Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Ukulele Advice

Hey Guy’s

Any one out there with a good personal experience of ukulele makes and models ?

I am looking to buy a good sounding mid priced Concert Uke but my budget is fairly limited. i.e. Martin Co Ukulele’s I regret to say are beyond my means at this time.

Actually, my son gave me one for Christmas this year. It holds tune really well, and I like the tone. Wasn’t a super expensive one, but I’ll get it out tomorrow and look up the info. on it.

I hear Luna and Lanai (I think are good mid range models). Real wood, not laminated on the Lanai. Even the full sized ones are super small and can be a challenge if you have large fingers.

Hope that helps.


OK…here’s a link to the one I got.

It is an ADM JU116-23. Sells for about 55.00

One more pic.

Thanks Jack much appreciated, I am leaning towards a more professional instrument. I have a good soprano starter uke which I have had for about five years but I a looking to upgrade to a concert uke as I am hoping to join a local band and I need a high quality instrument but without the high $$$ sign.

Here is some good news… you can get a nicely usable uke at any price point. I have ukes ranging from a cost less than my favorite set of bass strings to “nicer” ones and they are all equally usable (once setup correctly). Case in point: I did a blind sound test with a $40 pink uke made of unknown material (it’s painted) and a 1930’s or 40’s martin tenor. Musicians and others couldn’t identify them correctly with any regularity (myself included). Find one with good intonation and a good neck angle and you will be fine. Really cheap ones are not likely to be setup well, but if you address that, you should be good to go at any price point.

Edit: there are sound differences between ukes. However, IMHO, it is not like bigger instruments where you MUST pay a certain amount to get a decent sounding and playing instrument.


Hi Mike
Thanks for the info.
Not sure how to go about setting up a ukulele. Any tips ?

Set up isn’t very complicated, really no different than a guitar or banjo. If the strings are sitting too high on the nut a little needle file action takes care of that and same for the saddle. But most inexpensive ukes I’ve seen are very forgiving and just as easy to play out of the box as the expensive custom ukes. I have an antique Martin (100 yrs this year) that is no different in playability than the $40 uke my son bought a few years ago. (tone is a little different – it’s a uke who would even know). If you have a specific question, let me know, I made a few copies of mine and might be able to give some guidance.

Hi Daniel

I am just trying to assemble some info on current makers and models before heading out this weekend to find out what’s available locally.

Hey Archie,

Maybe these would interest you. I’ve been told that they are made from non laminated wood, so they have a good tone. I wouldn’t know about how to setup properly. They’re nylon strings, so should be fairly easy to play.

Let us know how it goes when you get connected with a band.


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Sounds like fun, a perfect weekend activity. I did some uke shopping this summer in Honolulu and was amazed by the range of makers available and the different styles, woods, etc. And prices varied just as much. Good luck!

Hi Jack

These look like the high quality instruments I am after. Alas no local dealerships. All north central USA.

Met with the band this evening and the seem like a great crowd. They made me most welcome so I am itching to get started.

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Hi Daniel

Hawaii is THE PLACE for ukuleles.

I have a Lanikai myself and love it. I second what Mike said above about not paying too much. IMHO, as long as it has a good action, the next thing to look for is a set of quality tuners. That seems to be the biggest problem on cheap Ukes in my experience. The tuners just won’t stay put.

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Yes, I agree about the tuners that seems to be a big issue with the Asian Ukuleles. I have seen several where the worm and gear drive wear down or pop out of the housing. Thanks for reminding me to check these.

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Remember swapping out bad tuners for better replacements is a really easy process and good quality tuners can be had for a modest price. If the uke is otherwise good, this is a half hour task, not including time procure the replacements.

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Yep, I had an Ibanez Les Paul that did the exact thing. If I could only have back all the gear I’ve sold and traded over the years. :tired_face:

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Hi Daniel

That was my very thought’s as I posted my last message. I much prefer planetary tuners they seem to respond well and the tuning process is a lot easier.

And, if you really want to go au naturel, wood pegs can be used. A lutemaker in your area has the reamers and pegmaking capability to do that. :slight_smile: My old uke has its original pegs and the last copy I made has homemade pegs, too, from a tree in my garden. :blush:

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