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Thread: Tenor vs Concert

  1. #1
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    Default Tenor vs Concert

    Hopefully this is a quick question, are Tenors that much more popular then concerts?

    Been playing for a year now, hunting for my 2nd Uke, have a Luna Tattoo Concert bought from HMS. Thinking on a Pono Pro Classic although I may not be able to try before I buy. Noticed Pono has exactly 1 model Pro Classic in concert size, and dozens in tenor.

    I figure I must be missing something so I'll go try a tenor, but being a nubee I may not notice much difference. Looking at the more or less local dealers, they only carry starter Ukes so those are what I'll have to try in a tenor size.

  2. #2
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    If you go by the ratio of tenor to concert ukes that HMS has in stock at anytime the tenor out numbers the concert 2.5 to 1. But it is personal preferance and you aren't really "missing out" . That being said I believe in trying all the sizes so you can determine what you like best.

    I am trying to be diplomatic but I am a tenor guy. Love the extra room on the fret board and the bigger fuller sound. So yea you're missing out
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  3. #3
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    Thanks Dave, opinions, biased or not, are welcome, heck, it's a forum.

    More room between the frets would be nice, and not, I do have issues getting 2 fingers on adjacent strings to sound right at times. The trade off of course is being able to stretch the fingers between less frets.

    Suppose I could buy 2 less costly, but that might be defeating the purpose of getting a better uke.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by padlin View Post
    Hopefully this is a quick question, are Tenors that much more popular then concerts?
    If you consider all ukuleles sold every year, tenors are probably not more popular than concerts and sopranos. If you look at only specialized vendors like HMS, they probably are the most popular size.

    I think there are a number of reasons for that, all of them speculation on my part:

    - We live in a "bigger is better" society. Doesn't matter if it's TVs, mobile phones (surprisingly), and cars, there is somehow that belief that if it's bigger, and especially more expensive, it's also better. Tenors are both bigger and typically more expensive (comparable quality given).

    - Bigger ukuleles sound more like guitars, and we have been extensively exposed to that sort of sound since at least the fifties, and since habit and exposures often create preference, we experience the more guitar-like sound. I've noticed that some, perhaps many, tenor players eventually seem to drift to bigger sizes still, like baritones and eventually small guitars. Can't be generalized and it's just an observation that may well be impacted by my bias.

    - Unlike in previous golden ages of the ukulele, high profile individuals (celebrities, media stars) play tenors, and if the pros use it, it got to be the "best" -- or so may be the perception. Most of today's big names play tenors, and they typically play them like small guitars.

    - This forum is not representative of the entire ukulele community. If I had access to only $100 and wanted to just play music for myself, learning some simple tunes, this forum would not strike me as a good place to hang out at, because I'd feel out of place. Most of the people that stick around are hardcore fans of the instrument, many collectors among them, and generally a population that is crazy about the instrument that far exceeds the average, myself included. So we typically have five or ten or more instruments, and part of the journey is to explore all the sizes. We also spend increasingly more on our instruments (until some of us bounce back and realize that less is more). In short, this forum does give a bit of a skewed impression of what the "real ukulele world" may be like. The European forums also seem to favor sopranos (I found that interesting).

    - And finally, and I feel most importantly, there is the element of vendors fostering and promoting tenors. There is a HMS video where Aaron essentially and literally says that sopranos are for beginners and children, concerts are often chosen by women, and men go for tenors -- then he makes a cooing and mhmm-ahhhh noise as he pets his tenor. This creates the perception that tenors are for real men, the real thing, the ultimate ukulele. Many other vendors echo the very same thing in the "which size should I choose?" sections on their shop pages, often saying things like "tenors are the choice of the serious player" or "tenors are the pick of the professionals". Whether that is deliberate, because tenors typically cost more and may well have a higher profit margin, or it's just their genuine view, or whether they repeat what they saw elsewhere, or a bit of all of these, it's all over the place.

    And it makes you feel like you're missing out if you play a "lesser ukulele". You know, one that is for children and women.


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mivo View Post
    If you consider all ukuleles sold every year, tenors are probably not more popular than concerts and sopranos. If you look at only specialized vendors like HMS, they probably are the most popular size.

    I think there are a number of reasons for that, all of them speculation on my part:

    - We live in a "bigger is better" society. Doesn't matter if it's TVs, mobile phones (surprisingly), and cars, there is somehow that belief that if it's bigger, and especially more expensive, it's also better. Tenors are both bigger and typically more expensive (comparable quality given).

