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YogiTom
05-03-2019, 08:40 AM
I am extremely curious to hear the very varied opinions here on the concept of what makes a ukulele a ukulele.

Specifically, at what point—keeping the design as close to a “classic” Martin or Nunez double-bout shape as possible—does the ukulele’s size change it into something else, if at all?

If a sopranissimo and a baritone are the “standard” range of sizes, why not make them even larger? Do they essentially become 4-string guitars, even if the traditional shape and design remains true to the smaller sizes?

I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other, and actually want to see something like a dreadnought-size uke, just to know what it would sound and look like! Kind of like the idea of “contrabass” versions of things like the flute, bassoon, or saxophone.

I know you’ll likely loose any semblance of that bright ukulele sound as you get bigger in size, but...does that truly matter?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Brad Bordessa
05-03-2019, 08:50 AM
Do you THINK of it as an 'ukulele? That's good enough for me.

YogiTom
05-03-2019, 08:54 AM
Do you THINK of it as an 'ukulele? That's good enough for me.

Ditto. And I did find this illuminating and related thread in my search:
https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?125924-The-Ukulele-Size-Debate-Food-for-Thought&highlight=Largest+size

OP there expresses a similar opinion that there is room for any size ukulele and tuning/setup configuration.

Rllink
05-03-2019, 09:01 AM
I've asked many times what defines a ukulele and I have yet to have anyone give me that definitive answer. So good luck. I look forward to the comments. There is always a lot of "opinions" on it.

ukantor
05-03-2019, 09:02 AM
For me, 'ukulele' means soprano ukulele, but I accept that others use the word to cover a wider range of instruments.

John Colter

rainbow21
05-03-2019, 09:10 AM
...anything that someone with UAS has an urge to buy.

Patrick Madsen
05-03-2019, 09:14 AM
I recently had a custom Jumbo Baritone made. I call it a Contra baritone. The luthier named it Kaona, meaning hidden meaning in poems and songs. or something like that).Is the size of a tenor guitar w 22.8" scale.

We're calling Kaona a baritone because it's with nylon strings and not a tenor guitar because a TG uses steel strings.

Photo comparing size with my Chennel archtop baritone and kaona.

gochugogi
05-03-2019, 09:54 AM
Basically the 'ukulele is a member of the guitar family and that family exists as continuum of instruments with really fuzzy borders between members. The Renaissance guitar was tuned G C E A and had a scale length somewhere between the modern tenor and baritone ukulele. And it was called a guitar albeit more like a modern 'ukulele than a guitar. Even came in low G and reentrant tunings! This is a 4-course Renaissance guitar (all strings doubled save for the first string):


https://youtu.be/fuQitF-I-98

By today's terminology we should call the above a 7-string long neck tenor 'ukulele! It's almost as if the 'ukulele is the direct descendant of Renaissance guitar. I'm sure the scale and tuning is more than a coincidence.

bunnyf
05-03-2019, 10:21 AM
I have a Pono Baritone Nui/tenor guitar steel string and can’t really say what it is. After having a standard tenor guitar, it sure doesn't feel like that. While I know it’s pretty big to be called an ukulele, it feels more ukey to me than guitar.

captain-janeway
05-03-2019, 10:22 AM
Basically the 'ukulele is a member of the guitar family and that family exists as continuum of instruments with really fuzzy borders between members. The Renaissance guitar was tuned G C E A and had a scale length somewhere between the modern tenor and baritone ukulele. And it was called a guitar albeit more like a modern 'ukulele than a guitar. Even came in low G and reentrant tunings! This is a 4-course Renaissance guitar (all strings doubled save for the first string):


https://youtu.be/fuQitF-I-98

By today's terminology we should call the above a 7-string long neck tenor 'ukulele! It's almost as if the 'ukulele is the direct descendant of Renaissance guitar. I'm sure the scale and tuning is more than a coincidence.

Steel or nylon string? Like it.

gochugogi
05-03-2019, 10:52 AM
It's either gut or nylon. Metal strings were a century or so in the future. The TABS for Le Roy's music were published in the first half of the 1500s (for home entertainment) and are 100% playable on an 'ukulele. No adjustments needed.

kohanmike
05-03-2019, 11:27 AM
To me a ukulele is re-entrant tuning, whether it's little or big. I consider low-G tuning a modified uke. I don't know what tuning a baritone uke has, but I see them more as a tenor guitar. I actually play bass uke, acoustic and solid body, which are tuned the same as a standard bass, I call them a bass uke when it has poly strings and piezo pickup. I also have mini electric bass guitars, which I distinguish because they have magnetic pickups and steel strings, so I don't usually call them a bass uke.

