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View Full Version : I'm Hooked on Tenors!



KevinV
05-24-2010, 03:03 PM
I've gone through the gambit from sub-soprano, soprano, concert, and tenor, and I can say my favorite is the tenor. I play in a quartet and the access allows me to do things the others can't...at least at my skill level. I have the option of playing guitar or uke in my band, and it's always the uke. The tenor offers me everything I need to express myself in a way that gets my point across, feels good, and complements the rest of the band.

Next up...custom tenor with slotted headstock (a throwback from my guitar days that I just can't shake...nor do I want to).

darkwater
05-24-2010, 03:17 PM
I do all my solo instrumental uke stuff on the tenor because of the extra maneuvering room. My stable of other ukes have their own ecological niches, too. Can't beat the soprano for vintage pop tunes. It's kind of like an artist owning a bunch of different paintbrushes. Then there's the Polk-a-lay-lee which is just too mutantly cool.
Here's the rundown:
KoAloha tenor- instrumental and technical stuff & where sustain is needed
Reso concert uke- fingerpicked bluesy stuff
Kala archtop tenor- plugged in moderate volume gigs
Stromberg-Voisinet banjo uke- when only a banjo uke will do and big groups
Polk-a-lay-lee- great for 60s and sci-fi/fantasy gigs
Mango Fluke- acoustic travel/beach uke
Concert EleUke- High volume gigs where feedback is a problem or silent practice
Mainland soprano pineapple- strummy percussive stuff, C tuning
Mainland soprano - strummy percussive suff, D tuning

SweetWaterBlue
05-24-2010, 03:24 PM
I had just about quit playing my tenor until I put a low G on it. Before that, it seemed a bit redundant, although easier to play than the others because of the real estate available on the fretboard. I really love it now with the low G.

luvdat
05-25-2010, 12:29 AM
I've gone through the gambit from sub-soprano, soprano, concert, and tenor, and I can say my favorite is the tenor. I play in a quartet and the access allows me to do things the others can't...at least at my skill level. I have the option of playing guitar or uke in my band, and it's always the uke. The tenor offers me everything I need to express myself in a way that gets my point across, feels good, and complements the rest of the band.

Next up...custom tenor with slotted headstock (a throwback from my guitar days that I just can't shake...nor do I want to).

I like the fact that you refer in passing to your "guitar days" in an affirming way. Early on and until very recently with ukulele playing I was "only uke" or too much of a purist (esp. with sopranos and concerts...) but an inexpensive tenor made me realize that I could really do more of my stuff with a larger uke...and now I even love the baritone. It does come down to being able to express yourself. BTW I can do a fair amount of fingerstyle on sopranos and some fan strums on sopranos, but I think for playing out for the most part it'll be tenors and baritones. I'd play my Flea soprano, but only for a couple of songs. For me I think even with strumming above the 5th fret with smaller sized ukes I expected more? Glad you connected. Keep making it about MUSIC...and keep having fun!

ichadwick
05-25-2010, 02:55 AM
I had just about quit playing my tenor until I put a low G on it.
I like both and have songs I prefer on one or the other. So my answer to to own more tenors so I can string them as I see fit. I am seriously thinking of adding another baritone because I've got one strung high-D... and I want low-D. What better excuse?

luvdat
05-25-2010, 02:56 AM
I like both and have songs I prefer on one or the other. So my answer to to own more tenors so I can string them as I see fit. I am seriously thinking of adding another baritone because I've got one strung high-D... and I want low-D. What better excuse?

I hear ya...

Aside my doing covers with vocals or instrumentals, a variety of tonal/tuning options is a benefit to songwriting...there's stuff you would have never played or "thought of" (in reality you get caught up in muscle memory).

SailingUke
05-25-2010, 03:08 AM
I like the sound of a tenor while singing, its slightly lower voice seems to match well.
The sopranos & concerts though have that high sweet ring that sound so nice on an instrumental.
My super concert is a nice mix, I have it in low g, and it is a joy to sing with.

RevWill
05-25-2010, 03:16 AM
Tenor is certainly my default. I love my red cedar Mainland and my tenor Fluke. As much as I love my sopranos and my bari, I'm consistently reaching for a tenor.

luvdat
05-25-2010, 03:35 AM
What can really clarify things is starting to play out, in my case, again. It was playing a tenor in a park (not even an open mike or a gig) just relaxing with my wife that made me realize that my own attempts at purism were a bit of a sham...also, I had underestimated the tenor with vocals and overestimated my devotion to sopranos (based on the neck and sound of a Flea). Tenors are quite versatile...

