Is a high-end Uke a bad idea for a rookie?

We are always here and ready to encourage your shopping...
 
I don't want to be the 16 year old with the sports car, or the over equipped skier on the bunny hill...you know the types, I don't want to be "THAT guy". :cool:

Thanks ukers!

My standard advice to anybody contemplating taking up any musical instrument is simple...buy absolutely the best instrument you can afford. That doesn't necessarily mean a lot of showy bling (that's just a matter of personal taste). But, quality will out in a musical instrument - as a beginner you really will learn faster, play better, and be inspired to play more often when you have a really good instrument.

You do not have to "play well enough to justify" an instrument...an instrument needs to be good enough to justify your spending valuable time with it.

Whenever parents ask me to help them choose an instrument (usually guitar because I have a longer history with those) I always ask them the same thing: "Do you want your kid to fall in love with music and become a very good player and maybe even one day a rock star, or are you hoping they'll soon lose interest in this silliness and become a doctor or lawyer or something practical like that?"

They think I'm kidding, but I'm serious. I tell them if you want them to love music and playing, get them the best instrument that you can afford. If you are hoping they'll lose interest, buy them the cheapest piece of junk you can find advertised as "perfect for beginners." :)

John
 
My standard advice to anybody contemplating taking up any musical instrument is simple...buy absolutely the best instrument you can afford. That doesn't necessarily mean a lot of showy bling (that's just a matter of personal taste). But, quality will out in a musical instrument - as a beginner you really will learn faster, play better, and be inspired to play more often when you have a really good instrument.

You do not have to "play well enough to justify" an instrument...an instrument needs to be good enough to justify your spending valuable time with it.

Whenever parents ask me to help them choose an instrument (usually guitar because I have a longer history with those) I always ask them the same thing: "Do you want your kid to fall in love with music and become a very good player and maybe even one day a rock star, or are you hoping they'll soon lose interest in this silliness and become a doctor or lawyer or something practical like that?"

They think I'm kidding, but I'm serious. I tell them if you want them to love music and playing, get them the best instrument that you can afford. If you are hoping they'll lose interest, buy them the cheapest piece of junk you can find advertised as "perfect for beginners." :)

John

Very wise. Good advice.
 
Thanks guys, how about the abuse factor on a nicer instrument? I have so much still to learn, obviously, and will make many mistakes with every new lesson. I thought I can still use my Kala for practicing, but I will still make my screw ups on any instrument. Will the Hawaiian K-ukes be forgiving enough?

Again, thanks for the insight. If I am ever in the position to pay it forward, it will be done!

You'll make fewer mistakes on the Hawaiian instrument to begin with. Besides, unless you're just extremely clumsy or careless nothing you can do while playing a uke is going to damage it. At the worst, you might break a string - that's about seven bucks and they have to be replaced periodically anyway.

As for strum marks and such - that's not "mistakes" so much as just differences in playing style and it doesn't affect playability of the uke. Some of the best players on the planet beat the living snot out of their instruments! Others can play it for ten years without leaving a mark. Different strokes for different folks and at the end of the day what matters is what you get out of an instrument and what marks it leaves on you, not what marks you leave on it.

John
 
My standard advice to anybody contemplating taking up any musical instrument is simple...buy absolutely the best instrument you can afford.

Which, basically, is what I used to tell people about computers back when I sold/did tech support on them.

What I would say about a uke is: Try a lot. All price ranges. Buy the best sounding/feeling instrument that you can afford. A simple modification to what John said, but if you can afford a $1500 instrument, but find that there are a bunch of $800 instruments that just feel/sound better to you, choose from that group.

Yes, I've got a KoAloha Sceptre. I played every non-vintage instrument at Ukulele Source, and never looked at the price tags. The one that picked me wasn't the most expensive, nor the least by any means, but the feel, the sound, the responsiveness of the instrument was overwhelming. It was also more than I had budgeted, so I didn't choose anything.

I slept on it, and my wife and mother-in-law decided I should get it, so I called Smiley the next day, telling him I would be by to pick it up, and he held it for me.

