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iDavid
12-11-2009, 10:14 PM
What do guys think of Spruce-top Ukes? Seems most have Koa or Mahogany, but in the guitar world spruce is the king.

ukantor
12-11-2009, 10:36 PM
I used to think mahogany was king, for ukes, but then I tried a Kala Slimline, which has a spruce front. I bought one, and it's great. Then I won an Ohana with a spruce front. At first I was lukewarm towards it, but soon learned to like it - a lot. I've also come to appreciate the sound of cedar fronts, so now I can choose from all three. Sorry, four - I've got a koa uke, too.

They all have their own characteristics (as do all ukes, quite apart from their timber). As they say - "It's all good".

Ukantor.

experimentjon
12-11-2009, 10:36 PM
I read that spruce is used on guitar tops because it has a very versitile sound. And I've played some spruce tops like the Applause UA10, the Applause UAE148, and Aldrine's Kamoa Tenor. I didn't think they were that different from koa top ukes. The Kamoa sounded slightly brighter and pluckier than other ukes, but that was probably just from the way it was built and possibly the strings. On the other hand, we have the Applause UAE148, which anyone who owns or has played one will tell you, sounds very weak unamplified. And the Applause UA10, just sounded like a relatively inexpensive soprano.

I personally prefer the look of Koa on ukes, since it sounds about the same as spruce to me, but if you bring along something really cool like the KoAloha spruce/ebony Sceptre, then spruce on ukes becomes a lot sexier.

koalohapaul
12-11-2009, 11:09 PM
Spruce top guitars are usually matched with ebony or rosewood sides and backs. This is a classic perfect combination. The spruce top gives quick response and projection, while the hard sides and back add richness and sustain.

Koa is a more mid ranged wood, which is why it's good for the whole body. While koa isn't exceptional at producing any type of response or tone, there isn't anything it lacks, either. It's a very good middle of the road choice. You won't notice a dramatic difference in tone when you swap a koa for spruce top. There is a difference, but not to the degree that spruce and rosewood or ebony highlight each other.

iDavid
12-11-2009, 11:58 PM
Spruce top guitars are usually matched with ebony or rosewood sides and backs. This is a classic perfect combination. The spruce top gives quick response and projection, while the hard sides and back add richness and sustain.

Koa is a more mid ranged wood, which is why it's good for the whole body. While koa isn't exceptional at producing any type of response or tone, there isn't anything it lacks, either. It's a very good middle of the road choice. You won't notice a dramatic difference in tone when you swap a koa for spruce top. There is a difference, but not to the degree that spruce and rosewood or ebony highlight each other.

How about a Spruce top with Mahogany back and sides?

Sambient
12-12-2009, 04:04 AM
Seems too that spruce tops seem to be an affordable way to have solid wood or a solid top.
I get the impression that spruce has a good bit of projection.

Kekani
12-12-2009, 06:34 AM
Seems too that spruce tops seem to be an affordable way to have solid wood or a solid top.

Depends on the builder. I know some that will upcharge $100 to install a Spruce top as an option. I know I'd upcharge the Spruce, if I didn't automatically install bindings (of course, there is a charge for Bearclaw).

In fact, particularly with Spruce, it all depends on the builder. Most low end `ukulele I've heard are too thick and overbraced, oftentimes resulting in an instrument that doesn't take advantage of Spruce's properties. Then, there are some that would say an `ukulele is too small to take advantage of Spruce - for Tenors, I would disagree (try dropping a properly braced .060 on a Tenor and compare that to a hardwood and see what happens).

Most of mine have Spruce tops, just because I haven't figured out what Rick Turner has in using Hardwoods for tops (His Maple and Walnuts are amazing). Most of my backs and sides are not Koa, they're Maple, Milo, Myrtle, etc. BTW - Milo Spruce is my favorite, for the high end. For the masses, Myrtle Spruce has been one of my best played with your eyes closed, with Maple Spruce played with your eyes open.

-Aaron

clayton56
12-12-2009, 08:54 AM
not just guitars, but most other instruments use spruce for tops (violins, mandolins, etc.)

What I like about the ukulele is they make a great sound using other woods.

I've heard a few spruce tops and they sound like guitars to me, for that island character I think you need something else. I think they are appropriate on tenors, which are trying to be guitars, but not so much on sopranos.

The other thing I find interesting is ukes normally are made from all the same wood, top, back and sides, as opposed to a top from a softer wood and back from harder wood. How come there's no mahogany top w/maple back, or koa top with rosewood back?

haole
12-12-2009, 09:25 AM
The sound is nice, but I don't like the look. Way too guitar-like for me.

Rick Turner
12-12-2009, 11:23 AM
The fullest sounding tenors we've built are ones with spruce tops, and we're doing a series we call "the 'Bone" which have Brazilian rosewood backs and sides with "Adirondack" red spruce tops and Martin "28" style appointments...herringbone purfling, ivoroid binding, and the traditional zipper back stripe. These sound fantastic, but it's not a classic uke sound; it's more guitar-like.

In my four day build a uke class, we're making mahogany back and side sopranos with cedar tops, and they sound wonderful and more traditional. I'm also preferring the old "D" tuning on them for a really snappy sound.

haolejohn
12-12-2009, 03:13 PM
but if you bring along something really cool like the KoAloha spruce/ebony Sceptre, then spruce on ukes becomes a lot sexier.

