Mele Ukulele

There are actually two Mele ukuleles. On a New York company that has long since disappeared (although there are a few ukes still knocking around) and a more recent Hawaiian company (set up in 1992).

Their higher end instruments are made on Hawaii with solid wood. But they also a budget range of ukuleles known as Hula.

On Video

Peter Delapina of Mele Ukuleles display the double neck Mele ukulele which was sold on eBay.

On eBay



31 Comments

  1. jaytee August 9th, 2010 10:52 pm

    There should probably be a separate page for their “student uke” line, Hula Ukes, but since there isn’t, I’ll review it here.

    Mine is one of their lower end models, no frills. That said, I am very surprised at the level of quality and attention to detail. The finish is absolutely superb, to the point that it looks like a much more expensive instrument than it is. Yes, it is made with laminates, but this is not something you’ll notice until you look for it.

    The sound is also better than expected for a budget instrument. My uke playing friends have commented on how much they like the clear tone. It isn’t perfect (it sounds a little more muted than I would like) but for the price, it is excellent. Better than some ukes at twice the cost.

  2. Lenie Colacino February 5th, 2011 6:28 pm

    I traveled to Maui in 2000 and purchased a Koa Concert Uke. At first I was ecstatic about the price and sound of the instrument. While in Hawaii, I played it for hours every day. I returned to my home in New Jersey and put the Uke in my humidity controlled room where I keep about twenty of my vintage, hollow body guitars (some as old as 50 years). Within a few months the MELE uke started to collapse upon itself with several long cracks in the top and back of the instrument. I was distraught! I contacted Cheryl in Maui and she at first told me that she would replace the uke with her apologies. But after a couple of weeks I received the same instrument by UPS, with the cracks and separations along the binding sanded down so that they were slightly less noticeable. I was quite angry and disappointed. By email and by phone Cheryl accused me of keeping the instrument in “an oven” to have caused such damage. I explained to her that I gave the uke the same care I would to any hollow bodied instrument and that she should replace it, not (a half-assed) repair it according to the company’s guarantee. She flat refused. This is not the kind of company anyone should have to deal with and I cannot urge any of you strongly enough to avoid MELE ukes. A company is not only judged by what products they sell but by how they deal with trouble. MELE is the worst company I have ever dealt with in this regard. If you bought one and it has been issue free then you’re okay….but if anything goes wrong with the instrument God help you! You’re out of luck and out whatever you paid for it. As I understand it, MELEs are constructed in the Philippines and then shipped to Hawaii. Clearly the Koa of my uke was not completely conditioned and split horribly after a month.

    Never buy one of these!!!!

  3. Gary February 11th, 2011 12:40 am

    I have a Mele tenor ukulele and it is really a nice instrument, it has a Cedar top and Rose Wood body. The intonation is spot on and it plays better than any of my other Ukulele’s I have had no trouble with it so far and I play it a lot, every day. The only issue I notice is that I have made a couple of marks in the finish from my finger nails resting on the top when I finger pick. Other than that is a very nice instrument.

  4. Boston Resident February 18th, 2011 7:19 am

    I’m sorry to say, I experienced a similar situation with my Mele Concert Ukulele as Lenie Colacino. I called Mele and explained my ukulele got cracks on the top and back. My ukulele was kept under the same conditions as my husband’s Mele solid koa tenor, yet he did not experience any damage. Yes, I am aware of winter and how it can take a toll on such instruments. And yes, we had taken the proper care of the instrument. Like Lenie, my husband also owns other acoustic instruments and were properly cared for as the Mele ukes.
    I contacted Mele Ukuleles. I sent my ukulele @ great expense. They originally quoted me a price of $200.oo to fix the ukulele. Compared to the price of the uke, it did not seem worthwhile and I asked that the ukulele be mailed back. They had the credit card info to charge for shipping. I had not received my uke back in a timely manner, and I called what was the problem. Per Cheryl, she did not feel right sending me back my uke in disrepair. They fixed the ukulele (very nicely), and charged me $75.00(repairs and shipping). This occured between Dec.2009 and early March 2010.
    Again winter. I take my ukulele out one time….and again another crack!!!!! Perhaps there should be a warning that Mele Ukes may not be able to take winter conditions! Also, if you view some of the blogs, several persons have reported having their Mele ukes crack. Someone mentioned that a shop discontinued carrying Mele ukes because they crack. It appears Meles are suitable for the temps of the Phillipines, Hawaii, and the West Coast. Other than the cracking…. the instrument plays well. But how can a Mele ukulele be an incredible value for the quality when it continued to crack despite proper care?

