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Thread: Cheap/Affordable Uke Recommendations?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
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    Canada
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    Default Cheap/Affordable Uke Recommendations?

    So I have decided that as a personal challenge, I will try to learn an instrument, but I also don't want to make it too challenging, so after my research it seems Ukulele is something doable and that I would like as well.

    I see that there are both acoustic and electric ukuleles, from what I have seen electric ukulele is pretty damn cool, but seem to mostly be $100 or above, most nearing or exceeding $200, some much more.

    Being that I am rather low on money, and that I don't want to be spending a lot of money on one, just in case I give up (even though I will certainly give it my best shot) I don't want to spend much more than $50CAD on one.

    From what I have seen there do seem to be many options on ebay, but the vast majority of them seem to be from China, and I have no idea about their quality, but I'd expect them to have some issues from YouTube reviews I have seen on a couple of them.

    It seems I should stay away from anything by Maholo even though they are very cheap.

    I think electric would be very cool, but for affordability's sake and maybe for being easier to learn, I think I'd be best off with an acoustic one at first, and then get an electric when I get more familiar and advanced.

    So anyone have any recommendations or tips on decent acoustic Ukes within and maybe just a little above my price range?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    2,107

    Default

    If you don't have a nearby ukulele dealer (someone who specializes in ukes, not just a large music dealer who happens to stock a few ukes), you might consider the Flight Travel Ukulele. (Review below.) Durable, set up well, sounds good. It should be close to your price range. Good luck, and welcome to ukulele world!

    https://www.gotaukulele.com/2018/04/...no-review.html
    PLAYERS: Martin C1K • Enya Nova U concert (BLUE!) • Ohana CK-50WG concert (solid cedar top) • Ohana SK-28 ‘Nunes’ • Flea koa soprano • Ohana SK-35G solid mahogany soprano <yay!!> • Famous FS-1 <yippee!!> • Firefly maple concert banjolele <yee-haw!> • Makala MK-CE concert
    LOOKERS: • Vintage 'Mauna Loa' c. 1925 soprano • Kahuna "Felix the Cat" soprano • Woodrow "Steelers" soprano <eyeroll>


    Raleigh Uke Jam:

    My YouTube page

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
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    Default

    Thanks for the quick response.

    I looked into that TUS50, it seems it could indeed be a good candidate. However it's not currently available on amazon and on ebay the shipping prices tend to range from almost $50 to literally $163 dollars, putting it well out of my budget range. I will see how much it'd be directly from the manufacturer.

    I don't think there is a ukulele dealer in my area, but I never checked before, so I will, but don't have much hope.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    the wild west, Canada
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    Default

    Kala is a good brand to look at. If you can stretch your budget a bit there are some decent choices under $80. Unfortunately, some of the great deals available in the US don't always translate when ordered from Canada. I'd say Enya is a good choice, but the Amazon Canada prices aren't as good as Amazon.com. Similar to what you found with Flight.

    The "got a ukulele" site linked above has reviews on lots models so you can cross reference with it if you want a good opinion on something.
    Last edited by glennerd; 01-13-2020 at 03:23 PM.
    Glenn

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Oahu Isle, Hawaii
    Posts
    354

    Default

    $50 CAD ==> ~$38.50 USD.

    At $50 CAD, I doubt that you can easily locate a decent, playable ukulele. If you can go to ~$66 CAD (~$50 USD), I have had good luck with the China-made Kmise brand. They are readily available, at ~$50 USD, on EBAY. I suggest you get either a tenor or concert size. If you buy from EBAY, be sure the seller has a rating of 99.5 or higher.

    In general, China-made ukuleles come with their strings a bit too high above the fretboard and the frets may be a bit uneven. This can make them a bit difficult to keep in tune, & the notes will not play very true above the 5th or 6th fret. However, they are usually okay as bangers to learn the basics on. Oh yes.... sometimes -- just sometimes -- you might get lucky & get a peach of a cheap ukulele. It happens!!!

