Last night I ordered another ukulele. If you start reading about ukuleles, you will find that most ukulele players have UAS, which means “Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome.” People will collect a large number of ukuleles, and play most of them.
Since I bought my first ukulele in January, we now have six at our home, a seventh on the way, and an eighth planned for the late spring.
While you can spend a lot of money on a ukulele (the elite instruments still cost less than my tuba), most people have lower or middle end instruments, and that is where I am at. My wife would love to return to Hawaii, but I have had no desire to go there. Now I would go there to hang out at ukulele shops and to buy a “real” Hawaiian ukulele (probably a Kamaka at this point–which is celebrating 100 years right now).
The new ukulele is a “blemished” unit from Butler Music, which has a website and also sells on eBay and Amazon. Most players would benefit from buying a ukulele from a ukulele specialist store, such as The Ukulele Site, the Uke Republic, or Mim’s Ukes. These companies make sure that ukuleles are set up properly with good action, and in some cases will replace strings. Additionally, if your local music store carries ukuleles–and a ukulele brand and model you desire, it is good to support a local store. I have been flying on the cheap with all of my ukuleles.
On Good Friday, I had the chance to visit one of my local music stores (living in a large metro area, there are a few) and attended a Ukulele Jam. While there, I saw the Lanikai UkeSB series, and had a chance to interact with those instruments. These instruments have an electric pick-up with tuner (common in mid-range ukuleles) but also have a USB interface that interacts with computers and iOS devices. As you can imagine, I was hooked. The Soprano and Concert (think “Alto” if you don’t know ukuleles) seemed quiet to me, but I really liked the Tenor model. My local store was willing to give me a decent discount on a full Koa UkeSB, but I don’t want to be spending over $400 on a single ukulele right now.
I have been trying to move on from wanting that instrument, but I have been needing to make some recordings for my classes (rehearsal tracks) for the songs we are singing with ukulele in our spring concert. I don’t have a connector for my current electro-acoustic ukulele (I would probably buy the IK Multimedia iRig HD, which is $100) and the field audio recordings I have made end up having too much background noise (I’m not recording in a studio).
So I have been looking for deals on Amazon and eBay. What I found was the Tenor UkeSB with Spruce top and Koa body. Normally, this instrument is $399 new (incidentally, that is what my local music store was willing to sell me the full Koa model for–which is a good price).
As I mentioned earlier, Butler Music is a big online reseller, and I have one other instrument from them. They carry both new and blemished units, and they were offering a Spruce/Koa instrument for $239 on eBay. I offered $211, making it $225 shipped, basically $174 less than new. That offer was accepted (I probably should have offered less).
It has some reported cosmetic flaws, all which are okay with me as I will be adding flaws of my own:
So that is expected to arrive on Thursday.
What about the other six instruments in our home?
This is the Butler Music eBay “Gambler Special” baritone ukulele, which I purchased for $40, shipped. I needed to tighten a loose (buzzing) tuning head and replace the strings.
Just as a tip (from a guitar store in Salt Lake City), Aquilla makes the strings for D’Addario’s ukulele strings, which sell for less cost than Aquilla’s own line…look at the back of these boxes…
The final ukulele that I am going to purchase at this time is the Tenor Outdoor Ukulele, which can be taken just about anywhere. I plan to use it in all of my camping this summer (That is $145 at a local music store).
If you decide to play ukulele…be careful. UAS is a real illness (see below)!