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Eallend7
07-13-2010, 03:49 PM
Hi all, first post on UU, im a complete beginner to playing the uke, and i dont even have my first one yet, its on the way as i ordered it a few days ago. I ordered the Makala MK-S soprano, having read that the soprano is the standard or "traditional" ukulele, im thinking that the soprano was probably the first style or size ukulele to be played, im not sure of that at all but common sense leads me to assume so. If this is true, or even if it isn't, i'm wondering why i hear more bad things than good about the soprano uke in general, all i keep hearing is that its very "toy-like" and sounds very plinky and just a lot of negative things towards the soprano. Needless to say i was somewhat dissapointed when i begin to find these things being said as i just ordered a soprano, can anyone give me some positive points or atleast explain why people give these negative points towards teh sooprano? thanks a bunch from a beginner! (: cant wait to start playing, plinky or not :P

haole
07-13-2010, 04:00 PM
There's no shame in playing a soprano! When most people think "ukulele" they're thinking of the plinky-sounding soprano. The larger sizes came later as players wanted more volume and projection to be heard over other instruments. It's all a matter of personal preference. Anyone who bashes a particular size of ukulele is only making excuses to not buy one, and this goes against the principles of UAS.

leftovermagic84
07-13-2010, 04:08 PM
some of the better players on this forum lean towards sopranos. It's all a matter of preference. Enjoy your makala, and welcome to UU!

StereoJoker
07-13-2010, 04:12 PM
Huh. That's odd. You shouldn't be hearing anything bad about the sizes, just about the models or wood types or strings. The only negative thing I can think of that really sets people off the soprano is the fretboard spacing, since it seems more difficult to get used to in comparison to, say, the tenor.

There are a lot of soprano purists who would argue that the smaller size is the only "true" ukulele, since it's basically the traditional size, and if you can manage the challenge of a shorter fretboard, you're worth your weight as a uker. If folks claim that it's "toy-like", they're probably just used to bigger, deeper instruments like the guitar. Sopranos themselves don't necessarily sound "plinky", either -- it's a mix of the type of wood, whether it's laminate or solid and the type of strings you use.

I love the super small sizes, which is why I go around praising the sopranino all the time, and I get a lot of raised eyebrows since it looks like a toy ukulele. The solid mahogany and the hard tension strings I have give it a fairly rich sound (and it's surprisingly loud, for such a small body), so it blasts the "toy" prejudice out of the water.

Anyway, haters are just foolish. It doesn't matter what size uke you play, as long as you're happy with what it does for you (e.g., if it's loud enough, comfortable enough to play, easy enough to hold). Sopranos are probably some of the easiest to pack away on the go, so you have more opportunities to play around with it! It's a perfectly good size to pick up.

telebob
07-13-2010, 04:13 PM
I agree with the others here. Nothing wrong with a soprano uke: its smaller size makes easier fingering for stretched chords (if ya have small fingers/fingertips) and its a lightweight, very portable musical instrument for traveling. I enjoy my Kala soprano very much. A decently-made and playable soprano uke is not a toy. Have fun with your soprano uke! Best wishes! :)

Ahnko Honu
07-13-2010, 04:14 PM
You don't hear anyone talking stink about sopranos here in the islands, they are still the most popular size here, and my favorite. The soprano has the original Hawaiian sound especially a solid Koa soprano. It is not considered a beginner's size accept for the fact that it fits children better. I wonder if this disparaging of the soprano more Mainland phenomenon. Stick with your soprano, and as my dear old dad (may he rest in peace) used to always tell me "Illegitimus non carborundum". ;)

Eallend7
07-13-2010, 04:26 PM
Cool, thanks for the welcome and the positive comments, can't wait to go pick up my uke!

kissing
07-13-2010, 04:39 PM
Sopranos are awesome.
The only reason I opt for concert and tenor is when I want access to the higher frets. Concert and Tenors generally have more frets than Sopranos.

But a Soprano uke is a complete instrument in its own right.
And some of the ukulele legends, like Herb Ohta San, are Soprano players.

