808 Builders discussion thread, and a question for you

TimWilson

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Howdy folks,

As part of our renovation of the UU forums in general, we're currently taking another look at the pinned posts, FAQs, and the like. This post is open discussion for one of these, the 808 Builders thread, last updated in August 2009. I assume that it needs updating! If you could please take a look and let us know, we'll be happy to make that thread current.

I have a question for you to add to that. I'd like to take note of professional builders who are active here at UU, wherever they might live. There are a lot of different reasons why one might select a particular luthier to build them an instrument, and I know for me, participation is one of the many criteria I'd consider. Your mileage will vary of course!

But what do you think of that idea? Should they be included in the 808 Builders pinned post, perhaps renamed 808 & UU Builders? Create a separate pinned post?

There's ALSO a Partial List of Custom Builders pinned post, also last edited in 2009. Maybe those non-Hawaii builders who are UU members can simply be identified there?

Also wondering, have you ever looked at either of these pinned docs? Could they be more useful to you if we did something differently? For one, I don't think being pinned to the Luthiers Lounge forum feels right. ;)We will indeed be creating a FAQ and documentation hub, where this/these obviously belong...but what would be better for you here?

We have a lot of work to do on other FAQs and reference docs, but this seems one of the simpler ones to start with. Let's save the discussion of those for their own thread (which I'll be opening soon!) -- and as a reminder, the Site Suggestions forum is indeed alive and well, so keep 'em coming! -- but when it comes to builder/luthier directory/directories, what else should we be considering? Who's missing? How would you like them organized? All that good stuff.

Much mahalo!

Tim
Mod
 
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Most useful to me, as an unashamed UAS sufferer and potential customer, would be a single thread listing all known custom builders with up-to-date links to their sites. Would be nice if that could be pinned in more than one forum, like uke talk, marketplace and luthier's forum.
 
Why are they called 808? I'm fine with keeping those pinned thread active. I posted to one of them the builder who I've used for a number of very well made tenor and bass ukes, Bruce Wei in Vietnam, who has been discussed a number of times.

4 tenor thinline cutaway ukes, 6 thinline acoustic bass ukes
•Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
•Member Cali Rose & The CC Strummers: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video and www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers
 
It might be cool to have an option for users to add themselves to a list of own/owned ukes from each builder. That way, @Jerryc41 can be listed under every builder 😉 and we can all be jealous of team MBU 😅. In all seriousness, it might act as a sort of metric for which builders UU members gravitate towards and also interested ukeaholics could know who to ask about their experience with each builder.
 
If the crew in 808 wanted to be on UU, we would have seen a lot more of them by now.

I'm not sure what you're talking about. We see a LOT of them. It was one of them who raised this whole issue to me. I didn't even know that page was there because I'm not a builder myself. You can see some of those builders reflected in the Likes on my posts, though, on both this thread and on the original pinned post.

Commercial makers have a sales and marketing plan. If they want UU in their plan, its not hard to join UU and start posting.

My career path has been anything but linear, but has included some long stints in product marketing. Most recently for a company you may have heard of, Avid. I was Senior Product Marketing Manager for their Media Composer family of video editors, with better than 90% market share in Hollywood. I worked closely with the Avid Audio team as well, makers of Pro Tools and Sibelius, among other stuff. I was also directly responsible for interfacing with my counterparts at Apple and Adobe. The current product manager manager for Premiere and After Effects is someone I trained.

Before that, I was both product manager and director of marketing for a smaller VFX software company. We plugged into just over two-dozen host applications. So to all of those companies, add pretty much anyone you'll ever encounter in the film and video production business.

I've also worked directly in marketing for video and film cameras, hard drives, and workstations. We're all gossipy as hens, and we talked about this stuff among ourselves all the time.

And I can tell you two things:

1) There has never been a meeting that started, "Guys, we have a problem. They're talking about us again in the industry's biggest and most respected user group. How are we going to stop that?" 🤣

On the contrary. I've been in more meetings like this than I can count, and it's ALWAYS, "Guys, we have a problem. Nobody is talking about us in the industry's biggest and most respected user group. How can we start that?"

