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View Full Version : Kala? Yes. Acacia? Yes. Concert or Tenor? Err...



pulelehua
11-14-2009, 10:54 AM
I've been playing guitar for about 20 years. I've been playing ukulele for about a month. So, I'm an experienced beginner, or something like that. I'm sure lots of you were in my position once upon a time.

I've been playing a Brunswick soprano, and it's... well, if you're reading this, you know how much fun I've been having. The soprano isn't mine, so I'm looking at a big step up and getting a uke of my own.

I love the punchiness of the Brunswick, and I also love the boxy "uke sound". I'm quite tall, and have long thin fingers. The soprano is okay for me, but I find chords can get a bit fiddly in terms of tripping over myself. I also wonder if I'd prefer higher string tension for fingerpicking. I am definitely headed in the heavy-mix-of-strumming-and-fingerpicking direction. I've got pretty decent Spanish technique, so use lots of chucking, rasqueados, etc. The soprano has a really percussive sound. I can get about any mix I want of noise and note. Is this true across the size range.

Obviously, I've been reading the tons of reviews praising the Acacia Tenor to the skies, and it's gorgeous (IMO). But I'm afraid of it just not sounding enough like a ukulele for me. To my ears, it doesn't quite have the right sound. Beautiful? Yes. But not a ukulele. I don't think I'm alone on this, but there does seem to be an avalanche of tenor enthusiasm.

So, is there any reason NOT to get the concert?

Oh, and another important question: I've been reading about the joys of solid wood. I live in Kent in Southeast England. It's pretty humid. I regularly go to California, which is quite dry. How worried do I need to be? I own a Martin D-18 acoustic. It's always behaved itself, and it's all solid.

BTW, I live in an area without a great deal of ukulele enthusiasm. Therefore, my ability to roadtest any ukes is extremely limited. Hence my asking you, the great uke support group.

Oh, and I'm not going to be able to get one of each for a good long while, so I need a uke to satisfy my needs.

Thanks everybody. :o

bt93
11-14-2009, 11:28 AM
tenor...slotted headtock

ukantor
11-14-2009, 11:48 AM
If you want the typical, true ukulele sound, soprano is the way to go. Concerts sound just a little more mellow, tenors sound a lot more mellow.

Concert could be the right one for you, but you'll have to try one and make a decision. A trip to London to attend one of the regular uke meets could be very helpful for you. Or if you can get over to Farnham on Dec 13th, there will be a get-together at "The Slug & Lettuce". Lots of keen helpful ukers, lots of lovely ukes to try.

Tenors are lovely instruments, but this question of "which size should I get" is like asking, "should I play a violin, a viola, or a cello?" We call all ours "ukuleles" but there really is that much difference.

Hope this helps,

Ukantor.

ps. I've got a Kala Acacia soprano on order

pulelehua
11-14-2009, 12:02 PM
Tenors are lovely instruments, but this question of "which size should I get" is like asking, "should I play a violin, a viola, or a cello?" We call all ours "ukuleles" but there really is that much difference.



That's interesting. When you read about the differences, it's usually not discussed in those terms. So, you have to play with the tenor between your legs, right? :p

Don't know when I'm going to be able to get up to town to try anything out. Life's busy schedule isn't really making my ukulele lifestyle very easy. I'll aim for the 13th, though. That sounds fun.

Thanks.

johncaudrey
11-14-2009, 12:17 PM
If you want the typical, true ukulele sound, soprano is the way to go. Concerts sound just a little more mellow, tenors sound a lot more mellow.

Concert could be the right one for you, but you'll have to try one and make a decision. A trip to London to attend one of the regular uke meets could be very helpful for you. Or if you can get over to Farnham on Dec 13th, there will be a get-together at "The Slug & Lettuce". Lots of keen helpful ukers, lots of lovely ukes to try.

Tenors are lovely instruments, but this question of "which size should I get" is like asking, "should I play a violin, a viola, or a cello?" We call all ours "ukuleles" but there really is that much difference.

Hope this helps,

Ukantor.

ps. I've got a Kala Acacia soprano on order
Ukantor, any more details about Farnham 13th December? It's not too far from me and may be a possibility!

ukantor
11-14-2009, 12:19 PM
"So, you have to play with the tenor between your legs, right?"

What ARE you suggesting? I prefer to play with a soprano under my chin!

We will be gathering at The Slug & Lettuce in Farnham from 12 noon til whenever. The organiser is called Clare, and my name is John Colter. If you can make it, we'll be most pleased to see you.

Ukantor.

pulelehua
11-14-2009, 12:23 PM
It's funny. My wife and I almost moved to Farnham 3 years ago. Had I discovered the ukulele before then, maybe it would have all been different. Of course, we'd be living in an even smaller house... My sister-in-law lives in Surrey. I shall try to co-ordinate some things.

My wife will think I'm crazy, of course. Her sister already thinks I'm crazy, so no harm there...

freedive135
11-14-2009, 12:31 PM
Tenors are lovely instruments, but this question of "which size should I get" is like asking, "should I play a violin, a viola, or a cello?" We call all ours "ukuleles" but there really is that much difference.


