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david98116
05-12-2008, 10:39 PM
I have several beauties in my collection right now and have yet to bring a soprano uke into the family. So far I seem to enjoy the concert sound/size the most. I like the tenors too. Anybody here play or have played soprano before. What do you like about them? What don't you like? Let me know.....

tad
05-12-2008, 11:11 PM
I have two sopranos and three concerts.

I love my sopranos. Honestly, to me, the soprano is a "real" ukulele. I know a lot of people swear by tenors, but to me, the size and the tone-- you're getting dangerously close to a four-stringed mini-guitar. The soprano is the OG of the ukulele world-- the concert and the tenor and the barritone are twentieth-century innovations.

The sound and the look of the soprano, to me, is what ukuleles are supposed to look and sound like. I like the smallness and the high pitch and the cramped fingerboard.

And I know, I know, it's got fewer frets. But you know what? Sometimes constraints are the best inspiration for true art. When we limit ourselves, we're forced to innovate to find workarounds, solutions, to feel through things and find new ways to make things work. And that's where innovation comes from.

deach
05-13-2008, 12:48 AM
+1 What tad said.

Must be a Virginia thing.

david98116
05-13-2008, 01:38 AM
I see I see....a couple of purists out there. I like the sound of that. I see a few super sopranos out there that sound tempting due to the extra fretboard space (fat finger syndrome).

Plainsong
05-13-2008, 01:46 AM
I don't think music moves forward by being a purist. Music is about breaking rules, not about sticking to them. It took until 1750 but they finally got bored with baroque. If all musicians were purists, then orchestras would sound VERY different then they do.

Nah, it all moves forward, and that's ok.

tad
05-13-2008, 01:53 AM
I don't think music moves forward by being a purist. Music is about breaking rules, not about sticking to them. It took until 1750 but they finally got bored with baroque. If all musicians were purists, then orchestras would sound VERY different then they do.

Nah, it all moves forward, and that's ok.

But would you extend that to say that the only way anything new can be done on a ukulele is if it's done on a tenor?

Personally, I think that music-- and art in general-- moves forward as much in reaction to constraints as it does by constant innovation and the addiction to the "shock of the new."

Ian Boys
05-13-2008, 02:09 AM
I'm agreeing with tad on this....

And as far as playing soprano.... I own one (along with two concerts and a tenor), and like it a lot. It's, in my view, better for entertaining if you are only going to be strumming chords and singing, as it has a much more traditional and 'cute' look because of its size. As far as instrumental stuff, if it goes higher than the number of frets on the soprano, it's time to take a concert out. It just depends on what you're playing, and what uke it works out best on.

Plainsong
05-13-2008, 02:21 AM
But would you extend that to say that the only way anything new can be done on a ukulele is if it's done on a tenor?

Personally, I think that music-- and art in general-- moves forward as much in reaction to constraints as it does by constant innovation and the addiction to the "shock of the new."

No, I'm saying that there are are several (counting super sopranos and super concerts and all that) voices to choose from and that to not make use of them just because "soprano is the only proper uke" would be a shame.

There's nothing wrong with having a favorite size. Not at all. I think it's the reason why that bothers me. If you prefer it because you like the sound and like the feel, then that's great. If you prefer it because you think it's the only proper uke, then that's just wrong.

Modern instruments aren't what they were even in the 1920s. Why then, should the uke be excluded from that? The more, the merrier. The more instrumentation to choose from, the more exciting the music can be.

david98116
05-13-2008, 02:36 AM
Wow...were off and rolling here. As for mentioning that I liked the (what I interpreted as ) the purist mindset as it pertains to the soprano ukulele, I think purists must exist to protect the foundations of something. I love tenors, concerts and all other sizes because they all sound beautiful. Hell some people think that its a shame to play non hawaiian music on the uke. They have there place in this as well as the Jakes and the Aldrines out there. One builds and holds a strong foundation.....the others job is to be bold and expand the boundries. Nothing wrong with being a purist...I myself am not, but I can respect those of you who are. It all boils down to what you wanna hear and how it fits your hands I guess.