  5. Ha`Ina`IaMaiAnaKaPuana March 11th, 2011 9:53 pm

    MELE MAHOGANY TENOR REVIEW

    This was my first uke, bought from the Mele store on Maui while on vacation there. Since I din’t have any experience with ukes when I bought this (other than being able to play a few chords), I didn’t really know what to look for. I realized after playing the instrument for a few weeks that the intonation is off across the fretboard. Some strings are sharp as far down as the 2nd and 3rd frets, though the strings will be in tune when played open. I’m not sure if this is something that a simple ‘set-up’ can fix, but I don’t live in an area with extensive uke resources.

    That being stated, the feel of the instrument is what ultimately sold me on it. The super slim neck is really nice, and the overall feel of the uke makes playing it fun, despite it’s tonal shortcomings.

    If this uke were priced in the introductory range, I would knock the overall rating up one star, but at the mid-level price range, the intonation should really be better, especially since I bought it from the manufacturer directly.

    All in all, a decent first uke.

  6. bobby savoy March 16th, 2011 2:13 am

    Like Ha’Ina’IaMaiAnaKaPuana, I too recently purchased a Mele uke. I liked the look and feel, and thought it a good price for a solid koa instrument. I too discovered that the intonation was completely unacceptable and sent it back.

    There is no excuse for poor intonation (unless you’re buying a plastice, Toy Story one). I strongly encourage you to let them know about problem and insist that they make it right.

    From their website – “Each Mele ukulele is designed to produce the clear, ringing tones, superb playability and precise intonation that we are famous for.” (I can excuse their poor grammar, but not their poor intonation)

  7. bobby savoy March 28th, 2011 5:42 pm

    UPDATE

    I received my uke back from Mele. They adjusted the saddle and compensated the bridge and now the intonation is quite good. It will never rival a Kamaka or Koaloha – but for half the price, it’s a good sounding and attractive instrument.

  8. Mariko Tanaka May 28th, 2011 7:59 am

    5 years ago when I visited Maui, I bought one Mele mahogany tenor 6 strings. I didn’t know anything about Ukulele, but Cheryl helped me to pick a nice Ukulele! She was super friendly and I had a really good experience there. I’m really happy with my Mele Uke and loving the sound!

    Now I’m trying to help my friend to pick out one for her. When I let her borrow my Mele Uke, she fell in love with it!

    As for the customer service, I can say they are outstanding! I accidentally dropped my uke and it needed a repair. I had a family member who was visiting Hawaii that time, so I asked him to hand carry the instrument to Mele Ukulele. He was only visiting Maui for 3 days but Mele Ukulele made sure to take care of it and have it ready for him to take it back with him.

    Great thanks to Cheryl and her awesome team, I’m back to strumming my beautiful Mele Uke!

    I hope anybody who has chance to visit Maui would stop by Mele Ukulele. Even if you are not planning to buy a Ukulele, I assure you’ll have a wonderful time meeting the people there at Mele!

    One happy customer from Japan, Mahalo!

