PDA

View Full Version : Was a Tenor for my first uke a mistake?



janiep81
09-01-2014, 05:12 AM
I borrowed a friend's super cheap/almost toy soprano and I really liked it, so I bought one pretty soon after that. I chose a Tenor (an Amahi zebra wood) that was ~$120. I chose tenor because I have chubby fingers :o and because I liked the mellow sound. I have since purchased an entry-level soprano (Makai UK-55) because I was soprano-curious and I wanted my daughter to be able to use something (but for it to also be something I wanted to play).

I'm very curious what you all think about the Tenor. I know its 99% personal preference, but I don't see many folks who begin with a tenor, especially women. I almost feel like I'm cheating! :)

And I'm also thinking about my next one... I think I'd like a solid wood uke for Christmas... should I get a concert just to fill the gap? I like concerts because a lot of our music shops have more of them in stock.

How did you choose size for your first? Then what about 2nd and 3rd?

Thanks!

SteveZ
09-01-2014, 05:26 AM
My first uke was a RISA Solid Soprano which I got as a suitcase traveler alternative to hauling s mandolin. RISAs were known in the mando-world for that purpose. Second one was an inexpensive soprano as another mando-alternative which ended up in the hands of a grandchild. After that came a few more in all shapes and sizes.

If coming from other stringed instruments to ukulele as an instrument all its own, the size of the ukulele is not a driver as much as the versatility and comfort.

There are no hard-and-fast rules which say one must start with A before going to B or C. It's a "Goldilocks" thing where it has to feel right to the person, and if it does then that's all that matters.

kvehe
09-01-2014, 05:37 AM
I started out with a soprano (because that was what Amazon "suggested" and I made an impulse purchase), but quickly tried out all of the sizes. Within a month I had decided that the tenor was the size for me. That was 2-1/2 years ago, and I believed it until yesterday, when all of a sudden I switched back to the soprano. Or concert. Go figure. :D

Yes, you need a concert. LOL (Hello, my name is Kathryn and I am an Enabler.)

Staredge
09-01-2014, 05:38 AM
Do you think it was a mistake??? I could be missing information but it looks like you bought a tenor and liked it, then bought a soprano and liked it. My first was a tenor, because I'm a big guy and have problems with cramping on small fretboards/necks. Different tools for different jobs.

Rllink
09-01-2014, 05:39 AM
I don't think that there is a wrong choice. I mean, it is a ukulele. My first ukulele was a concert ukulele. My reasoning was,,,,, actually there was no reasoning. I guess that I just thought that size looked good.

DaveY
09-01-2014, 06:11 AM
To answer the questions at the end of the original post: I chose a soprano first because that's what I saw and it cost $25 and I had no idea that I would become so involved in the instrument. I chose concert(s) next, because the soprano felt and sounded small. Then I started buying tenors, and over time sold my concerts (but not my soprano, because it breaks up the modest wall of tenors and I couldn't get anything for it anyway).

So it was a process of discovery, which I think many people go through. Maybe a concert in low G would mellow it out for you, if you want that. But it also can be nice to have a variety of sizes, or at least sounds: the last tenor I bought sounds brighter than my other tenors because it's high G and a spruce top. Oh, and string choice can influence the mellowness, too.

wickedwahine11
09-01-2014, 06:21 AM
My first uke was a soprano because the first place I took classes provided sopranos for us to learn on and so when I bought my first uke that was the size I purchased. Within a couple of months, I switched to a tenor and have not looked back -- that was almost six years ago. I prefer the larger body size because it is simply more comfortable for me to play. I don't think there is anything wrong with you sticking with tenors -- and I am a woman as well. That being said, if you are intrigued by a concert, try one out. I am a firm believer in there being no right or wrong answers in ukulele. I don't tell other people their way is wrong -- be it the type they play, the playing method they use, or the brand of uke or strings. If it makes you happy it is the right answer.

janeray1940
09-01-2014, 06:34 AM
How did you choose size for your first? Then what about 2nd and 3rd?


Small hands (smaller than 10 year old kids that I've known), so, I went for a small uke - my first, second, and third were all sopranos. But I always preferred the tenor sound, and eventually pushed myself out of the comfort zone into concert ukes, which is where I finally settled. Years later, I still can't play tenor - my hands are just too small for some of the stretches and more interesting chords I need to reach. But I'm just not fond of the soprano sound when playing up the neck, so - concerts it is then! It's a good "happy medium" for me.

I don't think gender has as much to do with it as size and body type in general. I know a number of women who play tenor, generally their bodies are either on the bigger/taller/larger side or their hands have those long, lanky fingers that can reach anything. But at the same time, I know several BIG men who play sopranos, so - go figure :)

Ukejenny
09-01-2014, 06:36 AM
I actually started on my son's blue Mahalo soprano - very out of tune and the action was horrid. I was recovering from the flu and stuck on the couch for a few days.

I soon wanted a better instrument and liked the sound of the low G, so I opted for a tenor KPK deluxe - solid acacia wood and very nice instrument. I love it. I don't think I'll ever part with it.

