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rappsy
02-19-2015, 06:36 PM
I had a chance to play the Ukulele Strumstick by McNally today. It is said to be a concert neck, but it seemed like a tenor size when I put it next to tenor and the fret bars seems to match up most of the way up and down the neck.

I know this will not be compared to a higher quality Uke, but what is the general consensus as to it's use for travel, fun, being a little different, etc. It is thin and comes with a sleek case.

I played it with Steel strings in a reentrant GCEA format. I asked about putting Nylon strings on it and they said it could be done, but I read a review that said the steel strings give it it's only good and resonant sound and that it would be relatively silent with Nylons. (I would put Fluros on as I don't like steel.) Has anyone used it this way and what is the general opinion of this as compared to a Flea, or other travel Ukes.

Remember that I am not looking to replace the main high quality Uke. This would be for fun, travel, and "what the heck is that factor"

Opinions please.

PhilUSAFRet
02-20-2015, 02:43 AM
To me, the sound of small bodied strum sticks is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Best sounding strumstick I've heard was built on a grizzly uke body. My larger bodied Seagull Merlin has a full, sweet tone (compared to the smaller bodied ones) and I've thought what a good steel stringed uke it would make. There has been some chatter about these instruments below in Other Instruments.

Here's the uke bodied strum stick

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lIEnrLvXLQ

Ukuleleblues
02-20-2015, 02:53 AM
I played a C tuned reenterant strum uke and a "Baritone" DGBE tuned strum stick. They were fun and I liked the sound of the steel strings. I was going to buy the GCEA model but I got this searing pain in my head. It was my wife giving me the stink eye.

PTOEguy
02-20-2015, 03:11 AM
My father has a strumstick (ukulele tuned), which I've played and as a flea owner I'd go flea way before the strumstick. However, it your decision should be on what you're trying to accomplish.

My father commutes between two homes and he keeps his strumstick as his uke for the second house - and doesn't play it much (he plays a Pono ATD in the main house). I get the sense that he doesn't really find it that great a uke substitute. I've played is several times and the strumstick is a very different instrument in terms of the "feel". The neck profile is narrower and proportionally deeper than most ukes, and I didn't like the feel of the steel strings - they are quite thin and felt almost sharp under my fingers. The tone is also quite different. I can see it as a niche instrument played in its own right, but not really that great as a ukulele.

The flea on the other hand is a joy to play (with the caveat that the plastic fingerboard has fans and detractors - I'm a fan) and feels like a ukulele. It has great tone for the price and the setup and intonation can't be beat.

ukuloonie
02-20-2015, 03:58 AM
isn't the strumstick really a dulcimer. wouldn't matter if it was tuned to reentrant or not.

PhilUSAFRet
02-20-2015, 06:12 AM
isn't the strumstick really a dulcimer. wouldn't matter if it was tuned to reentrant or not.

Most are, but some makers are starting to install necks/fretboards for other instruments such as uke, banjo, and mandolin.

rappsy
02-20-2015, 06:40 AM
I was impressed by the overall sound of it with the metal strings for the use I have for it which is travel and knock around, but I don't like metal or wound. There were two considerations. One was no bridge, so the strings wrap around the bottom and attach to pins. There is a pipe cleaner material wrapped around the strings at the bottom to prevent damage to the body, but with the tension, I don't know if it will have residual damage after a while. I assume that is why the strings are thinner. I would want Fluros. The second was the volume, where I read that without the steel strings, it would be very low.

I am enjoying seeing the "out of the box" designs, but feel this isn't for me if I can't use Flouros. I'll keep my eye on it.

Photojosh
02-20-2015, 08:24 AM
My take was "Interesting, but not for me". I wasn't into the sound.

Cfiimei
02-20-2015, 06:01 PM
I have built several serious strumsticks in both diatonic and chromatic scales. There are a lot of cheap ones out there, but I went all out with deep bodies and more guitar-like braced construction. They have their place and are a blast to play. The McNally sticks seem like toothpicks to me because they are so small, but are fun nonetheless. They can be both stupid easy and complex to play, and they are great for giving kids a positive first experience. Personally I wouldn't mind giving one of the McNally steel ukes a try.

Cfiimei
02-20-2015, 06:07 PM
Here are a couple that I built. Sorry for the poor image quality, these are on wall duty in my living room and the lighting is poor.
76410

Booli
02-20-2015, 07:47 PM
I've been aware of the standard diatonic Strumsticks for a while, and was excited when I heard about the Seagull Merlin, which turned to disappointment when I learned that the Merlin is also fretted for diatonic pitches - and seems limited to me having played guitar my whole life and ukulele almost 2 yrs now.

Maybe it has it's place for beginners, or where ONLY playing in the keys of A, G, and D are significant. They look cool, and I love the story behind their inception, but I've decided that they are not for me.

However I was excited to first learn about the Ukulele Strumstick from your creating this thread, but I am hugely underwhelmed by the sound samples on the maker's own web site:

http://www.strumstick.com/html_pages/Ukelele%20Strumstick.htm

It sounds 'tight' and small to me, like it was recorded with a really bad microphone, so no joy for the sound either to my ears (yes I know that is but only 2 sound samples) but I would expect that the maker of the instrument would have better quality recordings on their own web site, for demo purposes. maybe I just dont like the sound?

When I think of going back to steel strings and peeling/bleeding calluses on my fretting hand, and rapidly wearing down the fingernails on my strumming/plucking hand (I hate using a pick) my resulting thought is 'NO'.

But if YOU like the feel and the sound, then GO FOR IT. Enjoy it - but I am pretty sure I would not have a good time with one, even with a chromatic fretboard.

