Korea - Earphone Shop

I have just recently travelled to Seoul, Korea. I have found many goodies and wonderful shops. If you are an audiophile or just looking for a shop that sells headphones and in-ear monitors (IEM) in Seoul, this is the place you have to go.

Earphone shop sells not just earphones but headphones too. Note the website is only in korean.

Earphone Shop

Earphone shop is located at 서울시 종로구 동숭동 1-63, Dongsung-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. I don’t think I can provide a print screen of the map I took of Google map but just copy and paste the english or korean address to get directions. Try this Google map link, it might help.

What you see on the left of the same row of shops.

What you see on the right of the same row of shops.

The nearest train station is Hyehwa train station on Line 4. Exit the station using exit 1. There is a nearer exit but it isn’t labelled on google map but I assume it should be exit 2 (use that information at your own risk). Follow the direction on Google map.

Rows of headphones to try

The shop has rows of headphones and IEMs all set up for anyone to just walk in and try them to their hearts’ content. The staff don’t speak much english when I was there (May 2013), but things might have changed since then. Do note any purchase made there is not available for tax rebate.

Korea - Musical Instruments

If you are in Seoul, Korea and you are looking for a musical instrument, chances are you will find what you want at Nakwon Arcade (낙원악기상가). They have shops for guitars, ukulele, drums, amps, piano, flute and all manner of instruments.

The nearest train station is Jongno-3ga (Line 1, 3 and 5). Make your way towards Line 5, exit 5. Take the stairs (not the escalator) out of the station. Once you are on ground level, you can see a smaller alley slightly off to your right. Cross the road and walk down that alley. You don’t have to walk to far in you will see a few flights of stairs leading up to an enterance to a building. That’s the one you want. Check this map, it may help.

Personally, I got a ukulele at 100,000 won. The shop threw in a padded gig bag, a tuner and extra strings. It was an okay deal. A word of caution, if you are a foreigner and don’t know how to pick a good (insert instrument here), you are better off not buying anything from Nakwon Arcade. Most of their items are not price tagged and you have to ask them for the price. When I was shopping around the prices they quoted me was on the high set of things. I have a feeling a Korean would be getting different quotes for the instruments than me. In the end what I did was to give them my budget and have them work around it but at the same time you must know how to check the instrument you are buying to make sure you are not being ripped off. Regardless it is an interesting place to visit if you play an instruments.

The sign that says Nakwon Arcade in korean.

The flight of stairs you are supposed to go up to enter the building.

Inside Nakwon Arcade

Buying a ukulele in Singapore

This past week I have spent it in vigorous fervour. I trawled through the deepest depths of the internet in search of information about the fabled ukulele. Ok, that was a bit exaggerated but true all the same.

There are many articles about the different aspects of the ukulele. First the pronunciation, I initially was saying it like this “U-ke-lee-lee” but that’s wrong and I ended up spelling it wrong many times. You are supposed to say it like this “oo-koo-lay-lay”

Next the many different types of tonewood that can be used in the construction of the ukulele. And also, are they full solid, solid top or laminated. I found a few useful links about the different types of wood. The difference in the wood use would affect the sound and tone of the ukulele so you have to choose well. Also, there is a difference between laminate and solid.

And of course what size to get. There are actually 5 types of ukulele, the most common being the soparno. I found this video where you are see and hear how different they all sound. The sound of the ukulele got deeper and warmer as the size increases. Also, note for the baritone ukulele, it usually not tuned like the regular ukulele (GCEA). It is tuned like the last four strings of a guitar.

Then, you got to find out where you can purchase your ukulele in Singapore. Peninsula Plaza has many guitar shops that sells ukuleles. Of course, you should pay a visit to Ukulele Movement. Below are a list of ukulele shops in Singapore.

Davis Guitar - Peninsula Shopping Complex, 3 Coleman Street, B1-40/41

Music Theme - Excelsior Hotel, 5 Coleman Street, B1-04.

SV Guitar - Peninsula Shopping Centre, 3 Coleman Street, #B1-16.

Maestro - Excelsior Hotel, 5 Coleman Street, B1-30.

Ukulele Movement - 809, French Road, #02-41, Kitchener Complex, Singapore 200809

Also, do check out Seriouslysarah’s blog on ukulele, they are very helpful in my quest to find my ukulele. I am quite sure you would have googled your way to her pages before ever looking at mine. I’ll advise you read the comments, there are many good information there too.

The best way to shop for an ukulele is to first decide on the budget, keeping in mind this budget have to include the price of the ukulele, gig bag and optionally a tuner (you can download a free app on your phone to replace a standard tuner), capo, ukulele stand or chord book. Visit all the shops that I have listed if you can, otherwise at least the ones at Peninsula and Excelsior hotel. Go to each shop and let them know your budget and also the type of ukulele (eg soprano) you are looking for, if you have decided. The person at the shop would bring you one or two ukuleles for you to try out. Strum and listen, do you like the sound it produces? Is it too brighter or sharp? Or is it too mellow or warm? Let the person know if the sound isn’t what you like. The person would find another ukulele for you to try. Thank the person and then move onto the next shop. Rinse and repeat till you find the one. If the ukulele sounds all the same to you, then decide on looks.

Personally, I got a concert sized Makana from Music Theme for $100. I like the warmer, mellower sound that it produces. This was in April 2013, so do check the date to see if the price is still relevent to you.

Happy hunting for your ukulele!