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Brian_the_electrician
09-12-2015, 03:51 PM
I happened by the store I recently purchased my Snail ebony concert uke and tried a few more. There were a lot of cheap soprano ukes but a few good ones too. One that really impressed me was a Ohana with a solid mahogany top. It was well set up and well made. I was really surprised by how loud it was and how not all that different in terms of playing a concert model. I sort of assumed sopranos would be hard to fret and project not well at all. An heirloom quality one must be pretty darned good indeed.

I was also surprised by how little difference I detected going the other way. The lone decent tenor, an Amahi, the store had in stock, was one I tried when I bought the Snail. I could have gone either way. The tenor being larger was slightly easier to play up the neck but the tone and volume, while good enough, wasn't all that different from the concerts.

I am looking already for uke number two since I'd like one with a built in pickup and pre-amp to work it into gigs. I assumed I'd end up with a tenor but I think a concert is probably going to do the trick. But who knows? Once a p.a. system or amp is in the picture, a soprano might end up being the one.

When the time comes to lay out big-ish money for a really nice all solid uke I will have to give soprano ukes serious consideration. Coming from the world of guitar really surprised me.

PhilUSAFRet
09-12-2015, 04:15 PM
I've had two sopranos surprise me. My pre-war Martin O has always surprised me, but I stumbled onto a Kamaka white label soprano at a price I just couldn't pass up. I never even wanted a Kamaka soprano.......until I got one. Now I have two soprano "sound cannons" and that Kamaka will keep my Martin company forever.

CactusWren
09-12-2015, 04:28 PM
Sopranos are legit instruments.

CeeJay
09-12-2015, 04:33 PM
Sopranos Bark, Concerts Hum and Tenors Purr like big cats......in my limited strummy world opinion anyway....Sops are my fave ....I really ought to get a half decent one ...or get the bridge stuck back on my Omega Zedro Sop....

Mivo
09-12-2015, 08:53 PM
I think it really depends on the individual soprano. I only have two of them, one a KPK-ish mahogany, and the other a 1920s vintage one, also mahogany. The latter is "barky", the former is noticeably (even to me, which says something!) more mellow and louder than my acacia and cypress tenors. Both have fluorocarbon strings.

I oscillate back and forth between sopranos and tenors. On different days I seem to prefer different types of sounds. I'm definitely fond of the sopranos because it's the least guitar-like and I feel it has the most unique character of the ukulele family. It's also the size that made me decide for the ukulele when I looked into string instruments with the goal of learning one (and wanted something that's very portable).

What got me into tenors were the great videos of people fingerpicking classical and baroque tones, and the often stated suitability of the tenor for that style. Jake and James Hill also contributed to my initial "tenors offer more potential" view. I also often like the deeper, guitar-y sound, though that then usually makes me wonder about getting an acoustic guitar.

Then I discovered John King (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7eCz8SC86U), Wilfried Welti (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt-667ns7gmi7VNRRjjVrYg), Samantha Muir (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_6wKay150LzInkitgTkvYg/videos) (links are to Youtube videos and channels), and their excellent fingerstyle-playing on the soprano, which made me realize the amazing things that can be done with a soprano.

I also find the soprano easiest to play. Certainly easiest to strum. But I've not gone far up the neck yet, so my take on this may change with more personal experience. I did decide not to buy or sell any ukes until I have sorted out my uke-y preferences, though! :)

Kimosabe
09-12-2015, 11:22 PM
I love my baritone, my tenors and concerts but lately I've really enjoyed learning Jazz on my Ohana Vita because it's so small and easy to hide behind a desk in my bedroom. I sit on my bed practicing comfortably. Later I pick up my Kanilea K-1 tenor and it feels like butter under my fingers and sounds beautiful but that doesn't diminish the enjoyment I had playing my soprano sized Vita. They're all good. Leave me on a desert island with either one and I'll be happy to just enjoy playing.

turtledrum
09-13-2015, 02:54 AM
Also great to try are the "hybrids." Super soprano can give you the added frets you need for certain chord melody arrangements.

