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View Full Version : Describe your perfect uke tone. What is it?



Pippin
10-06-2010, 10:05 AM
I am talking about the sound, as descriptive as you can be... what do you prefer in your ukulele's sound? What is your favorite and why?

In case you are wondering, I am trying to get a sense of what people prefer and I may pick some people's brains on this subject for coming issues of Ukulele Player.

CoLmes
10-06-2010, 10:10 AM
Warm, mellow, not plingy. Smooth and silky. Playing wise- the same. Oh and woody. If that makes sense.

70sSanO
10-06-2010, 10:23 AM
Too hard to describe, but theses 2...

Koa Works and Moore Bettah.

John

clayton56
10-06-2010, 10:51 AM
I'm not crazy about the bright, ringing sound people go for nowadays. I think it's a little harsh. I like a "covered" sound when I pluck, which to me means there's a fat, mellow component at the attack. The sharp, bright part of the sound is essential, but I like some fatness as well. I also like a delicate, airy aftertaste. I like to have some legato, without a lot of sustain. That lets me craft the notes which is more musical. I think what I really like is the complexity, a vocal quality to the notes which lets your uke talk as well as just play.

The flourocarbon strings, and the harder woods, tend to give a lot of sustain and power, but there's something missing to me, overtones, or variation, or something like that.

One thing I hate is the C string "woofing" which happens a lot and comes out on recordings. There's about 3 db of extra volume in the 180 hz range, and it can get ugly. I heard it a lot with most commercial strings, I get less with natural gut strings. I think most of the string sets have a C that is higher tensiont than it should be, and the low C and D just come on too strong if you hit it too hard.

nohandles
10-06-2010, 10:53 AM
Warm, mellow, not plingy. Smooth and silky. Playing wise- the same. Oh and woody. If that makes sense.

X1 for me too.

Pippin
10-06-2010, 11:04 AM
Great Stuff Here! Thanks for the input.

mm stan
10-06-2010, 11:26 AM
Aloha Pippin,
What I like is a well balance tone with deep rich bottom, nice mid range and crisp high....and can hear all individual notes..
Also, long substain and deep resonation....MM Stan...

bbycrts
10-06-2010, 12:11 PM
I personally prefer my own ukes to favor the mid-to-high tones over the basses - it's a ukulele and needs bright, happy sounds! I have been happiest with fluorocarbon strings (Worths), which add a smoothness to the tone - I think it's an evenness to the sustain, where the sound drops off more slowly rather than some that give a quick "Plunk!" then fade quickly. However you describe the quality of the sound, it should have the power to make you smile just on hearing it.

TCK
10-06-2010, 04:59 PM
Could be the years of punk rock shows...could be that there is a banjo player locked inside me (I know there is an aspiring banjo uke player- just gotta find the right one)- I like them bright. COuld be the years of damage accordion has done to my mental state and my hearing (I love the thing, but the jokes are so good). The brighter the better...a Sitka Spruce top is non-negotiable and a Vita Uke is so needed (now to break it to my wife).
My wife is totally the opposite- she likes really warm ukes. She played a Mango, which I suppose sounds like Koa (as if I have played one), and loved it...I thought it was too mellow. Oh well, makes for a lot ukes laying around.

Ukulele Dave
10-06-2010, 06:33 PM
Pippin:

Since you asked, I have TWO different distinct tones I look for on each end of the spectrum. The first tone:
(Uke A) Is bright, trebly, rings out - good sustain, with accent on the mid-to-highs - it SINGS! High G Uke.

The second tone:
(Uke B) opposite from A - Is deep/full/rich warm Low-G toned, with accent on the mid-to-lows. This one doesn't sing, more like tells a suspenseful and captivating story around a camp fire where you hang on every word. Low G Uke.

How's that for descriptive...haha

bornagainjeeper
10-06-2010, 07:12 PM
I myself prefer mellow sounds the most...with lots of lots of bass and mid...and slightly muddy, where it all becomes one chord...i prefer mahogany for that reason (and because i can't afford koa most of the time) oh i like LOUD too...buy i guess to answer you question i like it when it goes


BUNnnnnnggggggggg

Pippin
10-06-2010, 07:38 PM
Pippin:

Since you asked, I have TWO different distinct tones I look for on each end of the spectrum. The first tone:
(Uke A) Is bright, trebly, rings out - good sustain, with accent on the mid-to-highs - it SINGS! High G Uke.

The second tone:
(Uke B) opposite from A - Is deep/full/rich warm Low-G toned, with accent on the mid-to-lows. This one doesn't sing, more like tells a suspenseful and captivating story around a camp fire where you hang on every word. Low G Uke.

