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Thread: The rising cost of "hand"made ukes

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2018


    Quote Originally Posted by PeterRabit View Post
    It seems to me that the cost of good quality luthier made ukes is getting a bit astronomical. I saw today a post for a "hand"made uke which substantial help from machinery to take the strain, listed for £4000! And an accompanying diatribe as to why this was a "fair" price.

    I understand that the cost of living, materials etc is rising but this seems a bit extreme. And you cannot comment or make any suggestion that this is the case without being barred from this particular sellers page.

    What is a person to do if they want something locally made that won't break the bank. No wonder people source things from abroad!

    Seems such a shame and not completely justified to squeeze people for every dime they're worth.
    I agree that some custom ukes have exorbitant prices, which may make it impossible for someone who wishes to buy local to do so. On the other hand, a person has every right to charge whatever they deem fit for their time. It is extremely rude to comment or suggest to them or on their page that they should have a lower price, (they are the ones using their time), so I can competely understand why they would ban someone who feels they must give their input on the price. If you dusagree with theprice, simply don't buy it.
    Last edited by AQUATOPAZ; 09-16-2019 at 10:47 AM.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    West Midlands GB


    Nobody can say what a ukulele "should" cost. You can say what you would pay for it, but the market will determine what anything is worth, and that can change overnight - or sooner.

    John Colter.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    May 2015


    Quote Originally Posted by AQUATOPAZ View Post
    I agree that some custom ukes have exorbitant prices, which may make it impossible for someone who wishes to buy local to do so. On the other hand, a person has every right to charge whatever they deem fit for their time. It is extremely rude to comment or suggest to them or on their page that they should have a lower price, (they are the ones using their time), so I can competely understand why they would ban someone who feels they must give their input on the price.
    No, he only accepts posts from sycophants on his page and removes everything else, not just comments about the price. You are right, it is his page to do that with but it is a good example of social media being used to provide a very one sided and inaccurate picture.
    Kamaka HF-2LD - Kanile'a Custom 5 string Super Tenor - KoAloha Special Issue Tenor - Pono MGTDP - Pono ATDC-CR

  4. #14
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Wiltshire, UK


    I can think of at least two perfectly reputable luthiers in the UK selling fabulous ukuleles for a lot less than £1,000. I can think of at least one other who could easily charge a lot more depending on what you want, but that's because he is very skilled and has built his reputation over some years. I believe some of his instruments take many weeks to make. You pays your money and you makes your choice or something like that.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Catskill Mountains, NY


    This has turned into a funny discussion. Is $4,000 too much to pay for a ukulele? Ask someone shopping in a supermarket, and they'll think you're joking. Uke fans love ukes, and if they have the money, why not spend it? An item's worth is always relative. A few years ago, I was shocked to discover that someone I knew had a $400 ukulele. Now, I would think of that as mid-priced. It's simply a matter of how much an item costs and how much money you can spend. At that point, the price is irrelevant.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Ames, Iowa


    Interesting thread because obviously the OP is quite distressed over the price of a hand made ukulele, when I myself find even the concept of buying a hand made ukulele to be so remote that I can't imagine buying one at any price. Oh well, life goes on.

    After a bit of reflection on this thread I have to wonder who someone really is who arrives here and who seems to have plenty of UU insight but only two posts, both of which are diatribes about a diatribe. This is the second person that I have seen recently who make their debut here with a chip on their shoulder. I think that their identity and underlying motivation is suspect.
    Last edited by Rllink; 09-16-2019 at 12:50 PM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Blackpool Sands, Devon


    I have a very simplistic way of looking at the value (that I put on an item) of long does it take me to earn the asking price? As this is a hobby of mine, then anything over a weeks wages needs very careful consideration, I have one that cost me a week and a half, and thought about it for a year (luthier built). Anything a day or less tends to be no quibble buy it....always assuming I have enough money to pay me bills first :-)
    The OP is entitled to his opinion that a certain uke is too expensive, but in perspective, its all relative to the individual, and may be the reason for him not to buy from a supplier/builder etc.
    Tin Guitar Custom "Smiler"
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    Kala Waterman
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    The truth is, I don't know.....

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Saratoga, CA


    I was able to piece together what is being referred to here..
    1. Facebook posts by someone are not a public forum.. original poster is free to delete. Why do you even follow the page or the person?
    2. If you donít like it donít buy it..?
    3. Another luthier uses a lot of machinery for his ukes and sells them for a lot more.. the value of something is what one is willing to pay.. choice of tooling is not a deciding factor.
    4. There are many other luthiers

    I would prefer a luthier who has a wait list bump his prices and keeps the wait list shorter and other luthiers get some orders..

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA


    Quote Originally Posted by Col50 View Post
    I did see a luthier based in Wales who was selling ukes for way, way less than £4k sorry but I cannot remember who but a search may help you if you are interested.
    Kevin Mulcock? He is a Welsh luthier who makes excellent soprano ukuleles. Which, in my opinion, are seriously under-priced. He also recently bought Pete Howlett's plans and materials for his "Boat Paddle" ukes. Meticulous craftsmanship and lovely sounding instruments. Really great guy as well.
    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 donít begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    óLou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  10. #20


    TLDR version: The best in the world at what they do are perfectly within their rights to charge whatever they please. People will either buy or they won't. The long-winded version is below.

    My take is this. Get them now, while they're cheap because it won't be long until you're paying a much higher cost for top quality customs. Ukuleles are still unreasonably considered 'novelty' instruments by much of the uninformed world. My guess is top quality customs will sky rocket in price over the next decade as the rest of the world wakes up to the fact that ukulele's are serious instruments to be respected (something most of us here already know). The top uke luthiers in the world fetch a little over $10,000 for their absolute top of the line models. These are instruments with hours upon hours of intricate inlays woven into the instrument. These people are absolute geniuses and are the absolute best in the world at what they do. Workmanship of the same quality, with the same amount of time spent, and marginally greater materials costs would fetch tens of thousands of dollars if they were building guitars (Granted, the guitar market is probably harder to break into at the moment due to the greater number of established guitar luthiers).

    Is the luthier that the OP is referencing one of the 'absolute best in the world?' I don't know, but the title of the post is about 'hand made' ukes in general, not a single luthier.

    If you think custom ukes are priced high, google top of the line, custom mandolins. $25,000 easy. One quick google search of custom guitars brought up a Monteleone at $65,000. Ukes are cheap, even the most expensive ones. Not a single one of us can judge if someone charges too much for their hard work and expertise. Only the broader market can determine that. I don't mean to say that $4,000 isn't a lot of money. This is all relative, of course, and not everyone can afford, or is willing to pay, $4,000 and up on a musical instrument.

    To put a different spin on it. Let's think about a brand that does both broad production and customs. Why would someone pay $5,500 on a 2019 KoAloha Black Label that sounds marginally better (granted that is just my opinion) than a KTM-00 that they could get for a little over $1,200 bucks, especially knowing that, at the rate KoAloha innovates, much of what you'll be getting in the Black Label may be introduced into future iterations of the KTM-00? Because for many, it does indeed sound better. Because it plays smoother. Because it's unique. Because it was built by the best of the best that KoAloha has to offer. Because, for some, it's beautiful beyond measure.

    I'll step down from my soap box now.

    @WestyShane - As a former cycling addict, Amen, brother.

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