StereoJoker
07-13-2010, 04:58 PM
You don't hear anyone talking stink about sopranos here in the islands, they are still the most popular size here, and my favorite...I wonder if this disparaging of the soprano more Mainland phenomenon.

This is probably the most likely explanation. Ten bucks says that soprano detractors are guitar snobs. Pshaw. Sopranos are awesome, indeed.

arashi_nero
07-13-2010, 05:39 PM
i think the reason people say what he is hearing is because most people have memories of playing unkept, crappy-string, uber-cheap ukuleles in school and have never heard anyone play a real soprano.

personally, i love my soprano. i've played some really nice ones, but i like my cheapie; it got me into the uke...

mm stan
07-13-2010, 06:08 PM
I've got several soprano's, However I choose my $24.95 Rogue soprano over all of the others. It's
the first one I pick up..that is for soprano's....enjoy the sound of them.....

Chris Tarman
07-13-2010, 06:09 PM
There's nothing plinky or toy-like about my vintage Martin. It SINGS. I wish my playing was a better match for its tone, but hopefully that will come. My Mainland Pineapple Soprano also is anything but plinky or toy-like. I like tenors and concerts well enough, but I LOVE soprano.

Eallend7
07-13-2010, 06:55 PM
I have another question, even though i haven't even got my first uke yet i know eventually ill be wanting an upgrade, i looked at a mainland pineapple soprano, just to look around, and i noticed they come with the option of sealed or friction tuners, what is the difference in these and between the two which is the best? as well as over all best tuners out there?

darkwater
07-13-2010, 07:45 PM
I've got a Mainland soprano pineapple with friction tuners. The frictions are lighter and look more traditional, and if they're good, which Mainland's are, they're no harder to keep in tune than the sealed geared machines.

RyanMFT
07-13-2010, 09:09 PM
I know where you are coming from. When I got into playing uke, I sensed some sort of bias out there about soprano uke's. I somehow picked up a vibe that soprano is "less than" and that concert and tenor are really the serious uke's.

My impression is that some of this comes from convert guitar players (such as myself) who are more comfortable with a bigger instrument with bigger spaces between frets. When I finally got my hands on a soprano (a vintage Martin) I was blown away with what a wonderful instrument a soprano is! I have proceeded to have soprano become my favorite size uke. Bottom line is play and enjoy what makes you happy.

To reiterate what others have said, NOTHING wrong with the uke you ordered. You will love it! Reminds me of the old saying "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog!"

bbycrts
07-13-2010, 09:14 PM
I only play soprano. I have owned sizes from sopranino to baritone. I sold all of them except for two Kanile'a-built sopranos (one Kanile'a K1-S, and one Lanikai LK-1S). Kanile'a has done a great job of addressing the issues I originally had with a soprano - a narrow fretboard. The fretboard on mine are as wide as that on your average tenor, and as for number of frets, well - each of mine has 20, which outnumbers almost anything (NOT that I can play up that high by any means!). Anyway - I play sopranos because to me they have the sound I'm looking for, and I play these specific two sopranos because they fit me the best.

Sopranos are awesome...my favorite!

mokai
07-13-2010, 09:18 PM
Unfortunately, people who dislike sopranos are usually those influenced into thinking the souvenir specials are as good as it gets

For example, I present to you......ABCstores in Hawaii:
http://www.abcstores.com/browse.cfm/4,1829.html

Guchot
07-13-2010, 09:26 PM
I guess the reason for Sopranos's bad reputation is that it is most-selling size. And therefore the amount of crab is very high. You won't see a €4,95 Concert, Tenor or Baritone, but you can buy soporanos for that price. Those are the Ukes people have in mind when they speak from a Soprano as a toy. I usually play custom-made Baritones but I also have 2 Sopranos which I pick up from time to time. And these are no toys, not at all.

Graymalkin
07-13-2010, 10:22 PM
I absolutely love my sopranos - and I say that as someone who's never had an interest in playing a stringed instrument before. It just felt 'right' and 'grabbed' me the first time I picked one up. They sound great. They're ultra-poratable. When the time comes to buy a better instrument you'll really notice the price difference between the soprano and tenor versions of the same uke. And they are just perfectly designed for strumming (which is probably as fancy as I'll ever get!)...

