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Thread: The rising cost of "hand"made ukes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
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    Default The rising cost of "hand"made ukes

    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.

  2. #2
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    Jul 2015
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    I disagree. Some luthiers may be in high demand and I think that if they have multiple years of waiting list for an instrument then they are well justified to command a premium price. But here in Canada with an average luthier who has a less than one year wait you can get a fantastic instrument at lower cost than the equivalent Hawaiian factory build.

  3. #3
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    I don’t know what luthier you are talking about and I don’t want to know. A custom made anything, chair, table, pottery, jewellery, instrument will always be many times more expensive then mass produced items.

    I understand and applaud you in wanting to support local talent but if it doesn’t fit into your budget you need to look elsewhere. That is just a cold hard fact of life. I think truly talented luthiers deserve the price they ask. It takes decades to master a craft as exacting as instrument building and none of them get rich asking those prices.

    If a luthier can make 5 ukes in a 3 month period that is 20 ukes a year x $4000.00 equals $80,000. This is after cost of material and all operating costs, including all machinery. Lucky to pay his or her bills with what they clear.

    My Fred Shields uke is 100% handmade by Fred himself. Cost was $350.00 from USA. I live In Canada so as I said sometimes you have to look elsewhere
    Last edited by DownUpDave; 09-16-2019 at 09:28 AM.
    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

  4. #4
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    I support a builder's right to ask whatever price he chooses. It is your right to buy elsewhere, if you think someone's prices are extortionate. Having said that, I agree with you that $4,000 is off the top end of the scale, but that is just my opinion, which counts for nothing. If makers are able to fill their order books at that price level, then good luck to them.

    It might be that they don't take orders, but only offer instruments for sale as they are built. If they sell readily at that price, then that is what they are worth. If they are not worth it, then they will not sell. Any item is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it.

    I also agree that the term "hand made" is of doubtful value in the world of musical instruments. All wooden ukuleles are made by hand. Increasingly, the component parts are not. I used the term "wooden" - that can mean many different things, too.

    There are lots of really good ukuleles available at a range of prices. You are not short of choice.

    Happy buying!

    John Colter
    Last edited by ukantor; 09-16-2019 at 09:29 AM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownUpDave View Post
    I understand and applaud you in wanting to support local talent but if it doesn’t fit into your budget you need to look elsewhere. That is just a cold hard fact of life.
    $4k for a locally handmade uke is too high? Try pricing a new bicycle made anywhere in America.

  6. #6
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    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.
    A diatribe on a fair price is, IMHO, worth little more than the paper that’s printed on (ie. I think that it's near valueless to me). Of course that doesn’t mean that I’m unsympathetic to the builder or disinterested in what she or he has done but if the builder feels the need to justify the cost then they already know it’s excessive. Someone ‘trying it on’?

    £4000 is an awful lot of money and only a very small percentage of players will actually be skilled enough to warrant such expense, and someone who’s that good a player could make a lesser instrument sing well enough. However, if a customer is prepared to pay high prices then many tradesmen will smile and take the money - some customers have more sense than money and others are the reverse. As to whether it’s good value or not who knows or cares? An ornate Baritone is going to cost more to build than a plain Soprano, but how work done and costs incurred relate to the price is another matter (sometimes there’s a clear link between the two and sometimes there isn’t).

    Market prices vary dependant on supply, demand, season and unemployment rates. There’s high employment in the U.K. at the moment but come a big downturn (like 2008) and today’s £4000 instrument will either suddenly become a lot cheaper or not sold, that’s market forces for you. Interest in Ukuleles seems strong and availability of mass produced models is good but if you really want something rather special then supply is to some extent limited - some Luthier’s have very long waiting lists and their prices for their (brand new) instruments have risen accordingly.

    Personally I try to buy locally made items when it’s practical for me to do so, but often it isn’t so I go with the flow and buy from elsewhere instead. Your money will stretch if you ask about, shop around, have a flexible specification of what you what and are prepared to buy second hand.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 09-16-2019 at 08:45 PM.

  7. #7
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    I do know the luthier in question and £4k is far too high. I bought one of them once, albeit a cheaper model and the tuners were rusty. I don't agree with the argument that they can only build so many and have a mortgage to pay. So get a job and build part time.
    Kamaka HF-2LD - Kanile'a Custom 5 string Super Tenor - KoAloha Special Issue Tenor - Pono MGTDP - Pono ATDC-CR

  8. #8
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    Moore Betta ukuleles. Bruce Wei Ukuleles. Both ends of the custom handmade ukulele spectrum. People believe both are worth their MSRP prices, because they sell.

    I don't know who this thread refers to, but the market will cause two things to happen:
    1. Word will get out and demand for his instruments will dry up. He will have to reduce his prices.
    2. He will have to improve the quality of his product to justify the price he is asking. Or he will go out of business.
    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

  9. #9
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    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.
    No need for you to be squeezed for anything. If you don't like the price of the instrument, then find one you do like. Bleating about it on this forum achieves nothing.
    Kind Regards
    Dennis

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

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    264

    Default

    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.

    Auden is a UK based acoustic guitar Company, whose products are excellent quality and they retail c£1200 to £1600. Whilst not exactly hand built they are pretty close to being so in the way top quality uke companies are.

    A custom electric guitar luthier built £2200 or that was what I was quoted at a Guitar Show in the North West.

    The price of hand built ukes is crazy, even the Hawaiian built ukes are way more in cost than they should be.
    Last edited by Col50; 09-16-2019 at 10:26 AM.
    Col.
    From the UK with a bad case of MIAS.
    Korg PA700, Korg Kross 2, Gibson LP, Fender Jazz Bass,
    + Amps, PA, Boss GT100, mixer.
    Ukes - Kala KA-TEME and Risa ST electric solid body.
    Uke wish list, a Bass, make and model yet to be determined

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