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View Full Version : What if loud and punchy isn't what I want?



Sambient
10-27-2009, 04:54 AM
Intrigued with the characteristics that different woods bring to the instrument. But I recognize that bold doesn't always suit my interests. I want a more intimate sound, that jazz languidness. Not muffled, but sweet. Like a lover's murmur. Something that draws one closer, intrigued. Like subtle but good eau de parfum, not like the kind that is so loud that it invades your sense of taste as well as your sense of smell. A lullaby of aching beauty.

What characteristics in an ukulele will lead me there? I see mention of willow here and there and "mysterious" seems to be the descriptive. Is that what I want? Will I get what I want more from mahogany than mango? Is this where laminates are the more appropros choice?
Strings?
Soundhole configuration?
Type of pickup when going electric?

I promise, I don't seek the more quiet sound just because my playing isn't yet up to par. I'm just drawn to certain styles. The tap on the shoulder vs. the sock on the jaw.

I appreciate the wealth of knowledge that is here and appreciate all guidance.

buddhuu
10-27-2009, 05:07 AM
From your description, I'd say that a solid mahogany ukulele would be a good place to start. Mahogany has a warmer sound than koa or acacia etc.

Other than that I'd say that you're looking at experimenting with different strings and playing techniques.

I play a Kala solid mahogany tenor. I used to go for loud and punchy because I played mostly into a mic onstage. Now I play mostly with a pickup I prefer the sweet, warm sound you describe. For me that comes from Worth BT strings on the mahogany uke, and by picking in the right spot with the right touch.

Picking over the area where the neck joins the body gives a very different tone to picking over the sound hole. Experiment for yourself to see what works.

Hope you find what you're looking for. :)

Sambient
10-27-2009, 05:12 AM
I ordered Worth BL strings this weekend. I knew I wanted to experiment with the brown strings because they seemed like they might fit my taste, just didn't know which way to go for the tension. I recognize though that that's more a personal preference.

ukeshale
10-27-2009, 05:14 AM
From your description, I'd say that a solid mahogany ukulele would be a good place to start. Mahogany has a warmer sound than koa or acacia etc.

Other than that I'd say that you're looking at experimenting with different strings and playing techniques.

I play a Kala solid mahogany tenor. I used to go for loud and punchy because I played mostly into a mic onstage. Now I play mostly with a pickup I prefer the sweet, warm sound you describe. For me that comes from Worth BT strings on the mahogany uke, and by picking in the right spot with the right touch.

Picking over the area where the neck joins the body gives a very different tone to picking over the sound hole. Experiment for yourself to see what works.

Hope you find what you're looking for. :)

I think Buddhu's covered everything here (as usual :D) Different strings combined with different woods will yield different results. Follow Bud's advice on most things and you won't go far wrong.

RevWill
10-27-2009, 05:51 AM
Mango evidently has a softer, mellower sound than mahogany. Mahogany is a very versatile and responsive wood, however, and will respond in kind to various picking techniques. Pound the strings and you'll come close to cedar's punch, lay back and pick or strum where the neck meets the body and you'll come close to mango's delicate sweetness. Worth strings definitely have a crisp top end a warm, full-bodied sound that I like.

buddhuu
10-27-2009, 06:22 AM
[...]Now I play mostly with a pickup I prefer the sweet, warm sound you describe. For me that comes from Worth BT strings on the mahogany uke, and by picking in the right spot with the right touch.[...]

What works for my playing style and on my uke will not work the same for everyone. Some people like D'Addario strings and I had been told that they have a sweet sound. When I tried them on my Kala, they were just dead and lacking dynamic response. Similarly, Ko`olau gold strings were recommended to me, but on a friend's Pono mahogany tenor they were pretty feeble sounding.

Unfortunately trial and error is the real way to find your sound. Takes time and a few quid on strings, but you get there in the end. All we can do is suggest things you might like to try.

UKISOCIETY
10-27-2009, 06:55 AM
Is there such a thing as a Nerfulele?:D

JT_Ukes
10-27-2009, 06:57 AM
Is there such a thing as a Nerfulele?:D

Dunno... But there should be!

EucalyptusMint
10-27-2009, 09:44 AM
Intrigued with the characteristics that different woods bring to the instrument. But I recognize that bold doesn't always suit my interests. I want a more intimate sound, that jazz languidness. Not muffled, but sweet. Like a lover's murmur. Something that draws one closer, intrigued. Like subtle but good eau de parfum, not like the kind that is so loud that it invades your sense of taste as well as your sense of smell. A lullaby of aching beauty.

This is what I was looking for as well. My mainland solid mahogany tenor strung with D'addario J71 does it very well :D

The strings make a huge difference, the aquilas sounded bright and brittle to me, but the d'addarios are much smoother and mellower

Sambient
10-28-2009, 01:40 AM
May I ask, since the word "tenor" seems to be coming up here in folks' personal solutions for achieving this sound, is that part of the recipe?
And if so, strung traditionally or low g?

UKISOCIETY
10-28-2009, 03:49 AM
May I ask, since the word "tenor" seems to be coming up here in folks' personal solutions for achieving this sound, is that part of the recipe?
And if so, strung traditionally or low g?

The closest I've gotten to jazz is this Gershwin song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMluAgW-te8)and I used low G Hilo strings on my mahogany tenor. It sounds very mellow in this recording. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rKYsnHK_wI)

Sambient
10-29-2009, 01:38 AM
Strings arrived. I didn't put on the Worths yet, but I'd also decided to try the Ko'olau golds. Those went on Mitchell MU-100 and oh-my-god-am-I-in-love. That warmth! Today the Worths will go on the Oscar Schmidt OU3.
Getting there. And very excited.

Dibblet
10-29-2009, 01:49 AM
May I ask, since the word "tenor" seems to be coming up here in folks' personal solutions for achieving this sound, is that part of the recipe? ...

I would say so, yes. Tenors have more sustain due to the longer strings. Less sustain probably equates to more punch.