This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

M3Ukulele
05-03-2019, 11:39 AM
Peter, great playing. Can you post a pic to the headstock and bridge on that cool “ukulele” 7 string you have there. I assume you make them. Different body shape. Sound is nice. Going to check your site when I get a minute at work. Gotta run. Cheers

AustinHing
05-03-2019, 12:22 PM
Guinness said this is an uke so this is an uke.

https://youtu.be/tZGVCTOvVeI

YogiTom
05-03-2019, 12:31 PM
Guinness said this is an uke so this is an uke.

https://youtu.be/tZGVCTOvVeI

:rotfl: Love it

Ziret
05-03-2019, 12:35 PM
Do you THINK of it as an 'ukulele? That's good enough for me.

The ukulele is all in your head.

Ziret
05-03-2019, 12:41 PM
Basically the 'ukulele is a member of the guitar family and that family exists as continuum of instruments with really fuzzy borders between members. The Renaissance guitar was tuned G C E A and had a scale length somewhere between the modern tenor and baritone ukulele. And it was called a guitar albeit more like a modern 'ukulele than a guitar. Even came in low G and reentrant tunings! This is a 4-course Renaissance guitar (all strings doubled save for the first string):


https://youtu.be/fuQitF-I-98

By today's terminology we should call the above a 7-string long neck tenor 'ukulele! It's almost as if the 'ukulele is the direct descendant of Renaissance guitar. I'm sure the scale and tuning is more than a coincidence.

Oh my goodness that sounds beautiful! But I almost wish I'd never seen it, it makes me want both whatever that instrument is and the skills to play it.

DownUpDave
05-03-2019, 12:43 PM
The definition of a ukulele.............any wooden stringed instrument that puts my bank account at risk of depletion :drool:

MopMan
05-03-2019, 02:54 PM
The definition of a ukulele.............any wooden stringed instrument that puts my bank account at risk of depletion :drool:

Hah. Good one, Dave.


My definition:
- four courses
- plastic or gut strings
- diminutive size compared to other stringed instruments

70sSanO
05-03-2019, 03:17 PM
It is not just the ukulele, it is probably almost every stringed instrument if you want to roll back in time to set a definition from antiquities. A whole bunch of electric guitars would not qualify, and that’s without 7 strings. I would think a bass would be in an even tougher category to define than a ukulele.

But what makes a ukulele is probably be based on a couple things... does the owner consider it a ukulele and more importantly is it accepted into any other string instrument category. If nobody else wants it, it’s a ukulele... no matter what parameters you want to use to define it.

John

rainbow21
05-03-2019, 03:26 PM
If nobody else wants it, it’s a ukulele... no matter what parameters you want to use to define it.

John

I bet Jerry would want it. Now what?

70sSanO
05-03-2019, 04:16 PM
I agree, but I was referring to the other instrument groups... guitar, fiddle, mandolin, etc.

John

glennerd
05-03-2019, 05:56 PM
I'll throw my hat in the curmudgeon ring and say soprano and re-entrant tuning is a proper ukulele.

I've got a baritone, but to me, it just feels like it's my 4-string guitar. I do have a high-D string just waiting to be tried out to allow it to "re-enter" the uke family though. :rolleyes:

gochugogi
05-03-2019, 07:21 PM
Of course, guitar can and has been tuned in reentrant tunings so I guess they're either large 'ukuleles or 'ukuleles are merely wee guitars! It was common for the Renaissance and Baroque guitars to use reentrant tunings. And I love the chime of reentrant tuning on a steel-string guitar, i.e., Nashville tuning.

Here's a 5-course guitar with reentrant tuning on the 4th course. Love this sound...


https://youtu.be/vJPVS_uZitI

ricdoug
05-03-2019, 07:23 PM
After a soprano, it falls officially in another class, period!

DownUpDave
05-03-2019, 09:23 PM
After a soprano, it falls officially in another class, period!

Funny enough I have always thought this way, or at least I instinctively think of soprano when ukulele is mentioned. This dispute the fact I play tenor and baritone almost exclusively. The instrument the Portuguese brought to Hawaii that became the ukulele was more a concert/tenor size, but still the soprano is the ukulele in my mind.

Graham Greenbag
05-03-2019, 09:36 PM
Funny enough I have always thought this way, or at least I instinctively think of soprano when ukulele is mentioned. This dispute the fact I play tenor and baritone almost exclusively. The instrument the Portuguese brought to Hawaii that became the ukulele was more a concert/tenor size, but still the soprano is the ukulele in my mind.

