed with rags. I gave it away far enough that it couldn't be given back.
    Why me?
    "Some people see the hand of God in their lives, some only the finger."
    - Evan Eisenberg, Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2006, p. 151.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Pickering, ON, Canada


    I will be brutally honest......remember this is personal preference. Biggest gamble I took that didn't work out was my Blackbird Farallon. I listened to every sound sample, talked to Corey and Andrew. Ordered it with ALL the options I like, radius fretboard, side sound port, string through bridge. Liked everything about it, except the sound.

    It was GREAT finger picked but strummed it bugged me, was sterile and almost brash sounding. I bought this to take camping, cottage, travel, sit around the campfire strum and sing along machine. I changed string at least 7 times and spent 8 months trying to like it. Brenda (Solorule) bought it and loves it, she plays exclusively fingerstyle and makes it sound wonderful.

    Biggest $$$ gamble I took that worked out was my I'iwi redwood/walnut tenor. Sure they are highly regarded ( so was the Farallon) but I bought this on pure impulse. HMS did the video recording, I saw it minutes after it was posted. I immediately called Andrew with my credit card number before he could even list it. It has ticked all the boxes, I LOVE it.
    Last edited by DownUpDave; 02-02-2019 at 09:31 AM.
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    West Virginia


    It was a gamble for me to buy the Martin OXK from Musician's Friend. That was a lot of money for me and I read so much about needing to get setups, which they don't do. It came basically straight from Martin as they just put their box around it. Was well set up and I instantly loved it.

    Because of that, I gambled on the $94 on eBay Kala ASOV that many of us on here bought. Was whelmed when it came in. Put Martin M600 strings on it and now it sounds fantastic.
    - Laura

    Martin, KoAloha, Brueko, Mele, Mainland, Outdoor, Kala, Enya, Harmony, Tempo, Globe, Shima, Vega, Silvertone, Kay, Luna, Vorson, Drewek, Zither Heaven, First Act

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Toronto , Canada


    Every uke I bought on line even my lfdm is a gamble because I don’t have the luxury of trying it first.
    Everyone has different preference! Just because someone said it’s good it does not mean it’s good to your ears!
    It’s a learning curve. That’s how UAS starts!
    Yes it’s a gamble and dern addictive !
    We are all gamblers

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2017


    I tried a bunch of Ukes in the two years I’ve been playing. Only a couple were duds, but some I just didn’t bond with. That was mainly a neck shape/size issue. I suppose my biggest gamble has been my aNueNue Moon Bird. By far the most expensive uke I’ve purchased based solely on the reviews & sound samples of others. Luckily the gamble paid off and I love it.
    My ukulele family.....
    KoAloha Koa concert - circa 2006 (Living Waters)
    aNueNue Moon Bird concert - Spruce & Rosewood - 2018 (Blackwater)
    Blackbird Clara - 2019 (Oasis Bright)
    Cocobolo concert - 2019 (Worth Brown)

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