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Flea Market Music offers an on-line community for ukulele players, informative books on the ukulele, ukulele CDs,songbooks, videos and information on our instrument manufacturing of the FLUKE ukulele. Brought to you by "Jumpin" Jim Beloff.
Roy Smeck Concert Ukulele


Original Post By: Kathy Jones Date: 7/25/2017 7:59:46 AM
Novice ukulele player - 5 months. I'm hooked and want to step up from my all laminate mahogany Teton concert. It has a decent sound, but I want something better. My price range is $200-$400. I'm not sure if I want to stay with the concert size or get a tenor. I'm starting to play more with groups. Either all solid or solid top. I prefer satin finish over gloss. Not sure why, but I just don't like the feel of gloss.

Some choices I'm looking at are.....
Kala KA-ASAC
Kala KA-SMHT
Kala KA-SRT/MA
Ohana TK-70
Cordoba 22
Cordoba 24
Cordoba 23
Posted By: Uncle Boo Date: 7/25/2017 8:48:29 AM
Hello Kathy, all those are good choices. But I encourage you to look at the Mainland Ukes website. They have some really nice ukuleles in your price range, all wood. Drop Mike a line and let him know what you're thinking. He will be glad to help out, customer service, as well as products are great at Mainland. Just my 2 cents worth.

Uncle Boo
Posted By: Kathy Jones Date: 7/25/2017 4:51:01 PM
Thanks for the tip on Mainland. They offer gloss or satin for each of their models. I have seen them mentioned over on Ukuklele Underground forum ( tried to join that forum but impossible to sign up. Glad this one is easy to join).

Now to decide on another concert or try a tenor? I have messed around with a tenor for a few minutes. Felt ok, not too big. I have average to large hands for a female, but not the most flexible, at least at this stage.

Spruce top, red cedar, or mango? I'm so new to ukuklele that I'm not sure what sound I want yet. Perhaps I'll listen to some different types at next month's uke jam.
Posted By: Uncle Boo Date: 7/25/2017 5:09:49 PM
Definitely listen to the different wood tones. My favorite is my mahogany tenor, although my red cedar soprano is great, but brighter. I kind of like the mellow mahogany best. I belong to the UU forum also, but it took me two tries to get through. let us know what you decide.

Uncle Boo
Posted By: Kathy Jones Date: 7/25/2017 5:48:37 PM
I have tried to register with UU about a dozen times. No dice. Keeps telling me I have the answer to the random question wrong. Not sure what I'm doing wrong.

I think I prefer mellow to bright, but I'm not positive. I've listened to so many sounds samples on so many different websites that it's boggling my mind. However, the tones that I keep coming back to are mahogany and acacia/koa. The brighter woods sound kind of "tinny" to me.
Posted By: Tom B. Date: 7/27/2017 9:25:44 AM
Kathy, one of the best bang-for-the-buck tenors I've found is the Kala Ka-ATP-CTG with solid cedar top/laminated acacia body. I've owned all the K brands from Hawaii and quite a few other higher-end tenors, and this Kala is just as satisfying to play and listen to. There's a used one with a pickup that's for sale at the low end of your budget over at UU. (Unfortunately, you'll need to register.)
Posted By: Kathy Jones Date: 7/27/2017 11:12:52 AM
That model has been recommended to me by several people, both locally and online. My only drawback on it is the gloss finish. I have played a couple gloss finish Kalas in different sizes & models and really disliked the way they felt. Sticky or Plasticy are the best words to describe it? I'm not sure if I could get used to it? Mainland has a solid wood cedar/rosewood uke, but it is also gloss. I'm checking with them to see if they would make one in Matte finish.

I have tried over a dozen times to register on UU, but I can't get past the random question part. I have no clue what the right answer is to....What is this forum about? I have tried everything I can think of from complex to easy answers and no luck.
Posted By: Frank B Date: 7/27/2017 10:32:08 PM
What makes you think a more expensive instrument will sound better? Most of my ukes are all solid wood, but I've played some all laminate ukes that sound fine (at least to my hearing aids). If you live in the California Central Valley I will loan you a Kala solid Acacia tenor (matte finish) to try before you shell out your hard earned money.
Posted By: Kathy Jones Date: 7/28/2017 8:59:53 AM
Utah, not CA, but thanks for the offer. You are correct that a more expensive ukulele might not sound tremendously better than a quality laminate. If I decide to get a tenor (have a concert now) then I'd want to jump up to a solid wood or solid top.I know about a little about Kala, Cordoba, and Ohana, but choices like Mainland that people like are why I posted here. To get other options I didn't know about.

I joined a local uke group and there were at least 30 people at the last jam session I attended. I think I'll talk to people, see what they are playing, and do a lot of listening & test driving before I decide. I'll definitely buy from someone who does a set-up of the instrument....Uke Republic, HMS, etc.

I initially bought a plastic uke to take rafting & camping. I enjoyed it so much that I bought the Teton and signed up for a college community ed. beginner class. Now I'm seriously hooked. I have a Bonanza laminate on order that should arrive today. It will replace my plastic uke for river trips & camping. I gave the plastic ukulele to the teenager in my rafting group & she's starting to learn now.
Posted By: Kathy Jones Date: 8/2/2017 10:20:41 AM
I'll be attending the Utah Ukulele festival this weekend, so I'll get to look at different instruments & talk to people. This will give me a chance to at least pick up and maybe play some tenors to see how I like the size.

