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onlyablur
12-27-2015, 08:15 AM
Hello all, I've been playing for a couple of months only, and didn't play any string instrument before. I'm interested to know what are the build factors that affect the sound of an uke? the tonewoods, body shape, soundport position, top thickness etc etc? Could you please list the major factors, and I can read more about them?

Thank you!

wickedwahine11
12-27-2015, 09:07 AM
I am moving this post to the Luthier's Lounge for you, where you will probably find more knowledgable answers as the builders are most likely to be better able to answer.

For my limited knowledge, I have two instruments from the same builder. Both sound and look great, but one definitely sounds richer and fuller than the other, even in blind sound tests with a professional musician friend of mine. It has a slotted headstock and an offset soundhole, which I have heard allow for better sustain and a larger portion of the soundboard to vibrate. I think you will find tonewood definitely affects the sound as well - with most of what I have seen saying plainer wood often sounds better than curly wood. I am sure the luthiers will be able to better answer your question though than my anecdotal response.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-27-2015, 03:14 PM
While all the things you mention contribute to some degree, the most important factor is the technique and experience of the builder.

sequoia
12-27-2015, 04:13 PM
The problem here is that the question is too broad. It is like asking: How can I be happier in life or what is the key to peace in the Middle East? Making a good sounding ukulele is an art and a science and depends on many complex factors coming together as a whole. Plus, what makes a good sounding ukulele is a point of endless discussion (and yes, heated argument sometimes) among luthiers and people who listen to ukuleles.

I guess if you wanted a soundbite it would be: Build them light, but build them strong. But this is a gross oversimplification of an extremely intricate and delicate operation. Another sound-bite: It's the top stupid. Another gross oversimplification, but perhaps closer to the truth. The variables are many and there is no one answer short of a book that might make a good door stop it is so heavy and even then it would fall short. Title: The Complete Book of Ukulele Building: Simplified.

For instance the moderator posted a reference to a slotted head-stock and an eccentric sound hole. The uke sounded great. But that sound might have had nothing to do with the method of winding the strings or the position of the sound-hole. As a matter of fact, those two factors might have had nothing to do with the sound. What had to do with the great sound was how the whole was assembled. The sum of its parts so to speak and not any one specific feature. So basically the question is impossible to answer. However, that won't stop me or other's from putting in their opinions....

chuck in ny
12-27-2015, 05:26 PM
best thing is to look at youtube. ukulele and guitar makers go on about their soundboards and bracing schemes, and the way they test them as they adjust things to maximize resonance and response. it is as has been stated a matter of the builder's skill and knowledge as the instrument gets put together. we are here talking about one-off crafted instruments. with mass produced ukes you have to play a dozen of a particular model to find one that is special.
i hope you are not sorry you asked the question.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-27-2015, 07:39 PM
O
The problem here is that the question is too broad. It is like asking: How can I be happier in life or what is the key to peace in the Middle East? Making a good sounding ukulele is an art and a science and depends on many complex factors coming together as a whole. Plus, what makes a good sounding ukulele is a point of endless discussion (and yes, heated argument sometimes) among luthiers and people who listen to ukuleles.

I guess if you wanted a soundbite it would be: Build them light, but build them strong. But this is a gross oversimplification of an extremely intricate and delicate operation. Another sound-bite: It's the top stupid. Another gross oversimplification, but perhaps closer to the truth. The variables are many and there is no one answer short of a book that might make a good door stop it is so heavy and even then it would fall short. Title: The Complete Book of Ukulele Building: Simplified.

For instance the moderator posted a reference to a slotted head-stock and an eccentric sound hole. The uke sounded great. But that sound might have had nothing to do with the method of winding the strings or the position of the sound-hole. As a matter of fact, those two factors might have had nothing to do with the sound. What had to do with the great sound was how the whole was assembled. The sum of its parts so to speak and not any one specific feature. So basically the question is impossible to answer. However, that won't stop me or other's from putting in their opinions....

