Uke Review

As an entry in UkeHunt's ukulele review/KALA ukulele contest, I submit the following:

I caught the ukulele itch when, in December of last year, I thought it would add an interesting twist to my job as a youth services librarian. I have since bought two other ukuleles and am aching for another. My enthusiasm has also inspired my mother to revisit her ukulele playing days but she’s in need of a little guidance and, of course, I’m willing to help her out.

Because I’m a beginner, I don’t know much about the instruments themselves. I’m convinced, though, that seeing the instrument, being able to pick it up, manipulate the tuning pegs, play it, this is how to best judge its quality. I want my mom to invest wisely and I have my own needs when it comes to ukuleles. So, I had been going on a quest for different brands at local music shops here in Anchorage to see what our options were. For me, I wanted to find something that I could strap on my back and take hiking and that would travel well with me on my upcoming trips to Michigan and to Nashville. For my mom, I wanted it to be at a mid-range price, and good quality.

I came across a soprano sized Mahalo for $29.95.

The sales guy said, “Hey, this thing could blow up in your face and you’d only be out thirty bucks!”


Why it’s not recommended:
--It doesn’t sound that great. I have to tune it more frequently than I should. I’ll have to invest in a pitch pipe (for some reason this low-tech option seems more fitting than my electronic one).
--There’s a slight buzzing that never seems to go away.
--It often times sounds as if it’s out of tune, even though it’s not.
--I had to file the corners of the bridge down. They were sharp and pointy and jabbing into my forearm.

Why I like it anyway:
--My storytime kids don’t tend to notice (or care about) the tone problems or the buzzing during “If You’re Happy and You Know It”.
--I’ve yet to encounter any dangerous wildlife but I’m interested in seeing if it will have the same affect on a bear that a young boy and his ukulele had on Abiyoyo.
--It’s small. While my tenor ukulele sounds much better but I often times have difficulty stretching my fingers to reach certain chords. This smaller size solves that problem.
--I can travel with it and not worry about it getting smashed in overhead bins on an airplane or having it break my fall should I take a spill off a mountain. I’d only be out thirty bucks!
--I can leave it at work overnight (or over the weekend) without fearing that it will get stolen. It’s like those people who have broken down cars, rusted farm equipment, and vinyl siding all over their yard. I bet no one steals from them. If anyone does then hey, they must be having some troubling times and deserving of a little slack.

Perhaps that’s not a glowing recommendation but it fits my needs perfectly. I’d only recommend it for my mother because it’s inexpensive and she’s thrifty.

overall review: perfect for my needs but not good enough for my mom.

The Uke:
Mahalo U-30RD

Afterthoughts: My first excursion into the Alaskan wilderness was a hike to Bird Creek and the incredibly beautiful super secret waterfall. There was a threat of bear but no sightings by us. The uke was out of tune almost immediately but I persevered. I probably wouldn't buy another Mahalo for hiking but it's still nice for storytime.


Mockingbird1954 said...

Hi! Looks like a blast playing the uke in a setting like that! Very cool!!!

I have a fluke, but am now looking for a tenor uke 'cos the fluke, tho' it's cute as it can be with a cool cowboy design on it, keeps sliding off my lap. That's what I get for having some round thighs. Ha ha. Need to go on a diet.

Anyway, happy strumming!

BTW, I found your blog from the review you wrote at

chloe said...

Hi, I took my kiddos- boys ages almost 2 and 4 to the Muldoon library. You were filling in for Jake and brought your ukulele!!! I've been wanting to learn to play banjo for a while but after I saw you I decided a uke would be fun for the kids. I bought a cheapo blue sparkly Mahalo off Amazon and put some Aquila strings on it. My boys and I love it. and it was cheap so I can hand it to them without freaking out. Thanks Ukulele Librarian.