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View Full Version : CONCERT ukes - What's good about them?



Pete F
06-25-2016, 03:25 AM
Ok, well excuse the abrupt thread title. I'm intrigued by this size uke. I play soprano and tenor - the tonal difference is obvious. I did try a concert size when I first started playing and didn't get on with it, which was probably more the fact that I was a beginner more than anything constructive otherwise.
Anyway, I now have various soprano and tenor size ukes and find myself looking at concert ukes, more likely as a reason to get another instrument over any need or void. I appreciate some people prefer one size over another for personal reasons but: are there any areas the concert excels over the soprano and tenor; does anyone play tenor and concert and likes them equally?

Thanks, look forward to the replies

Pete

Mivo
06-25-2016, 03:40 AM
When I was in my "concert phase", for me the chief advantage was that the concert size combined different aspects of the smaller soprano (portability, ability to perform wide stretches, traditional sound) and bigger tenor/baritone (sustain, room on fretboard, higher volume, better suitability for the low notes, more "usable" frets) that I liked and wanted in just one instrument. I found a longneck pineapple-shaped soprano to be the best compromise, with a regular concert being a close second. I still believe this, too, though right now I'm a "baritone phase" where I get all giddy about the fullness of the sound.

The "a bit of everything" aspect of the concert size is both its strength and weakness. It checks a lot of boxes, but in a manner of speaking lacks its own identity. That sounds a bit strong, though, and isn't exactly what I mean to convey. It may well be the perfect size, or the least distinctive one. It all depends on what you want, and how many ukes you are comfortable owning. :)

UkingViking
06-25-2016, 03:50 AM
I guess all ukukeles have different sound, and some prefer that of the concert size.
I understand that you play more sizes than one, and hence enjoy that they sound more different from each other being in either end of the scale. But that doesnt mean that the "in between" sound is not enjoyable on its own.

And there is the matter of hand and finger sizes compared to the fretboard. With big fingers a soprano can difficult to play, with small hands on a tenor some things are hard to play. For some the size othe fretboard just feels more natural to play.

I got my first uke, a concert, last year. Since then I also bougth a soprano and tenor. Now I mostly play the tenor, because it has the best intonation, but getting used to the longer neck is still difficult. I will probably upgrade my concert so I can enjoy good intonation with a comfortable fretboard.

PhilUSAFRet
06-25-2016, 04:09 AM
Many "variables separate the various size ukes. I prefer concert because it is the most comfortable size for me to hold and fret. I also play tenor and soprano, but I can't say I enjoy playing them as much as most of my concerts......except for my Kamaka soprano....in a league of it's own re: playability. This is only based on my personal preferences.

Croaky Keith
06-25-2016, 04:14 AM
When I started, I quickly settled on the concert scale, it was right for me, still a small uke, better quality of sound when picked than a soprano, & the fretboard size was what I needed, however, my most played uke was a long neck soprano! :)

I've just moved up to a baritone sized uke because I love the tone of them, my old tenor, which used to feel too big, now feels quite small, & a concert feels like a soprano, ;)
(So my soprano now feels somewhat like I had imagined a sopranino would feel like. :biglaugh: )

They all have their place.

blue_knight_usa
06-25-2016, 04:20 AM
I play tenor and concerts and do like them equally but I really got my concerts for portability (traveling is a bit easier in some smaller planes (puddle jumpers) but my tenors travel just fine domestically and on larger international flights. There is a misnomer that concerts don't sound as big or full as tenors and I have found that to not be true with my Pohaku or Moku which sounds exactly like a tenor size (linear tuning) and if you closed your eyes you would not think it was a concert. I had my Pohaku concert made for massive sound based on how we designed the depth and curvature of the back of the body. Thus I love my concert and play it a lot. With that said my entire collection is mainly tenors and having a few smaller scale ukes to travel meets my needs.

The ukulele is really all about personal preference and having fun. For me, the soprano is just too small for what I want to do and how I play. I actually like the sound but I just don't play my ONE soprano which is my 1932 Martin 2M. Thus, I play concert and tenors and both have a spot in my heart and hands. I really don't find any "weakness" in any scale, it's more about sound, limitations on fretboard size. The only weakness in any instrument in my opinion is one that does not have good intonation or you don't enjoy playing, or doesn't have the sound you like to hear. Other than that, it's all about what floats your boat.