I built the ukes the moderator mentioned and I do indeed believe that the additional weight of the slotted headstock and the offset sound hole contributed favorably to the tone of that uke. Everything else on those two ukes were similar.

Kekani
12-27-2015, 08:57 PM
What Chuck said, both times.

To answer the OP, just for conversation, the answer is yes to your variables, except the soundport position. I have no comment on that, and not many will, but I would venture an educated guess the answer is yes.

More variables?
Grain orientation, runout, etc
Glue
Neck material, neck stiffness, Carbon Fiber rod,
Headstock weight, including tuning machine weight, size of headstock, etc.
Back thickness
Side thickness
Linings (solid, kerfed, reverse kerfed, etc)
Heel block
Tail Block
Top bracing
Bridge patch
Back bracing
Side bracing
Soundhole size, shape, location
Fretboard thickness, material
Bridge height, material, location
Saddle height/action, shape, compensation, material
Fret height, shape
Nut height/action, material
Strings
Tuning
Finishes
Pickups

Build processes that affect the player, which affects sound:
Neck shape
Fretboard width
Fret dressing
Headstock shape
Body thickness
String spacing
Nut shape
Saddle Shape

I think I hit most of it, save for inlay location I guess and some other stuff.

Kevs-the-name
12-27-2015, 11:53 PM
More variables?
Grain orientation, runout, etc
Glue
Neck material, neck stiffness, Carbon Fiber rod,
Headstock weight, including tuning machine weight, size of headstock, etc.
Back thickness
Side thickness
Linings (solid, kerfed, reverse kerfed, etc)
Heel block
Tail Block
Top bracing
Bridge patch
Back bracing
Side bracing
Soundhole size, shape, location
Fretboard thickness, material
Bridge height, material, location
Saddle height/action, shape, compensation, material
Fret height, shape
Nut height/action, material
Strings
Tuning
Finishes
Pickups

Build processes that affect the player, which affects sound:
Neck shape
Fretboard width
Fret dressing
Headstock shape
Body thickness
String spacing
Nut shape
Saddle Shape

I think I hit most of it, save for inlay location I guess and some other stuff.

This is a great reply to an open question.
(It is a perfect check list to help me improve my building)
I have 'a few' variables to play with now! :biglaugh:
I'll start at the top!

onlyablur
12-28-2015, 04:17 AM
Thank you all for your replies! You have certainly helped me look at the bigger picture here, ie it's not just each particular element, but how all of the elements are put together (luthiers' techniques) that matters.
Thank you again!

Kekani
12-28-2015, 05:47 AM
This is a great reply to an open question.
(It is a perfect check list to help me improve my building)
I have 'a few' variables to play with now! :biglaugh:
I'll start at the top!

Admittedly (some may disagree), a question like this is better asked in the Lounge (which it hasn't until now, unless I missed it), than assumed elsewhere (which it usually is).

Realize that these are just variables of the equation. Some will hold greater value than others, and some so infinitesimal that measuring tools may not catch it, especially when there are no two EXACTLY the same builds factored in.

I'd go on to say some (most) won't be human ear decipherable. Add in that there is no true control instrument to compare against, all we have is statistics and time. Even that process can be flawed because if more than one variable is changed over time, you can't statistically measure a trend as there are some (most) variables that affect others.

Caveat: this is the internet, and I could be completely wrong :cool:

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-28-2015, 05:59 AM
O

I do indeed believe that the additional weight of the slotted headstock and the offset sound hole contributed favorably to the tone of that uke. Everything else on those two ukes were similar.

If the added weight of a slotted headstock contribute favorably to the tone, I don't understand why you poo poo heavier neck woods and heavier tuners if you think the added weight at the end (slotted headstock) makes a better sounding uke???

Pete Howlett
12-28-2015, 08:31 AM
I smell fire... I am keepingo out of this one. I know what works for me and I am noth giving up the answer freely ��

Titchtheclown
12-28-2015, 08:55 AM
How about
the way it is played.
How it is miked
How it is mixed
The place the listener sits
The size of the room you are playing in
The song you are playing
What the other members of the band are doing.