    - Bigger ukuleles sound more like guitars, and we have been extensively exposed to that sort of sound since at least the fifties, and since habit and exposures often create preference, we experience the more guitar-like sound. I've noticed that some, perhaps many, tenor players eventually seem to drift to bigger sizes still, like baritones and eventually small guitars. Can't be generalized and it's just an observation that may well be impacted by my bias.

    - Unlike in previous golden ages of the ukulele, high profile individuals (celebrities, media stars) play tenors, and if the pros use it, it got to be the "best" -- or so may be the perception. Most of today's big names play tenors, and they typically play them like small guitars.

    - This forum is not representative of the entire ukulele community. If I had access to only $100 and wanted to just play music for myself, learning some simple tunes, this forum would not strike me as a good place to hang out at, because I'd feel out of place. Most of the people that stick around are hardcore fans of the instrument, many collectors among them, and generally a population that is crazy about the instrument that far exceeds the average, myself included. So we typically have five or ten or more instruments, and part of the journey is to explore all the sizes. We also spend increasingly more on our instruments (until some of us bounce back and realize that less is more). In short, this forum does give a bit of a skewed impression of what the "real ukulele world" may be like. The European forums also seem to favor sopranos (I found that interesting).

    - And finally, and I feel most importantly, there is the element of vendors fostering and promoting tenors. There is a HMS video where Aaron essentially and literally says that sopranos are for beginners and children, concerts are often chosen by women, and men go for tenors -- then he makes a cooing and mhmm-ahhhh noise as he pets his tenor. This creates the perception that tenors are for real men, the real thing, the ultimate ukulele. Many other vendors echo the very same thing in the "which size should I choose?" sections on their shop pages, often saying things like "tenors are the choice of the serious player" or "tenors are the pick of the professionals". Whether that is deliberate, because tenors typically cost more and may well have a higher profit margin, or it's just their genuine view, or whether they repeat what they saw elsewhere, or a bit of all of these, it's all over the place.

    And it makes you feel like you're missing out if you play a "lesser ukulele". You know, one that is for children and women.

    +1, very well said.

    The idea that a "fuller" sound is "better", is a very guitar-centric idea. People forget that the modern guitar is a baritone range instrument, and in fact it's transposed up one octave in notation just so it appears on the treble clef.

  6. #6
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    FWIW, I based my original question on the number of concert vs tenor instruments available on the Pono website, not HMS's.

    Never saw where the smaller ukes were for kids and girls, I'm not concerned with such, I just want something I can learn to play before I die. Tried a dreadnought for a couple years, the fingers won't do it, should have started this as a kid. Tried a couple smaller classical guitars, better but the Uke is better yet. Best size for playability is what I'm after.

  7. #7
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    Tenor or concert? Product "popularity" is market-driven, and what drives a market in a certain direction does not have to be logical. If logic was important most marketing/advertising folk would be unemployed.

    If the OP's goal is to try something different, then "popularity" doesn't matter. Going up or down in scale size is one way of going to something different. Another way is to go to another type of uke that is concert size (e.g., solid electric, banjo uke). If the concert scale feels comfortable, then staying at that scale and going to a different type is logical (but not necessarily popular). Conversely, if one has a guitar background and feels more comfortable with a physically larger instrument, then tenor (or even baritone) may make better sense.

    In the end, there is no wrong choice. Also, the UU marketplace can often be a better "store" than the commercial dealers. I've found most folk here are quite willing to discuss what they like/dislike about any instrument they are selling/trading, and that additional knowledge has much more candor than a commercial sales video.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Martin T1K (T), Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C)
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T), Lanikai LB6-S (S)
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by padlin View Post
    Best size for playability is what I'm after.
    It's subjective and a matter of preference. I found that the only way to really sort that question out is to try out (for weeks or months) different sizes. Your preferences may also change over time. I went from small to big, then back to small.

    When I bought my first expensive tenor, my reasoning was that if I spend a lot of money, I might as well get the instrument that offers me the "most potential", that I could "grow into". It wasn't until later that I realized that the smaller instruments offer potential of their own (you can do bigger stretches on the smaller instruments, for example), and that besides I was thinking and planning way too far ahead. I tried to "get it right" early on, and that's a view I moved away from: At least for myself, I just needed to try more things to know what I like -- and even then I'll only know what works best for me at the present time. I seem to get the best results if I make my choice solely dependent on sound preference while largely ignoring the technical aspects and perceived obstacles (small fretboard, lack of dexterity, etc) as those have a chance to sort themselves out in time (practice).

