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bellgamin
11-06-2017, 09:37 PM
When I shop ukes it seems that the majority have upper & lower bouts. The lower bout is wider than the upper - fat hips.

A relatively lesser number of ukes use other shapes, such as pineapple shape.

So I am wondering - with all other things being equal (maker, size, wood, bracing, etc) - would 2-bout ukes tend to sound better than other uke shapes? I mean, is there some technical reason as to why 2-bout ukes predominate?

ukantor
11-06-2017, 10:20 PM
That's an interesting question. I look forward to reading the replies.

I have built ukuleles with a variety of different shaped bodies and they can all sound good. Perhaps a more complicated shape gives a slightly more interesting and varied sound. A perfectly circular body, like the old time camp ukes, or a regular rectangle, as in a cigar box instrument, seem to me to have a pure and simple tone, but the figure of eight, and asymmetrically shaped bodies, have a mix of more colourful vibrations going on.

I built one soprano uke with a box-like body, in which no two surfaces were parallel or equidistant. This "Wonkylele" has a particularly appealing, "colourful" palette of sounds - which I have taken as an indication that my theory might be correct. If you think about sound waves bouncing around inside a resonant chamber, it is easy to convince yourself that a fig. 8 shape will produce a great variety of vibrations, due to the many different distances the sound has to travel, as it bounces around inside.

At least, that is my impression, but I might be imagining it. I do have a good imagination!

John Colter.

Peace Train
11-06-2017, 10:55 PM
When I shop ukes it seems that the majority have upper & lower bouts. The lower bout is wider than the upper - fat hips.

A lot of things going on here, so I'll break it down as best I can: While not all ukes have "fat hips" (I've seen some ukes with seemingly equal width upper and lower bouts), I agree that most ukes have lower bouts that are wider than the upper...for the majority of ukes.



[...] would 2-bout ukes tend to sound better than other uke shapes? I mean, is there some technical reason as to why 2-bout ukes predominate?

"Better" is a subjective term. Ukes like Flea or Hoffman (Boatpaddle) have non-standard shapes that are up there with the best of them. Vintage ukes like Lyon & Healey's Camp uke and Shrine uke, and Stromberg-Voisinet's 'Aero' uke sound great also. Let's not forget cigar box ukes and the Harp uke.

As to why double bout ukes predominate? Consider that the uke came from the Portuguese machete having two bouts. Then consider how factors of tradition and consumer acceptance come into play. And while luthiers experiment quite a bit, most experimentation is done with tonewood, bracing, construction methods, etc. You can also ask yourself how willing would I be to mess with an already good--and proven--thing?

Croaky Keith
11-06-2017, 11:19 PM
I always thought the double bout/figure eight shape was about strength.
The lower bout being bigger, giving more vibrating sound board area.
The pineapple shape, gave more resonating air volume.

RafterGirl
11-07-2017, 02:31 AM
Pete & Shelley Mai at Bonanza Ukulele make ukes in a variety of shapes. The Amoeba is definitely different.
http://www.bonanzaukuleles.com

kohanmike
11-07-2017, 06:11 AM
I have a custom mandolele that does not have a waist and it sounds really good to me. I also have traditional bodies that also sound good. I'm impressed by the Kala Thinline that is loud for such a thin body, which seems to come from the arch on the back. (I'm going to have a custom one made soon.)

http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Mandolele black finished 700.jpg

frianm
11-07-2017, 07:41 AM
This is a very subjective $0.02 cents worth.

I have two pineapple sopranos and two regular shaped ones. I prefer the sounds of the pineapples as I find them a tad more resonant.
I have a regular shaped concert and a similar shaped tenor. I like them both and have never tried these in pineapple shape.
I played an Ohana concert pineapple and liked it very much.
I have played the Gretsch round uke and one by Terry Mead. The latter are not plywood and excellently made - I liked them but have not bought either. I did have a C scale Mead banjo, which was basically a wood topped round ukulele with a short five string neck and an open back - excellent instrument.

Again - a very subjective opinion. Play as many different instruments as you can and put your money where your head and heart leads

Jarmo_S
11-07-2017, 07:51 AM
I have always been of the opinion of guitars body shape being the way it is because of the way to play it sitting down. Then seems natural to have the lower 8 shape larger to have more box so to say.

The many ways ukulele is hold when playing don't rely so much to a body box shape.
For a soundhole strap attachement the traditional "8" shape seems convenient. I did see a woman held her breast on the upper waist the other day when she was playing the uke.

For optimal sound, maybe a waistless pineapple etc. shape?

MopMan
11-07-2017, 09:23 AM
fat hips are better?

Sir Mix-A-Lot certainly seems to think so...:rotfl:


Seriously though, thinking about the physics of the situation: it does seem that a larger and less restricted soundboard surface would be able to vibrate more freely. Therefore, wide hips on a guitar or ukulele should theoretically generate a more reverberant sound. If you compare a tenor scale uke and a soprano scale uke you can hear this difference.

However, there are many factors that will come in to play to determine the final characteristic of the sound. The shape of the resonant chamber, the size and location of soundholes, tonewoods, bracing, saddle, strings... all of those contribute to what you hear. I don't think it is fair to say that wide hips or the traditional figure of eight are the secret to a great-sounding ukulele.

There are well-crafted instruments in many shapes and sizes that can sound wonderful. Which is the best? It depends on who you are and what you are looking for.