Kekani
12-28-2015, 10:02 AM
How about
the way it is played.
How it is miked
How it is mixed
The place the listener sits
The size of the room you are playing in
The song you are playing
What the other members of the band are doing.

Absolutely variables, including what you are playing through (proper PA, or battery powered Roland), and all that the amplification threads in Tech cover.. But I wouldn't consider those part of the build process.

geetee
12-28-2015, 01:03 PM
There are a couple variables not mentioned in the two instruments WW11 is comparing. The one described as having a richer and fuller sound, in addition to having a slotted headstock and an offset soundhole, has a wider lower bout and a string-through bridge (as opposed to tie-on).

I think it is generally accepted that having the sound hole offset up towards the player's ears will give them the perception of a louder instrument, but makes little difference to the listener in front.

On a joking note, do you think the weight of the inlay on the standard headstock (plus the upper fingerboard) could compensate for the difference in weight of a slotted headstock? :rolleyes:

wickedwahine11
12-28-2015, 01:12 PM
There are a couple variables not mentioned in the two instruments WW11 is comparing. The one described as having a richer and fuller sound, in addition to having a slotted headstock and an offset soundhole, has a wider lower bout and a string-through bridge (as opposed to tie-on).

I think it is generally accepted that having the sound hole offset up towards the player's ears will give them the perception of a louder instrument, but makes little difference to the listener in front.

On a joking note, do you think the weight of the inlay on the standard headstock (plus the upper fingerboard) could compensate for the difference in weight of a slotted headstock? :rolleyes:

Yes, you are right, I forgot about the wider bout and different bridge. As for the offset soundhole, I thought maybe the same thing, but when I did the blind sound test with my friend (who is a professional musician), he had his back turned to me, and I literally played two notes when he shouted out, "That one!" I still don't know why, be it the headstock, soundhole, different wood, bridge, etc. but it does sound different. Don't get me wrong, the other sounds fantastic too, good enough for me to have sold all my other ukes. But the new one has a certain special resonance that gives it the tonal edge.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
12-28-2015, 02:46 PM
I've since come to the understanding (since the last thread on side sound ports) that :
Side sound ports raise the pitch of the tone (of the air and top resonance) and as higher pitched tones project further then lower tones, it gives the impression of, and therefore is, a louder instrument.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-28-2015, 03:15 PM
Yes, you are right, I forgot about the wider bout and different bridge. As for the offset soundhole, I thought maybe the same thing, but when I did the blind sound test with my friend (who is a professional musician), he had his back turned to me, and I literally played two notes when he shouted out, "That one!" I still don't know why, be it the headstock, soundhole, different wood, bridge, etc. but it does sound different. Don't get me wrong, the other sounds fantastic too, good enough for me to have sold all my other ukes. But the new one has a certain special resonance that gives it the tonal edge.

Good point. These changes come so subtly I often forget about them. I've also changed my bracing a little too. Your slotted uke is made of blonde koa which I have found gives a more "open" sound than the darker, denser koa (that your other uke is built from.) There are hundreds of little things that go into making a fine instrument, many of them I'm not even aware of and in hindsight are discovered when I remember I changed something. I'm an intuitive builder, rarely taking notes anymore (I couldn't find them if I did anyway.) if you build enough of them and keep making changes that you hope are improvements, you're bound to make a few good ones.

