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Ukulele advice?

GUEST,BigDaddy 23 Nov 11 - 01:34 PM
breezy 23 Nov 11 - 01:37 PM
Tootler 23 Nov 11 - 07:00 PM
Leadfingers 23 Nov 11 - 09:35 PM
Tootler 24 Nov 11 - 03:46 PM
foggers 24 Nov 11 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,Ukulele Ike 24 Nov 11 - 08:03 PM
Hamish 25 Nov 11 - 02:58 AM
foggers 25 Nov 11 - 05:23 AM
johncharles 25 Nov 11 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Wesley S 25 Nov 11 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,BigDaddy 25 Nov 11 - 11:51 AM
foggers 25 Nov 11 - 03:52 PM
PHJim 25 Nov 11 - 10:08 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 03 Dec 11 - 04:04 AM
GUEST,banjopicker 03 Dec 11 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,josepp 03 Dec 11 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,Jon 03 Dec 11 - 04:47 PM
GUEST,Jon 08 Dec 11 - 06:27 PM
Tootler 08 Dec 11 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,Jon 08 Dec 11 - 07:20 PM
Ref 08 Dec 11 - 07:27 PM
Artful Codger 09 Dec 11 - 03:07 AM
Leslie Butler 10 Dec 11 - 02:00 AM
GUEST,Jon 10 Dec 11 - 04:39 AM
evansakes 10 Dec 11 - 05:32 AM
GUEST,Jon 10 Dec 11 - 05:37 AM
evansakes 10 Dec 11 - 05:54 AM
evansakes 10 Dec 11 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,BigDaddy 20 Dec 11 - 02:27 AM
Tootler 20 Dec 11 - 11:27 AM
foggers 20 Dec 11 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 23 Dec 11 - 10:33 AM
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Subject: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 23 Nov 11 - 01:34 PM

I'm thinking of purchasing a ukulele for my son to take with him when he heads off to college next year. Any advice on a good, entry-level uke? Tenor or soprano? I'm thinking of staying under $130USD. There are a number at Elderly Instruments in this range. At this point I'm looking at this price range because it's entry-level, it will be subject to the rigors of dorm life, etc. If he takes to it as I suspect he will, then there could be an upgrade in the future. Anyone?


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: breezy
Date: 23 Nov 11 - 01:37 PM

make sure he removes the strings when he leaves it anywhere.

For an upgrade go to Brook guitars, one is a member of the Uke Orch !!

buy British is my motto


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: Tootler
Date: 23 Nov 11 - 07:00 PM

Guest, Big Daddy, I assume you are in the USA. In which case breezy's advice/suggestion is not exactly helpful.

Good advice here:

http://www.gotaukulele.com/

and here:

http://ukuleleunderground.com/

Ukulele underground have a very helpful forum.

Good hunting. I have recently started playing ukulele. It is a great little instrument.

Lanikai, Kala/Makala, Ohana and Flea all come well recommended for decent starter ukes priced just above the cheapos.

If you have a decent shop selling ukes near you get your son to go and try some out. That way he will get a better idea of what size to try. I have a concert and a soprano and find both are fine to play.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Nov 11 - 09:35 PM

At the bottom end the main problem I have found is the intonation !


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: Tootler
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 03:46 PM

Agreed Leadfingers, my experience too although the Makala Dolphin (around £25 UK) generally gets good reviews.

I think, however, that the OP would do better to stick to the upper end of his budget - or maybe even a little more as it then brings quite a number of well recommended ukes in range.

My cheaper uke cost me £60 UK and the intonation is spot on and the set up is excellent. Very comfortable to play and sounds good.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: foggers
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 05:18 PM

Hi I am a UK uke player so can't advise on US suppliers, but I would agree with tootler's advice on makes and helpful links.

It is preferable to try instruments out if possible, but of course that may not be possible depending where you live. One thing to consider is the size of the fretboard. I started with a concert sized uke but after trying a friend's tenor I preferred the slightly larger fretboard; it could be easier for a beginner, although hand size may be a factor too.

If your budget will stretch to a model with a solid wood top then that gives better tone (spruce is usually cheapest). And I would recommend Aquila Nylgut strings for lovely mellow tone.

