View Full Version : Soprano size and Jazz/Bluegrass/Ragtime

07-11-2009, 12:40 AM
Is there any particular reason why older ukuleles that you see most Jazz and Ragtime players use were/are the smaller soprano styles? I hardly see any tenor size vintage ukuleles.

Martin's lineup seemed to focus on that size also. Were tenor sizes introduced after the jazz age?

07-11-2009, 12:48 AM
Yes, the soproanos came first. The other sizes did not really become popular until much later. The soprano had a surprisingly strong following until rock and roll hit and the guitar took over completely. Through WWII there was a lot of music, including jazz, written specifically for the soprano uke.

07-11-2009, 12:50 AM
Thanks for clearing that up for me.

I fell in love with the Martin 3k style but couldn't find it in anything bigger than a soprano. Now I know why. Thanks.

07-11-2009, 01:45 AM
Cliff Edwards started on a soprano and then switched over to a tenor.
He played Martins.

Myself, I prefer sopranos (and i like playing jazz). hmm, i don't know why.
i just do.

07-11-2009, 03:24 AM
I also play jazz and prefer the tenor: Primarily because of the range of the tenor (I use a low G tuning and access to 15 frets).

Though you can string the soprano to low g, I hesitate due to the neck tension...I also have (personal to be sure) problems getting around the soprano neck with the same facility I do the Concert or Tenor.

07-11-2009, 04:00 AM
Is the low-G a jazz prerequisite in order to get that sound?

07-11-2009, 04:28 AM
at least i don't think so.
i play re-entrant.

people play low-g in order to make solo'ing a little easier (i think)

but there are plenty of jazz players that use re-entrant sopranos.

mark 'jazzukes' Occhionero comes to mind....

i've also seen sopranos tunes with low-g.

i believe ohta-san played a low-g soprano on occasion ... and you don't a more amazing jazz uke player then him.

07-11-2009, 04:30 AM
i guess i'm saying..
you should play the size that's comfortable in your hands.
and tune it to the tuning that is comfortable to your ears.

07-11-2009, 07:26 AM
Low g for me is personal preference...my concert is strung high g and I also play jazz with is as well.

The advantage for the low-g tuning (these are just my opinions btw, so your mileage may vary) is two-fold: Expanded fourth from the high-g-tuning and the wider spread in chording. Some of the fingerings are not quite as easy...so there are disadvantages.

Try them both and decide what is best for you.

It also justifies acquiring more ukes: To try the different tunings...not that it convinces my wife.

07-11-2009, 07:42 AM
You might try telling your wife "Honey, I can get these other less expensive ukes for each purpose...OR, I can get one uke that will do everything I want...for about $4,000 to $6,000...look at the money I'm saving!!"

IT...COULD...WORK !!!!:music:

07-11-2009, 07:53 AM
It also justifies acquiring more ukes: To try the different tunings...not that it convinces my wife.

i'm in that boat with you on both accounts.

07-11-2009, 09:25 AM
so, basically what you're saying is don't get married.

07-11-2009, 11:25 AM
I'm sure I would appear quite attractive wearing that ukelele around my neck...(not the koa!!!)

07-11-2009, 11:37 AM
doesnt mainland make their ukes to resemble the look and feel of old martins? I think I heard that somewhere and I can see what they mean. My tenor mainland looks like a larger martin. I would go with them if you want a "martin-like" tenor uke.

07-11-2009, 04:43 PM
Yes, the Mainlands, Bushmans and Ohanas are built from vintage Martin specs.

07-11-2009, 07:29 PM
Yes, the Mainlands, Bushmans and Ohanas are built from vintage Martin specs.

Do they have to get permission or pay Martin to do this?

07-12-2009, 02:05 AM
i doubt it.

and i have one of each of those (mainland, bushman and ohana). they sound and feel really different from each other and none of them particularly feel/sound like an old martin.
if i had to pick one i'd say my ohana solid mahogany was the closest.

lots of luthiers (just cruise the boards) make martin copies.

etc etc etc....

i would guess, if you really want that vintage martin sound and you don't want buy a vintage martin (?!?!), buy a luthier built one.

my luthier built uke is in a totally different league then any of my production ukes. if i had the money, every uke i owned would be luthier built.
... or i should say...
once i have the money... every uke i own will be luthier built.