Got A Ukulele take on the 'Setup' debacle..

7 Aug 2022

Got A Ukulele take on the 'Setup' debacle..

I toyed with a full on rant on this ukulele topic, but figured it better to offer a more measured response... maybe it IS still a rant..  Most importantly - I am NOT a ukulele shop... but a few words on 'that' YouTube video. 

ukulele money

At the outset, that point that I am not a shop is important - not least because I don't personally have a business who felt aggrieved by the video put up by a certain uke store, but here's the thing I think that chap missed.... The whole PURPOSE of Got A Ukulele from day one, running now well over ten years ago was to ensure buyers of ukes got a good deal, were not ripped off were not hood-winked. Whether that was through me just telling them impartial things about instruments in my reviews that were otherwise being 'bigged up' by brands to (understandably) sell them or telling people WHERE to shop or HOW to shop - the aim has always been the same - I am not part of any sales network but I DO give a damn about my readers who will be using them.. That is ALL that Got A Ukulele is about - all it has EVER been about.

So what happened? I am not linking to the posts or naming names here, not least because the video that annoyed so many has been deleted (not with an apology I might add)  but in essence it was this:

'Store A' charges for uke setups on top of the asking price and put a video out explaining why they do that, yet pointing out that other stores (Stores 'B to Z') that offer them for free are 'not really free'. Only that is not the only thing the video did - it sneered at others who offer setups 'free' as being somehow 'stinky' or 'underhand' (those are my personal takes from the video based on his sneering expressions - he did not state these things directly or name names - but to an outsider it was pretty obvious that he held these stores in some distain).   He's taken it down, thus far with no 'apology' bar what I consider to be a 'non-apology apology' on Instagram.. Again - my take.. He would do well to record a real apology video on YT.

Weirdly though..,  in a sense he WAS right - the stores offering free setup work on ukes ARE NOT giving it you for free - I get that  - he IS correct-  what they are doing though is absorbing the cost of that work in the FINAL price of the instrument. Yes you ARE paying but it's part of the total amount you charge to your card. We all get that..

What riled people though was the suggestion that this was in some way 'underhand' or 'hidden by other stores. That then got me thinking.... Maybe he has a bigger point?

Yet that thought very quickly disappeared when a very simple search shows that the prices 'Shop A' is charging BEFORE their setup are, in the cases I looked at, MORE than the other shops in his own country who are offering setups included.. Which then makes the whole video look very odd indeed.  "they ARE charging you for setup in the price but they are still cheaper than Store even BEFORE the Store A setup cost..'.. What a baffling thing to highlight.  This is the part that leaves me most confused. Maybe people ARE happy to pay more for marketing whizz-bangs - but surely you would shop for best price? I really don't know... But people are not stupid - they can do the maths..

But the setup point is still niggling my brain... And i've seen a lot few 'Store A' supporters pointing out that buyers have a choice - don't like the tactics -nobody is forcing you kind of thing. I totally get that and they are correct - but there is a 'customer care' angle here that still troubles me - why would a shop  be happy to sell something that wasn't capable of working as an instrument?? Why would you sell something that clearly needed some setup but fail to do it because it hadn't been paid for. It seems like a car dealer delivering a car with flat tyres.n

A uke store I have the greatest respect for answered this for me perfectly - that store INCLUDES standard setup to ensure the customer gets satisfaction and is happy with their purchase no matter what. This, to me, seems like total sense.. They explained that if they made setup optional, 'at cost', and the buyer chose to refused to take it, that would leave a dealer with a choice of having to send a uke out they KNOW is not playable. This seems ridiculous and I am sure you can see that. So, back to Store A  - asking people to pay for even a basic check seems like saying that they don't give a damn if the uke is playable UNLESS you pay them to 'make it that way.'. Interesting sales technique... And even more interesting to choose to make a video calling out sites that do that as being something to sneer at as a bad thing... 

Reader.. it's NOT a bad thing..

There are other nuances here too - especially the thought you can derive from their position that setups are essential for a store selling $2,000 instruments (I would be delighted to hear from Kanile'a and Kamaka what their views are on the assumption that their instruments (sold by Store A) are 'in need of setup at extra cost'...  Really Joe? Are your ukes no good unless we pay for more work?

Anyway, I am not a store as I say - have no wager in this argument bar me wanting readers to get a good deal.. The whole point of this site. Many of you will have no clue what this relates to as the offending video has gone - but it's important I still shout and direct you to the REAL uke websites that I recommend.