UncleMoon
06-25-2016, 06:04 AM
Q: "CONCERT ukes - What's good about them?"

A: For me, it fits in my big old paws better than a soprano.

But you gotta find your own thing. I've been obsessed with ALL the sizes at one time or another. I PREFER the tenor, but play them all about the same. I'll grab each one for a bit pretty much every night. Well.. maybe not the sopranos so much, but concert/tenor/baritone mostly every night for a song or two.

Rllink
06-25-2016, 06:27 AM
I have the concert size. I can't say that I got into a really deep thought process about it. I think that when I decided to play the ukulele I looked at them, thought that the soprano looked kind of small and the tenor looked a little too big, so I bought a concert size ukulele. But the question was, what is good about them? What is so good about the concert size is that is what I have.

cml
06-25-2016, 06:34 AM
What makes the concert special? It both FEELS and SOUNDS best to me. Isn't that what we are all aiming for?

janeray1940
06-25-2016, 06:56 AM
My two main players are a concert, strung low G, and a concert-neck soprano, strung reentrant. I've got small hands so soprano is really most comfortable for me, but I find the soprano sound lacking for what I do. I play a lot of fingerstyle, often high up the neck, and soprano scale gets pretty plinky up there, whereas concert scale offers a bit more sustain and volume. So I'd say what makes it special for me is that it's a bigger-uke sound in a smaller-uke package. But the truth is, if my hands would let me, I'd probably be playing tenors because that's the sound I like best.

wayfarer75
06-25-2016, 09:02 AM
I have two concerts, two sopranos--no other ukes. My two concerts are very different in sound. My Kelii is bigger, heavier, and has an extra half inch on the scale. It sounds very tenor-like and is strung low G. My Barron River is much lighter in weight and more soprano-like, just with more sustain, particularly up the neck. It is strung high G. I use both for fingerpicking.

Then my sopranos are for playing the fast songs (I'm more nimble on a soprano), chord melody, or for traveling (the beater).

DownUpDave
06-25-2016, 09:09 AM
It is another size and that is reason enough to buy one if you have UAS

SoloRule
06-25-2016, 09:27 AM
It is another size and that is reason enough to buy one if you have UAS

This is a perfect answer to the question.
I think Concert scale is a bit easier for strummers. It's smaller to carry around and still has good volume.

Steedy
06-25-2016, 09:34 AM
When Goldilocks was in the Three Bears' house, she saw three ukuleles hanging on the wall. First, she tried Papa Bear's Tenor ukulele and quickly said, "Oh no, this uke is too large!". Then she tried Baby Bear's Soprano ukulele and quickly said "Oh no, this uke is too small!". Then she saw Mama Bear's Concert ukulele shining on the wall, took it down and started playing, and said "Oh my, this sweet uke is just right!". After that, Goldilocks tried the beds and fell asleep playing Mama Bear's Concert uke. When the Three Bears came home and found Goldilocks asleep with a ukulele in her arms, they welcomed her to their ohana and then had a big kanikapila that lasted all night long! :cool:

Pete F
06-25-2016, 09:41 AM
Great replies everyone - thanks!

I love the full richness of my Tenor, for playing fingerstyle, and conversely the soprano for racing through a quick paced song. Listening to many Youtube samples, I can't seem to find a niche for the Concert to satisfy my UAS. I find it not as satisfying a sound as a tenor playing fingerstyle and not as racy as a soprano. The concert does literally sound in the middle of the two which is it's point I guess. I must try another soon....

Ukejenny
06-25-2016, 12:08 PM
Ok, well excuse the abrupt thread title. I'm intrigued by this size uke. I play soprano and tenor - the tonal difference is obvious. I did try a concert size when I first started playing and didn't get on with it, which was probably more the fact that I was a beginner more than anything constructive otherwise.
Anyway, I now have various soprano and tenor size ukes and find myself looking at concert ukes, more likely as a reason to get another instrument over any need or void. I appreciate some people prefer one size over another for personal reasons but: are there any areas the concert excels over the soprano and tenor; does anyone play tenor and concert and likes them equally?

Thanks, look forward to the replies

Pete

I started on tenor, then tried soprano, and then found my sweet spot, concert. I didn't like the spread on the tenor - too much for my fingers/hands, so I needed the frets just a wee bit closer. Yet, I still wanted a great sound, and a strong sound. This led me to the Blackbird Clara, which has a wonderful, strong tone, feels and plays great. I still love soprano, too.