That is THE best explanation of size/sound I have ever heard.

This brings in the type of wood for that "true" Uke sound.

While the Acacia sounds very nice (I have played S/C/T sizes w/Aquilla's) and does look pretty in no way does it sound like the "standard woods" Koa or Mahogany that most non players think of as the Ukulele sound/tone,
The Tenor love seems to come from the size being easier to for alot of folks to play with more space between the frets, having more volume and it's the size the "cool" kids play on Youtube:p. Plus alot of folks think their fingers are to big to fit a Soprano.

johncaudrey
11-14-2009, 12:32 PM
I've just checked my diary, and I am working in Odiham (just down the road) during the afternoon, until about 5pm. Will things still be happening in the evening? If so I may see you guys there.
Apologies for going a bit off topic on the Kala Acacia.

ukantor
11-14-2009, 12:34 PM
I live up near Wolverhampton, so that weekend I'll be staying with my sister who lives in Wiltshire. I must be daft travelling all that way just to meet up with a bunch of ukulele players, but I can't think of anything better to do.

See you there!

Ukantor (John Colter)

iDavid
11-14-2009, 12:40 PM
what about a super-soprano?

Concert neck and soprano body

iDavid
11-14-2009, 12:41 PM
how about a super-soprano?

concert neck and soprano body :D

itsme
11-14-2009, 01:43 PM
I love the punchiness of the Brunswick, and I also love the boxy "uke sound". I'm quite tall, and have long thin fingers. The soprano is okay for me, but I find chords can get a bit fiddly in terms of tripping over myself. I also wonder if I'd prefer higher string tension for fingerpicking. I am definitely headed in the heavy-mix-of-strumming-and-fingerpicking direction. I've got pretty decent Spanish technique, so use lots of chucking, rasqueados, etc. The soprano has a really percussive sound. I can get about any mix I want of noise and note. Is this true across the size range.

Obviously, I've been reading the tons of reviews praising the Acacia Tenor to the skies, and it's gorgeous (IMO). But I'm afraid of it just not sounding enough like a ukulele for me. To my ears, it doesn't quite have the right sound. Beautiful? Yes. But not a ukulele. I don't think I'm alone on this, but there does seem to be an avalanche of tenor enthusiasm.
Well, the tenor is still quite small in comparison to a guitar. Here's mine:

http://images.dr3vil.com//files3/30/Usizecomparison.jpg

Being that tenor is the only uke I've ever played, I can't really compare to smaller ones, but with long fingers, you would probably appreciate the extra room on the fretboard, especially if you're used to fingerpicking on a classical/flamenco guitar.

With high G tuning, a tenor has the characteristic "ukey" sound when strummed, with low G, not as much.

Hopefully, you'll be able to make it to the get-together on the 13th and get to try out some different ukes in person. :)

Pippin
11-14-2009, 01:59 PM
Well, the tenor is still quite small in comparison to a guitar. Here's mine:

http://images.dr3vil.com//files3/30/Usizecomparison.jpg


How do you like your Cordoba?

Lori
11-14-2009, 02:26 PM
I agree with the long neck soprano idea. The soundbox size has a lot to do with that typical uke sound. The concert length neck will help you with fingering, yet still give you some of that ukulele plucky sound.

Soft woods like spruce and cedar will be more bright in the high end sound-wise. Mahogany and koa will give you more mid and low range. Matching the right strings to the instrument will give you some range of sound to choose from too.

The concert size will give you plenty of frets. I like the concert size, since it gives a little more room for fretting, and your fingers can reach more notes from one position. If you are going to do a lot of 10th fret or higher barre chords, you might consider a tenor neck on a soprano soundbox. They are not common, but they do exist, from what I've heard.

–Lori

itsme
11-14-2009, 03:58 PM
How do you like your Cordoba?
I'm liking it a lot! :)

Of course, like I said, I've never played another uke. I won this one in a drawing. Neat prize, huh? :p

This is the Donavon Frankenreiter model (some surfer dude) that is cheaper than their regular line of Cordobas.

http://www.cordobaguitars.com/104.php

But as someone who has owned several quality handmade guitars, I can appreciate craftsmanship and will say that this uke is very well made. Not luthier handcrafted quality, but not a piece of junk by any means, and definitely a worthwhile contender in its price range ($150-$180).

molokinirum
11-14-2009, 04:34 PM
I have big hands and play a tenor. I am looking at getting another uke...a concert. I bought my nephews a soprano and have played it but it is a bit small for me. I think the concert will be fun to play. BTW, the tenor has a good uke sound to it so ....look at a tenor!!:p

pulelehua
11-15-2009, 02:38 AM
Well... Thoroughly confused now. :) Oh well. I guess this is what causes UAS.

The uke has come through a bizarre series of events and will be a sort of birthday present from my parents (and I thought big ticket items had gone out with adolescence), so adding to the strangeness, they will want to buy it before 13 December, but I won't have my hands on it until afterward. So if I make it to Farnham, I will either be grinning at my decision making, or thinking "doh".

