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Cheap instruments

09 Jan 17 - 09:42 AM (#3831406)
Subject: Cheap instruments
From: Mo the caller

A friend has seen a ukulele for £25 online.
Now I know that some instruments are cheap but OK (e.g. Yamaha & Aulos recorders) but others are cheap,nasty toys - a waste of money. I bought a wooden recorder with a plastic head from a music shop and it didn't really play at all.
So are there any makes to look for, or avoid. Any advice for a novice buying online who doesn't want to take it seriously. Just have a bit of fun.


09 Jan 17 - 09:45 AM (#3831409)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Big Al Whittle

the 14pound99 ukes from Argos are very good.
i've got a pink one.


09 Jan 17 - 09:55 AM (#3831414)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Steve Shaw

Lidl has a £14.99 one just before Christmas. Any experiences of these?

Don't buy cheap harmonicas. Even good ten-hole jobs are quite cheap. The longest-lasting ones are Lee Oskars and Suzukis. I'm especially fond of the latter. Cheap ones will not be in tune, will be badly set up and will have uneven reed response, and the reeds will go south in no time. False economy.


09 Jan 17 - 10:13 AM (#3831420)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Will Fly

The quality to price ratio can be so variable that I recommend trying the instrument first, if you can. The main problem with ukes is that the intonation can be really crap, even on non-cheap instruments. I've got a Kala KA-KCGE-C Electro Acoustic Concert Ukulele, which was about £220 at the time I bought it, and that just about cuts it.

My grandson has one that cost about £75, and that's almost as good, but without the pickup. I had a cheapo one once, and it sounded terrible beyond the 3rd fret! But... the margin between acceptable and unacceptable is really fine - so try it.


09 Jan 17 - 10:47 AM (#3831427)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

These days I don't bother with cheap unknown name OEM factory guitars
[ - got some fairly good brand new ones for about 30 to 50 quid back when I scoured ebay every day]

Nowadays i try to be more restrained and discerning and seek out better quality brand new well known brand-name guitars at stupidly low bargain prices.

eg.. circa 5 to 9 hundred quid guitars knocked down to less than £300..

It's worth the effort regularly searching Amazon for mispricings,
and big name internet music shops for discontinued end of line blow out bargains.


In the last 12 months i got one of these for £212,

A Regal RD-30MS Squareneck dobro copy for £106

and a Gibson Les Paul Special Double Cutaway for £289..

All recent brand new boxed pro level instruments for the price of average beginners guitars..

It's worth the effort looking and waiting.

Got a Fender in the pipeline at the moment waiting to see if the big music chain store honours the low selling price on their internet shop..

win some , lose some - but worth taking a chance... it's all fun..


09 Jan 17 - 11:32 AM (#3831432)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Big Al Whittle

well i bought another pink ukulele for my niece. that was 20 quid from the sue ryder shop. that was a bit rubbish - difficult to tune.

next time i see her i will try to swap it for the good one. if she hasn't got too attached.

for christmas i got a baritone uke for £30 off amazon. this is terrific value!


09 Jan 17 - 11:47 AM (#3831434)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Big Al Whittle

can i also put in a word for gumtree. i have had a couple great bargains off there. people sometimes say collection only - but they will if they haven't sold stuff right away usually pack things up for you.

i got a fender acoustic for my guitar pupil for £85. still under guarantee, and with a lovely dreadnought tone.

then i got a yamaha apx iii for £140. worth about four hundred nicker.

i think you must be prepared to get your friendly luthier to do a bit of work for the very cheap guitars to achieve their maximum playability. the shops have 100%   mark up - so god alone knows what pittance the workers in asian factories are paid.
but it does mean that young people nowadays in England have a wonderful opportunity of owning these exquisite instruments very cheaply. something the 60's generation could never have afforded unless their parents were loaded.


09 Jan 17 - 11:59 AM (#3831439)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Mo the caller

Will, it's all right for you to say "try it". But if it is a beginner wanting to get something online, not so easy.


09 Jan 17 - 12:12 PM (#3831443)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Will Fly

I'm aware of that, Mo, I can assure you. I always worry about buying online because, if the instrument really is no good, there's always a potential difficulty in getting the instrument accepted back and money returned, plus the hassle of returning it via the post.

I suppose if you're buying from a reputable seller on somewhere like eBay, then a money back guarantee can be established beforehand. My local store in Brighton - GAK - has a 2-week returns policy. Money refunded as long as the instrument has not been damaged in any way.

It might be worth looking out locally for an instrument that can be seen in the flesh. I've had one bad experience buying online. In a fit of curiosity, some years ago, I bought a bouzouki online from a store in Manchester. It arrived with an unplayable neck - bowed to buggery - and I was made to explain its condition over the phone by not-very-helpful staff.

