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Thread: The rising cost of "hand"made ukes

  1. #91
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    Peter R. I, for one, welcome your question. It has caused a few folk to give thought to an important subject and has brought some interesting responses.

    I would never spend £4,000 on a ukulele - even if I could afford to - for me, that is a ridiculous amount to pay. I can find a fine instrument that satisfies my needs for much less than that. That doesn't mean that some builders are ripping off the ukulele buying public. Nor does it mean that such prices are unjustified.

    Just my opinion. As some sage once said, "We've all got one"

    John Colter

  2. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterRabit View Post
    Rude, not to the extent of some of the other comments. So excuse me for feeling a bit narked.

    The general gist I'm getting is "shut up and get back in your hole". Or "warren" as others have quipped. Newbies aren't allowed an opinion, the established tribe have spoken?

    My original post didn't say people can't charge what they like, but just questioned the rising cost and the extreme price of some ukes.
    It is ok to ask but when presented with logic and reasoning that adds up, it is time to change opinion.. unless you want to base your expectations on faith..

    A luthier working alone or with some assistance spends all their time making a finite set of instruments in a year. Those instruments have to fetch enough money for it to be worth the effort.
    There are 2 ways.. make the instrument really quick and good enough and churn a greater number through the year or build something desirable in every way possible (which takes time) so that enough people want it so that you charge more to account for the fewer numbers.
    Right from selection of wood, to choice of quality of bracing to building the whole instrument, can be time consuming if you want the right sound..
    Also, a luthier is justified in charging more for their years of experience.. even if it takes him/her same or less time to make an instrument over the years.

    Most luthiers I know are not really living large on the money they make, they do it cause it is their passion and they are happy to build something that they like. Financially they are probably better off doing some other kind of wood working.. (maybe that is why some furniture and cabinet makers become luthiers for their retirement?)

    At some point in time, there is enough demand due to reputation built over years that it is better to charge more, than have a very very long queue.
    You make it sound as if they are obligated to make ukes that you can afford.. they are not. If you look at their financial needs, they are not charging enough in my opinion..

    Also, it takes roughly similar time to build a uke or a guitar.. luthier built guitars go for a lot more..
    Last edited by kerneltime; 09-20-2019 at 08:17 PM.

  3. #93
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    Well, the exchanges on this thread may have been a little "vigorous" at times, but it's actually a good thing to be able to consider the varying perspectives out there, and then decide whether our initial position on the issue at hand may genuinely be changeable based on points we hadn't really thought about before. I find that to be the case quite often here on the Forum, and I've learned a lot from the process, not only in terms of expanding the openness of my mind, but also in terms of learning a TON of things by observing the various discussions-- for instance, how the soprano size is the only "true" ukulele... JUST KIDDING !!!! Best to all!

  4. #94
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    To Mr Rabbit my last comment to you on THIS subject is this. "Anything sold anywhere in the world, is worth what a willing buyer will pay, and a willing seller will accept."
    Kind Regards
    Dennis

    dponeil@xtra.co.nz
    Southern Cross Banjo Ukes & Ukuleles
    Proudly Hand Crafted in
    New Zealand.

  5. #95
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    Well you all have helped sharpen my thinking on the subject. It's a hot button topic and understandably so. We're all in different places and our perspectives are constantly changing. I've considered making what I would consider a somewhat mad uke purchase (in the 3-4K range), but it's mostly a dream at this point. I'm glad there is a market for high end ukes and that the best luthiers can support themselves making lovely instruments that are indeed works of art.
    Last edited by etudes; 09-19-2019 at 07:50 PM.
    "Everyone I know who is into the Ukulele is 'crackers' so get yourself a few and enjoy yourselves" - George Harrison


    the ukes and year of acquisition:
    Pono RTSH-C-PC Cedar/Rosewood tenor 2016
    Koaloha KSM-02 Koa longneck soprano 2016
    Blackbird Farallon 2017
    2008 Kiwaya KTC-02 Mahogany concert 2018
    aNueNue Moonbird Spruce/Rosewood concert 2018

  6. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerneltime View Post

    Also, it takes roughly similar time to build a uke or a guitar.. luthier built guitars go for a lot more..
    Very true. A luthier friend of mine, Douglas Ching, once told me he loved building guitars (which sold for a pretty penny on a long waiting list) but he made a lot more money selling violins (a $25,000 violin is considered on the inexpensive side). So the motivation for a top luthier to build an ukulele tends to flow out of their passion for the instrument since guitars, violins, lutes, mandolins, etc., all sell for considerably more and take as much time and skill to build.

  7. #97
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    I suggest that the individuals who think luthiers charge outrageously unjustifiable prices should attempt to build a really fine custom made instrument! Afterwards return to this thread and comment. Most instrument makers who continue to build are driven by their passion for the art. Many end up just quitting and finding more lucrative jobs which probably pay a better hourly wage and may even come with added benefits like health insurance and/or pension!
    Last edited by Barry Canada; 09-22-2019 at 04:51 PM.

  8. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by etudes View Post
    Well you all have helped sharpen my thinking on the subject. It's a hot button topic and understandably so. We're all in different places and our perspectives are constantly changing. I've considered making what I would consider a somewhat mad uke purchase (in the 4K range), only to get knocked back down to earth when suddenly something in the house breaks down requiring an expensive repair. I'm glad there is a market for high end ukes and that the best luthiers can support themselves making lovely instruments that are indeed works of art.
    I think I would have a heart attack if a 4k instrument hot accidentally banged up or if I neglected to properly humidify. I am definitely not a candidate for a 4k wooden uke. A metal body resolution maybe.

  9. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerryc41 View Post
    This is a good article about the cost of making a uke. Nothing shocking, but it puts it in perspective.

    https://liveukulele.com/gear/buying-tips/ukulele-price/
    Good article. I quibble with a few of the details, but it's pretty accurate.
    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

  10. #100
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    The violin world seems like an entirely different universe.
    Unlike most ukuleles, solid violin (usually purchased through a dealer) holds its value or appreciates. The dollar figures involved w/ violins is somewhat to very, very much on a different scale than ukuleles...

    Digression:

    This shop in Boston http://www.reuning.com/ has listings broken down by various price categories... the starting category starts around what gochugogi mentioned. The last category on the pull down menu for violins mentions an amount 20 times greater.

    This shop https://www.potterviolins.com has been around in the DC area for decades & has served many students & professionals... "Most of the company’s revenue, about 60 percent, comes from selling violins, violas, cellos and basses. Instruments begin at $500 and can cost as much as $1 million. Bows can sell for $250,000 apiece. Twice a year, Kelly takes a trip to Europe — Paris, Amsterdam, sometimes northern Italy — to buy antique instruments and bows to restore and sell. He typically brings back six instruments and a handful of bows — a haul easily worth $40,000, according to Potter.
    "“We prefer to pick things ourselves,” he said. “It becomes a personal challenge: Can we find the perfect bow to match that $150,000 violin?”
    "The company’s smaller rental business brings in about $1 million a year by loaning instruments, mostly to students, for $35 a month."
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/busin...b54_story.html


    Quote Originally Posted by gochugogi View Post
    Very true. A luthier friend of mine, Douglas Ching, once told me he loved building guitars (which sold for a pretty penny on a long waiting list) but he made a lot more money selling violins (a $25,000 violin is considered on the inexpensive side). So the motivation for a top luthier to build an ukulele tends to flow out of their passion for the instrument since guitars, violins, lutes, mandolins, etc., all sell for considerably more and take as much time and skill to build.
    keeping an eye out for a very special concert....

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