For me, concert was the bridge of perfection between the ease of playing a soprano and the sound you can get with a tenor body.

Griffis
06-25-2016, 02:53 PM
For me, main consideration is that concerts are close as they come to sopranos (my favorite) but just have larger fretboards. Of course, the long necked sopranos solve that. But I don't own one of those.

I can just get around on them better when it comes to less strummy, more fingerpicked things, and I like to play in that way, alternative genres to the old jazz standards and vaudeville types of things I tend to use my soprano for.

I keep my soprano re-entrant but intend to move to low G on my concert.

I also have a baritone (linear, DGBE) that I usually use for more folky, cowboy sorts of songs and things like gypsy jazz (which I am trying my hand at) and a few classical pieces.

Oddly, though I've owned a few, tenors are the one uke size I just don't personally feel a need for.

Don't get me wrong--I love all ukes, see the appeal and am all for anything anyone wants to play. Different strokes and strums! But for me, I just don't feel the need to add a tenor to the gang.

Griffis
06-25-2016, 03:11 PM
...The only weakness in any instrument in my opinion is one that does not have good intonation or you don't enjoy playing, or doesn't have the sound you like to hear. Other than that, it's all about what floats your boat.

Hear, hear. I absolutely agree, and preach this all the time. Holding tuning, good intonation and comfort (ergonomics re: size, shape, string action) and, on electric instruments, reliable electronic components, is 99% of the battle. After that, it's all down to personal preferences.

To me, country of manufacture, date of build, materials such as wood type, name brand and price tag have little bearing on what may be good for a player, and none of these things make an instrument inherently or objectively "better." Each player has his or her own tastes, goals and objectives, likes and dislikes.and overall interests.

robinboyd
06-25-2016, 05:53 PM
I'd rather give a specific example than a general answer. I own a tenor, a concert, and a soprano. I can only play the song in the link below on my concert. I can't stretch my finger far enough for the hammer pull in the intro on the tenor scale, and I can't play the E maj 7 chord on the soprano because it's too squishy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6fqABle09E

southcoastukes
06-25-2016, 07:02 PM
If you play an Ukulele reentrant C tuning, then this is the only standard Ukulele actually designed for that. It fits like a glove.

Pirate Jim
06-25-2016, 10:27 PM
If you play an Ukulele reentrant C tuning, then this is the only standard Ukulele actually designed for that. It fits like a glove.

Having recently read your pages on this, Dirk, I was about to say the same thing! My soprano booms on open C, my tenor feels like it's held back in re-entrant tuning and booms on the low G in linear whereas my concert sings in re-entrant tuning. I play the tenor more because it's a better built uke and so more comfy to play but the sound from the concert is hard to beat for me.

Pete F
06-25-2016, 11:25 PM
Some very resonant points here, and the video convinces me more I could actually profit from a concert; with those reach-y chords and my stubby fingers!

Nickie
06-26-2016, 02:17 PM
Goldilocks was in the Three Bears' house, she saw three ukuleles hanging on the wall. First, she tried Papa Bear's Tenor ukulele and quickly said, "Oh no, this uke is too large!". Then she tried Baby Bear's Soprano ukulele and quickly said "Oh no, this uke is too small!". Then she saw Mama Bear's Concert ukulele shining on the wall, took it down and started playing, and said "Oh my, this sweet uke is just right!". After that, Goldilocks tried the beds and fell asleep playing Mama Bear's Concert uke. When the Three Bears came home and found Goldilocks asleep with a ukulele in her arms, they welcomed her to their ohana and then had a big kanikapila that lasted all night long!

I love this! It brought a big smile to my face. Can I use it?
I play concert ukes (3 of them) because I just do not care for the sound of soprano ukes. I can't reach a lot of the chords with a tenor uke.

Steedy
06-26-2016, 03:03 PM
Goldilocks was in the Three Bears' house, she saw three ukuleles hanging on the wall. First, she tried Papa Bear's Tenor ukulele and quickly said, "Oh no, this uke is too large!". Then she tried Baby Bear's Soprano ukulele and quickly said "Oh no, this uke is too small!". Then she saw Mama Bear's Concert ukulele shining on the wall, took it down and started playing, and said "Oh my, this sweet uke is just right!". After that, Goldilocks tried the beds and fell asleep playing Mama Bear's Concert uke. When the Three Bears came home and found Goldilocks asleep with a ukulele in her arms, they welcomed her to their ohana and then had a big kanikapila that lasted all night long!

