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View Full Version : new to uke: should i get tenor or concert?



churlala
04-25-2010, 05:42 PM
hi! i'm very interested in learning how to play the uke - i don't have any stringed instrument experience, just a little piano, and i don't plan on learning the guitar. i've seen both tenor and concert in a store, but still can't decide which one to get! i'm a female, 5'7" medium build with medium sized hands. i'm looking at the lanikai for either... i don't plan to "upgrade" or buy more ukes (unless i become amazing at it!) so this'll be it. i want to play all the popular songs on it and have fun w/it... maybe play it for friends and our kids. my budget is $70-100 but since you can get both by lanikai in the price range - it just makes it tougher to decide!

does anyone have any suggestions? incidentally, i'm buying a cheapie makala soprano for my 2.5yr son as well (he saw that little japanese boy playing uke on YT and wants to play too!)

thanks for any advice you guys give!!

ukulelearp
04-25-2010, 06:09 PM
Depends on what you like to play. Some of the fancier runs and licks don't require a tenor, but they're much easier on a tenor. There are some picking songs that require more frets than a concert offers. On the other hand, a concert is closer to the classic ukulele tone and the lower string tension makes it a little easier to play. It all depends on what you want to do with it.

Hankthetank
04-25-2010, 06:17 PM
. i've seen both tenor and concert in a store, but still can't decide which one to get! !

I would suggest that you go back to the store and try them out. See which size feels better in your hands. Give them a test drive. That might be the best way to get the uke that is right for you.

Bradford
04-25-2010, 06:29 PM
This is one of those personal preference questions that is very difficult for any of us to answer for you. If you played the guitar, the tenor size would be a little easier to adjust to, but you don't so either one will seem strange to you at first. The previous posted advice is probably the best anyone can offer.

Brad

GVlog
04-25-2010, 06:34 PM
I would suggest that you go back to the store and try them out. See which size feels better in your hands.
This advice is best albeit it might be difficult if you live someplace where ukes are not commonly sold. From your self-description, it doesn't sound like you would be challenged by the size of either instrument.

One other way to choose is to describe what you're likely to play on it. If you're doing modern pop songs and plan to sing with friends, then I'm tempted to steer you to the tenor so you'll have a bit more volume and versatility. Your budget is for an entry-level instrument so the size will definitely make difference in its volume.

The tenor gives you the option to switch from re-entrant tuning with a high-G 4th string to a low-G tuning. This will expand your range.

If your preference is for older tunes, the concert is likely to come closer to the tonal characteristics of a soprano ukulele which was most commonly used at the turn of the century.

Video to help:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0xnNs56GsI

RyanMFT
04-25-2010, 07:01 PM
Don't forget about soprano!!! If you get your son a Makala Dolphin Bridge uke, you could both enjoy it and you can see if you want a bigger uke. I am WAY bigger then you are and I play Soprano every day! Those Makala's are really fun and playable!

ghostrdr
04-25-2010, 08:22 PM
If you're going to get a makala anyway, then I would suggest that you get a tenor since the soprano will be closer in tone to the concert. The tenor just has a deeper more resonant Sound. The soprano will tide you over when you want that Hawaiian sound.

ichadwick
04-26-2010, 02:15 AM
i don't plan to "upgrade" or buy more ukes (unless i become amazing at it!) so this'll be it.
Famous last words. Read them about, oh, 1,521 times on this forum since I said them myself, some two-plus years ago. I'm sure you'll change your mind once you start playing, and reading more here.

I lean towards tenors - having owned and played all sizes - for their increased size, richness of tone and that they fit my hands better. Try both. What feels more comfortable? Make a chord like 2210 and stretch out your pinky to the third fret of the first string (2213). Does either feel easier? I'd choose that one.

the52blues
04-26-2010, 04:07 AM
hi! i'm very interested in learning how to play the uke - i don't have any stringed instrument experience, just a little piano,

I've only ever played a regular size piano. How small is your piano?

sukie
04-26-2010, 04:50 AM
You have to try them to know what works best for YOU!

I like a concert size best. See? Ian and I lean towards 2 different sizes. What works for me may not work best for you. I could be wrong but it's my understanding that a concert can also be tuned low -G. Can someone correct me if I'm wrong?

iDavid
04-26-2010, 05:13 AM
You have to try them to know what works best for YOU!

I like a concert size best. See? Ian and I lean towards 2 different sizes. What works for me may not work best for you. I could be wrong but it's my understanding that a concert can also be tuned low -G. Can someone correct me if I'm wrong?

Yes you can tune a concert to low-g. You can tune a soprano to low-g too and I have.

I think the tenor handles the low-g better than a concert, but I am becoming a big fan or the high-g and the CONCERT.

Since I got my KoAloha concert, I don't pick up my tenor much. I think it has a lot to do with my concert being a KoAloha, however.

Mim
04-26-2010, 06:01 AM
I think concert! But maybe it is because it is my preference. I am with PP... go to the store, try each out. If you are used to anything like a guitar, a Tenor has a more "solid" feel as far as size. But now that I am used to a concert, a tenor feels huge.
Good luck and happy ukiung!

