View Full Version : NUD / advice: Risa tenor stick

03-25-2017, 07:13 PM
I got a Risa tenor stick this week, and while I'm quite impressed with the precision of it (it has far and away the best intonation up and down the neck of any of my ukuleles, and the whole thing just feels really well-made), I'm finding that it might actually be a little too compact.

There are two different ways the compactness affects me. First, because the body is so shallow, both arms and wrists have to be angled in what feel like awkward ways to reach. Tucking a medium-sized book between my torso and the body of the stick is actually enough to alleviate the issue, but it doesn't seem like a permanent solution.

Second, it turns out that I'm used to resting my right forearm on the edge of the lower bout of my normal ukuleles (in fact, my normal tenor has a nice rounded edge there just for that purpose). The stick, of course, doesn't have a lower bout at all, which makes it hard to find a place to rest my forearm. Again, I can jury-rig a solution (a rolled-up towel does the trick), but it'd be nice to have a more permanent solution.

So I was thinking of trying to assemble something a little more permanent (ideally along the lines of a violin chinrest and shoulder rest but maybe as simple as some foam blocks and velcro), and I thought I'd check to see if anyone else had had similar issues and come up with a better solution or just had some ideas.


03-25-2017, 08:49 PM
Congratulations David, hopefully it will become more comfortable over time.

Croaky Keith
03-25-2017, 10:56 PM
I mainly use mine sitting down resting the butt end in my lap, but if I stand, I just hold it the same way as when I play my others, but I pick melodies with my thumb & hold the uke with my hand. If I want to strum standing up I use a lanyard type of strap around my neck & attach it to the button on the back.

03-25-2017, 11:05 PM
Peter Forest is an awesome member here at UU, he may be able to help with some tips on playing ergonomics.


03-26-2017, 09:31 AM
When I had one, I think I always played with a strap for starters. Other than that, try shifting the entire uke towards the left when you're playing to change your wrist angle a bit.

As for your idea, there are various travel guitars I've seen that have detachable "wings" on them. Sometimes just bars of metal that can stick in on the sides...others with wood attachments.
I thought the Risa solid was comfy with just the strap Hopefully you can find something that works for you though.

Picker Jon
03-29-2017, 02:29 PM
Definitely use the strap. It's so small, there isn't much to support it and the support comes from the strap. The idea of the case carrying handle doubling as the uke strap is ingenious! If you've only had it a week, I would just keep playing it and see if you adapt to it and it feels more natural to play. It is so different ergonomically to traditional ukes that it does take some getting used to. I would try to adapt your playing to the uke, rather than adapt the uke to you. but that's just my idea. I hope you enjoy it whatever you decide!

03-29-2017, 11:10 PM
+1 for using a strap. I don't understand how you can play a Risa stick without a strap I certainly couldn't play mine without one. I suspect their including strap attachments to use the case strap means you have a strap to hand and don't need to buy one.

I found the lack of a headstock took more getting used to, especially with first position chords as I tended to wrap my hand round the top of the neck and it felt odd at first.

03-30-2017, 08:09 AM
Thanks for all the advice, and the pointer to Peter's video review, which was great (I especially liked hearing Bizet and Schumann played on the ukulele).

Now that I've been playing it for a week, I am starting to adapt to it. I'm definitely using the strap (I use a strap on my normal tenor and concert ukuleles, too), and I've stopped using books and towels to bolster it. I've shifted the position of the stick a little more to my right side, which makes the neck stick out a little farther from my body and which makes my left arm about as comfortable as on a normal ukulele. The neck profile is quite different from my other tenor (an Islander)---a little narrower and a lot deeper---but I'm getting used to that, too. And the lack of a headstock doesn't really bother me, even though my hand does occasionally wrap around in first position.

My right arm and hand are still a work in progress. Strumming is actually just fine. My problems come with fingerpicking, and I think there are two issues, one of which I'm slowly adapting to, and the other of which I'm still uncertain about. The first is that when I pick with my fingers near the end of the (virtual) fretboard, the strings are quite a bit closer to the body than on a normal ukulele, so I find my fingers making unintentional contact with the body more often. If I move my right arm down so that my fingers are over the hole, though, my arm has nowhere to rest, which is a bit awkward. I'm getting used to just picking more shallowly, though.

The other problem is that I find it hard to alternate between p and i/m as quickly as I can on a normal ukulele. If I rest my right arm against the ukulele, the problem is the angle of my wrist, which makes fast movements of my thumb harder. And if I float my right arm above the ukulele, the ukulele itself loses stability. This is the one thing that would still be easier with a detachable wing of some sort, although I'll keep working on my technique while I ponder how to rig one up.


03-30-2017, 08:46 AM
The following thread was something I created when dealing with my desire to make the stick work better for me. I find it easier to play with the modifications than before. Since I am able to hold the neck with a better grip, I find it easier to hold the stick when playing.


I am also having this done to my Flea as well. He's that good.

Hope this helps.

03-30-2017, 11:36 AM
I am looking to get something on the quiet side to practice with, and trying to decide between a RISA Tenor Stick and the Pono TE-2 Tenor. This may not be a fair comparison (given the price difference) but anybody have experience with both? I would think that the main draw of the RISA is its extremely compact size for travel, so that if you weren't using it for travel (which I wouldn't), you might be giving away a lot of playing comfort with its design.

Picker Jon
03-30-2017, 01:15 PM
If you do get used to it, the Stick is very comfortable to play. It took me about 10 minutes to adjust and now it's interchangeable with any of my ukes.

03-30-2017, 03:54 PM
I've got a concert Stick and love it. Recently took it on a cruise. It took little room in the suitcase and was pleasant to pick while in a deck chair. It was quiet enough not to bother anyone nor draw a crowd.

A strap makes a big difference. It's a convenience as well as an aid.