I think I may be going off on a tangent so I'll pause now and take my ADD medication. :confused:

deach
05-13-2008, 02:43 AM
Wow...were off and rolling here. As for mentioning that I liked the (what I interpreted as ) the purist mindset as it pertains to the soprano ukulele, I think purists must exist to protect the foundations of something. I love tenors, concerts and all other sizes because they all sound beautiful. Hell some people think that its a shame to play non hawaiian music on the uke. They have there place in this as well as the Jakes and the Aldrines out there. One builds and holds a strong foundation.....the others job is to be bold and expand the boundries. Nothing wrong with being a purist...I myself am not, but I can respect those of you who are. It all boils down to what you wanna hear and how it fits your hands I guess.

I think I may be going off on a tangent so I'll pause now and take my ADD medication. :confused:

Great post. Can I have some meds too?

tad
05-13-2008, 02:53 AM
No, I'm saying that there are are several (counting super sopranos and super concerts and all that) voices to choose from and that to not make use of them just because "soprano is the only proper uke" would be a shame.

There's nothing wrong with having a favorite size. Not at all. I think it's the reason why that bothers me. If you prefer it because you like the sound and like the feel, then that's great. If you prefer it because you think it's the only proper uke, then that's just wrong.

Modern instruments aren't what they were even in the 1920s. Why then, should the uke be excluded from that? The more, the merrier. The more instrumentation to choose from, the more exciting the music can be.

I was careful to say, multiple times, "to me."

I'm not trying to tell anyone else what to do or think.

If anything, I'm really just trying to defend the soprano, when there's a lot of people on this board who think it's "tiny," "weak," and doesn't sound good. Not too many people jump up to defend the Soprano when things like that are said-- it's a general consensus among a lot of people here that the tenor is the superior instrument, PERIOD.

In a post about playing the soprano, can't I say why I like it best?

I hope you take what I'm saying in the spirit it's meant-- it's not supposed to be an attack on anyone else, or a simple "this is good, that is bad." I was just discussing my aesthetic reasons for liking the instrument. The things I like about the ukulele are all the most true about the soprano. It's small, it's simple, it's quiet...

I really don't think that one hobbyist's voicing his preference for the traditional soprano size-- liking a little less resonance and having five fewer frets-- is really hampering "the progress of music" as a whole.

pinchmips
05-13-2008, 04:46 AM
Soprano 4 Lyfe!

Jacman Rasta Bicycle
05-13-2008, 05:12 AM
i have a couple of Tenors, a concert, and a few sopranos. my favorite is the concert, but i do go thru phases where the tenors or sopranos are played the most.
to me, the soprano has the real "ukulele" sound.

after watching John King play such beautiful music on sopranos no longer say i like the concert or tenor because i have a big 'ol hand and it's more comfortable to play.

UKISOCIETY
05-13-2008, 05:51 AM
I have several beauties in my collection right now and have yet to bring a soprano uke into the family. So far I seem to enjoy the concert sound/size the most. I like the tenors too. Anybody here play or have played soprano before. What do you like about them? What don't you like? Let me know.....

Soprano? Heck, who needs that big ol' thing? Give me a sopranino uke and now we're talking!
Check it out!:
Exhibit A
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJjgz3W_Ew0)
:D

Jack33@
05-13-2008, 05:55 AM
Sopranos are small, light, they can be cheap (and still give a fair enough sound) they fit into a bag or rucksack, they are easy to play, they can withstand rough treatment and they make people smile.

Everyone should have one somewhere (or would that spoil it?)and get it out at parties.

You can play serious music on a soprano but they really come into their own when you and some mates are just dicking about.

They truly are the people's instrument, fun and subversive at the same time and in equal measures.

Jack33

uber_goober
05-13-2008, 06:01 AM
I've got a nice locally made soprano, Koaloha concert and Koaloha longneck pineapple. I just play whichever one I'm feeling that day. Some days I want that soprano sound, and other days I want something different. Variety never hurts. :)

Ukuleles are small, you need a couple. :)

-John

bof
05-13-2008, 06:50 AM
Got 3 Sopranos. If I want something bigger i pick up my guitar.

koa
05-13-2008, 07:01 AM
Personal preference for soprano and concert scale uke. Thought when 1st picking up the uke the tenor would be the uke of choice. Wrong. Just prefer the characteristics of a soprano sound tuned C reentrant. Own a concert scale soprano KoAloha (KSM-02) and King std scale soprano. Distinctly different in character, but both are definitely bright little sopranos. The King has a warmer bright tone with more resonance. The KoAloha is more of a brassy bright.

seeso
05-13-2008, 07:03 AM
Personal preference for soprano and concert scale uke. Thought when 1st picking up the uke the tenor would be the uke of choice. Wrong. Just prefer the characteristics of a soprano sound tuned C reentrant. Own a concert scale soprano KoAloha (KSM-02) and King std scale soprano. Distinctly different in character, but both are definitely bright little sopranos. The King has a warmer bright tone with more resonance. The KoAloha is more of a brassy bright.