Pete Howlett
12-29-2015, 11:05 AM
Bearing in mind he was in his 70's when Hokusai, the great Japanese print maker publish his 36 Views of Mt Fuji that started with the spectacular 'wave' print he said this:

At the age of five years I had the habit of sketching things. At the age of fifty I had produced a large number of pictures, but for all that, none of them had any merit until the age of seventy. At seventy-three finally I learned something about the true nature of things, birds, animals, insects, fish, the grasses and the trees. So at the age of eighty years I will have made some progress, at ninety I will have penetrated the deepest significance of things, at a hundred I will make real wonders and at a hundred and ten, every point, every line, will have a life of its own- I'd say we got a ways to go eh Chuck?

sequoia
12-29-2015, 05:18 PM
More variables?
Grain orientation, runout, etc
Glue
Neck material, neck stiffness, Carbon Fiber rod,
Headstock weight, including tuning machine weight, size of headstock, etc.
Back thickness
Side thickness
Linings (solid, kerfed, reverse kerfed, etc)
Heel block
Tail Block
Top bracing
Bridge patch
Back bracing
Side bracing
Soundhole size, shape, location
Fretboard thickness, material
Bridge height, material, location
Saddle height/action, shape, compensation, material
Fret height, shape
Nut height/action, material
Strings
Tuning
Finishes
Pickups

Build processes that affect the player, which affects sound:
Neck shape
Fretboard width
Fret dressing
Headstock shape
Body thickness
String spacing
Nut shape
Saddle Shape

I think I hit most of it, save for inlay location I guess and some other stuff.

Good list Kekani. Well thought out. A couple of more variables I might add which might (or might not) be important:

Body taper (height of sides head to tail and how much)
Degree of radius of back
Degree of radius of top (a top secret)
Type of wood used in bracing (mahogany/spruce/?)
Humidity
Luck
Magic

Ok, maybe the last is a bit hard to quantify and some might not believe in it. There are no blue prints for magic after all. I also might add that the sound of an ukulele might be inversely proportional to the level of the player's/audience's degree of intoxication. It is a factor as any player/audience member knows.

Recstar24
12-29-2015, 05:34 PM
What a strange question from the OP. This is akin to asking what is the meaning of life, or what is good sound. Too broad!

A better more focused question would be what makes a good top. It appears everyone would agree the soundboard as having the most influence on the sound output. At minimum, you guys might actually agree on something ;)

sequoia
12-29-2015, 06:37 PM
It appears everyone would agree the soundboard as having the most influence on the sound output. At minimum, you guys might actually agree on something ;)

Yes, I think we guys (and gals) would agree that the soundboard has the "most influence" on the sound of ukulele. This was pretty much agreed on 3,000 BC or about 5,000 years ago when the lute was invented. No argument there. However, it is the other stuff we argue about. And there is a lot of other stuff.

Interesting factoid: The lute was invented in the Middle East as the oud and the ukulele descends from that primitive instrument which is pretty much a hollowed out tree trunk with a piece of thinned wood glued on and some goat guts stretched over it tightly and plucked. I think even these guys would agree it was the top that made the oud. The word luthier is an Arabic word meaning: "The wood" from Arabic al-ʿud (العود - literally means "the wood").

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-30-2015, 04:09 AM
If the added weight of a slotted headstock contribute favorably to the tone, I don't understand why you poo poo heavier neck woods and heavier tuners if you think the added weight at the end (slotted headstock) makes a better sounding uke???

I should clarify then. I believe it is the added weight at the END of the headstock, (not weight along it's entire length) that is beneficial. I don't recall disregarding heavy tuners based on that one factor alone but heavy tuners along with a heavy neck is a deal killer for me.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-30-2015, 04:22 AM
I smell fire... I am keepingo out of this one. I know what works for me and I am noth giving up the answer freely ��

Like it or not Pete, you're in this discussion and you gave an honest response. But it's a good one. Most of us have our own little tricks or methods, and some that we don't share freely or are even consciously aware of. Some of it's voodoo and some is based on science or long proven tradition. (I've recently discovered that sanding on a 12 degree bias adds more definition to my top end. :) ) But that's what makes us ll sound so different. If there were a definitive set of rules that stated the best way to make the best sounding instruments then they would all sound alike. And what fun would that be? Add to that that sound is highly subjective. I know a lot of people who love the Martin sound. I try to make my ukes as anti-Martin as I can. There are a thousand things (maybe) that influence the sound of an instrument, some more so than others. (Some builders swear that even certain types of glue are critical to their unique sound.) Build a bunch of them and sort out the ones that are important to you.

