Advice needed: ukuleles for classroom

MattyNaylor

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Good morning Family,
So, I am a case manager at Mel Trotter Ministries homeless shelter in Grand Rapids Michigan. I work with hundreds of guests weekly, helping them locate resources, find housing, find work and workforce development, recovering vital docs, and getting recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse. I work with women, men, youth, and families. I now have a uke that I keep at work and I often play it for my guests. They love it and I often get asked if I can teach them to play. So, I have decided to start a music class where I will teach our guests to play ukulele.
I am in search of 7-10 affordable but quality starter ukuleles. The problem is that my budget will be very small, something like $250 and some of that will most likely be coming out of my own pocket. I have reached out to a few companies like Ohana, kala, and kanilea and gotten a response or two, but it looks like even with the discounted rates they offer, we are looking at 2x the budget or even more. I would really love to bring the joy of ukulele and music to my guests, to bring some hope and happiness to one of the toughest times in their lives. So I am here and open to any advice you are willing to share. I love you all and God Bless :)
 
My suggestion is the Enya Nova U soprano. Amazon price was $39. It is what I am playing in this current cold spell, and it is my normal bedside uke. Comes with bag and accessories. It is what i suggest for my music club.
 
Good morning Family,
So, I am a case manager at Mel Trotter Ministries homeless shelter in Grand Rapids Michigan. I work with hundreds of guests weekly, helping them locate resources, find housing, find work and workforce development, recovering vital docs, and getting recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse. I work with women, men, youth, and families. I now have a uke that I keep at work and I often play it for my guests. They love it and I often get asked if I can teach them to play. So, I have decided to start a music class where I will teach our guests to play ukulele.
I am in search of 7-10 affordable but quality starter ukuleles. The problem is that my budget will be very small, something like $250 and some of that will most likely be coming out of my own pocket. I have reached out to a few companies like Ohana, kala, and kanilea and gotten a response or two, but it looks like even with the discounted rates they offer, we are looking at 2x the budget or even more. I would really love to bring the joy of ukulele and music to my guests, to bring some hope and happiness to one of the toughest times in their lives. So I am here and open to any advice you are willing to share. I love you all and God Bless :)
Disclaimer: my wife works for hola music, which is sold on Amazon. They’re not the best, but for beginner cheap instruments, they might suit you okay. They also do all come with a 1 year manufacturer warranty.

(Variety of colors but natural is cheapest, no gig bag)

(Teal and purple color only on sale with gig bag)

And FYI this is not a marketing advertisement at all….I play Kamaka’s on the reg 🤣🤣🤣
 
I teach beginner uke and have a loaner stable of Makala Sharks. They're a bit more expensive than you'd like, but I find them outstanding ukes that are indestructible and stay in tune very well. I asked around and was able to five for $40 each at a local retailer by buying one of the colors that didn't sell well. (Cream)
 
Why new and why all the same? For $30 each you‘ll have plenty of second-hand choice. Here in the UK I can pick up old Mahalo Ukes well within that figure, but it takes a bit of effort to set them up properly, and I’ve had Dolphins within that price range too. Both models are tough and can be made to sound fine - plenty good enough for beginners, and then some.
 
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This is a promo from Lankai about teaching 4th-5th graders ukulele. Notable is their lifetime warranty which may be handy for instruments that are regularly carried back and forth to home.
(Yes, this is how we pronounce ukulele in "rural" Illinois.)

 
I teach ukulele as well... when I first outfitted my class, I went on eBay and put in $25 as the max price into the filter and then just bought everything that came up. It was an odd collection to be sure... one Luna had been damaged in a fork lift incident but still plays just fine...

There is also a company called TradesPort Direct seems to get lots of returned and overstock ukes. They took almost any "Make an offer" I made... And I really made some lowball offers. Most were open box but appeared new. They sell on eBay all the time.

I would also suggest contacting Kala... They have a secret site for educators and nonprofits that requires an invitation, and they sell KA-15s' for about 50$ with free shipping. A bit more than you want to spend, but they sound pretty good and are quite durable. You can apply for donations as well although I wasn't able to get any that way myself... We have bought about 30 so far and all are still in service, despite being dropped at an alarming rate.