Coconut Willie
04-26-2010, 07:15 AM
I also agree with the majority here. Go and try both the tenor and concert ukes out and see which feels better in your hands. Don't forget to form different chords and play some and see which uke feels better to you. I would (if I were you) leans towards a concert. It is a little less money than the tenor and besides, you will need to get another uke when that dreaded UAS kicks in!!!
Good luck and let us know what you selected!!

Mr. Bojangles
04-26-2010, 07:25 AM
I faced this similar situation when picking out my first ukulele. I ended up going with a tenor, and was very happy with my choice. The concerts and sopranos that I tried out were nice too, but the full sound of a tenor was too much for me to pass up.

Plus, I have bigger hands, so the extra room is appreciated.

molokinirum
04-26-2010, 07:25 AM
Since you have no guitar experience, I would say start with a concert. Seems most guitar players use a tenor due to it's size. You really can't go wrong with a concert. I have one of each and play them about the same amount of time.

pulelehua
04-26-2010, 09:59 AM
I'll be different and biased. Go with the concert. Play the one less like a guitar. I'm 6'3" and my paws are just a bit big for a soprano (which is an indirect way of saying I'm not quite good enough ;) ). If your hands aren't, I'd even say play a soprano.

For me, the tone is crucial, and tenors are just a bit too guitar-like. Too much string tension. Too much low end, especially with low-g. I don't mind other what other people do, but my heart belongs to the little ones, and the high g.

(This is in case you wanted a biased opinion. Otherwise, everyone else is talking lots of sense.)

70sSanO
04-26-2010, 10:05 AM
As everyone has said you have to go to the store and see which one you like better, hold them and press down some strings...

...however, you need to get someone at the store who can actually play a ukulele to play both for you.

It is like someone telling me to go try out different saxophones and pick the one I like best, I guarantee you none of them would even sound like a sax.

John

churlala
04-26-2010, 04:16 PM
hi everyone!

thank you all SO much for your enthusiastic and very informative responses - when i first read it i thought i was definitely going to go with a tenor, but then i went back to the store, and i thought concert was a much more appropriate size for me, esp since i wanted to pick up the uke due to its small size!

so now i have another dilemma - i was def going to go w/a lanikai whichever size i chose, but the clerk at the store said, if you're going to go w/a low-end lanikai, you might as well go w/a high-end ibenez (sp?) or kala. my budget is about $80-100... wdyt??

any response is again much appreciated. you guys are awesome!!!

and ps - UAS, really? is that really a thing? how long did each of you acquire it since your first one?

thanks again!!

cheryl

sukie
04-26-2010, 04:24 PM
Hi! I can't help you with the brand. I have a Lanikai tenor and I like it. I also have a KoAloha concert. Can't really compare the 2.

As for UAS? Well, I got my first ukulele in Feb. '08 and replaced it with the KoAloha in Aug '08. I've sneaked a few others into the stable also, but my KoAloha is the one I LOVE. UAS is tricky, though. Be careful.

GVlog
04-26-2010, 04:45 PM
so now i have another dilemma - i was def going to go w/a lanikai whichever size i chose, but the clerk at the store said, if you're going to go w/a low-end lanikai, you might as well go w/a high-end ibenez (sp?) or kala.
Ibanez? I didn't even know that they had created an ukulele line. I'm not a fan of their guitars so I'm not inclined to be a fan of their ukuleles.

Kala seems to be a good choice (a lot of folks on this forum have them and swear by them). Mike (http://myworld.ebay.com/musicguymic/) sells the Kala KA C for $105 shipped ($125 with a gig-bag and clip-on tuner). My understanding is that he does a set-up on each one. He's on the forums every so often. I might be buying a higher-end Kala from him when I make-up my mind.

Carefully factor what accessories you'll need into your budget as those can add-up. You'll probably add at least:

A gig-bag or case (I'd go with the bag)
A tuner
A method book or a chord book


Don't know if you're in a state that charges sales tax.. That adds almost 10% to any local sales for those of us in California.

HoldinCoffee
04-26-2010, 05:28 PM
No more thinking. Just buy something ASAP and start playing!

cletus
04-26-2010, 05:31 PM
Definitely Kala over Ibanez, in my opinion.
And MGM puts together some happening beginner ukulele packages to ease your entry.

70sSanO
04-27-2010, 02:29 PM
I agree with others who have recommended Mike or MGM. If nothing else you have to check out his store... Musicguymic's Room on ebay.

He is one the the best to work with. He has sound samples of even some of the lower end ukuleles.

Everyone here has bought something from Mike.

Check out what he has and email him.

John

Uke Gently Weeps
04-27-2010, 04:50 PM
I started off playing with a very budget ($30) Johnson soprano. I'm a big guy with big hands (on a piano I can run from middle C to the next octave E or F). My hands cramped up with the soprano but I learned on it for several years. Just today I made an investment in to a nice solid wood Kala for around $350 with a hard case. I went with a concert because the tenor felt too much like a guitar and had a lower tone. It didn't sound like a ukulele to me. I had every intention of getting a tenor but when I finally got to play one I changed my mind. Fool around with all the sizes until you find something that fits, then play it a ton. Good luck.

mangorockfish
04-27-2010, 05:08 PM
I have both, a concert and tenor. I drive a truck and I take one with me each week and by the end of the week, I'm ready to play the other one, but it doesn't really matter to me, if I only had one that would be okay. You'll eventually nd up with both sizes. UAS is no respector of person.