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View Full Version : My ukulele sounds a lot different than on video tutorials, why?



dktrfg
03-30-2017, 12:01 PM
Last week I bought an ukulele but when I listen to tutorial videos their ukes sound different. Like small guitar while mine is really high (?). And it's nlt only one person, everyone has got other sound than mine. Is it a falut of strings? Mine are plastic are there like metal ones? Maybe it's because I have got a soprano ukulele (and that would suck because I can't even play a Spongebob song)? Anyone any ideas?

Ukecaster
03-30-2017, 01:03 PM
You may have a soprano uke (small) and be listening to folks playing larger tenor ukes. The soprano has a high sounded, no getting around that, but you can get strings that will make it sound a bit darker, but never like a small guitar (eek).

jer
03-30-2017, 01:25 PM
It could be any number of things. The ukes in the videos would sound different in person. Also, you are hearing from the perspective of the player (yourself) whereas when listening to someone else you're hearing it from out front.... You can play any simple strum along song all the way up to advanced stuff with a soprano.
Make sure you have yours tuned correctly also. I use an electronic tuner, personally, as my ears aren't good enough to get it accurate otherwise.

daviddecom
03-30-2017, 02:10 PM
One thing that can make a ukulele sound more like a small guitar is having a low fourth string, rather than the more traditional high fourth string, i.e., tuned a fourth below the third string rather than a fifth above. The fourth string is the one farthest from the floor when you're holding it to play---it's normally tuned to G. You can get a low G string for your soprano and try swapping it out and see if that makes your ukulele sound more like what you're hearing.

David

daviddecom
03-30-2017, 02:13 PM
Oh, and in response to your question about strings: ukulele strings are usually nylon or fluorocarbon, but you can get wound strings, which have a nylon core and a metal winding, for the lower strings. You probably don't want to use steel strings on your ukulele; it's not designed for them.

David

dktrfg
03-30-2017, 09:39 PM
It could be any number of things. The ukes in the videos would sound different in person. Also, you are hearing from the perspective of the player (yourself) whereas when listening to someone else you're hearing it from out front.... You can play any simple strum along song all the way up to advanced stuff with a soprano.
Make sure you have yours tuned correctly also. I use an electronic tuner, personally, as my ears aren't good enough to get it accurate otherwise.

I was trying to play Riptide as it's described as one of the easiest song but it doesn't sound like that at all. I know that I'm playing chords good and my uke is tuned correctly.

dktrfg
03-30-2017, 09:45 PM
One thing that can make a ukulele sound more like a small guitar is having a low fourth string, rather than the more traditional high fourth string, i.e., tuned a fourth below the third string rather than a fifth above. The fourth string is the one farthest from the floor when you're holding it to play---it's normally tuned to G. You can get a low G string for your soprano and try swapping it out and see if that makes your ukulele sound more like what you're hearing.

David

And how do I do this? I have got absolutely no music sense

Mivo
03-30-2017, 10:23 PM
Low-g on a soprano may not sound good (dead), depending on the instrument. If I were to try it, I would buy a Fremont Soloist low-g string on eBay. Great string that is supposedly for all sizes, but I have only tried it on a tenor. Changing strings (which you might want to do anyway) is at first intimidating, but there are good videos for that. On your ukulele, are the strings tied to the bridge (square thing in the middle of the body)?

Some songs are more suitable for specific sizes. If you want to play very guitar-like music, especially by using YouTube videos, a concert or tenor ukulele may be easier.

Usually when my ukuleles don't sound like in recordings of others, it's often my poor technique. :p But in your case I think it's because you are listening to a tenor ukulele in low-g tuning.

Welcome to the community!

phil hague
03-30-2017, 11:05 PM
You are probably using a high g tuned uke (which in my opinion is the best , happy sound for a soprano) Sometimes these these tenor players use low g or other tunings which make the uke sound more like a guitar, perhaps sometimes they are using baritone tuning. Also if they play through an amp or pa system they can get different sounds such as longer sustain etc. I play most of my ukes (tenor included in high G, unless the music requires low g)
I don't think you are doing anything wrong. By the way, most ukes are not designed to take metal strings, but some good quality strings can make a big difference to a budget priced uke.

bikemech
03-31-2017, 05:25 AM
It sounds like you are new to the ukulele, or at least the soprano. It is a small instrument with a unique sound. You will get used to it and you will come to love it or hate it, though I would not understand how you could hate it. Give yourself some time to play and learn for yourself how the ukulele sounds in your hands and with your ears with no electronic barrier (headphones or speaker) between them. I think you will then appreciate it for the wonderful instrument it is.

dhbailey
03-31-2017, 12:27 PM
Another thing to keep in mind is that the people who are making those videos are *not* beginners. They have many hours of practice behind them. As a beginner you (or I) won't ever sound as good as the people in the videos until we have the same number of hours/days/weeks/months/years under our belts. But if we keep thinking of them as an ideal to work towards in our daily practice we can eventually get there, or at least a lot closer than we are now. It's the same with anything we try -- practice makes perfect. I teach private music lessons on woodwind and brass instruments and that's a problem I run into with adult beginners -- they always want to sound like their favorite artist on their instrument and they get frustrated when they don't. I need to constantly remind them that they need to put in a lot more time on the instrument before they will get that sound. And I also remind them that if they were in 4th grade starting out they wouldn't be thinking about professionals -- they would simply be happy making whatever sounds they could make while learning new things and improving. And that's what we as adults need to do -- enjoy the whole journey from our first uncertain strums through each new note and chord and song we play. So kick back, have fun and keep on doing your best.