Kekani
12-30-2015, 06:26 AM
I should clarify then. I believe it is the added weight at the END of the headstock, (not weight along it's entire length) that is beneficial. I don't recall disregarding heavy tuners based on that one factor alone but heavy tuners along with a heavy neck is a deal killer for me.
I stated headstock weight as a variable. I've gravitated to Hipshots, but sometimes the build naturally defeats the purpose of light weight, or serves the purpose of adding weight, depends on what school you subscribe to.
86901

Pete Howlett
12-30-2015, 09:25 AM
OK you called me out Chuck... in truth, after building for over 21 years I am totally out of answers. Honestly, it's in the maker; either you have it or you don't. It's that old fairground carny expression: "close but no cigar." So many ukes are that, even high end ones I am sorry to say/point out. You only have to look at what gets recycled in the marketplace to see evidence of that where a proportion are sold because they fall below expectation.

What I do think contributes to a good sounding instrument has so little to do with the materials. For me, it's about the attitude with which you build, the respect you give to the precious resources you are happily exploiting, even the happiness in your own life. I have to be in a very good place to do very good work... I thank God that most days I am :)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-30-2015, 09:44 AM
Exactly Pete and that's just how I replied in post #3 ("While all the things you mention contribute to some degree, the most important factor is the technique and experience of the builder.") The proper attitude and lots of experience will always win the day. It's important to know the basic physics of how an instrument works but the more technical minutia I read the more I realize that little of that matters, at least in my builds. Attitude is key. I never build when I'm in a sour mood or have other issues on my mind. The other stuff comes naturally and that comes from experience, in my case trial and error and building lots of ukes. Maybe not the fastest way but it's the way I learned. My motto is Work with a joyful attitude and try to be a better person. Works for me anyway. I think we're on the same page here Pete.
(BTW, just to be clear, I never called you. After living in Hawaii for so long I couldn't understand the king's English anyway! :) )

Kekani
12-30-2015, 09:49 AM
OK you called me up Chuck... in truth, after building for over 21 years I am totally out of answers. Honestly, it's in the maker; either you have it or you don't. It's that old fairground carny expression: "close but no cigar." So many ukes are that, even high end ones I am sorry to say/point out. You only have to look at what gets recycled in the marketplace to see evidence of that where a proportion are sold because they fall below expectation.

What I do think contributes to a good sounding instrument has so little to do with the materials. For me, it's about the attitude with which you build, the respect you give to the precious resources you are happily exploiting, even the happiness in your own life. I have to be in a very good place to do very good work... I thank God that most days I am :)
Sorry to say Pete, but you just let out the biggest secret in building good instruments.

My friend had this to say, just this morning in fact. This was pertaining to an instrument custom crafted for him.
"It's a transference of mana, if you will from the builder to the musician receiving this uke. I truly believe that the builder puts a Lil of themselves into the pieces they build which makes the instrument feel almost alive! The sound every time I pick up this uke and strum it sounds like it wants to be played, as if to say "I'm ready when you're ready". All I gotta say is this uke feels alive in my hands, unlike any other I've ever played or own."

When players ask why they should or shouldn't get a custom, its usually about cost. Personally, not THE priority. It should be about the build, the builder, the player, and the music, not necessarily in that order.

IMO, if you haven't spiritually built an instrument, then you're missing a variable in the process.

Pete Howlett
12-30-2015, 10:30 AM
Corrected Chuck :) But there you have it. Either you got it or you don't.

Pete Howlett
01-01-2016, 11:59 AM
The ukulele's heritage is found in the Portuguese tiple... When the Moors were finally driven out of Spain and Portugal in the 14th century the Iberians did their very best to eradicate all cultural artefacts, especially the oud. There is no lute-like instrument extant in either Spain or Portugal. It is probable that 'guitar' like instruments developed from lyre type instruments rather than gourd type. This is what my research revealed in 1977 when I wrote my degree thesis on the history of the Spanish guitar. I may be wrong... history always has a way of shifting perspectives and re-establishing new 'facts'.

sequoia
01-01-2016, 05:24 PM
I find this whole discussion of the origin of the ukulele fascinating. Actually I find the history of stringed instruments fascinating and yes, history is a slippery thing sometimes and perhaps no slipperier than when talking about ukuleles. I make no allusions to expertness or keen insight on my part and have barely dipped a finger into the whole cannon of stringed instrument history, but...