I'd love to see some pictures of your King, if you don't mind. Pretty please?

UKISOCIETY
05-13-2008, 07:26 AM
I've found that I need (want) at least one uke of each size, sopranino, soprano, concert and tenor. I play a particular size depending on what I'm playing. Strumming along to pop, oldies, etc is best on sopranino and soprano. I pick out hymns on my concert size (although sometimes on soprano too) and I NEED a tenor with low G tuning to play the country blues music of Gary Davis and Mississippi John Hurt.

I'm somewhat of a purist, though, in that I refuse to touch a baritone uke. I'd like to have a nice guitar someday..

Is that so wrong?!:confused:

JackT
05-13-2008, 07:39 AM
I like them all the same-ish, I tend to prefer tenors depends what song I'm playing. Ain't nothing wrong with taking a shine to a certain type of uke, it's whatever suits your style best. OH and as for baritones, I'm not completely off them, tried a few instore, its like a nice travel guitar with 4 strings.

david98116
05-13-2008, 10:31 AM
I've found that I need (want) at least one uke of each size, sopranino, soprano, concert and tenor. I play a particular size depending on what I'm playing. Strumming along to pop, oldies, etc is best on sopranino and soprano. I pick out hymns on my concert size (although sometimes on soprano too) and I NEED a tenor with low G tuning to play the country blues music of Gary Davis and Mississippi John Hurt.

I'm somewhat of a purist, though, in that I refuse to touch a baritone uke. I'd like to have a nice guitar someday..

Is that so wrong?!:confused:


Hahaha...I'm not going down the purist road again. It got a little warm in here for a second. I'm seeing some really positive soprano comments though. I'm thinking one of those babies deserves a good home.:D

tad
05-13-2008, 10:57 AM
Hahaha...I'm not going down the purist road again. It got a little warm in here for a second. I'm seeing some really positive soprano comments though. I'm thinking one of those babies deserves a good home.:D

I'm just not communicating very well today.
I've got mad respect for Plainsong, and I hope she knows it.

A little disagreement among friends is what keeps the world interesting, right?

david98116
05-13-2008, 12:15 PM
I'm just joking Tad. We all have so much passion for this instrument that we are bound to have some strong feelings one way or the other. This thread really exemplifies that passion. Everybody made a valid point and furthermore...all this definitely makes me want a soprano. This thread was started so that could hear the pros and cons. I'm really hearing nothing but pros here.

Howlin Hobbit
05-13-2008, 01:01 PM
As for myself, I am a bit of a soprano (and re-entrant) "purist," for many of the reasons listed by others in the thread. Plus two more...

1) Sopranos are cuddly.
2) Somebody built like me holding a soprano is kinda funny looking. This is a good thing when you're a busker. It attracts attention. Once you've got the audience's attention you do have to have something to offer them, but getting the attention in the first place can be the hardest part.

I do want a sopranino too. Maybe the birthday fairy will be good to me this year.

As far as other people playing other sizes I'm back to the Rule #1 I posted in another thread: If it's making the sound you want, you're doing it right.

david98116
05-13-2008, 01:52 PM
As far as other people playing other sizes I'm back to the Rule #1 I posted in another thread: If it's making the sound you want, you're doing it right.

That I think my friend says it all. Amen.

Plainsong
05-14-2008, 12:55 AM
I never said that soprano ukes were wrong or that people were wrong to prefer them. Not at all, I don't know where that kind of aggro comes from. We're bound to prefer some voice or size to others. I prefer concert. I had a great time playing a few sopranos and a tenor last night at the Finnish Uke Network (FUN!) meet-up.

But I also don't think that one uke is the only proper uke and the others are bastard guitars. That kind of reasoning is a bit elitist, and it's simply wrong. It's ok for musical instruments to evolve and change. It gives more choices, makes the world go 'round. It's all good.