I then wanted to experience some different woods and went with a concert Ohana cedar rosewood and it is my favorite. The concert scale seems to be my sweet spot. I also love the sound and feel of that particular instrument.

I have a soprano, too, so I have tried them all. I'm not interested in baritone and will probably never own one. Out of the three sizes, I like concert the best, but I enjoy playing the other two sizes as well. My little Ohana soprano is perfect for sitting on the couch and piddling around with. When I'm trying to figure out something from a video, it is the right size to fit between me and my laptop while I'm listening and watching the video over and over, trying to get a lick.

The tenor is good for strumming and it just has a nice sound, but it is more my husband's now, since he is a tenor player.

By the way, I'm a lady with pretty long fingers.

HBolte
09-01-2014, 06:38 AM
I say get the Concert. After playing all three sizes for a while you'll find your preference.

ukantor
09-01-2014, 12:10 PM
AS the OP says, it is 99% personal preference. All the sizes of ukulele are great instruments in their own right, but for me, they are as distinctly different as a violin is from a viola, a cello or a double bass. I've tried them all, and my choice is the soprano. I've had three tenors, and two concerts, but now only have sopranos - about a dozen of them!

Everybody has gout, as the French say.

John Colter

Nickie
09-01-2014, 01:59 PM
I don't think you made a mistake at all, if you enjoy playing the tenor. Loads of guitar players start at tenor and stay there. Lot of gals around here start soprano and move to concert, then even tenor. I know two who play bari!
I'd get the concert if I were you, that's my fave. But what the heck do I know?

VegasGeorge
09-01-2014, 02:43 PM
Getting a Tenor isn't a mistake. But you will probably want to experiment with Low G tuning on the Tenor, and then you'll want one of the smaller Ukes for the reentrant tuning with the high G. The smaller Ukes have a brighter ring to their tone, and really show off the "My Dog Has Fleas" tuning well. If you have small hands and fingers, there's no reason not to get the standard size Soprano. The Concert size offers more fretboard space and is nicer for bigger hands. But face it, you're going to wind up with one of each anyway, so why worry about it?

itsme
09-01-2014, 03:01 PM
I'm very curious what you all think about the Tenor. I know its 99% personal preference, but I don't see many folks who begin with a tenor, especially women.
I'm a woman and started out on a tenor. Of course, that's because I won it in a drawing from a guitar store. But five years later, I have one soprano, one concert, one bari and... seven tenors. It's my preferred size. :)

But then again, I came from a background in classical guitar so the size was comfortable for me. If anything, as others have said before, the bari is almost "too" guitar-like, and I have "real" guitars to play if that's the sound I want.

Of my seven tenors, two have low G and five are re-entrant.

kwall
09-01-2014, 03:23 PM
I first got a tenor (as a present) LOVE IT still to this day. Then purchases a soprano (nice ukulele that was well priced on the used market).its all personal preference and i like my soprano but I feel like I enjoy tenors more.

As for your question go to the store and try out every ukulele you can and see which one you love u'd be surprised what you may love or dislike.

1300cc
09-01-2014, 05:41 PM
Youll never know if its a mistake until you buy them all

bunnyf
09-01-2014, 07:12 PM
It is a Goldilocks thing, where one just feels right. BUT, it is also a thing that evolves as you play more. You may find that the size you start on may remain just right or you may be drawn to try other sizes, whether out of simple curiousity, change in taste, level of comfort, etc., lots of factors. As another said, it can also be that your playing style changes, like playing fingerstyle or moving up the neck, that may lead you to a different choice. I'm not saying buy every size (though I did, and don't regret it) but it's not unusual to find preferences changing over time. Working with complete beginners at my uke group, my experience has been that most beginners are drawn to concerts as their first size, primarily because they feel too cramped on a soprano but don't like to stretch so much for chords as they would need to on a tenor. Also, sound wise they find it a good compromise, being just ukey enough. I started with a baritone and still love it (mellow, guitary and nice for most of the things I play), but find myself drawn at times to my soprano, when I just want something sweet sounding. My concerts and tenors are the red-headed stepchildren and get played with infrequently.

KaraUkey
09-01-2014, 09:17 PM
I spend nearly all day every day writing Ukulele backing tracks on my PC. I play each bit on my ukes as I go. I keep a Soprana to my left (on my desk) and a Tenor in its case to my right. I mostly reach for the Soprano because its small and I can hold it out of the way as I make chord corrections etc on my PC. This is also the little Soprano I take when I go anywhere, because it is small enough to fit in carry on hand luggage. But when I've completed the song, I always turn to my Tenor. I have Aquila nylgut strings on all my Ukes, so they do all have the Aquila influence in their sound, which I like. Both of my Tenor ukes and a Concert Uke I have, are fitted with pick ups, suitable for the gigs I do. I usually take two ukes to my regular gigs, but invariably finish up playing the same tenor. My first Ukulele, which I still have, was also a Tenor. As a matter of interest I also do regular introductory gigs using the same 24 fairly low budget Soprano ukes. They are all the same brand and have all got the same kind of strings. My first chore is to tune them all. Now strangely enough, though they are all the same, two of them are really nice sounding little ukes, great to play. Two of them are very ordinary and the rest are OK. With that in mind, when I went to the shop to select my current favourite Tenor, I played every single Uke in the shop and several of them more than once. It took over two hours. In the end I think that the Tenor chose me, and the feeling was mutual. I could never see myself selling it, we've already been through lots together. When I'm at home I play it every single day.