I have spotted/read about a couple other contenders....
KA-SRT-CTG-E. This is a solid cedar top, solid rosewood body, with electronics for $350 from HMS

KA- FMTG - Solid spruce top/Flame maple laminate body. $286 from HMS
Posted By: J Boy Shyne Date: 8/3/2017 8:59:04 AM
Hello Kathy!

Why are you playing uke? Is it as in u an accompaniment to singing? Are you playing instrumental pieces?

I ask because it is relevant to your query. Lots of folks use ukes as mini guitars trying to mimic the guitar sound as closely as possible. But, there's actually a uke sound that has nothing to do with guitar. It can be obtained by playing a soprano uke with reentrant tuning.

Believe it or not, there was actually a time when the ukulele was the king of all instruments. Common, every-day, folks, both old and young played ukuleles and not guitars. Obviously, this was pre-Elvis and Beatles days. It was back in the 1920s. Check out performers like Cliff Edwards, Johnny Marvin, the Hawaiian lap steel bands (H’oopi’I, Iona,etc) etc.

Anyway, I’m from the school that believes that when it comes to ukes, all folks whether young or old should start out on a cheap soprano reentrant tuned ukulele. The Makalas and Mahalos are great for this purpose. Indeed in the 2000s I played in an act where we performed with inexpensive soprano ukes.

Besides cheap sopranos, the Flea sopranos are awesome. They are reasonably priced, indestructible, and loud, very LOUD for such a small acoustic instrument.

Okey-dokey, that’s my 2 cents, although you may feel it is only worth a penny.

Cheers …….
J Boy

PS, most if not all of the brands you’ve mentioned in this thread, are mass produced Indonesian instruments. Many of them are all the same made in the same factories In Indonesia. If money isn’t an issue, then get yourself a Martin 5K.
Posted By: Kathy Jones Date: 8/8/2017 9:29:23 PM   (Updated: 8/8/2017 9:45:43 PM)
Problem solved. I won a nice tenor ukulele in the prize raffle at the Utah Ukulele Festival.....which by the way was loads of fun. Islander solid spruce top, flame maple back & sides, slot head, cutaway. Sweet looking & sounding uke. Yippee.

It's this one
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFo4WVitFCk
Posted By: Tom B. Date: 8/9/2017 2:18:39 PM
Fantastic! Congratulations Kathy.
Posted By: Frank B Date: 8/12/2017 8:26:54 PM
Good for you. Congratulations.
Posted By: scottcocoabeach Date: 8/22/2017 8:45:19 AM
Congratulations- looks great!
Posted By: J Boy Shyne Date: 8/22/2017 11:08:44 AM   (Updated: 8/22/2017 11:32:43 AM)
Yeah, it sure is a fine looking axe. It's tough finding any info on the Islander ukes, such as where they're made. They aren't made in the USA (Hawaii) like other Kanile'a instruments. If they were, they would say so right on the label or headstock. Rather, from what I can tell, they are made in China, but I don't know which factory. Nevertheless, judging by their price tag alone, they certainly are high-end instruments. Indeed, they might be the most expensive Chinese ukes.

Obscure axe in that Islander doesn't have Kathy's model on its website. The Acacia model is displayed but not the Mahogany.
See http://www.islanderukulele.com/Custom/ShopProduct?id=19 .

I dig the slotted headstock. While I prefer geared tuners, especially on tenors, I care not for the ears look you get when using acoustic ghee-tar tuners. So, the best comprise, in my humble opinion is to use a slotted head and employ classical guitar tuners. Sure, purist stick with friction pegs, but to me, not on tenors or baritones.

Here's a closeup of Kathy's model. https://shop.r10s.jp/guitarplanet/cabinet/ukulele/islan_famsarm4t_side.jpg

I see it uses guitar bridge pins. I don't care for that. Martin does it too (and did it in the past) on some of their tenors. It makes no sense to me to use bridge pins, designed for steel strings, when the tradition is to simply knot the strings like what's always been done on ukes and classical guitars. Anyway, Kathy's new uke is a fine looking high-end instruments.

Enjoy it in good health, Kathy.
Posted By: warndt Date: 8/22/2017 11:37:46 AM
Nice uke Kathy...I especially like that it comes with the forearm bevel. Enjoy!
Posted By: J Boy Shyne Date: 8/22/2017 11:48:29 AM   (Updated: 8/22/2017 11:48:57 AM)
Speaking of bridge pins, even Gibson used them on their pre-war tenors. see http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f6/jboyshyne/GibsonTenors.jpg pic courtesy of Uncle Rufus, well I don't know if he gave me permission or not, but I showed 'em anyway.
Posted By: Kathy Jones Date: 8/25/2017 10:27:53 PM   (Updated: 8/25/2017 10:31:42 PM)
I contacted Islander......first to thank them for donating this fine ukulele for the raffle at the Utah Ukulele Festival, and second to inquire about the specs on this model. It has been discontinued, in favor of the all acacia model with the slotted head stock, cutaway, and arm bevel. Mine has a solid spruce top, and flame maple side and back. In all other respects it is identical to the current acacia model. I'm guessing it was a $400-$600 price range when it was available, so I'm quite excited to have it.

I have never seen a uke with the arm bevel before, and I can attest to the comfort it provides. This uke hit most of the things I was looking for in a tenor so winning it was awesome!

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Flea Market Music offers an on-line community for ukulele players, informative books on the ukulele, ukulele CDs,songbooks, videos and information on our instrument manufacturing of the FLUKE ukulele. Brought to you by "Jumpin" Jim Beloff. -