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View Full Version : Which Uku sounds the closest to a guitar?



Brenda Wong
02-17-2015, 08:30 AM
I am just curious which brand made the most guitar sounding uku?
I realize low G , type of strings, body size ,type of wood etc contribute to the sound.
Many of you owned and played with different brand of uku, just thought you can satisfy my curiously.

Thanks

Doc_J
02-17-2015, 08:42 AM
Baritones in general, in DGBE. In tenors : My Compass Rose sounds guitar-ish by design.

La Perdrix
02-17-2015, 08:48 AM
yes, baritone ukes of course, and spruce-top tenors with low-G.

LDS714
02-17-2015, 08:56 AM
Sounds the closest to which guitar?

DownUpDave
02-17-2015, 09:04 AM
I have two tenors strung low G with both the 3rd and 4th strings being wound bronze. They are a Pono and a Collings and both have a guitarish sound, the wound C & G strings really help with that. In general a big bodied tenor in all mahogany or spruce or cedar top over either mahogany or rosewood back can give a guitar like sound.

Come to one of the uke jams and I will let you play one to see for yourself.

wendellfiddler
02-17-2015, 09:46 AM
Very subjective but yeah, low G or low D instruments with soft tops (spruce, cedar, maybe mahogany) - I've come to like ukes that sound like ukes! Hi G Koa and sometimes mahogany!

DUK

Brenda Wong
02-17-2015, 09:56 AM
I have two tenors strung low G with both the 3rd and 4th strings being wound bronze. They are a Pono and a Collings and both have a guitarish sound, the wound C & G strings really help with that. In general a big bodied tenor in all mahogany or spruce or cedar top over either mahogany or rosewood back can give a guitar like sound.

Come to one of the uke jams and I will let you play one to see for yourself.

Which jam do you normally go to? I guess you don't go to Comos jam right?

Brenda Wong
02-17-2015, 09:58 AM
Very subjective but yeah, low G or low D instruments with soft tops (spruce, cedar, maybe mahogany) - I've come to like ukes that sound like ukes! Hi G Koa and sometimes mahogany!

DUK

You just gave me the perfect answer. I am trying to make my Koa sounds like guitar and failed. LOL I found myself going back to the Kala low G which is a shame when the beautiful Kanile'a is sitting in the corner.

Brenda Wong
02-17-2015, 10:07 AM
Sounds the closest to which guitar?

Any classical guitar sound.

deschutestrout
02-17-2015, 10:32 AM
If you want a guitar sound ... why not just play guitar? I personally do not like low G, because it makes my uke sound too much like a guitar (that's just me...and I know there are a TON of low-G lovers) When I choose a uke for a song, it's because I want a UKE sound ... not a small guitar. I've begun writing songs with the uke ... they do not have the same feel when I play them on guitar. Different instruments. It'd be like trying to get my guitar to sound like a uke...why? But, if you want a guitar-like sound...low G all the way. Carry on.

LDS714
02-17-2015, 10:36 AM
Any classical guitar sound.

Then I'd agree that wendelfiddler's answer is perfect. :)

Is there a specific setting you need that sort of sound for, or is it just pleasing to your ear?

A good friend of mine bought a guitelele for similar reasons. One was to play higher voiced guitar parts more easily, and the other was to use it to record some lute parts. It worked out quite well for him, it was a very inexpensive Yamaha and he's done some very nice recordings with it.

Brenda Wong
02-17-2015, 12:23 PM
Then I'd agree that wendelfiddler's answer is perfect. :)

Is there a specific setting you need that sort of sound for, or is it just pleasing to your ear?

A good friend of mine bought a guitelele for similar reasons. One was to play higher voiced guitar parts more easily, and the other was to use it to record some lute parts. It worked out quite well for him, it was a very inexpensive Yamaha and he's done some very nice recordings with it.

It's just for my ears as I used to play classical guitar. Uku is perfect for me because it is easier and much much smaller . I asked someone who own a Yamaha guitelele, he said it does not sound like a guitar because the tuning is still the uku tuning. I am just looking for that deep , rich guitar sound. My Kala with low G already achieved that but just curious if other brand also have the same 'feel'. At least now I know certain wood generate different tune and Koa is not one of them that comes close to a rich guitar sound.

manfromtexas
02-17-2015, 12:27 PM
I'd like to know which baritones sound the LEAST like a guitar. I'm getting the itch for one. And if I were to get one I would want it strung DGBE but with a high D and no wound strings. Basically i'd like it to feel every bit like a ukulele but would like to try out some of the lower tunings on jazz #'s and such.

