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View Full Version : What makes a good soundboard?



nobo13
11-21-2015, 12:14 PM
Hi all,

I've been making my ukulele soundboards with 1.5mm birch plywood, sometimes with bracing, sometimes without. I really want to go a bit deeper and explore what makes a good soundboard. What do you think makes a goodsound board? Which do you think is more significant, construction/bracing or material like solid wood/plywood?

Generally as well, how do you make your own soundboards? What were you taught about making a good soundboard?

Pete Howlett
11-21-2015, 12:43 PM
A good maker...

Joking aside, a search of this forum will give you a whole range of confusing and conflicting advice :) Using solid wood for a start is going to improve on your strategy of using plywood!

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
11-21-2015, 01:17 PM
A good maker...

hahahahhaha

A good soundboard is one that is light in weight, stiff, and rings when tapped.

Having said that, I made a soprano uke from tiger myrtle which taps like wet cardboard. It was supposed to be just a 'looker', but it turned out to actually sound good too!

nobo13
11-21-2015, 01:21 PM
Oh wow, I can't believe I'm hearing from the 'prostitute!' A big fan, Pete! Hope you are keeping well.

Just out of curiosity, what is your opinion on laminate? I am guessing the same. I have heard some good laminates.

Also, what do you think of the sides of an uke? Do you think having thing sides makes a significant difference to the ukulele as opposed to having thick sides?

I've been making ukes using a laser cutter, so plywood was an inexpensive choice for me. I was thinking of using some hard woods for a while now.

Pete Howlett
11-21-2015, 02:03 PM
No wriggle room with laminates... these days I need that :)

sequoia
11-21-2015, 05:22 PM
I made a soprano uke from tiger myrtle which taps like wet cardboard. It was supposed to be just a 'looker', but it turned out to actually sound good too!

I hear ya Beau. I made an absolutely stunning sounding uke from myrtle and it never did tap well. Really wet cardboard when it was thick to slightly dryer wet cardboard when it was reaching proper thickness. I don't even bother tapping the stuff anymore and just go by deflection. On the other hand I have some 35 year-old spruce plates (I forgot what it is, but all I know is it ain't Sitka) that is nearly a quarter inch thick and rings like a frigging bell when tapped or even just handled. It is actually kinda scary resonant. Would it make a better sounding uke than myrtle? I don't think necessarily so. Current theory (and please don't flame me): Big ringing tones can really make a guitar stand up, reach out and really talk while on the smaller real estate of an ukulele can cause it to dominate with too much tenor sustain and the thing starts to sound muddy and tinny. That being said, I was playing with some people yesterday with one of my Sitka spruce ukes and it just killed it projected so well and sounded great. Conclusion: It gets complicated and I don't understand it all yet and probably never will. But I like thinking about it and experimenting.

Timbuck
11-21-2015, 08:58 PM
If you've ever picked a live cheap microphone you can tell it's plugged in by the sound of your fingers on the casing..I've found that same thing when you pick up a good uke before it's strummed... It's alive in your hands. :music::music:

ksquine
11-23-2015, 08:37 AM
If you've ever picked a live cheap microphone you can tell it's plugged in by the sound of your fingers on the casing..I've found that same thing when you pick up a good uke before it's strummed... It's alive in your hands. :music::music:

Yep...I bought a guitar that way 20yrs ago and still glad I did