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mendel
11-07-2010, 05:39 AM
Hey Everyone,

I just started playing about a month ago, and I am having a blast. I have listened to some very talented people playing cover songs on YouTube, and I have begun wondering what the best sounding wood is for a Ukulele. I am not in the market now, as I am very busy working on my Dissertation, but I am curious for the future... I have a Concert size Lanikai right now, and if I were going to supplement with another uku, what is the way to go? Not looking to spend a ton, but 2 or 3 hundred at most. Any suggestions? I have seen and heard Mango wood, Koa, and a few others as well already. The Koa sounds wonderful!! So does the Mango!!!!

mendel

spruce
11-07-2010, 06:03 AM
...and I have begun wondering what the best sounding wood is for a Ukulele.

It's absolutely impossible to prove one way or the other that one wood is the "best sounding wood" for a ukulele...
Opinions, yes...
But woods vary so much within a species, and the variables of building are endless...


The Koa sounds wonderful!! So does the Mango!!!!


Then there are the conifers, which every other instrument seems to rely on to get sound...

Dane
11-07-2010, 06:19 AM
Depends on your play style and personal preference. At the moment I still love my mahogany, it is very soulful and sweet to me. Some people would be bored playing my uke though because it doesn't have that distinct uke sound, I think it works great for anything though. Who knows what woods are in my future, I hope at some point I will have the funds to explore them.

I got my Ohana TK-35G on sale for 250$ I think it was, which is quite a deal for an all solid wood instrument (factory made though, so some may not be as good as others, I don't know)

70sSanO
11-07-2010, 10:24 AM
While it is impossible to say which wood is the best, there have been a number of posts that suggest a spruce or cedar top may be louder than other woods in your price range. For $200-$300, look for at least a solid wood top, if not a solid wood instrument.

More of an issue will be the build than the wood. I've played a $200 ukulele from one manufacturer that had almost no sound, but another brand made from the same species of wood sounded very nice and the price was basically the same.

So you have to get out and try different ukuleles.

John

Dane
11-07-2010, 10:41 AM
So you have to get out and try different ukuleles.

And if you're not able to visit any stores to try stuff out, some places will play ukes over the phone for you, some places have sound samples too and such. You do have some options

monty
11-07-2010, 10:46 AM
Hi mendel,
Just thought i'd throw my two cents in. I was talking to a ukulele builder about this very topic and he stopped me straight away. He said to me
"There are three things that affect the sound of a uke. First is the string choice - you can change the sound dramatically with a string change. Second is the build thickness and quality - it doesnt matter what wood you use, if its built heavy it will sound muted and not ring out. Thirdly is the wood choice."
So basically mate, for the 200-300 price range you should be looking up reviews on UU of well built instruments with solid top and sides.

I think I saw a Kala acacia tenor on sale in the market section of UU for $230 with case? thats a great uke and well worth the money. Similarly, Mainland have a sterling reputation, and I speak from one in the know as I have a all solid mahogany tenor. You can pick one of those up for about $300 with a case, and they are very nice for the price (Mine took about a month to start sounding truely great, but now it sings like a birdie).

Just my two cents, hope I didnt overload you.

Pease! Monty :)

mm stan
11-07-2010, 12:15 PM
I prefer Koa myself....for it's sound qualities and asthetics...

mendel
11-07-2010, 12:43 PM
I'm not planning to buy anything anytime soon. I want to learn a lot more on my current Uke so that I can really appreciate the nicer instrument when I get one. I lime to become more educated way before I buy so I don't make any bad decisions when the time comes. I played a concert size Lanikai today that was made from Mango. It sounded way nicer than my current uke. I am excited to see how others sound in the near future.

