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View Full Version : Two Spruce tops tenors, which sound do you prefer?



Doc_J
06-17-2015, 10:58 AM
I've recorded 2 sound samples of my two spruce tops tenors (Ko'olau Deluxe rosewood B&S, mahogany neck. Boat Paddle D-Style, walnut B&S, maple neck). Both have fluorocarbon strings. The Ko'olau has Oasis brights low G, the BP has Worth CTs with a wound C (D'addario) & wound G (Aquila).

I haven't labeled which sound sample is which, so there is no brand bias.
Which sound sample do you prefer 1) or 2) ?
Can you tell which one is which?

Sound Samples: https://soundcloud.com/doc-hj/sets/two-spruce-top-tenor-ukes

http://i1298.photobucket.com/albums/ag56/Doc_Jenkins/Misc/P1070344_zpsnromntlr.jpg
http://i1298.photobucket.com/albums/ag56/Doc_Jenkins/Misc/P1070345_zpsunzwomtm.jpg
http://i1298.photobucket.com/albums/ag56/Doc_Jenkins/Misc/P1070346_zpsf0don81h.jpg

wayfarer75
06-17-2015, 11:10 AM
I like #2, but I don't know which is which.

Ukulele Eddie
06-17-2015, 11:45 AM
I pref #2 as it has more warmth to my ear. Look forward to hearing the results.

katysax
06-17-2015, 11:50 AM
Also prefer number 2.

Dan Uke
06-17-2015, 12:07 PM
No 1 is the BP.

PhilUSAFRet
06-17-2015, 12:19 PM
If I were getting a spruce top, it wouldn't be to get a "warmer" sound. I like the BP because it sounds more like what I'd buy a spruce topped uke to sound like....bright, clear, bell-like. The style on that BP is very cool.

Norman2
06-17-2015, 12:57 PM
Hi, I would choose No. 1 as it sounds so sweet and mellow to my ear. It is all subjective. Both are excellent ukuleles
but I would have to get used to the odd shape of No. 2. Hard choice.
regards, Norman2

Icelander53
06-17-2015, 01:17 PM
NO. 1 Very articulate imo. Some bell like tones but less warm than the other one. When you get your results I hope you'll tell us which was which.

warndt
06-17-2015, 01:23 PM
No. 2 is more responsive and is more to my liking.

RichM
06-17-2015, 02:00 PM
I like #2 better... more resonance and depth to me. But heck, I'm not buying it!

stevepetergal
06-17-2015, 02:27 PM
I like #2.

DownUpDave
06-17-2015, 02:33 PM
I voted #2 as it sounded more articulate when finger picked. But I liked #1 better when strummed, sounded warmer and fuller to me.

coolkayaker1
06-17-2015, 02:43 PM
No 1 is the BP.

I agree w Daniel.

itsme
06-17-2015, 03:16 PM
#2 sounds more well rounded and louder to me.

If that's the Boat Paddle I still would not buy it. I just don't like the "avant garde cutaway" look. Or any cutaways for that matter.

Hippie Dribble
06-17-2015, 03:29 PM
Number 1 is the Boat Paddle because the wound C stands out like dogs gonads!

I like the sound of both Doc. I do prefer the sound of Number 2 (which I think is the Ko'olau) though a little more.

Nice playing brother. I love these sound comparison threads you do mate. Cheers.

itsme
06-17-2015, 03:45 PM
Number 1 is the Boat Paddle because the wound C stands out like dogs gonads!
Wow, I didn't even notice that on first listen. You have an amazing ear for ukes! :)

stevejfc
06-17-2015, 05:12 PM
#2, which I believe is the Ko'olau

sam13
06-17-2015, 05:47 PM
I agree w Daniel.

I agree with Steve and Daniel.

I like No. 2 better.

uke-garou
06-17-2015, 05:55 PM
I like the picking on 2 but the strumming on 1.
Seems like 2 has a little better sustain up the neck, which I like.

