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Thread: Biggest uke "gamble"?

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA


    The biggest gamble(s) I have taken were:

    I was still pretty new to ukulele when I bought a Kanile'a K1-T on Ebay. It had blonde koa, which was quite different and I really liked it. It had been for sale for several months. Had lots of watchers and a couple of low ball bids. I thought the price being asked was reasonable. I asked him to cover shipping and he agreed. It was my first K-Brand tenor. I still have it and enjoy it.

    I was on Facebook's Ukulele Marketplace and a 100th Anniversary Kamaka tenor came up for sale. It was used regularly, but was calimed to be in excellent condition. The photos looked good. The price was comparable to the few that I'd seen but was too late to get. I asked the seller about dings and dents, scratches, cracks.etc. He replied that there were only some light strumming scratches on it. He lied. There was a BIG dent in it in the upper bout next to the neck. A plethora of small ones on the edges. And several dings in the top and back. Plus, the case was covered in stickers to hide the damage to it. I told him I wanted to return it because the condition was not what he said it was. And send copies of his emails to back that up. Long story short, he refunded my money a month after I returned the uke.

    I had one other from an early number Cocobolo tenor listed on Flea Market. The seller disclosed a dent in the headstock and a ding on the edge of the lower bout. I really liked the Cocobolo's grain pattern and the sap wood edges. I could live with the dent and ding. So I paid the asking price of a new one to him For the used one. He had carefully taken pictures that didn't show that the top had separated from the bottom side. Where it had suffered from a big impact. He claimed it must have happened in shipping. We negotiated a repair refund. And he used my photos of the damage to get an insurance payout. On close inspection of his original photos, I could just make out an edge where the top separated. So, it was a scam from the get-go. I had it repaired, but the intonation was not right. I gave it away to a friend.

    I've never had a problem with any of the 25-plus ukuleles purchases I've made here on the UU Forum Marketplace. They haven't been much of a gamble.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don't begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    --Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Canada Prairies, brrr ....


    I guess my first uke was somewhat of a gamble and a learning experience. It was an Alulu made of some figured wood. It had terrible intonation and when I held it up against the light it was shining through along the figuring. My luthier said this was common with figured wood that the builders just fill in the gaps with glue. I got a partial refund and sold the uke locally so the person who bought it could inspect and play it and be certain of what they got. I used the money to buy a Gretsch uke from a reputable dealer which I still like to play. And I kept the Alulu case which is a perfect fit for my six string Kamaka. And yeah lessons learned are not to buy cheap Ebay ukes, and to stay away from exotic figured woods.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Jul 2018


    Quote Originally Posted by clear View Post
    Since I joined the uke scene during the height of the pandemic; all my purchases have been online, sight-unseen. So, I took a few gambles on ukes.

    The first was on my Kamaka HF-1. It was my first premium uke, costing almost 4x higher than my most-expensive uke at that time. This turned out to be an excellent decision, a winning bet. It's my favorite uke: it sounds just like what I imagine a uke should sound like and it fits me great. This is the uke that I always play (in fact, its only uke that lives outside of its case).

    The HF-1 opened the door to more premium ukes (another Kamaka, a Koaloha, and a Kanilea). Unfortunately, those gambles didn't work out for me. I mean, they are good ukes but I just don't play them much.
    It is expensive and time consuming to figure out what brand and sound fits you, especially if you commit to premium brands. Unless you live by one of the very few shops that carry multiple premium brands, the only way to find your preferences is through trial and error. I have bought and sold a few nice ukuleles in that process, but I would not consider that a gamble won or lost. It is just a part of learning and growing. I was very surprised to not like and return a Kamaka baritone that I bought brand new from an online dealer. Even after listening to so many videos, I had to play it in person to find out. Again, I do not see that as gambling.

    The biggest gambles, I suppose, are the ukuleles purchased used from forums like this. On that front, I have only had good experiences here, and have either received instruments that met my expectations or exceeded them. My Kanilea baritone is a great example of the latter.
    Last edited by KaminTheWeaver; 06-12-2021 at 12:50 PM.
    KoAloha Opio - Acacia

    aNueNue AMM3 - Mahogany (Low G)
    aNueNue UT3K Koa Bird - Koa
    aNueNue UT200 Moon Bird - Spruce/Rosewood (Low G)
    Jupiter Ukulele #64 - Cedar/Sycamore (Low G)
    Kanile'a K1-T Premium - Koa
    Kanile'a K1-T5 - Koa
    KoAloha KTM-25 #161 - Koa (Low G)

    Kanile'a K1-B - Koa
    Pono UL4-30 - Spruce/Rosewood Steel String

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Sep 2018


    I think in general, the risk is not just the ukes bought but also that one’s preferences change...
    keeping an eye out for a very special pre-owned concert....

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Palm Beach County FL


    When I bought my PONO MTD on ebay. I really just heard they were nice ukes. AT the time I had a Kala MTK. No buyer's remorse here.

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Jan 2020


    bought a kmise kmu-s for my son a couple of years back...and it was quite decent!

  7. #37


    The first uke I bought (and still have) was a Mele koa custom tenor. I bought it thinking I'd "one and done" it. That was sixteen ukes ago. Luckily, I currently "only" own six of them. So technically, I lost my own bet, but I'm in a happy place now.
    Last edited by eternal tinkerer; 06-16-2021 at 06:24 PM.

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Aug 2012


    I guess my big "gamble" was that I saw an ukulele advertised on craigslist, it looked interesting and was only $20, but no details. It was close, so I went and looked at it, it turned out to be an old Regent baritone, I figured since it was cheap, so I'd try putting GCEA strings on it and try it out. Well, I couldn't get the tuners to hold at all, so I replaced the tuners with grover geared and strung it up. Well, it didn't sound very good with GCEA, so I put some aquila baritone strings on it, it sounded pretty nice that way, but I don't play baritone, so offered it for sale to my friends for what I had in it ($80), a friend bought it and enjoys it.
    regent.jpg IMG_20180222_094730122.jpg
    Last edited by UkerDanno; 06-17-2021 at 02:37 AM.
    Just Play

    Sopranos: 1st uke, Lanikai soprano LU-11 - Aquilas | 30's Martin style 0 - Martins
    Concerts: Kanile'a K-2 CP - Living Water | Islander AC-4 - Living Water | Waverly Street banjolele - Worth Browns
    Tenor: Martin Iz - Living Water low G
    UBass: Kala FS2 (fretless) - Pahoehoe

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Jun 2021


    My first uke i bought was a Bruko soprano, I fell in love with playing immediately. It was so much fun, so I wanted to upgrade into something I could grow into. Since I’m from Minnesota, there aren’t a lot of places to buy ukes, which leads me to reverb. Found a kamaka hf-1l 2018. New condition. I was a little nervous in spending that much on a uke (they were asking $1100), but offered $900. When he accepted, I got all nervous. Crazy enough, the guy lived about 15 minutes from me, so I drove to pick it up, sort of thinking I was making a mistake spending that much since I didn’t really know how to play. When I first saw it, it looked like art to me. It was beautiful. Since then, I’ve bought many other uke, but it still seems like one of my favorites. So perfect and little. Love it! 20B08802-5317-4790-97DA-6B1C1698DB1E.jpg

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