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Thread: Outdoor Carbon Uke-looking for owners with opinions

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    PNW
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    247

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    Have had OU, MF, Watermans, Enya. For backpacking/kayaking/max portability, I might personally go with Enya Nova Mini $60, esp if backpacking solo, for space reasons.
    Was def not a jump-on-Enya-Nova bandwagon type & hate buying from Amazon. And really like OU & feel their instruments are worth the cost.

    The ENM is a thin body w/ mild arched back & has more than expected volume, relatively speaking. I sincerely appreciate compensated saddles, especially on small ukes. The enclosed shell case would come in handy IMO, since if backpacking, I'd likely lash an instrument to the outside, than slip in crammed pack...
    That said, can't go wrong w a burly OU soprano. On the OU tenor, I did long for a side port, but other than that, quite liked it. And based on playing OU instruments their guitar is quite tempting, since I often miss those bottom 2 strings.

    OU unlikely to come out w UL, as UL is inversely related to durability, generally speaking.

    Neither are 100% CF. My ENM came with end button & significantly lighter strings than OU's D'Addarios.

    TONS of Nova & Nova Mini reviews on YT, so if one can stand the too-much-talking most of them have, they can help w decisions.

    Two videos I like (allow room for very different robustness of playing):
    OU (singing is distractingly good) https://youtu.be/S9cI-Z6i_aQ?t=76
    Enya Nova Mini https://youtu.be/XdVpTrOTTPs?t=316

    Would also consider the Nova concert, even for backpacking/camping. Comp of the 2 Novas. https://youtu.be/PTlXJ19UOPs?t=45

    Quote Originally Posted by niwenomian View Post
    I have a tenor outdoor uke, which I love for any use that my #1 uke isn't suited for, like kayaking or travelling etc. I've taken it backpacking a few times and while it was ideal when I got to camp, I spent plenty of time wishing it was smaller and lighter.
    Last edited by Wukulele; 04-25-2021 at 10:03 AM.
    keeping an eye out for a very special pre-owned concert....

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    6

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    I have a beater laminate Mitchell ukulele that I bought for ~$30 USD and strung with Aquila strings. I backpack and camp with it all the time. Go to an outdoors store and ask them for an extra sleeping bag or small tent case, and use this to be a uke bag to tie to the outside of your normal backpack. You need the wind & weather protection. I’m sure the outdoor ukes are all great, but my cheapo laminate takes care of my needs when I am far from civilization. Hard to quibble with small intonation / sound issues when you are surrounded by nature.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    318

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    Just dropped back in and have to say that this is why I love the UU community. Loads of really good, thoughtful responses. I've watched the videos and considered all of the suggestions, and I can see that my initial question, "OU or OU carbon" is a false choice. I really liked the weight list that Graham Greenbag posted. I'll add laminate back into the mix. Super helpful to see all of the ukes lighter than the OU. I really enjoyed the OU vs. OU carbon comparison video and I don't really think the carbon sounds any better to me whatever the price point. Also, several made the point about the color. I've carried my uke inside the pack in the past, but could strap it to the outside too, a lightweight DCF sack will give weather and snag protection.

    Saw several references to Argapa travel ukes. Is this a UK based brand? I found a blog of the same name, but none for sale. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    U.K.
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    1,308

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    Quote Originally Posted by niwenomian View Post
    Just dropped back in and have to say that this is why I love the UU community. Loads of really good, thoughtful responses. I've watched the videos and considered all of the suggestions, and I can see that my initial question, "OU or OU carbon" is a false choice. I really liked the weight list that Graham Greenbag posted. I'll add laminate back into the mix. Super helpful to see all of the ukes lighter than the OU. I really enjoyed the OU vs. OU carbon comparison video and I don't really think the carbon sounds any better to me whatever the price point. Also, several made the point about the color. I've carried my uke inside the pack in the past, but could strap it to the outside too, a lightweight DCF sack will give weather and snag protection.

    Saw several references to Argapa travel ukes. Is this a UK based brand? I found a blog of the same name, but none for sale. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
    I’m glad that you found our collective responses helpful. In terms of practical purposes I personally don’t believe that an OU has anything particularly useful to offer over a typical laminate, but ymmv.

    [Edit. If you use the search function and look through some old threads then you’ll get some pointers on alternatives for camping and beaters. Fleas are a bit pricy but ‘indestructible’ and sound very good (play them both at home and on the trail), second hand laminates can be very cheap and can be made to sound and play just fine. Something like an old Lanikai LU21 or Kala KA-S would be good and they’re better sounding than a (still perfectly adequate) Dolphin. Like I said earlier I’m loving my old and well set-up Mahalo U30 - I’m not so keen on their other Sopranos though.
    Here are examples of such a threads, they’re dated but the answers are still relevant: https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com...hlight=Camping
    https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com...ghlight=Beater
    ]