Overall, I like 2.

hollisdwyer
06-18-2015, 12:23 AM
If I were getting a spruce top, it wouldn't be to get a "warmer" sound. I like the BP because it sounds more like what I'd buy a spruce topped uke to sound like....bright, clear, bell-like. The style on that BP is very cool.

I agree re why I want a spruce top as opposed to say all Koa or all any other wood. I think it would have been a better test if both instruments had the same strings. Both sound great but there are just so many variables beside the spruce top.
PS. I do love the BP D style shape though. Jerry H has really put a lot of most interesting designs out there, hasn't he?

Icelander53
06-18-2015, 02:14 AM
I agree. Once I realized the strings were no the same I didn't take it seriously. Just a "for fun" thing but not a valid way to choose between them. (IMO)

Hippie Dribble
06-18-2015, 02:21 AM
I agree. Once I realized the strings were no the same I didn't take it seriously. Just a "for fun" thing but not a valid way to choose between them. (IMO)

I don't understand the rationale behind this statement. At all. Take it "seriously"? No-one asked you to take anything seriously mate, just which sound you preferred given two sound sample of ukuleles with spruce tops and different sets of fluorocarbon strings. WTF. Talk about killjoys...

Mivo
06-18-2015, 02:42 AM
I preferred the second sample (after I finally got it to play -- not a fan of Soundcloud!), though I felt the two ukes (or strings) sounded different from each other, not better or worse than the other.

I like the BP shape (though not big on more traditional cutaways), but I'm generally a sucker for ukulele bodies that are slightly unique.

stevejfc
06-18-2015, 02:43 AM
agreed......just fun.......not a lab-controlled exact science experiment.

actadh
06-18-2015, 02:54 AM
I liked #1. Purer tone and sweeter sound.

Recstar24
06-18-2015, 02:55 AM
I don't understand the rationale behind this statement. At all. Take it "seriously"? No-one asked you to take anything seriously mate, just which sound you preferred given two sound sample of ukuleles with spruce tops and different sets of fluorocarbon strings. WTF. Talk about killjoys...

I love you man ;)

Jim Hanks
06-18-2015, 04:05 AM
1 is definitely brighter and more of a typical "spruce sound" I think. Which is why I prefer 2. :-)

Hammond
06-18-2015, 04:35 AM
I guess No.1 is Boat Paddle. No.2 is Ko'olau.

Great challenge :D



Which sound sample do you prefer 1) or 2) ?


No. 2 :)



Can you tell which one is which?


My guess:
No.2 has complex overtone, it disclose a bit info about how the sound reflex inside the body. Such overtone similar to most I have heard from traditional figure-eight body shape, less from cutaway ukes. Also not from No.1's sound sample (it has overtone, just not that complex (to my ear)).

They both are great instruments, sounds great and beautiful :o

UkerDanno
06-18-2015, 05:46 AM
I like #1 and love the look of the BP, although I usually don't care for non-traditional shapes...:shaka:

sam13
06-18-2015, 06:40 AM
Fun to follow this thread, Hodge.

When is the big reveal? And when look to see the Ko'olau ... can I be first in line? :cool:

DownUpDave
06-18-2015, 06:50 AM
Fun to follow this thread, Hodge.

When is the big reveal? And when look to see the Ko'olau ... can I be first in line? :cool:

When Hodge reveals that #2 is not the Ko'olau I will come over to your place with a big towel.

So you can wipe all the egg off your face :biglaugh::biglaugh::biglaugh:

Ukulele Eddie
06-18-2015, 06:57 AM
Maybe I'm just spruce-sensitive ;-), but as a side note, spruce doesn't necessarily mean "brighter." My Hive tenor has a spruce top / maple body and everyone comments on how beautifully warm and clear it is based on the HMS sound samples.

sam13
06-18-2015, 07:03 AM
When Hodge reveals that #2 is not the Ko'olau I will come over to your place with a big towel.