2) Many companies have policies against their employees participating in user groups, because they're not necessarily users, right? They're commercial. And yeah, some members get itchy when they see official presences on boards, which is why even Kanile'a, the owner of this board, doesn't have much of a presence here. Me, I'd like to see more of it, but their feeling so far is that the people responsible for creating content here are US.

This listing was created as a public service by members here. If you don't want to use that service, you don't have to. And if anyone asks to be removed, we'd do it in a heartbeat. But it would be like asking to be removed from Google. Nobody doing any legit business is trying to hide.

So maybe there is a way to approach the industry and just list those businesses which are interested in supporting UU members, and leave the others alone?

My standing in the industry is lower than yours, I assure you. You've been here 10 years longer than I have, and you've probably bought ten times as many ukes.

I'm just a volunteer. If you'd like to take this on, I'll do everything humanly possible, and then some, to support you. But I would rather build on the years of work that our members have already done.

That said, I love this:
It might be cool to have an option for users to add themselves to a list of own/owned ukes from each builder....it might act as a sort of metric for which builders UU members gravitate towards and also interested ukeaholics could know who to ask about their experience with each builder.

Because Bill, I ONE MILLION percent agree with you that a raw list is worse than useless. It gives the impression that everyone is equally valued by the people here, and we know that that's not the case. So I'm all for some kind of crowdsourced validation to have the most responsive makers stand out.

This is also why I was looking for input on how best to identify the many, many builders active here.

We have seen posts complaining about the UU advertising, I have complained myself.

So have I! Long and loud! I repeatedly offered my volunteer services to help address our previously foul ads, and that's a big part of why I'm here as a mod at all.

I'm working on a longer post about this, but I spent all day Saturday retooling our ad lineup -- or at least the 1500 or so most frequently appearing ads. (We have somewhere in the low tens of thousands of ads over the course of a month, depending on page views.) I also used some sneaky tools to try to ferret out some of the variations that appear a little less often, but are no less offensive.

I blocked whole categories of ads (dating, for example), and have blocked hundreds more individually. I'm also reviewing at the very least our top 100 ads every single day. At the end of the day, Google's ad categories are only as useful as the least scrupulous advertisers using those tags, so there's a lot of work just to keep it at the current level of chaos...but oh em gee, it is SO much better than it was even on Friday!

Maybe there is an opportunity to sell advertising space on UU for ukulele industry businesses, and maybe it could be a business unit that services more than UU, like it could service other internet spaces and create an income stream to pay for people and stuff and profit?

Good idea, but two problems. One, I'm a volunteer, and don't have the bandwidth to build a new ad network. I can find people to help you do this if you're up for it though!

Two, for all that they are committed to keeping this a MEMBER-driven community, both Kanile'a and Ukulele Underground have been very public about the former now owning the latter. There are no ad salesmen here, and I don't know if there are any at Kanile'a...but it wouldn't surprise me to find out that there aren't. I can imagine any number of companies saying, "Wait, why am I going to take ANY of my much smaller revenue to put in your deeper pockets?"

***edit: I don't want to overstate Kanile'a scale, either. It really did start in Joe and Kristen Souza's garage just a few miles from where I'm sitting, and you can see for yourself that it's still a very small family business. This is also a very collegial business, because builders really do get that most people own more than one ukulele, and from more than one builder. But it's not at all typical in ANY industry for one company to just hand over money to another company for advertising. Multiple builders sponsor the same festival, yes, of course. Enya and Kamaka are fine both sponsoring Taimane. Some collaboration, but there are definite limits. [end edit]***

Now having said that, I do have some ideas for later, some of which I've hinted at, and some of which I've yet to run by anyone here so I'll reserve comment on....

...but I'll end with a question. How many ukulele ads do you see? Like, anywhere. I see makers sponsoring artists and festivals. (Yay!) They sponsor placements at Amazon, or have their own social media/YT channels....but ads? I've never seen even one. And as a non-salesman volunteer, I don't see any way possible to persuade an entire industry to do something that they're simply not.

Leaving member-generated content as not only the BEST way (especially to the extent that we can combine content with member CURATION) to approach this, but in practice, the ONLY way to approach it.

