How much is too much for a Uke

We touched on this topic, but from a different perspective:

 
Honestly? If I could only have one uke, it would be my 1920s SS Stewart soprano because it suits the things I want to play more than anything else. The equivalent old Martin would be an acceptable substitute, but it would cost more, because it would be a Martin and that commands a tax amongst collectors.

My advice is basically this, not that you need it:
  1. Never buy unseen unless you are confident you could get your money back if you didn't like the thing you bought - if there are no ukulele gatherings or people nearby, it is totally reasonable to see the travel to somewhere where there are lots of other uke players with instruments to try as part of the budget you have to buy your next instrument.
  2. Always go for a used instrument before you go for a new one. You are much more likely to get more for your money, but -
  3. When you look for an old uke, if it's in great condition it's probably because it wasn't a good one to begin with. My 1920 SS Stewart soprano is probably the best instrument I own. It is on its third bridge and second set of frets. People don't tend to fix an instrument that was built wrong when it was new.
If I had 500 euro to spend, I'd look for something like my SS Stewart. A Martin made from 1920-1960 would be an acceptable substitute, but that would cost more, because there's a Martin tax. But try it first, because name aside it could be rubbish!
 
I think many of the least expensive, but well known, brands of ukuleles are made in the same 3 or 4 factories using robotics and cnc machinery. That's how they can get consistency in tolerances. There is something to be said for the excitement and anticipation factor of getting a new uke. If I were to ever buy a really expensive uke it'd have to scratch my NUD itch for several years.
 
There was a long thread in this forum a couple of years ago about how people were wasting money on cheap-to-midrange ukuleles. The recommendation was to buy one good ukulele instead of a bunch of mediocre instruments. This advice was controversial enough to generate 4 pages of responses, but I think the general idea applies to the original question in this thread as well.
https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/threads/avoid-the-mid-level-300-600.152342/
 
I think many of the least expensive, but well known, brands of ukuleles are made in the same 3 or 4 factories using robotics and cnc machinery. That's how they can get consistency in tolerances. There is something to be said for the excitement and anticipation factor of getting a new uke. If I were to ever buy a really expensive uke it'd have to scratch my NUD itch for several years.
I was thinking that the OP's Noah uke link looks like other Vietnam ukes I've played, like Romero.
 
I won’t pay more than $350 for a uke. Outside of my Martin concert and Beltona reso, I haven’t paid more than $350, and that includes shipping. I mainly play in the house, so I can’t justify spending more than that. Luckily I have no problem buying used, factory seconds, & basket cases. I’ve found some great deals over the years.
 
I would like to chime in.

I have been buying and selling ukuleles for far too long.

Up until 2023, I had never spent more than $900 for an instrument. Well, that all changed the day I saw a like new Barron River soprano for sale on another forum for $1500.

So, I sold (3) ukes to buy that Barron River. Sold a Pohaku, Kamaka, and a Luna. I had purchased each of them for reasonable prices on the secondary market.

I remember the afternoon I opened up they box in excited anticipation for the dream ukulele, that Barron River.

I couldn’t have been more disappointed. That $1500 dream ukulele wasn’t what I was thinking it would be; it simply didn’t live up to the hype.

I’m hoping to never hop on that kind of hype train again. You don’t need to spend thousands on the dream ukulele. I REALLY miss those three ukes I sold. Hoping, one day, I’ll learn to be content with what I have!!
 
Depends on what you want to do with it. If you want to travel and sing and use it as a chord generator then the price point is pretty low. If you want to finger-pick softly in the middle of a dark room in the night and relish each and every note, the price point is a lot higher.
 
"(Be aware that you may have to change your forum signature)" Not had a problem yet. Do YOU have a problem with it? Sadly in these backward thinking / woke politically correct days of divide and conquer , it's a tough biz I know. lol Thanks for the heads up...or down depending on one's point of reference.
I really like your forum signature. (Just sayin’)…
 
Just wanna add, I’ve got too many things going on to spend a lotta money on a uke. I am building a ‘40 Oldsmobile hot rod, I’ve got two boats, and a family to take care of. I would like to have lots of stuff, but you have to look at your priorities. If you have the disposable income, hey, do it! Personally though, I’d rather spend it on my family…
 
I definitely notice the difference between my inexpensive vs what people here might call high mid range (aNueNue Moonbird) which I was extremely fortunate enough to buy from another member so I didn't pay full price. The sound is outstanding, the playability is amazing, and I am learning so much from playing it. But the difference between that level and the next level, is it worth the difference in dollars to me, I don't know. I don't know that I would want something worth thousands...

As has been mentioned, it's subjective! Was I happy enough with what I had before the Moonbird? No, which is why I invested to "upgrade". But that's me; lots of others are very happy with what I had and wouldn't want to change.
 
I have five laminate concert scale ukes that I bought in 2006. Prices ranged from $35 to $250. Today's money, maybe $75 to $350? None are perfect, but neither am I. The action feel and intonation are all very close to each other, I don't notice a difference when playing them. The main difference is tone. They are of three different woods, and the bodies vary in size. I'm pleased with the sound of all of them. I'm also happy that they are laminated! I don't want the constant headache of caring for a solid wood uke. Mine are 17 years old, without a single crack, warp, or loose seam. I'll gladly sacrifice some tone for that!