I avoid all the super cheapies now...no more Holas, Hua Winds, and Caramels... they have poor quality sound for sure, but the tuning machines are routinely terrible and that was driving me crazy. Trust me: You don't want to be in a room with 7-10 out-of-tune ukuleles being played by beginners... and most of these just won't stay in tune for longUke Pile.JPEG.

Good luck!
 
I teach classroom ukulele as well. One problem we all have with acquiring playable instruments is that the budget never really is enough to provide quality instruments.

I have two ideas that may or may not help. My first suggestion is to not order any online ukuleles because set-up is impossible to verify unless you play them first. (My employer ordered cheaper ukes than I recommended and I find many of them unusable ☹️) Second, you might simply ask for donations of old ukuleles on Craigslist, Facebook, or even locals on here. People like to help.

I admire what you are doing and wish you the best with it.
 
I donated 5 ukuleles to the Boys and Girls Club several years ago. I went to a local music store that sold ukuleles, explained what I wanted to do. He told me he thought an excellent beginner's uke that would fit the bill was the Makala Dolphin. It is easy to play, durable, sounds very good and the tuners hold. He sold them for about $50, but gave me a price of $40 each for 5 and he did a basic setup to make sure each worked as it should. He was a big fan of the B&G Club.

You might be able to negotiate a better price if you offer to put a sticker on each uke with the saying it was donated by the store with the address and phone number/website. Also if the school approves, if you do get a donation of ukuleles from a store or organization, ask if you can give the story to the news outlets in your area. They are always looking for local feel good "filler" stories to fill out a time slot or put in the pages with a short local story. They can even include a "If you want to donate money or a ukulele to the music program, contact... IF the school approves.

You have to be careful if you show any of the kids on air or in photos. Some schools have strict rules against showing young students' faces in any media.
 
Good morning Family,
So, I am a case manager at Mel Trotter Ministries homeless shelter in Grand Rapids Michigan. I work with hundreds of guests weekly, helping them locate resources, find housing, find work and workforce development, recovering vital docs, and getting recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse. I work with women, men, youth, and families. I now have a uke that I keep at work and I often play it for my guests. They love it and I often get asked if I can teach them to play. So, I have decided to start a music class where I will teach our guests to play ukulele.
I am in search of 7-10 affordable but quality starter ukuleles. The problem is that my budget will be very small, something like $250 and some of that will most likely be coming out of my own pocket. I have reached out to a few companies like Ohana, kala, and kanilea and gotten a response or two, but it looks like even with the discounted rates they offer, we are looking at 2x the budget or even more. I would really love to bring the joy of ukulele and music to my guests, to bring some hope and happiness to one of the toughest times in their lives. So I am here and open to any advice you are willing to share. I love you all and God Bless :)
Hey, I've been trying to rehome a Kala KA-S for awhile now. I have a listing for it on Mercari. Message me and let me know it's you, let's see if we can get it into your price range.
 
I teach 3rd and 4th graders (between my bus routes). I have a collection of laminate uke’s that I purchase through here. Some very kind people here, even donated some ukes.

If I was going to purchase all the same uke, I would second the suggestion on the Nova Us. They are very sturdy and sound pretty decent for what they are. Watch Amazon for sales and you can get some great prices (got one for 19.00!)
 
Hey guys,
Thanks for all the suggestions and tips. I am looking to actually have a class size of seven. I have 2 ukes that I am donating myself to the class, a nova u concert and a nova u mini soprano. So I am now just in search of 5! They do not all need to match, so I think I will hop on Ebay and make a bunch of low ball offers and see if I can get some good deals. If that doesnt work, maybe Ill start a go fund me.
 
If that doesnt work, maybe Ill start a go fund me.
If you go this route: Here is a trick for Go Fund Me: Put in your request that this is a part of a larger project that is teaching multi-cultural awareness and exposing students to an important element of a BIPOC - Pacific Islander - culture. It's click-bait for Go Fund Me requests!

FYI: I ran a request for uke's in the Musical instrument section on my local Craig's List for a year... and never got a reply...
 
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