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Thread: 1st Uke or A Case of Information Overload

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    SoCal, USA
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    25

    Default 1st Uke or A Case of Information Overload

    Hi everybody.
    I am in the market for my very first uke and I am a bit obsessed. I have been lurking here and on youtube for the last 3 days nonstop. I have decided that I have to have one even though I have little to no musical skill or experience. Now of course the next step is to choose one. I spent tons of time last night looking over the ukes in my price range (<$200) then this morning I got up and did a Ukulele Store Tour down the 405. I stopped first at McCabe's then Island Legends and then Island Bazaar. At McCabes I found a beautiful and sweet sounding Ohana SK-70MG at a good price $195 -%20. After hearing that one all of the mahogany ukes in my range just were a bit sad. There was a Koaloha that sounded amazing but it was not in my price range. Then I stopped at Island Legends. There was a low stock situation there but the guy was really helpful. Nothing really jumped out at me but the Lanakai LU-21 sounded nice for the price. Then I went to Island Bazaar they had Kala KA-CTWR that sounded nice but not super awesome especially because they also have a SK-70MG that I could compare it to. They had a fantastic selection though and Dan was really helpful.

    Now I am back at home looking at the SK-70MG at MGM's store for $189.95 and with the way so many people here seem to love his shop I am not sure if I shouldn't buy from him. I am also not sure if I am not crazy to be starting out on a soprano instead of a concert. Also Dan at Island Bazaar said that the action on the Ohana's tends to be a bit higher than he likes. Is that going to be a problem? MGM or Local? SK-70MG or a Concert? Thoughts? Opinions?

    I really want to play.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Norwalk, CT USA
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    236

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    From what I got out of your post, you are looking at a 5 dollar difference between buying local and buying from MGM. If I was in your shoes I'd go local in a heartbeat. You had a chance to actualy pick up and play that instrument because there is a store close to you that carries a variety of ukes. I would love to have a store like that close to me.

    MGM is the man for those of us that cannot play before we pay. He will absolutely take care of you in any purchase you make, but if I had a choice I would buy from a local store. Your purchase might in the end be the difference between that store keeping lots of different ukes in thier inventory or deciding that the uke was just not a good thing to keep a large selection of. I would have loved to be in your shoes when I was first gaining interest in the uke.

    In the end, the choice is up to you. The soprano vs. concert vs. tenor thing is very personal and asking what others think really does not reflect on what you want. I'm a big guy at 6' 6" and soprano's feel like toys in my hands. I'm not you. You on the other hand have the advantage of actually trying out the different sizes due to the fact that there are stores in your area that carry more than just Mahalo's in different colors.

    My advice would be to go buy the instrument that you connected to the most out of all those you tried.

    BTW, sorry if this costs you a sale MGM but I really believe in supporting local merchants if they sell some otherwise niche items.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Carlsbad, CA
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    1,196

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmoblue View Post
    Now I am back at home looking at the SK-70MG at MGM's store for $189.95 and with the way so many people here seem to love his shop I am not sure if I shouldn't buy from him....Also Dan at Island Bazaar said that the action on the Ohana's tends to be a bit higher than he likes. Is that going to be a problem? MGM or Local?
    I believe MGM adjusts the action as part of his setup but you should be able to get your local store to do it for you as part of the deal as well. The only other thing to check is whether either or both come with cases. If not, that will add another $30-40. Assuming that all else is even I would recommend supporting your local store as well, especially since each ukulele is unique to some degree and it's entirely possible that you may not like a different SK-70MG as much as you like the one you tried out locally. Again, nothing against MGM...I've done business with him before and plan on doing business with him again.
    “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” -Berthold Auerbach

    Kanile`a Custom T Walnut Tenor "Luana"
    DeVine Maple Concert "Momi"
    Flea Custom Sinker Redwood Concert "Nahele"
    Kanile`a Custom Koa Concert "Joy" (just visiting)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Mount Carmel, Illinois
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    Personally, either choice you make has its plus' and minus'. does your local store offer you a case or any extras? This is the one thing i love about MGM's store that his beginners packs always come with a case and extras. also MGM does a fantastic set up job on all of his ukes. no buzzes, sharp frets, no nothing you dont want. but seriously all of that is up to you in the long run.

    as far as the Soprano v. Concert thing... if UAS *Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome* takes it course you can get a ukulele in every size! lol. I started on a Kala Ka-C which is the beginner concert size and frankly its just the right size for me. not to small, but not too guitarish. really it just comes down to personal prefrence.

