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Thread: Buying my first... help!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
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    25

    Default Buying my first... help!

    Hello friends... So, I'm in the market for my first ukulele. Fun stuff. Well, I've since found myself trapped in a blackhole of research. Honestly, I had no clue there were so many options and now I'm overwhelmed.

    A little about me. I'm a drummer and a guitarist and candidly I'm addicted to good gear. That said, I've never bought a uke, but a buddy at work has a cheap soprano in his office that I've noodled on for months and it's addicting so it's time. I'm getting one... A tenor.

    I'm definitely not a ukulele player, but I just don't see the sense in buying a "starter" instrument when I know I'll want to upgrade in two months.

    So, I embarked upon my research journey and decided quickly I wanted one of the K's. Specifically, a Kanile'a K-1. Pretty simple. The KoAloha probably sounds better, but I just don't like the headstock and the Kamaka seems a little too boring... or the ANueNue Moonbird, but I don't feel like a spruce top screams ukulele.

    Regardless, my wife laughed at me. Apparently spending $1,200 on an instrument I don't play isn't allowed. Lol

    Anyway, I've since been selling myself (and her) down to something more realistic. As follows:

    *The Rebel, Double Creme - It just looks amazing, I mean a Triforce in the soundhole. Gotoh UPT tuners, noice. Sweet headstock and logo/inlays. Beautiful finish and the video on HMS really just sells it. That video makes it sound amazing... but $939.00, still too expensive. And maybe quiet based on what I've read?
    *Kanile'a OHA T - I mean it's a Kanile'a, right? $795, stretching it.
    *KoAloha Opio KTO-10 - Sounds great, but that headstock. $655, getting closer.
    *Pono (AT, ATD, MT, MTD, MG or MGT) - Very nice instruments, excellent build quality, great sound per the videos on HMS. $399-$499, really where I should be.
    *Ohana TK-350G - Gorgeous instrument. Solid Koa. Limited edition. Value. $639 from Mim, doable. What am I missing? Why doesn't HMS sell them? Seems too good to be true.
    *Romero Creations - Seems like solid instruments, but haven't done a ton of research. Seems within budget.
    *Eastman - I don't know enough but they're in play price-wise.
    *Snail (SR04-TE or SUT-M3) - Up and coming company. Alex from Southern Ukulele Store swears by them (but he's a salesperson). A lot of premium features for less... but I have 6-driver custom-mold in-ears and I've listened to a lot of audio samples and haven't been impressed although audio production from HMS is far superior to Southern Ukulele Store in their videos. Maybe the videos I heard aren't doing the Snails justice? Regardless, $300-500 depending on the model.

    I just know I don't want Kala, no real reason, I just feel like when there are a million models to choose from they're likely highly mass produced and less attention to detail.

    But that's where I'm at. Ideally, my wife would like me to be in the $400-600 range, but I might be able to squeeze a bit more out with the right argument.... but with that in mind, I've really been leaning Pono... but that Ohana is really pretty and it's solid Koa.

    I just don't know. What would you do? I know Pono's have thicker necks, but I play a Les Paul Standard and I have large hands, doesn't bother me.

    For me it's probably:
    1) Sound Quality (mellow/warm Hawaiian sound)
    2) Craftsmanship
    3) Looks - I like medium colored woods (Koa, Acacia, Mango)

    What would you do? If you could choose anything under $1000...? What about if you had to stay between $400-700?

    Colin
    Last edited by colinondrums; 12-03-2019 at 11:55 PM. Reason: Typo

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
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    KoAloha Opio - my UAS stopped when I got my long neck concert acacia.

    I have several Ohana solid mahogany ukes in my collection, & consider them really good value, with great tone.

    (I use Living Water low G concert fluorocarbon strings on most of my ukes.)
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Posts
    889

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    You asked what I would do. I would do whatever I had to do, make whatever compromise I had to make, in order to get my Kanilea.

    To get my Kamaka, I had to lose 25 pounds and get healthier. For my custom ukulele, my deal with the wife was to siphon $20 off every paycheck to save for my uke. The last thing I would do is settle for a $600 uke. If you are like me...then that will just be $600 wasted because you'll spend the $600, not be satisfied, and ultimately buy the $1200 ukulele you wanted in the first place. In that case you will have spent $1800 to get your $1200 ukulele.

    So I would respect the pecuniary and fiduciary element of my partnership with the wife and make a sane plan to acquire the ukulele that is acceptable to all parties involved.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Pickering, ON, Canada
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    Well you have certainly done the deep dive into research and choices, it can be overwhelming. Warm mellow tone with medium coloured wood. Pono tenor in either mahogany or mango in the $400-$700 range, that all koa Ohana from Mims would be a keeper too.

