On social media there are often threads about ukulele players and guitarists moaning about what they call “expensive instruments” I’ve even seen one reviewer state that any ukulele over “X amount” is expensive, totally missing the point that its all about context. Manitoba Hal, a seasoned performer  put it best stating

‘”I’m always surprised at people expecting great things from budget instruments. I always tell them to think how often you might play an instrument. A £1000 uke is pretty cheap when you think you’ll play it 200 to 300 times a year for 10 years at least. And of course most folks don’t need the £1000 uke. They can get a great serviceable instrument for £500.”

Bill Collings one of the very best builders

A few years ago I have the privilege of interviewing Bill Collings, one of the most respected builders on planet earth. I have never played any Collings instrument whether electric or acoustic that is not absolutely superb. He commented

 “You’ve got to care, you’ve got to say I’m going to make a uke that makes the difference, I’m not going to make one that’s going to be the 35 dollar uke! Then it would be craftsmanship of course and materials, the right materials, not too heavy, not too light, the right thicknesses, the right everything, the right finishes, playability, I mean everything making a uke great is what makes a guitar great. The problem is they’re smaller, so it’s hard to get all that work in. You can overbuild a uke really easy, you can under build a uke too”

I own a number of Bill’s instruments and they remain superb instruments as well as great investments. Collings no longer make ukuleles, so I am very pleased to have grabbed a few over the years.

Some of the instruments I truly love

Here are some of my favorite instruments I have purchased over the years. I have never regretted buying any of these instruments that have inspired some terrific songs

Conclusion

The term “expensive” is of course always a relative term. I have always been and remain a fan of buying the best instruments I can find and sometimes that means a price tag many won’t want to pay. That said, people spend thousands on cars and all manner of other objects, so its all about personal choice. One thing I am 100% convinced of is that a great instrument inspires playing. I thank all those builders who have dedicated time and energy to creating such instruments 

Is there such a thing as an expensive instrument?

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