I'm sure someone will have a problem with what I just said, but I'd like to state again that there's nothing wrong with soprano ukes. There's nothing wrong with concert ukes either, nor tenor ukes, nor baritone ukes. ;)

mabster
05-14-2008, 03:05 AM
I'm learning on a cheap soprano but I shall probably get a concert for my first decent one.
I shall be jamming at many folk sessions and feel a concert would be slightly better at projecting its sound. No doubt soon after I shall get a decent soprano :)


Mabs

tad
05-14-2008, 03:21 AM
But I also don't think that one uke is the only proper uke and the others are bastard guitars. That kind of reasoning is a bit elitist, and it's simply wrong. It's ok for musical instruments to evolve and change. It gives more choices, makes the world go 'round. It's all good.


Totally. Just for the record, I never meant to imply any sort of elitist attitude about it-- in fact, I have more concerts than sopranos. I'm not saying anything larger than a soprano is a bastard guitar, just that when you get larger than a concert, it starts to *feel like* a bastard guitar *to me.*

Totally subjective. Totally one man's opinion. That's all I ever wanted to do, was state my subjective opinion. I totally respect your right to play or prefer WHATEVER you want. As you say, diversity is good!

I suspect I know where your defensiveness comes from-- the bollocks elitist attitude on certain other uke boards that anything but a soprano, or anything with geared tuners, or WHATEVER it is at the moment, isn't a real soprano. I hate that.

Just understand that, as someone who's new to ukuleles and the ukulele internet, and spends most of their time here, I'm used to almost the reverse-- the "once you go tenor" crowd... Thus my defensiveness.

Plainsong
05-14-2008, 09:10 AM
I suspect I know where your defensiveness comes from-- the bollocks elitist attitude on certain other uke boards that anything but a soprano, or anything with geared tuners, or WHATEVER it is at the moment, isn't a real soprano. I hate that.

Just understand that, as someone who's new to ukuleles and the ukulele internet, and spends most of their time here, I'm used to almost the reverse-- the "once you go tenor" crowd... Thus my defensiveness.

Yeah, I think we both know where we read such things. I guess I thought "Oh no, not here!" :(

When I finally get my uklectic from Pete Howlett (I ding against me right there for it not being acoustic), I'm gonna stick it to the man and get geared tuners. :nana:

I think if I get a soprano, I'd like to give Brüko a try. :)

UKISOCIETY
05-14-2008, 09:27 AM
I do want a sopranino too. Maybe the birthday fairy will be good to me this year.


My Ohana from MGM is great fun. I recommend it. I know there's a couple other models out there, but I don't have any experience with them.

LoMa
05-14-2008, 10:12 AM
My favorites are probably concerts, but I like sopranos too. A lot of sopranos sound kinda nasal and punchy to me and sometimes that's appealing. But mostly I like concerts. And mostly I like concerts with spruce tops.

And I'm not good enough to play tenors. Tenors are also generally too dark toned for me. But I just don't play well on tenors. Too much of a good thing, I guess...

Woodstocksp3
05-14-2008, 01:38 PM
Soprano? Heck, who needs that big ol' thing? Give me a sopranino uke and now we're talking!
Check it out!:
Exhibit A
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJjgz3W_Ew0)
:D

Awesome video! Anyways, I have a soprano uke and I love it. I've never played any other kind of ukulele though so I have nothing to compare it to though. My Kala KA-S definitely sounds great though and I love the way it sounds.

koa
05-14-2008, 03:24 PM
I'd love to see some pictures of your King, if you don't mind. Pretty please?

Seeso, check out William Kings webpage specifically his "Notes and Observations" August '07, "A Soprano Ukulele"(#009) and June '07 "Simply Soprano"(#008). www.chantus.com/notes/index. Nothing fancy. Simple understated Honduras Mahogany with ebony binding to match the bridge and fretboard. After receiving #009 I went off the deep end and bought #008. #009's older brother made from I think the same planks of Mahogany. Little embarrassing owning two quality sopranos given my minimal talent. But the price was too good to pass on. I actually like #008 better for most pieces of music.

Howlin Hobbit
05-15-2008, 08:04 AM
I shall be jamming at many folk sessions and feel a concert would be slightly better at projecting its sound.