There's room in my heart for all the models.

bnolsen
09-13-2015, 04:38 AM
I also find the soprano easiest to play. Certainly easiest to strum. But I've not gone far up the neck yet, so my take on this may change with more personal experience. I did decide not to buy or sell any ukes until I have sorted out my uke-y preferences, though! :)

the high chords is what's making me want to pick up a tenor with a wide nut.

Mivo
09-13-2015, 05:07 AM
the high chords is what's making me want to pick up a tenor with a wide nut.

I'm afraid that could happen to me also. I'm not overly fond of long neck sopranos -- it's mostly a visual thing, though. Just looks off to me. Then again, if I could play like those players I mentioned, I'd be perfectly happy and didn't need more range! :) Well, one day. I won't complain when get to a point where the first ten, twelve frets won't do anymore.

CactusWren
09-13-2015, 06:24 AM
I kind of like my tenor, but am starting to find them overrated. Maybe I'm just a soprano guy. The only thing I really prefer about them is they tend to have more frets--maybe I'll end up a concert-ino.

bnolsen
09-13-2015, 07:05 AM
I'm afraid that could happen to me also. I'm not overly fond of long neck sopranos -- it's mostly a visual thing, though. Just looks off to me. Then again, if I could play like those players I mentioned, I'd be perfectly happy and didn't need more range! :) Well, one day. I won't complain when get to a point where the first ten, twelve frets won't do anymore.

its not the number of frets, its the space between them higher up the frets.

CeeJay
09-13-2015, 07:44 AM
I kind of like my tenor, but am starting to find them overrated. Maybe I'm just a soprano guy. The only thing I really prefer about them is they tend to have more frets--maybe I'll end up a concert-ino.

What .....? A Squeeze Box ?

CactusWren
09-13-2015, 10:07 AM
Failed play on words, concert ino could be someone who plays a concert.

wayfarer75
09-13-2015, 10:15 AM
As a lady with small hands, I have always found the sopranos easier to play. I have two concerts but I am not nearly so nimble on them.

lakesideglenn
09-13-2015, 12:38 PM
As far as what I play most, my progression has been: guitar (for many years) -> tenor -> concert -> super- soprano -> soprano -> vintage sopranos, especially old Martins.
There's just something magic about old wood and craftsmanship...

CeeJay
09-13-2015, 01:24 PM
Failed play on words, concert ino could be someone who plays a concert.

Yes, okay, right.

Clearly my humour failed.

ukegirl
09-13-2015, 03:48 PM
Sopranos Bark, Concerts Hum and Tenors Purr like big cats......in my limited strummy world opinion anyway....Sops are my fave ....I really ought to get a half decent one ...or get the bridge stuck back on my Omega Zedro Sop....

Really well put!

chuck in ny
09-13-2015, 06:23 PM
sopranos turn normal notions and acoustics on their sides. i'm a mahogany guy- but with the small sound box koa and everything else sounds just right on the soprano. it doesn't have to be warm, it doesn't have to be bright, it's just itself.
the ohana is a surprisingly reputable instrument. it takes a lot of doing and cash to do significantly better.
fun, anyone?

CeeJay
09-13-2015, 06:33 PM
A whimsical notion about your soprano for those who like to perform, including guitar players. Your Tenor/Guitar is the working tool that you use for making money and/or performance. You do practice and stuff with it so you can be a good performer for other people who may or may not be paying you. Your soprano is for pure recreation, you never ever do practice with it. It only comes out when the audience has gone or you take a break during the day or when you are socialising. You never play the same way twice in a row on your soprano, sometimes you will accompany yourself crooning other times you will look like a prune playing an obscure classical piece by a person with a Spanish name who died before 1700. Your soprano is at least 10 years old, either a turn of the century U30 (tweaked) or Flea (plastic finger board), or a vintage Martin or Favilla, or maybe a custom made by a person who no longer makes ukes, but your soprano looks like a plain old thing. You could not care less how it intones. When you can't bring it somewhere, you talk about it and complain that you could be playing it. Your big hands make it possible to cover 8 or 9 frets without moving your hand, and you can hit the high notes easily and will argue that the other strings you hit at the same time are there for colour, not becuase your fingers can't hit just one note. etc.