    But all in all love the instrument that you play, its a big investment and you dont want a crappy experience from a crappy instrument.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Aloha, OR
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    In my opinion - and I am just learning, so take it for what it's worth, which ain't much...

    I would go concert over soprano. I have tenor and soprano and vastly prefer the tenors. It's nice to have the extra room.

    If you can find what you want locally, I'd go for that. I have bought a couple ukes from MGM and his service is second to none and I trust him...but if I had the selection and prices I wanted locally, I'd be buying locally - there's nothing like the ability to play with something before you buy it to know you're sure it's what you want.

    If you do go soprano, sounds like you really liked that Ohana - I can't think of any reason not to go with it if it sounded and felt good to you! (Though...MGM has Pono PSO-E models right now at a very good price - I'm a Pono Person myself...)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    If you played one and it sounded good, get it. You will get to Mike's shop some time up the road anyway
    The Lanikai you mention is a lot cheaper than the Ohana of course, so if you get that and put on some good strings it may be a nice deal as well. Plus, you are closer to saving up for the next uke! Imagine that, you could beat Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome even before it kicks in!

    As for the instrument size: sopranos are so cool the only thing cooler is a sopranino. Concerts and tenors on the other hand, are easier for the beginner who needs to get used to little finger space on the fretboard. But none of them will leave you in the cold, so go for it!
    sigs disabled kthxbai

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    San Pedro, CA
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    Welcome to the forum, and also to a fellow So Cal uke player!

    I have been to all three of the shops you visited (I'm actually taking classes at McCabe's right now), and I have also bought from MGM.

    Mike is a fantastic seller, great service and super fast shipping. That being said, I bought my Kanile'a from Island Bazaar. I think there is something to the fact of being able to see the ukulele and play it. I'm very particular as well about the grain of the wood, and case in point, when I bought mine, they had an identical K2 model with a grain I really didn't like. If I had bought it online, I never could have chosen between them. (That being said, I think Mike has some auctions where you get the exact ukulele pictured).

    I actually really liked one I saw at Island Legends yesterday. In fact, if I hadn't already bought my K2, I would have bought this K1 there.

    I sort of agree with the other posters as well that when a store locally sells such niche items (and in this awful market), I would want to support them locally. I found Shirley at Bazaar really helpful, but the guy at Legends is very nice as well.

    One thing to note though, Mike does a great job dressing the frets and prepping the ukes he sells. I was able to pick a specific model at Bazaar, but my Kanile'a has some sharp edges on the frets that I plan to ask them to soften when I visit the factory in May. And as someone in SoCal, you would get it super fast from him via UPS so the time delay is negligible.

    As for soprano vs. concert, I own a soprano and tenor, and previously had a concert. I found the tenor was the best for me, but between the soprano vs. concert, I would argue for the concert. I think the soprano can be a bit harder to play due to its smaller size and scale, but that is just me...

    Anyway, welcome to the forum and good luck on your uke purchase. You can't go wrong with Mike, he is a great guy, and I can also vouch for the service at each of the three stores you visited. What a fun road trip!
    Moore Bettah Kauai Dreams undersea inlay tenor "Hui Nani"
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Go with what sounds and feels right to you right now. Get something different later. Playing the actual instrument before you buy is a plus. Island Bazaar is solid.

    After playing with other ukerists (see other thread), you will get to hear and likely play a variety of ukuleles. That will add to your growing experience and direct your next purchase.

    Some songs sound better to me on my el-cheapo soprano than on my el-fancio tenor.
    Harold O.

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    Just because shooting fish in a barrel is easy doesn't mean there are some fish that should remain unshot.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    SoCal, USA
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    Thanks everybody! I was sitting here reading cpatch's post about two not sounding the same so I had a horrible fear that someone might be buying my uke while I was reading so I actually had to go and buy it. I am now the happy owner of a yet to be named Ohana SK-70MG. I bought it at McCabes and they gave me a discount on the case and I get three years of service so I think that I only ended up spending about 10 more than I would have buying from MGM. I am so pleased. Yay!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    Carlsbad, CA
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    Congratulations...welcome to the insanity!
    “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” -Berthold Auerbach

    Kanile`a Custom T Walnut Tenor "Luana"
    DeVine Maple Concert "Momi"
    Flea Custom Sinker Redwood Concert "Nahele"
    Kanile`a Custom Koa Concert "Joy" (just visiting)

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