  9. Zoie June 5th, 2011 4:28 am

    I was in Maui in January of this year and stopped in to take a look at Mele’s shop- thinking a uke would be a good souvineer- I purposely didn’t bring one with me on my trip- with that in mind. I have a few ukes already- including an old kamaka, and martin- both sopranos, so I’m not a total noob. I was astounded at the selection- I’ve been in plenty of music stores looking at the ‘couple a’ ukes on their “uke wall” But I’ve never been in a UKE store-. They had Spruce top with Zebra sides; Solid Mahogany; Solid koa; maple; even REDWOOD! All varieties- all sizes- 4 string; 6 string; and 8 string!!! I wanted to pick up a tenor- but I couldn’t believe it. I had to walk out the first time with nothing- my head was spinning. My husband had to bring me back in a few days later and the special they had the last time (free case) had expired- and the NEW special- was buy one get one Half Off… so, you know how this story ends. I left with two-. A four string koa sides and back and mahogany top- and a six string spruce top- both tenors. The service was outstanding- they walked me through all the choices and helped me choose the right ukes for me. Uncle Peter was giving me the run down. It was awesome to get to meet him. The tone on my ukes is perfect- and they are beautiful instruments. I’m very pleased with them- and have had no problems with cracking or anything. I do live on the west coast- but it’s quite dry here. I play them often- but they are in a hard case much of the time… I’ll keep you posted if anything changes- but had to share my happy uke story because my experience was so different than some here.
    A happy Uker in Cali

  10. Ricky Mapa June 14th, 2011 7:18 pm

    I walked into the Mele store looking for a solid wood ukulele just 3 days after I bought my very first a Kala concert – all laminate mahogany.

    Cheryl patiently helped me as I am one meticulous person always looking for the best bang for the buck. I tried just about every tenor and a few concerts they had in stock. I narrowed my choice to 2 which sounded the best to my ears – both tenors, a double puka and the traditional style. They even helped me do a blind test. My ears picked the traditional style which happen to have a beautifully figured sides and back. It’s eye candy and sounds sweet too. (I wish I bought both & took advantage of their buy 1 and get the 2nd at half-off but I want to stay married). Glad to hear that a California uker bought that double-puka shortly after.

    Mike installed a MiSi pickup with tone and volume controls inside the soundhole – an extra feature which was a pleasant surprise. I like my Mele Tenor all-hog Uke a lot. We have extremely dry winters in Edmonton, Alberta Canada – so my Mele is always humidified like my 5 other guitars. No issues so far.

    I need to mention that Cheryl gave me a generous trade-in value for my Kala as I bought a second all-hog concert uke for my nephew. He is also enjoying his uke (which I’m so willing to adopt in case his interest wanes.)

    I highly recommend Mele Ukulele. Good quality handmade all-solid wood ukes at fairly reasonable prices with a warm & friendly staff. Even their cheaper Hula lineup sounded better than the Kala.

    I’ll keep you posted about my ongoing experience owning my Mele and how it compares with my (future – read “hopefully”) ukulele$$$.

    Maholo-salamat-Aloha!!!

    rukey-ricky

  11. Ricky Mapa June 14th, 2011 7:20 pm

    Ooops, I forgot about the ratings. Here goes:

  12. Joey Genochio June 17th, 2011 9:50 am

    I have a Concert mele uke and I haven’t had a single issue. It was purchased for $380 and produces a lovely sound. The koa wood on the face adds beauty to the display while a rich mahogany backing adds to the strength. My uke is a very simple design and yet holds a clear distinction as an upper class ukulele. No complaints with my mele ukulele as its beautiful sound makes each day I play it better!

  13. Rick Schellhammer June 22nd, 2011 6:42 pm

    Purchased my Mele all-koa tenor from the Mele website 3 years ago, and have never regretted it. Beautiful sounding instrument, with great intonation. Looking forward to perhaps picking up a double-puka model in the not-too-distant future. Love my MELE!

  14. Chris M. July 13th, 2011 1:56 am

    There has to be more to the story regarding the cracked ukuleles.
    I have three Ukuleles from Mele. One all Koa tenor 6-string, one Spruce top, Mahagony sides and back tenor 4-string, and one Hula Uke tenor 4-string.
    I love all three of them. The sound and playability are fantastic. The customer service I have recieved from Mele has always been very, very good. I highly recommend Mele.

