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View Full Version : Resonance & Sustain



groundhogday
02-11-2017, 05:25 PM
So, I'm a uke noob and have been strumming away on my first, a laminate mahogany Alvarez RU-22C. I'm using it for both fun and mental and physical therapy as I recover from injuries that affect my left hand. Just for giggles, I broke out my old Alvarez dreadnought guitar for the first time in a while. I'd forgotten how massive the resonance and sustain was, especially compared to my uke. You strum it and the strings ring forever and the solid spruce top vibrates like crazy. It is almost piano-like in the way it projects and vibrates. It's a very good guitar, but by no means top shelf. The top is solid as mentioned, but the rosewood back and sides are laminate AFAIK. I bought it second hand for $250 almost 20 years ago.
Is there anything comparable in the uke world without getting into high end and custom instruments? I don't expect an ukulele to have the sustain and volume of a guitar, but it would be nicer if a strummed chord didn't decay to being unheard within two or three seconds.

wayfarer75
02-11-2017, 05:33 PM
Generally the larger ukes have more sustain and resonance, but lose the uke-y, boxy, punchy sound one associates with the ukulele. The most guitar like ukulele is a baritone size.

kohanmike
02-11-2017, 09:46 PM
I find that my Kala tenor solid cedar top, laminate acacia koa body, paduk binding, slotted headstock, cutaway with preamp is one of the best sustain and projection ukes I've played with the stock Aquila Nylgut strings, and stands up very well to the over $1000 K brands for about 1/3 the price, $370.

Croaky Keith
02-12-2017, 12:23 AM
Best bet uke wise is a baritone, solid top spruce or cedar. :)

Rakelele
02-12-2017, 01:23 AM
Yes, go for the bigger sizes, a tenor or even a baritone. Even within one size, there are significant differences in body volume (i.e. wider and/or deeper bodies). As others have pointed out, a soft wood top will probably help, too. Nothing will ring out like steel strings, though. If that's what you're after, I'd recommend the Pono UL4 models. They are just a little bigger than a baritone ukulele, but made for steel strings:

http://www.theukulelesite.com/pono-acacia-steel-string-baritone-ul4-10.html

bazmaz
02-12-2017, 01:30 AM
Whilst resonance and sustain do increase with ukulele as they get bigger, or even moving to steel strung ukes - you will never get the resonance of a guitar out of them. They just aren't built for that.

In fact, traditionally - the ukulele sound is one that is more rhythmical than about sustain

EDW
02-12-2017, 02:08 AM
You might also play around with different strings, which can help.

OhioBelle
02-12-2017, 04:56 AM
hey groundhog! welcome to this amazing forum!

my Mainland Baritone has a cedar top and solid rosewood back and sides. it's the most "guitar-like" in terms of resonance and sustain. I bought it straight from Mike Hater at Mainland. He had installed custom Guadalupe wound strings on it. Very different feel and tone from your typical ukulele strings. Call him up and see what he has in stock. I recommend Mainland without hesitation, and think that baritone might be what you are looking for.

zztush
02-12-2017, 11:25 AM
Hi, bazmaz!


Whilst resonance and sustain do increase with ukulele as they get bigger, or even moving to steel strung ukes - you will never get the resonance of a guitar out of them. They just aren't built for that.

In fact, traditionally - the ukulele sound is one that is more rhythmical than about sustain

I am guitarist. The main reason of guitar's resonance and sustain is that the guitars are transposing instruments and their real sound is one octave below the music notation.

https://s19.postimg.org/hvdchu6tf/combine_images.png (https://postimg.org/image/tx8qbzg1r/)upload gif from url (https://postimage.org/)

Tudorp
02-13-2017, 04:36 AM
I have one that I set up from Bruce Wei, that turned into my favorite daily player. I am not recommending Bruce Wei, but this particular one I fell in love with. It is a solid mahogany concert that has the most amazing sustain that I have ever played in a Uke. I have played many BW ukes, but none have ever measured up to this specific one. I have no idea why, but other than luck of the draw. This thing hangs on the wall next to my bed when I am not playing it, and I am not joking when I say, if you clap, or any loud noise in the room it is in, you can actually hear this Uke "humm". It wants to be played all the time, that any sudden noise in the room, you can hear it ring just hanging there on it's own. I love it.