I had been playing for about 7 months at that time, and had 7 ukuleles. I now have 13, with 2 more on the way, after about 2-1/2 years of playing.

Go for it.


-Kurt​
 
Which, basically, is what I used to tell people about computers back when I sold/did tech support on them.

What I would say about a uke is: Try a lot. All price ranges. Buy the best sounding/feeling instrument that you can afford. A simple modification to what John said, but if you can afford a $1500 instrument, but find that there are a bunch of $800 instruments that just feel/sound better to you, choose from that group.

Yes, I've got a KoAloha Sceptre. I played every non-vintage instrument at Ukulele Source, and never looked at the price tags. The one that picked me wasn't the most expensive, nor the least by any means, but the feel, the sound, the responsiveness of the instrument was overwhelming. It was also more than I had budgeted, so I didn't choose anything.

I slept on it, and my wife and mother-in-law decided I should get it, so I called Smiley the next day, telling him I would be by to pick it up, and he held it for me.

I had been playing for about 7 months at that time, and had 7 ukuleles. I now have 13, with 2 more on the way, after about 2-1/2 years of playing.

Go for it.


-Kurt​

I'm really feeling good with the guidance guys thanks. Kurt, the part that is giving me a little grief in the search is my location. Being in Canada, I only get to try Ukes up to around $600. I know I like the tenor size, I have tried that but a lot I am basing my search on comes down to hearing them played online, UU reviews, blogs and what pleases my eye. I do know that every time I hear something that sounds amazing, I end up finding out it was a Hawaiian made Koa Tenor. Usually a Kamaka or a Kanile'a. Pretty hard to get my hands on up here.

I'd buy the Kanilea K-1T UV Premium Tenor Ukulele right now based on my research, but I still need some more education.
 
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My standard advice to anybody contemplating taking up any musical instrument is simple...buy absolutely the best instrument you can afford. That doesn't necessarily mean a lot of showy bling (that's just a matter of personal taste). But, quality will out in a musical instrument - as a beginner you really will learn faster, play better, and be inspired to play more often when you have a really good instrument.

You do not have to "play well enough to justify" an instrument...an instrument needs to be good enough to justify your spending valuable time with it.

Whenever parents ask me to help them choose an instrument (usually guitar because I have a longer history with those) I always ask them the same thing: "Do you want your kid to fall in love with music and become a very good player and maybe even one day a rock star, or are you hoping they'll soon lose interest in this silliness and become a doctor or lawyer or something practical like that?"

They think I'm kidding, but I'm serious. I tell them if you want them to love music and playing, get them the best instrument that you can afford. If you are hoping they'll lose interest, buy them the cheapest piece of junk you can find advertised as "perfect for beginners." :)

John

This sounds great to other musicians, but is not really helpful to most beginners. Especially those who might buy MUCH more instrument than they need to begin playing. It's could be like telling a parent to buy a Ferrari if they expect their kid to be a good driver.

If you really want to be helpful, take them shopping yourself. Show them what to look for, what to listen for, and what makes some instruments cost so much more than others.

In a nutshell, yes, buy the best instrument you can afford - but one that allows you to move up when your ready... or sell without heartbreak and tears if you don't connect.
 
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I'd buy the Kanilea K-1T UV Premium Tenor Ukulele right now based on my research, but I still need some more education.

I bought one of those in Kauai after only a few months playing. I'm trying to think of a reason why you shouldn't just ask Andy, MGM, Aaron and Corey at HMS to pick the best looking/sounding one that they have, set it up and then mail it to you.

Nope, still can't think of a reason. Go on, you know you want to :)
 
Usually a Kamaka or a Kanile'a. Pretty hard to get my hands on up here.

I'd buy the Kanilea K-1T UV Premium Tenor Ukulele right now based on my research, but I still need some more education.

Broadway Music in Orangeville is a Kanilea dealer. Not sure if they have anything at the moment but they can bring one up for you BUT the drawback is that you might not have much options on choosing wood grain or sound testing. The other option is to check out a reputable online reseller like Hawaii Music Supply.
 