Sambient
05-25-2010, 04:14 AM
Y'all can feel free to let me adopt your neglected sopranos and concert. Okiedokie?
I cannot get into tenors, though as I've mentioned, that at least keeps some of my UAS in check by eliminating so many options. I know I'd have had a Kala archtop by now.

rasputinsghost
05-25-2010, 05:33 AM
My mainland mahogany tenor is my go-to, though for certain songs I find myself grabbing my soprano or sopranino.
I am drooling over a Mya-Moe, though. I really want one. Can anyone with a reso tenor give me a sound sample? My dream Mya-Moe would be a spruce top, koa back and sides Reso.

luvdat
05-26-2010, 09:44 AM
Picked up a Lanikai spruce top tenor today at East Village Music in NYC...

SweetWaterBlue
05-26-2010, 10:02 AM
The problem with tenors is they lead to low-G's, and low-Gs lead to baritones, and baritones lead to guitars - oh my!

lochtessmonster
05-26-2010, 10:36 AM
The first uke I picked up (and bought 5 mins later) was my kala tenor acoustic electric. I love that thing and am rarely without it. Something about that tenor feels like home. And coming from a background of playing bass (upright) and mandolin it just really felt right.

I have a few other ukes and keep going back to that one. I'm also getting having a custom electric tenor made because I love them so much.

I have not yet tried a low G, but I'm tempted.

uke5417
05-26-2010, 11:06 AM
I still prefer sops, but tenors seem to offer two advantages. First, some chords that sound muddy on a sop can sound spot-on with a tenor. I figure the increased string length in gives it a better shot at accuracy. Second is the upneck real estate, no explanation needed.

luvdat
05-26-2010, 11:35 AM
I still prefer sops, but tenors seem to offer two advantages. First, some chords that sound muddy on a sop can sound spot-on with a tenor. I figure the increased string length in gives it a better shot at accuracy. Second is the upneck real estate, no explanation needed.

One of things I found on the Flea soprano is that a barre at the 5th fret with an added finger 2, 3, 4, frets below on the A just left me non-plussed even when perfectly clean, actually more trad sopranos sound better with such simple maneuvers...in some ways, even the Dolphin.

BTW I actually prefer this Lanikai S-T's sound to the Kala Spruce top...the Lanikai sounds incredibly balanced, a medium grain spruce. There's this characteristic subtle "straining" tone I've heard in a not a few Kala tenors I've tried. Also, with the Lanikai vs. the Kala, the Kala spruce top tenors seems to be going for some deeper tones, and IMO, not always succeeding, leaving things not as clear, sounding a little hollow. In some ways, their thinline seems like a response to that tonal overstepping...overreaching. I picked that up esp at the 5th fret (for me a dealbreaker on ANY size uke) even on the otherwise mellow Kala archtop. It's not a matter of intonation exactly this "straining" quality, something like a "tightness" a kind of "whining" (not to be confused with my own complaining).

ichadwick
05-26-2010, 11:42 AM
[QUOTE=KevinV;378865I have the option of playing guitar or uke in my band, and it's always the uke.[/QUOTE]
Have you considered a baritone?
I know, I know: for uke player's it's the Dark Side. Get a baritone and the next thing you'll want a guitarlele and that leads to a 3/4 scale acoustic guitar and suddenly you've got a Strat in your hands and you're wailing with Led Zeppelin.

But seriously... look into one. I just got one and am delighted and amazed by it. As a former guitar player, it is easy to play along with other music. Luke, Luke, join me...

Pippin
05-26-2010, 11:55 AM
The Night Owls feature a baritone on every song. Baritone ukes add a lot of balance at the low-end and really fill things up nicely. Ever ask Aldrine why he plays with a guitarist most of the time? My bet is mostly fullness of sound.

luvdat
06-04-2010, 10:27 AM
I had just about quit playing my tenor until I put a low G on it. Before that, it seemed a bit redundant, although easier to play than the others because of the real estate available on the fretboard. I really love it now with the low G.

Slapped on a D'Addario D string (.029 from a normal classical, sold singly at GC) with the Aquilas I had on: for me the tenor IS low G!!! For others, whatever they want it to be...

luvdat
06-04-2010, 10:30 AM
The Night Owls feature a baritone on every song. Baritone ukes add a lot of balance at the low-end and really fill things up nicely. Ever ask Aldrine why he plays with a guitarist most of the time? My bet is mostly fullness of sound.

The context of your statement points to this: the many many uke myths, purist views, ahistorical opinions, self-imposed limits held by recent converts to the ukulele...though held less frequently by...Hawaiians. Let's put the ukulele in the context of MUSIC not the other way around!!!

kissing
06-05-2010, 03:38 AM
I agree - The uke is great for its uniqueness.
But I think they have a lot of potential to be versatile instruments if we are a bit more open minded towards practices such as low-G, baritone ukes, etc :)