I love this! It brought a big smile to my face. Can I use it?

Sure, glad you enjoyed it! :cool:

UkerDanno
06-26-2016, 03:28 PM
When Goldilocks was in the Three Bears' house, she saw three ukuleles hanging on the wall. First, she tried Papa Bear's Tenor ukulele and quickly said, "Oh no, this uke is too large!". Then she tried Baby Bear's Soprano ukulele and quickly said "Oh no, this uke is too small!". Then she saw Mama Bear's Concert ukulele shining on the wall, took it down and started playing, and said "Oh my, this sweet uke is just right!". After that, Goldilocks tried the beds and fell asleep playing Mama Bear's Concert uke. When the Three Bears came home and found Goldilocks asleep with a ukulele in her arms, they welcomed her to their ohana and then had a big kanikapila that lasted all night long! :cool:

I mean, that says it all right there! :shaka:

Tootler
06-26-2016, 10:55 PM
I find the soprano's great if you want a bright crisp sound and the concert is then good for a more mellow sound. You can accentuate that by tuning it down to FBbDG and if you want to be in C capo on the 2nd fret. I currently have my concert tuned low G but I'm thinking of returning it to re-entrant C tuning. My tenors I have tuned re-entrant dGBE which gives a different sound again with an overall lower pitch but still with reentrant sound when strummed.

PTOEguy
06-28-2016, 05:15 AM
If you play an Ukulele reentrant C tuning, then this is the only standard Ukulele actually designed for that. It fits like a glove.

This makes a lot of sense - for some reason I found that the ukes I kept coming back to were concerts.

bnolsen
06-28-2016, 05:49 AM
I only have a couple of sopranos and a tenor. The sopranos I can just leave around most places, but I mostly strum and do some light finger picking. The tenor I primarily pick on is too big, it ends up sleeping in its case when not played.

I'm interested in test driving a concert islander just to see how well it might work for picking (to maybe replace the tenor) and maybe for possibly replacing my sopranos. I just need to first get rid of that cheapo ~30usd butler music lanikai lu21p that's always just so handy...

Inksplosive AL
06-28-2016, 03:20 PM
My three concerts an odd little Antonio Tasi, a Kala solid Spruce topped Mahogany and my KoAloha dont get much love. I really should play them more.

My Kala KA-SEM and my Kala KA-GAS are played the most.

Soundbored
06-30-2016, 07:07 AM
If you play an Ukulele reentrant C tuning, then this is the only standard Ukulele actually designed for that.

There's no evidence to support that, other than indirectly via one luthier's resonance calculations you quote on your site. A different body size with the same 15" scale length would have different resonance, not to mention that there's no such thing as a standard "Concert" scale.

If anything, the first Concerts were probably built with the then standard ADF#B in mind.

Mivo
06-30-2016, 07:51 AM
SB does touch on a point that I have been dwelling on, too.

My Pono baritone is both bigger and deeper than some other baritones, so its resonance point must be different than the resonance point of a smaller, more shallow baritone (like many vintage ones). I wasn't able to measure the resonance point because my inexpensive tuner app didn't pick it up properly (and I didn't really want to buy that expensive app when I would probably use it just once). The scientific evidence is also limited to the write-up and findings of one luthier, based on the dimensions (do we know these?) of his specific instruments.

On the other hand, Dirk's recommendations were right on target for one of my tenors. It gained a lot in tone when I dropped the tuning from C to Bb. Much like a new instrument.

Dirk covers this too, but it's worth pointing out that guitars are tuned significantly below their probable resonance point, and standard guitar tuning has been around for a long time. I don't actually fully understand why it's less of a problem with guitars and their size. If it IS because of the size, the problem should be less pronounced with baritones and tenors than with concerts (low-G C tuning) and sopranos (C tuning).

I think where low tunings can be an issue is with low tension. The D on my baritone could have a little bit more bite, but I think I can tackle this problem with guitar strings (more choice for different tensions), though I really like the Aquila Red Series set for the baritone at the moment (still no broken strings).