So you can wipe all the egg off your face :biglaugh::biglaugh::biglaugh:

You will have to leave it at the door ... because I will be playing my Spruce Pono Posse and won't be answering the door.

sam13
06-18-2015, 07:04 AM
Maybe I'm just spruce-sensitive ;-), but as a side note, spruce doesn't necessarily mean "brighter." My Hive tenor has a spruce top / maple body and everyone comments on how beautifully warm and clear it is based on the HMS sound samples.

I thought I would prefer Cedar more when I started but I am a Spruce lover ... unabashedly love the brightness and with some warmth to it. I agree with you.

Eddie, do you find your Cedar Tenor warm? I need to find the sound sample again and listen to it.

Ukulele Eddie
06-18-2015, 08:02 AM
I thought I would prefer Cedar more when I started but I am a Spruce lover ... unabashedly love the brightness and with some warmth to it. I agree with you.

Eddie, do you find your Cedar Tenor warm? I need to find the sound sample again and listen to it.

My tenors are all-mahogany (Collings UT2 Doghair (http://www.theukulelesite.com/collings-tenor-ut2-doghair-finish-1562.html)) and spruce/maple (Hive Hornet (http://www.theukulelesite.com/hive-ukulele-hornet-tenor-spruce-maple.html)) and I've provided links to Corey's sound samples of these exact ukes.

Icelander53
06-18-2015, 08:21 AM
I don't understand the rationale behind this statement. At all. Take it "seriously"? No-one asked you to take anything seriously mate, just which sound you preferred given two sound sample of ukuleles with spruce tops and different sets of fluorocarbon strings. WTF. Talk about killjoys...

How can my not taking this thread seriously kill your joy? I had no idea I had such power over other people's emotional states and over something so minor. I find what others think about anything to be minor in my scheme of things. I already posted which sound I prefer. And if you didn't ask me to take it seriously don't complain when I state that I don't.

Hippie Dribble
06-18-2015, 08:50 AM
How can my not taking this thread seriously kill your joy? I had no idea I had such power over other people's emotional states and over something so minor. I find what others think about anything to be minor in my scheme of things. I already posted which sound I prefer. And if you didn't ask me to take it seriously don't complain when I state that I don't.

Exactly! Why then make such a glib statement as that to which I responded? That's my point. The thread was about which sound you preferred and getting you to perhaps consider why that might be. I daresay, for our benefit, not Hodge's. And I am not complaining at you, simply trying to get you to understand that. A statement like "when I found out the strings were different I didn't bother to take it seriously..." has a pejorative slant to it. It's like a backhander to the OP and makes me wonder why you made it. You haven't killed my joy mate. Cheers.

Icelander53
06-18-2015, 09:16 AM
I made it because I made an inaccurate assumption. That he wanted to compare them overall against each other. That's how it usually goes and I jumped to a conclusion. I didn't mean it pejoratively but rather to state it's not a fair comparison of two ukes. He was comparing sound between them as is, which I didn't get likely because I wasn't playing very good attention to what I was reading. It's something I do at times. . I set out to kill no joy. I can usually do a lot better when I try but it still has no effect on anyone else. How could it?

Doc_J
06-18-2015, 09:49 AM
Time to reveal which sound sample is which. Y'all have some pretty good hearing. Sound sample no. 1 was the Boat Paddle (with the wound C), and sound sample no. 2 was the Ko'olau.

I enjoy the differences and virtues of both ukes. IMHO the Ko'olau sound has more note separation and bell/chime-like tones, excellent for finger style play. To me the Boat Paddle is a little warmer with more overtones, a great strummer, but still very good played finger style BTW the D-Style "cutaway" works well. I like the unique asymmetric look, too.

Hope you all had some fun listening and deciding which uke was played. :)

mds725
06-18-2015, 09:50 AM
I would also have prefered that both instruments had the same strings. I have a preference, but I don't know if that preference is attributable to the strings, the instruments, or both. To the extent that you are asking us to choose between the instruments, the strings present too great a variable.

For what it's worth, I prefered recording #2, but please don't think of that as a vote for one instrument over another or one type of strings over another.

Doc_J
06-18-2015, 10:00 AM
I would also have prefered that both instruments had the same strings. I have a preference, but I don't know if that preference is attributable to the strings, the instruments, or both. To the extent that you are asking us to choose between the instruments, the strings present too great a variable.