robinboyd
03-31-2017, 02:06 PM
Hi dktrfg,

It's often hard to describe things accurately in text, so I made a short video for you. Hopefully it is illustrative of what people are talking about. By the way, I forgot to mention what strings are on the tenor. The G is Aquila Red, while the other 3 are Aquila Nylgut.

https://youtu.be/J0Z_jEKeCe8

bikemech
03-31-2017, 03:02 PM
I was trying to play Riptide as it's described as one of the easiest song but it doesn't sound like that at all. I know that I'm playing chords good and my uke is tuned correctly.

If you are trying to play Riptide as Vance Joy plays it you would have to retune your ukulele. I don't know what tuning he uses but I believe he does not use gCEA tuning for Riptide. This may be why it sounds so different to you. My guess is you are playing Am,G,C chord progression. It sounds good when played that way but it doesn't sound like Vance Joy's version. It's in a different key.

robinboyd
03-31-2017, 03:17 PM
If you are trying to play Riptide as Vance Joy plays it you would have to retune your ukulele. I don't know what tuning he uses but I believe he does not use gCEA tuning for Riptide. This may be why it sounds so different to you. My guess is you are playing Am,G,C chord progression. It sounds good when played that way but it doesn't sound like Vance Joy's version. It's in a different key.

Capo on the first fret should put you in the right key, I think... I could be wrong...

dktrfg
03-31-2017, 07:44 PM
Do you recommend any easy song that will sound good on soprano?

dktrfg
03-31-2017, 07:48 PM
I understand your point but even when they are making sound with each string with no chords (I got no idea how to say it. Just running their finger through all strings) mine sound different and I don't think you need practice to do this (it' s tuned correctly)

robinboyd
03-31-2017, 08:00 PM
Do you recommend any easy song that will sound good on soprano?

Um, Riptide? The soprano will always sound different to a tenor, particularly if the tenor has a low G string. No matter, what song you play, it will sound different. Personally, I prefer a high G for strumming, and a low G for picking most of the time, which is why I have both.

Rakelele
03-31-2017, 08:58 PM
I think we need some more information: What brand? Which size? What strings? Which videos? Is your uke tuned at the right pitch? Is it reentrant (top string high G) or linear (low G)? If you're not sure about the size, then measure the scale length (i.e. strings from nut to saddle): A Tenor has a scale of 17" (43 cm), a Soprano more like 13" (33 cm).

For a more guitar-like tone, use a Tenor (or even a Baritone) sized instrument with linear tuning. You need a different string for linear tuning. Most low G strings are wound, but there are some unwound sets like Worth or Fremont Blackline. Ukuleles are designed for nylon or fluorocarbon strings; you cannot just change to steel strings, as the tension might rip of the bridge or crack the top. If you prefer steel strings, then check out the Pono UL models: they are about the same size as a Baritone Ukulele, but designed for steel strings to be tuned like a Guitar.

Last but not least: Most recordings will sound different from what you hear in person. Not just because some of them are probably better players than yourself (or me, for that matter), but because recording will most likely add a flavor to the sound, depending on what microphones are used, room conditions, distance, background noise, etc.

dhbailey
03-31-2017, 11:33 PM
I understand your point but even when they are making sound with each string with no chords (I got no idea how to say it. Just running their finger through all strings) mine sound different and I don't think you need practice to do this (it' s tuned correctly)

Only if you're playing the very same model uke with the very same strings can you expect your uke to possibly sound exactly like theirs. If the uke in the video is a $2000 hand-made custom built uke and yours is a $99 uke they will never sound the same.

bikemech
04-01-2017, 06:51 AM
Do you recommend any easy song that will sound good on soprano?
Try this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0mJxQbXWAc&list=PLODvOB1QB53X-8-nsakUkBKsrsREtPvq0&index=1

PTOEguy
04-03-2017, 04:55 AM
Another thing to keep in mind is that the people who are making those videos are *not* beginners. They have many hours of practice behind them. As a beginner you (or I) won't ever sound as good as the people in the videos until we have the same number of hours/days/weeks/months/years under our belts. But if we keep thinking of them as an ideal to work towards in our daily practice we can eventually get there, or at least a lot closer than we are now. It's the same with anything we try -- practice makes perfect. I teach private music lessons on woodwind and brass instruments and that's a problem I run into with adult beginners -- they always want to sound like their favorite artist on their instrument and they get frustrated when they don't. I need to constantly remind them that they need to put in a lot more time on the instrument before they will get that sound. And I also remind them that if they were in 4th grade starting out they wouldn't be thinking about professionals -- they would simply be happy making whatever sounds they could make while learning new things and improving. And that's what we as adults need to do -- enjoy the whole journey from our first uncertain strums through each new note and chord and song we play. So kick back, have fun and keep on doing your best.

I really started to get this when I understood why the non-dominate hand (left) is used for chording. At first it seemed counter-intuitive because chording seemed harder, but over time I came to recognize that its the right hand that shapes the sound, and really does require more skill.