    Be aware: on a new ukulele, the strings will stretch a lot. You may have to re-tune the uke every 10 minutes or so of playing time on the first day. It should settle in after about a week of re-tuning, and string-stretching, and acclimation to your home's environment. Be patient -- give your new uke at least several days of persistent use so it can get comfortable with its new home and owner.
    Last edited by bellgamin; 01-13-2020 at 06:15 PM. Reason: typos

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    U.K.
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    Your budget seems simply too low to me and at that price you’re quite likely to end up with a Ukulele shaped object rather than something that will serve you well. So, IMHO, you need to have a rethink and raise your budget to cover what's cheap but still worthwhile buying. I do not know what shipping costs are in Canada but beware that for a cheap Uke a large part of your $50 Canadian could be spent on shipping costs and only a (too) small part on the Uke.

    I’ve found great value in buying second hand goods and by carefully setting an instrument up I’ve made inexpensive ones play quite well. You might choose to follow that route, a little careful but not too difficult craft type work will repay you well.

    Makala brand instruments gave me a good start and are inexpensive. The Dolphin Soprano model is very durable and lots are available second hand; a Makala Concert (MK-C) served me well and in some ways I was daft to let it go, but I sold it to make space for other things. Mahalo isn’t a brand you’ll see recommended here but they are widely available and sometimes it’s a case of ‘needs must’. If Mahalo is all you can find and afford then buy the best of their models that you can, set it up well, fit some good strings and give it a go. I sorted out an old, well worn but seemingly carefully used second hand one and it ended up being a useful instrument - a friend of mine now has it as a beater or a spare Uke.

    (Edit. George Elmes, who is a professional player from Ireland, did this thought provoking video some years back and I suggest that you watch it : https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0nf4BiossT8 . It really challenged some of my preconceived ideas and prejudices.)

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 01-13-2020 at 11:30 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Corvallis, Oregon
    Posts
    537

    Default

    Twiggy,
    I also recommend the Flight Travel Ukulele (Model TUS35) as a very good, inexpensive starter uke. (They come in a variety of colors, too, which is fun.) I bought mine through a reputable online store in Britain. Their web address is: www.musicroom.com. I just checked their website and can confirm that they still sell the TUS35 model. The price is £39.99. Their flat shipping rate to Canada is £5.99. Even when you convert the pounds to CAN dollars, this is an excellent price for a very well-made, easy to play, good sounding ukulele.

    Jan (a Canadian now living in Oregon)
    KoAloha KCM-00 (koa concert)
    KoAloha Opio KCO-10 (acacia concert)
    Thormahlen Yew-kulele (yew concert)
    Kala KA-SLNG (long neck soprano)
    Flight TUS35 (blue soprano)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Pacific Inland Empire
    Posts
    159

    Default

    Cordoba, baton rouge, flight, makala, all cheap and need setting up, might get a fairly good one. Avoid Lohanu, Mahalo, hilo, and other much crummier brands.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Canada Prairies, brrr ....
    Posts
    773

    Default

    Your low budget puts you on the border between a toy and an instrument. Maybe try to save a bit longer until you can afford a true instrument. Some libraries also have ukes that can be borrowed without expense. As for an electric uke you will also need an amp to use it which is another large expense and limits its use. I suggest you wait with electronics until you perform for larger groups.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    36

    Default

    Thanks all for the responses.

    I will see how much I can raise my budget by.

    As for electric things, that will still be a long ways away, and if I am still playing after that much time, then I won't mind putting more money into things.

    I'm just on a fixed disability income, and don't want to spend all that much on something which I do run a good chance of just giving up on and no longer using after a short time if I get frustrated.

    @Jan D,

    I will check out your source, thanks.

    Another option will be to check the local music stores, because even though they may not specialize in Ukes, there will be absolutely no shipping costs involved, just the item price and the 13% sales tax.
    Last edited by Twiggy; 01-13-2020 at 06:58 PM.

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