Do I cut my losses? (Unsatisfactory customized ukuleles)

Do I proceed to pay the balance of $330 dollars to complete my purchase of the other 2 ukuleles?


  • Total voters
    18
Hard call.
You have two sup par instruments. You have had some unresolved communications with the makers.

Do you have anyone you can take the instruments to and that you can have them play and inspect so that you can get another opinion on them?

We all have our own opinion of what we like best. I would think that poor quality and craftsmanship would stand out, at least to someone who has handled and played many instruments. A novice may not notice these things.

I for myself might strongly consider the cancellation of the orders. I might try one more time to reach out to the maker and discuss the sup par instruments that you have received and the lack of confidence that you have in the next two instruments being up to the quality of that you expect.
I would take the response into consideration before making a final decision.

I might ask for detailed quality photos and unamplified playing of the instruments on video before sending any balance. An instagram posting would not be sufficient. Video and sound quality can be highly variable so judging an instrument on such can be challenging.

It was noted above some consideration of naming names. I'd want to know if a maker makes 4 bad ukes and sends them all out to the same person. A disliked uke due to personal preferences in one thing. Several bad ukes and poor customer service in another level that people might want to know about.

Best of luck in your process and decisions.

Sometimes it is best to cut losses and walk away........

Other times.......a rose can be found blooming in the manure.....
 
Honestly, as galling as it is I would much rather walk away.

If you pay the rest of the money and they're both lemons, you will have spent a lot of extra money and have two more ukes that you don't really like.

If you booked a taxi to take you somewhere and you realised the driver was taking you in the wrong direction, would you pay them another 50% again to take them further away from where you wanted to go?

Buying any instrument online is a gamble. Even if you buy two factory ukes that are identical, you will find one sounds better than the others.
 
Sometimes a ukulele takes time to mature. Brad Bordessa talks about when he first got his Moore Bettah it was too bright for him (at about 2:23 on video) and it took time to mature.


Perhaps you can cancel the rest of the order and explain your dilemma.

I understand wanting to order multiple instruments and wanting the wish list done. It's a lesson for all of us.

And I get receiving a bespoke instrument - or anything and having issues with it.

Sometimes we get to do a return other times we get to resell. And sometimes myself included, I play the beast once and awhile hoping love will enter.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
 
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As for the deposit some luthiers have a non-refundable deposit, others a refundable deposit and others no deposit. As for the deposit if the terms are no refund then it's no refund. It's a tough lesson, and an oh well.

My dad had all these expressions:
That's the way the cookie crumbles.
Take your knocks - in gambling.
That's the cost of doing business.

I'm sure others will have better pithy comments. :ROFLMAO:
 
On several(!) occasions I dived into string changes to make it sound good, made adjustments to the nut, and filed fret ends to make an instrument playable, thus voiding any possibility of returning the danged things. My bull-headed "I can fix most anything" while hoping "it will get better over time" has extended beyond the return window all too often.

Now, in this economy, I can no longer take on fixing what the producer didn't get right. There are no excuses. However, nut slots cut too high* are acceptable as I consider that a normal setup expectation. If the seller does that for you, terrific, but (unless grossly high) it is not a reason for return.

Beyond the "action* at the 1st fret," if it doesn't sound or feel right straight out of the box, it goes back.
 
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Your mistake was to not do one at a time, I have made that mistake as well, I now own multiple ukes of the same brand/luthier but acquired one at a time.
Yes, you're right. I got too excited. I should have calm down and try 1 order first.

Please name the luthier, it's important that we know who not to do deal with. I've had a number of custom ukes and bass ukes made by Bruce Wei Arts in Vietnam and he's done very good work. One recent one, the voice was soft and realized it was because the top was thicker and I asked for a glossy finish. When I told him, he said he would pay for all shipping and replace the top with a thinner one at no cost. I ordered another and told him to make the top thinner and satin finish, it came out great. I decided to auction the soft voice to my uke group and ordered a mahogany from Bruce, thinner top and satin finish.
It's amazing that you got it fix at no extra cost! I'm glad it worked out for you. I might change the strings on mine and see how it goes!

When we are talking about the playing qualities of an instrument, that is so personal. I have had experiences over the years with ukuleles from some well known luthiers who are very highly regarded. These are people who are regularly raved about in the ukulele community. There were some instruments that I did not like at all. Perhaps I was expecting too much (the holy grail of ukuleles?) or the instrument did not fit my style of playing. I ended up selling some of these ukes to people who loved them. The instrument was not right for me, but was perfect for another player.

I would not bad mouth any of these luthiers or detail my experiences here on UU as it was not a case of dishonesty or shady business practices, but just my taste. Since every instrument and piece of wood is different, it is hard to know if it representative of that builder. Even the best builders are not 100% consistent and some instruments are better than others or fit our tastes better.
Yes, perhaps you're right, the uke might have been perfect for another player. I just wished I was more thorough with my decision making!

Good points. I usually try to look at both sides of an argument. Thinking back on the original question, I suppose it depends on the arrangement was with the builder. I am sure that this is money that they are expecting for work they completed. We all make mistakes and have probably had some buyers remorse with some ukes. Considering the luthier's perspective, perhaps the honest approach would be to take your lumps since the maker did what was expected. It is possible that in time the instruments may open up a bit or grow on you. If not you sell them and chalk it up as a learning experience.
I have already politely declined to complete my purchase with the luthier. I am not one to confront so I'm glad he did not respond to my message either. cc: @pmorey

is your postage all inclusive? I'd be wondering whether you feel they will be worth anything more than that 50% figure for selling on. The second concert also may not be as 'bad' as the first now you've aired your views and they have a chance to put some more effort in! i.e. you can check things like weight before they are sent.
Oh yes, postage's included. Not much though, just about $25-$30 for each uke. I have already pointed out a design flaw for the the second concert, something that wasn't brought to my attention previously. Luthier gave me an "it happens" excuse. I just accepted it :(

The sub-soprano sizes are going to be quieter anyway, I think.
Yes, I thought so too. I took the sound samples for good. Come to think of it now, think the audio might have been amplified at least 50% up.
 