The uke is a smashing instrument and great portable fun.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,Ukulele Ike
Date: 24 Nov 11 - 08:03 PM

I second the advice from fogger: a solid wood top uke will probably give a better tone, and age better(not a hard and fast rule, but a good bet) Aquila strings are a great way to improve the sound of an inexpensive instrument--I also suggest replacing the tuning pegs, because tuning and staying in tune are the big issue with entry level instruments. As to size, the younger players seem to be prefer tenors, often with a low G (tuned from low to high, instead of having high pitched 4th string).


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: Hamish
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 02:58 AM

There I was thinking I had nothing to add to this thread which had already covered the main points when I inferred a recommendation for a low G. It seems to me that it's no longer a uke with a low G - just a tenor guitar. Suited to some styles of fingerpicking, perhaps, but to sound like a uke, it's gotta have the re-entrant G (i.e. a high G).


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: foggers
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 05:23 AM

Ike is spot on about tuners; these can be dire on entry level instruments.So look out for the description of the pegs; you are likely to get better quality at the upper end of your budget, if you don't have the skills to change tuners on an instrument.

A further point to share; I have a cheap laminate soprano uke and it also needed to have attention to the nut and bridge because the action was so high that the intonation was out. I am fortunate to have an OH who is an amatuer luthier so he made the necessary adjustments. With a set of Aquila strings on it this cheap uke is my favourite work desk toy (though the people who share my office could have a thing or two to say about that!)


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: johncharles
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 09:25 AM

I have a Kala Archtop Ukulele. A nice instrument but may be a bit costly around $300+. however,it is well constructed and has the advantage of an inbuilt pickup.
Archtop Ukulele


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,Wesley S
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 09:49 AM

Have you considered a "Fluke" ? They cost a little more - about $200.00 - but I hear great things about them. A friend of mine has one and loves it.

Fluke info


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 11:51 AM

Thank you one and all. And yes, I'm in the U.S. About an hour-and-a-half from Elderly Instruments in Michigan.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: foggers
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 03:52 PM

Well I hope you and your sone have fun finding a uke that fits the bill!


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: PHJim
Date: 25 Nov 11 - 10:08 PM

I own a Kala concert that I`m very happy with. Lanikais are also very good entry level ukes.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 04:04 AM

Any thoughts on mahogany/NATO/mango tops?


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,banjopicker
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 11:59 AM

Concert ukes are my personally favorite.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 12:13 PM

If it's just something for him to amuse himself with, I'd get a plastic one, which cost like $40 or so. A wooden one will sound better but they are generally more expensive and so will be harder to replace if they break. If a plastic one breaks, so what? Get another.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 03 Dec 11 - 04:47 PM

Pip has ordered a ukelele today. She had wanted another try at guitar but she injured her left shoulder a couple of years ago and her movement is limited in such a way that I think even a half size guitar would be too much.

Anyway, we had a search on the Internet and decided on a £49 Brunswick BU4S soprano from Eagle music.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 06:27 PM

The Brunswick arrived today.

The only problem with it is that the 3rd string is too high in the nut but I'll fix that tomorrow.

Overall though I am a touch disappointed. In fairness, I'm not sure what I should expect for £49 but if I was to compare my expectations based on what I'd read with my impressions of the instrument, I can't help feel it does fall a little short.

That said, it will absolutely fine for Pip trying to have another go at a fretted stringed instrument and we can move on from there if the need arises or if she wishes,


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: Tootler
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 06:52 PM

In what way are you disappointed? Apart from the set up, that is.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 07:20 PM

Unhelpful I know but I'd call it that sort of general feeling you can have when you pick an instrument up.

Perhaps we'd have have paid more if we'd had gone to a shop with a range of ukes to try in order to find one I liked. While not picking out specific faults, this one (unless prices had to go £100+) is unlikely to have been my choice.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: Ref
Date: 08 Dec 11 - 07:27 PM

Don't.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 09 Dec 11 - 03:07 AM

I suggest that you check Craig's List for higher-end used ukuleles. You can often get a quality, virtually unused uke (many people have good intentions that they never realize) for about half what you'd shell out retail--often with pricey extras included (gig bag, extra string sets, picks, tutorial books...). I got my ukes this way.

Just research the offered models well online before you drop by for a look, so you know where they lie in the manufacturer's quality dimension, how much they go for retail, and what people who've actually bought them have to say afterwards.