    Under $1000.00 either the Rebel or the Kanilea, seeing as you don’t like the Koaloha headstock. But I would take Koaloha for the tone, although that’s a personal preference

    Here is the TRUTH, this will not be your only ukulele. You are a musician and self proclaimed good gear junky. Buy something good $400-$700 to start knowing full well once up to speed you will buy again........more then once
    Last edited by DownUpDave; 12-04-2019 at 01:19 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 walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    CH
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    I think your initial approach is the right one: Buy a high quality instrument in the first place. It will almost certainly save you money in the long run, as you'll always wonder how that Kanilea would have been. So my advice would be to save that extra money and then go for what you really want, the all Koa Kanilea. If that's not an option, then the Kanilea Oha will be extremely close in sound, feel, and looks (except for the wood on the back and sides). Other than that, my personal opinion is that a Pono or a KoAloha Opio are almost as good as the ukes made in Hawaii and therefore offer a great value at a lesser price. However, I feel you regarding that KoAloha headstock, so again, I wouldn't settle for something that you don't find entirely pleasing and instead go for the Kanilea.
    Enjoying instruments by - Beau Hannam - Jay Lichty - Jerry Hoffmann - Luis Feu de Mesquita - Kala - Kamaka - Kanile'a - KoAloha - Ko'olau - Moore Bettah - Pono - Romero Creations - and others

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    314

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    Buying a reasonably well priced Uke will NOT save you money in the long run.

    You have more than one guitar, right?

    You WILL soon acquire more Ukes, it is a simple fact that UAS is rampant and far more serious a condition than GAS.

    Onto which uke, a Martin C1K is what I would have on top of my short list in the £500 price range.

    Do be careful with buying a Pono, see this thread

    https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com...-Pono-Ukuleles
    Last edited by Col50; 12-04-2019 at 02:09 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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
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    25

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    Wow, you guys are awesome. Thanks for the feedback, first post here... didn't expect so many responses so quickly. I think you all have fair points, yes, I have 3 electrics, 2 acoustics, a bass, two drum kits, multiple sets of cymbals... gear on gear on gear.

    Honestly, I've even bargained with my wife saying I'd sell one of my electrics (PRS SE24, Fender Strat Hotrod Deluxe '57 Reissue, Les Paul Standard) to get the Kanile'a and she says, "I don't want you to have to sell something," but you're all right that it's inevitable that I will always want what I always wanted and get it at some point... then I am indeed in for at least $1,800 as opposed to being in for $1,200 and being content for a long while. Thanks for that argument for my wife! Lol

    So then, if that's the case being that it's Christmas time, there was a fair shot at getting a uke ~$600. Not as confident about the K-1... but there are financing options where we could put a significant portion down and pay a small monthly amount to have it paid off in 6 months anyway... so that said, if it's just not in the cards to scoop the Kanile'a now, would you guys do what riprock said above, wait it out and save... which might set my timeline back several months to getting my uke (which let's be honest, I'm probably not going to drop the subject until I get one, lol) or would you just get the $600 uke for xmas and be satisfied for awhile having SOMETHING to play?

    And if all the sudden the big boys were in play and I decided I was just going to wait it out, what else besides the K-1, KTM-00 and Kamaka's tenor do you like in that $1,000-$1,500 price range? I kind of stopped looking because I didn't want to get my hopes up.

    Thanks again!
    Last edited by colinondrums; 12-04-2019 at 05:59 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Canada Prairies, brrr ....
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    I came back from a visit to Oahu last week where I had opportunity to visit several stores and go on factory tours. I played dozens of ukes of various brands including newest KoAloha and Kanile'a models. In summary, none of the "alternatives" you listed will come anywhere close to a Kanile'a, and if you get an alternative and play it for a few weeks you will want to get the Kanile'a anyway. By then you may have infected the wife with uke virus and pass the alternative down to her. If that's not likely to happen then talk her into treating you to the one you want for xmas!
    Last edited by merlin666; 12-04-2019 at 05:42 AM.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlin666 View Post
    I came back from a visit to Oahu last week where I had opportunity to visit several stores and go on factory tours. I played dozens of ukes of various brands including newest KoAloha and Kanile'a models. In summary, none of the "alternatives" you listed will come anywhere close to a Kanile'a, and if you get an alternative and play it for a few weeks you will want to get the Kanile'a anyway. By then you may have infected the wife with uke virus and pass the alternative down to her. If that's not likely to happen then talk her into treating you to the one you want for xmas!
    That was one argument I made. She wants to learn an instrument I told her I'd teach her and we'd learn together. Uke is definitely a great instrument to pick up for someone interested in learning an instrument. Would love her to catch the uke virus and be able relate to my obsession with good gear. Maybe, just maybe.

    Thanks, Merlin. You're absolutely right!

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Good idea about getting your wife involved with playing and learning along with you! This way, you will not only have someone to share your passion with, but you will also inevitably need TWO instruments… So it would be easier to settle for something a little less expensive now and then upgrade in half a year or so. Because let's face it: If you'll have to save money for several months to get that Kanilea somewhere down the road, it will only keep you from learning and playing and enjoying now = waste of time. You should be able to scoop a nice entry level Pono for less $400 USD. This way, you'd have more money left for that second uke you'll "need". Here is a nice Pono MTDX that has the upgraded gloss finish for less than their entry satin finished model (no affiliation to the seller, I was just checking some of my favorite stores for a good deal for you):

    https://alohacityukes.com/collection...-mahogany-mtdx
    Enjoying instruments by - Beau Hannam - Jay Lichty - Jerry Hoffmann - Luis Feu de Mesquita - Kala - Kamaka - Kanile'a - KoAloha - Ko'olau - Moore Bettah - Pono - Romero Creations - and others

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