Only real bad point is the fretboard is a bit small for my clumsy fingering. Still, learning to do it on a soprano probably not a bad thing.

I've played a tenor, and it just felt too big and uncomfortable for me (I reserve the right to change my mind in a year's time). Having said that, I do quite fancy a concert, however...

clayton56
07-13-2010, 10:45 PM
I also play only sopranos. You can look for makers that offer more frets than 12. I started off liking the portability and the ability to span octaves without moving my hand, but now also prefer the sound over the more guitar-like large bodies. The others definitely sound more lush but that's not what I go for.

By the way, Kanilea makes their sopranos with 14 frets to the body which helps the access a little. Koaloha offers 15 frets to the body as a special order. But my favorite soprano is the Ko'olau.

kissing
07-13-2010, 11:24 PM
For example, I present to you......ABCstores in Hawaii:
http://www.abcstores.com/browse.cfm/4,1829.html

...

Decorative and colorful, this souvenir ukulele is great for
display, or the young beginner.

Oh dear, not even a mention of it actually being an instrument xD

Pinebaron
07-14-2010, 12:56 AM
I started out with a Kala solid mahogany concert uke and like it very much. Then one day I was up at Uke Republic looking at tenors I asked Mike about a cheap soprano to use as a travel uke. I ended up with a Tanglewood soprano (about 68 bucks with gigbag) and love it. I end up playing it more than my concert. With a soprano your fingering has to be a little more precise and your technique a little better because of the smaller fretboard but it makes playing the bigger ukes easier and probably in the long run makes you a better uke player. I recently ordered a custom tenor to play with a little garage band I formed and after playing the soprano size I may have to get a nice one of those. The bottom line is have fun with whatever your playing on.

farmerboy
07-14-2010, 01:01 AM
Different ukes sound different. Even different concert ukes sound different. Find a uke you like and play music with it.

Music: organised sound that provokes an emotional response.

If you agree with the definition, you have to admit that sops are just as musical as any other uke - it's what you do with it and personally I can't help but grin my face off when I play the uke i.e. it provokes an emotional response.

harpdog
07-14-2010, 01:11 AM
I think when I buy something or make a choice i back track and look for justification -
then I tend to see any negative comments as bigger than they are.

Maybe it's the same for you?

Soprano seems to be the definitive size, if there is such a thing.
(Let's not qualify "definitive" - it gets redefined all the time but I mean this simply)

Congrats - Just play it.

spookefoote
07-14-2010, 01:44 AM
A fine instrument enjoyed by many a gentleman and lady. He who mocks the soprano is surely a fool.

Manalishi
07-14-2010, 03:05 AM
I started with a soprano (a cheap and nasty one!) and managed to learn
the basics of ukulele playing.I then went on to Concert size and then on
to Tenor.Tenor is my standard weapon of choice (I have huge hands)
BUT I recently got a Makala 'Dolphin' Soprano and I must say that I find
I am playing it every day! Maybe only for an hour,but strangely,I hardly
ever play my concert size! I also think certain songs work better on different
sized ukes. The old time stuff and standards seem to like the soprano more
and the rock and roll and pop music seems to prefer Tenor! Horses for
courses,I reckon.

RevWill
07-14-2010, 03:14 AM
Find a uke you like and play music with it.

Quoted for truth. Some people like all sizes of ukes, some have a preferred size. Listen to Craig Robertson or Howlin' Hobbit sometime. They are both dedicated soprano players. The late, great John King played some jaw-dropping classical music on soprano ukes. You couldn't tell any of them that a uke is "just a soprano."


A fine instrument enjoyed by many a gentleman and lady. He who mocks the soprano is surely a fool.

Quoted for truth!


...I also think certain songs work better on different
sized ukes.

That is also true. I like smaller ukes for strumming and singing, and bigger ukes for fingerpicking - and that's just my preference, not a rule of thumb for anyone else.