Thanks very much for the picture comparing sizes between the tenor and guitar. I'm quite surprised at that. I was expecting them to be far closer. Still, I do have that sound question in my head. There is just SO much Youtube footage of tenors and, while I think they're lovely, they just don't sound right to me. I've only found MGM's footage of the concert Acacia, and I do like it. It, to me, sounds more like a ukulele should sound.

The acacia thing is a bit of an odd connection. Growing up in California, my parents had a giant acacia tree in their garden. It died, and I was really gutted when it went. So, I'm somehow reconnecting with that. (Everyone so inclined should go hug a tree now...)

Here I am, at a month's experience, acting like an old, purist curmudgeon. Or a demented ukulelist. Is ukulelist the correct term? It doesn't seem right. There must be a Hawaiian term.

Please feel free to keep the opinions coming. Halfway through the posts, I was thinking, "Maybe I should just get the tenor". It is a beautiful instrument, and was what I had planned on before having my "concert crisis".

Oh, another question, I will want to take it on airplanes. Is there a size at which a uke is too big to take as carry-on? I've taken my Martin, but they really grumble about it. It's only when I tell them what it costs that they let me on with it. Have people traveled with tenors fuss-free?

Thanks for the advice, attention and sense of welcome. Nice forum! :D

molokinirum
11-15-2009, 02:47 AM
Yes, there can be some problems bringing your uke on the plane. Here in the States, the airlines are clamping down on the carry ons.:mad: It is VERY wise to check directly with the airlines that you are going to fly on and see what their requirements are. I had trouble with United. My tenor was deemed oversized :rulez: at the boarding gate but they eventually let me on board with it. United has size limits and it turned out that the tenor in a hard case was the maximum size 45 linear inches! (Take the measurments in inches of the length + width + height add them together)
Good luck!!!

Sambient
11-15-2009, 03:17 AM
FWIW, my guitar-playing spouse just got a mahogany tenor. It does seem to be the most comfortable fit for him, and he's not even a tall guy.
But this decision came after getting a chance to play a tenor. Before that it was concert, before that soprano.

bbycrts
11-15-2009, 05:10 AM
I've played everything from sopranino to baritone and find that the concert is THE size for me. I have a lovely soprano as well, but it has a wider fretboard than most and feels more like my concert to play.

pulelehua
11-16-2009, 08:36 AM
Well, needing to make a decision, I've gone ahead with the Concert Acacia. Won't get my hands on it until the end of the year. Arg. Oh, ukulele, you are a cruel mistress...............................


:drool:

buddhuu
11-16-2009, 12:22 PM
If I ever did get another uke it'd be a concert.

I love my tenor, and wouldn't part with it, but concert is a great size.

I liked the Stagg concert uke I used to have, but it was a bit cr@p. I had to seriously rework the crooked bridge to get the intonation right. I had to sell that to get my Kala tenor. I don't regret it for a second.

But a Kala acacia concert would be really nice... [/daydream]

Nah. Better pay the rent instead! :D

FrankBungle
11-16-2009, 09:39 PM
i'm so far a "concertist" too. good choice!

let us know your thoughts when you put your hands on it.

forrrge
11-17-2009, 01:54 AM
I bought one of those Acacia Kala Ukes Concert size and its a beautiful instrument. However I did need to lower the action a little at the nut as it was definitely too high and was causing it to go sharp when fretted. The result much easier to form chords and great intonation up the neck.

pulelehua
11-17-2009, 05:35 AM
I bought one of those Acacia Kala Ukes Concert size and its a beautiful instrument. However I did need to lower the action a little at the nut as it was definitely too high and was causing it to go sharp when fretted. The result much easier to form chords and great intonation up the neck.

I ordered it from musicguymic, who "sets it up". Not sure exactly what that entails, but I'm hoping he'll have any intonation issues sorted. Dunno.

flyingace
11-17-2009, 07:44 AM
tenor...slotted headtock

X2 Love mine!

iDavid
11-17-2009, 11:07 AM
Doesn't it have a wood nut and bridge piece?

Won't that wear out over time....

flyingace
11-17-2009, 11:10 AM
Replaced my nut and saddle with tusq but I have to say, you'd have to put some hard hard years of playing to wear down those ebony nut and saddles that the kalas come with!

Oh and BTW, I lowered my action when replacing and also adjusted the intonation, perfect now and really sounds great all the way up the neck!

SamD
11-17-2009, 12:02 PM
(Everyone so inclined should go hug a tree now...)

*hugs tree*

I've been wanting to meet up with other ukers, firstly for the experience of playing in a group, and secondly for the purpose of trying out different ukes. Having just bought my first serious uke I won't be buying another for a while, but it's more out of curiosity than anything. I've heard various concerts and tenors played by people on youtube, but nothing compares to the real thing. From what I've heard though, both are lovely but the concert has more of that stereotypical "uke sound". I think my next instrument will be a concert. Damn you UAS.

See (some of) you on the 13th :)

PS: newb question... what is UAS?