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Thread: What's up with the Blackbird secondary market?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Marin County, CA
    Posts
    563

    Default What's up with the Blackbird secondary market?

    (Not naming names or specific posts so much as calling out something I have noticed over the past few months of casual marketplace browsing)

    I may be mistaken (happens quite a bit), but it feels like whenever I see a listing for either Blackbird uke pop up on the marketplace here or elsewhere that the initial asking price is just slightly less than or equal to what the new "stock" instrument would cost.

    Compared to other brands, it always seems like the Blackbird ukes are resold (or at least hope to be sold) at a much higher price than I would ever pay for one second-hand. The normal 25-30% off original purchase price does not seem to apply to this brand from the listings I've seen.

    I've also noticed that many listings seem to come up for sale shortly after being received by the original owner. To me, this doesn't make me excited to buy, even though I too have been excited by a new uke only to turn around and sell or return it shortly after buying. I get that people might not love something once they hold it, but this feels different. In my mind, perhaps more akin to ordering a custom uke from a wood-working luthier, fully spec'd out to your liking, and then deciding "meh...not for me".

    And I'm not sure it matters too much (i.e., just something that bugs me personally), but in any given Blackbird listing there is almost always a reference to "how long you would have to wait should you buy one new"...why? It is just a few weeks. It's not like getting in line for a Hive, where there is a real investment of time to wait for your new build.

    Why--with this brand and no others--do folks feel compelled to spell out how the ordering process works in their sales pitch? To me it just reads, "Hey, you could order the uke you really want, spec'd out the way you want and you could wait a couple weeks for it to be built. Or you can pay basically the same amount for my customized uke and get it now!" Aside from the instant gratification, what is the benefit of reminding potential buyers that they could always just order their own from Blackbird?

    I realize the answers to these questions and observations might not have any rhyme or reason...I'm just hoping someone has some other perspective as to what is going on with this brand and why they are listed at such a higher asking price relative to original price when compared to the rest of the secondary market.

    I appreciate any insight y'all might have.
    -Jeff
    Last edited by YogiTom; 07-31-2019 at 04:29 AM.
    Current UAS fallout:

    Ohana SK-21A — ‘10s L. Nunes Ukulele 0 Hawaii Soprano — 1918-19 Martin 2M Soprano — ‘60s Kamaka ‘Keiki’ Soprano — ‘70s Kamaka White Label Soprano — Blue Frog Soprano — aNueNue Moon Bird US200 — Ohana SK-30L — Cocobolo Concert #382 (teak!) — Outdoor Ukulele Carbon Tenor — ‘50s Harmony Baritone


    Mead Ambassador/Horticulturist at Heidrun Meadery since 2017

    Teaching Music Together since 2019

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Bellingham, WA USA
    Posts
    30

    Default

    This is not universally true. There is a (2 year old) Clara on Craigslist, near Seattle, going for $800.

    As for the relatively high price, I see it as simply a case of supply vs demand. Since they are not selling at a higher price than originally purchased, it’s not arbitrage.

    As for the sales pitch, I think you spelled out the reasoning perfectly.
    ~R

  3. #3

    Default

    I’ve made a similar observation yogitom. Add to the equation options that I wouldn’t have opted for taking a used instrument above the new price for a spec I’d select if buying new. Buying used is frequently accepting another’s build choices, buy paying near retail for them is a put off.

    As far as the catch and release, I suspect this to be the same for many builds and buyers and not unique to Blackbird. While this is only one opinion, buying my Farallon began an interest in getting a Clara as well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Pickering, ON, Canada
    Posts
    5,707

    Default

    They are of limited availability so sellers price them at what the market will bear. In this day and age of instant everything many people don’t want to wait weeks or months for a new one. I owned a Farallon for almost one year then sold it for 30% below retail just like all other high end ukes are priced.
    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 super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    NorCal
    Posts
    326

    Default

    Blackbirds fall somewhere between custom and production models and this leads to pricing/resale situations as you describe. I can speak to my Clara: I ordered one with a radiused fretboard AND fret markers on the top, $245 add ons. Wait time is closer to three months than three weeks, no matter what they say on the site. They likely produce 300 - 400 units (includes Farallons and maybe guitars) annually so scarcity can be an issue. So at a price paid of $1540, what would resale be? Well, radiused is rarer and front dots rarer still (from my observations). Would 25% off be fair? Now you get a radiused FB for less than a new standard one with no visible wear. What about if you paid $425 for the sunburst finish? Or the pickup?