Bottom line: soprano ukes are great.

pulelehua
07-14-2010, 03:21 AM
Some people/purists say that the soprano is the ONLY real ukulele. I'm not one of them, but I admire their tenacity. I love the sound, but like just a bit more room for my fingers. I think I'm getting a longneck soprano next (concert-size neck, soprano body). I can't get into tenors. That's where my line is drawn. Not sure why. It's argued about every 37 minutes around here. Each size has its devotees.

I do honestly wonder about the testosterone link with tenors...

Eallend7
07-14-2010, 04:15 AM
Thanks for all the positive feedback all, i think it might be like harpdog said, and i was just hunting for some justification and stumbled upon teh wrong kind :P either way i know ill be happy once i get it, as long as it makes sound and is playable ill be just dandy with it (: Also what isss another good soprano, something of a step up from a cheaper beginner uke, definitely just wondering to look around and begin searching, as i know ill want one eventually in the future, i'd need it to be somewhat price conscious, but as well if i ever decided to step up i would probably be willing to have a uke fund set aside as well :P so i'd be willing to spend a somewhat of a pretty penny, but not too pretty. thanks all!

Edit:Also, i've hearda lot about musicguymic on ebay, and i'm thinking ill be buying from him for now on as selection would allow, the music store i ordered my MK-S through still doesnt even have an estimated arrival date on it..and its been a week. Pretty much bummed now :P haha, oh well, live and learn i suppose

Joe H
07-14-2010, 04:27 AM
I own a concert and a soprano. Of the two I find the soprano lot more fun to play. Don't fret over you order. You will love it.

mackie
07-14-2010, 04:35 AM
hmm... i have two tenors (one of which is already broken), one concert and a soprano. i like my soprano best to be honest.

i started with a concert really. but when i got offers play ukulele on stage, i figured i needed something i can plug in. so i bought a tenor. i found the string tension quite high on the tenor for my liking so i still gravitated towards the concert. but i still use the tenor on stage and public gatherings that requires no speakers coz it's louder. i bought a soprano for portability really and just for personal playing. found out later on that i like my soprano best with its brighter perkier sound, perfect string tension, and mellow volume. sure i look a bit funny playing a soprano because im a big guy but i like the positive attention.

Ronnie Aloha
07-14-2010, 04:40 AM
Its not the size that matters, its how you use it!

and I'm sticking with that mantra until there are breakthroughs in plastic surgery! : )

Eallend7
07-14-2010, 04:41 AM
Looks like im gonna have to wait on that order :P here in North Carolina theres hardly any good ukulele dealers around, there was one that only carries lanikai but the cheapest there was 94 bucks and i just dont have the money to spend that right now, sure i'd love a good uke but maybe a few paychecks into the future (:

Tudorp
07-14-2010, 06:26 AM
Dunno.. All I have are Sopranos. I love em, and to me, that's the traditional sound that lead me to the Uke in the 1st place. Sure, if you get a cheap "toyish" uke, it's gonna sound like a toy. But then again, if you buy a cheap guitar, its gonna sound like a cheap guitar too. You don't have to pay allot for a Soprano Uke, but you do need to get a good one. I suggest getting lots of advice and reading reviews, especially on this site before you make up your mind which you want to get. I'm old school, and like the more traditional ukes, especially the soprano. I have no desire to get a larger size. If I did, it would be no larger than a concert which is a little larger than a soprano. Hell, in fact, I have a sopranino which is even smaller than the soprano. Enjoy the one ya got coming, and while ya learn, do allot of reading on the forum and you will discover which direction you want to go.

RevWill
07-14-2010, 06:35 AM
Also what is another good soprano, something of a step up from a cheaper beginner uke, definitely just wondering to look around and begin searching, as i know ill want one eventually in the future, i'd need it to be somewhat price conscious, but as well if i ever decided to step up i would probably be willing to have a uke fund set aside as well :P so i'd be willing to spend a somewhat of a pretty penny, but not too pretty. thanks all!

You have a lot of really good choices out there. Your next step probably ought to be a mid priced ($200-300) solid-top or all solid wood uke. (I don't mean a solidbody uke like an eleuke, but an acoustic uke made from thin slices of pure wood rather than laminate or plywood). Some popular choices are:


Mainland is always my first choice in this price range. Love 'em.
Ohana
Kala (the solid Acacia series gets a lot of love around here).
Mele
Pono
Ko'Alana (by Ko'Aloha). MGM doesn't always have 'em but they're around sometimes.