I'm not quite sure how to take this ?

CeeJay
09-13-2015, 07:12 PM
Take it as written, and with a grain of salt. Let go and loosen up with your soprano, that is where the real fun of owning a ukulele lies.

Granted . Sops are THE ukulele for me ...I get it now...it's 5 in the AM I must be getting a bit woolly headed...

Cheers

phil_doleman
09-14-2015, 08:10 AM
I rarely play anything bigger than a concert, and my main stage uke is a soprano. I think it's sad when people think that the soprano is a toy, or not to be taken seriously, or that soprano players will eventually work their way 'up' to a tenor.

Soprano ukes are a very similar scale length to a mandolin, and I never seem to here of mandolin players not taking the mando seriously because it's not a mandocello...

pbagley
09-14-2015, 08:25 AM
I can and do fully relate, except for me it is my bass that is the working tool and the ukuleles that are for fun. I thought I was the only one who never played anything the same way twice, now I know there are two of us. The reason why ... is that playing things the same all the time is boring. Mix it up, improvise, try new things, and most importantly have fun with music.


A whimsical notion about your soprano for those who like to perform, including guitar players. Your Tenor/Guitar is the working tool that you use for making money and/or performance. You do practice and stuff with it so you can be a good performer for other people who may or may not be paying you. Your soprano is for pure recreation, you never ever do practice with it. It only comes out when the audience has gone or you take a break during the day or when you are socialising. You never play the same way twice in a row on your soprano, sometimes you will accompany yourself crooning other times you will look like a prune playing an obscure classical piece by a person with a Spanish name who died before 1700. Your soprano is at least 10 years old, either a turn of the century U30 (tweaked) or Flea (plastic finger board), or a vintage Martin or Favilla, or maybe a custom made by a person who no longer makes ukes, but your soprano looks like a plain old thing. You could not care less how it intones. When you can't bring it somewhere, you talk about it and complain that you could be playing it. Your big hands make it possible to cover 8 or 9 frets without moving your hand, and you can hit the high notes easily and will argue that the other strings you hit at the same time are there for colour, not becuase your fingers can't hit just one note. etc.

Thank you. That was well written and appreciated.

Mivo
09-15-2015, 09:59 AM
I rarely play anything bigger than a concert, and my main stage uke is a soprano. I think it's sad when people think that the soprano is a toy, or not to be taken seriously, or that soprano players will eventually work their way 'up' to a tenor.

I wonder about the reasons. Well, I guess the prominence and visibility of tenor players like Jake contributed a lot to this view, as did Tiny Tim. There's probably also the aspect of modern society's belief that bigger is better, and since tenors have more frets, they must be superior as you can, in theory, play more notes on it Then again, that way of thinking should lead straight to the guitar.

I admire great tenor players and love the music they make, but they never impress me as much as a skillful soprano player. Soprano performances feel more unique and original to me, whereas many tenor performances remind me of what guitar players play and do.

CactusWren
09-15-2015, 10:55 AM
I wonder about the reasons. Well, I guess the prominence and visibility of tenor players like Jake contributed a lot to this view, as did Tiny Tim. There's probably also the aspect of modern society's belief that bigger is better, and since tenors have more frets, they must be superior as you can, in theory, play more notes on it Then again, that way of thinking should lead straight to the guitar.

I admire great tenor players and love the music they make, but they never impress me as much as a skillful soprano player. Soprano performances feel more unique and original to me, whereas many tenor performances remind me of what guitar players play and do.

It drives me nuts when tenor players play what a guitarist would do. Sometimes you can't really tell it's a ukulele when you are listening. I think they are missing a big opportunity and will never be able to beat a guitar on its own turf. The ukulele wins when it _sounds_ like an ukulele.