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marimorimo
03-22-2016, 07:19 PM
My ultimate goal in learning ukulele is to be a proficient fingerpicker, and I'd like to know the difference when fingerpicking on a concert vs. tenor ukulele.

I currently own a concert and while I do like the size, I wonder if a tenor ukulele would be better for fingerpicking. I'm asking because I plan to buy a high quality Japan-made uke this weekend.

As for hand size, I have short fingers and they're not particularly fat (although the rest of me is)!

DownUpDave
03-22-2016, 08:04 PM
It really boils down to personal preferance which can only come from playing both and determining which work best for "you". Logic would seem to dictate a tenor is better because of more fret spacing as you get higher up the neck but that is not always the case for everyone. An extrordinary player by the name of John King did marvelous things on a soprano.

CasanovaGuy
03-22-2016, 08:23 PM
If you're splurging, I'd say get a tenor. The notes sound fuller, harmonics sound better, and those percussion sounds when you hit the body of the uke are much more pronounced. However, the fret spacing might be something to worry about, especially if you haven't played a finger-stretching instrument before like piano or guitar. It is something that you'll get used to with time, though. And if you're spending a fair amount of money, you should definitely focus on long-term goals and choose a better-sounding instrument over an easier-to-play one.

In short, tenor for the sound, concert for the playability. Oh, and #hatsunemikunendoroidop

kypfer
03-22-2016, 10:16 PM
Get both sizes ... tune the concert "hi-G" and the tenor "lo-G" ... go on ... you know you want to ;) :rolleyes:

phil hague
03-22-2016, 11:17 PM
I would suggest an ukulele with a cut out, this will make it easier to pick higher up the kneck.

Croaky Keith
03-22-2016, 11:27 PM
Some things to consider.
Do you sit or stand? Does the concert feel cramped? How about string tension?

People of all sizes play different sizes of uke, go with what feels best for you.

billten
03-22-2016, 11:31 PM
Agreed, get a tenor. IME for fingerstyle playing the larger the uke the cheaper it can be for it to still sound good. Playing fingerstyle on a soprano you either have to be an amazing player or play an amazing uke for it to sound bell like and have the tones ring out pure and clean, whereas you can actually get a beautiful bell like tone out of a pretty reasonable priced tenor if you pick carefully.

Soundbored
03-23-2016, 12:43 AM
You can fingerpick successfully on any size ukulele, including the Standard.

This is like on camera forums where they claim a 10mm narrower camera will be better for street photography because it will be "less obtrusive".

PhilUSAFRet
03-23-2016, 12:59 AM
You need to play both sizes. A uke club is a great place to do that if there is one as well as a uke shop. Sound quality is subjective. Some folks prefer the tenor size, some don't. Lots of concerts can compete with lots of tenors for a full sound depending on quality, wood, body size/depth, strings, etc. For a fingerpicker, neck width and thickness are concerns as well, regardless of size. Don't buy until you are sure unless you can afford to choose the wrong one.

https://www.facebook.com/UkuleleManila/

Mivo
03-23-2016, 01:40 AM
Soprano and concert allow for larger stretches, and tenor works best with low-g. It really depends on what, and how, you want to play, and which size resonates best with you. For myself I couldn't answer that question until I had tried the different sizes, and even then (now) I'm not always sure of my preferences.

bnolsen
03-23-2016, 02:12 AM
and of course if you are going to mess around with linear tuning a baritone is also a candidate. nice mellow sound with one. I downtune mine and just use the linear tabs.

Nickie
03-23-2016, 04:04 AM
The linear tuning discussed above can also be accomplished with lo G tuning on the non-bari ukes. I have a concert size uke tuned to lo G, or linear, and it works really well.
You just need to know which size works best for you.
And try to buy it from a reputable dealer. That is just as important as what you buy.
Look to Mim's Ukes, Uke Republic, Hawaii Music Supply, Elderly Music.
Happy hunting!

cml
03-23-2016, 04:15 AM
Would it be disadvantageous to use a concert for strumming and a tenor for picking, especially in terms of muscle memory build up?

CTurner
03-23-2016, 04:23 AM
Get both sizes ... tune the concert "hi-G" and the tenor "lo-G" ... go on ... you know you want to ;) :rolleyes:

I agree this is an ideal mix for fingerpicking. I have a Koa Works concert that actually has the sound of a tenor, though in hi-G. I have two tenors in lo-G. You will have to adjust momentarily from concert to tenor spacing (I think the tenor takes a bit more energy just moving up and down the fretboard), but experience will help you there. The concert, to me, feels a bit more intimate, actually.