Hippie Dribble
11-07-2010, 01:06 PM
hi mendel

there's a part on the mya-moe website that makes a comparison of the "general" tonal qualities of different woods...you should check it out...great to give you a basic understanding...

but then, as others have said, no two ukes are the same as there are so many other variables that influence sound, projection, resonance etc

scottie
11-07-2010, 01:21 PM
Moe's house of Mahogany

Papa Tom
11-07-2010, 01:49 PM
I haven't played a whole bunch of good ukes in my time, but I would add to this thread that the molded plastic bodies of flea and fluke ukuleles sure sound rich and warm to me.

localmana
11-07-2010, 06:25 PM
This is my first time replying but I liked your question. I personally like the guitar type sound from my Ohana concert with rosewood and cedar..like my former guitar. I have a Kamaka Koa, a 50 year old Martin mahogany also. I like the "loudness" and fullness of my Ohana....again, it sounds more guitar like.
Keep on strummin.
Alan

mendel
11-08-2010, 02:33 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone. I have found some really interesting information online. I am working hard to learn more on my current Uke, and I think I have an idea about what I would be interested in for my next instrument. I think I have a crush on the Lanikai Spalted Mango Tenor or Concert size. I'm not rushing out to get it, because I might just be blinded by the fact that it sounds so mch nicer than my current Uke. I will continue checking things out...

Dane
11-08-2010, 03:41 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone. I have found some really interesting information online. I am working hard to learn more on my current Uke, and I think I have an idea about what I would be interested in for my next instrument. I think I have a crush on the Lanikai Spalted Mango Tenor or Concert size. I'm not rushing out to get it, because I might just be blinded by the fact that it sounds so mch nicer than my current Uke. I will continue checking things out...

Also, if you're new to buying instruments. If it doesn't say "solid" in terms of the wood (for side back or anything) then 99.999% of the time it is laminate. So for example, I have an all solid wood mahogany, but if I look at ukes online, there will be a "koa tenor" that is 100$ more expensive, looks awesome, but is laminate. This is by no means any kind of representation of how it sounds, it is just something to think about. I would say though, that if you are going to buy anything that is laminate, you really should play it before you buy it. I feel like solid wood instruments you are more secure in having a feeling as to what you will get without having played it before purchase.

clayton56
11-08-2010, 10:17 PM
I would say the harder woods have more sustain and fewer overtones than the softer woods. So the hard woods sound centered and solid, while the softer woods sound light and airy. Hard woods are mellow and soft woods crisp. Using a hard wood for the back and sides, with a soft wood for the top, gives the best of both worlds. Some woods in order of soft-to-hard are spruce, cedar, mahogany, koa, rosewood.

I've gotten hooked on "toon" which is right in the middle in between cedar and mahogany on the hardness scale. I have one that is all toon and I love the sweet, lively, delicate quality. I just got one with a toon top and koa back and sides, it has a stronger, more centered sound, mellower, a reduction of the effect of the original (but in a good way).

roxhum
11-09-2010, 03:49 AM
Mendel,

Congrats on your son. You are in for a real adventure.

As a side note my grandson tells me to stop everytime I pick up the ukulele or his dad picks up the guitar. However he is facinated by the accordion.

Roxhum

bbycrts
11-09-2010, 09:36 AM
Thanks for the replies everyone. I have found some really interesting information online. I am working hard to learn more on my current Uke, and I think I have an idea about what I would be interested in for my next instrument. I think I have a crush on the Lanikai Spalted Mango Tenor or Concert size. I'm not rushing out to get it, because I might just be blinded by the fact that it sounds so mch nicer than my current Uke. I will continue checking things out...

Keep in mind - most spalted wood ukes will be laminates - the spalting weakens the wood so it becomes a matter of needing to laminate it to something to maintain strength - the spalted wood is mostly just for show. I had a spalted maple tenor for a while that was visually just stunning - and aurally just dead.

The type of wood used will only have a bearing - in general - if it's solid, because that's how the individual character of the wood structure can come into play.

NOT to say that laminates can't be wonderful! I heard someone playing a Kiwaya laminate that was terrific, and a Kala flame mahogany that I heard was really nice too.

I guess I'm saying, choose your uke by the sound, not by the material...

And congratulations on the bouncing baby boy!