Best ukulele for the price?
August 25, 2007 10:38 AM   Subscribe

What ukulele should I choose?

My brother is spending this year teaching English in Japan. He is an avid and talented musician. He is the sort of fellow who can pick up any instruments and play it damn well. His favorite and his focus is the guitar. Unfortunately, he was unable to bring his guitar with him when he left for Japan. We discussed being mutually interested in ukuleles before he departed, so I thought it would be a nice gift to send him one now.
However, I am at a bit of a loss on how to chose the right one. Looking through the previous askmes on the subject, it seems the Fleas and the Flukes are highly recommended, but they are a bit above my budget. However, I am worried that the very inexpensive ones will not be able to deliver good sound or be as playable.
Are the Fleas/Flukes a must? Or are there ukes that are a bit less expensive but will still sound great?
posted by honeyx to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Flukes are the best I have played at their price, and anything below that tends to be crappy. However, I had a Hilo for years that I bought at Schmidt music for $40 or something, and it was perfectly serviceable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:43 AM on August 25, 2007

There's a fluke at ebay for $120.00 and bidding is ending in five hours.
posted by wsg at 11:03 AM on August 25, 2007

Here's the link.
posted by wsg at 11:07 AM on August 25, 2007

There's a wealth of information to dig through on uke forums such as 4th Peg, Ezfolk (scroll down for the forum links), and my favorite Ukulele Cosmos (reg. required), if you haven't already checked.

But that can be a lot to dig through, so let me summarize what you're likely to hear:
-Play before buying when you can.
-"Push your budget up to $200 and you'll be able to get a lot more uke." This is more or less true, but if you don't want to spend that much, you don't want to spend that much. If you do decide to go up a notch, I have a Hamano and I love it. Whenever I play another uke, no matter how nice and expensive, I'm always surprised by how much better I like the Hamano.
-The Applause UA20 and it's electric/acoustic cousin the UAE20 are very popular and can be found for slightly cheaper than the Flea/Flukes.
-The generally-accepted best bargain basement uke is the Mahalo, for about 30 bucks. Put some good strings on them (Worth or Aquila), and that's not a bad way to start.
-You might be able to get a good vintage deal. Elderly always has a good selection, and from what I hear they'll play things over the phone for you and such.

Also, there is a huuuuuuge uke scene in Japan, and depending on where he is, there is likely to be a store near him where he can play before buying. This English-language uke blog covers the scene.
posted by doift at 11:25 AM on August 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

Ukuleles are more popular in Japan than they are in the United States and your brother should be able to easily find a good ukulele there much cheaper than anything that you could send to him. Ask the same question on the Flea Market Ukulele bulletin board or the 4th Peg board and you will probably get some better feedback on specific ukes. My favorite ukulele for travel is the Triumph sold by Empire music. It is cheap and can take some abuse without falling apart. But I would check the music sites in Japan before buying anything. They will have a good selection and probably much better prices when you include shipping.
posted by calumet43 at 11:30 AM on August 25, 2007

Oh! I forgot the Triumph. Seconding that, it's also very nice.
posted by doift at 11:36 AM on August 25, 2007

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