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Thread: You Get What You Pay For?

  1. #31
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    ‘You get what you pay for?’

    My experience is that not infrequently you get less than you paid for and occasionally you get more than you paid for.

    A friend let me use a Uke made by a well regarded Luthier, as a guide a new one would be about £600. It was a nice Uke but I wouldn’t buy one at that price, my own Uke would cost under £100 to buy new and I’ve put a lot of set-up work into it. Playing the two side by side the Luthier one’s a bit better but not to any degree I’m fussed about and certainly not really worth me paying an extract £50 for never mind £500 for.

    Another friend went Uke shopping and took an expert player with them. The friend took her own decent laminate with them and had various other more expensive Ukes played by the expert, it took an additional spend (above the cost of the first laminate) of at least £400 before a noticeably better player was found. A high price is never a guarantee of high quality - sometimes it’s all about marketing, sometimes we are taken for ‘mugs’ - and a low price makes you question how anyone can manage to make something that’s worth having with such small funds ........ but sometimes they do.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 07-18-2019 at 03:00 AM.

  2. #32
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    I buy what I can afford.

    If I could afford $5000 ukuleles I would have them, why not.
    Playing my Magic Fluke and grinning like a fool!

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Greenbag View Post
    ...A high price is never a guarantee of high quality - sometimes it’s all about marketing, sometimes we are taken for ‘mugs’ - and a low price makes you question how anyone can manage to make something that’s worth having with such small funds ........ but sometimes they do.
    Often the higher price is for bling. Binding, purfling, inlays, fancy tuners, fancy strap buttons, etc. None of which add to the quality of the instrument's sound.

    Is there a difference in sound between Ko'Aloha tenors: Opio Solid Acacia; Solid Koa KTM-00; Solid Koa Red Label; Solid Koa Custom? Sure. Is the difference worth the respective cost differential? That's up to you.
    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

  4. #34
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    May 2018
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    New Mexico
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    Quote Originally Posted by maki66 View Post
    I buy what I can afford.

    If I could afford $5000 ukuleles I would have them, why not.
    Yep! Life is short, eat off the good china!
    If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a vet.

  5. #35
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    my friend works at a ukulele shop and I hang out there a lot and we have been doing a blind sound test with customers for years just for fun. I would play one and he would play the other.

    in conclusion when a customer hears a $75 kala vs a $1000 koaloha. almost 99% picked the koaloha just from the sound.

    some $100 ukuleles sound better then $500 ukuleles some $1000 ukuleles sound worst then $500 ukuleles. I cant list them as I don't want to bash any company.

    but when it came to the $5000, $7000, $10000 it was a hit or miss. sometimes I wonder why is this ukulele priced so high? who knows but a lot of good ukuleles coming out of china now. great bang for your buck like the moon bird, rebels etc.

    but you would think the $5000+ custom should win in a blind sound test atleast 90% of the time but its close to 50/50

    then again this test really dosnt matter as most customers are beginners and maybe don't know what good sound is as sound is subjective right? it was fun tho.

    also I bet that jake Shimabukuro can make a $75 uke sound really good. so is it the uke or the player?
    changing strings can make the sound better, tuning one step higher or lower can also transform the sound. playing with your nail or flesh part of finger also comes into play.

    so in conclusion ive ranted on to long about nothing hahahaahha
    Last edited by tangimango; 07-24-2019 at 02:25 PM.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill1 View Post
    Has anyone done some blind testing between Dolphin or Coloured Mahalo or Ohana SK10, and the ukes made by Kala, Ohana and Mahalo which cost 10 times as much? It is very interesting that the blind testing seems to be only focussed on one market segment. I think we should also be discussing if we are getting what we are paying for in the $500 market compared to the $50 market to add some balance. Why do you buy a $500 Kala when you can get one for $50? Has anyone blind tested the lower costing production ranges from low to high in price to see if the value is in the sound? For Example: Can an Ohana TK10 be set-up and played to sound better than a Kala KA-SA-TE-C, does this Kala model really sound five times better than the Ohana?
    Would be nice if some UUers at a uke festival could find a quiet spot and a variety of ukes and record them so that we could all blindly vote. Or maybe someone visiting HMS. Hint hint.

  7. #37
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    To do an accurate blind test, you would have to have the same strings on all of the instruments with the same amount of time on them to settle.

    You would have to have the same player(s) play the same pieces in the exact same way they did on all of the other ukuleles. So fatigue and boredom would quickly set in.

    The way the instruments were held would have to be the same. The tuning would have to be as accurate as possible. The location, sound isolation, ambient vibrations and extraneous noise the same.

    Even how the player regards various brands and models can affect how they play the different instruments. Even if it's subconscious.