Tudorp
11-07-2017, 10:42 AM
"I like big bouts and I can not lie
You other brothers can't deny
That when a uke strums in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get sprung,"

I am not a scientist, but I think most the sound actually comes from the lower bout (soundboard). Not sure if they sound better, but fat hips are just damn sexy. I love my Concert with phat hips..

Rllink
11-07-2017, 10:49 AM
I like the traditional hourglass figure. It is just me. I don't know if it sounds different, better, or worse. I just like it best. I really avoid the 'search for the best sound" path of ukuleledom, because no matter where you are, there is always the possibility that there is something out there that sounds better. So you can never arrive at the destination.

rubykey
11-07-2017, 11:08 AM
Does this uke make my butt look big? 104244

Donna Loprinzi says this shape enhances the tone. This little workhorse (a.k.a. My Little Pony) has monster sound. Loud and resonant but that probably has more to do with her impeccable craftsmanship.

Croaky Keith
11-07-2017, 11:36 AM
.... I really avoid the 'search for the best sound" path of ukuleledom, because no matter where you are, there is always the possibility that there is something out there that sounds better. So you can never arrive at the destination.

I agree, I've given up looking for the holy grail of uke - but I do like some thing different from the normal also. :)

neo1022
11-07-2017, 08:20 PM
The Pepe Romero Tiny Tenors are single bout ukes with an enlarged soundhole and a wider-than-usual bout. As I understand it, the rationale for the design was to maximize the unobstructed vibrational surface on the top, while maintaining a single resonating chamber.

Why go for a single resonating chamber? The standard double bout uke design in effect created two overlapping resonant chambers, which interact, and often interact in a way that generates a certain amount of tonal dissonance. The harmonics on a single-bout instrument are a bit cleaner, simply because there's not as variation in the resonant properties of the upper and lower bouts, etc. At least that seems to be the theory... And it seems to work--the result is an inexpensive uke that plays (and intones) well above its price range. Of course, you can achieve this in a standard body, but the materials must be excellent and the build quality exacting, and thus quite expensive.

Seems to me that the single bout design seems to allow cleaner sound in a production instrument. In any case, as for the Tiny Tenors, the result is a superbly precise, well-intoned, and very resonant ukulele. Really shows its chops in fingerstyle playing...

Graham Greenbag
11-07-2017, 11:05 PM
The Romero tiny tenor mentioned above can be seen here: http://luthier.peperomero.com/?page_id=286 . To me it looks a lot like a boat paddle design but with rounded corners, I like its looks and aren’t surprised at all that the shape works well.

Fat hips or larger lower bout must, I think, allow a greater sound board area. That larger board, in turn, surely allows more sound to be created by the vibrating surface (which is excited the strings to saddle to bridge vibration transmission chain). To my mind the purpose of the lower bout form is to provide both a supporting structural edge for the sound board and a focal shape that directs sound waves within the Ukes sound cavity towards an exit hole.

The upper bout is, as best I can understand it, a second sound reflector. It redirects sound waves from the lower bout, that missed the sound hole, back towards the sound hole and failing their escape then then onwards towards the lower bout for further reflection back toward the sound hole. I hope that isn’t too wordy and makes sense.

The early double bout shape in which they were near equal in size might not be optimal in some respects but logical enough given the constraints of the time. The fat lower bout is more bulky, uses wider material (so more expensive and difficult to make) and produces a slightly more mid range sound. In times past any of those three points might have been an issue but today they are either much less so or not at all.

Of course I would agree that a Uke’s sound volume and quality are not all about shape, it is but one factor amongst many but it is still part of the culmative effect. My current preference is for (readily affordable and do the job nicely) Pineapple shaped laminate Soprano Ukes, but if I could find a large bout (say 7-1/2” and over) more standard shape for similar money then I’d consider buying one.


I really avoid the 'search for the best sound" path of ukuleledom, because no matter where you are, there is always the possibility that there is something out there that sounds better. So you can never arrive at the destination.

I think that logic is too often overlooked or ignored - thank you for reminding me/us of it. OK some items are more clearly worth seeking out, having and using than others; however there does come a point, and earlier than some would think, when it’s best to stop searching for the next better thing and focus more on enjoying and using what you have already got.

DownUpDave
11-09-2017, 01:25 AM
I like the traditional hourglass figure. It is just me. I don't know if it sounds different, better, or worse. I just like it best. I really avoid the 'search for the best sound" path of ukuleledom, because no matter where you are, there is always the possibility that there is something out there that sounds better. So you can never arrive at the destination.

Yes Rooli you speak words of truth, but it is not the destination, it is the journey towards it that is enjoyable. So many different sounds and looks and smells. Oh yes the smells, nothing like sniffing the sound holes of redwood, cedar or a fine spicey rosewood.

I think I need a cold shower now:p

Rllink
11-10-2017, 05:29 AM
Yes Rooli you speak words of truth, but it is not the destination, it is the journey towards it that is enjoyable. So many different sounds and looks and smells. Oh yes the smells, nothing like sniffing the sound holes of redwood, cedar or a fine spicey rosewood.

I think I need a cold shower now:pThat is good. I think of you as one who is out wandering in the ukulele forest, enjoying breathing the fresh air on your way to wherever you are going. But sometimes I think less intuitive people are just out there lost in the woods. But that might just be the perception.