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Thread: Considering new uke but is it just UAS?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Posts
    24

    Red face Considering new uke but is it just UAS?

    Hi all,

    New here, and newish to ukuleles. About a year in with my Cordoba UP100 mahogany laminate uke and have been pretty content as a casual player until recently. I had been playing more, getting ready to participate with my jam group in a performance event for Uke Day, and started noticing an annoying little twang or buzz on the second and sometimes 3rd fret of my A string. Don't notice it all the time, but now that I have heard it, well, you know it just kind of sticks out like a sore thumb. I can't unhear it.....

    So, that, coupled with having always felt that the sound of the uke was pleasant but quite soft, I am wondering if it is time to just go ahead and up my game a bit. I figure that it might cost half what I paid for the uke ($80) to have a professional re-setup to take care of the buzz. Soooo.... I started window shopping in the $200-300 range.

    Having listened to a lot of Youtube demos, those solid Koa ukuleles seem to have a noticeably more lovely tone than most of the field. Am I hearing that right? Not that they are in my budget, but they sure sounded beautiful.

    Questions:

    First, will I get a noticeable improvement in tone etc with a solid wood top or not that much better? I was thinking Cedar to get a little more volume, brightness and sustain.

    Second, are there any makes or models that you would recommend to give me a reasonable bump up in sound? (The closest I can get to Jake Shim's sound for under $300... )

    Third, should this casual player just go ahead and get my uke fixed and avoid the swirling vortex? I am really more of a singer than a player, so don't expect to get too much past strumming, unless I suddenly get over my inability to walk and chew gum at the same time.... Singing does take priority, but I do enjoy my uke playing too. And I do appreciate a pretty and great sounding instrument. (Let's face it, that matte finish UP100 is just flat homely.) Spending the money is not an issue. But spending it and not noticing much difference is. I hate buyer's remorse. Thoughts?

    Meantime, I will probably start haunting the local chain music stores for some hands on. But am reticent since that's how I bought my current uke. It played fine but I had very little to compare it to and wouldn't know a good set up from bad, most likely.

    By the way, I have been on Mim's website quite a bit and have heard good things about her on this forum. Would definitely consider buying from her if I take the plunge.

    Thanks,

    Dale

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Woodstock NY USA
    Posts
    647

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    “Do I NEED a new ukulele or is it UAS?” That is always the question. I have been thrilled with some of my forays and disappointed in others. As my skills have gotten better I appreciate new aspects of my old favorites and/or discover why the uke I disregarded in the past is actually pretty awesome. I think it’s worthwhile to find a ukulele that your voice sings well with. And one that your ear loves. Good luck on the journey.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Near Lake Okeechobee, Florida
    Posts
    517

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    If I were in your position, I’d spring for a solid mahogany or acacia uke from Mainland or similar. The Kala KA-ACP-CTG (solid cedar top, laminated acacia back and sides) might also be worth a look.
    "Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once -- for how count heart-beats plain / Unless a company, with hearts which beat, / Come close to the musician, seen or no?" - Robert Browning, "Balaustion's Adventure"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    NorCal
    Posts
    526

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    My recommendation is to get a new one. Your Cordoba can be a backup or a travel uke or one for someone else to use if you want to introduce them to ukes.

    Going up from a beginner uke makes a difference in sound. Not a great leap, but if just a little better, you will enjoy it everytime you strum a chord or pick a note. Going with Mim is the right thinking. Expand your thinking and call her to help recommend what will suit you well for where you are coming from and going to. Maybe an Ohana at the $280 price range. She can also help guide the model/wood choices.

    I play my uke daily so maybe use it more than most items except my bed and eyeglasses. Spending on a nicer uke does not need to be justified but is justified!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Pacific Inland Empire
    Posts
    218

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    How dry is your area? If the RH is super low, say 10%, in the summer, you will need to humidify a solid uke at least to 45%. Laminated ukuleles are far more tolerant of dry climates. If you don't humidify a solid Koa ukulele it may start to crack.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Honolulu
    Posts
    796

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    Nope, not even remotely UAS. Everybody is entitled to at least a dozen 'ukulele. Each instrument has it's own sound and feel so feel free to own as many as will fit in your humble abode.
    Last edited by gochugogi; 02-11-2020 at 08:23 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
    Posts
    4,936

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    First, I love UAS, to me it's not an affliction, it's having great fun. When I first started playing ukulele 7 years ago, in the first year I accumulated 16 ukes, but when Mim recommended a Kala solid cedar top with acacia koa body, cutaway and preamp/pickup that cost $360 and I tried it, I was sold. So I culled my collection to 4 of my best, with the Kala becoming my go to gig uke, and still is. I say go for it.


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 6 acoustic bass ukes, 12 solid body bass ukes, 14 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 41)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    • Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Flint, Michigan USA
    Posts
    183

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    far from uas as I estimate since it is just a second uke, especially when you are looking to level up your game. You can get an inspection from a local tech to see if the neck is twisted or bent if you are afraid to spend the money. It might get you a player for significantly cheaper. Do you need to plug it in or are you planning to use a microphone? Your current one is probably not worth the cost of getting a pickup installed. Also consider how rough you are going to be with your ukes. Your current one is a good choice for a "beater" to take to beaches/campouts, and I would recommend getting a hard case sooner or later for the better uke. Ukes in cases are easier to keep humidified and prevent damage. You probably want to take both to the gig just in case. You never know what might happen. One might take longer to warm up or a string might give an issue.

    TLDR summary: get the better uke now as you need a performer. Sooner rather than later get a case for the better one. Eventually get an inspection/set up for the back up beater uke.
    Ukulele player since November 2013 and started playing toy piano in July of 2019. Lover of electric ukulele!

    IG: @harmonysssmurf
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    Bio:
    Location: Flint, Michigan USA
    Interests: Astronomy, magic the gathering, ukulele, toy piano, clarinet and my kitties!
    Occupation: retired/disabled osteopathic physician

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    2,071

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    Dale,

    I am more into singing than playing the uke. But, I am trying to get much better with my playing. Because, the more I can do on the instrument, the better I can accompany my voice.

    I think you will find that with a move up to a better instrument, it will be a more musical uke and will fit better with your singing. A little less harsh. A little better sounding. Probably even a little easier and more fun to play. Mim should have several solid ukes that will be great for accompaniment.

    My Ohana TK-50G solid cedar/rosewood tenor was a sizeable step up from my all-laminate Fender Nohea. Easier to play. Smoother, richer sound. Especially with fluorocarbon strings. Ohana, Mainland, Flight, all have models that should fill your need and price range. Or, think about used and get more bang for your buck. (Make sure it's been professionally setup if you go used.)

    Good luck & have fun.
    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. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Pickering, ON, Canada
    Posts
    5,991

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    First off.......yes you will notice a difference in sound going from an all laminate ukulele to a solid wood. There is also pride of ownership, a nice gloss finish over beautiful wood is a lovely thing to behold.

    The recommendation of Mainland all solid mahogany is a good one, top notch instruments and service. They also make a cedar top with rosewood back and side (all solid and in your price range) a friend has that one in baritone size.

    Mims is also an no-brainer choice for wonderful product selection and service. If you can afford it stretching your budget to $500 or so really opens up the possibilities.
    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

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