For what it's worth, I prefered recording #2, but please don't think of that as a vote for one instrument over another or one type of strings over another.

I agree it's as much about the strings as the uke. But aside from the wound C, the Worths and Oasis FC strings are very similar. I needed the wound C string to eliminate a fret buzz, until I make a new slightly higher saddle.

Ukulele Eddie
06-18-2015, 11:53 AM
I would also have prefered that both instruments had the same strings. I have a preference, but I don't know if that preference is attributable to the strings, the instruments, or both. To the extent that you are asking us to choose between the instruments, the strings present too great a variable.

I don't think they need to have the same strings. I think each uke should have the strings that the owner feels make it sound the best.

DownUpDave
06-18-2015, 12:31 PM
I don't think they need to have the same strings. I think each uke should have the strings that the owner feels make it sound the best.

You beat me to the punch on that one Eddie, my exact same thought. Hodge is also very skilled at finding the best strings for each of his ukes so I find this an even more meaningful test. Each uke is at it's very best.

Hodge my comments echoed your assesments of the two ukes, #1 a warm strummer, #2 a fingerpicker. Just more reason for UAS, need a uke for every sound and occassion. :p

geetee
06-18-2015, 01:10 PM
Just for fun I tested your sound samples with a dB meter. For whatever reason, sound sample #2 is louder than sample #1. On this planet, louder will almost always be perceived to be better. If you are ever auditioning speakers, make sure the volume levels are exactly the same. Otherwise, you'll be drawn to the louder ones almost every time.

sam13
06-18-2015, 01:41 PM
You beat me to the punch on that one Eddie, my exact same thought. Hodge is also very skilled at finding the best strings for each of his ukes so I find this an even more meaningful test. Each uke is at it's very best.

Hodge my comments echoed your assesments of the two ukes, #1 a warm strummer, #2 a fingerpicker. Just more reason for UAS, need a uke for every sound and occassion. :p

Um ... Guess there is no towel needed. Huh? Whether it was louder or not, I preferred the Ko'olau because of the builder. I am thinking.

Icelander53
06-18-2015, 02:26 PM
Just for fun I tested your sound samples with a dB meter. For whatever reason, sound sample #2 is louder than sample #1. On this planet, louder will almost always be perceived to be better. If you are ever auditioning speakers, make sure the volume levels are exactly the same. Otherwise, you'll be drawn to the louder ones almost every time.

Ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really liked no. 1 but it goes against the reasoning of most here. Odd man out as usual.

mds725
06-18-2015, 02:29 PM
I don't think they need to have the same strings. I think each uke should have the strings that the owner feels make it sound the best.

I also believe that every uke should have the strings that are best for it. But to compare two ukuleles and eliminate all possible extraneous reasons that they might sound different other than the build and the materials (which is what I believed the OP wanted to do), it would have helped to have had the same strings on both.

And for what it's worth, I don't believe that Oasis and Worth strings are interchangeable. I have two Kamaka tenors, one with Worths and one with Oasis strings and, to my ear, they sound a little different. Is that attributable to natural variations among ukuleles built by the same maker, but I don't think of Worth and Oasis strings as being interchangeable.

Icelander53
06-18-2015, 02:37 PM
I was going to mention that about worth and oasis which I have a bit of experience with. I prefer the worth almost every time. But according to the response I got he was not trying to compare them to each other as to which instrument sounds better. So to pick one you have to not compare them to each other and you have to take a lot of variables into account if you do. I hope I made that clear enough to make sense because it hardly does to me.

M3Ukulele
06-18-2015, 03:02 PM
Nice poll Hodge and great sample. I love spruce tops so put no preference but.......did notice the clarity slightly better on #2 and did notice strumming better sound on #1. Both are fantastic and agreed strings are what they are and we all strive to find the best fit of strings to ukulele. Love the D shape of the BP/Hoffman. How is playing up the neck on the D shape? Is reach and issue or do you even notice? Fret joint is kinda at 13 almost 14 but 15 seems to be very reachable! I can't wait to someday play both. Thanks for sharing.

gregc
06-18-2015, 03:30 PM
I had no preference and thought both sounded real nice. I thought sample 2 had more of a classic uke tone, to me ear.