    The popularity thing (sorry, I had wanted to ramble a bit about vendors promoting tenors as the "best" choice and then subsequently selling more tenors than other sizes, and I really didn't care for the video I referred to), it depends on the manufacturer -- some focus more on specific sizes and end up being known for those sizes too (like Brüko with their sopranos).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by padlin View Post
    Best size for playability is what I'm after.
    Only you know what size is best for you.

    I started out with a reasonably cheap tenor, it didn't suit me, too much of a stretch. I next went with a soprano, couldn't fit my fingers into the frets without muting other strings, Then I got a concert, that felt right, spent a little more & tried a long neck 'soprano', felt almost perfect, for me, but there are not too many available.

    So I decided to concertrate on the concert scale, I have the tenor still but seldom even take it out of it's gigbag, whereas, I pick up my long neck most of the time, & it's certainly not an expensive uke. When I record for the Seasons on here, it will usually be one of my concert scale (electro/electric) ukes.



    P.S. I can play a soprano now as well as a concert, it just took a little bit of adjusting to.
    Last edited by Croaky Keith; 04-10-2016 at 04:05 AM.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mivo View Post
    If you consider all ukuleles sold every year, tenors are probably not more popular than concerts and sopranos. If you look at only specialized vendors like HMS, they probably are the most popular size.

    I think there are a number of reasons for that, all of them speculation on my part:

    - We live in a "bigger is better" society. Doesn't matter if it's TVs, mobile phones (surprisingly), and cars, there is somehow that belief that if it's bigger, and especially more expensive, it's also better. Tenors are both bigger and typically more expensive (comparable quality given).

    - Bigger ukuleles sound more like guitars, and we have been extensively exposed to that sort of sound since at least the fifties, and since habit and exposures often create preference, we experience the more guitar-like sound. I've noticed that some, perhaps many, tenor players eventually seem to drift to bigger sizes still, like baritones and eventually small guitars. Can't be generalized and it's just an observation that may well be impacted by my bias.

    - Unlike in previous golden ages of the ukulele, high profile individuals (celebrities, media stars) play tenors, and if the pros use it, it got to be the "best" -- or so may be the perception. Most of today's big names play tenors, and they typically play them like small guitars.

    - This forum is not representative of the entire ukulele community. If I had access to only $100 and wanted to just play music for myself, learning some simple tunes, this forum would not strike me as a good place to hang out at, because I'd feel out of place. Most of the people that stick around are hardcore fans of the instrument, many collectors among them, and generally a population that is crazy about the instrument that far exceeds the average, myself included. So we typically have five or ten or more instruments, and part of the journey is to explore all the sizes. We also spend increasingly more on our instruments (until some of us bounce back and realize that less is more). In short, this forum does give a bit of a skewed impression of what the "real ukulele world" may be like. The European forums also seem to favor sopranos (I found that interesting).

    - And finally, and I feel most importantly, there is the element of vendors fostering and promoting tenors. There is a HMS video where Aaron essentially and literally says that sopranos are for beginners and children, concerts are often chosen by women, and men go for tenors -- then he makes a cooing and mhmm-ahhhh noise as he pets his tenor. This creates the perception that tenors are for real men, the real thing, the ultimate ukulele. Many other vendors echo the very same thing in the "which size should I choose?" sections on their shop pages, often saying things like "tenors are the choice of the serious player" or "tenors are the pick of the professionals". Whether that is deliberate, because tenors typically cost more and may well have a higher profit margin, or it's just their genuine view, or whether they repeat what they saw elsewhere, or a bit of all of these, it's all over the place.

    And it makes you feel like you're missing out if you play a "lesser ukulele". You know, one that is for children and women.

    Mivo, as usual, you seem to have a good handle on things. I did not know that tenors were more popular. I've never even thought about it. But a lot of what you say rings true. Each of your points are valid as well, for sure. I do believe that there is a lot of marketing and manipulation going on, not just overtly. I think that the herd mentality is strong, and that sellers are going to take advantage of it. That is not a bad thing. That's where the market is.

    I'm a concert man. I have two concert size ukuleles. I'm quite happy with both of my ukes, but there is no reason or rational for it, I just like them.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.
    There's more than one road into Richmond. Lil' Rev
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