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RLM3121
02-13-2017, 09:38 AM
I am curious about whether two same model higher end ukuleles sound different. They have different wood sets of the same species. Does that equate to much tonal difference if they are constructed the same? I have often wondered about this, but in my area there aren't any stores that stock more than one at a time. I would like to hear everyone's opinion.

actadh
02-13-2017, 09:48 AM
A good example is Mainland. A Mainland size in the different tonewoods, yet built the same, has different tonal results.

RLM3121
02-13-2017, 10:01 AM
A good example is Mainland. A Mainland size in the different tonewoods, yet built the same, has different tonal results.
I was wondering about the same species but different sets.

actadh
02-13-2017, 10:07 AM
OK, that would apply, too. My Mainland mahogany tenor built in 2011 would be different than that uke built in 2013 or 2017, even though the build is the same. Different dryness, different trees, different daily storage and use.

Ukulele Eddie
02-13-2017, 10:08 AM
They can. The better the builder, the more consistent the tone will likely be. But even ukes from the same species of trees may sound different. There can be a lot of variability within the same species of tree, which can impact tone.


Look for announcement this week (likely Wed or Thurs) on a project of interest to this topic.

dhbailey
02-13-2017, 10:10 AM
If you're asking about the same model, same wood -- will different ukes with identical specs sound different? The answer is "they could. Or they could sound the same." All instruments are subject to little variations in assembly -- how much glue is used in a particular place, how the grain is, etc. The only way to know for sure is to play identical ukes side by side. Since you can't (I can't either where I live) we just have to depend on the overall reputation of the maker and not worry if another uke of the same specs might sound better. From reputable makers all the ukes with the same specs which make it to market should sound good -- so it's really a matter of degrees. And what one person thinks might sound better another might not like as much.

actadh
02-13-2017, 10:12 AM
There is also different setups and strings to consider.

FourSilverMoonbeams
02-13-2017, 10:32 AM
When I was buying my Kanilea K1, Southern ukulele Store had four in stock. They all sounded noticeably different.

valde002
02-13-2017, 03:20 PM
I have two Kamakas HF-2s. I've only had them for several months, but so far I cannot really tell a difference between the two. Ironically and coincidentally, they are from the same year.

willisoften
02-13-2017, 09:46 PM
Subjective
I've had a number of Kiwayas over the years they where all pretty consistent in that I liked them all. While there where / are are slight differences between them I would be hard put to say whether any one was better tor worse than any other.
Consistency of manufacture in every aspect surely has a lot to to with that.

Somebody has already mention Kanilea, I have a K1 concert it's lovely sounding, a colleague of mine has the same model hers is definitely louder. I couldn't say it's better or worse tonally but even when I play it it seems louder.
Go figure.

BearMakingNoises
02-13-2017, 11:49 PM
I played insane amounts of Kamaka sopranos over the last few years looking for my magic one. Almost all were great instruments, some were amazing, a few were less than stellar... three were absolutely undefinable... of those, one was totally special and it is the only uke I own now. So I think that all instruments have their own characters.

Ziret
02-14-2017, 04:53 AM
I played insane amounts of Kamaka sopranos over the last few years looking for my magic one. Almost all were great instruments, some were amazing, a few were less than stellar... three were absolutely undefinable... of those, one was totally special and it is the only uke I own now. So I think that all instruments have their own characters.

Did you have to buy each one, or do you live near a Kamaka distributor? I've never even seen a Kamaka soprano. I'd love to, that's certain.

janeray1940
02-14-2017, 05:31 AM
I played insane amounts of Kamaka sopranos over the last few years looking for my magic one. Almost all were great instruments, some were amazing, a few were less than stellar... three were absolutely undefinable... of those, one was totally special and it is the only uke I own now. So I think that all instruments have their own characters.

That was really well-stated. I've been playing Kamakas nearly exclusively for years, and have owned maybe 6 or 7 and kept 3. Some of these were identical models, identical wood. I've noticed a big variation in sound but only after I've had the opportunity to compare them side by side - it's been easy for me to judge the keepers from the re-homers. This isn't to say the re-homed ones were bad, necessarily; they just didn't have the sound qualities that I prefer.

So my take on it is this: even with higher end ukes, if you can, try before you buy, because they're not all the same. But if you don't have that opportunity, you'll probably be happy with whatever you receive if you do your homework and buy from a reliable seller.

BearMakingNoises
02-14-2017, 07:40 PM
I live in Tokyo and there are a ton of shops around Ochanomizu that have 10-20 in stock and every major chain music store around most stations will have 7-8 Koalohas and 1-3 Kamakas.

experimentjon
02-14-2017, 08:24 PM
I remember when I bought my first high-end ukulele, a Kanilea Tenor. I was fortunate because in Hawaii, shops are quite well-stocked and I had the chance to try my poor playing skills at the entire wall of Kanilea tenors (and compare them against the other big K brands as well.) The one I chose had a golden koa with straight streaks in it--and to my ear, sounded the best of the other Kanilea tenors on the wall.