Someone mentioned diminishing returns and I agree. Above a certain price, each dollar / pound you spend gets you less and less improvement. A $1500 uke will not be three times as nice as a $500 uke, and most of that difference will be cosmetic, not function or tone. Not wanting solid wood, my cutoff would probably be around $500. That's what I paid for my recent Gold Tone banjo and resonator ukes.

Cases are a separate matter. I'm not happy with a gig bag. The hard foam is okay, but wood is best. Most ukes now come with a bag, no thanks. So adding a hard case ups the cost about $50 to $100. Two ukes were upgraded from bag to hard foam. Two came in hard foam, and my best uke went from foam to wood. Only my banjo uke came in hard wood. The resonator went from bag to wood, making it my most expensive uke, $580 including case.
 
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At some point you will have to take a chance, even if buying in person.

I don't fixate on "the one". If I like the end result I will keep it. Even if I like it, I may move it along for whatever reason. If the "thing" doesn't work out, I'll move it along someway. I've sold one resonator to make room for one that I like better. I have another uke, a Risa, I go back and forth with every couple of weeks---keep or sell? Oh, I do love that tube amp sound. IF I had to I could easily and quickly sell two of my 5. The last 3 would keep me happy for a long time, and I sill want to try a Cocobolo Uke.

I know with one's economy and finances paying good money for necessities and other wants, one does have to stop and think, but eventually the step must be taken if one is to move forward or another direction.
 
In early 2014, I bought a Kala solid cedar top, acacia koa body cutaway A/E recommended by Mim for $370 from McCabe's® in Santa Monica. I was able to compare it side-by-side with a Kamaka and Kanile'a, it held it's own and has been my go to uke since. I've also had custom ukes made by Bruce Wei in Vietnam for between $450 to $850 including shipping, that took 2 months to build, the last one sounds and plays great, so there was no need for me to go to a luthier who charges $2000-$5000 and take a year and half.
 
Seems to me it depends on your purpose and venue for playing. The need of the pro player and the need of the collector is a lot different than mine. Once you figure out your purpose in playing the answer may be more apparent to you. It took me awhile to determine my preferred size and tone. But I think all of this is part of the fun of playing uke. You get to answer your own question.
 
Currently the sweet spot may be from $1000 to $2000. This will include most of the best production ukuleles from Hawaii and brands like aNueNue. Above that and you know what you are paying for (and it will be worth it if that is what you want) and below that you accept that the difference from the 1k ones is a good compromise.

I willingly spend more (and have on a few occasions) and do not regret it at all since I play everyday, enjoy them every single time I pluck or strum, and even when I see them without playing and sometimes when I just think about them. That is in contrast to the one time when I let one go and regretted it for over a year.

(Be aware that you may have to change your forum signature)
This has been my experience also. In an absolute sense, between $1k and $2k at current brand new prices in the U.S., you're starting to get most of what's considered desirable in a hand made solid wood ukulele. You certainly can spend more and get a little more.

To answer the question whether spending up to X amount of money is worth it, that's a question that's totally dependent on personal preference and situation. If I had $1k for a new ukulele and presents to buy, then I'm getting less than $1k of ukulele if any ukulele at all. If I had a billion dollars all to myself, then I'm going to get that $10k+ custom uke and not think twice!
 
"(Be aware that you may have to change your forum signature)" Not had a problem yet. Do YOU have a problem with it? Sadly in these backward thinking / woke politically correct days of divide and conquer , it's a tough biz I know. lol Thanks for the heads up...or down depending on one's point of reference.
You seem nice.....
 
I have about 12 or so ukes. The top 3 (2 larrives and a kamaka) are worth more than twice the total of the other 12 (uma, Romero creations, ohanas, enyas etc.) I enjoy and play them all for certain reasons but the tone, build quality, playability, and smell of those top 3 are a real genuine step up from the others. The others are wow, nice! But the top 3 are holy crap!
 
"(Be aware that you may have to change your forum signature)" Not had a problem yet. Do YOU have a problem with it? Sadly in these backward thinking / woke politically correct days of divide and conquer , it's a tough biz I know. lol Thanks for the heads up...or down depending on one's point of reference.
I think rainbow21’s comment about changing your forum signature was in response to the fact that you are expressing an interest in possibly acquiring a more expensive ukulele … and if you do buy a more expensive one, then the “Cheap Ukuleles” in your forum signature might need to be upgraded accordingly. :) I might be wide of the mark, but that‘s how I interpreted the comment the first time I read it.
 
As of January 1, 2024, I will have 3 ukuleles. All of them are well over $1000. From my browsing of this thread, I don't feel the denizens of this discussion really understand the motivation. It isn't about equating the money to the quality. My ukuleles are excellent but I cannot confirm that they are ten times as good as a kala because of the price.

It is more of a Weltanschauung. I want something unique. I want something not made by a robot or someone in a sweatshop. I want a piece of art. I want to be one of the dozen people who pays the luthier's mortgage this year and supports this tradition. I want to be a part of the process and have exactly my uke as I conceived it.

I am probably forgetting other aspects, but you get the picture. There is a lot going on philosophically when I get an expensive uke. The sound quality is almost a non-issue. Rather, I should say it is something I take for granted so that it is a constant and not a variable in the equation.

Lastly, I should remind folks that I am not arguing that you should be as I am. I am just giving some insight on an expensive uke fancier.
 
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