I'd rather have another Fluke or Flea, and would LOVE the option of a TENOR scale Firefly.

You can get a standard model (plastic fretboard, Grover friction tuners) Tenor Fluke for $235, which is only $20 more, see here:

http://www.magicfluke.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=FLUKE_STANDARD

but also serves the requirement for nylon strings, and ONLY nylon strings (since if you put wound strings on that plastic fretboard it will grind down those frets pretty quickly, and I've found that Aquila REDS also cause the 'frets' on the plastic fretboard to wear down faster)...

ukeeku
02-21-2015, 02:50 AM
My review from a few years back
http://ukeeku.com/2011/11/03/mcnally-strumstick-ukulele-full-review/
I was not impressed

timmit65
02-21-2015, 04:44 PM
My larger bodied Seagull Merlin has a full, sweet tone The Seagull sounds great!

ichadwick
02-22-2015, 05:43 AM
I had a Strumsick for a while - the chromatic model - and tuned it both like a guitar (DGBE) and played around with open tunings. I like the sound - it has a vaguely Middle Eastern/Indian timbre. I may buy another because I had such fun with it. Wish they made on in tenor scale, though... but I'm equally tempted to get a bouzouki and tune it like a uke/guitar and have all that sound and those paired strings to play with...

I played with the Seagull and was VERY tempted, but not for the diatonic fretting. Too limited and inflexible for any jamming or busking, let alone working with my uke group. I have sent the company an email asking if they plan to make a chromatic neck. I'll buy one then.

rappsy
02-22-2015, 08:34 AM
Hi Booli:

I was surprised to know that this one has been around a while, as the review by Ukeeku.com reveals. Although I didn't listen to the site sound sample, it probably would not detract me as I was able to play it in person. When I played it, I made sure that I wasn't comparing it to the higher end ones I have. I was playing it to enjoy it and for the use I want it for, which is just to carry it with me, bring it on holiday, and not be concerned if it gets a little banged up, it just might do the job. It would fit in a suitcase. Although I don't buy things for what other people think, it certainly has a "what the heck is that" quality to it.

When it came to the strings, yes it was steel, but they were pretty thin. It does have the WOUND sound that I don't care for, but if I do go for it, I would replace it with fluoros and see how it works. As you pointed out, the Flea is a good one in comparison. The Flea, in my eyes, would offer a fuller sound, and as you pointed out, don't even think about steel strings for it. This is why there are so many choices. It's a great time to be playing the Uke.

rappsy
02-22-2015, 08:37 AM
My review from a few years back
http://ukeeku.com/2011/11/03/mcnally-strumstick-ukulele-full-review/
I was not impressed

I read the review. Very thorough and well written. If I was looking at this for a top quality and top sounding Uke, I would agree with the review. As I was looking for one just to carry with me, bring it on holiday, and not be concerned if it gets a little banged up, it just might do the job and it would fit in a suitcase. Although I don't buy things for what other people think, it certainly has a "what the heck is that" quality to it. All positives in my book. It just depends on what and why a person is considering buying it.

rappsy
02-22-2015, 08:42 AM
I had a Strumsick for a while - the chromatic model - and tuned it both like a guitar (DGBE) and played around with open tunings. I like the sound - it has a vaguely Middle Eastern/Indian timbre. I may buy another because I had such fun with it. Wish they made on in tenor scale, though... but I'm equally tempted to get a bouzouki and tune it like a uke/guitar and have all that sound and those paired strings to play with...

I played with the Seagull and was VERY tempted, but not for the diatonic fretting. Too limited and inflexible for any jamming or busking, let alone working with my uke group. I have sent the company an email asking if they plan to make a chromatic neck. I'll buy one then.

The Seagull is just plain fun. I also would be interested in seeing if they are planning a Uke type Merlin. The Spruce sounds great, and the white body is striking. (They also make a Mahogany, I believe)

Even though the McNally Uke bills itself as a concert, I put it up to a full tenor, and the frets matched up fairly well most of the way down the neck. Maybe not a full tenor, but to me, in my brief comparison, certainly longer than the typical 15" scale concert.

FiL
02-23-2015, 03:59 AM
I've played the McNally uke Strumstick. I'm friends with the maker, Bob McNally. (It's amazing what that guy can do with a diatonic Strumstick!) I used to have a Long-scale Three-string Chromatic Strumstick, until an ex-girlfriend smashed it. The uke Strumstick was fun, but I couldn't figure out what it's niche was. If you're going to try to put flourocarbon strings on it, it will be quieter. You might also have to get some work done on it to adjust the nut and saddle, which will increase your overall price. If your goal is to have a travel uke, get a soprano uke instead. If your goal is to have a "what is that?" instrument, then go for it.

- FiL

ichadwick
02-25-2015, 02:30 AM
The Seagull company informed me that they were working on a chromatic model dulcimer, but had no date for production yet.

rappsy
02-26-2015, 07:43 AM
The Seagull company informed me that they were working on a chromatic model dulcimer, but had no date for production yet.

HI Ian:

I must have incorrectly worded it as I also had written the Seagull company and this is what they said.

"We have no plans for a Merlin Uke and our factory is not set up to build custom instruments...sorry!"

rappsy
02-26-2015, 07:47 AM
However I was excited to first learn about the Ukulele Strumstick from your creating this thread, but I am hugely underwhelmed by the sound samples on the maker's own web site:
...

As I had written in the beginning of the thread, I also was excited to discover this. I went back a couple of days ago to play it again, and was not as impressed with it upon a second inspection. I can see that it will serve a purpose and would be fun to play, but it's not for me.