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View Full Version : going from a soprano to a concert or tenor - size and comfort?



Pier
03-25-2018, 12:04 PM
hi guys, It's been a while since I wrote on this forum. I'm a long time soprano player, and I love the sound and "smallness" of it.

I've never felt the need to "go bigger", but in the last weeks I'm arranging songs with some singers, and using a lot of upper chords and melody I'm starting to feel a bit "chained" inside the small neck of a soprano.

I'm looking for a concert or a tenor, but I have one question that I can't answer myself, because there aren't shops with many ukes where I live, so I must buy it online:

is possible, with a Concert or a Tenor, to play standing on and without a strap?

usually, when I see Tenor players, they use a strap while standing. the few videos I've seen of, for example, Cliff Edwards standing with a tenor, he was playing only with his thumb, holding the uke with the other fingers.

I play a lot of arpeggios and chord melody, and I usually only use my pinky as the "holder", while the other fingers pick.

in my mind a Concert would be better, but I don't want to buy one and then find out that the neck is not that comfortable and I should have bought a Tenor.

however I don't want to buy a Tenor and then have to play it with a strap or sitting, because it's too heavy or uncomfortable to be hold without the arm.

any help? :D

Choirguy
03-25-2018, 12:23 PM
Thanks for the question.

I’m pro strap buttons, regardless of size of the ukulele...so much so that I installed buttons on all 50 of our Caramel ukuleles, and if we get Outdoor Ukuleles next year, all of them will have strap buttons.

The strap buttons solve three issues. First, they keep ukuleles from hitting the floor. The number of dropped instruments in my program have decreased exponentially since we installed straps. The bad news is that I had to buy very cheap guitar straps on eBay to do it (Less than $2 each) and the quality is horrible and they’re just too big. I wish there was a cheap ukulele strap (1”) with more rigid material that was similarly priced.

Second, the straps help my students play correctly. They all have a tendency to hold the ukulele more like a steel guitar versus a ukulele, as they want to see the fretboard. The strap helps them to hold the instrument the right way.

Third, it takes a while for us to “officially” get there (see the warm-up I teach on the first day or two below), but the strap helps immensely with barre chords.

Some purists will say “no straps” and that’s their choice, but as a classroom teacher, I love them. As a player I love them. Most of my ukuleles have them, the only exceptions being a sopranissimo and a sopranino.

Now...can you play a concert or tenor ukulele without a strap? Sure. You can play guitar without a strap. I was just playing my Outdoor Ukulele (Tenor) a few minutes ago (while standing) and it doesn’t have a strap on at this moment. But I wouldn’t do so long term.

If you are moving up from Soprano, why not try Concert next. It has become my preferred size (If Outdoor Ukulele announces one, I’ll buy one the same day), but I have all the scales sizes in the collection. If cost is an issue, try one of the new Concert Dolphins/Sharks by Kala/Makala. That way you can have a ukulele that you can pass on to someone else down the road, or you can sell it for a minor loss down the road, or just keep it in your collection.

Tabbycat
03-25-2018, 12:50 PM
There's a Makala Dolphin in concert size? Really?
I love my soprano Dolphin - it's just so stinkin' cute!
But I'd love to get it with a slightly wider fretboard.

Pier
03-25-2018, 01:37 PM
Now...can you play a concert or tenor ukulele without a strap? Sure.



thanks for your wonderful answer.

that's exactly the point I was wondering about: I'm not "anti strap", and the reasons you listed in your post are good.

however, I'm not a student nor a beginner, and I don't like the strap just because it's an "accessory" to add.
I love playing the ukulele because it's just as it is.

being a professional bass player and also a guitarist I always struggle with jacks, straps, pedals, knobs and everything... with the ukulele I just take it from there it is and start playing.

you mention the guitar played without a strap, but that's exactly my point: a guitar can't be comfortably played without a strap, it's heavy and can't be "hugged" and hold.

__________


now I'd like to ask you all another thing:

is this a concert or a tenor?

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMzBkZjM5OTctYzM2ZS00ZWYyLTk2YzctOTYzNDA4ZjE4MD ZiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxMjk0Mg@@._V1_.jpg

https://travsd.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/maxresdefault.jpg?w=723

I'm not so sure about it, it looks like a tenor, to me.

Doug W
03-25-2018, 02:25 PM
If you are most comfortable with sopranos, why not look at some long neck sopranos?

PereBourik
03-25-2018, 02:56 PM
If you are most comfortable with sopranos, why not look at some long neck sopranos?

+ 1

PereBourik
03-25-2018, 03:05 PM
Check out videos with Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel. She uses a strap, he doesn't.

Personally I prefer the security of a strap for my tenors. But good technique, squeezing the body under the elbow of your strumming arm, can free you up for easier chording as well.

If you are a soprano player you will find the fullness of a tenor's sound much different if you like a soprano. Doug W's long neck suggestion is a good one. A concert will be closer in sound to a soprano.

If you can't find a store to try some out, do you have a uke group you can visit?

Nickie
03-25-2018, 04:00 PM
thanks for your wonderful answer.

that's exactly the point I was wondering about: I'm not "anti strap", and the reasons you listed in your post are good.

however, I'm not a student nor a beginner, and I don't like the strap just because it's an "accessory" to add.
I love playing the ukulele because it's just as it is.

being a professional bass player and also a guitarist I always struggle with jacks, straps, pedals, knobs and everything... with the ukulele I just take it from there it is and start playing.

you mention the guitar played without a strap, but that's exactly my point: a guitar can't be comfortably played without a strap, it's heavy and can't be "hugged" and hold.

__________


now I'd like to ask you all another thing:

is this a concert or a tenor?

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMzBkZjM5OTctYzM2ZS00ZWYyLTk2YzctOTYzNDA4ZjE4MD ZiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxMjk0Mg@@._V1_.jpg

https://travsd.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/maxresdefault.jpg?w=723

I'm not so sure about it, it looks like a tenor, to me.

Ahem, sorry but I do take issue with your comment that a guitar cannot be comfortably played without a strap. witness:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp6DpiK_by0
Unless you are very proficient, playing ukulele past the first position strapless while standing is very difficult. Even Jake uses a form of strap.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mljFr7yuYzk

Croaky Keith
03-25-2018, 11:20 PM
Yes, it is quite possible to play a tenor standing up without a strap, even easier to play a concert. :)

The concert scale is an excellent compromise, a fuller sound than a soprano, but still has the classic uke sound, takes a low G well, & has those extra frets.
Long neck soprano gives all those advantages too, with a little more sustain than a regular soprano, generally.
And then there is the long neck concert, tenor scale, concert body - this is my favourite. :D

Pier
03-25-2018, 11:35 PM
Ahem, sorry but I do take issue with your comment that a guitar cannot be comfortably played without a strap. witness:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp6DpiK_by0

well, she's sitting... the point of the topic is playing standing, not sitting ;)


If you are most comfortable with sopranos, why not look at some long neck sopranos?

I find them so horrible... that long neck on the small body of a soprano... I can't stand the look, so for me the "long neck soprano" does not exist :P

Jerryc41
03-26-2018, 01:32 AM
I've used all three sizes without straps. When I bought an Enya with strap buttons installed, I tried the strap and liked it. Still, it doesn't really matter to me. Dropping a Kamaka or Kanile'a would be a disaster, so I'm very careful, but comfort is the main reason why I sometimes use straps now My fingers spend more time playing than simply supporting. I have a five-pound Gold Tone DLX, and I always use a strap with that. On the other hand, attaching, removing, and putting the strap over my shoulders can be a nuisance. Even Jake has seen the advantages of using a strap.