And I'm as certain of this as I am of anything in this life, that every single one of those makers, from the one-person shops to the giants, is grateful for any support we can offer them. They're supporting the broader ukulele community in other ways, and they deserve to be celebrated for it.

So let me come at this another way: rather than creating a COMPREHENSIVE list, what's the best way to come up with a CURATED list? And I don't mean curated by one of us. I mean curated by as many of us as possible.

I'm VERY open to suggestions. 😁

Apologies for more answer than anyone was probably looking for. 🤣 And I truly hope that I don't sound argumentative. It's just that this whole area has been a huge part of my life for decades. My father was (and in his 80s, still is) one of the world's great marketing whizzes (among his "students": one Steven P. Jobs), and was teaching me about this stuff over the kitchen table when I was still in short pants.

And now I'm in Hawaii and in short pants again, still thinking about it 60-odd years later. :giggle: And for this century in particular, thinking about these kinds of outreach efforts that include advertising and traditional marketing, specifically in the context of community-building. It's exciting stuff! I know that we can do better, and we've already started. Best stuff still ahead!

Thanks!
Tim
 
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I think UU members want a list of makers who are open to dealing with UU members, not a list of makers who are not willing to deal with the zeal and passion (and ignorance) exhibited by some UU members. So maybe there is a way to approach the industry and just list those businesses which are interested in supporting UU members, and leave the others alone?
This listing was created as a public service by members here. If you don't want to use that service, you don't have to. And if anyone asks to be removed, we'd do it in a heartbeat.
+1. Totally. I think if builders have an online presence, then they're expecting people to find them online. A listing on UU will help people to find those businesses online (as everyone here, and Bill1 in particular, knows, the UU forum is where a lot of people - not yet UU members - land when they're just generally searching for all things ukulele related). If that business doesn't want to be included on here, we'll absolutely (and as fast as possible) remove that link.

I really want to make sure that we have a dynamic list; I don't want something that gets stale and broken. A link dump has a little value, but not a lot. And yes, a crowd-sourced curated list would be the way to accomplish this (there are always new builders & ukulele makers mentioned on UU that I can hardly keep up!).

I'd like to keep some kind of international list going, too - all those great builders in the UK, EU, Aus, Canada, etc. that we don't necessarily hear of as frequently.

This forum is the best for sharing information. I love it.
 
None of them appear to have posted any content under their business names, maybe they use other names for the UU posts.
??

There are at least two from the list (Moore Bettah and Pegasus) that post fairly regularly using their business name and at least one other (Aaron Oya - Kekani) that is easily identifiable.
 
Great background Tim. I am jealous that you had a father in marketing that could help show you the ropes.

I think a good example of ukulele advertising is Ukulele Magazine. The ads are mostly small and limited in scope. There is no way the UU Forum can compete with Facebook for sheer numbers of eyeballs that see an ad.

Which is another question I have:
There is a UU section on Facebook: "Official Facebook group for Ukuleleunderground.com! New School Ukulele at its best!" with 30.3K members.
Facebook Ukulele Underground Which is a totally separate entity from the Forum. Which is very confusing to me and I'm sure many other uke players. (I assume it is associated with the teaching arm of UU.) The FB group even use the same logo. Talk about muddying the waters.

While I'd hate to see 30k users on the Forum, I think a clear differentiation between the two is in order—someplace.
 
There is a UU section on Facebook: "Official Facebook group for Ukuleleunderground.com! New School Ukulele at its best!" with 30.3K members.
Facebook Ukulele Underground Which is a totally separate entity from the Forum. Which is very confusing to me and I'm sure many other uke players. (I assume it is associated with the teaching arm of UU.) The FB group even use the same logo. Talk about muddying the waters.
Maybe this is a thing for @TimWilson to answer when he's got a moment? I think he may have a bit more knowledge about this.
 
While I'd hate to see 30k users on the Forum, I think a clear differentiation between the two is in order—someplace.
Maybe this is a thing for @TimWilson to answer when he's got a moment? I think he may have a bit more knowledge about this.