Now Pete, I'm not challenging you (please don't flame me man I can't take it) but I would like to discuss the statement:


There is no lute-like instrument extant in either Spain or Portugal.

You give the reason that after the hated Moors were driven out of Spain in the 14th century their ouds went with them, that tipple like things then took over. Might I might be so bold as to propose that the oud was not popular in Europe not so much because of its relationship with Islam, so much as its awkwardness as a musical instrument? Ouds are awkward slippery things and the flat sided instrument took hold because it was a better sounding instrument, easier to play and ultimately easier to build?

Anyway, always this awkward trading between East and West and both benefiting. Perhaps a parable for this difficult time where East and West come together? Factoid:
The incredibly powerful concept of zero (an arabic word) meaning a symbol representing nothing revolutionized mathematics in the west. Maybe the oud was the same thing?

lauburu
01-05-2016, 12:25 PM
the Iberians did their very best to eradicate all cultural artefacts

The Moorish invasion of Europe brought a wealth of new knowledge in the fields of Maths, Science, Astronomy, Medicine, Music ........................
When Isabella and Ferdinand expelled the Jews and the Moors from Spain in 1492 they were only partially successful. After 500 years of occupation it had become quite difficult to separate them from the locals given the Spanish predilection for a comely face and a shapely form. Interbreeding had become extremely common and 'mixed race' inhabitants were allowed to stay if they converted to Catholicism. A pragmatic approach.
Some cultural artifacts were eradicated but, again, total eradication was only partially successful and adaptation was more common. The Giralda in Seville is a Moorish tower attached to a Catholic Cathedral, La Mezquita in Cordoba was built as a mosque and is now a Cathedral (lots of similar examples exist) La Alhambra in Granada was Moorish palace and fortress and when the Moors moved out, the local royalty moved in. Pragmatism at work.
Las Cantigas de Santa Maria (c. 1250) show Moorish and Christian musicians playing a wealth of instruments, wind, string and percussion. Some of the stringed instruments look like the oud and others like the tiple, some instruments had skin soundboards (like a banjo) others were made of wood. Travelling minstrels of the time disseminated the music and the instruments throughout Europe. Some survived some did not.
Perhaps some instruments didn't survive because of political pressure but, given the flexible, pragmatic approach to Moorish culture shown in the above examples, it is equally likely that some instruments didn't survive because they were difficult to play or hold, perhaps some were too quiet, some would have died out because the use of skins as soundboards didn't suit the wetter European climate and some just got adapted to suit local tastes or technology.
It's a fascinating subject about which we still know only a little, but knowing where we've come from helps us to get to where we're going to.
My tuppence worth.
Miguel

sequoia
01-05-2016, 05:31 PM
Thank you Miguel and it is a fascinating subject. And a really complex one too. Stringed instruments come into fashion and go out of fashion and disappear some of which we probably will never know about. The ukulele is now fashionable, but what will follow it? I predict that the lute is going to be the next big thing. Ha ha ha! But seriously, I think the modern ukulele (as we know it) has legs and will last for quite awhile. An instrument for the masses. Perfect for the modern age. Guitars?

Luthier quiz: What luthier built the instrument below? A lovely little instrument. Hint: About 1700.