There's way too many factors involved in projecting good volume to just go for the larger box.

Build quality, wood(s) used, strings... basically don't think that every concert will be louder than every soprano (or tenor louder than concert, etc.).

I played one of Dave Means' concerts (in either myrtlewood or mango... can't recall right now) and it was definitely quieter than the koa soprano he built for me.

Choose your concert carefully.

tad
05-15-2008, 10:23 AM
There's way too many factors involved in projecting good volume to just go for the larger box.

Build quality, wood(s) used, strings... basically don't think that every concert will be louder than every soprano (or tenor louder than concert, etc.).

I played one of Dave Means' concerts (in either myrtlewood or mango... can't recall right now) and it was definitely quieter than the koa soprano he built for me.

Choose your concert carefully.

And to cite a precedent more applicable to those of us with no scratch-- My Kala Soprano is a LOT louder than my Mitchell Concert.

A LOT louder.

Howlin Hobbit
05-15-2008, 11:10 AM
And to cite a precedent more applicable to those of us with no scratch-- My Kala Soprano is a LOT louder than my Mitchell Concert.

A LOT louder.

Yeah, exactly. I was just trying to point out that even though both were made by a high-end luthier, it was probably just the difference in woods that made the difference in volume.

From all I've seen those Kalas are quite the nice lil ukes. Don't think I've heard of a Mitchell though.

And I'd like to point out that I've got no scratch either. I lucked into the Glyph because I caught Dave's introductory prices and they happened at a time I was saving like a mad saving thing for a decent quality uke (I was aiming for a KoAloha, BTW).

I got the National because it was up for sale on the FMM Marketplace at a time when I found out my paternal grandfather (who'd passed on several years before that) had actually left me a bequest. Who knew? We weren't really that close.

The message is still the same though. Choose carefully.

thejumpingflea
05-15-2008, 11:37 AM
The message is still the same though. Choose carefully.

And to add to that, try before you buy if it is possible. Many times have I gone to my favorite music store and one uke had played much better than another of the same company, size, etc.

tad
05-15-2008, 11:42 AM
Yeah, exactly. I was just trying to point out that even though both were made by a high-end luthier, it was probably just the difference in woods that made the difference in volume.

From all I've seen those Kalas are quite the nice lil ukes. Don't think I've heard of a Mitchell though.

The Kalas are nice lil ukes indeed.
The Mitchells... not as much, though I've come to have an affection for mine.

There's another difference, esp. when dealing with less high-end instruments. The way they're put together. The Mitchell's heavier-- and it's not just the size or the wood. There's a lot more wood, in the form of bracings, on the inside of that thing, and I think it sorta kills some of the vibration. It's built like a tiny version of a cheap guitar, where the Kala's built like a cheap version of a uke.

(And I never meant to imply that you were Mr. Moneybags, HH-- Just wanted to point out that the difference is there in the low end ukes, too... if not moreso... Although I gotta say, not having much dough and managing to score a Glyph and a National-- that must make them all the more dear to your heart...)

Howlin Hobbit
05-15-2008, 11:46 AM
...I gotta say, not having much dough and managing to score a Glyph and a National-- that must make them all the more dear to your heart...)

Boy you got that right!

I think that's why my UAS isn't as virulent as some other's cases. I don't want to seem like I'm blowing raspberries at the ukulele gods by wanting too much!

seeso
05-15-2008, 12:37 PM
Seeso, check out William Kings webpage specifically his "Notes and Observations" August '07, "A Soprano Ukulele"(#009) and June '07 "Simply Soprano"(#008). www.chantus.com/notes/index. Nothing fancy. Simple understated Honduras Mahogany with ebony binding to match the bridge and fretboard. After receiving #009 I went off the deep end and bought #008. #009's older brother made from I think the same planks of Mahogany. Little embarrassing owning two quality sopranos given my minimal talent. But the price was too good to pass on. I actually like #008 better for most pieces of music.

Noel, that is such a gorgeous instrument. I love Mr. King's understated elegance. I'm jealous like you wouldn't believe. I've been lusting after an instrument in Honduran Mahogany ever since I saw his tenor Nunes style in his journal not too long ago. Wow. :bowdown:

Oh, and on the subject of sopranos... I had the pleasure of playing a KoAloha soprano uke today at the music store. I've been holding back on contributing to the thread before now, because I'd never played a non-Mahalo soprano uke before.

