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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Music In Search Of A Ukulele
In Search Of A Ukulele
DejaVoodoo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 07, 2008
Posts: 137
From: Woodbridge, NJ
Posted: 2008-02-19 5:07 pm   Permalink

Does anyone here play the ukulele? I'm currently looking to upgrade my cheap, sub-par eBay find from a few years ago. I hardly ever play it because just when I sit down to learn some chords or a new song, I end up totally frustrated and disappointed. The darn ukulele constantly slips out of tune, chords don't sound at all like they should (I play guitar and piano so I think I have a pretty good idea what a C major, D minor, etc. chord should sound like!), and something is terribly wrong with the fret spacing because when ascending and descending the scale, the notes just don't line up right. Even along a single string. So, picking melodies and such yields disastrous results. That being said, I think I'd be more motivated to practice and play if I had an instrument that didn't suck.

My "budget" is around $150 and I'm more than happy to buy my new ukulele online. Right now I'm seriously considering the Applause by Ovation UA10:
http://www.elderly.com/new_instruments/items/UA10.htm
I love Ovation's guitars and have read some pretty positive things about this uke across the board. Sure it ain't much to look at, but I've bought instruments for looks before and been more than disappointed with them. Reliability and sound are what matters and I think this little guy would suit me well. Does anyone have any alternate suggestions? Please help if you can!
Thanks.


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Bongo Bungalow
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2007
Posts: 1271
From: Indiana
Posted: 2008-02-19 6:04 pm   Permalink

Voodoo. all the world should discover the joy of ukes! Glad that you have.

I've been playing for a number of years, perform professionally with a couple of local groups, and I own, I think, 15 ukes. But I'm no expert!

I'm not a fan of Ovation ukes, but it's a personal thing. If I was to buy a plastic-backed ukulele it would be a Flea or Fluke. I've played them and like them, but I don't own any. Tiki King, who posts here at Tiki Central, did the design work for a couple of the Flea Ukes.(And they do make them with rosewood fret boards and koa wood tops and I would choose those options.)

Lots of opinions for you to consider at:
www.fleamarketmusic.com

For me, koa wood is important, SOLID wood is more important. For your price range I would definitely try to get a uke made with solid wood. It's easy to get fooled.

I really like the traditional "violin" shaped body, but also like the Kamaka pineapple.

I purchased my Martin Ukulele from Elderly and a couple of guitars from them. I love going to their Lansing store.

I see Elderly has a Koaloha for $131 and that sounds like a real value. Their less expensive Koloa ukes are likely good choices as well.

I have some really expensive, wonderful ukes, but the best sounding uke I own in the $150 range is my Mele soprano. I don't believe Elderly carries them, but you can find them on-line.

Best of luck to you, keep playing!


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DejaVoodoo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 07, 2008
Posts: 137
From: Woodbridge, NJ
Posted: 2008-02-19 7:07 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the speedy reply and advice, Bongo! While I do love the Flea Market Music Jumpin' Jim's ukulele songbooks, I don't love either the Flea or Fluke ukuleles. Mele's direct from Hawaii ukes are simply breathtaking and oh, how I wish I had a couple hundred bucks to spend on one of them, however they are just a bit out of my price range. For some reason the Koaloha at Elderly looks a tad cheap to me and I'm now disenchanted with my original choice of the Applause/Ovation ukulele. Something about the plastic back didn't sit well with me either. So, now I'm informed but more confused than ever. I wish this was an easier choice. I don't want a piece of garbage like I had and I certainly don't need top of the line. BUT if I'm spending money, I want to feel confident that I'm buying quality. Make sense?

I guess I'll just keep on looking and let you all know what I ultimately decide to do!

Thanks again!


 
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DejaVoodoo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 07, 2008
Posts: 137
From: Woodbridge, NJ
Posted: 2008-02-19 7:16 pm   Permalink

Totally more than I wanted to spend but oh so gorgeous, I'm kind of head over heels in love with this uke from Elderly: http://elderly.com/new_instruments/items/KAMS.htm

Any thoughts?

EDITED TO INCLUDE: Upon closer inspection Elderly states that it's made in Asia. Hmmm...

[ This Message was edited by: DejaVoodoo 2008-02-19 19:39 ]


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Bongo Bungalow
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2007
Posts: 1271
From: Indiana
Posted: 2008-02-20 02:37 am   Permalink

That Kala is beautiful! The description doesn't say "solid wood" however. Where it's made is less important, I feel, than solid wood.

The ukes that are made of laminated wood can feel heavy, (especially when the exterior wood has gorgeous grain), but most importantly they have little volume and no sustain. (The notes drop off quickly instead of continuing to ring.)

I think you're gonna find a great uke in your price range. As with any instrument, it'll be what sounds good to you, so if you can hear it before you buy it, all the better. I know I'm fortunate to be just a couple of hours away from Elderly. They have great ukes in their showroom and they will bring them up from the warehouse all day long until you find the one you love. Any you buy from them can be sent back for an exchange or refund whith in a certain number of days.

Perhaps there are some music stores in your area with ukes. The guys on the fleamarketmusic bulletin board maybe could point some out. Pawn shops have ukes sometimes, although the new ones they generally stock are cheapies. Guitar Center carries ukes in your price range, but so far I've found that they only carry heavy, dull sounding ukes.

You may run into a used ukulele that's right for you. I bought most of mine used. Mmmmm... in fact, only two were new when I bought them. My first cheapie which is a laminated Ariana and my Kamaka concert, (which was lovingly placed in my hands by Fred Kamaka- whole 'nother story).