  15. LBJ August 13th, 2011 10:20 pm

    I adore my Mele all-koa tenor 4-string. The intonation is fantastic and it is an absolute dream to play. I was the envy of my ukulele group when I unveiled it. Thanks, Dad, for buying this on your trip to Maui earlier this year. I treasure it. Plus, dang, it is an amazingly beautiful sight to behold!!!

  16. Lucas September 26th, 2011 4:42 am

    I picked up a Hula Uke Concert Ukulele while on vacation in Maui in January 2011. The customer service was outstanding, and they were quite patient with me, as an absolute beginner. I had a quick tutorial with Uncle Peter who had some valuable pointers. For the price, it is an outstanding instrument.

    Based on that, I ended up purchasing a Mele solid Mahogany Tenor Ukulele, and am very pleased with it. It looks great, with a lot of attention to detail in the construction. It sounds great (even with me playing), and the neck is very comfortable.

    It looks like they don’t sell Hula Ukes online anymore, so the ratings will apply to the Mahogany Tenor only. I love the sound, but don’t know enough to compare it to other makes and models, so I will leave it blank. If you happen to be in Maui, it is definitely worth your while to drop in and check these instruments out!

  17. Don Spaeth October 9th, 2011 1:45 pm

    I was researching Mele Ukuleles this morning to confirm that Mele Ukuleles are made on Hawaii when I noticed all the bad press about cracks and nasty service. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but my experience is so different I had to comment: I have 7 Mele ukuleles–soprano, concert, tenor–acoustic and acoustic/electric. I’ve spoken with Cheryl a number of times by phone from my home in NE Connecticut where we heat with wood in the cold months. My experience is this: If you want an excellent ukulele–wonderful tone, stunning looks, great playability, good value and friendly service–check out Mele ukuleles. I play out with a Mele Koa Tenor A/E and each time someone will come up to marvel at the beauty of the instrument and the amazing sound it produces. I own over 40 ukuleles–Martin, Gibson, Gretsch, Favilla, Tangi, Kamaka, Kelii–and Mele is always my ‘go to’ uke for reliability and sound.
    I wonder about the negativity expressed by those few folks. Certainly not my experience. Not by a long shot.

  18. Kimo October 10th, 2011 4:19 am

    Ukulele was my first instrument at age 6 or 7. I am a working professional musician but I didn’t come back to ukulele until around the mid 1980’s. I bought 2 Mele ukuleles in 2004 – an all koa tenor cutaway and a Kalia rosewood/cedar concert. Since then I have learned a lot & played many expensive ukuleles, buying an extremely expensive soprano from a famous maker. I will tell you happily that my Meles are made better, age better & sound better than the $$$ soprano, & that my experiences with Cheryl and Mele have been stellar. I can’t say that for the famous maker, who treated me quite shabbily.

    I did have a crack in my tenor after some time and I paid them I believe around $100 total with shipping to fix the crack. But I don’t feel that they tried to rip me off in any way or that the instrument was made poorly. Their cracks have never come back and I humidify them year round. I always feel & play best when I have them in my hands and I have traveled the world with them. You will not be disappointed with a Mele.

  19. Jennifer July 5th, 2012 6:18 am

    Well, first off – I live on Vancouver Island, so humidity is not a problem with any of my stringed instruments.

    Here’s my Mele experience: I ordered my double-Puke all-koa six string Mele Tenor last November, got it just after Christmas. Pretty to look at and with a nice tone, but the intonation was off, much to my disappointment. I took it to a local luthier to have a listen and a look and he confirmed my observations.
    I contacted Cheryl at Mele to tell her of the problem, and she said of course to send it back, which I did right away. She was extremely nice and helpful about it all.
    She then contacted me as soon as it arrived, to let me know what they had found and what had been done to fix the problem, and also gave me the name and phone number of of their onsite luthier (I didn’t end up talking to him but appreciated the info) – I received it back less than ten days after it had left Canada, intonation fixed and lovely to play. EXCELLENT customer service in terms of all the above.