valde002
02-13-2017, 04:44 AM
I have one that I set up from Bruce Wei, that turned into my favorite daily player. I am not recommending Bruce Wei, but this particular one I fell in love with. It is a solid mahogany concert that has the most amazing sustain that I have ever played in a Uke. I have played many BW ukes, but none have ever measured up to this specific one. I have no idea why, but other than luck of the draw. This thing hangs on the wall next to my bed when I am not playing it, and I am not joking when I say, if you clap, or any loud noise in the room it is in, you can actually hear this Uke "humm". It wants to be played all the time, that any sudden noise in the room, you can hear it ring just hanging there on it's own. I love it.

great find!

kohanmike
02-13-2017, 05:26 AM
Back in the past, ukes that Bruce Wei sold through his eBay store were hit-and-miss because he allowed other builders in Vietnam to sell through his store, which gained him a bad reputation. A few years ago he stopped doing that and now only offers his own builds.

Back then I ordered a couple of customs from him and they were very good at a great price. A few months ago I bought one of his ready mades from eBay, solid acacia koa for $100 US and it has really good projection and sustain. A few weeks ago I had him make me another custom and it has excellent projection and sustain, even better when I changed the strings to fluorocarbons and lowered the action.

I would not hesitate a moment to recommend Bruce Wei ukes.

jer
02-14-2017, 01:04 PM
I haven't read all the posts, so I apologize if this has already been mentioned:
Another big difference is the steel strings vs. nylon strings. At least I think the guitar you mentioned is a steel string. Of course a nylon string guitar is going to have more resonance too.

Other than that, the size of the body certainly does play a role, as mentioned.
There are some really nice small guitars that are closer to ukes in size, but obviously have a bigger guitar sound...such as the Taylor Baby models....I've heard some ukes that sound guitar-like in ways, but nothing that really compares well to the sound of a guitar. It's one of those things where you either appreciate the sound of a uke or you don't. That's just my opinion anyway. The small size of the uke is certainly nice, but it has its limitations in terms of where the sound can go. I'm not saying guitars don't have their own limitations.
The only other thing I can think of is maybe getting and electric uke and plugging it in and cranking up some reverb or delay, as well as the volume of the amp...Still not guitar-like necessarily, but definitely a way to push the boundaries of what you can do with a uke.

groundhogday
02-15-2017, 06:21 PM
Thanks for the replies. My next ukulele will most likely be a tenor once I've recovered from my injuries.

pulelehua
02-16-2017, 09:53 AM
As others have said, a baritone will have by far the most sustain and resonance.

Of course, a baritone's not really a ukulele...................

<quietly exits the room before ukulele melee #437 breaks out>


:rolleyes:

weeshan
02-16-2017, 12:45 PM
I find that my Kala tenor solid cedar top, laminate acacia koa body, paduk binding, slotted headstock, cutaway with preamp is one of the best sustain and projection ukes I've played with the stock Aquila Nylgut strings, and stands up very well to the over $1000 K brands for about 1/3 the price, $370.

I second this...out of approx. 7 ukes bought (with a few since sold) my Kala tenor solid cedar top is by far the most resonant with the most sustain of all of my instruments Ive had. It has far exceeded my expectations. I reviewed the heck out of it before buying and many seem to consider it exceptional for the price. I regularly play mine with my boyfriend who plays an acoustic Seagull with a big ol' butt on it...my Kala tenor has no problem being heard at all. Seriously love this uke. In fact, its the first one out of all of mine that I havent immediately ripped the Nylguts off and replaced with fluorocarbons....Im scared of losing the "perfect" sound it currently has.

Im a newbie, but a total review nerd. Based on my rigorous research, Id say a spruce or cedar top would probably be what you want. Im really sold on cedar tops now.