As for the deposit some luthiers have a non-refundable deposit, others a refundable deposit and others no deposit. As for the deposit if the terms are no refund then it's no refund. It's a tough lesson, and an oh well.

My dad had all these expressions:
That's the way the cookie crumbles.
Take your knocks - in gambling.
That's the cost of doing business.

I'm sure others will have better pithy comments. :ROFLMAO:
Yes you're right.. it's done and dusted!

Haha but thank you so much for sharing those expressions.. I'll keep a note of it somewhere!

On several(!) occasions I dived into string changes to make it sound good, made adjustments to the nut, and filed fret ends to make an instrument playable, thus voiding any possibility of returning the danged things. My bull-headed "I can fix most anything" while hoping "it will get better over time" has extended beyond the return window all too often.

Now, in this economy, I can no longer take on fixing what the producer didn't get right. There are no excuses. However, nut slots cut too high* are acceptable as I consider that a normal setup expectation. If the seller does that for you, terrific, but (unless grossly high) it is not a reason for return.

Beyond the "action* at the 1st fret," if it doesn't sound or feel right straight out of the box, it goes back.
Action seems about right.. playability is okay. Nothing feel off.

The mango concert just doesn't sound as great or as loud as I heard it on the audio sample. And now that I have the uke in my hands, the finishing and looks of it is not great either. The first thought that came to my mind was, with the same amount of money I spent on it, I could have gotten a much better deal on Mim's Ukes or something. And it feels awfully painful to keep the ukulele in my storage, knowing that I'll be dreading to play it the next time.
 
Long story short, I politely declined to complete the purchase. The luthier did not even reply to my message and he already posted the ukes for sale — I guess I understand. I wouldn't want a customer like me too. Thank you all so much for sharing your views and tips. This is definitely a lesson learnt for me.
 
This is definitely a lesson learnt for me.
I am sure that many if not most of the people here can share stories like this. It is so hard to get a true sense of an instrument from online pictures, videos or reviews. Unless you actually hold an instrument in your hands and play it, it is a gamble. To some extent, it is all part of the journey.
 
Long story short, I politely declined to complete the purchase. The luthier did not even reply to my message and he already posted the ukes for sale — I guess I understand. I wouldn't want a customer like me too. Thank you all so much for sharing your views and tips. This is definitely a lesson learnt for me.
Glad you backed out, we live and learn. A good lesson for everyone all way 'round. Thank you for sharing your experience!
 
I applaud you for even asking the question. Most don't like to admit mistakes. I don't. Good on you, you've got great resources at hand here at UU, and you've used them. My vote would also be to finish the transaction. Surely somone on MarketPlace will buy a uke at 1/2 price and you can re-coup some of your money and feel good about yourself? Just properly represent on Marketplace as you've done in this post, and someone will buy them, set them up according to their personal specs, change strings and be happy as a clam.
 
#2 — Mango concert ($521)
uke is heavy
the neck is heavy
the finishing and quality is not great
the sound is soft too and doesn't sound like a mango
all my other ukuleles sound much greater than this one, even the "factory-made ones"

I see that you've already made a decision to not purchase it. It's too late now but I am sure you could have resold it if you couldn't get it to work out. A lot of your concerns with the instrument are not necessarily the marks of a bad instrument. Yes generally lighter instruments are better, but heavier doesn't mean it is bad. Neck heavy, so it is thicker? Some people prefer instruments with a thicker neck. Finishing and quality, hard to tell without photos. Handmade always has more flaws unless you are talking custom instruments at thousands of dollars. At $521 (shipped?), you'd have to describe how bad it actually is because different people have different levels of expectation.
Sounds too soft and not like a mango. I think you should experiment with other types of strings before you write off the mango as a lemon. I find the strings are so important to tone on ukuleles, much more so than a guitar. You need to find the best fit for your individual instrument. One string brand that sounds good on one uke may some crap on another. Also, on videos you are listening to a mic that is in a different location to your ear, the end result may or may not sound different from the luthier's sample videos.

Post some pics. Perhaps the instrument really is terrible, or maybe it isn't that bad and can be fixed.

It's similar to headphones, where some people swear there is a "break in" period, and other people say it is just your ears adjusting to the sound profile.
 
An interesting problem and outcome. My thanks to the OP for sharing, I’m not sure that there was a universally right answer but the OP has picked the right answer for her. I wonder what’s to be learnt from her experience and whether it might translate to (better) buying other goods too. We can read through the thread and make our own notes. As in this particular case, there are some who are willing to take money off of a customer and then not supply the expected goods - let the buyer beware, etc.

As for the ‘Luthier’ I don’t need to know his name (because I only buy mass manufactured instruments), but maybe others that commission instruments might have a need to know it (so that they can make a more informed judgment). Of course customers vary too but to me his way of doing things doesn’t seem quite equitable, a little too one-sided in his favour. I wonder too whether he’s a front man with other people building instruments for him to put his name on.
 
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