How much is too much for a Uke

Lots of valid opinions in this thread. Personally, I'm perfectly fine paying a large sum of money for a fine craft made instrument made by skilled and fairly paid workers. That sounds Aloha to me. Also, how many hours do you spend with your instruments? If you spend a lot of time playing, the cost will seem worth it more likely. If they sit in their case, probably not. The best instrument is the one you want to pick up and play every day.

I spend a lot of time with my instruments, and they mean a lot to me. Like others here, I have come to rely on them for my own mental health. I connect with my emotions more directly through music, and I actually think I can express myself musically better with this instrument than with my voice. What is that worth in dollars? Who knows?
 
Lots of valid opinions in this thread. Personally, I'm perfectly fine paying a large sum of money for a fine craft made instrument made by skilled and fairly paid workers. That sounds Aloha to me. Also, how many hours do you spend with your instruments? If you spend a lot of time playing, the cost will seem worth it more likely. If they sit in their case, probably not. The best instrument is the one you want to pick up and play every day.

I spend a lot of time with my instruments, and they mean a lot to me. Like others here, I have come to rely on them for my own mental health. I connect with my emotions more directly through music, and I actually think I can express myself musically better with this instrument than with my voice. What is that worth in dollars? Who knows?
Keep that thinking up and you will be buying that Pono Master Series uke you are side eyeing ;)

and its not a large sum, healthy grocery money for sure, but I bet you'd reap every penny of joy out of it .
 
I'm such a tight grandfather that I screw my socks on each morning. My Kmise solid spruce top baritone ukulele that I play daily cost me $89 from the big river site. I have added electronics to make it acoustic electric for under $20. Swapped to a set of Martin strings for $5.99. Cut a ham container lid for a free weird blue pickguard. If it were stolen, and I had $1000 or so to splurge on something new, I'd buy this same uke and a bunch of pedals and enjoy making unlimited sounds. I've only ever owned cheap ukes. I've had about two dozen. I'm all in on the baritone now. It's the only one I've played for months. The flexibility of adding a capo to the 5th and play it standard GCEA uke tuning, the extra fretboard room, the additional volume from the larger body, and the DGBE tuning option make it my favorite. I still have my Donner tenor. Great uke. But I gave away all my other ukes. How much is too much is subjective. Spending what we can afford as wisely as possible to extract enjoyment from our brief lives is the trick.
 
For the first 10 years of my uke journey I owned and played several $100-$300 range ukes and enjoyed them. But when I got my hands on my first solid Koa Hawaiian uke I almost immediately sold all my cheaper ukes (except one beater) and started rebuilding with fewer, better ukes. Since then my commitment to playing has risen exponentially as has my desire to get better, and my enjoyment of the instrument. Personally, I'm not so interested in visual beauty, and would rather spend my limited money on ukes that sound beautiful.

I watch a lot of stuff on YouTube but honestly, even with a really good sound system on my computer, it is hard to tell the differences in sound sometimes. Recording quality, YouTube audio limitations and playback equipment have a huge effect on what you hear online. But when I actually hold a uke in my hands and play it I can immediately pick up huge differences in sound from one uke to another.

I don't think you necessarily need to spend $1000 to get wonderful sound, but the ones I own in that range do sound distinctly better to me. As others have probably already mentioned, once you get into the $1000-$2000 range you will probably find that most of them are at a level that any pro or highly advanced amateur would gladly use it for public performances. At the same time, really gifted players can make much cheaper instruments sound wonderful too.

My advice is to play as many ukes as you can and listen carefully. What pleases your ear should become very evident. Then you just have to negotiate with your wallet and loved ones who have a vested interest in how much money leaves your wallet.
 
I wonder if the people who think that paying $1000-$1500+++++ is outrageous also think that paying even $2000-$2500 for a guitar is outrageous? A custom made ukulele has 80% of the labour and much of the same material cost as a guitar (and I don’t even think that you could get a custom guitar for $2500).
I used to be a guitar player but aging hands and wrists made it very uncomfortable to play longer scale length instruments. My guitar collection consisted of some fine instruments so when I I sold them I had the money to explore custom builds. 2nd hand at first, then, when I learned what I liked, commissioning my own builds. I have never regretted any one of those purchases. If asked for my opinion about purchasing a Uke I always advise people to buy the best you can afford at any given point in your musical journey. I am certain that an instrument that plays easier and sounds better will encourage you to play more and enhance your playing quicker.
 
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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!!
A conversation like this is so subjective but, as someone who has commissioned 3 Barron River Ukes, and never having been disappointed in anyway by any of them, I felt that I had to put my 2 cents in. At the end of the day I would rather have one really good Uke (to my ears and fingers) than 10 of, what I consider, unsatisfying instruments. All market segments are defined by the demographics and perceptions of the primary target audience.
 
I once bought a handmade Taropatch at 400 euro but the intonation was so bad, that I had to move the bridge.(I still haven´t finished it.)
My daily players are factory made at around 150 euro
 
I believe that investing in a ukulele is never a waste of money. If its sound resonates with your soul, then this instrument becomes truly priceless.
I’m not disagreeing with you but it’s the caveats that should constrain our hand, in this case one of them is that what you buy must resonate with you ‘cause if it does not then you’ll barely use it and would be better spending your hard earned on something else.