    I should point out, though, that I am surprised that anything costing $750 would even leave the shop without being completely tested and that the $85 additional cost to me for postage (plus my time) should not have occurred. That being said, my overall experience with Mele was really great and personal – Cheryl was extremely pleasant to deal with and I am happy.
    Lesson learned? Try it before you buy it.

  20. Megan July 26th, 2012 8:13 pm

    I bought a beginner’s Tenor uke on a trip to Hawaii back in ’10. I had fallen in love with it after playing it and had to take one home to Arizona. They were very informative and helpful when I was in the store. Over two years later the uke is still in amazing condition and the sound quality is great (it has metal G and C strings). My boyfriend fell in love too so for his birthday i purchased him a Mahogany uke. I had emailed Mele’s website with inquiries about sound, wood quality, and price.. and to my surprise I got an email back answering all my questions that VERY SAME NIGHT! It was Cheryl who sent me the email and she was the same person I kept in contact with; super helpful. I even needed an express delivery when i ordered it on a Wednesday so i could have it by Friday that same week.. They accommodated this without any problems!! I had accidentally ordered the concert body style instead of the Tenor online, and when it arrived I knew i was going to have to return it. I explained the situation to them and they did not act bothered, and were honestly very willing to help me out to get the perfect uke. We ended up picking a completely different tenor than the original one purchased, but they never acted like it was any hassle. I requested a metal G string for the new ukulele too. Once I shipped the old one back they had the new Tenor (WITH the metal G string) to me within a week I would say. Mele did not charge me a cent more for any of this or any of the changes.. the most I did was have to pay for the return shipping, but it was not a problem because I was the one who made the mistake. The Uke i got is gorgeous Maple with tortoise shell trim- looks amazing and the sound is just as awesome!!
    They were an utter delight to deal with and it reinforced why I went back to them to purchase my second Uke. Their customer service is unparalleled and everyone I spoke with was so patient and friendly. Cheryl was always quick to shoot me an email back whenever I had a question and anytime I called they were there to help me (and you could even hear people playing on ukes in the background! it was awesome).
    I’d say Mele is the most legit place to purchase a Ukulele. They take the time to help you find exactly what you want in a uke, not just sell you something to make a buck. They truly care and that’s not something that’s very common in a lot of companies these days. They have a customer for life in me and I wouldn’t go anywhere else!
    GET YOUR UKES HERE!! YOU WON’T REGRET IT!

    Sincerely,
    A very satisfied customer

  21. Tim August 28th, 2012 10:55 pm

    This is what I consider a real uke. My first uke was a Bushman soprano and I realized right away that I should have gotten at least a concert size. S0…… on a trip to Hawaii in 06 I stopped in at the Mele store and met Cheryl her husband Mike and most importantly Uncle Peter who gave me a uke lesson I’ll never forget he also helped pick me out a nice mahogany concert uke. I live in Florida and have had no problems with cracks. This is a great uke if you are just starting try one out. The folks at Mele are helpful and friendly. I bought a concert puka for my brother in law last year as a bday gift and he so far has no cracks and loves the sound of the uke he lives in Pa.

  22. Tim August 28th, 2012 10:58 pm

    Sorry forgot to rate!!!

  23. Pahu November 17th, 2012 4:18 pm

    I have had a Mele Pineapple Concert(solid Mahogany) for about 2 years and love the rich sound it puts out. No issues with cracks or poor intonation. I’m in So Cal where the humidity often gets below 20%, so it gets humidified in its hard case when not being played. My only ‘Con’ is the cheezy headstock label;
    It looks like an afterthought. Fortunately it comes off easily without leaving any residue or marks. Great ‘Uke-especially for the price.

  24. Mike from Pa December 12th, 2012 6:02 pm

    I was in Maui in Feb 2012. Prior to that I had bought 8 Mele’s and had taken one back with me to have it fitted with a pick up. Cheryl and Mike are some of the nicest people I have ever met. While in the shop Cheryl gave me one of there recently introduced SLIM line tenors to take back to the hotel so that I would have something to play. Of course I had to buy it after a few days. Of all 9 Mele Ukulele’s, this one is my favorite. I think it sounds better than Jake’s (someday maybe I can play like him). It is Koa top on mahagony, single puka. I am just learing but have had a chance to play out three times. I receive constant compliments on the intontaion of this supburb instrument. It has become my favorite. I recommend Mele to everyone.

