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Thread: Ukulele size buying advice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    Default Ukulele size buying advice

    Hi all,

    Let me preface this by saying that I don't have the opportunity to play ukes before buying--no stores around here--so I need to buy online (probably the Ukulele Site) unseen. They do have a decent return/exchange policy, if it comes to that.

    I bought my first Ukulele in 2013--a Lanikai LU-21C concert from Amazon. I played around with it for a few months but didn't make much progress...the action is incredibly high, I get some buzzing, and it was just not fun to play on, so I kind of stopped playing it. The sound was also not very nice--a bit tinny and artificial sounding, if that makes sense.

    I started playing again a few months ago, and got a bit more into it, and my wife got a uke as well--a Kala 15S. I played that some and wow--way easier to play and the sound was incredible. At least way more incredible than my Lanikai.

    I love the soprano sound, but it is a bit cramped for me for some chords. Compared to the concert though, some chords are much easier (like the traditional E--I can play that easier on the soprano and it's a bit of a stretch on the concert.)

    I have also realized I like fingerpicking a lot. That is easier on the concert than the soprano.

    So that brings us to now. I am wanting to buy a good uke and am torn on size. I want to put in the time to get better, but both of these ukes are frustrating to play on--the action on the concert is 5.5mm at the 12th fret, for instance, which seems incredibly high.

    I love the soprano sound, but people seem to think that sopranos don't have the best sustain for fingerpicking. I think I like the concert sound (based on videos I watch) but the sound on my concert is tinny and terrible; I suspect that is due to this specific uke and not the concert size itself.

    I have also considered a tenor, but am worried about those stretches...seems like picking would be easier, but stretches are hard enough on the concert.

    I generally consider myself to have big hands, or at least average, so maybe I would be able to get used to the tenor in time? I still think I like the soprano sound more, but I would want sustain for the fingerpicking aspect.

    Is there really a wrong answer here? I am kind of leaning towards a long neck soprano or concert, but just want to get some input from you all to help make my decision. I am leaning towards a Hawaiian made uke, so I can grow into it and it will last me for a long time, instead of feeling the need to upgrade in a few more months.

    Thanks for any input!

  2. #2
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    Ames, Iowa/San Juan, Puerto Rico
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    If you like soprano, get soprano. I wouldn't overthink it if I were you. It is a ukulele. Get the one you want.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/1978485476...rds=R.+L.+Link

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota
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    I think you’re on the right track. A long neck soprano is in your future. And if you don’t love it, you can always sell it. You’ll lose a bit on the transaction, but that’s okay, too.

    A lot of people like the Kala Long Neck Soprano...SSLNG, If memory serves. And if your budget is somewhat higher, look at the KoAloha Opio Long Neck Sopranos.
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...lele-found-you

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by shroomshade View Post
    I generally consider myself to have big hands, or at least average, so maybe I would be able to get used to the tenor in time? I still think I like the soprano sound more, but I would want sustain for the fingerpicking aspect.
    Like you I'm a big fan of the soprano: it's the sound that drew me to the ukulele in the first place. I can't give you any sort of solid recommendation as to which size will really suit your needs, but I would say that plenty of people find that the soprano works very well for finger-picking, as you can see in this video. It's going to suit some music better than others, of course.

    Not all sopranos have the same nut width or neck profile either and that certainly has an effect on playability. My own feeling leans towards looking for a more suitable model of soprano, since you like them.
    ‘If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair.’ - Samuel Johnson

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    PHX, AZ
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    Long neck soprano! Best of both worlds. The tension on the strings is better too with the longer scale. I’m a new fan
    "If a lot of people play the ukulele, the world would be a better place to live."

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Yeah, I was going to mention Sam Muir, too.

    You keep saying you like the soprano. Get one. You can always try another size later one, but it sounds like your heart is for the soprano right now.
    Jan >^..^<
    (AKA Chopped Liver)


    You say 'Crazy Cat Lady' like it's a bad thing!

    "Hold everything with open hands." PereBourik

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by Choirguy View Post
    A lot of people like the Kala Long Neck Soprano...SSLNG, If memory serves. And if your budget is somewhat higher, look at the KoAloha Opio Long Neck Sopranos.
    I think you can stop reading now. CG has great advice there.
    Current Stable:
    -Ohana TKS-15E Tenor - Eb cuatro
    -Iriguchi Keystone Tenor "Weeble" - Bb, SC SMU
    -Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE, steel string
    -KPK pineapple SLN - GCEA
    -Cocobolo 16" SC#1 - gCEA, SC SLMU
    -Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    -Imua iET - Bb, M600
    -Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    -Rogue bari
    Once upon a time:
    -RISA Concert Stick
    -Bruko sop. custom #6
    -Lanikai lam hog bari
    -Kala SLNG
    -Bruko bari
    -Gold Tone BUT


    Jim's Blog

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Posts
    10

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    Thanks for all of the advice. Any recommendation on a soprano with more frets? I would like a soprano, but 12 frets isn't going to be sufficient, I don't think. Leaning towards the long neck at this point...

    Is the opio similar to a Hawaiian koaloha? would it be worth paying the extra for a Koaloha Long Neck or just get an opio for now?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    The long neck Opio has 17 frets, and will be made out of Acacia at a much more affordable price point than the full Koa model. If you’re looking at Koa, you should probably put the Kamaka long neck soprano on your list, too.

    What I have been told is that Koa is a type of Acacia which is only grown in Hawaiii.

    I think, if you are coming from starter Lanikai and Kala models, the Opio would be a whole new level of enjoyment for you.
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...lele-found-you

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Choirguy View Post
    I think, if you are coming from starter Lanikai and Kala models, the Opio would be a whole new level of enjoyment for you.
    +1 again. Plus it will be easier to resell for less loss if you decide you don't like it.

    But anything has to be a huge improvement from over that particular Lanikai. 5.5mm?!? Eesh, that's insane. 2 5mm is what I prefer,
    Current Stable:
    -Ohana TKS-15E Tenor - Eb cuatro
    -Iriguchi Keystone Tenor "Weeble" - Bb, SC SMU
    -Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE, steel string
    -KPK pineapple SLN - GCEA
    -Cocobolo 16" SC#1 - gCEA, SC SLMU
    -Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    -Imua iET - Bb, M600
    -Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    -Rogue bari
    Once upon a time:
    -RISA Concert Stick
    -Bruko sop. custom #6
    -Lanikai lam hog bari
    -Kala SLNG
    -Bruko bari
    -Gold Tone BUT


    Jim's Blog

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