I’d always thought that the original Uke (as brought over from Madeira by Nunez in the Raven’s crag) was a Soprano. Would you be willing, please, to share details of why you think a larger size was brought over?

DownUpDave
05-03-2019, 09:46 PM
I’d always thought that the original Uke (as brought over from Madeira by Nunez in the Raven’s crag) was a Soprano. Would you be willing, please, to share details of why you think a larger size was brought over?

I read a few times that it was larger then a soprano. But that might have been incorrect information. I have no proof or historical documentation, maybe someone reading this does. It's not like I have never been wrong before:p

"If a man says something in the forest and his wife is not there to hear it is he still wrong"

Graham Greenbag
05-03-2019, 10:17 PM
I read a few times that it was larger then a soprano. But that might have been incorrect information. I have no proof or historical documentation, maybe someone reading this does.



I’d be glad to hear if someone did have proof or historical documentation which backed what you read. To my way of thinking the Ukulele is a ‘guitar’ type instrument in origin and the Soprano a small one for ease of carriage in travel. It would be interesting to know what was in use in Madeira around the time that the Raven’s crag sailed (1879) and how that mix ended up with the early Sopranos from Nunes, Santo and Dias.

dgame
05-03-2019, 10:51 PM
When the ukulele's size is smaller than a dreadnought the ukulele becomes a "little guitar"

jimavery
05-04-2019, 12:07 AM
If I have to learn any new skill to play it,other than transposing the same chord shapes up or down, then to me it simply isn't helpful to call it a Ukulele (not without qualification anyway).

AustinHing
05-04-2019, 12:19 AM
Some quick googling,
Cavaquino is the immediate predecessor of ukulele, has a size of 52-53 cm (21 inch) as a soprano.
http://www.cavaquinhos.pt/en/CAVAQUINHO/Museu%20Cavaquinho%20CAVAQUINHO-EVO.pdf

http://www.get-tuned.com/history-of-the-ukulele.php

http://www.get-tuned.com/images/cavaquinho.jpg

Jarmo_S
05-04-2019, 12:28 AM
To me ukulele is mainly the re-entrant one, but also the low G string one. And also in that category the baritone is one, loosely accepted.
It is the GCEA tuning or DGBE, or what ever tuned lower with same chord shapes.

It is just the re-entrant is a bit more than just a top 4 strings of a guitar, in character. So to me it makes the real ukulele. But chords too, we can't chord play in some bass range intrument. But baritone I hold as an "ukulele" too.

Croaky Keith
05-04-2019, 02:13 AM
From the books that I have read, & a lot of general opinion, the uke is a re entrant little guitar like instrument, which is strummed.

So, my 'ukes', being mainly low G tuned, & having melodies played on them, are little guitar like instruments - who cares - they're fun. ;)

70sSanO
05-04-2019, 05:47 AM
When people stop posting NUD threads.

John

DownUpDave
05-04-2019, 06:35 AM
When people stop posting NUD threads.

John

Good one John......if it says NUD then it's a ukulele

PereBourik
05-04-2019, 09:30 AM
...anything that someone with UAS has an urge to buy.

Covers my new grill then.

EDW
05-04-2019, 10:53 AM
After a soprano, it falls officially in another class, period!

My sentiments exactly!

But seriously, in the work of instruments I sometimes wonder about instruments that people have created over the years. In some cases it is not really a case of need, but perhaps because they could. Some are not very practical


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C8EkNeKJlo


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BiW2mVKk0w

glennerd
05-04-2019, 06:08 PM
My sentiments exactly!

But seriously, in the work of instruments I sometimes wonder about instruments that people have created over the years. In some cases it is not really a case of need, but perhaps because they could. Some are not very practical



That’s crazy! When I was 11 I quit the saxophone because I got sick of carrying it a mile home from school. This one might have solved my problem as I couldn’t have moved it and would have had to have a second one at home! ;)

Never occurred to me until now that I’ve come full circle from soprano to soprano.

UkerDanno
05-05-2019, 03:15 AM
I actually have a hard time considering a baritone, an ukulele. I mean, it's huge for one thing and it's tuned differently, just because it's a lot smaller than a guitar doesn't make it an ukulele. Should be called a soprano guitar...;) :shaka:

Rllink
05-05-2019, 04:06 AM
I actually have a hard time considering a baritone, an ukulele. I mean, it's huge for one thing and it's tuned differently, just because it's a lot smaller than a guitar doesn't make it an ukulele. Should be called a soprano guitar...;) :shaka:

I just recently had a close call with a baritone. A woman from our church told me that she had an old ukulele that she hadn't done anything with for thirty years and wanted to put new strings on it. I told her to take it to the music store and get some strings and that I would put them on. She came over Friday. Well first of all, I've never strung up a baritone and interestingly enough I had to tune it on the guitar setting with my tuner. But I got it strung up and I loaned her one of my tuners until she can get one of her own. I have two tuners and I don't need them both. She asked me twice why she had to use the guitar setting instead of the ukulele setting, and all I could tell her is that it is more of a guitar than a ukulele. So that tells you something right there.