Mivo
03-23-2016, 04:44 AM
Would it be disadvantageous to use a concert for strumming and a tenor for picking, especially in terms of muscle memory build up?

Maybe. It's been discussed a number of times and opinions vary. My view is that yes, playing multiple different sizes (or even different ukuleles of the same size) will negatively impact your progress with a specific size, however, I believe that this is relatively marginal (compared to other elements that affect improvement) and off-set by the flexibility you gain by playing on different sizes. For me, it's a "all roads lead to Rome" thing, and probably not very relevant for most of us hobby musicians.

It is probably different for a professional player (the book "Guitar Zero" has a chapter on this specific topic, though it's about guitars, with an explanation on how the brain operates - generally an immensely good book).

That said, I feel I improve more smoothly by sticking to chiefly one ukulele. I'm not very consequent with that approach, but 80% of my practicing time is spent with the same uke. The advantage I see for myself isn't so much muscle memory, but the connection between the actions, physical feedback, and the sound I hear. I know what the instrument sounds like when I play well, and I know what it sounds like when I don't. It also makes it easier to experiment and find the tone I want.

WCBarnes
03-23-2016, 05:23 AM
As many have suggested, you need to try both and get what feels best to you.

Much of my playing is fingerpicking and I find it MUCH easier on a soprano or concert because I can stretch my pinkie down to, or past, the 9th fret without having to completely move my hand. I have a tenor that does not get any playing time because I don't like the higher tension of the strings and there is too much spacing on the fretboard for me. Find what you like and go with it.

jollyboy
03-23-2016, 05:24 AM
And if you're spending a fair amount of money, you should definitely focus on long-term goals and choose a better-sounding instrument over an easier-to-play one.

Respectfully, I disagree. I have personally tried both concert and tenor and, whilst I do really like the tenor sound, I find a concert instrument much easier to manage with my stubby fingers. And so I have chosen to stick with concert - making playability my priority. I have a decent quality instrument and have learnt some fingerpicking myself. And it sounds absolutely fine.

I know that if I had continued to struggle with a tenor I would have become frustrated and discouraged and may even have quit playing.

It's like all the times you see people stressing how important it is to get a uke set up properly. When you're learning to play you want an instrument to be as user-friendly as possible. Yet there seem to be some folk who hold to a weird 'hair shirt' mentality - the idea that there is some intrinsic merit in making things hard for yourself. That simply isn't true.

Gary52
03-23-2016, 05:47 AM
I do mostly fingerpicking and have 3 concert ukes, one of which is strung low G. I don't have great flexibility in my hands, so stretching across five frets for some John King and Daniel Ho arrangements on a tenor is painful for me.

As many have already said, it comes down to personal preference, but there is no rule about what size uke to use for fingerpicking.

Mivo
03-23-2016, 05:55 AM
Much of my playing is fingerpicking and I find it MUCH easier on a soprano or concert because I can stretch my pinkie down to, or past, the 9th fret without having to completely move my hand. I have a tenor that does not get any playing time because I don't like the higher tension of the strings and there is too much spacing on the fretboard for me. Find what you like and go with it.

This is (presently) true for myself also. In addition, I feel the sound of the concert gives me the best of both world: a good amount of sustain, but also a more traditional ukulele sound. I love my tenor's sound, but to me it sounds much more like a guitar, which is fine, but it doesn't have that happy ring that I enjoy about the ukulele. Also, like you, I find the tension of concert-scale strings the most comfortable. Tenor is too tight for me, soprano is a little floppy. I'd also be happy with a soprano, though, but most seem to go pretty "thuddy" after the 9th fret or so.

sukie
03-23-2016, 07:57 AM
Would it be disadvantageous to use a concert for strumming and a tenor for picking, especially in terms of muscle memory build up?
It works.
I got a super-concert. (Concert with a tenor neck). I love the concert size but wanted more frets. There was a bit of an adjustment period, but it was easy. I can play any size now. If you get used to a tenor neck, it'll make the other necks easier to do stretches. Know what I mean?

wayfarer75
03-23-2016, 08:05 AM
I mostly fingerpick. I don't own a tenor and don't plan to. I'm a lady with small hands and short fingers. I have two concerts, one low G and one high G. Low G is fine on any uke, really, it's just a matter of personal preference. My soprano is more for strumming or picking on the lower frets, as it just loses sustain as I go up the fretboard.

cml
03-23-2016, 09:31 AM
Thanks for your input guys :)!