    IE: Blind comparisons can be somewhat similar and approximate objective playing, but they would not be truly 100% objective nor equal. THey'd be close, but not exact.
    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

  8. #38
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    Wow! There have been less vigorous controls in curing diseases!
    Ohana CK-42R - all-solid concert, sinker redwood top, rosewood body, maple binding, Ltd. Edition
    Kala KA-FMCG- solid/lam concert, spruce top, spalted flame maple body, mahogany binding
    Ohana CK-120G - all-solid concert, 5A acacia top sides and back, mahogany binding, Limited Edition
    Ohana SK-30M - all-solid mahogany long neck soprano (concert scale)
    Romero ST - solid/lam concert, spruce top, mahogany body

  9. #39
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    NH
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    To do an accurate blind test, you would have to have the same strings on all of the instruments with the same amount of time on them to settle.

    You would have to have the same player(s) play the same pieces in the exact same way they did on all of the other ukuleles. So fatigue and boredom would quickly set in.

    The way the instruments were held would have to be the same. The tuning would have to be as accurate as possible. The location, sound isolation, ambient vibrations and extraneous noise the same.

    Even how the player regards various brands and models can affect how they play the different instruments. Even if it's subconscious.

    IE: Blind comparisons can be somewhat similar and approximate objective playing, but they would not be truly 100% objective nor equal. THey'd be close, but not exact.
    And then there is the double blind test where in addition to the conditions listed above the listener doesn't know which ukulele is being played or when the ukulele is switched to another ukulele.
    Kamaka HF3, Tenor
    Eastman EU3C, Concert
    Martin S1, Soprano
    Martin T1K, Tenor

  10. #40
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    The musician could also be blindfolded and forbidden from touching the bridge, headstock crest, tuners, heel, etc. The person handing the musician instruments could also be blindfolded so that not even their behavior is affected by knowledge of each instrument's value. The instruments could be shuffled around by a third party so that even the handler does not know which instrument they are handling. The manufacturers could each use the same neck profile. The player and hander could also be forced to take a whiff of some olfaction-suppressing fumes to limit their sense of smell, etc.

    And after all this, I suspect that only a consummate musician would be anything other than confused.

    The concept of blind-testing instruments to compare their overall quality is absurd. Different sonic characteristics (volume, clarity, warmth, depth, brilliance, etc.) make each 'ukulele more suitable or unsuitable to a particular piece and performance setting, and the same applies to the factors that affect playability. Playing the same piece in the same way on each instrument might advantage some instruments more than others. This leaves the astute musician to listen to and explore each instrument as they learn to play to its strengths while they conform their approach to each instrument to best approximate their mental image of their desired tonal output. Even then, a given musician is not going to be equally capable of adapting to every instrument, and each instrument in a given set is not going to be equally capable of conforming to the performer's desires.

    There is some value in blind-testing instruments. It can allow us to directly compare things like volume, warmth, sustain, etc. while minimizing our biases. We can then play each instrument to assess its playability (keeping in mind that this can usually be changed). But to make the most of this knowledge, we have to know what we're looking for in an instrument.

    When I go instrument shopping, I try to bring along my partner. When my partner comes along, I close my eyes and they hand me a variety of instruments that satisfy specific criteria (in the case of 'ukulele: budget range, scale length, fret count, tuner type, etc.). Either way, my test for each instrument consists of several parts:

    1. Spend several minutes bringing the instrument to pitch and into tune. This takes time as the instrument warms up and you explore the subtle idiosyncracies of its setup. Note that minor problems in intonation can often be diagnosed and fixed through a time-consuming process.
    2. Pluck each string several times with the thumb with as much velocity as can be consistently achieved. After each pluck, attend to the tone as it dies. Repeat this exercise with the index, middle, and ring fingers. Repeat near saddle, over soundhole, between saddle and neck joint, and over the neck joint.
    3. Play scales for 10-15 minutes. Play on one string and across several strings. Vary the position of both hands. Listen intensely throughout.
    4. Count a tempo of 60 bpm. Tremolo each string from pianissimo to forte and back across a count of 16 beats. Repeat several times.
    5. Repeat step four but with strums. Try a variety of strum techniques (down with thumb, up and down with index finger, down with four fingernails and up with thumbnail or side of index finger, etc.
    6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 at several neck positions.
    7. Reflect upon what you've heard then select a piece of repertoire. Perform it several times, adjusting to the needs of the instrument with each performance.
    8. Play 4-7 standard selections as diverse in style as you can muster. Repeat the one that fits worst. Repeat the one that fits best.

    Repeat the process above for each instrument, keeping track of which is which (I use a notebook). If any instrument disappoints before step 7, remove it from the pool. This process really exposes the weaknesses and highlights the strengths of each instrument. Out of a pool of 7 to 12 instruments, I can usually thin the pool to 2 (or sometimes 3) after one round.
    Last edited by bacchettadavid; 07-25-2019 at 08:19 AM.
    "Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once -- for how count heart-beats plain / Unless a company, with hearts which beat, / Come close to the musician, seen or no?" - Robert Browning, "Balaustion's Adventure"

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