Not much more knowledge, as all of this predates me. I also haven't spoken to Aldrine about any of this, and am absolutely NOT speaking for UU in any official capacity, but I do have some loose observations:

-- @Kenn2018, we do in fact have 138,000 and change active members here! Now, you and I both know that nothing like that number is actively active, if you will, but the numbers here are pretty darn high already! And keep in mind that the number of unregistered lurkers (howdy y'all!) online at any time is typically twice the number of our registered members, so yeah, it's a lot of people for sure.


-- There's no question that the ukulele community as a whole is fond of Facebook. I'd go as far as calling FB the ukulele community's platform of choice. It's only a good choice if you're already on Facebook and/or LIKE being on Facebook, which is definitely NOT true for me. LOL

But having 30K people liking their page on FB is no different than having UU on YouTube (436K subscribers!), Instagram (6K), or the much smaller followings on TikTok and Discord. Ultimately, the object of the game is to be where the ukulele players are.

So I'm not sure what differentiation needs to happen. For someone on Facebook, they might have a dozen or three different ukulele groups they're members of, and they'll have a feed chock full of those groups. Throw in a few builders, and you could build a feed full of dozens, if not hundreds, of new ukulele picture and video posts a day if that's what you wanted, with just a few clicks.

And they're not by and large forums folks. I'm sure you know people for whom "the web" means Facebook, and only Facebook. I have an aunt who only plays games on Facebook, only watches videos on Facebook, buys things mostly from ads on Facebook, keeps up with the family, etc, all in one handy place: Facebook. Going to another page and DO WHAT? Create ANOTHER profile? No thanks. I can't hear you, too busy on Facebook, lalalala, oh look, this kitten and piglet are BEST FRIENDS. LOL

My broader question is why shouldn't UU be on Facebook? Because if, like me, you're never ever going to Facebook, whatever happens there will happen without affecting me at all. If those folks wanted to be in a forum, like this one, they would be. Maybe some are. Maybe some folks are active at Facebook because it seems less intimidating, whereas here, the community is so tight that it can be hard to find a way in, so they just lurk.

But my guess is that most of the people in the Facebook group are 0% persuadable to come to the forum. If UU went away on Facebook, they'd be saying goodbye to 30,000 people who might also be candidates to watch a YT video or sign up for a lesson at UU+.

I'm speculating, but that's the core of my speculation. UU has chosen to be wherever the ukulele players are, and that's probably the right call. "Online" means something different to everyone, and my guess is with less overlap rather than more.

I do overlap with UU both in the forum and on YouTube, but I only occasionally see forum folks I know there....which makes sense because there are nearly four times as many YT subs as there are UU forum members, PLUS a larger number of people just looking without joining.

And I have zero overlap with anything on Facebook. I used to be on IG, but as it's becoming more and more a weird combination of the worst of TikTok AND the worst of Facebook, I'm less engaged there...but when I was, I was very happy to see UU there. I'm happy seeing UU wherever I go online.

That said, I'm not sure that I'd want to be on Facebook if it was ME. I can see the business case for being there, for sure. The question is strategy entirely apart from business case, and nobody has asked me about strategy yet.

I assure you that, when they do, I have some thoughts. 🤣

And a little less rambly than these. LOL I'm rambling a little more than usual here because I really have not been told anything about the overall strategy, and am only guessing based on many years online from a variety of different perspectives -- manufacturer rep, developer, community guy, end user, etc. I could be wrong about all of it. ☺️
 
I belong to both, this Forum and the FB UU Forum.

I see our Forum comes up higher in the search results for "Ukulele Underground" than it used to. Which is great.

BTW: I can't read the tag line under the logo at the top of the page with the brown banner.

I'm just asking if it would make sense to have something like: Discussion Forum for Ukulele Players or, Discussion Forum For Everything Ukulele.

That would clearly differentiate the Forum from the other areas of Ukulele Underground.

Or maybe it isn't important. Just batting an idea around.
 
I'm just asking if it would make sense to have something like: Discussion Forum for Ukulele Players or, Discussion Forum For Everything Ukulele.

Ah, that makes sense, I agree that there are a number of places where the branding feels incomplete, and this is a great suggestion for improving that.

Thanks!
 
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