Dan Uke
06-18-2015, 04:25 PM
I personally don't think strings make that much of a difference. Like many, I listen to a lot of recordings from HMS so could tell which uke was which....or I got extremely lucky.

Icelander53
06-18-2015, 04:36 PM
I used to think that too. Then I started changing strings.

Doc_J
06-18-2015, 04:43 PM
Nice poll Hodge and great sample. I love spruce tops so put no preference but.......did notice the clarity slightly better on #2 and did notice strumming better sound on #1. Both are fantastic and agreed strings are what they are and we all strive to find the best fit of strings to ukulele. Love the D shape of the BP/Hoffman. How is playing up the neck on the D shape? Is reach and issue or do you even notice? Fret joint is kinda at 13 almost 14 but 15 seems to be very reachable! I can't wait to someday play both. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks. Playing up the neck is a breeze with effective cutaway of the D-style shape. Reach is not an issue. But I don't go beyond the 15th fret.

soupking
06-18-2015, 04:59 PM
Hey Doc, just wanted to chime in and say I don't think I've ever missed a Hodge thread! Haha. It's much appreciated, as always. Please do keep 'em coming :music:

AKuker
06-18-2015, 07:49 PM
I liked #1 best. Nice clear sound.
Randy

wayfarer75
06-19-2015, 02:39 AM
I personally don't think strings make that much of a difference. Like many, I listen to a lot of recordings from HMS so could tell which uke was which....or I got extremely lucky.

I think some strings sound really similar. Oasis brights and Martin M600s are really close, for example, and both very similar to a lot of other fluorocarbons. I think the biggest variety is in the nylon strings I've tried. Kamaka, Aquila (regular and Lava), Ko'olau Mahanas, D'Addario Pro Arte--they all sounded really different to my ear.

CTurner
06-19-2015, 06:12 AM
You beat me to the punch on that one Eddie, my exact same thought. Hodge is also very skilled at finding the best strings for each of his ukes so I find this an even more meaningful test. Each uke is at it's very best.

Hodge my comments echoed your assesments of the two ukes, #1 a warm strummer, #2 a fingerpicker. Just more reason for UAS, need a uke for every sound and occassion. :p

I, too, think this is a valid approach to comparing two ukes at their "best". As long as the parameters are stated up front, we can put the quiz in context, as always. Thanks for me too, Hodge.

Icelander53
06-19-2015, 08:54 AM
Most people here when comparing ukes, usually as a possible purchase want the playing field level. So if that's not what's going on then it's less confusion if it's stated as clearly as possible in the OP. I made the mistake of thinking the OP was in the first group which is the vast majority and I didn't know him from Adam so I didn't know what his experience level was. If one is not buying but just wants to show them off or see if others hear things the same it's a whole different game and totally valid.

Ukulele Eddie
06-19-2015, 09:05 AM
Most people here when comparing ukes, usually as a possible purchase want the playing field level. So if that's not what's going on then it's less confusion if it's stated as clearly as possible in the OP. I made the mistake of thinking the OP was in the first group which is the vast majority and I didn't know him from Adam so I didn't know what his experience level was. If one is not buying but just wants to show them off or see if others hear things the same it's a whole different game.

It's quite common for people to change strings on a uke to ones that give the best sound for their ear since it is quite cheap to do so and it can have a large impact. Which strings sound best depend not only on your sound preferences, but also your playing style (how you strum, the strength of your attack, etc.) and the type of music you enjoy. Some retailers will change strings as well, especially if the spec ones are crap (and sometimes they are).

Makes no sense to me to mandate the strings be the same, which may be great for one uke but not the other or even crap for both. If anything, I would think you would to mandate that the strings be spec from the factory to get the best "out of the box comparison", but as we know many manufacturers will use "okay" strings because they have other considerations (cost, availability, etc.).

