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Thread: Buying a Uke for International Travel

  1. #1
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    Default Buying a Uke for International Travel

    I know that pieces of this what I am exploring been discussed before, but not exactly as I am presenting it--I did do a search.

    When this crazy pandemic winds down, I am going on three, one month-long trips around the world(lucky me, when, if...). I will be spending a month in SE Asia in the fall (super hot, super humid), West Africa in the winter, and in Latin America in the spring. In Latin America, I will be in the mountains some--cooler weather, maybe the beach a bit too, but not a ton.

    I will play a good deal in my hotel, but will play also some in parks to meet people, an open mic or two, and in the early morning on the beach--I will have a good hard case. I am not a backpacker by any stretch, but crossing borders it may be inspected, others may want to play with it in public spaces, it may get bumped a wee bit.

    I want to have something that I really want to play--this will be my sabbatical year, and I am practicing an hour a day of uke now and really am getting my chops to play the kind of music I enjoy (all strumming, no finger picking). This trip will be special to me, and I just don't want to buy a "beater"--I want it to sound good and feel good--that is subjective, or course, but playability is very important to me. As said, it does need to be stable and can handle some licks and humidity. I am not sure how much the last point matters for trips of those durations. How much does humidity impact an instrument in the short term?

    What would you recommend? Is a solid top stable, strong and "bang proof" enough in case there are some "bumps", or should I get a "nice" laminate. I don't need/like a travel size/thinness, and don't really care about weight so much. Also, I want a really "good" quality instrument--I prefer the neck thickness and size of KoAloha and Ohana. I actually really like my Ohana ck-60 Mohogany, and while they don't get much love here, I was thinking about one of the nicer, more "interesting" Ohana special edition laminates, or, if it might hold up, one of their solid tops.

    Thoughts? Any ideas? Price only a concern in that there is a chance it can be stolen, so a $1300 carbon uke might not be what I want. $500 and under, I would say, and I am a concert guy.

    Thanks for all opinions!

    Rich
    Last edited by richntacoma; 07-03-2020 at 06:57 AM.

  2. #2
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    If you're at all worried about humidity and durability I would recommend getting a high quality laminate. Something like a Kiwaya KS-1 or KS-5 would do you nicely regarding durability and sound quality. If you don't want a soprano I think Kiwaya do concert versions of their high quality laminates under the Famous brand, so FC-1 would be the one to go for. I've no idea if they do tenor size at all. You could also go for the Chinese-made laminates which are almost as good as the Japanese-made and probably better value for the price, so KSU-1 or KCU-1 would be the models you want depending on the scale size.

  3. #3
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    I think any ukulele you already own should work.

    I'd put the ukulele inisde a hard case, then that inside a hardsided check-in bag.

    Just a reminder, these large bags, when packed to capacity with regular stuff can easily exceed airline weight limits. So, take care in what/how you pack.

    Is traveling this fall wise? I wonder. We've put off traveling until next year, at the earliest.

  4. #4
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    This is trip will start fall 2021--I have time, but am needing to think about it a bit now--hope is needed
    Last edited by richntacoma; 07-03-2020 at 08:59 AM.

  5. #5
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    A carbon uke still has a plastic look so, unless a thief knows ukes, they'd probably see it as a toy and look for something else to steal. Given the wide range of types of places you will be visiting, I think the carbon uke is your best bet, but I don't thing Klos has an all carbon concert.

  6. #6
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    Right up until you said concert, I was thinking of the Martin 0X HPL sopranos, which are small, durable, play well and sound great. A bit heavy, but you said weight doesn't matter. Would probably handle humidity better than wood.

    If you want solid wood, another that comes to mind is Br√ľko. They're known more for their sopranos, but they make concerts. They are solid wood, good value, and looking at mine, they seem particularly durable, though I haven't really tested that out. Maybe someone else can comment about that.

    But depending on the kind of travel you do, it seems like a laminate or non-wood uke might serve you better. A Blackbird Clara would fit just about everything except the price.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dohle View Post
    If you're at all worried about humidity and durability I would recommend getting a high quality laminate. Something like a Kiwaya KS-1 or KS-5 would do you nicely regarding durability and sound quality. If you don't want a soprano I think Kiwaya do concert versions of their high quality laminates under the Famous brand, so FC-1 would be the one to go for. I've no idea if they do tenor size at all. You could also go for the Chinese-made laminates which are almost as good as the Japanese-made and probably better value for the price, so KSU-1 or KCU-1 would be the models you want depending on the scale size.
    I could be mistaken, but I feel like the Kiwaya laminates are not especially durable. I'm not sure where I got this impression from.


    Quote Originally Posted by clear View Post
    I think any ukulele you already own should work.

    I'd put the ukulele inisde a hard case, then that inside a hardsided check-in bag.

    Just a reminder, these large bags, when packed to capacity with regular stuff can easily exceed airline weight limits. So, take care in what/how you pack.

    Is traveling this fall wise? I wonder. We've put off traveling until next year, at the earliest.
    Depending on the kind of travel, carrying a hard shell case can be an ordeal, even for a small uke. If it's mostly going to sit in hotel rooms, a hard case might make airline travel easier. But if it's going to be carried a lot, I would look into gig bags or a uke-carrying backpack.

  8. #8
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    If you like the style a Magic Fluke---concert Fluke......solid top or laminate is up to you......my Spruce top Fluke is my travel-cabin-woods uke. If planning such a trip rather than buy new I would take my trusted Fluke along for the journey.

    As per your own thinking and others, a quality laminate would also do......I am partial to solid tops but that is my bias.....

    I have handled a couple of KLOS uke's very nice all around....tenor size......

    You have some time to investigate and find something that will work for you....that is a plus....

    Sounds like a wonderful three months once one can travel more openly........
    Last edited by mjh42; 07-03-2020 at 11:17 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowdenn View Post
    I could be mistaken, but I feel like the Kiwaya laminates are not especially durable. I'm not sure where I got this impression from.
    To be completely honest, I have to agree that Kiwayas aren't the most durable ukes when it comes do dents and bumps and such. In that sense, they might not be the best choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by mjh42 View Post
    .
    I've no idea why I didn't think of Magic Fluke in the first place myself. If you want a durable but quality uke just go for Magic Fluke. Case closed. If you don't mind the unconventional design then it's probably the best you can get regarding your needs. They have quite a few different designs as well so you'll have lots to choose from.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowdenn View Post
    Depending on the kind of travel, carrying a hard shell case can be an ordeal, even for a small uke. If it's mostly going to sit in hotel rooms, a hard case might make airline travel easier. But if it's going to be carried a lot, I would look into gig bags or a uke-carrying backpack.
    I agree with you that the hard case wouldn't be very convenient and that a soft case or no case would be good for local traveling.
    The hard case is mainly for protection against airline baggage handling when the OP is flying.

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