Stick to dealers who go the extra mile. Those I recommend are on the link below. Store A is NOT on the list...

Take care.







  1. Thanks for telling it as it is. What you are saying makes total sense.

  2. Barry what you have so obviously missed is that he is the biggest greatest store on the planet. And his Luthiers are Gods gifts to the Ukulele world. And that someone must pay for all of that greatness, because as a smart and great businessman he is worthy of charging for what others call a "service' and include it in their price, so that he can continue offer his Greatness to the world of mere mortals. While the rest of us Surf's and Peon's just try to survive and bask in his greatness. We all aspire to his greatness. NOT ! Rock on dude ;-)

  3. What did I miss? 😊

    No, really, well said and spot on.

  4. Brilliant summation, cutting straight through the BS. Thank you, Barry.

  5. THANK YOU for this backing, Barry! While I bought a uke from him in my earlier (i.w., inexperienced) days, I will no longer do business with him. I wonder if he would buy a used car from himself??? :-)
    Like currently he is running a "FANTASTIC" sale on Enya's- I looked at the Pro Tenor that I have- he's marked the price up from Enya's site price of $129.99 to his price of $139.99- taking 10% off- and charging you shipping! Enya's site price, btw includes free shipping.

  6. WELL PUT. Integrity and respect for the customer are hard to put a price on. My father taught me that there is no product or service that can't be sold cheaper or made faster but you are rarely well served by such practices. Strum On!

  7. Right on, Baz! He's really complaining his in-house luthiers are too slow and cost him too much profit margin; he'd prefer to just drop ship you a box and add on his fees. Hair gel like that don't come cheap, you know. ;-)

  8. Well done Barry. I will buy you a coffee later- really appreciate all your offerings to the ukulele world.

  9. Tell us how great Mim is without telling us how great Mim is ...

  10. His BS has needed to be called out for some time, in my opinion. But he shot himself in his own foot this time. Thank you for bringing attention to a blight on the ukulele community.

  11. Your comment about the upper shelf ukulele products being unplayable is the kicker in this game. There is no way a company with a highly respected reputation would release a product that is so defective. Should the rare occasion hapoen, they have the “reputation” that they will stand behind the product. If, and I say IF, company A is better at detecting defects, then why doesn’t the manufacturee increase their quality control detail? I guess should company A’s shop ever failed, then the owner could be assured a position in QC in another company B-Z. I’ve purchased Blackbird, Cocobolo, Romero Creations,Yamaha, Oscar Schmidt and Ibanez. I’ve never had an instrument that had a defective setup. Should I buy another, I should compare delivered peice and get the best price. I should not buy from a company that uses questionable advertising schemes. I should and wiuld buy from the companies you list that I’ve shopped before. I guess I’ve “should’d” all over this. Kepp your goid work coming as I watch and read your reviews often.

  12. Yeah . I am lucky that I can set up a Ukulele, but it is nice when the seller matt Warnes ( World of Ukes ) did a set up while I waited, it shows good customer service, but I cant understand why the major players cant at least set them up so that they are playable . I have friends who have tried but not bought ukuleles because the set up was crap. I just dont get it. Makes no sense to me.

  13. Thank you, Baz, for looking out for the ukulele community, including your readers/viewers.

  14. What a wally! I missed the video but sounds like a Ukulele Ratner Moment. Picked up the hint of who it was from an earlier comment and I see that he is advertising a UKE-CON festival . . . seems apt!

  15. Sent you a coffee, consider you a friend to us all.

  16. Then there is that old southern yank that doesn't know what he is talking abut yet feels he need to post 3 youtube videos about it....un-friggin-believeable!

    1. Rich Davis.. I know right? Three videos that completely miss the point and the actual facts, but recorded them anyway..

    2. A very good set up included store (world of ukes) refused to send me a uke as they couldn't make it playable. Excelent service is so important if you are buying on line sight unseen. Thanks Matt and thanks Baz for pointing me in the right direction.

  17. Store A destroyed a uke trying to do a setup and sent it to me anyway (then tried to blame me publicly on a forum). Store M, however, refused to send me a uke that wasn't up to their standard, basic quality check and also gave me a discount on a replacement without me even saying anything other than "bummer, can you check the finish on the other one you have in stock please?"


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