I don't think John's advice is unhelpful, but it doesn't apply to all instruments (yes, I know, we're not talking about all instruments here, we're talking about ukes). For example, in the flute world the "beginner" flutes are more forgiving and easier to start out on than the more expensive ones. A beginner might have a very tough go with a $ 5000 Miyazawa, but get along fine (at first, anyway) with a $ 500 student-model Pearl. (Yet another reason I like ukes. Imagine if a Dolphin or Kala KA-S were $ 500! How many uke players would there be???)
 
Yes good advice given here....since you said you have the budget..get the best you can afford...It's not only a better sounding and asthetics but also a more better comfort,tone and playabilty
you've got to enjoy what you play, to play more and get creative and motivated.... a better instrument might not directly make you better instantly, but it will encourage to make you play
more to become a better player... plus you eliminate going through the process of having all the upgrades that in the long run may cost even more and a house full of sub par ukes later
on when you get better...many of us then develop I can't get rid of this because I gotten attached and it has a sentimental value senerio....when buying online, call them and ask them
to play it for you on the phone...and always buy from a reputable uke store...I suggest HMS....you might pay more, but they will stand behind their instruments and give you something
to play rather than be a dust collector....if it dont sound good, no matter whay you pay...you've wasted your money, intrest and time....get it right the first time...Good Luck and Happy Strummings
 
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:cool::D:cool:
I don't think John's advice is unhelpful, but it doesn't apply to all instruments (yes, I know, we're not talking about all instruments here, we're talking about ukes). For example, in the flute world the "beginner" flutes are more forgiving and easier to start out on than the more expensive ones. A beginner might have a very tough go with a $ 5000 Miyazawa, but get along fine (at first, anyway) with a $ 500 student-model Pearl. (Yet another reason I like ukes. Imagine if a Dolphin or Kala KA-S were $ 500! How many uke players would there be???)
 
You know I've changed my mine from my initial response. I still feel you should buy the best you can afford but then you should send it to me for safe keeping and to break it in for you. You keep playing the Kala and when you feel ready and worthy of the instrument, send me an email and I'll send it back to you.

Sound like a good plan?






You've got a lot of good advice here, from a ton of experience.

Happy hunting for that perfect-for-you uke!!! :)
 
I'll address the "I don't want to be the uber-equipped skier on the bunny hill" concern. Umm, that's me in the ukulele world.

After eight or nine years with a couple of quite nice instruments, I still play pretty beginner-like. Yep, I'm pretty sure some uke folks must roll their eyes when see me pull out my Moore Bettah and then proceed to definitely *not* nail any song with any great ability--but nobody I've met (27 uke festivals and counting) ever makes me feel like I don't deserve the instrument. Plus, I always let anyone play my ukuleles who wants to--and it's a good way for at least *some* great playing to be deposited in the koa grain!

In short, with ukulele players, it just doesn't seem as if anyone begrudges anyone else's nice ukulele. So follow your heart and get what you want.
 
Which, basically, is what I used to tell people about computers back when I sold/did tech support on them.

What I would say about a uke is: Try a lot. All price ranges. Buy the best sounding/feeling instrument that you can afford. A simple modification to what John said, but if you can afford a $1500 instrument, but find that there are a bunch of $800 instruments that just feel/sound better to you, choose from that group.

Yes, I've got a KoAloha Sceptre. I played every non-vintage instrument at Ukulele Source, and never looked at the price tags. The one that picked me wasn't the most expensive, nor the least by any means, but the feel, the sound, the responsiveness of the instrument was overwhelming. It was also more than I had budgeted, so I didn't choose anything.

I slept on it, and my wife and mother-in-law decided I should get it, so I called Smiley the next day, telling him I would be by to pick it up, and he held it for me.

I had been playing for about 7 months at that time, and had 7 ukuleles. I now have 13, with 2 more on the way, after about 2-1/2 years of playing.

Go for it.


-Kurt​

13? I guess I can not feel too guilty about having my second on the way - after about a month and a half. :)

Capital district. Any clubs there?
 
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