Let me tell you, I didn't want to put it down. Man, that thing sings! It was so loud! I couldn't believe such a sound could come out of something so small. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience. My first time playing a solid Koa ukulele, and I was blown away. It even had GHS strings on it.

koa
05-15-2008, 03:08 PM
Aesthetically my personal taste is for understated. The natural beauty of the wood is what appeals to me. For those unaware William King builds his ukes Spanish style rather than "box" style. Developed from his before uke days building Flamenco and Classical guitars. Not sure if that is why his ukes have the resonance and sustain they do. #009 rings longer than my KoAloha concert. Which I consider having plenty of sustain.

With the demand for primarily his custom tenors and the occasional custom concerts I think he has stopped building any sopranos outside of his R&D projects. Earlier this year he built couple R&D 6 string sopranos. Manuel Nunes style. One was koa the other had a cypress soundboard.

Howlin Hobbit
05-15-2008, 05:54 PM
I've been lusting after an instrument in Honduran Mahogany ever since I saw his tenor Nunes style in his journal not too long ago.

Man, if there's one thing that'll rouse the slumbering UAS beast in me, it's a Nunes (or other old skool shaped) uke. Ummm... soprano, though.

I actually got to play an old Nunes, built by Manuel's son (Leonardo??). A friend of a friend owns it, though I didn't know at the time that we shared the friend. I ran into her a few years back at the Folklife Festival here in Seattle and she had the little bitty beauty with her. Luckily, I'm not noted for my shyness and asked if I might play it.

Oh man. It barked like the big dog, didn't weigh much more than an anorexic feather and made the term "played like buttah" totally inadequate. This from a thing that was more than 80 years old.

And I just love the skinny little shape of it.


Oh, and on the subject of sopranos... I had the pleasure of playing a KoAloha soprano uke today at the music store. . .

A KoAloha was what I was saving up for when the opportunity to grab the Glyph came along. Aren't they just the bees knees?


Let me tell you, I didn't want to put it down. Man, that thing sings! It was so loud! I couldn't believe such a sound could come out of something so small. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience.

I'm sure you'll remain a nice guy, but now you've got a taste of why I'm such a jerk about sopranos. :rolleyes:

david98116
05-15-2008, 07:22 PM
Well fellas I took the plunge on my 4th ukulele last night. Mike just shipped out a Koa Pili Koko soprano made of solid acacia wood. I've heard some good things and I'm a softy for solid wood ukes. Here's a picture from the buy......

http://i21.ebayimg.com/02/i/000/f0/ec/00ae_1.JPG

UkuLeLesReggAe
05-15-2008, 08:20 PM
Well fellas I took the plunge on my 4th ukulele last night. Mike just shipped out a Koa Pili Koko soprano made of solid acacia wood. I've heard some good things and I'm a softy for solid wood ukes. Here's a picture from the buy......

http://i21.ebayimg.com/02/i/000/f0/ec/00ae_1.JPG

how much was this??

david98116
05-15-2008, 08:27 PM
how much was this??

$199 shipping included. Gotta love Mike.

UkuLeLesReggAe
05-15-2008, 08:28 PM
$199 shipping included. Gotta love Mike.

its a nice ukulele, i bet it would sound great

Ukeguy510
05-15-2008, 08:31 PM
Hey, don't forget to give us the full review of the KPK soprano. I've been eyeing that thing for the past month or so ;)

david98116
05-15-2008, 08:34 PM
Rayan did a review on his tenor KPK on youtube. That pretty much sealed it for me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GYZGv0WXVQ

Plainsong
05-15-2008, 10:59 PM
I'm trying to win one over at Ukulelereview - although I doubt my logo wins now. :(

thejumpingflea
05-17-2008, 08:53 PM
SO I just restrung my Lanakai LU-21 with some Aquilas and I must say that it is one of my loudest ukes. It has that tinny sound that my G-String and Kamaka lacks, but adds to the effect of the size and when I strum it the hardest I can it makes a very rich sound that is VERY loud for the size. I must say I'll be trying it with some other people the first chance I get because it's volume is up there with the loudest of mine!