87078

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-06-2016, 04:13 AM
Stradivarius

1 of ...6 (i think) guitars he built

RPA_Ukuleles
01-06-2016, 05:14 AM
Or the luthier might be Stradivari. Making the guitar a Stradivarius. :o

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-06-2016, 07:47 AM
Or the luthier might be Stradivari. Making the guitar a Stradivarius. :o

hahaha- indeed!

lauburu
01-13-2016, 08:27 AM
A link to this video appeared in the ANZLF. Given the recent discussion, I thought others might be interested.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gtFXW3_ZE4&feature=youtu.be
Miguel

Pete Howlett
01-13-2016, 12:47 PM
Great video - however... looking at some of those 'realised' instruments I am surprised that they are given such validity. Artists were not known for 'representing' reality and these things are at very best, speculations on the real thing. Exciting stuff tho isn't it? I can see now why the oud wasn't adopted by the Spaniards - they had so much other funky stuff going on!

sequoia
01-13-2016, 05:58 PM
Bingo Beau. The "guitar" pictured was indeed constructed by Tony S. It is said that this is one of the few "almost completely intact" instruments that Stradivari built still surviving - almost all of his violins being extensively restored over the years to where little is original. Is it worth a lot of money? You betcha. Does the owner tune it up to concert pitch and play a little Bob Dylan? Doubtful.

Allen
01-13-2016, 09:18 PM
I attended a luthiers conference in Albany West Australia several years ago and got to sit in on a session of a builder of Baroque Guitars, and a very accomplished musician that played both modern and Baroque music. Giving us a demonstration of the weakness and strengths of each type of instrument with the music from their time and the other.

The builder explained the difference in construction of what you might at first glance presume were 2 very similar instruments.

The most notable differences were the thickness of the soundboards, and the bracing, or lack there of.

The musician explained that on the Baroque designed instrument, the music was very easy to play, and had a sound that complimented the piece. The more modern Spanish designed guitar was almost impossible to play the piece as it was intended. And this fellow could really play a guitar.

The demonstration was really an eye opener as to how sound board thickness and bracing pattern make all the difference.

The Baroque guitar would be hopeless in playing modern pieces, just as the Spanish guitar was totally unsuited to playing the older pieces.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-14-2016, 07:01 AM
interestingly, Strad actually made ukuleles- well according to this plan.

http://www.luth.org/images/plans/pl70.jpg

This scale of this 'guitar' os 325.35MM= which is 12" scale, which is a shorter then a soprano uke!

I think his other guitars were actual guitar scale length though

sequoia
01-14-2016, 06:55 PM
The Baroque guitar would be hopeless in playing modern pieces, just as the Spanish guitar was totally unsuited to playing the older pieces.

Good way of putting it Allen. In other words; the music comes out of the instrument and not the other way around. "Stair Way to Heaven" just wouldn't sound quite right on an 18th century guitar. Take what the instrument gives you. So let me ask you this: is "Greensleeves" a good song for the uke? I'm thinking maybe not.

Recstar24
01-15-2016, 05:18 AM
Sorry for the thread redirection, but would you guys be willing to share what you find makes a good top?

What are some things as builders you guys look at when determining the quality of a top, and what should we as consumers pay attention to when considering a top for our ukes?

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-15-2016, 06:03 AM
Sorry for the thread redirection, but would you guys be willing to share what you find makes a good top?

What are some things as builders you guys look at when determining the quality of a top, and what should we as consumers pay attention to when considering a top for our ukes?

a top should be stiff and light in weight.

Allen
01-15-2016, 09:26 AM
There is a difference in tone and response between a softwood and hardwood soundboard. And very broadly speaking the softwoods give a more complex sound as compared to a hardwood top. Some people have a preference for one over the other.

From there, we have absolutely countless possibilities of shaping that tone and response by how we handle the bracing and the soundboards thickness.

And as Beau said, light and stiff is best because it gives us the widest scope to apply those building techniques without having to overcompensate.

sequoia
01-15-2016, 07:06 PM
I'm currently making a koa top that absolutely wants to be thin. It is going to sound great. The question I ask myself as a luthier: How long is it gonna last? This uke is gonna be killer. By the way, this is Hawaiian "urban salvage" wood and who knows how old. 80 a 100 years. Anyway the stuff rings. Aloha!

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