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Thread: Why do we accept such cheap junk ukes on the market

  1. #1
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    Default Why do we accept such cheap junk ukes on the market

    One for beginners to read. Who is buying the flood of ultra cheap ukes on the market?

    I decided to look closer at those awful examples and found one so badly built it would never play accurately. Ebay is awash with this sort of thing. It's a real shame.

    Take a look at the pictures and video on this post

    http://www.gotaukulele.com/2014/03/w...-ukuleles.html
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  2. #2
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    I've been dealing with this for years in the wind band field. I've had kids walk in with some "instrument" that has pot metal keys and you can't even adjust it without breaking the keys off. Reputable technicians won't touch these horns. And the instruments don't even play. It's been going on for years. There are a ton of junk ukes out there, too. If you buy something like that, you are setting yourself up for failure and frustration. It won't play, so therefore you can't play, and you'll want to give up. This is especially true for a kid who may not understand that the instrument sucks, not them.
    Click a photo for information!

  3. #3
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    Baz, I guess we "accept" them as we have no choice over who sells what and for how much - as long as people buy truckloads of junk, it will be produced. Like everything else, its personal choice really. And we don't all make identical choices, thank heavens. I know you say that Mahalos for instance, are dire, but my first little uke, a U50G, is nicely made and finished and sounds good restrung with Aquilas. And it had a decent setup from the box. So they are not all junk even if they are cheap. I think we do run the risk of developing Snooty Ukulele-itis with some of the budget brands and wild comparisons to ukes costing £1000s of ££££. In the same way a Nissan Micra being compared to a Ferrari is simply not sensible and the buyers concerned probably want different qualities in their cars.

    I think that dooming all ukes costing less than £100 in the UK as being junk is also a bit harsh - Omega have a few nice ukes under £100 and I would not call them rubbish. I have an Aria concert from them which cost under £100, is solid wood all round and sings like a dream. Definitely sub £100 and definitely not junk.

    So while I agree in part with your rant. (The uke you described was the worst of the worst!) I don't think I agree with all of it - people should be free to spend their money as they wish and if quality is not something they recognise or want, or if they couldn't be bothered to spend some time looking for a reasonable uke, then they will continue to buy cheap junk. Happens with everything, not just ukes.

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    Thanks both.

    Condor - I didn't say that all ukes under £100 are junk, just that I think things start to get sensible above £100. I did say there would be exceptions.

    Of course people can spend their money on what they like. Think it is helpful though to alert new buyers to the fact that £10 doesn't buy you a uke!!
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  5. #5
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    @bazbaz I agree with your sentiment wholeheartedly but as long as we aim to live in a free society then we can't stop people from spending their money on crap if they want to...and as long as people are willing to spend good money on bad rubbish there will be those who are happy to fill the "need."

    The real issue for me is I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of these things are bought by parents for their children when their children begin expressing interest in music and there is a very real chance that the unplayable junk will put the kids off music forever, convincing them that they have no talent or ability. For many years I've had people ask me what kind of guitar they should buy for a child and I always ask them: "Do you want your child to learn to play and risk that someday they may choose to be musician or do you want them to get over such nonsense quickly so they can become doctors or lawyers?"

    When the parents finally realize that I'm serious I'll explain that if you want your child to learn to play successfully then get them the absolute best instrument you can afford. If you want them to do something sensible then buy them the cheapest piece of crap you can find on eBay...usually described as "perfect for beginners."

    The bottom line...as long as people are willing to buy crap...and especially as long as people think so little of their children that the first thing that comes to mind when the child wants something is "how can I appease them without spending too much money" this kind of crap will be on the market.

    That doesn't mean you have to buy a 5-year-old a Kamaka to be a good parent - but it does mean that you need to put in the research to figure out what they will need and then provide it if at all possible.

    (And I've raised three kids and have umpteen grandkids in the process now...so I'm not just talkin' out my backside about the kids.)