Later, I'd have the chance to own different vintages of the same model. (Ex Kamaka concerts or KoAloha tenors from two or three different years). Definitely had obvious differences by age--especially as I compared some of the older instruments against the newer builds of the same "model." Definitely have some instruments there that I regret selling....

willisoften
02-15-2017, 08:27 AM
I'm forced in most instances to buy by mail, therefore the slight differences between instruments are a non-issue. While I'm aware that an acquaintance has a louder Kanilea than mine. It ultimately it doesn't matter, chasing the marginal differences is just a way of not enjoying what is in front of you. Ultimately the question of any instrument do you like it enough to buy it (or keep it ).

pulelehua
02-16-2017, 03:28 AM
I think it takes a long time to get to know an instrument. Jake Shimabukuro describes it as a relationship. So, yes, different ukuleles can sound quite different from one another.

BUT, one ukulele can sound different from itself! That is the real art of performance. And the better the construction, the more tone colours you can draw out.

Griffis
02-16-2017, 03:40 AM
I feel this is overstated somewhat. Any two ukes are going to sound a bit different, whether one is a vintage Martin and the other is an off-the-rack Luna, or if both rolled off the assembly line the same day at the same factory.

There are so many variables. I believe it's clear that generally speaking a handcrafted uke made of solid woods will be sweeter and more resonant than a mass-produced laminate from China.

Differences in woods, build, etc. will also be more evident in acoustic instruments than solidbody electric things.

There is so much you can do to get many sounds from one ukulele. I don't believe in one trick ponies.

Even a simple string change can have a marked effect on the sound/tone of any uke.

Also, technique. Your fingering, hand placement, attack, etc. All these things play into the overall sound(s) you get from your instrument.

Obviously there are cases where a uke just doesn't work for you, or please the player. Bad intonation, thick ply and glue that dampens projection, etc.

But in my experience, overall, I feel I have learned more from trying to work within limitations. In other words, I no longer have leisure cash to try dozens of ukes out. Rather than take the approach of "Maybe a cedar top will sound richer" or "The tone I want can only come from a solid mahogany uke at least 50 years old" I just try to get the most out of what I am fortunate to have.

I say these things because I think it can be disheartening for a new player who gets excited to hear Jake S or Ohta-San the first time to think they have to rush out and spend a grand or more to emulate their heroes.

Ukulele Eddie
02-16-2017, 03:51 AM
[QUOTE=Ukulele Eddie;1940990

Look for announcement this week (likely Wed or Thurs) on a project of interest to this topic.[/QUOTE]

The announcement I alluded to is Luthiers for a Cause, where six of the world's best luthiers are each building a tenor uke sourced from the same, storied trees to showcase their unique voicings and aesthetic approaches:

https://www.luthiersforacause.org/news/

valde002
02-16-2017, 03:55 AM
I feel this is overstated somewhat. Any two ukes are going to sound a bit different, whether one is a vintage Martin and the other is an off-the-rack Luna, or if both rolled off the assembly line the same day at the same factory.

There are so many variables. I believe it's clear that generally speaking a handcrafted uke made of solid woods will be sweeter and more resonant than a mass-produced laminate from China.

Differences in woods, build, etc. will also be more evident in acoustic instruments than solidbody electric things.

There is so much you can do to get many sounds from one ukulele. I don't believe in one trick ponies.

Even a simple string change can have a marked effect on the sound/tone of any uke.

Also, technique. Your fingering, hand placement, attack, etc. All these things play into the overall sound(s) you get from your instrument.

Obviously there are cases where a uke just doesn't work for you, or please the player. Bad intonation, thick ply and glue that dampens projection, etc.

But in my experience, overall, I feel I have learned more from trying to work within limitations. In other words, I no longer have leisure cash to try dozens of ukes out. Rather than take the approach of "Maybe a cedar top will sound richer" or "The tone I want can only come from a solid mahogany uke at least 50 years old" I just try to get the most out of what I am fortunate to have.

I say these things because I think it can be disheartening for a new player who gets excited to hear Jake S or Ohta-San the first time to think they have to rush out and spend a grand or more to emulate their heroes.

Well put..

j.roth
02-19-2017, 04:23 AM
A nice instrument is going to sound like a nice instrument. The difference is truly going to be negligible. Maybe I am a jerk, but I have never listened to anyone play music, and thought to myself, "Their songs are terrible, but their tone is amazing!" The worst Kanilea is still going to sound and play amazing.

Tootler
02-19-2017, 10:58 AM
Individual instruments will vary but I do think that different instruments from the same maker will have a family likeness in their tone. I have three Brüko ukuleles, different sizes, different woods but all have a definite family likeness. The best way of characterising it is they are bright when played. The Brükos are the nearest I have to a luthier built instrument. They are semi hand made in small batches by a small maker. Considering that, they are amazing value for money.