In terms of tone and playability any of the above choices will be a tremendous step up. Don't get in any hurry. Focus more on playing than gear acquisition.

Eallend7
07-14-2010, 07:42 AM
Good news everyone! went to the music store and turns out MY uke hasnt even been shipped out yet but they just got a new shippment of ukes in like today...umm what? hahah, anyways, got my money back for that one because i dont want to wait, and got a lanikai LU-11, and its quite adorable, idk which would be better the MK-S or the LU-11, either way, ill love this one like my own child haha, ill tell you guys how it goes!

Edit: also, bought a tuner for it, one of those clip on chromatics, not sure how it works yet :P either the strings are terrible out of tune or this is a POS tuner, it seems to not recognize any of the strings, except for a G string, but it recognizes the E or the A string as the G, not sure if i have to tune it until it reads it right or what, haven't toyed with it yet, i will soon.

janeray1940
07-14-2010, 08:25 AM
I only play sopranos, for two reasons. First, quite simply, I like the sound - I *love* the plinky! But from a more practical standpoint - I've got really tiny hands with short fingers and haven't yet found a bigger uke that I can play chords that span more than 3 frets on.

I think the only bad rap against sopranos that might be legitimate is that there are tons of toy/tourist souvenir type sopranos out there that are pretty much unplayable. But you know, I've even heard some of those sound good in the right hands.

StereoJoker
07-14-2010, 10:09 AM
hahah, anyways, got my money back for that one because i dont want to wait, and got a lanikai LU-11, and its quite adorable, idk which would be better the MK-S or the LU-11, either way, ill love this one like my own child haha, ill tell you guys how it goes!

Lanikais are fairly popular for folks who are starting out, and tend to be good for all uses, too. The Lanikai LU-21 is usually preferred on account of it having a rosewood fretboard versus the LU-11's nato fretboard, but it's all up to personal preference at that point!

As for the electronic tuner, make sure it's securely placed on the headstock, and try tweaking the machine tuners 'til the C, E and A show up. Your strings (and your uke) might take some time adjusting to a new environment, so you'll be frequently tuning and re-tuning until everything settles.

buddhuu
07-14-2010, 11:21 AM
Sopranos ROCK!

luvdat
07-14-2010, 01:16 PM
No need for feelings of soprano inferiority. And as Freud Flintstone said (to Ken Middleton?), "Sometimes a sopranino is just a sopranino." Enjoy that uke!!!

Tudorp
07-14-2010, 01:42 PM
No need for feelings of soprano inferiority. And as Freud Flintstone said (to Ken Middleton?), "Sometimes a sopranino is just a sopranino." Enjoy that uke!!!

And as Freudie Mercury said, "We will rock you..." ;)

luvdat
07-14-2010, 01:52 PM
And as Freudie Mercury said, "We will rock you..." ;)

Thanks Tudorp for yesterday's photo. "This thing called love...I just can't handle it."

Tudorp
07-14-2010, 02:01 PM
Thanks Tudorp for yesterday's photo. "This thing called love...I just can't handle it."

lol.. glad I could be of some assistance.. lol

Chris Tarman
07-14-2010, 02:13 PM
lol.. glad I could be of some assistance.. lol

I second that thank you, Tudorp. I LOVE Queen, and in fact "Good Company" was one of the first things that attracted me to ukulele. I remember reading the liner notes when I was in High School and wondering "Who is this George Formby cat that Brian May is talking about????"

I'd also like to second the Mainland recommendation as a future step up. I think they're hard to beat in that price range.

Eallend7
07-14-2010, 02:45 PM
About the tuner, it recognizes the A string as the G string, and the G string as an F# whatever that is, sharp? And the C and E i cant quite tell what they read as, its like 2 letterse mixed together, i cant read it, i'm thoroughly confused....any help? is it just a faulty tuner?

luvdat
07-14-2010, 03:02 PM
I second that thank you, Tudorp. I LOVE Queen, and in fact "Good Company" was one of the first things that attracted me to ukulele. I remember reading the liner notes when I was in High School and wondering "Who is this George Formby cat that Brian May is talking about????"