Picker Jon
03-24-2016, 10:02 PM
I think I got lucky and got an inexpensive Cordoba soprano that's got a solid mahogany top and rings very nicely right up to the 12th fret and above. It's my favourite for fingerstyle at the moment. I find with re-entrant tuned uke I tend to go along the fretboard rather than across to access notes and it's less of a jump or stretch on soprano.

The thing I do find difficult is the low string tension. Any unwanted lateral movement of the string can put the intonation out horribly. It needs a very fine touch.

Soundbored
03-25-2016, 01:12 AM
I think I got lucky and got an inexpensive Cordoba soprano that's got a solid mahogany top and rings very nicely right up to the 12th fret and above. It's my favourite for fingerstyle at the moment. I find with re-entrant tuned uke I tend to go along the fretboard rather than across to access notes and it's less of a jump or stretch on soprano.

The thing I do find difficult is the low string tension. Any unwanted lateral movement of the string can put the intonation out horribly. It needs a very fine touch.

I don't notice any effect like that myself, on any of my three standards. What strings are you using? The different body size string sets are not interchangeable.

Inksplosive AL
04-01-2016, 10:30 AM
The different body size string sets are not interchangeable.

This is entirely not true.

Soundbored
04-02-2016, 04:17 PM
This is entirely not true.

If you check the sets for D'Addario Nyltech, for example, you can see that the gauges are completely different between the various uke sizes:

http://daddario.com/DADProductFamily.Page?ActiveID=3768&familyid=38&productname=Nyltech

So how can you say that my statement was "entirely not true"?

Inksplosive AL
04-02-2016, 04:43 PM
If you check the sets for D'Addario Nyltech, for example, you can see that the gauges are completely different between the various uke sizes:

http://daddario.com/DADProductFamily.Page?ActiveID=3768&familyid=38&productname=Nyltech

So how can you say that my statement was "entirely not true"?

Simple I ran with concert strings on my soprano for awhile as many others here have crossed this boundary, in both directions.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?35997-Using-soprano-strings-on-a-concert-ukulele

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?38567-concert-strings-on-tenor

Then there are Martin M600's sold as soprano/concert strings. http://www.amazon.com/Martin-M600-Standard-Ukulele-Strings/dp/B0002CZVZK

All which makes the previously quoted statement simply untrue, entirely not true or otherwise a false statement.

When stringing my guitar I can go usually with 8's 9's or 10's depending on my play style and/or setup of my axe. While the reference is to one strings size they all increase or decrease depending on the size chosen. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_%28music%29

While a ukulele is a different instrument its not that different. With ukuleles I tend to believe most get stuck buying what is labeled to fit and nothing more.

~AL~

Soundbored
04-02-2016, 05:10 PM
Simple I ran with concert strings on my soprano for awhile as many others here have crossed this boundary, in both directions.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?35997-Using-soprano-strings-on-a-concert-ukulele

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?38567-concert-strings-on-tenor

Then there are Martin M600's sold as soprano/concert strings. http://www.amazon.com/Martin-M600-Standard-Ukulele-Strings/dp/B0002CZVZK

All which makes the previously quoted statement simply untrue, entirely not true or otherwise a false statement.


I think you have completely misinterpreted what I was saying. I did not at all mean that it's physically impossible to use a tenor string set on a soprano, or vice versa, or concert set on your whatever. Obviously you can put a wide range of gauges and unit weights on your uke, and 'get away with it'. But a D'Addario tenor set will have a different tension and thickness on your soprano than their soprano set. This is a fact, and is obviously what I meant by "not interchangeable".

And cherry-picking a manufacturer that makes a joint soprano/concert set doesn't make my statement "entirely not true".

