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Help: Buying a Ukulele

GUEST,Ed 05 Oct 09 - 03:39 AM
Bernard 05 Oct 09 - 04:22 AM
Jack Blandiver 05 Oct 09 - 04:33 AM
Hamish 05 Oct 09 - 04:44 AM
matt milton 05 Oct 09 - 05:49 AM
matt milton 05 Oct 09 - 05:51 AM
Leadfingers 05 Oct 09 - 06:43 AM
GUEST,Ed 05 Oct 09 - 07:15 AM
matt milton 05 Oct 09 - 07:36 AM
Eric the Viking 05 Oct 09 - 10:18 AM
M.Ted 05 Oct 09 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,ritchie 05 Oct 09 - 06:59 PM
Bernard 05 Oct 09 - 07:13 PM
GUEST,Arthur Stiffy 05 Oct 09 - 08:46 PM
GUEST,Arthur Stiffy 05 Oct 09 - 09:03 PM
DPF 05 Oct 09 - 09:31 PM
Little Hawk 05 Oct 09 - 10:50 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 06 Oct 09 - 03:02 AM
Hamish 06 Oct 09 - 03:59 AM
M.Ted 06 Oct 09 - 06:38 AM
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Subject: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 03:39 AM

Hi,

I'm looking to buy a Ukulele, and don't really know how much I need to spend to get something reasonable.

I'm in the UK, and can find them as cheap as £20 (even less on ebay), but I imagine that these are 'toy' instruments.

I don't have a lot of money to spend, and was thinking along the lines of something like this

Any thoughts?

Thanks, Ed


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: Bernard
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 04:22 AM

To be honest, most of the 'toy' ones these days are of a reasonable playing standard, or can soon be adjusted. The days of the ones with plastic frets, badly fitting friction pegs and horrendously high bridge and head nuts are long gone!

I wouldn't waste time on eBay, as music shops such as Hobgoblin stock a good range of this increasingly popular instrument. You can judge for yourself before you buy, there's no postage to be paid (in an eBay dispute you have to pay the return postage), and if something goes wrong you can chuck a brick through their window!!

Erm, okay, perhaps that's not a good way of solving a dispute, but hey!


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 04:33 AM

I bought a soprano on our honeymoon in Yorkshire back in the balmy summer of 2003, just the thing to serenade my heart's own joy whilst lazing by the fountains of Castle Howard and Harewood. This is an unbranded Made in China job bought for £18 from Haemoglobin in Leeds, which is very fine throughout apart from one note which is inexplicably flat. A toy instrument? Very possible, which is maybe why it's been such good fun over the years, although my main use for it has been for faux-flamenco & sampling its febrile strains for use in Ableton Live - click HERE for a short excerpt from Blyth Requiem for cornet & ukulele. I do look at more expensive models from time to time - there are some especially nice ones upstairs in Forsyth's in Manchester - but whilst they look amazing, they don't sound that much better than my cherished Honeymoon Uke, certainly not £200 better at any rate, but as a compete novice who am I to say?

Have fun anyway which is the main thing. On Tyneside the Uke ambassador is folk icon George Welsh who we saw a few years back at The Bridge depping for Ray Fisher. At one point he produced a cheap yellow soprano which he'd decorated with drawings of the Easter Island Moai statues and the legend You'll never know unless you try it, and after a spot of uke-evangelism he treat* us to a sublime Feeling Groovy.

S O'P

* As a Geordie myself my vernacular tendency is to say treat (pronounced tret) rather than treated. Whilst I might check myself in this and other respects whilst talking with non-Geordies, I feel in this context it is especially apposite to let it remain unchecked.


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: Hamish
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 04:44 AM

I commend your choice cos it's got geared tuners. My experience of the more usual friction pegs is not good.


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: matt milton
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 05:49 AM

As far as cheap ukes go, i would recommend the Richwood brand. You can buy them from the Really Useful Music company in the UK. A Soprano uke from Richwood will cost you around the 40 quid.

I would also recommend the spruce and/or mahogany Blue Moon ukes that Hobgoblin sells.
Going slightly more expensive, the Lanikais are good too.

All of the above are solid wood, not plastic.

You were probably going to do this anyway, but buy the Soprano model (ie the standard size), which is cheaper than the other sizes anyway. Personally, i think that tenor and baritone ukeleles only really start to sound distinctive and characterful when you start paying serious money (though the Richwood tenor makes a good fist of it, particularly when you play with your right hand quite close to the bridge).


