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Thread: Unusual beginner question.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    5

    Default Unusual beginner question.

    Greetings! I will be getting a ukulele in the future. I have played guitar/banjo/mandolin/fiddle semi pro since 1967, but after open heart surgery and 5 repair surgeries on my right arm, all the other instruments are too much for my right arm. SO.....turning to the Ukulele. I want to get something really nice...(not so much looks, but a serious instrument) but will have to save up for it. (Sold all my instruments to pay medical bills lol) I am looking at the Martin S1. Solid wood, and build very well. Am I on the right path? This will take me a year to save up for. I dont want to get a “toy” or something “just for now” only to toss away that money. Any advise or direction would be welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)
    Posts
    4,950

    Default

    I won't say it's a bad choice. Mim speaks highly of the model
    https://www.mimsukes.com/listing/mim...-u042/29661890

    But it's not the only choice:
    https://www.mimsukes.com/search?query=Soprano

    Any of the solid mahogany Ohana models will give you most of the tone and all of the playability with Mim's setup. And you can get it in half the time
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, B reentrant
    Jupiter #71, A, UG1

    !Flukutronic!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    West Midlands GB
    Posts
    2,149

    Default

    I second the recommendation of an Ohana, or similar. I still have an Ohana SK35G which came to me thirteen years ago. Mine is a particularly good example of the type - I've played other SK35s that were not as good, in terms of tone and volume. That is the only real drawback with mass produced ukes in that price range. They can vary a lot. If you get a good one, it can be comparable with much more expensive brands.

    In your situation, Professir, a good second hand uke would be a solution. You need to have something to play while the urge is with you.

    John Colter

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
    6,443

    Default

    Coming from your previous instruments, are you sure a soprano uke is the right size for you?
    They have a completely different sound to what you have been used to.

    Whilst some like Martins, they are definitely not the only choice.

    A good uke can be had for a lot less, the KoAloha Opio range is well respected too.

    I also agree that it could be worth your while getting an Ohana solid mahogany first, (you may well find that you need nothing else).
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  5. #5

    Default

    Hello, in reading your question I wouldn’t dwell on the brand as yet....based on your playing history you may want to key on scale. Ukes come in 4 scales...Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone. Each has its own sound and playability.

    My suggestion would be to rent the various scale options. Start with a Soprano, play it for a week or more then move on up the scale until you are comfortable with a scale that’s right for you.....then look at brands. Any of the brands that were suggested here a quality brands.....but the tone is subjective....so once you have your scale....rent your brand until you have your pick. In many places renting is extremely reasonable, and ensures you have made the right decision. Just a thought.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
    Posts
    609

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    Sorry to hear about all your surgeries and having to sell your instruments to pay for them But welcome to the ukulele family! I would look at an all solid, there are a few now that won't break the bank. As mentioned, KoAloha do a more affordable range, as do kanile'a (the islander) as well as pono and Kai do an all solid acacia with a side sound port and slotted headstock at a good price. If at all possible, getting your hands on a few to try would be ideal but failing that (personally I don't live close enough to any to pop over to) looking at loads of videos!

    Have fun shopping
    Last edited by pix.fairydust; 02-16-2020 at 06:21 AM.
    ~ "Music washes away the dust of everyday life" ~

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    Location: UK

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Kerrville, TX - Heart of the Fabulous Texas Hill Country
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    Seriously, you don't have to pay Martin prices to get a great sounding Ukulele. Last night I was playing and comparing my new Kala Baritone with my Kamaka Baritone. I paid $229 for the Kala and the Kamaka sells for $2,695. They were so close in tone and playability that I wouldn't know how to choose one over the other. Another brand to look at is Mainland. Their ukes are consistently good, and they are affordable. I second the notion that you may like a Concert or Tenor better than a Soprano. IMHO, the larger bodies and longer scale lengths produce a much more pleasing and versatile tone. Most of the Ukulele playing you hear on recordings are Tenors. So, you could well be disappointed in the sound of the Soprano, even a Martin.
    "The sole cause of all human misery is the inability of people
    to sit quietly in their rooms." - Blaise Pascal, 1670

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    270

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    Decent suggestions so far. I think the Martin S1 is pretty good value but you are definitely paying a bit for the Martin name. You can easily get a higher quality uke for the same price or even lower. If you're on the hunt for a solid mahogany soprano, currently my personal favourite at that middle tier is Brόko. Their classic soprano line is less than half of the price of the Martin and they are way better quality, imo. The only downside compared to the S1 is that it's not quite as loud (although I suppose that could be a positive for some). Just be aware of import costs if you live outside the EU. https://ukulelen.brueko.de/screen/overview

    Also, don't listen to these comments that are downplaying the soprano. That's the only true ukulele.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Near Memphis, TN
    Posts
    90

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by professir View Post
    Greetings! I will be getting a ukulele in the future. I have played guitar/banjo/mandolin/fiddle semi pro since 1967, but after open heart surgery and 5 repair surgeries on my right arm, all the other instruments are too much for my right arm. SO.....turning to the Ukulele. I want to get something really nice...(not so much looks, but a serious instrument) but will have to save up for it. (Sold all my instruments to pay medical bills lol) I am looking at the Martin S1. Solid wood, and build very well. Am I on the right path? This will take me a year to save up for. I dont want to get a “toy” or something “just for now” only to toss away that money. Any advise or direction would be welcome.
    I'd recommend a tenor size. As many have said already, a Martin is fine, but there are many ukes that will work just as well, if not better. I have a Pono tenor which sounds greats, but I have played and heard several other ukes that sounded great to me. I recommend you think about a price range then check out what's available. But I think you'd be happiest with a tenor size. Another option is the baritone uke, largest of the family, but played like a tenor guitar using modified guitar chords.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    575

    Default

    Unless you're particularly concerned with the look of an instrument, I'd seriously consider looking for a good used or B-stock "blemished" ukulele. Mim has quite a few B-stock ukes on hand and I can vouch for their value. All the sound and playability of a perfect instrument at a substantial discount. Many used solid-wood instruments have the plus of being "played-in", as the wood has opened-up and matured from months or years of playing.

    As far as size, based on your history, I'd look at either a concert or tenor size. If you can get your hands on a few in a shop, you can soon determine what size will work best for you.
    Larry

    • ROMERO CREATIONS SOLID MAHOGANY "TINY TENOR"
    • COCOBOLO CEDAR/COCOBOLO CONCERT
    • ANUENUE UT200 MOON BIRD (ALPINE SPRUCE/ROSEWOOD) TENOR
    • KOALOHA KCM-10 PIKAKE KOA CONCERT
    • PONO ATD-CR CEDAR/ACACIA TENOR (LOW "G")
    • HARMONY MAHOGANY BARITONE (1950's)
    • VTAB TS2401 SPRUCE/MAHOGANY CONCERT

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