jollyboy
04-02-2016, 06:09 PM
Savarez 140R Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/1259/Savarez-140R-Alliance-Ukulele-Strings-Soprano-Concert)
Fremont Blackline Medium Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/0__dot__191/Fremont-Blackline-Fluorocarbon-Strings-Set-of-4-Soprano-Concert-Medium)
Fremont Blackline Hard Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/0__dot__192/Fremont-Blackline-Fluoro-Strings-Set-of-4-Soprano-Concert-Hard)
Worth CD Fluorocarbon Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/133/Worth-CD-Fluorocarbon-Premium-Soprano-Concert-Ukulele-Strings)
Worth BM Fluorocarbon Premium Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/27/Worth-BM-Fluorocarbon-Premium-Soprano-Concert-Ukulele-Strings)
Worth CL Fluorocarbon Premium Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/94/Worth-CL-Fluorocarbon-Premium-Soprano-Concert-Ukulele-Strings)
Worth CD-LG Fluorocarbon Premium Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/0__dot__40/Worth-CD-LG-Fluorocarbon-Premium-Soprano-Concert-Low-G-Ukulele-Strings)
Worth BF Fluorocarbon Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/0__dot__45/Worth-BF-Fluorocarbon-Premium-Soprano-Concert-Ukulele-Strings)
Worth BE Fluorocarbon Premium Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/250/Worth-BE-Fluorocarbon-Premium-Soprano-Concert-Ukulele-Strings)
Worth CM-LG Fluorocarbon Premium Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/165/Worth-CM-LG-Fluorocarbon-Premium-Soprano-Concert-Low-G-Ukulele-Strings)
Kamaka S-1 Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/2188/Kamaka-S-1-Soprano-Concert-Ukulele-Strings-Black-Nylon-Set-of-4)
Kamaka S-1G Soprano/Concert (http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/2189/Kamaka-S-1G-Soprano-Concert-LOW-G-Ukulele-Strings-Black-Nylon-Set-of-4)

Edit:

PHD Soprano/Concert Low G (no llnk)
PHD Soprano/Concert High G (no link)

natchez
04-02-2016, 06:21 PM
As to the OP's original question, if you have small hands, it may be important to consider the width of the nut and the corresponding string spacing, in addition to the scale length.Concerts are pretty standard at about a 15" scale and most tenors are about 17", while sopranos seem to vary a bit more-13 1/2" to 14" or so. Baritones also seem to vary quite a bit, but I have no personal experience with them. I am a hobby musician and only regularly play concerts and sopranos.

I have very short fingers and prefer a wider nut, 1 1/2" for finger-picking, and find no problems with a soprano, or a concert. I recently gave a Martin C1K to my daughter and it was great for finger-picking (1 13/32" nut I think)- a rather versatile instrument.

I have more trouble finger-picking a ukulele with a 1 3/8" nut than those that are wider. The scale on my favorite sopranos are 14"; 13 1/2" scaled sopranos are a bit tight for me above the 7th fret or so.

But, it is more about what is comfortable for you, the stretch you want to be able to get easily, and how you want the tone up the neck to sound. All things being equal, tenors usually will have a bit more depth of tone high up the neck.

Jim Yates
04-02-2016, 06:38 PM
Inksplosive AL, The Keeper of the Cheese and Soundbored are in a battle of semantics. You are both right.
Of course it's possible to use tenor uke strings on a concert uke and concert strings on a tenor. They will fit and will work and many of us have done it, but they are not interchangeable in feel or sound. Depending on the gauge, they could be identical strings, but a medium gauge tenor set will likely be heavier than a medium gauge concert set.
There ya go. You're both right. You can use tenor strings on your concert ukulele, but they may be a different tension than a set of concert strings would be.

Picker Jon
04-02-2016, 08:05 PM
The strings on my soprano are the standard Aquila's it came with. It sounds great but the string tension is low compared to other instruments, making accurate fretting a bit tricky. What sets would be higher tension in re-entrant C tuning at standard pitch?

photoshooter
04-03-2016, 01:20 AM
As to the OP's original question, if you have small hands, it may be important to consider the width of the nut and the corresponding string spacing, in addition to the scale length.

Yes! I'm surprised no one mentioned nut width yet.
I have tenors with 1.375" and 1.5" width nuts. I do some fingerpicking and chord melody. Oddly, (and contrary to what seems logical) I'm finding it easier to play the more narrow nut width. The wider nut does give the strings some breathing room and seems ideal for fingerpicking but for some reason my long gangly fingers seem to navigate the narrow spacing better.



Mike

Inksplosive AL
04-03-2016, 01:57 AM
Inksplosive AL, The Keeper of the Cheese and Soundbored are in a battle of semantics. You are both right.

Well Jim I didn't know I was in a battle just stating facts that you seem to agree with and Soundbored still seems to imply is wrong. He now states you can interchange strings marketed to different body sizes and 'get away with it'. If a statement doesn't stand on its own without further discussion then it is weak and as proven untrue. I only see him backtracking to try to prove truth of that statement, trying to lay blame at my interpretation of said statement and discrediting what I said due to my cherry picking facts.