    I actually have followed many of the Clara resales and found the prices to be fair. Many have added a pickup and perhaps a finish. I would not pay for the finish (and chose not to partly because I like the standard better). Assumption is the sound is consistent so it would be like picking up a new one without the wait at the lowered price.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Bay Area
    Posts
    275

    Default

    I think they mainly hold their price because they are durable and play better than 90% of Ukes. You never have to question the humidification back story. And yes the production is longer than three weeks. I would be prepared for at least two months.
    Kiwaya KTS-4 - High G - Living Water
    Moon Bird UC200 - High G - Black Water
    Blackbird Clara Sunburst - Low G - Fremont
    Kanile’a K-2 Premium Concert - High G - Living Water
    KoAloha KCO-10 Acacia - High G - Stock
    Flea Concert - High G - Living Water
    Aiersi OU-31M - High G - Worth

    If you Uke easy, life will be hard. If you Uke hard, life will be easy.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Marin County, CA
    Posts
    563

    Default

    These are all great and very welcome perspectives! As I said, I’ve been known to be wrong, and perhaps my more casual browsing vs actual price research accounts for my opinion more than I’d realized.

    I may also have more of an issue with the actual sales pitches than anything else, now that we’re talking about it. I’m perfectly happy to wait for something (even months or potentially years) if I’m going to be investing a good chunk of change on it, but I suppose that isn’t a very popular viewpoint.
    Current UAS fallout:

    Ohana SK-21A — ‘10s L. Nunes Ukulele 0 Hawaii Soprano — 1918-19 Martin 2M Soprano — ‘60s Kamaka ‘Keiki’ Soprano — ‘70s Kamaka White Label Soprano — Blue Frog Soprano — aNueNue Moon Bird US200 — Ohana SK-30L — Cocobolo Concert #382 (teak!) — Outdoor Ukulele Carbon Tenor — ‘50s Harmony Baritone


    Mead Ambassador/Horticulturist at Heidrun Meadery since 2017

    Teaching Music Together since 2019

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Bay Area
    Posts
    275

    Default

    I agree worth the wait to have it made for you.
    Kiwaya KTS-4 - High G - Living Water
    Moon Bird UC200 - High G - Black Water
    Blackbird Clara Sunburst - Low G - Fremont
    Kanile’a K-2 Premium Concert - High G - Living Water
    KoAloha KCO-10 Acacia - High G - Stock
    Flea Concert - High G - Living Water
    Aiersi OU-31M - High G - Worth

    If you Uke easy, life will be hard. If you Uke hard, life will be easy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    1,050

    Default

    I’m going to be in market for a Blackbird Farallon. I use the 25-30% equation for all used ukes. I read all Clara and a Farallon offers, check to see what add on’s are “special” but agree with many, I can wait if price is at retail or close to it. Good luck to anyone selling at whatever they can get. I wish more Farallon ukes had fretboard markers. I’d likely have pulled the trigger long ago on a stock until if they had fretboard markers. It’s just me. I like the reference point.

    I also, take into consideration the rep of the seller. Seeing low post isn’t always bad and I’m sure when I put up some ukes for sake in future I may suffer the “never sold anything on the forum thing” but I always try to be fair talking with seller.

    Anyways, just an opinion.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Ma., Ga., Fl.
    Posts
    2,071

    Default

    I just passed on a used Clara (albeit with some minor cosmetic repair) posted on FMM for $600. I didn't pull the trigger because another project came up at the same time. The Clara sold quickly after that.

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