Has anyone ever ordered a uke off of Alibaba?

mikelz777

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If so, what was your experience like? Did it work out OK? Was it a nightmare, never again experience? Somewhere in between?
 
I've bought a number of ukes direct from China: some by dealing direct with the companies concerned (Aiersi and Koa Pili Koko) and some through Ali Express. I also bought one from Alibaba. Service and communication have been good. No problems.

A couple of the ukes were unsatisfactory (a badly placed nut on one and a badly placed saddle on another) but I am able to fix such problems. I would only buy cheap ukes this way, simply because of the great distances involved - returns are not practicable.

Sometimes the packing is worryingly lightweight but no damage, so far.

ps. The descriptions of the goods on offer at Alibaba should be taken with several grains of salt. They will blithely use terms like "mahogany"; "sapele"; "wooden" for ukes with bodies made from HPL. They don't seem to know the difference between a guitar and a ukulele and the sizes are sometimes not clearly defined. If you know just what you are ordering there should be no problem.
 
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I've bought from AliExpress a few times. One time it was not good because the seller sent a uke that was not the exact one I saw. I complained to the seller, but no reply. I put in a formal complaint to AliExpress and when they did not hear from the seller after 30 days, AliExpress refunded my money. I then gave away the uke.
 
I've ordered from AliExpress many times and with only one or two exceptions I've had very good experiences. A uke happened to be one of those experiences. I think it may have been less than $100 but the order was canceled because the seller couldn't provide the item so no real loss or inconvenience on my part. Alibaba looks like it's a bit of a different animal than AliExpress. I guess I'm hoping to hear it would be worth a $200 gamble. Shipping apparently would be by boat and could take up to 2 months!
 
"I guess I'm hoping to hear it would be worth a $200 gamble"

If there was a uke on Alibaba costing $200 and I really wanted it, I'd take the chance.

As I understand it, AliExpress exists for retail sales and Alibaba is aimed more at those who might want to buy in quantity - but not exclusively. Many of the items stipulate a Minimum Order Quantity.

Go on - treat yourself. You're worth it! (y)
 
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It's always a bit of a gamble. Some assumptions I will make when buying from ali (most have touched upon these):
  • The description may not be accurate
  • The pictures may not be accurate
  • The shipping time may be prolonged
  • The packaging may not be acceptable
  • Customer service will be non-existent
  • Returns are not an option
  • The savings may not be much greater over Amazon or eBay, where you get some degree of buyer protection
If, after considering those possibilities, you still want it and think it's worth the gamble, then go for it!
 
What I'm seeing with Alibaba is the opportunity to custom label your item with an order of 100 or more units. Looking at the retail side of things, it looks like multiple sellers are buying these ukes, putting their label on it and then selling it for a $100+ or hundreds more! There may be slight differences like the finish on the neck or the tuning machines but otherwise they look identical.
 
It's always a bit of a gamble. Some assumptions I will make when buying from ali (most have touched upon these):
  • The description may not be accurate
  • The pictures may not be accurate
  • The shipping time may be prolonged
  • The packaging may not be acceptable
  • Customer service will be non-existent
  • Returns are not an option
  • The savings may not be much greater over Amazon or eBay, where you get some degree of buyer protection
If, after considering those possibilities, you still want it and think it's worth the gamble, then go for it!
These are all excellent points. The pictures and description of the uke I'm looking at are the same as what I've seen outside of Alibaba so they're all right or they're all wrong. I'm used to prolonged shipping times having ordered a lot of stuff off of AliExpress but in this case, shipping would literally be by ship so wait time would be even longer. Packaging on something like a uke is always worrisome given it's taking such a long journey and I've never ordered anything this big directly from China. The uke does come with a foam "hard" case so that would alleviate some of that worry. I've pretty much already counted on very little to no customer service and that this would be a one way transaction as I can't imagine going through the hassle of a return. The savings would be significant and is probably the main driving force behind considering Alibaba. If I decided to go for it I'd be gambling that the savings would be due to seller buying in bulk and hopefully not selling off "B" stocks, that it would arrive safely and that it will be playable without having a bunch of work done on it. :unsure: 😬
 
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I'm not much of a gambler but I took this plunge. I might forget about it before it actually arrives, the estimated delivery time is mid-July to early August! (on a slow boat from China) 😄

I was looking at the same uke from a seller on Ebay. Concerned about the playability/action I asked the seller about the action at the 1st and 12th frets. After checking with the warehouse he indicated at the 1st fret it measured approximately .65mm. At the 12th fret "high G" was 2.35mm and at the "low G" it was 2.7mm. I don't know what high G and low G meant but I let it go thinking if the measurements were .65mm and 2.35mm to 2.7mm at the 1st and 12th frets then it should be quite playable. (Maybe they didn't measure an actual instrument and were giving their factory specs and what they would be if it had a high G or a low G string?) When I contacted Alibaba about the same uke I asked them if it were possible to get the string height action hoping to get some clarification from what I got from the Ebay seller. They asked me what my preferred action was and I indicated .5mm at the 1st and 2.3mm to 2.5mm at the 12th. They indicated they could adjust the action to what I requested if needed. We'll see! I didn't think there was a chance but I thought I'd take a shot so hopefully it pays off. 🤞Either way it sounds like it should be playable.
 
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If so, what was your experience like? Did it work out OK? Was it a nightmare, never again experience? Somewhere in between?

Yes, I have and so has a friend. The only considerations are paying less than you would expect, and possibly a longer delivery time.
 
My experience with ordering from Alibaba has been very positive so far. The merchant I'm dealing with is Nantong Sinomusic Ent. Ltd. They've been very communicative and even sent me 4 pictures of the uke I purchased. (Front, back, case and the box ready for shipping.) It looks like they may have included a t-shirt in the deal as it was shown in the picture of the case. (I see that it had an XL sticker on the bag so I hope it's a U.S. XL if that's part of the deal. :) )

The cautions noted above (post #6) about how pictures and descriptions might not be accurate are good ones. The tuners I'll be getting are different than what is pictured and the brass finish has more of an antique look than what is pictured. In both cases it works out well for me, I prefer the look of what I'm getting over what was pictured. Under product features they list a "strings block of solid walnut". I was hoping there would be a wood block to tie and anchor the strings but unfortunately it had the holes in the resonator plate as pictured. Not a big deal. I would have preferred a tie block but I'll deal with it. String changes don't happen all that often. It's now making it's way to the international shipping warehouse and then comes my long wait.
 
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Pictures help. This is what's pictured in the listing.
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Here's what's being sent.

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