Sorry- I run on and on about ukuleles. I'm such a nut about them. One of the best things about ukes is that the learning never stops. I refuse to be the same person this year that I was last year and so constant learning is what I'm all about. Probably you too. I mean, tiki... ukuleles... Voodoo, who knew you'd do this stuff that you do?

[edited for spelling,,, I should just never re-read posts, I always find mistakes]


[ This Message was edited by: Bongo Bungalow 2008-02-20 02:42 ]


 
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DejaVoodoo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 07, 2008
Posts: 137
From: Woodbridge, NJ
Posted: 2008-02-20 07:47 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2008-02-20 02:37, Bongo Bungalow wrote:
I refuse to be the same person this year that I was last year and so constant learning is what I'm all about. Probably you too. I mean, tiki... ukuleles... Voodoo, who knew you'd do this stuff that you do?

[edited for spelling,,, I should just never re-read posts, I always find mistakes]


[ This Message was edited by: Bongo Bungalow 2008-02-20 02:42 ]


I totally agree! I'm always moving in new directions, towards new obsessions, and learning all I can about them! But just to clarify, I don't now, nor will I ever, practice voodoo. My username is simply intended as a play on words for Deja Vu. Deja Voodoo just rolled off my tongue one day and I thought it sounded clever and exotic all at the same time. No offense to anyone here who's into voodoo...it's just not my thing!

As for my ukulele hunt, I've decided to put it on the back burner for a bit. I really don't have the money to drop on a new one and was going to splurge just to have something new to occupy my time, that and the one uke I do have is completely useless. Is there any reason why the strings would keep slipping out of tune? Perhaps they need to stretch more and settle in to the instrument? But it's not like that with guitars...
Hmmm....
Oh well. I'll keep my eyes peeled in the coming weeks. Maybe a uke will just fall into my lap unexpectedly. Who knows?
Thanks again!

Peace,
Peter <---voodoo free and always will be, except for my username!


 
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Bongo Bungalow
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2007
Posts: 1271
From: Indiana
Posted: 2008-02-20 08:30 am   Permalink

Peter,

Well, uke strings do stretch. Do your tuning knobs have small screws running through them? If so, tightening these will allow you better keep the strings in tune. My dog has fleas!

On my cheap Ariana, I replaced the strings with Aquila Nylguts ($7.10 at Elderly) and it made a really big improvement. I also like Ko'oulu Golds ($4.25). But the strings won't help until you get them to stay in tune. Best to ya!


 
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DejaVoodoo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 07, 2008
Posts: 137
From: Woodbridge, NJ
Posted: 2008-02-20 09:31 am   Permalink

Well, I tightened the screws in the knobs and that seems to have alleviated the tuning slippage, and I just played around with a few major chords however, the uke still doesn't sound right. It sounds worlds better than before but not full and rich. Basically it sounds like what it is - a cheap ukulele. Perhaps I can learn a little more on this "beater uke" and then upgrade to a nicer mid-priced model sooner rather than later. Still, I'm not having fun learning on this crap-tastic uke. I don't like the sound.

Perhaps I'll file down the nut grooves a bit - the strings sit way too high off of the neck making playability more difficult than it should be.
Peace,
Peter


 
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Dr. Zarkov
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 07, 2008
Posts: 345
Posted: 2008-03-16 2:15 pm   Permalink

I have a couple of recommendations. If you take a look at the pictures I recently posted of my home Tiki Lounge (See http://www.flickr.com/photos/drzarkov/ or for the pictures with a longish introductory text: http://www.geocities.com/regopit/index.htm posted on the MD-DC-VA Tiki Board), there are a number of pictures with my uke collection in them. In Photo No. 22 on the Flickr site, the one on the far right of the fireplace is an Ovation electric that actually has a beautiful sound even when not plugged in. IT may surprise you, but the best sounding (at least to my ears) is the cigar box uke on the far left. I bought it on Ebay but it was made by this guy: http://homepage.mac.com/bjagitsch/PhotoAlbum63.html He custom makes them to order, too.

As you can tell from the proliferation of toy ukes (including an Arthur Godfrey Flamingo) and el cheapos, I'm not an expert player -- I bought my ukes primarily to serve as decorations, including the long-necked surfer ukes in the hallway.


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Tiki King
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 13, 2002
Posts: 547
From: Lush tropical Santa Cruz, CA.
Posted: 2008-04-02 09:33 am   Permalink

Aloha DejaVoodoo!
It's true that I do designs for Fleamarkets Flukes and Fleas, But I also do my own hand built Ukes. Check out the Uke Section of my Website...
http://www.tikiking.com
Cheers!
Tiki King

P.S. There is a Huge Ukulele fest going on in New York this week-end. Good chance to do some shopping!

_________________
www.tikiking.com Neat Tiki and Ukulele Stuff
www.myspace.com/idolpleasures Hear the King sing!

[ This Message was edited by: Tiki King 2008-04-02 09:35 ]


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Passerby
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 19, 2007
Posts: 22
From: Swampscott, MA
Posted: 2008-05-18 7:01 pm   Permalink

During my recent trip to Kailua-Kona, I got a solid Koa, soprano Ko'Aloha uke.
This baby just sings! I played a bucketload in the stores, (The Music Exchange in the Kamehameha Mall, Just Ukes in Kainaliu Town, and every little shop, market or tourist trap,) but I couldn't resist this one.
It even makes my playing sound, well, not that bad!


Plus just a little tiki-fication...


More models at
http://www.koaloha.com/
Mines the "Soprano Standard."




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