If you play guitar, you have an advantage, since you can use the same chord shapes as for the top four strings of a guitar: they'll sound a fourth higher, and the "bottom" string will sound an octave higher than you'd expect. This at least gives you an easy way to check intonation with a variety of chord types.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: Leslie Butler
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 02:00 AM

Regardless of price, if you're new to this, try to get advice or help from someone who knows how they work. I spent money on a Martin ukelele, and was frustrated by the heavy action. I assumed this was my incompetence, because it was an expensive prestige instrument, after all, until I took it (on another matter) to Camden's excellent luthier who noted and lowered the over-high Bridge. Apparently even Martins leave the workshop in need of adjustment, but the Dubai retailer I'd bought it from didn't know that, and neither of course did I.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 04:39 AM

I'm not sure that I'd have called this one with a string high in the nut heavy to play but I am used to steel strings. Fretting the string on the lower frets did go a fair way out of tune though and I don't think the reason for it sounding so far out would have been apparent to Pip.

Anyway, I've brought this string in line with the others. I think the next thing I will do is put a good quality set of strings on it.

btw as for playing the uke, I've not a clue really (I just batter GDAE tuned things in sessions) except for knowing some chord shapes. this is the most I can come up with.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: evansakes
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 05:32 AM

My ukulele was bought from Hobgoblin London 5 or 6 years ago for about £50. It's a Blue Moon GR3604 made in Rumania for Gremlin (the former name Hobgoblin's imported instruments....I think they're now called Ashbury?)

It's an odd one....the scale length is tenor but the body size is more in line with a baritone so there's a big bodied sound (it's also mahogany which of course helps. Matt finish and unvarnished which I like. Intonation to the 12th fret is pretty good to my ears (and my electronic tuner agrees).

It came to me tuned standard DGBE and it remained that way until last year when I decided to experiment. So I restring it with a set of Aquila GCEA strings re-entrant style. I wasn't sure if this was wise considering the longer scale but so far so good. The bridge has stayed where it was and the strings are intact. The sound is now more ukulele-like of course but to me it's not as trebly as sopranos I've heard.

I think you should still be able to get something like this for well under £100 but I'd recommend changing the strings asap for a set of Aquilas....that might set you back another £12 but it'll be well worth it.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 05:37 AM

Thanks for that. I'll try the Aquila strings on Pip's uke.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: evansakes
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 05:54 AM

Of course, Big Daddy, if size is the issue you could always consider buying your son one of those wonderful little beasts, the Yamaha Guitalele.

I bought one from Hobgoblin last year and it's a delight. I'd only gone in for a set of strings but the manager was having a strum so I asked him about it. He told me he'd been unable to put it down and it was the last one. Only about £50 but beautifully made. I had a go and was similarly smitten...so I said I'd have it. Would you believe he almost refused to sell it to me! (he wanted me to come back in a couple of weeks when they'd have more in stock!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrHL0BrbLOk


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: evansakes
Date: 10 Dec 11 - 05:57 AM

Ooops...that link didn't work. Try this instead


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 02:27 AM

Still reading these posts and still wondering about spruce vs. NATO vs. Mahogany?


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: Tootler
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 11:27 AM

Spruce tends to be fairly bright and mahogany more mellow. The strings can also have an effect. I have a concert uke with a solid spruce top and Aquila strings and its tone is definitely bright. (Don't know about NATO - only know the initials as a military organisation :-} )

When I bought it I also tried the Mahogany version of the same uke and it was more mellow in tone, but it was strung with different strings - possibly Worth or GHS as they were black - and that could have been a factor as well. I liked the bright tone, so I went for the spruce top.

Mine is a brand called Korala and it cost me £100 - so a step or so up from an entry level uke.

I also have a Lani soprano which cost me £60. It's all laminate so doesn't ring so well but it was well set up when I got it and the intonation is spot on - I checked up to the 12th fret in the shop and it was still in tune. I use it mostly for practising and I put it in the car when I go away.

Lani Ukes are imported to the UK by the Music Room in Cleckheaton though I got my from my local music shop. I definitely recommend them as something a little better than the brightly coloured entry level ukes, though the latter do have a certain charm. Of the these, the Makala Dolphin gets consistently good reviews.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: foggers
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 03:25 PM

I have a Korala solid mahogany tenor (with pick up) for £150 and I am well chuffed with the mellow tone, quality of the hardware and the overall finish.


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Subject: RE: Ukulele advice?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 23 Dec 11 - 10:33 AM

There's a discussion of "Nato" wood here:
http://acapella.harmony-central.com/archive/index.php/t-1053553.html
It would appear to not be anyone's first choice, but is somewhat serviceable and keeps the price down.


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