money bag drawn

Ever held something REALLY expensive?

I happened to be visiting California recently and brought my modern (cheap-ish) Martin ukulele in to McCabe's in Santa Monica. It's a great shop and I just wanted them to re-string the uke for me. Sort of like getting a haircut even when you don't need one, just because you're at a famous salon.

Well, I got talking Martins with the nice lady, and she walked me over to the glassed-in case in the corner to show me their collection.

I had been researching vintage Martins, and I was shocked to see how LOW their prices were.

I asked to try one and she unlocked the case and handed one over. Because it was “only” $1000, I handled it casually — strummed it, plucked, plunked it, plinked it. It sounded great.

“Why only a thousand?” I asked.

“What?” says she. “Oh, honey, you're misreading the decimal point.”

It was not a one-thousand dollar ukulele.

It was a TEN-thousand dollar ukulele.

I immediately stopped plunking and gingerly handed it back, gulping inwardly, and thinking about my credit card limit.

I managed to get out of the store with a sixteen dollar bill for the string change and a huge sense of relief that I hadn't over-plunked, nicked, dinged, or dropped their $10,000 Martin.

Driving home, I realized I was very happy with my cheap, modern Martin. In fact, I'm happy with my extremely cheap, plastic-feeling Mahalo.

Turns out it's PLAYING the ukulele that makes me happy. Not the ukulele itself.

And that's today's lesson, kiddies. Now off to bed!

your pal,

PS: In case you're curious: here are the most expensive ukuleles currently available over at Amazon.

A little more about Cheap Ukuleles:


  1. Avatar of Danno Sullivan Danno Sullivan says:

    Ha ha, now we’re talking!

    I can’t imagine wanting to sell that if I owned it. And if I was selling, I’d hope there was a better market than eBay! You think it’s legit?

  2. Avatar of Corporal Ward Corporal Ward says:

    Cheapest uke I ever bought was an unbranded instrument at a table sale, cost me just £5 , I just changed the strings and it is now one of my favorites, I leave it in the car and play it every week

    1. Avatar of Danno Sullivan Danno Sullivan says:

      That’s fantastic. I’m a huge advocate of an “in-car” uke for emergency practice sessions. A cheapie that you love is even better!

  3. Avatar of Danno Sullivan Danno Sullivan says:

    Ooh, thanks for the tip on Caramel. I love finding something new to check out!

  4. I agree, its all in the playing , but….. It sure feels nice to play a really good uke too!! Unfortunately even average ukes are not cheap round these parts…

  5. Danno, my hubby bought me a 1950’s Martin to start me off, less than 1000.00 and it is my favorite.(I own 3 ukes now, a Kala concert and a collings Tenor). I think he got it from a music store in NY area…keep looking. and thanks for all you write about the UKE> if you ever come to Savannah GA, look me up…

    1. That’s a nice way to start off! The only new ukes I’ve taken a real shine to are the Collings–sounds like you’ve got a nice collection going there.

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