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  #1  
Old 03-07-2019, 12:42 PM
Arch Stanton Arch Stanton is offline
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Default Ukulele recommendation..

Can anyone recommend a beginner ukulele? My daughter is begging for one and I can't say no...it's a musical instrument! Saying no would be like saying "no" if they ask you if they can read or study math!

I don't want a cheap cheap one, and I am partial to Martin or at least one made in USA. Thanks..
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  #2  
Old 03-07-2019, 12:49 PM
bsman bsman is offline
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I don't know that you want to invest in an MIA uke unless you're convinced your daughter will stick with it. FYI, I have bought two ukuleles - the first, a Kala KGCE (koa concert cutaway w/electronics) I had for a few months and then my son nabbed it. He's still playing. The second, a Kala KZT-C is a concert ziricote. My daughter nabbed that one almost immediately and plays almost every day. My kids are 35 and 27, and I don't know I'd trust THEM with a high-$$ US uke, but they've had a lot of fun with the little Kalas and are quite happy with them.

'course, if you're NOT convinced she'll stay on it and you have a good chance of reclaiming it later - then you MAY want to spring for the higher $$ US model!
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Old 03-07-2019, 12:56 PM
rmp rmp is offline
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I have a Kayla Ebony Tenor. I don't know a lot about ukes, but this one sounds great, plays great and has a very good sounding pickup that has an onboard tuner. Cost was mid $200s had to get a case for, Gator Journey man.

I cant' see how any one would need a better one as a starter to intermediate..
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Old 03-07-2019, 02:35 PM
Swamp Yankee Swamp Yankee is offline
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If you're looking for American made, the lowest price I can think of is around $400 for the Sailor brand ukes. They're only available at Uke Republic.
Just north of that are the Loprinzis. In fact, the rumor is that Sailors are made by Loprinzi. I see a lot of love for Loprinzis out there, though I don't own one. Uke Republic for them as well.

Martin's entry and intermediate ukes are Mexican made. I don't think they have anything under $1000 that's American. I have played a few of their Mexican ukes and I didn't see why so many others rate them so highly.... but lots of people love them.

I have a ca. 1947 Martin concert ukulele and I can certainly understand the enthusiasm for vintage Martins... but I'm not thrilled with their Mexican ukes that I've played.

Then there are the Hawaiian makers: Koaloha, Kanile'a, Kamaka, Koolau.. You're lucky to find one made in Hawaii for less than $800. Some of them have lower priced Asian made models though.. Each have their followers, each are highly rated by uke enthusiasts. The Ukulele Site has lots of them as well as excellent videos of the ukes being played.

Kala, which mostly offers Asian made ukes, has the Kala Elite series, which are American made. I don't know much about them but they start at around $500 new.

Personally, I am very partial to Japanese made Kiwaya ukes. Four of my favorite ukes, out of 16 total, are Kiwayas. Their tone, playability and build quality are top notch. I think they're well worth their prices, even a bargain, considering the quality.
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Cordoba 24T tenor ukulele
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Kiwaya KTC-1 concert ukulele
Kolohe concert ukulele
Mainland Mahogany soprano ukulele
Ohana SK-28 soprano ukulele
Brüko No. 6 soprano ukulele

Last edited by Swamp Yankee; 03-07-2019 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 03-07-2019, 03:43 PM
muscmp muscmp is offline
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search this section as there are recent uke threads. maybe mr. uke-earl, will chime in.

as with guitars, you should go play a bunch of them in all different woods and sizes just to get an idea of what is best. then go home and do some shopping online to get an idea of prices. then you can either go to a store or purchase online.

play music!
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Old 03-07-2019, 05:31 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swamp Yankee View Post
...I see a lot of love for Loprinzis out there, though I don't own one...
Bought my wife an Ohana TK-70 spruce/maple tenor uke from Elderly about two years ago, compares very favorably to LoPrinzi's all-maple tenor - volume that'll cut through a 15-member uke group, just a bit mellower than the L.P. thanks to the spruce top, at around $375 street less than half the price - and although it's an import, IMO it's all the uke she'll need for a long time to come...
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Old 03-08-2019, 05:50 AM
Swamp Yankee Swamp Yankee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Bought my wife an Ohana TK-70 spruce/maple tenor uke from Elderly about two years ago, compares very favorably to LoPrinzi's all-maple tenor - volume that'll cut through a 15-member uke group, just a bit mellower than the L.P. thanks to the spruce top, at around $375 street less than half the price - and although it's an import, IMO it's all the uke she'll need for a long time to come...
No doubt there are other competitors and brands worth checking out - but the OP asked for American made ukuleles.