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: matt milton
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 05:51 AM

Another thing to say. I recently tried some cheap ukes made by Vintage. They were awful, unplayably so in my opinion, in that they were all out of tune at the octave.


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: Leadfingers
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 06:43 AM

Intonation IS a problem with cheap Ukes ! And IF you have to take the bridge off and resite it , its a fiddling Job ! Better to pay a decent porice and get a decent instrument .


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 07:15 AM

Better to pay a decent porice [sic] and get a decent instrument

Such as?

Thanks for the Richwood recommendation, Matt. I'll look into that.

Thanks,

Ed


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: matt milton
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 07:36 AM

should also say, I've never tried any Ashbury ukes that you initially linked to, so no idea if they're any good.

But I have tried some different Ashbury instruments and they're generally reliable. I own a cheap Ashbury resonator mandolin, for instance, and while it's certainly not the most comfortable instrument to play, it has a very nice tone, perfect intonation, stays in tune and is a solid build.


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: Eric the Viking
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 10:18 AM

I wouldn't swop mine, it's a Samick UK60. Greg Bennett designed signature model. Intonation is perfect and it stays in tune no matter how hard (!) I play it or how long it's on it's hanger. I think it cost me about £40.00 including a scrounged case from Manchester four years ago.


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: M.Ted
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 10:27 AM

Kala ukes are well made, great sounding instruments, with an amazing number of different instruments in the very low to low price range. You can get them in the UK--the lowest price are laminate, and as the prices work up, there turn to solid wood. Check their website Kala Ukuleles to figure out which models have which features--

I recommend a concert size, it's a tiny bit larger than the soprano, with a slightly more mellow sound--they have both laminate and solid mahogany, laminate will save you a few bucks, but solid will get better over time--spruce tops have a mellower sound, and Koa has a really crisp, bright sound (I have two koa ukes and a koa guitar, so you know my views)


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: GUEST,ritchie
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 06:59 PM

whatever you buy .... get your self a decent set of strings ...I prefer Aquila's.

you should try and 'popalong' to a local club night and try some out ...where abouts do you live?


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: Bernard
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 07:13 PM

To be fair, most people will rarely venture past the fifth fret on a uke, so intonation isn't likely to be an issue!!


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: GUEST,Arthur Stiffy
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 08:46 PM

Mine's a Vintage VUK20N
which cost about 20 quid half a decade ago
when I bought it from the local music shop one Saturday afternoon on a whim
on the way home from the pub..

Nothing wrong with the intonation on this one ?
I've never even changed the cheap quality factory equipped strings on it
and yet it still plays in tune up and down the neck.

I did buy a couple of sets of Martin strings shortly after buying it,
but mislaid them somewhere in a bag or a box in the house,
and looking for them has never been a great priority.

The more up to date current Vintage product range spans from entry level prices
to over £100 if anyone has the money to burn.

http://www.jhs.co.uk/vintagefolk.html#ukes


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: GUEST,Arthur Stiffy
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 09:03 PM

JHS also distribute these far more expensive Laka ukes

http://www.jhs.co.uk/laka.html


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: DPF
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 09:31 PM

Anyone in the UK importing Flukes and Fleas from the Magic Fluke Co.? If you're looking for something that is utterly dependable with very good tone, intonation and durable enough to withstand my family, being slammed in a car door, and falling in a campfire amongst other hazards, this is the way to go.

They also stand up by themselves.


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 10:50 PM

Some good info here. It happens that I was just down at the Arts Music in Newmarket today looking at their Ukes, of which there were about 7 or 8. Nothing they had really grabbed me, but I do like the look (and sound) of Koa for sure.


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 03:02 AM

I second the Samick! Very good quality and payability.


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: Hamish
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 03:59 AM

Not sure I'd start with a concert. Aren't they tuned in C? So you're having to transpose your guitar chords up five frets instead of just being able to fake the same chords onto the uke.


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Subject: RE: Help: Buying a Ukulele
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 06:38 AM

You'd tune a concert the same way you'd tune both a Soprano and a Tenor, Hamish, -which would be either g-C-E-A or a-D-F#-B--You'd tune a Baritone to D-G-B-E, so the fingering positions on that would sound the same chords as they do on the guitar, but the concert, soprano, and tenor fingerings would all sound either a fourth or a fifth higher(depending on which tuning you use) than the guitar--

The thing to remember here, however, is that the notes on all the ukes are "concert" pitches,
meaning that if you learn the names of the actual notes you're playing, instead of trying to interpolate the guitar finger position names, you won't get scramble around--

A lesson to all here: learn the names of the notes on your instrument! It saves a lot of trouble.


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