View Full Version : Archtop

Adrian Ortiga
06-01-2015, 10:32 PM
I just wanted to know the difference of sound between an archtop uke and the normal uke , mainly because i want one but never heard one. I tried listening to videos but to my untrained ear they all sound they same to me, im hoping someone here has some firsthand experience to share :)

06-01-2015, 11:28 PM
An acoustic archtop guitar (the traditional ones designed to be played unplugged) are composed of a solid top. The tone is generally referred to as a bit brighter/brasher than a flat top. Apparently the mids and the highs are supposed to stand out.

Most modern archtop guitars are not really designed to be acoustically loud, but come with pickups and are played through an amp. These types typically give a warmer, "jazzy" tone than a solid body electric (but depends heavily on the pickups and amps.. eg: some punk rock guitars are archtops).

In terms of ukulele, there appears to be 3 VERY BROAD categories:

-relatively inexpensive acoustic archtops with laminate tops, such as the Kala Jazz Tenor. It mostly sounds like a mellow acoustic uke, with an advantage of being a bit less prone to feedback as an acoustic-electric (due to heavier build and smaller tone holes)


-Fully electric steel string electrics, such as the Kamoa electric. These sound like archtop electric guitars, through an amp.


-Really expensive solid-top acoustic archtop ukes, such as the Koolau or the D'angelico. These are usually quite loud and great sounding ukes. Hard to compare it to anything, as they are.. well... unique. It is what it is. A solid top archtop acoustic with nylon strings (making its construction differ from archtop acoustic guitars, which use steel acoustic strings).



You will just have to listen to some sound samples and judge with your ears. To me, the D'angelico's sound warm and mid-rangey and the Koolau spruce top one sounds very bright and open.

With so much variety and experimentation in what an "archtop ukulele" is, I daresay every archtop ukulele is completely different from one another. Cannot generalise anything.

Adrian Ortiga
06-02-2015, 12:52 AM
Woah... thanks man, now im even more eager to study, gotta get myself a good paying job! xD hahahaha, thank you for the very detailed reply, kissing. :)

06-02-2015, 05:55 AM
Yes, there's a difference between nylon strung and steel strung archtop ukuleles, between laminated and solid tops on them, between acoustic and amplified ones, between ones with f-holes and oval holed archtops, between ones with tonebar bracing and X-bracing. But the biggest difference is the bridge design: with the kala ones it's a traditional fixed bridge, with the strings pulling the top forward towards the neck, for most archtops it's a 'floating bridge' with the strings pushing down on the top. Completely different physics (f.e. more cantilevered necks) and thus different sound.

It's basically louder, but you have to drive it a bit harder - like a violin can be very loud. It takes some time getting used to it. More pronounced mids, a bit less bass, about the same amount of trebles, and a lot of projection.

01-02-2016, 11:47 AM
Did anybody in here have the chance to compare the new Eastman Archtop Ukuleles with the D'Angelico Archtop Ukuleles ?

Patrick Madsen
01-02-2016, 07:59 PM
I have a Chennell baritone archtop with f holes and floating bridge. Toby hand carves the top and back. His specialty is basses and just came out with a small bass. Incredible instruments.

Mine was quieter than I expected. Probably because it was the first archtop uke I've owned and didn't realize it would be quieter. Since it has a floating bridge I've since changed over to a set of steel strings 13,17,26,35. It really livened up the sound; almost like a tenor guitar. It took a bit of getting used to but really like it. Toby ukes are at Jazzboxukuleles.com and his other instruments are at Chennellintsruments.com.