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jnorris235
03-16-2017, 01:07 PM
Trying to upgrade my tenor and seeing some with deeper bodies, some "travel" thin ones, some figure 8 shapes with wider bottom half, some curved backs. Also some have holes off centre, some circles/hearts, some with fiddle cut-outs.
I assume the actual physical volume of the thing makes some difference to either volume or tonal quality.
Or do these things hardly matter as long as its well made, perhaps they're only cosmetic?

Jim Hanks
03-16-2017, 01:30 PM
Well of course it matters. All those things will have an effect on tone and volume, some subtle, some not so subtle. But as long as it is well made and well setup, it's still going to sound like a ukulele. So do all those things matter to you? Maybe. Maybe not.

ThatManRyan
03-16-2017, 01:55 PM
I had to click the title to see what you were talking about.

Gary52
03-16-2017, 01:59 PM
Those things matter, but so do other factors such as wood thickness, wood species, bracing pattern, solid wood vs. laminate, and more. Since wood is a natural product it is variable, and even ukes with the same specs can sound different.

Croaky Keith
03-17-2017, 12:05 AM
Yes! ;)

(But only to you personally, most are gimmicks/aesthetics.)

jnorris235
03-17-2017, 12:38 AM
Jim, I am considering spending many many hundreds of pounds on a uke. If one is 25 or even 50mm thinner than another, or one luthier designs his with a wider bottom half, such that it wont fit in standard cases, or one even has the sound hole at the back, then I would like to know the difference it makes. I assume that ukes are pretty much at peak design, there is no more magic to come, and as I have an untrained ear I am blowed if I can understand how to choose. They all sound good to me at that price. And I certainly dont have the vocabulary with which to analyze what I am hearing. Added to that, why on earth would a top class performer, and I do know one, leave his several thousand pound uke at home and gig with a travel uke if it werent almost as good. So Uke1950, almost my age, maybe they are all "as good", just different. ThatManRyan - sorry for the clickbait title!
But this is a serious question. Are thinner ukes more dead sounding, quieter and no sustain?

Mivo
03-17-2017, 01:37 AM
Thinner ukuleles tend to be louder and more lively sounding, and have more sustain, but all of this is really hard to generalize. Different builders use different techniques, bracing, glue, etc. Wood matters, strings matter. It all impacts the sound, and you can't necessarily tell by looking at it or weighing it.

I don't feel that ukulele design is at the peak, things always evolve as builders try new things and people ask for different features. For example, radiused fretboards or side ports are fairly new, and no doubt in the future other innovations will be introduced. Preferences are a big thing, not just sound, but also playability, and there are few rules of thumb. (This is part of the reason why many of us have multiple ukes, even high-end ones).

Are you living reasonably close to the Southern Ukulele Store? Visiting them and trying out different instruments may be the best course of action if you want to get it right in the first try. I just sent back a €1750 uke even though all the specs were right and it sounded fantastic, but it wasn't the right uke for me and my situation (instruments I already have, what sound I want, etc). By objective standards, it is and was great, no doubt perfect for many folks, just not for me. But specs can't tell you whether it's for you, and that is the biggest challenge of buying an expensive instrument unseen (untouched and unheard).

Croaky Keith
03-17-2017, 01:38 AM
I am considering spending many many hundreds of pounds on a uke........
But this is a serious question. Are thinner ukes more dead sounding, quieter and no sustain?

I think the only real answer is to check out each luthier's work & how they sound to you, as you are the one who will be listening to it the most.

I don't think there is any formula you can use to get the best, otherwise everyone else would be using it. ;)

Depth of body does not indicate less volume, same as bigger body doesn't necessarily mean more, it seems to be how & of what it is built.

If you haven't already got ukes, (in the plural there), I don't think you will really know what sound you are after until you hear examples of it.

(Please understand, I am only trying to help guide you toward your ideal uke.)

jnorris235
03-17-2017, 07:10 AM
Hmmm. Havent found a shop that sells anything over 200 within 100 miles of Hereford (I know price isnt everything but it might be a guide to quality of build and how it affects sound), may have to travel to Cumbria or Bournemouth, because I will just have to try some and bite the bullet (as long as they can cope with someone twanging for an hour or two!). Interesting talking to a guy at Nilam music about the physics of building, how the width of the nut relates to the thickness of the neck and such like.
I know understand size doesnt matter as such, you just gotta find one you like. Wish you could get into the Cheltenham Uke festival stalls without paying 45 entrance fee!

rdominelli
03-17-2017, 08:17 AM
Baz Maz has a uku channel on you tube where he compares quite a few ukes and plays the same tune (Gotaukulele). Its no substitue for hearing the uke in person, but with good speakers/headphones you get an idea of the tone of each.

Personal I have a little Kala Soprano (mahagony) and a Kala Ziricote Tenor. Both are laminate, and have their own sound. The soprano has a higher but richer sound and the Zircote has a almost chimey kinda of sound with a way longer sustain. visit uke groups, listen for yourself. My daughter has the kala, make your eyes bleed blue, concert uke and hers produces a great volume and rich tone. A friend a local group has a carbon fiber blackbird concert. An unusual instrument but it produces an amazingly full volume.

Its actually rather suprising how much variety there is in the tone of the instruments.

LimousinLil
03-17-2017, 10:50 AM
Hmmm. Havent found a shop that sells anything over 200 within 100 miles of Hereford (I know price isnt everything but it might be a guide to quality of build and how it affects sound), may have to travel to Cumbria or Bournemouth, because I will just have to try some and bite the bullet (as long as they can cope with someone twanging for an hour or two!). Interesting talking to a guy at Nilam music about the physics of building, how the width of the nut relates to the thickness of the neck and such like.
I know understand size doesnt matter as such, you just gotta find one you like. Wish you could get into the Cheltenham Uke festival stalls without paying 45 entrance fee!

Southern Ukuleles in Bournemouth are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. You might find that they can help you choose the right uke without your actually having to make the trip down there. (They also post a lot of videos with sound samples of various ukes.)

Tootler
03-17-2017, 11:36 PM
I would say much the same for World of Ukes in Carlisle. Matt is both knowledgeable and helpful. I bought a uke from him recently. I went looking for and 8 string and he suggested trying a 6 string as well and it was the 6 string I came away with. It just had that extra undefinable something even though both were the same base model.

Why not make a weekend of it. Either place is well situated for a weekend away in a lovely part of the country. Bournmouth is in Dorset and the Jurassic coast is just along the coast and Dorset inland is very nice too. Carlisle is on the edge of the Lake District so you can go and try out ukes and spend a weekend in a lovely part of the country. Hereford is superb as well, we've holidayed near Hereford on a couple of occasions and enjoyed ourselves.

jnorris235
03-18-2017, 09:11 AM
Thats it then. We just got our Hymer motorpalace (!) old but firm, why not go and visit. Good idea.