I gave the baritone tuned strings for tenor a spin and that just didn't work out so well. I didn't like em at all - it was the Hilo's that I tried.

When you hear Benny Chong play bari or Kimo play bari - they are very much ukulele. You can't say those sound anything like a guitar. But certain ones I hear demo'd on Hawaii Music Supply very much do. So is it more in the strings or is it more in the size or in the wood or is it in the player? I was wondering if aside from string choice, if certain models are smaller in size or are they all just about the same.

wayfarer75
02-17-2015, 12:29 PM
It's just for my ears as I used to play classical guitar. Uku is perfect for me because it is easier and much much smaller . I asked someone who own a Yamaha guitelele, he said it does not sound like a guitar because the tuning is still the uku tuning. I am just looking for that deep , rich guitar sound. My Kala with low G already achieved that but just curious if other brand also have the same 'feel'. At least now I know certain wood generate different tune and Koa is not one of them that comes close to a rich guitar sound.

Remember, koa is used in guitars, and they sound like guitars--even ones with a koa soundboard. I think, generally speaking, you need the larger body and scale of a baritone to get a uke that sounds really guitarish. Others have said, as on this thread, that Compass Rose tenors sound guitarish, but that is through the efforts of Rick Turner's building style, not so much the wood he uses. I think tenors can get a deeper sound with a low G, but they still sound like a ukulele in the end.

Hippie Dribble
02-17-2015, 12:35 PM
Spruce or Cedar topped baritone with Low D.

deschutestrout
02-17-2015, 12:38 PM
Remember, koa is used in guitars, and they sound like guitars--even ones with a koa soundboard. I think, generally speaking, you need the larger body and scale of a baritone to get a uke that sounds really guitarish. Others have said, as on this thread, that Compass Rose tenors sound guitarish, but that is through the efforts of Rick Turner's building style, not so much the wood he uses. I think tenors can get a deeper sound with a low G, but they still sound like a ukulele in the end.

I have a 20 yr old Washburn guitar with Koa back and sides ... one of the sweetest sounding guitars in my stash. But, it is a guitar and is supposed to sound like one. Brenda, sounds like you need a tenor with low-G :-). Keep buying, you're just getting started :iwant:

UkerDanno
02-17-2015, 12:40 PM
If you want a guitar sound ... why not just play guitar? I personally do not like low G, because it makes my uke sound too much like a guitar (that's just me...and I know there are a TON of low-G lovers) .

Amen to that...

SweetWaterBlue
02-17-2015, 12:59 PM
If i could make my baritones sound like a guitar, I would be one happy camper. My baritones are easier to play than my guitars, but they don't sound like guitars. Most guitarists worth their salt don't just strum the 6 strings. Instead, they use the lowest two or three strings as bass accompaniment. Guitars played like that don't sound anything like ukuleles (even baritones) to my ear.

kypfer
02-17-2015, 01:11 PM
I'd like to know which baritones sound the LEAST like a guitar. I'm getting the itch for one. And if I were to get one I would want it strung DGBE but with a high D and no wound strings. Basically i'd like it to feel every bit like a ukulele but would like to try out some of the lower tunings on jazz #'s and such.
Assuming you are from Texas ;) this recommendation possibly will be of little use, but my Brunswick brand baritone (distributed by Barnes & Mullins in the UK) came with high-D Aquila strings and sounded ... well, just like a baritone ukulele :)

I've re-strung it, for reasons that are irrelevant to this thread, but would still heartily recommend one in it's original configuration!

Cfiimei
02-17-2015, 01:26 PM
John Kavanaugh used to play a modified Harmony baritone strung in high G; sounded like magic. I think some of his videos are still in YouTube. Sadly, he died a few years ago. Here is a piece where he is working out some classical music. He was more or less practicing here, but it gives a good indication of what a baritone can sound like in an unusual tuning.


http://youtu.be/QOzqHDtLCoQ

deschutestrout
02-17-2015, 01:26 PM
Which Uku sounds the closest to a guitar?