That is one ukulele or two that I want. Man oh man. I need to go change my pants now:?)

iDavid
12-12-2009, 03:17 PM
The sound is nice, but I don't like the look. Way too guitar-like for me.


I have to agree with the look thing.

I dig plainer looking ukes.

haolejohn
12-12-2009, 03:18 PM
How about a Spruce top with Mahogany back and sides?

I just played a Pono with this configeration and I enjoyed it. I put it down after a few minutes for my koaloha but I am thinking of getting this pono from ukerepublic. It is pretty and it sounds nice.

iDavid
12-12-2009, 03:34 PM
I just played a Pono with this configeration and I enjoyed it. I put it down after a few minutes for my koaloha but I am thinking of getting this pono from ukerepublic. It is pretty and it sounds nice.

do you have any all Hog ukes?

haolejohn
12-12-2009, 03:40 PM
I had two meles (concert and 6 string tenor). I miss my all mahghany ukes. My next uke will either be a PS, that Pono spruce top mahaghany b/s, or another Mele solid mahghany (maybe 6 string).

I wish I had made a video of the 6 string and my old concert. They both were a few years old when I got them and their sound was as loud as my koalohas. The gentleman that bought my 6 string contacted me about my mango 8 string I had and i offered him a straight up trade. He refused:) I am hesitant with spruce b/c of the guitar factor. IMO the best sound uke is a mahghany uke. Koa is prettier and I prefer the koa over mahghany b/c the sound isn't so much better but a mahaghany sound is great.

When i bought that koa top mahghany back and side uke i was in a dilema. I KNEW that mahghany sounded great but I wanted a koa uke. The combo of koa and mahghany was great improvise.

iDavid
12-12-2009, 03:58 PM
I had two meles (concert and 6 string tenor). I miss my all mahghany ukes. My next uke will either be a PS, that Pono spruce top mahaghany b/s, or another Mele solid mahghany (maybe 6 string).

I wish I had made a video of the 6 string and my old concert. They both were a few years old when I got them and their sound was as loud as my koalohas. The gentleman that bought my 6 string contacted me about my mango 8 string I had and i offered him a straight up trade. He refused:) I am hesitant with spruce b/c of the guitar factor. IMO the best sound uke is a mahghany uke. Koa is prettier and I prefer the koa over mahghany b/c the sound isn't so much better but a mahaghany sound is great.

When i bought that koa top mahghany back and side uke i was in a dilema. I KNEW that mahghany sounded great but I wanted a koa uke. The combo of koa and mahghany was great improvise.

My latest plan is an all Mahogany Mele Tenor and then a all Hog Honu concert...

haolejohn
12-12-2009, 04:34 PM
My latest plan is an all Mahogany Mele Tenor and then a all Hog Honu concert...

You can't go wrong with either one to tell you the truth. THe honus are sweet. a little more pricey than the Meles I think but I have played two and I liked both. My only problem with the non hawaiian ukes is I always know that I can get a Mele and know that it will be good. I wish I was rich. Then my UAS would be satisfied.

iDavid
12-12-2009, 04:48 PM
You can't go wrong with either one to tell you the truth. THe honus are sweet. a little more pricey than the Meles I think but I have played two and I liked both. My only problem with the non hawaiian ukes is I always know that I can get a Mele and know that it will be good. I wish I was rich. Then my UAS would be satisfied.

The Mahogany Honu's are less than the Mele, by quite a bit.

The hand-built aspect of th Mele puts them on top to me

haolejohn
12-12-2009, 04:50 PM
The Mahogany Honu's are less than the Mele, by quite a bit.

The hand-built aspect of th Mele puts them on top to me

Really? I haven't checked out the mahghany honus yet. I am with you though on the hand made aspect. that is why I am a huge mele fan compared to the other imports.

haolejohn
12-12-2009, 04:52 PM
Mele also makes the spruce or cedar top with mahghany b/s.

KC8AFW
12-12-2009, 05:01 PM
You can't go wrong with either one to tell you the truth. THe honus are sweet. a little more pricey than the Meles I think but I have played two and I liked both. My only problem with the non hawaiian ukes is I always know that I can get a Mele and know that it will be good. I wish I was rich. Then my UAS would be satisfied.

UAS can never be satisfied. The more you feed it...the bigger it grows. :D

Pippin
12-13-2009, 12:35 AM
Adirondack spruce is the holy grail top in the acoustic guitar world, as far as spruce tops are concerned. It is not as common a wood and will always cost more to buy. Englemann spruce is much more common and a little more expensive than Sitka spruce. My Martin guitar has a Sitka spruce top. It has aged well and sounds better with each year that passes.

Rick Turner
12-13-2009, 10:19 AM
Actually it's pretty easy to get killer Adirondack tops in uke sizes. I'm paying under $15.00 per top for beautiful stuff. My supplier loves selling his "too small for guitars" wood! It's great for mandolins as well.

maclay
12-13-2009, 05:33 PM
i love spruce tops. when sanded to the right thickness and braced correctly, they sound amazing.

berylbite
12-14-2009, 08:38 AM
I've got a bushman Englemann, it's got a spruce top.

Love it, the wood ages really well, the sound gets warmer, and the color yellows.

OhHmEhDaYuM
12-16-2009, 10:58 PM
Honestly, i love spruce tops and mahogany sides.
They project the sound nicely and have a well balanced fullness and brightness.