    The Argapa travel Ukes have a small but loyal following, a search of Sven’s blog should identify them more and he has some you tube videos up too. Sven is a hobby builder, he makes good stuff and I’d love one of his Sopranos but am reluctant to spend the (significant but fair) sum required ... I’ve already got too many Ukes too. The travel Ukes have a shorter than Soprano scale and are open backed, they suit some folk but not others, they’re maybe ideal for a hotel room. The video shows his range of Ukes and he makes resonators too.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KJtN_EuOsbQ
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 04-27-2021 at 01:26 AM. Reason: Additional detail

  5. #15
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Northern California
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    318

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    ...The lightest Uke option is not taking one...
    Very true, of all the times I've brought a uke on the trail I never played as much as I thought I would or should given the sacrifice to haul the thing around. However, almost without exception, the times that I don't bring a uke I think about it constantly. Obsessively. Last summer, I was on the Pacific Crest Trail for a few days and didn't bring a uke with me, so of course I'm thinking about it all day long. When I reached my end point for the day, I set my pack down to go hang a bear bag and by the time I got back (10 min tops) a couple had set up their tent right next to my intended spot. We chatted for a bit and when they realized we were double booked there, they invited me to join them saying they were going to make pasta and play the ukulele. I set up the tent and played for a good hour while they cooked. It was perfect.

    So the very best option is to have someone else bring the uke! A nice heavy one that sounds great. Can't get any lighter than that. Plan B is to bring something that is in the sweet spot between light in weight and good sounding.
    Last edited by niwenomian; 04-26-2021 at 08:40 AM.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Netherlands
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    230

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    How about a Flight travel ukulele?
    They are cheap, sturdy, and sound remarkably good!


  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
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    265

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    Flights are heavy...can't recall the exact # but the TUS I had weighed as much as (or slightly more than?) my solid mahogany concerts.

  8. #18
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    May 2013
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    Northern California
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    Bill, this is a really good post. I appreciate all of the points you've made, especially about the reasons to leave the ukulele behind. This one well and truly hits home. I've lugged my uke for miles on the trail and hardly played. I took a uke on a trip to Europe a few years back and hardly played. Leaving things behind is really what backpacking is all about to me; figuring out what is needed for survival and basic comfort and letting the rest go. Music certainly isn't needed. The uke would be a luxury, and a pricy one at that, weight-wise. Leaving the uke behind would mean each step along the journey would be a bit easier, and without the option of playing, my time would have to be spent on other things.

    I won't be around large groups of people, but can expect a few others beyond my hiking crew at communal campsites here and there. In the past, my friends have encouraged me to play some songs when we hit the campspots, but I am very sensitive to the idea that music in general and my music specifically may not be everyones cup of tea. I've read through discussions in the backpacking community where music at camp sites is frowned upon because it really doesn't give the chance to opt out for those who prefer not to have their solitude polluted by someone else's idea of music. I get this, I feel the same way when encountering someone on the trail with music playing through a speaker. My mind automatically jumps to its condescending tone of voice "Don't they want to hear all the....nature....around them?" I also wonder this about the quiet ones who pass by with headphones in, but at least they aren't forcing their playlist on me. Everyone should hike their own hike, as they say, but also be aware of your impact on others who seek to do the same.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    U.K.
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    As ever Bill makes some excellent points, read and note them ‘cause he usually takes his posts down after a few days. Now just to give a little balance to the not invalid ‘leave it at home’ argument.

    The OP has carried a circa 800 grams Tenor around to a lot of places, that’s not an insignificant amount of bulk and weight for a backpacker and particularly tiresome if you don’t always use the instrument. In comparison something that will do the job ‘just as well’ (ie. a Soprano) is very much less bulky and circa 400 grams (so half the Tenor’s weight). From what I read in earlier posts I’d have said that the OP will get enough pleasure back from a Soprano to make taking one worthwhile for him. The hassle and physical effort of carrying the Uke would roughly halve whilst the pleasure of playing would be the same or more - ymmv but I find that Sopranos are just more fun to play and easier to have around.

    When we go away from home we take both things that we know we will need and things that we might need. Extra food, extra fuel, extra cloths, extra water and the first aid kit fall into the might be needed category and we’d think ourselves foolish not to take them for they are important to ensuring our physical well-being. Likewise we have mental well-being to consider, in that context and in support of the all round pleasure of a trip away a Soprano Uke is arguably not too burdensome to carry ... but I could understand that a Tenor might be.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 04-27-2021 at 07:55 PM. Reason: Additional comments added.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Richmond, TX
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    I have an OU Tenor and both Enya Nova mini and concert. The mini is very light and also slim - much more carry friendly. It's also 14" scale length so half way between a concert and soprano making it more playable for me. And at $60, a considerable cost saving to a OU (and it comes with a case, tuner etc).

    Both my daughter and I have OU Tenors and these are our beaters we use in the house, in the garden or by the pool (or if someone wants to "have a go"). If I'm leaving the house, it's the Enya mini I take.

    https://www.gotaukulele.com/2020/11/...le-review.html

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