Just a thought...


09 Jan 17 - 12:15 PM (#3831445)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: bubblyrat

When are you coming to Exeter again Mike ??


09 Jan 17 - 12:17 PM (#3831449)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Will Fly

Hope to get there sometime this summer!


09 Jan 17 - 12:42 PM (#3831465)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge

cheap instruments? A friend of mine plays paper & comb and spoons.

He doesn't need expensive instrument insurance as he can renew his whole musical 'wardrobe' at Wilkinson's hardware store.


09 Jan 17 - 01:42 PM (#3831487)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Steve Shaw

There's always the Jew's harp. I have one but I find it makes my whole brain vibrate rapidly in what I consider to be a very hazardous manner.


09 Jan 17 - 01:51 PM (#3831493)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: keberoxu

Once there fell into my hands a cheap set of pitchpipes. They were intended for six-string guitar. One of the pipes didn't work.

So when you blew through the pipes in sequence, you got:

E - A - D - bronx-cheer - B - E


09 Jan 17 - 11:26 PM (#3831600)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: leeneia

Hi, Mo. About that uke that your friend wants to buy - is it a used instrument?

The trouble with used instruments is you don't know how they have been treated. Has it been left in a damp basement or a dry, overheated room? How many years old is it? Are there small cracks or openings in glued joints? Will it keep in tune? Has somebody dropped it?

Even worse - kept it in the garage. Shudder

I think it's safer to save the money (and the cost of shipping) to apply to a new instrument that you can try before you buy it.


10 Jan 17 - 12:16 AM (#3831603)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

Problem these days - in my small UK town all the traditional music shops for miles around have closed down
apart from one small business that caters to school kids and beginners,
who don't yet know how mediocre and overpriced their stock is.
I've been in there and seen doting affluent parents forking out £hundreds over the odds
for guitars I know are inadequate and cost far less on ebay.

Even the old traditional 2nd hand shops have gone - replaced by rip off modern wave of dodgy Cash Converts style pawn shops...

So for serious experienced musicians, the only options are an expensive journey to a major city miles away..

.. or internet shopping.

I've bought hundreds of musical equipment items and guitars sight unseen and brand new off the internet [similarly, countless used...]
and experienced very few problems.
Nearly all easily and quickly resolved with the sellers as I am aware of my protected consumer /distance selling rights.


10 Jan 17 - 03:57 AM (#3831619)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Will Fly

I am aware of my protected consumer /distance selling rights

That's the important phrase!


10 Jan 17 - 05:14 AM (#3831632)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: GUEST,Jack Campin

I bought a wooden recorder with a plastic head from a music shop and it didn't really play at all.

The low-end Yamaha all-plastic ones are reliable. You've heard my YRS-20B transparent green one - they're a real bargain.


10 Jan 17 - 05:24 AM (#3831634)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Dave the Gnome

Going back to the original question, Sue Ryder charity shops do a range of ukuleles for £15. Dunno if they are any good or not but at least there is usually a local SR shop that you can nip in to try one out. They do a few other musical things as well, I bought a music stand for a lot less than you would pay elsewhere. These are all new BTW. Any good?

Cheers

DtG


10 Jan 17 - 08:30 AM (#3831663)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Mo the caller

Yes Jack, I now play a green Yamaha too. The dud was years ago for my son from what I thought would be a reliable music shop (in a city 40 miles from home that we happened to be in - so it didn't get returned)

It seems that the answer is - if you know what you are doing and try it out you can get a bargain. If not, maybe, or not.


10 Jan 17 - 08:53 AM (#3831670)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

[dialling tone].... Hello, you have reached the PC Brigade.. how can we help you ?

Please listen to the menu and press the appropriate number to report the horrible dim mean spirited people
you require us to educate and encourage to behave in a more enlightened and positive manner...

We are sorry but the 'report a blackface morris side' team are very busy at the moment and you may have to wait... you are number 27 in the queue...

Please hold, or try again later..

If you require emergency protests and boycotts, please wait until the end of the message and press 'zero...

Thank you for calling and have a progressive day.... 😜


10 Jan 17 - 08:57 AM (#3831673)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

yess.. I know... too many tabs open at the same time..

Mods please work your magic delete button for these 2 posts... 😊


10 Jan 17 - 09:22 AM (#3831681)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: The Sandman

always best to be able to play the instrument, so no dont go for it, but visit a music shop that might be selling one and try it


10 Jan 17 - 09:55 AM (#3831685)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

Not forgetting Argos sell a range of low cost ukes starting from 15 quid..

That'd be an easy option to try and return if not good enough.

