Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ukulele usage analysis

I'm curious about the actual usage of each of the 14 ukuleles I currently own (I don't count the Sunny D tenor because it's cracked and I've essentially wrote it off as a total loss), so I'm going to analyze right here how each uke has been played in the last several months or so. Ukes are listed in random order, pretty much as they come to mind:

William King LS-tenor: This uke was my favorite before receiving the King LS-concert. Now that I'm on a bit of a concert kick, this uke actually has not been played all that much. I think I've played it about once every two weeks or so on average, which is entirely too little playing time for such a fine instrument. But I'm finding myself a little lazy to stretch out my finger on a long scale tenor lately, so I guess it may be on this playing schedule for a while yet.

William King LS-concert: This uke is my current undisputed favorite and gets played probably at least 5 days per week. A lot of times it gets played every day.

Kepasa Gypsy Rose: I play this about the same frequency as the King LS-tenor these days. So that's about once every two weeks. When I remember that I own ukes other than the King concert, this usually gets a spin because it really is an awesome sounding uke.

Kamaka HF-3: Lately I think this uke got played maybe once every 3-4 weeks. The last couple of times I played this uke, I really felt that it's a notch below most of the other tenors I have. Of course, those tenors are mostly customs, so it's not unexpected. But I'm basically keeping this uke because it's a Kamaka.

Koa Works tenor: I've been taking this one out for a spin about once every two weeks. I'm re-developing an appreciation for this one lately. It has such a pleasing sound and is the easiest playing tenor I have. I actually thought I'd try to sell it at some point, but I think I'm hanging on to it now.

KoAloha Pineapple Sunday: It was being played maybe once a month, but lately, after reading a post on Ukulele Underground, I've gained new appreciation for this one and it has been played more often. My copy of the P.S. has super low action and is from the first production run that has the pointy bridge, ebony fretboard bindings, and de-bossed pineapple grid pattern (new P.S. has a KoAloha concert bridge, koa fretboard bindings, and laser cut grid pattern). It's always been a nice sounding uke, and I'm re-discovering it a little bit.

Kiwaya KTS-7: Believe it or not, I'm playing it a little bit just about every day. Not because it's become my favorite or because I've become a soprano guy, but because it's the uke I keep at my office at work! It is a nice uke though, and I really like the Martin style 3 styling. One could do worse than having this little guy around for a few strums each day at the office.

DaSilva Santo reproduction: This uke gets played maybe once a month. It's a wonderful little guy, but for whatever reason the sound doesn't quite grab me as much as the concert & tenor ukes. Probably just a personal preference thing. It might be the best looking uke I have though. I should probably take it out more often just to admire it or something. I just changed strings on it last night though, so it'll get some extended play at least over the next week or so to settle in the strings.

Aaron Taylor milo/spruce tenor: This uke gets played about once a month. It has very nice sound but the action seems just a tad high and there isn't any room to lower it at the saddle, so it hasn't been a uke I reached for often. I wouldn't say the action is too high, but just a bit higher than where I like it and feels like a little bit of a chore to play compared to say the Koa Works tenor. I love having a milo uke in my collection and it has my last name on the headstock, so it's not going anywhere.

Bluegrass Ukes cigar box tenor: I think I've played this uke maybe twice in the last half a year or so. It'll always be in my collection as it has Jake's autograph on it and my name on the label, but it's not a uke I'll favor over the other ukes I have for playing purposes. That actually says more about the other ukes I have than about this uke. It's really a very nice sounding uke and has great playability. It does have fretwire that sticks out a little bit and that has always been the one thing that's bothered me about this uke.

Bushman Cedartone baritone: I don't think I've played this more than once or twice in the last year. I'm not a baritone guy and have felt no urge to play this uke other than for a couple of curiosity strums. But I do like having a baritone in the collection, and since it's more or less worthless in the open market, I'll probably always have it.

Collings UC-1: Since the last post about the Smackdown between the Collings and Mainland, I haven't played this uke a whole lot. Maybe once every 2-3 weeks. I do plan to finish off the Smackdown (sometime, I promise!), I'll need to play it more often to get a better opinion on this uke. It's a fine uke, but not quite at the level of my customs.

Mainland slotted headstock concert: Same playing time as Collings. It's a great uke for the money, but the King concert has a strangle hold on my ukulele playing time, so it doesn't get a lot of play.

Kanile'a Custom SS: I think I've played this one maybe once in the last half a year. It's kind of weird because I really feel that this is a great sounding uke. I'm not sure why I've played it as little as I have. And it has some really nice looking koa too. I'm puzzled. And I've thought that I would sell this one to make room for the upcoming Glyph mezzo-soprano, but I guess we'll see. It's such a nice uke.

So there it is. I guess the moral of the story is not to buy too many ukes because you end up not playing them enough. And to think, I have an upcoming trip to Hawaii and a Glyph coming in the not too distant future! Seriously though, I think I do need to play some of these nice ukes more often if I'm keeping them around.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

I know what you mean about the Kamaka mystique. Out of all the concert uke options I've been mulling over in my head, I keep going back to the Kamaka concert... because George Harrison has one, and it was his playing that turned me on to uke in the first place.

Nevermind that I hate the Schaller tuners (seriously, cotton, really?), and I think you're mostly paying for the name, and the koa they use doesn't look so hot IMO, at least compared to what I have already.

But... it's a Kamaka, and a concert...

Really I'm wanting something in mahogany, which means either Collings, Kiwaya, or something custom.

But I'll probably get something completely different, as UAS moves in mysterious ways.

Which uke should I bring on my next trip to Oahu???

What's the maximum you'd spend on a ukulele case for your best uke?

If you could steal one of my ukes, which one would it be???

How curly do you like your koa? (preferably on a uke)

What's the maximum number of ukes a perfectly sane person should have???

Poll: How often do you play the ukulele???

Poll: Which guitar company's approach to ukes do you prefer???

Poll: What's your favorite type of headstock???

Poll: The new basic Collings concert uke (UC-1) sells for about $1k, your reaction is: