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  #1  
Old 07-12-2017, 03:12 PM
KFP55 KFP55 is offline
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Default Help with a beautiful custom Uke

So I'm in Hawaii and stumbled across this stunning hand built ukulele. I'm not a Uke player but this is absolutely stunning and I'm so tempted.... the builder is willing to fix any of the small issues (the frets are a touch sharp and there's som excess glue around the fretboard) but I know nothing about the builder. I've haggled the price from $2600 to $1800 which still seems steep for what it is but the Koa on this one is beyond words. The shop owner is taking it to the builder this afternoon as it's been in the Hawaii humidity for 8 months but as a ukulele noob I'd greatly appreciate any insight from this forum. I have 2 days to decide. Thanks!









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Old 07-12-2017, 03:23 PM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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I don't know that builder, but it looks like a wonderful koa instrument. Do you like the sound? That is always the #1 question, followed by playability, with pretty wood and bling a distant third. What a nice souvenir of your Hawaiian trip that ukulele would be.

As for sharp frets, that is usually a sign of low humidity -- wood necks and fingerboards shrink laterally whey they dry but metal frets don't - so I wonder if it isn't a bit too dry from being in air conditioning. If it was built in a non-conditioned shop at full local humidity, or during the wet season, or on the wet side of the island, it could be a little dry.

That shop décor looks familiar, like I've been in there, but I cannot place it. In the Waikiki Grand Hyatt mall?
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:52 PM
KFP55 KFP55 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl49 View Post
I don't know that builder, but it looks like a wonderful koa instrument. Do you like the sound? That is always the #1 question, followed by playability, with pretty wood and bling a distant third. What a nice souvenir of your Hawaiian trip that ukulele would be.

As for sharp frets, that is usually a sign of low humidity -- wood necks and fingerboards shrink laterally whey they dry but metal frets don't - so I wonder if it isn't a bit too dry from being in air conditioning. If it was built in a non-conditioned shop at full local humidity, or during the wet season, or on the wet side of the island, it could be a little dry.

That shop décor looks familiar, like I've been in there, but I cannot place it. In the Waikiki Grand Hyatt mall?
Thanks - yes I thought the sharp frets were odd given the humidity but the shop owner is taking it to the builder to answer some of my questions and get his thoughts on minor set up issues. I've never played Uke's but have always been intrigued and Hawaii seems like the right place to buy one...so tone and playability are easy for me to assess on a guitar but not on this.

The shop is called Hawaiki Art in Hanalei Bay in Kauai. Amazing stuff in there!
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:57 PM
Tico Tico is offline
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A high end gift shop for tourists is the last place I'd buy a serious musical instrument.

If you absolutely must buy a fine Hawaiian uke, I'd grab a Kamaka while there.
After 101 years they are still hand made of Koa in Honolulu by the Kamaka family.

At least with Kamaka's long time reputation and brand recognition the value will never be questionable.

http://kamakahawaii.com


Kamaka Hawaii
550 South Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

1-808-531-3165
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:17 PM
reckhart reckhart is offline
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If you're on the island of O'ahu, make your way to The Ukulele Site, 66-560 Kamehameha Hwy #4, Haleiwa, HI 96712.

They are probably the #1 place to buy quality ukuleles in maybe the world. My guess is that for $1800 you could get a world class uke set up to your specs, probably as beautiful as the one you're looking at.

Edit I see now this post is from May, so hopefully everything worked out for you.
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:28 PM
GmanJeff GmanJeff is offline
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That is a very high price for a ukulele, placing it in competition with instruments from much better known builders whose products will likely retain their value better. If it were me, I would not spend that much on a ukulele as a impulse purchase, but would do some research into competitive options before deciding. If, in the end, you decide this is in fact the one you prefer over alternatives, the store would likely ship this one to you, or the builder may be able to supply you with one directly. At that price, I would not think there is much risk of it being bought out from under you quickly if you don't act immediately.
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:40 PM
lowrider lowrider is offline
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That's a lot of money for a uke. What about Pono? You can go up to Wahiawa and try them out.

PonoGuitar@gmail.com
(808) 622-1064
401 N. Cane St. Unit A, Suite 10
Wahiawa, HI 96786
9.00am to 5.00pm HST Monday-Friday
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:51 PM
drive-south drive-south is offline
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Many great Uke builders out there including Bear Creek and even Bill Collings.
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:31 PM
Kalani Kalani is offline
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I wouldn't pay that much money for an instrument with those flaws. I think an instrument in that price range should be practically flawless in craftsmanship---definitely shouldn't have any glue showing and/or sharp frets. All of my ukes are a lot older than 8 months (and a lot cheaper); I've lived here all my life and none of them have those symptoms. Especially being in that shop it leads me to suspect that he may be an artist creating a pretty work of art as opposed to an established luthier creating a great instrument.

That being said, the materials look really high quality and I think $1,800 would be a very reasonable price if it sounded great and didn't have those physical flaws.

As others have mentioned, I would focus on the more established makers if you're looking for a good instrument. I personally am a big fan of KoAloha here in Hawaii. That's what I chose after trying all of the best brands here (Kamaka, Kanilea, Ko'olau as well as Collings and Martin).

Last edited by Kalani; 07-12-2017 at 05:37 PM.
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  #10  
Old 07-12-2017, 06:35 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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If you're in Hawaii (or not...) check into Chuck Moore's Ukes.

http://www.moorebettahukes.com/index.html

What you're looking at looks like really over-priced tourist stuff. Look at the competition before you fall for something in a tourist shop.
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Old 07-12-2017, 07:24 PM
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fazool fazool is offline
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I would not recommend dropping that kind of coin on 1) an unknown builder without doing research and/or 2) your first uke without first doing research.

You have 2 days to decide because why?

Go home, research it and if you like it and learn the right things without being pressured, then pay $100 and have it shipped to you.

(the finish looks very thick to me )
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  #12  
Old 07-12-2017, 08:46 PM
dwh dwh is offline
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Pass or pay no more than 900
Unknown maker
Koa is nice but not that spectacular!
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Old 07-12-2017, 08:53 PM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KFP55 View Post
....The shop is called Hawaiki Art in Hanalei Bay in Kauai. Amazing stuff in there!
I think I've been there, but it has been several years since our last trip to Kauai. While in Hanalei, make sure to see the Doug & Sandy McMaster slack-key / ukulele / talk story show in the community center. Friday and Sunday afternoons. We enjoyed it so much that we saw three (FRI-SUN-FRI) shows during our ten day stay on Kauai. www.hawaiianslackkeyguitar.com You might even ask Doug or Sandy about this maker after the show. They are real friendly folks.

And after doing all your homework, it is easy enough to have it shipped to you back home, so no time crunch.
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Old 07-12-2017, 09:05 PM
redir redir is offline
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Just buy it. You've got the money (or you wouldn't be asking) and it is speaking to you on some level that is not possible to communicate here. You like it, it has found you, get it.

Or you can as others have suggested go to well known even world famous Uke makers and buy one and own one just like everybody else has.
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Old 07-12-2017, 11:47 PM
Uke4Jerry Uke4Jerry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reckhart View Post
If you're on the island of O'ahu, make your way to The Ukulele Site, 66-560 Kamehameha Hwy #4, Haleiwa, HI 96712.

They are probably the #1 place to buy quality ukuleles in maybe the world. My guess is that for $1800 you could get a world class uke set up to your specs, probably as beautiful as the one you're looking at.

Edit I see now this post is from May, so hopefully everything worked out for you.


+1 the guys here are the best in the business and you can get a Uke from any serious Hawaiian brand in that price that will be flawless....
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