Mostly "Martin Smith" branded Ukes.
Martin Smith claims they're guitars are "Music Teacher Approved"

But do not advertise the same claim for the ukes.
They are a tenner more expensive on Martin Smith's own website shop.


10 Jan 17 - 03:39 PM (#3831763)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link

Don't know why it is , but when I was new to it I bought a guitar , tried it out and seemed fine , then further down the road it seemed hard to play , and I thought , why did I buy this !! .


10 Jan 17 - 03:43 PM (#3831765)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Donuel

mo the caller it is true you can buy any size ukulele for under $50.
I assure you that my cheap baritone uke is capable of excellent sustaining and ringing tones that are so beautiful it can out perform a cello in certain circumstances. It is not just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.

My Mitchell MUB 70S/N is uniformly resonant any time try a different one at the guitar center. Of course I have customized the string selection and am demanding of a musical delivery beyond the scope of folk.

As for miraculous accidents that are cheap, they are few and far between but exist.


10 Jan 17 - 04:09 PM (#3831767)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Donuel

There is also a relatively cheap mandolin that can out perform mandolins of 20 times its value in terms of volume and tone.

The FLATIRON model Cadet.
#95055730 Performer series handmade in Bozeman MT
Gibson bought it out and are not as good and look different.

My personal preferences include ease of play and extraordinary results.
Visual aesthetics come last.


10 Jan 17 - 04:34 PM (#3831769)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: GUEST

"My personal preferences include ease of play and extraordinary results.
Visual aesthetics come last."

Definitely. Ergonomics is the primary consideration for learners - both to prevent injury, as well as to enable development of proper technique - both aspects are at risk with an improperly set-up musical instrument.

Many cheap instruments cannot be set-up properly - due to inferior structural elements. However, cheap instruments often CAN be set-up quite acceptably - rendering an instrument perfectly suitable for learning.


10 Jan 17 - 04:43 PM (#3831771)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: JHW

I would usually say buy the best you can or even can't afford and sell it again if you don't master it. I had several modest buys but however my learning progressed these were never going to sound as though I could play.

I bought a £200 Gremlin guitar from a Sidmouth Arena stall.(Mainly to leave in open tuning). Not bad but the poor thing never comes out as it no way compares with my Gurian.
Yet a little guitar shop in Richmond Yorks had a room of resonators. I tried them all. Back at the counter I was amazed to find my choice was £200. Used regularly in open tuning (not bottleneck). Lorenzo, though I've seen several the same with other badges.
So you can't dismiss an instrument for being cheap either


10 Jan 17 - 05:20 PM (#3831777)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Bat Goddess

You really almost have to play it.

I know about BAD quality cheap instruments. Back in the mid-1960s my parents bought be a US$19.95 guitar (which even in 1965 was unreasonably cheap)from the discount arm of JCPenney. The strings were about an inch off the neck. Made learning difficult, but I was determined. Saved up enough to buy my next (used) guitar which cost US$40 was a vast improvement even with a warped neck.

But sometimes it's a matter of quality control -- and it's luck of the draw as to whether you get a good one or a lemon. I bought an acoustic guitar, brand new, with case at a yard sale for US$50 about ten years ago. The kid I bought it from paid US$200 new, then discovered he'd actually have to learn to play it.

It's a Chinese made "Mark II". All wood. And has nice action and a sweet tone, well worth the $200 let alone the $50 I paid for it. It's smaller and fits my body better than Tom's Guild.

Linn


11 Jan 17 - 06:38 AM (#3831875)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: GUEST,Guest

Bought a Farida acoustic for £60, all laminate. Wanted a cheapy to practice fitting a pickup and preamp to . After fitting the pickup and setting up the action, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it played and how good it sounded, especially amped up. There are some good cheap instruments about, but it's "pot luck", finding one


11 Jan 17 - 06:59 AM (#3831881)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

I could argue that the quality control of 'cheap' guitars has become better and more consistent,
whilst the bad reputation for shoddy quality control of expensive guitars, eg Gibson, is just as variable and inconsistent as ever... 😜


21 Jan 17 - 02:39 PM (#3833921)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: JMB

I love to play the tin whistle. Very inexpensive. The "Generation" brand is what I have for the six whistles I currently have. The downside to these Generation whistles is that the mouthpieces are glued on and the band leader I was working with said you need to adjust the mouthpiece when it goes out of tune. He said a way to tune it is to get a juice container of ice water and put the whistle in it almost to the mouthpiece, but don't let the mouthpiece touch the ice water. It will eventually shrink the metal a little bit. Then you slowly and gently adjust the mouthpiece when you take it out. I've seen youtube videos of people stating to use hot or warm water, though. I should note that the whistles I have for the various keys are barely $15. I was however looking for a Key of A whistle and the store had to order one in, I think it was a different brand and it was around $40 I believe.