  25. Dale March 2nd, 2013 2:53 am

    I have two double hole Meles, a 4str and a 6 str Slim. I had a pick up installed by Cheryl’s luthier in the 6 str. BIG MISTAKE. The installation caused a really bad buzzing sound with any chords played on the lower neck. I went back and Mele had their luthier look at it again. A couple of days later Cheryl called and said it was done. When I picked it up it still buzzed. She said the luthier told her it was “wolf tones” and nothing could be done about it. WOLF TONES!! My a**! Before you try to BS someone, you should probably be sure of who you’re trying to BS. In any case, when I returned home I had my luthier take it apart and do a rebuild (to the tune of $180). Buzzing noise completely gone and consequently, one of the finest sounding Ukes you’ll ever hear. Meles ukuleles, excellent! Meles idiot luthier, not so much. A quick tip to those with dryness problems, HERCO Ceramic Humidifiers, I live in a brutally dry climate in the winter and the Hercos haven’t failed me yet.

  26. Mark April 4th, 2013 6:59 pm

    My oh my.. Not sure when..several years back, I was working on Maui and stopped by to look at the Mele’s. Cheryl and Uncle Peter were there, and helped me in playing many of the Uke’s on the walls… I ended up buying a 2 Puka, 4 string Tenor, Mahagony sides/back with spruce top…. increadible sounding… and good intonation… I now play it as often as I can, tho, My first instrument is mountian dulcimer…. I’d buy another… for sure…

  27. Johanna May 2nd, 2013 9:05 am

    I was searching for an 8 stiring uke baritone and found the Mele website. I live in Australia (just outside of Sydney in Blue Mountain region) and belong to a ukuele group called The Blue Mountains Ukuele Group (MUGS) for short, we play gigs in some hotels and clubs and we always have a blast. After much too-ing and fro-ing. I finally purchased their top of the line 8 stirng baritone, and was delivered to me just four days ago. It’s absolutely beautiful, the tone is sooooooo nice – I have yet to try out the Mi-Si p/up, but can’t until I get a chance to go to store to get an adapator plug so I can convert to the Australian standard power switch, so I can’t comment on that part yet, but the uke…….just beautiful. Playing a gig with the group on Saturday afternoon, damn sure the other players are going to want to try it out.

    Thanks also Cheryl for all your help patience and your great customer service.

    Cheers

  28. Pat February 10th, 2014 11:30 pm

    I have a very old Mele Ukulele from B&J New York. It has 4 strings measures 6″ at the wides part of bottom and is about 21″ long. I know that it is over 65+ years old because I was just a child when it was purchased from a 80 year old lady. I am trying to find out the value of it now. Can anyone tell me what it’s worth I think it is mahogany. I tried to get someone in HI at Mele but no one answered me.

  29. John Ficarro April 19th, 2014 11:11 pm

    Made in Hawaii certainly adds value and cost to a ukulele. I recently read that they can legally call them made in Hawaii if more than 50% of the work is done there. They should say hybrid but they don’t have to Not implying this is the case here, but if buy a higher end Ukulele when tou go to Hawaii, you should probably ask.

  30. Bob Tunstall April 24th, 2014 1:01 pm

    Dear sir / Madam
    I am the proud owner of a Mele tenor ukulele. It was bought for me as a 70th birthday present by my sons.
    The C string is metal and the other three strings are nylon.
    Everyone I’ve asked for an explanation cannot tell me.
    Could you please throw some light on this for me ,as I am about to restring it and don’t want to spoil the exerlent tone.
    I will be very grateful for any information you can give me.

    Yours faithfully

    Bob Tunstall

  31. Craig November 13th, 2014 10:09 am

    what a pleasant surprise to find this of Uncle Peter, thank you

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