Saturday, November 29, 2008

Updated lineup rankings

Well, it's been forever and a day since I've rated my ukulele lineup. Since the last time, I've acquired many new ukes. Since the last lineup update, I have acquired a Sonny D purpleheart/spruce tenor and the Kepasa Gypsy Rose, while the Pono Ebony Deluxe has been sold off. Also, thanks to the Microsoft cash-back program and some musicguymic sale, I have a Kelii tenor and a Kanile'a super-tenor on the way. In addition, I have a DaSilva Santo reproduction that's being built (ETA unknown), so I'll need to get rid of a few more ukes soon.

The top candidates for liquidation are: Martin style 1 (don't play sopranos much), Compass Rose walnut tenor (probably an easier sale than the Sonny D), Kiwaya KTS-7 (soprano), and possibly the National concert (not a huge resonator fan). Look for some of these ukes to pop up on various ukulele sites and/or ebay in the near future.

OK, so that outlines what's currently in my collection. This time I'll rank the top 10:

1. William King long-scale tenor: William King enjoys a great reputation in the ukulele community and this uke definitely back that up. It has gorgeous master grade (I think) curly koa back & sides and a nice and tidy spruce top. It's also got a Jake Shimabukuro style slotted headstock with my last name in Chinese character (which coincidentally means "King") inlaid in abalone. But the reason it ranks #1 is because it sounds and feels soooooo good. Compared to all other ukes I own, this one has the best clarity and punch when picked or strummed and the feedback I get from it while playing is only experienced in the other two custom level ukes I own. The Mi-Si pickup also works great. Overall, it's far and away my favorite ukulele to play.

2. Kepasa Gypsy Rose: This is the second custom specified ukulele I own and I've been more than satisfied with it since receiving it in October after about a 16 month wait. It sounds as good as the Koa Works tenor and has the distinctive look of a Maccaferri guitar which I love. I also specified a strange headstock that was replicated by Kevin Crossett wonderfully. It's really an outstanding ukulele.

3. Koa Works tenor: This is the first "custom" ukulele I've owned and before receiving my King tenor it was the best sounding and playing ukulele I've played up to that point. It has great artistic appointments and it sounds and plays wonderfully. Along with #1 & #2 on this list, these three ukes are head and shoulders above all other ukes in my collection.

4. Bluegrass Ukulele cigar box tenor: Great sounding and playing uke that has added cigar-box mojo. Now that I have Jake Shimabukuro's autograph on it, it's even more special. It ranks with the best production ukuleles I've played in terms of sound and playability.

5. KoAloha Pineapple Sunday: I loved the shape of this ukulele when I first saw it and it sounds magnificent as well. It has a fairly distinct high pitched sound and is very loud. It's probably the easiest playing uke in my collection and very unique.

6. Kanile'a Custom SS: It's got some great looking curly koa and has a distinct deep sound. I really like the super soprano size and it is very well suited for travel. Looks and sounds great.

7. Honu deluxe concert: I really liked the honu themed design with the honu fretboard markers and bridge. With Worth CD strings, it sounds marvelous. Very long sustain and a nice and pleasant sound.

8. Compass Rose walnut tenor: This is really a great sounding uke. I strung it with a set of D'Addario J71 strings and I think it sounds great. What keeps it from being higher rated on my list is the narrow nut width. I haven't measured it but it is definitely less than 1-3/8", which I already find a bit narrow to begin with (my preferred nut width is 1.5"). So while this is a very nice sounding uke, I haven't found myself playing it too much due to the nut width preference.

9. Sonny D purpleheart tenor: I bought this uke because I was curious about purpleheart and also because I wanted something purple (I'm a Vikings football fan). It's a nice sounding uke but is a bit softer than the Compass Rose. I expected more oommph from the spruce top but it does not have the punch I thought it would have. Still, a sweet sounding uke from a pretty famous (I think) maker.

10. Kala tenor neck spruce top soprano: I got this baby for $110 from Elderly instruments. It really surprised me with pretty good sound and long sustain. I have other ukes that ranks below this one that sounds better, but it's hard to beat the bang for the buck on this uke. It's well made and have all the necessary appointments such as body & fretboard bindings (plastic), side position dots, and geared tuners. It's a great knock around uke.

Well, that's the top 10 rankings from my little collection. You might notice that the National concert and the Kiwaya KTS-7 didn't make the list. Both are great ukes but I just don't play them much. For the National, it's mainly because I'm not that into the resonator sound. While I recognize it's a high quality uke, the sound haven't grabbed me too much. Maybe that will change in the future. As for the Kiwaya, I haven't played it much because it's a soprano. I'm hoping that the DaSilva Santo reproduction, with a 1.5" nut width, will entice me to play the soprano scale more.

OK, that's it for this time. Hopefully it has been somewhat informative. I'm going to try to throw out a few reviews and videos in the coming month. Hopefully I get around to doing those. Thanks for reading!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi- I'm Glad you are liking your rose.. How much are you asking for the Martin 1 if you still have it? Ukester Brown (ukesterbrown@yahoo.com)

S said...

I was wondering if you could post a longer review, or a short video of your Kala tenor neck soprano. You don't see too many people with this model. Thanks,
Stosh

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