I think the scope should be widened as there are wonderful ukuleles to be had in all price ranges once one considers imports. But, to each, their own.
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Taylor 562ce 12 X 12
Taylor GS Mini-e Spruce/Rosewood
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Cordoba 24T tenor ukulele
Kanile'a Islander MST-4 tenor ukulele
Kiwaya KTC-1 concert ukulele
Kolohe concert ukulele
Mainland Mahogany soprano ukulele
Ohana SK-28 soprano ukulele
Brüko No. 6 soprano ukulele

Last edited by Swamp Yankee; 03-08-2019 at 06:05 AM.
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  #8  
Old 03-08-2019, 06:40 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swamp Yankee View Post
...I think the scope should be widened as there are wonderful ukuleles to be had in all price ranges once one considers imports...
My point exactly...
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Old 03-08-2019, 10:50 AM
lfoo6952 lfoo6952 is offline
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Arch

No one has mentioned size. There are sopranos, concerts, tenors, super tenors, and baritones. Your daughter should try the various sizes to see which fits her best.

Good luck in your search.

Luke
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Old 03-10-2019, 09:35 PM
Arch Stanton Arch Stanton is offline
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Thanks! Great replies! And lots of 'em. I need to look at these and do a little research. Will post what i end up with.
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  #11  
Old 03-11-2019, 09:01 PM
Arch Stanton Arch Stanton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lfoo6952 View Post
Arch



No one has mentioned size. There are sopranos, concerts, tenors, super tenors, and baritones. Your daughter should try the various sizes to see which fits her best.



Good luck in your search.



Luke


Hmmm, so what size do we want? Whats an all around "average" for a beginner?
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Old 03-11-2019, 11:55 PM
dwh dwh is offline
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How old is she?
How tall is she?
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Old 03-12-2019, 05:06 AM
bellgamin bellgamin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arch Stanton View Post
Hmmm, so what size do we want? Whats an all around "average" for a beginner?
I taught beginning ukulele in a private school, 7th graders, for several years. For that age-group, I found that Concert size ukes were the best combo of (1) bang for the buck in terms of quality & (2) playability.

We always bought ukes with solid tops (mahogany or spruce) & laminated back & sides. These were mid-priced ukes. We wanted kids to learn to play well & love music -- it's a bit harder to achieve that when a kid has a crappy instrument that sounds lousy & is hard to play. (By the way, for these youngster-students, we avoided ukes with cedar tops because, in general, they are a bit more delicate than spruce & mahogany tops.)

As for "made in America" -- if a student got really dedicated to practicing & playing well, I would call their parents & suggest they upgrade their child's uke at Christmas. Often, they would buy one of the 4 "K" ukes (Kamaka, Kanilea, Koolau, and KoAloha) -- made in Hawaii, USA.

American-made ukes are expensive. IMO, a beginner's uke should be a good mid-priced one with a solid top, but not as expensive as USA-made ukes are. An USA-made uke upgrade should be for someone who has demonstrated a growing dedication to playing & practicing beyond the usual early-on interest.*
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Of course I don't always practice what I preach when it comes to buying ukes for my grandkids.
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Old 03-12-2019, 07:12 PM
Arch Stanton Arch Stanton is offline
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Ok, thanks bellgamin. Now i have some direction.
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  #15  
Old 03-13-2019, 05:22 PM
Gcunplugged Gcunplugged is offline
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A couple more points;

Just like guitars, different builders will spec neck shapes and nut widths differently. We have both a Tenor and a Concert from different brands. On the Tenor, I can easily form a D chord with 3 fingers (like an A on guitar). On the Concert, I can’t fit 3 fingers so make the D using a 1-finger partial barre.

Second, real Uke players frown on using straps, but being a guitar player first, I prefer to use one. Beware though, many lower priced Ukes may not even have a tail block, so there is nothing to secure an end-pin to.

Hope that helps,
Gary
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