Likely the biggest louse who can flap his/her wings the slowest and gurgle out bass parts with its tiny 'lil stomach :rolleyes: Sorry Brenda... a Uku has nothing to do with the 4 stringed musical instrument we all love so much! Just giving you a hard time :-)

Diamond Dave
02-17-2015, 01:28 PM
Most guitarists worth their salt don't just strum the 6 strings. Instead, they use the lowest two or three strings as bass accompaniment.

Whoa whoa whoa--you're talking about a very specific style of guitar playing. It sounds like you're referring to alternate bass or Travis picking. Or you may mean alternating a bass note with a strummed chord, which could be played on 3,4,5 or 6 strings. Plenty--in fact, most--guitarists worth their salt don't necessarily play in that style. James Taylor might play a show and use that technique quite a bit, while Bruce Springsteen might go for a whole show just strumming cowboy chords with a simple up-down strum.

wayfarer75
02-17-2015, 01:56 PM
If i could make my baritones sound like a guitar, I would be one happy camper. My baritones are easier to play than my guitars, but they don't sound like guitars. Most guitarists worth their salt don't just strum the 6 strings. Instead, they use the lowest two or three strings as bass accompaniment. Guitars played like that don't sound anything like ukuleles (even baritones) to my ear.

Very true, a bari is still a uke, not a guitar. But if you're talking about which uke sounds the closest to a guitar, it's definitely a baritone, and it can be played to imitate a guitar.

Brenda Wong
02-17-2015, 02:52 PM
I have a 20 yr old Washburn guitar with Koa back and sides ... one of the sweetest sounding guitars in my stash. But, it is a guitar and is supposed to sound like one. Brenda, sounds like you need a tenor with low-G :-). Keep buying, you're just getting started :iwant:

I have a tenor with low G. That's the Kala I referred to. :-)

ricdoug
02-17-2015, 05:35 PM
The answer is a Tenor Guitar:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tenor+guitar

Brenda Wong
02-17-2015, 05:47 PM
The answer is a Tenor Guitar:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tenor+guitar

Didn't even know about this product ! Wow! Thanks

ricdoug
02-17-2015, 06:05 PM
Scatman Crothers, the butler in "The Shining", was a famous tenor guitar player:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O-rX2-7VhM

ricdoug
02-17-2015, 06:06 PM
In Canada:

http://www.elderly.com/new_instruments/items/BR40T.htm

Wicked
02-18-2015, 06:40 AM
Scatman Crothers, the butler in "The Shining", was a famous tenor guitar player:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O-rX2-7VhM

"Stick out your can, stick out your can!"

76238

Icelander53
02-18-2015, 06:56 AM
I have a Pono Cedar/Ebony strung in Low G that sounds somewhat guitarish to me. I'm still working it out but I do know that I have to play it both ways at times. Low G, imo, will do the most towards the sound you are looking for. Or as others say get a baritone.

Rakelele
02-18-2015, 07:24 AM
Pono makes a Tenor Guitar (4 Strings) braced for Nylon Strings that can be strung like a Baritone. If you are looking for a full, rich, guitar-ish sound, but don't want to mess with six strings, then this is as good as it gets:

https://vimeo.com/theukulelesite/videos/search:bn/sort:plays/

Coconut Willie
02-18-2015, 09:27 AM
Baritone or a Guitarlele

Bennyboy123
02-27-2015, 10:02 AM
I have a kala solid mahogany baritone with martin strings on it. Sounds classical guitar-y. Great for blues as its a deep bassy sounding uke rather than light if that makes sense

mds725
02-27-2015, 10:57 AM
Remember, koa is used in guitars, and they sound like guitars--even ones with a koa soundboard. I think, generally speaking, you need the larger body and scale of a baritone to get a uke that sounds really guitarish. Others have said, as on this thread, that Compass Rose tenors sound guitarish, but that is through the efforts of Rick Turner's building style, not so much the wood he uses. I think tenors can get a deeper sound with a low G, but they still sound like a ukulele in the end.

This.