Long ago I asked a successful small business man for some advice on buying things. He said buy the best that you can afford, but there’s the caveat for he did not say what he meant by afford and I took his comment far too literally. Some four decades plus later I eventually decided that afford had multiple meanings including what you could right off as a total loss and not find the loss painful in any way (ie. an inconsequential loss).

None of my Ukes are expensive, but it would be true to say that of the ones I have still got the dearer ones are the ones that I like best. However, I did get rid of a dearer one that I didn’t like and not everything that I’ve bought has been worth the price. Price is no guarantee of quality, price is merely indicative of what an item’s quality is likely to be.
 
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I played an inexpensive Kala and thought it sounded and felt great. Then I got a Martin T1K and was shocked at how much better it sounded and played than the inexpensive Kala.
I was very satisfied. I should have stopped there.
Then I got my Kanile’a ISL T Premium.
Yipes! There is just no comparison between it and the Martin in sound and ease of playing.
I still love my Martin and my Kala, but they are just in a different class than the Kanile’a.
 
I currently play Pono ukes that were roughly $320, $450, and $675. These ukes are professional grade as far as I am concerned.

However, my guitars are more expensive Martins, a Taylor, and a Santa Cruz. I also own a handmade classical guitar.

I think the answer is different for everyone. A handmade ukulele requires many hours of attentive labor. Chances are that the builder charging $3000 and up isn’t getting rich making ukuleles, and there is a big difference between handmade and factory instruments. Luthiers earn that money.

One thing I’ve found over the years is very little correlation between playing ability and the instrument a player can afford to play. I’ve met owners of >$5000 guitars who can barely strum the basic chords, and I’ve been blown away by players bashing away on an old Yamaha or Alvarez.

I think you play what you can afford to play. Someday, if my playing improves, I hope to upgrade my Pono tenor to a Ko’olau or newer Kamaka. Right now I can’t justify it. I need to practice!
 
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One thing I’ve found over the years is very little correlation between playing ability and the instrument a player can afford to play. I’ve met owners of >$5000 guitars who can barely strum the basic chords, and I’ve been blown away by players bashing away on an old Yamaha or Alvarez.

I think you play what you can afford to play. Someday, if my playing improves, I hope to upgrade my Pono tenor to a Ko’olau or newer Kamaka. Right now I can’t justify it. I need to practice!
^^ My view is more tempered. However in my experience there’s a lot of truth in that, and it’s true of much beyond Ukes too.
 
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I currently play Pono ukes that were roughly $320, $450, and $675. These ukes are professional grade as far as I am concerned.

However, my guitars are more expensive Martins, a Taylor, and a Santa Cruz. I also own a handmade classical guitar.

I think the answer is different for everyone. A handmade ukulele requires many hours of attentive labor. Chances are that the builder charging $3000 and up isn’t getting rich making ukuleles, and there is a big difference between handmade and factory instruments. Luthiers earn that money.

One thing I’ve found over the years is very little correlation between playing ability and the instrument a player can afford to play. I’ve met owners of >$5000 guitars who can barely strum the basic chords, and I’ve been blown away by players bashing away on an old Yamaha or Alvarez.

I think you play what you can afford to play. Someday, if my playing improves, I hope to upgrade my Pono tenor to a Ko’olau or newer Kamaka. Right now I can’t justify it. I need to practice!
Same here. I would like to buy the Airline bari that's on ebay right now but I have zero excuse as I just bought my first bari. I need to learn to play a bari first. Price matters but it's not the only thing. If I'm a pro I want what will really make my music appeal to my audience and of course, to me.

As I'm a hobbyist, I want that $2k uke to experience a high quality product, but my skill most certainly doesn't qualify or justify the cost. I'm tempted to empty my bank account for that Petros bari...but I won't.

In the final analysis, buy what makes you happy and what makes you want to practice and play.
 
I have six ukuleles and another one the way, with prices ranging from $220 to $1500. They are all worth it, but when I am lost in the music, the Leolani solid cedar top is just as satisfying as the Koaloha Royal Pitake mango. I didn't need the Koaloha, but I could afford it at the time, and it doesn't cost a thing to play it. A one time cost for a one time instrument.

What I think is, buy the one you desire, the best one you like, as long as you can reasonably afford it. If you can't afford much, just make sure it stays in tune and has good playability.

Whatever you have to play, let the music flow.

Check out Overdriver Duo on Sweet Child of Mine.

 
I have six ukuleles and another one the way, with prices ranging from $220 to $1500. They are all worth it, but when I am lost in the music, the Leolani solid cedar top is just as satisfying as the Koaloha Royal Pitake mango. I didn't need the Koaloha, but I could afford it at the time, and it doesn't cost a thing to play it. A one time cost for a one time instrument.

What I think is, buy the one you desire, the best one you like, as long as you can reasonably afford it. If you can't afford much, just make sure it stays in tune and has good playability.

Whatever you have to play, let the music flow.

Check out Overdriver Duo on Sweet Child of Mine.


Thanks for sharing this clip... My new fave rendition of Sweet Child o mine...
 
It's too much for a ukulele when it's more than you want to pay for it.

IE: What it's worth is to you.
 
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