For comparison purposes, I'd rather hear the ukes with whatever strings sound best on each to the reviewer's ears. That way, each uke is putting its best foot forward so to speak.

Icelander53
06-19-2015, 09:14 AM
Well thinking on it that way you make good sense. It's tough because I've bought ukes with stock strings that suck. I switched them out to great effect.

plunker
06-21-2015, 08:48 AM
Neither one sounded likey K AT. I liked #1 better

Papa Bear
06-21-2015, 12:35 PM
I prefer #3 as well. Better projection and sustain. Number one has a very pronounced volume for one particular note also.

Ukulele Eddie
06-21-2015, 12:59 PM
Well thinking on it that way you make good sense. It's tough because I've bought ukes with stock strings that suck. I switched them out to great effect.

@Icelander53. I like that you put your views out there but you always consider others' input and then re-evaluate your position. That's refreshing in a time when so many seem to hold onto their positions like a dog with his chew toy. Do I have your permission to print this and show my wife next time she thinks I'm not making sense? ;-)

DownUpDave
06-21-2015, 01:39 PM
@Icelander53. I like that you put your views out there but you always consider others' input and then re-evaluate your position. That's refreshing in a time when so many seem to hold onto their positions like a dog with his chew toy. Do I have your permission to print this and show my wife next time she thinks I'm not making sense? ;-)

Eddie, I might be talking out of place here but I believe you have the permission from every male on this forum. It is father's day so this is our gift to you. Hoping icelander agrees.

"If a man makes a statement in the forest and his wife isn't there to hear it, is he still wrong" :p

mkatz
06-21-2015, 03:30 PM
I preferred #1 and thought that it was warmer and more full sounding. Love the look of the Boat Paddle and may have to look into getting a D Style concert.

Mitch

Hippie Dribble
06-22-2015, 12:21 AM
"If a man makes a statement in the forest and his wife isn't there to hear it, is he still wrong" :p

Haha! Love it Dave. :)

DownUpDave
06-22-2015, 01:29 AM
Haha! Love it Dave. :)

Thanks bro. That quote is just too good to not use whenever possible. Considering yesterday was fathers day.........had to get one in for the "boys"

Doc_J
06-22-2015, 06:17 AM
"If a man makes a statement in the forest and his wife isn't there to hear it, is he still wrong" :p

My wife confirmed, the answer is yes! :)

Dan Uke
06-22-2015, 08:07 AM
My wife confirmed, the answer is yes! :)

Doesn't really matter cuz I never admit I'm wrong!! :p

molokinirum
06-22-2015, 08:11 AM
Like the sound of #2, but love the look of the Ko'olau.

dkcrown
06-22-2015, 12:46 PM
I have to confess that I didn't even listen to the sound samples, sorry Hodge. :( BTW, I would love to hear a sound comparison involving your new Grimes! I just have to say it is nice to see some of the old guard responding to your thread. And Jon, I love you man! especially since the shackles of being a moderator have been removed. :)

Doc_J
06-22-2015, 05:26 PM
I have to confess that I didn't even listen to the sound samples, sorry Hodge. :( BTW, I would love to hear a sound comparison involving your new Grimes! I just have to say it is nice to see some of the old guard responding to your thread. And Jon, I love you man! especially since the shackles of being a moderator have been removed. :)

Dana, I'll definitely do a comparison with my new Grimes. But it may not have the optimal strings on it.

Pete F
08-18-2015, 12:31 AM
#1 for me - just prefer it on the single notes being less bell like

sonomajazz
08-18-2015, 05:30 AM
So, I just came across this tread...didn't want to read it through and give it away (to myself)...

I originally preferred #1, voted that way and imagined it to be the Ko'olau...but after listening 2-3 more times, now I can't decide but I still think #1 is the Ko...at least I want it to be...and is it for sale...yet??

Anyway, good effort here Doc...thanks...

fretie
08-18-2015, 12:53 PM
#1 worked for me... settled, mature sound.