So my advice. Pick it up and play it. How does it look, how does it feel, how does it sound? Then when you find the one you like, buy it.

janiep81
09-03-2014, 03:41 PM
I'm just coming back to report that I've learned a lot in a week or so! I bought an inexpensive soprano (have I said that yet?) and I like it for its portability. My daughter has also enjoyed it and played her first song for some friends tonight. <3 I like its traditional sound...

But after spending a couple of days with the soprano I really loved coming back to my tenor. It felt natural and comfortable and sounded so rich. I'm genuinely happy with both instruments... And of course I'm shopping for a concert now, too! :)

And FWIW, there is much to be said about learning an instrument just for the hell of it, rather than for a grade or for performance. I just do this for me and it's so zen.

vanflynn
09-03-2014, 04:32 PM
And FWIW, there is much to be said about learning an instrument just for the hell of it, rather than for a grade or for performance. I just do this for me and it's so zen.
You betcha on that


And of course I'm shopping for a concert now, too! :)
You'll fit in very well here! Enjoy and post pic of your next uke.

imagesinthewind
09-04-2014, 09:27 AM
I started with a tenor (I'm a girl) and loved it! I now that have tenor, 3 concerts, 2 baritones and still no soprano.
It's up to you what you like!

Ginny
Denver

Rllink
09-04-2014, 10:13 AM
On internet forums, ukulele forums in this case, I find a lot of people want to talk about what is the best, be it ukes, strings, or whatever. And of course everyone has an opinion. And I'm thinking that is the function of an internet forum. But an interesting thing is that in the real world of ukuleles, at least my real world that I have experienced, most people don't talk much at all about their ukes. It is more about the music that they want to play, or where they have been playing it. It is just an observation on my part.

strumsilly
09-04-2014, 10:33 AM
I borrowed a friend's super cheap/almost toy soprano and I really liked it, so I bought one pretty soon after that. I chose a Tenor (an Amahi zebra wood) that was ~$120. I chose tenor because I have chubby fingers :o and because I liked the mellow sound. I have since purchased an entry-level soprano (Makai UK-55) because I was soprano-curious and I wanted my daughter to be able to use something (but for it to also be something I wanted to play).

I'm very curious what you all think about the Tenor. I know its 99% personal preference, but I don't see many folks who begin with a tenor, especially women. I almost feel like I'm cheating! :)

And I'm also thinking about my next one... I think I'd like a solid wood uke for Christmas... should I get a concert just to fill the gap? I like concerts because a lot of our music shops have more of them in stock.

How did you choose size for your first? Then what about 2nd and 3rd?

Thanks!
My first uke was a soprano. I chose it because it was cheap [$35]. It was in a pawn shop and it was a KKEIKI. When I bought my first new ukulele it was a tenor. My 3rd was a concert. I now mostly play a baritone tuned to C [GCEA] . So it's like a big tenor. Sooner or later you will have[or have tried] every size, and you will probably have a favorite. Enjoy the journey, I think I've found the "perfect" size for me, it's a vintage 19 inch scale baritone.

Larry D.
09-04-2014, 01:45 PM
I love your quote by John Lennon....What a shame and tragic loss for the world. RIP John.

rchaaarm
09-05-2014, 04:25 PM
My first ukulele was a soprano. It was an impulse buy cause I just decided to buy a ukulele without really knowing the instrument. I just thought, 'its a cute instrument, i know how to play the guitar so it must be easy to learn the ukulele too', then I bought the first one I saw that I liked. After a few days, I felt it was a mistake. I didn't like how high the sound of the ukulele is.

After 2 years of owning the ukulele (just learned playing it after about a year. it was hard for me to switch from the guitar to ukulele), my cousin let me borrow her tenor ukulele. I easily fell in love with the tone and the size of it. So I decided to buy a tenor ukulele.

Now I play my Tenor Ukulele more than my Soprano and I'm planning to sell my soprano already.

Nickie
09-05-2014, 05:13 PM
On internet forums, ukulele forums in this case, I find a lot of people want to talk about what is the best, be it ukes, strings, or whatever. And of course everyone has an opinion. And I'm thinking that is the function of an internet forum. But an interesting thing is that in the real world of ukuleles, at least my real world that I have experienced, most people don't talk much at all about their ukes. It is more about the music that they want to play, or where they have been playing it. It is just an observation on my part.

You're right! The only time we talk aobut our ukes at a function, is if somebody brings a new baby, or somebody asks, "why does that thing sound so great?" It only interrupts our playing long enough to bring everybody up to speed about why we play what we play....most of the time we don't care....but UU is perfect for it, because most of us may never get to play together!