How's that for descriptive...haha

Nicely done. You're a poet at heart, eh?

NatalieS
10-07-2010, 01:41 AM
Warm, mellow, not plingy. Smooth and silky. Playing wise- the same. Oh and woody. If that makes sense.

I was going to attempt to put it into words until I saw this post. I agree 100% with this...

Hippie Dribble
10-07-2010, 01:56 AM
I'm pretty much with Ukulele Dave...I like a uke that is bright and dynamic - but not harsh - at the high end, and warm, sweet and rich - but not too mellow or plunky - in the mid - low range. I think nearly everyone would like their ukulele to have good sustain. I just move between my favorite soprano, concert and tenor depending on the kind of sound I'm after.

kenikas
10-07-2010, 03:36 AM
I mostly agree with ukulele Dave too, but there are so many variable depending on what type of music or even individual song I'm trying to play. Traditional Hawaiian seems more suited to koa or mahogany, while early 20th century (like Cliff Edwards, George Formby, etc) sounds great on my banjo uke, and for more contemporary and classical I like a spruce tops sound. It's a little like asking what's my favorite thing for dinner, it changes with my mood!

Dibblet
10-07-2010, 03:44 AM
I'm not crazy about the bright, ringing sound people go for nowadays. I think it's a little harsh. I like a "covered" sound when I pluck, which to me means there's a fat, mellow component at the attack. The sharp, bright part of the sound is essential, but I like some fatness as well. I also like a delicate, airy aftertaste. I like to have some legato, without a lot of sustain. That lets me craft the notes which is more musical. I think what I really like is the complexity, a vocal quality to the notes which lets your uke talk as well as just play.

The flourocarbon strings, and the harder woods, tend to give a lot of sustain and power, but there's something missing to me, overtones, or variation, or something like that.

One thing I hate is the C string "woofing" which happens a lot and comes out on recordings. There's about 3 db of extra volume in the 180 hz range, and it can get ugly. I heard it a lot with most commercial strings, I get less with natural gut strings. I think most of the string sets have a C that is higher tensiont than it should be, and the low C and D just come on too strong if you hit it too hard.

180Hz is a very flat F#. That's about as far from C as you can get. The helmholz resonance of most soprano ukuleles is around 260Hz (C).

hoosierhiver
10-07-2010, 04:50 AM
I have a hard time descibing musical tones to people. I think once you get past a few of the basic words like, mellow, warm, bright, it's tough to descibe the overall complexities of an instruments sound. I've sometimes used the same somantics people might use for wine tasting or even compared different ukes to foods, like describing mahogany as rich chocolate and a cedar top as a crisp granny smith apple.

cletus
10-07-2010, 05:00 AM
even compared different ukes to foods, like describing mahogany as rich chocolate and a cedar top as a crisp granny smith apple.

Wow, the possibile comparisons are a veritable cornucopia of delights.

Uke Republic
10-07-2010, 05:26 AM
I sometimes describe tones in mental pictures. Bright Oh so. Imagine being nude going down a waterslide and landing in a pool of iced water-that noise you would make bright!

brickerenator
10-07-2010, 06:34 AM
, like describing mahogany as rich chocolate

I knew I liked mahogany for a reason.



My "tone" (you should see this get beat to death on bass forums)

Rich
Not plastic-y
Must sound like a ukulele, some just sound like mini guitars
Cheerful

I'm switching back to aquilas from my Guadalupe wounds. I dunno, they're loud, but feel too guitar-ish.

Pippin
10-07-2010, 09:00 AM
I have a hard time descibing musical tones to people. I think once you get past a few of the basic words like, mellow, warm, bright, it's tough to descibe the overall complexities of an instruments sound. I've sometimes used the same somantics people might use for wine tasting or even compared different ukes to foods, like describing mahogany as rich chocolate and a cedar top as a crisp granny smith apple.

You're making me hungry, Mike. :)

clayton56
10-07-2010, 11:01 AM
180Hz is a very flat F#. That's about as far from C as you can get. The helmholz resonance of most soprano ukuleles is around 260Hz (C).

Thanks for the info, I will try cutting back up there. I have a program which shows a graph of the frequencies for a slice of time and it showed a spike around 170-190.

kissing
10-07-2010, 04:42 PM
Mine is a nice, clean sustained overdrive with little or no dirty distortion.
Kinda like the tone Yngwie Malmsteen gets.

Electric uke tone counts as uke tone, right? :)