21 Jan 17 - 02:53 PM (#3833927)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: McGrath of Harlow

Best way to buy instruments is probably from the music stalls at folk festivals. You get a chance to compare them and play them. And if you're ta beginner and your playing isn't up to much there's no problem in finding someone who'll willingly lend two hands.


21 Jan 17 - 03:29 PM (#3833942)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: GUEST,matt milton

I have a Makala pineapple ukulele (mahogany laminate). It was about £45. It's a great instrument for the price. Actually, I shouldn't say 'for the price'. It has a very nice tone. I suspect you could probably get a lot more sustain and harmonics (can't say I notice any) with a solid mahogany instrument costing £100+ more. But unless you're a professional musician, why bother.

I also have a Recording King ROS616 guitar. A great guitar, all-solid-wood mahogany Cost me £350 new a couple of years ago. Now I think, due to inflation and the weak £, it's about £500 new. Still, a fantastic instrument that competes with hand-made luthier guitars of £2000+ in my opinion.

So much of instrument-buying these days really comes down to taste: an individual's aesthetic and ergonomic preference. Thanks to laser-cutting and computer-assisted design and manufacture, the days when an affordable instrument was by default a crappy and demoralising instrument are long long gone. Not just acoustic instruments either. I bought a microphone over Christmas from Thomann: the t.bone SC400. A very good, neutral-sounding non-hyped supercardioid condenser microphone that is as good for recording voice or instrument as plenty of mics 10 times its price.

That said I think that absolutely rock-bottom dirt cheap stuff is probably not worth it. Do your research.


22 Jan 17 - 08:51 AM (#3834072)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

There are various low priced OEM Chinese manufactured mics
[same mics sold under several brand names]
that are obvious copies of mega expensive German Neumann mics.

These copies are so close, that despite the cheap components,
gear modding enthusiasts have discovered simple tweaks
that can make them sound near identical to the mics they copy...

Websites sell DIY kits with the circuit plans and parts kits.

I really must learn how to solder one day...


22 Jan 17 - 09:11 AM (#3834075)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Stanron

punkfolkrocker wrote: There are various low priced OEM Chinese manufactured mics
[same mics sold under several brand names]

Any chance of some details? Like names and prices. I might be tempted.


22 Jan 17 - 09:26 AM (#3834080)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

I've kept some links to mic modding forums somewhere, but don't have any organized way of archiving them, so i'll try and find them..


22 Jan 17 - 09:37 AM (#3834082)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

..in the meantime.. googling "mic modding forums" leads to a wealth of links,
I'll want to check out myself just out of interest.


22 Jan 17 - 09:52 AM (#3834085)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

eg.. this link The best mic mod platform
based on a good budget priced CAD mic I already own.


22 Jan 17 - 10:05 AM (#3834086)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

another mod based on a different cheap CAD mic CAD GXL1200 microphone modification

I recently got some of these mics brand new for less than 30 quid each.. worth checking amazon and ebay.


22 Jan 17 - 10:21 AM (#3834087)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

here's a good priced bundle on ebay of 1 of the mics in the first link, and 2 of the 2nd mic for about 1 hundred quid all in enc accessories..

this sale ends in 8 hours from now.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CAD-GXL2200SP-Studio-Condenser-Microphone-Pack-Leads-/400290694229?_trksid=p2141725.m3641.l6368


CAD do bloody good deals on their various bundle kits.


22 Jan 17 - 10:49 AM (#3834091)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: punkfolkrocker

I can't find my previously saved links, but googling "neumann copy mic mods" turned up this link
Building a Vintage-style U87 Mic Is Easier and Cheaper Than You Think (Video)


22 Jan 17 - 11:25 AM (#3834093)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: Stanron

Thanks for that. Definitely food for thought.


22 Jan 17 - 06:09 PM (#3834175)
Subject: RE: Cheap instruments
From: GUEST,watcher

avoid the cheap ukuleles, they are usually rubbish. On ones I have seen the tuners slip, the frets are badly placed so a mixture of open and fretted strings are badly discordant, and the strings are poor quality nylon line. They are just colourful toys.
You should be looking at paying around £60 for a decent quality instrument to start with (they go up to several hundred quid!).
Ohana are very good quality for the money at every price point, everyone I have met that has one has been very pleased with them. Kala is another brand with a good reputation; Lanikai (I think owned by Hohner) was one of the original good brands but seems to be uncommon now.
Try http://www.omegamusic.co.uk/collections/recorders-ukuleles-folk or http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/ .for specialists who offer a good service.