As I previously mentioned guitarists change string gauge this is clearly to manipulate tension. The links I placed state much the same about why some use concert sets on a tenor. It is NEVER wrong to suggest experimentation or further study like it is to stifle any further thought by stating "The different body size string sets are not interchangeable", there is nothing at all open to interpretation in that statement.

But enough of this here.

Inksplosive AL
04-03-2016, 02:18 AM
The strings on my soprano are the standard Aquila's it came with. It sounds great but the string tension is low compared to other instruments, making accurate fretting a bit tricky. What sets would be higher tension in re-entrant C tuning at standard pitch?

I use Aquila Reds on my sopranos and they might even be a bit lower tension than the white Aquila strings. The soprano has less string tension than a concert as the concert has a lower string tension than a tenor. All of which are much less tension than any guitar, banjo, violin or mandolin string. Though honestly I only strummed on a mando once many years ago and I never played a banjo.

A quick search and I come up with this thread. http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?73135-High-tension-soprano-strings

If thinner strings equal lower tension then thicker strings will add tension. Certainly you can find sets likely marketed as higher tension soprano strings or simply try a set marketed to Concert uke players on your soprano. Be careful though as the quest for the best strings can surpass UAS in practice. Also keep in mind not all sopranos are built equal though older instruments were built to be tuned higher.

Some really wake up when tuned up to D so a higher tension while tuned to C is entirely doable.

~peace~

Inksplosive AL
04-03-2016, 02:31 AM
My ultimate goal in learning ukulele is to be a proficient fingerpicker, and I'd like to know the difference when fingerpicking on a concert vs. tenor ukulele.

I currently own a concert and while I do like the size, I wonder if a tenor ukulele would be better for fingerpicking. I'm asking because I plan to buy a high quality Japan-made uke this weekend.

As for hand size, I have short fingers and they're not particularly fat (although the rest of me is)!

I myself have short wedge shaped fingers with large palms, I wont talk about my tummy. ;)

From my experience the real difference in fret spacing is quite small from a tenor to a concert but most noticeable is the tenor will have a higher tension string. The tenor will ring out with more sustain and sound a bit more like a guitar than a ukulele. It also has a longer scale allowing more notes higher up each string. If you have never reached for a note past the highest fret on your concert you wouldn't miss anything.

After buying various sized ukes I find I'm a soprano lover though I own more ukuleles than any one person rightly should. While I might not ever be professional in my proficiency I do finger pick a few songs and try to do so with any song I learn. I'm really not much of a singer you see.

Please let us know what you chose.
~peace~

stevepetergal
04-03-2016, 04:07 PM
My kids tell me a tenor burns longer.

natchez
04-03-2016, 06:44 PM
My kids tell me a tenor burns longer.

Needed a good laugh tonight!

Picker Jon
04-03-2016, 07:30 PM
A quick search and I come up with this thread. http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?73135-High-tension-soprano-strings

Be careful though as the quest for the best strings can surpass UAS in practice.

~peace~

Thanks! That thread is quite head-spinning in itself.

I'll heed your warning about SAS, although it does seem to have merit in that it would be much easier to sneak strings into the house without alerting the attentions of Mrs Picker, than whole instruments, which is getting a bit tricky nowadays....

Looking at the different strings available, I'll give a 'hard' set a try before going the increasing diameter and tension if necessary.

TopDog
04-03-2016, 11:21 PM
I play mainly soprano,although I own two concert scale and
one tenor; I think the old answer has to be 'practice' (as it
is for so many questions on here!) as whatever I can make
work on say my tenor, I can transfer to my soprano, once I
have got the hang of it!

ukeshale
04-04-2016, 01:16 AM
I play mainly soprano,although I own two concert scale and
one tenor; I think the old answer has to be 'practice' (as it
is for so many questions on here!) as whatever I can make
work on say my tenor, I can transfer to my soprano, once I
have got the hang of it!

Exactly. My teacher and I were discussing this a just a few weeks ago. I constantly go back and forth between a tenor and concert when I'm arranging something. Keeps me flexible.

In terms of fingerpicking, tenors certainly open things up a little more (At least for me) - Natural harmonics are easier, the additional frets allow a few more artificial harmonics to be played, and you have a little bit more room for the fingers - But as always, it comes down to preference in the end. Buy (or just try) each size and see which grabs you. I'm sure you'll end up with all scales sooner or later anyway!