Design and build is probably a larger factor in an ukulele's sound than wood choices. While spruce as a soundboard and certain woods (like maple and myrtle) are thought of as having "brightness" properties, I've heard and played spruce top, maple and myrtle ukes that, while a little brighter than koa ukes from the same builder, still sound like ukes and not much like guitars. Rick Turner, who has been repairing and building guitars all of his life, has said that he designed Compass Rose ukuleles to appeal to guitarists by giving them a guitar-like (whatever that means) sound. There are other builders, most of whom also build guitars, who have done the same thing.

One design element that may make an ukulele sound more like a guitar is steel strings. While ukuleles built for nylon strings can't handle the tension of steel strings, there are builders who make ukuleles that are designed to handle steel strings. Rick Turner built me a steel string baritone ukulele (which is, for all practical purposes, a tenor guitar tuned DGBE, although Rick has said that he likes to define instruments by their tunings) and UU member Bruce Sexauer, from whom I bought a steel string tenor ukulele. Here's a thread Bruce started about one of his steel string tenor ukulele builds. http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?94309-JB-Uke-follow-up

Inksplosive AL
02-27-2015, 01:54 PM
Have you tried Aquila reds? They have a papery feel that wears away from playing and have been described by a few as sounding metallic. I think they have an acoustic guitar like twang to them quit noticeable even on my soprano so I can understand others saying metallic.

Having quite a few ukuleles in different sizes the bigger the body (a tenor my wei wei) the less ukeish and more guitarish they sound to me. Classical guitars have no metal strings do they?

Of course my Risa soprano strung with reentrant Reds through my RP360 pitch shifted down an octave sounds just like a guitar.

ukegirl
02-27-2015, 03:40 PM
If you want a guitar sound ... why not just play guitar? I personally do not like low G, because it makes my uke sound too much like a guitar (that's just me...and I know there are a TON of low-G lovers) When I choose a uke for a song, it's because I want a UKE sound ... not a small guitar. I've begun writing songs with the uke ... they do not have the same feel when I play them on guitar. Different instruments. It'd be like trying to get my guitar to sound like a uke...why? But, if you want a guitar-like sound...low G all the way. Carry on.
I agree with the above! ^

BlackBearUkes
02-27-2015, 03:47 PM
If you want that deep rich classical guitar sound, then play a classical guitar. I have made every size uke there is with many different woods and not one ever came close to a classical guitar sound, nor should they. Sorry, you are out of luck.

warndt
02-28-2015, 08:22 AM
The Kanile'a GL-6 Guitarlele absolutely sounds like a classical guitar in ukulele tuning. I love it very much, but consider it a small guitar more than an ukulele. It is a very expressive instrument in it's own right. (BTW, the cheaper Kanile'a Islander model guitarlele may look like the GL-6, but comes no where close to the GL-6 in overall quality or quality of sound IMO.)

The Boat-Paddle/Hoffman Lutherie ukuleles always sound guitarish to me...especially the M-Style tenors with low-G. Try one...you'll see what I mean.

uke4ia
02-28-2015, 08:53 AM
I am just curious which brand made the most guitar sounding uku?
I realize low G , type of strings, body size ,type of wood etc contribute to the sound.
Many of you owned and played with different brand of uku, just thought you can satisfy my curiously.

Thanks

I've got a Kawika koa tenor strung with low G. It has a very guitar-like sound compared to other ukuleles I've had, though in a slightly higher register. I'd think a lot of the quality tenors and baritones could give you a sound that doesn't sound just like a classical guitar, but will give you a good ukulele equivalent.

A big part of it will be the strings. Most ukulele players on UU use high tension strings. This will tend to give you more of the traditional ukulele sound. Using standard tension classical guitar strings on a uke will give you more of the sound you're looking for. I use Savarez Alliance Plain KF Treble Standard Tension strings for the A, E, and C strings: 541R, 542R, 543 R. For a G string, I use a D'Addario Pro-Arte D Light Silverplated Copper Wound .028, J4304. I buy them as single strings on JustStrings.com.

SteveZ
02-28-2015, 10:17 AM
The tuning has a lot to do with it. I have my ukes strung the same as my tenor guitar - CGDA. The Pono Pro Classic is the richest sounding of the tenors, and it sounds quite mellow. My baritone, because of the much-larger body, rings very deep and compares quite favorably to my tenor guitar.