So the close call, once I got it tuned up and I played it a little, I really liked the sound of it. After she left I got on the internet just to see what I would have to pay to get a baritone and I found a demo on sale that looked really nice. I almost pulled the trigger on it several times yesterday, but didn't. I'm over it now today. That's good. I just don't have the time or inclination to learn to play another instrument, plus I have enough ukuleles laying around already. Besides, I also have my wife's old guitar out in the storage shed that I could play if I wanted to go that direction.

DownUpDave
05-05-2019, 05:58 AM
Rolli......you just gave 5 excuses why you don't need a baritone. That is working quite hard to justify not buying something you said you really like the sound of. Just saying :p

gochugogi
05-05-2019, 08:36 AM
I actually have a hard time considering a baritone, an ukulele. I mean, it's huge for one thing and it's tuned differently, just because it's a lot smaller than a guitar doesn't make it an ukulele. Should be called a soprano guitar...;) :shaka:

Haha, that name is already taken! The soprano guitar is tuned an octave higher than the standard guitar (mandolin territory). I've only seen it played in guitar orchestras. My fav is the alto guitar, pitched at BEADF#B. There's a soprano for sale on Reverb. It kinda looks like a dwarf guitar:

https://reverb.com/item/6373416-guitarras-esteve-octave-guitar-soprano-solid-cedar-top-solid-indian-rosewood-back-sides-2018

Here's how it sounds (the small guitar is the soprano):


https://youtu.be/qF8PUcTQrT0

Rllink
05-05-2019, 08:48 AM
Rolli......you just gave 5 excuses why you don't need a baritone. That is working quite hard to justify not buying something you said you really like the sound of. Just saying :p
I like way too much stuff to buy everything I like the sound of. And it isn't just ukuleles. I'll just stick with what I have for a while. I have plenty to keep me busy. ;)

bunnyf
05-05-2019, 09:03 AM
My baritone fills the niche of something guitary sounding, when I don’t want to lug a guitar. I know it’s alot bigger than most ukes but compared to even a small guitar, it’s quite small.

When I want to keep it ukey, I play my soprano. To me, the soprano is iconic uke, but I appreciate all sizes. Different strokes and all that, but I don’t play the inbetween sizes.

If I’m playing with a large group of ukes, I’ll take the baritone just to provide a different sound. Likewise, if I’m playing with a lot of guitars, I might take my soprano or a mandolin (usually mando, cuz it cuts thru better with less effort).

Osprey
05-05-2019, 10:38 AM
There is room for all in the ukulele family. I have a friend that normally plays concert size ukuleles. She bought a tenor guitar but then tuned it like a Baritone (Chicago Tuning). I think of that as a guitar, not a ukulele, but many would disagree and call it a big Baritone. I play a Baritone as well as a Tenor Ukulele. They are both ukuleles in my book, but my Cedar topped Baritone sounds very guitarish. It’s all just labels. They are musical instruments and with skilled hands any size can sound pretty darn nice. My next purchase maybe a Soprano so I can have one really ukish instrument.

Peace Train
05-05-2019, 02:14 PM
When does it stop being an ukulele? When it becomes a drum. Unless you’re James Hill, then it becomes whatever he wants it to be. Labels mean less and less these days.

Life is ukulele. Aloha

Kenn2018
05-05-2019, 07:08 PM
Haha, that name is already taken! The soprano guitar is tuned an octave higher than the standard guitar (mandolin territory). I've only seen it played in guitar orchestras. My fav is the alto guitar, pitched at BEADF#B. There's a soprano for sale on Reverb. It kinda looks like a dwarf guitar:

https://reverb.com/item/6373416-guitarras-esteve-octave-guitar-soprano-solid-cedar-top-solid-indian-rosewood-back-sides-2018

Here's how it sounds (the small guitar is the soprano):


https://youtu.be/qF8PUcTQrT0

Very lovely sounding. The standard classical guitar looks quite huge next to the soprano.

Thanks for posting the video.

Jerryc41
05-06-2019, 12:57 AM
Kamaka calls its soprano a "standard." Aside from that, I have no idea what a ukulele is. :D

At the Allegheny Soiree over the weekend, one of the instructors also played guitar, or as one person called it, "his six-string uke."