I'd also like to second the Mainland recommendation as a future step up. I think they're hard to beat in that price range.

The closest I'm getting to see Queen is the Queen-influenced Muse concert in October...The Resistance Tour.

And yes, sopranos will sopranos will rock you!!!

Eallend7
07-14-2010, 03:45 PM
Hey everyone, got home from work about an hour ago and been practicing since, the song stand bye me, im doing well on it! only complaint is that the small neck is gonna take some getting used to in my left hand as i have a hand large enough to dwarf the soprano's neck :P ill get it eventually though, having loads of fun so far!
Any ideas on good songs after this one? as its pretty much repetitive i'm looking for something along those lines but also easy, im sure theres a post about it but i'd ratther ask here ya know

MaysaHawaii
07-14-2010, 05:33 PM
I love my soprano. I can put my 10-month old son on my lap and play my soprano ukulele with him. I don't think I can do it with any other sizes. They're way too big.

pulelehua
07-14-2010, 10:12 PM
About the tuner. Not sure what kind you're using but,

If it's supposed to be the G string, and it's telling you F#, it's most likely telling you the note that it's hearing. So, if it says F#, you just need to tighten the string until it says G. If it's supposed to be the G string, and it's telling you A, you need to loosen the string until it says G.

It's very rare, in my experience, to get a tuner which works incorrectly. The technology is pretty simple. I've only ever had tuners that worked fine, or not at all.

Just to help, the notes go:

A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A, and then it all starts over.

Hope that helps! Nothing worse than trying to learn on an instrument which you don't know how to tune. Get it in tune, and you'll find out that you can already make some nice sounds. (Nice thing about the ukulele is that all open strings is actually a pleasant chord, Am7)

Eallend7
07-16-2010, 11:16 AM
yeah im figuring it out now, just aversion training as i hear its called hahah, now im playing pretty comfortably, only other problem is that since im still new i do tilt the uke a bit so as i can see the fretts, and when i strum my index hits the body a bit, not hard of course, i guess it'll just be a bit worn :P ill learn eventually, i dont think just lightly sliding it occasionally is gonna hurt anything

BadLands Bart
07-16-2010, 11:53 AM
Soprano = original!!!!!!!

Lanark
07-16-2010, 12:44 PM
The closest I'm getting to see Queen is the Queen-influenced Muse concert in October...The Resistance Tour.

And yes, sopranos will sopranos will rock you!!!

My first concert was Queen at the Boston Garden in 1979. But then I'm old... (They did totally rock my 7th grade world though)

And play the size that sounds like you want it to sound for what you do. It's just like saxes.

Howlin Hobbit
07-18-2010, 02:54 PM
Wow! I haven't logged into any forums for several months (time issues mainly) and the first time I pop into UU I find this wonderful thread full of praise for my favorite uke.

(I'm all verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.)

ukecantdothat
07-18-2010, 04:24 PM
Wow, I wasn't aware of such ignorance in The Underground! For anyone foolish enough to hold such an opinion of the sweet soprano, I offer this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcQYt7xvA8M

Enjoy! :nana:

rasputinsghost
07-18-2010, 04:41 PM
I'd make a tenor appreciation thread but I think it's redundant.

Just kidding. However, sopranos are great! My first uke was a soprano, and I fell in love.

Chris Tarman
07-18-2010, 05:35 PM
Wow, I wasn't aware of such ignorance in The Underground! For anyone foolish enough to hold such an opinion of the sweet soprano, I offer this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcQYt7xvA8M

Enjoy! :nana:

Oh yeah! Roy Smeck was AMAZING. And just think: ukulele was just ONE of the instruments he played and not even his MAIN instrument.

ukecantdothat
07-18-2010, 07:06 PM
Oh yeah! Roy Smeck was AMAZING. And just think: ukulele was just ONE of the instruments he played and not even his MAIN instrument.

Yeah, The Wizard Of Strings they called him. His Hawaiian slide guitar was phenominal!