    John
    Last edited by OldePhart; 03-17-2014 at 03:53 AM.
    I'm not entirely convinced that it is possible to polish a turd. However, if one were to accomplish that feat one would still have a turd, and one all the more noticeable for being shiny.

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  6. #6
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    well said dude.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukejenny View Post
    I've been dealing with this for years in the wind band field. I've had kids walk in with some "instrument" that has pot metal keys and you can't even adjust it without breaking the keys off. Reputable technicians won't touch these horns. And the instruments don't even play. It's been going on for years. There are a ton of junk ukes out there, too. If you buy something like that, you are setting yourself up for failure and frustration. It won't play, so therefore you can't play, and you'll want to give up. This is especially true for a kid who may not understand that the instrument sucks, not them.
    I knew the owner of the only music shop that handled band instruments in the last small town we lived in. He got to the point that he wouldn't touch any of the cheap eBay crap for repairs. The last straw for him was when a woman threw a complete hissy fit when he explained to her how much it was going to cost to fix the POC horn she had bought her kid...she'd bought it on eBay and actually expected him to fix it for nothing...ranted about how her husband was a lawyer and she'd have his store for not serving the community...then flounced out the door to her luxury car and burned rubber out of the parking lot. All in front of her 12-year-old kid. A real parent-of-the-year candidate, for sure.

    John
    I'm not entirely convinced that it is possible to polish a turd. However, if one were to accomplish that feat one would still have a turd, and one all the more noticeable for being shiny.

    Check out my ukulele-themed "stuff" at http://www.cafepress.com/fivebyfiveukulele - proceeds go to a good cause...UAS treatment!

  8. #8
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    I am interested in pinpointing the era this junk problem began. Going back to the original 'toy' ukes - TV Pals and the like, they actually sound ok, and at least they fulfil basic build requirements.
    The GOT A UKULELE REVIEWS DATABASE!

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    Ukes include (!) Kanile'a K1 Tenor, Tinguitar custom solid tenor, Fluke, Flea, Tinguitar Reclaimed Mahogany soprano, KM Ukuleles Dreadnought Concert, Brüko walnut soprano

  9. #9
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    @oldephart - I guess my parents obviously failed me miserably in the music arena then, as I ended up a doctor However, I know that it simply is not true that in order to steer kids to a non-music related career, that parents should buy rubbishy instruments to put them off . Mine bought me the best instruments they could afford and paid for the best teaching they could afford. When the choice finally came - and it did- as to whether I would become a professional musician or study for a career in medicine, I made that choice. And it wasn't based on rubbish instruments either. I am a senior doctor now at the height of my career in medicine but I still love playing my guitars, piano, French Horn, ukes and mandolin........they might not all be worth 1000s, but they are in tune and sound good to me.

    I don't think elitism should be dragged into discussions like this, I agree the cheap, nasty ukes like Baz showed in his video /blog are a sad travesty, but people can buy whatever they want and as long as they buy junk, more junk will be available. Ukes do not have to be ultra expensive to sound good though and a Lanakai can sound as good as a top K brand depending on who the player is - old computer saying goes "rubbish in rubbish out" !

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bazmaz View Post
    I am interested in pinpointing the era this junk problem began. Going back to the original 'toy' ukes - TV Pals and the like, they actually sound ok, and at least they fulfil basic build requirements.
    Baz, cheap mass market mandolins flooded the market in around the 50s and 60s, and even before then - loads of the old taterbugs lying about, mostly unplayable junk - while cheaply produced banjo ukes and banjo mandolins were mass produced in the Formby era from the 20s onwards- lots still pop up on ebay and if carefully examined, are just cheapo mass market instruments albeit slightly better than that 7.99 uke you bought! Its not a new thing, just the old law of supply and demand - everything seems to drop to the lowest common denominator in terms of quality. If really rubbishy stuff sells at insanely low prices, why should those churning it out bother to improve on the quality?

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