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View Full Version : Looking to buy a tenor acoustic-electric.. advice/suggestions? Please??



CurtainGuy
07-06-2008, 10:00 AM
I posted something similar in the general uke discussion board not realizing this was probably the best place for it.

I'd like to get the best tenor acoustic-electric uke I can at the most affordable price.. preferably 250ish? Give or take a little..

I'm pretty sure I want a uke made from koa. Would it be cheaper or give me more options to maybe get a nice acoustic uke and then install pickups myself later? Or would that be a bad idea.. please help guys! I don't know where else to go! :bowdown:

brokenwing
07-06-2008, 01:31 PM
For that price point you'll probably have to compromise on your preferences. Koa tenors with pickups are pretty scarce in the $250 range, I'd imagine. Check out Kala and Ohana to get an idea of pricing - they're among the most reasonably priced ukes.

cMejilla
07-06-2008, 02:19 PM
I'd like to get the best tenor acoustic-electric uke I can at the most affordable price.. preferably 250ish? Give or take a little..

I'm pretty sure I want a uke made from koa.

if you opted for a koa uke at that price range, it'd be constructed from a laminated set of woods instead of solid. plus it might be higher from your price range. kala has a pretty good consistent build quality to them. i'm not too sure about ohana because i have never had an experience with them.

i did buy a lanikai solid spruce top acoustic-electric about a year and a half ago. it's pretty much identical to the kala solid spruce tops that have a pickup on ebay. it has an active pickup system on it and sounds great plugged in. i am debating on whether or not to sell it because i dont use it as much as my other ukes. but i'd love to reconsider the offer as long as i know it'd be going to a good place and would get a lot of love. haha.

if you're interested in the uke, let me know. i could sell it to you lower than your price range.

CurtainGuy
07-06-2008, 03:27 PM
if you opted for a koa uke at that price range, it'd be constructed from a laminated set of woods instead of solid. plus it might be higher from your price range. kala has a pretty good consistent build quality to them. i'm not too sure about ohana because i have never had an experience with them.

i did buy a lanikai solid spruce top acoustic-electric about a year and a half ago. it's pretty much identical to the kala solid spruce tops that have a pickup on ebay. it has an active pickup system on it and sounds great plugged in. i am debating on whether or not to sell it because i dont use it as much as my other ukes. but i'd love to reconsider the offer as long as i know it'd be going to a good place and would get a lot of love. haha.

if you're interested in the uke, let me know. i could sell it to you lower than your price range.

Hmm that's really cool, I may consider that offer! But I'd like to know all of my options first. How would you describe the sound?

The reason I wanted to go with koa was because I heard it'll give me a nice sweet bright sound. Is there another type of wood that will give me a similar sound? Something nice and bright and punchy.. preferably, you know, something solid-wood... Any more suggestions?

cMejilla
07-06-2008, 04:02 PM
i know for sure that most spruce top ukulele's have a bright tone, but it really is also dependent on the strings you use. i found that using worth strings on a mahogany uke that i have made it significantly brighter in tone than any of my other ukes.

one other wood that i've had experience with is cedar, but that produces more of a mellow tonal quality when played. i tried looking for some other ukes that would be good for you but they all hit the $300+ price range and don't have a completely solid body (i.e. solid top but laminate sides, etc).

maybe someone has experience with the kala archtop jazz ukulele and can give some insight.

----

This is taken from Seeso's post in this thread "difference in woods (http://ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2404&highlight=wood+tone)"


This is edited information from Ed Roman Guitars.

http://www.edroman.com/customshop/wood/main.htm


Birch

Laminated Birch consists of 1/32" layers of Birch wood which is bonded with epoxy under high pressure into a composite material. This material is remarkably tough and strong for its weight. It is denser than Birch, but not excessively heavy. It is extremely stiff, and it's composite nature tends to even out its frequency response, alleviating "dead spots" inherent in single-piece necks. It is dark gray and in color, with alternating dark and light layers.
Blackwood; African (Grenadillo)

This is the most common wood for the orchestral woodwinds. The tonal quality is bright and stays clear and direct over the flute's full range. Black with a marble like figure of dark purple and charcoal gray.
Bubinga

A very stiff strong wood with a rusty brown color. Bright midrange and bass tones. Color is medium red-brown, with lighter red to purple veins. The grain is typically straight. Fine pores are diffused throughout the wood, which often contain a reddish gum. Turns well. Salmon pink with streaks of brown.
Cedar; Alaskan (Cedar; Yellow)

An even sulfur color with no distinctive pattern. For a soft wood, Yellow Cedar is quite heavy with a density about the same as Cherry. A very stable wood and it holds it shape with no shrinkage. A durable wood resistant to decay.

Many companies use Cedar or some type of redwood specifically for finger style instruments as it responds quickly and with good volume to a light attack. It is also very well suited to open or lowered tension tunings as they require the same qualities for good separation and definition. Cedar does lose tonal integrity when over driven, making it a poor choice for versatility but an excellent top wood for showcasing finger styles.
Cedar; Aromatic

Guitar tops of Red Cedar are the Best Buy today. Material is very fine with good prices in the market. The color is light reddish brown, purplish or rose-red, usually with streaks of lighter colored sapwood. Grain is fine and even and texture is usually fine and takes a high polish.
Cedar; Spanish

Spanish Cedar is the Cedrela species from the Family Meliaceae (same family as Honduran Mahogany). Heartwood pinkish- to reddish brown when freshly cut, becoming red or dark reddish brown, sometimes with a purplish tinge. It is used in musical instruments for nylon string classical and flamenco guitars, because while similar in appearance, strength and workability to Mahogany, it is considerably lighter.
Kingwood

There are roughly a dozen species of true rose woods in the world. (Yes, they smell like roses when cut with a saw.) A partial list would include Tulip wood, King wood, Cocobolo, East Indian Rose wood, and Brazilian Rose wood. With the exception of the latter, these are oily to the point of being dead in the tone department. So what is the point in coveting these materials when there are sonic superiors available? The problem is that in the public mind, rose wood is cool, so it has long been over harvested. Because of this Brazilian Rose wood has been banned from importation to the United States for over twenty five years.
Koa

Koa is a gorgeous wood with well defined curly and flamed grain patterns as found in instrument quality Maple. The good Curly Koa is very hard to get. This very beautiful wood comes exclusively from Hawaii and has been in short supply. Weight varies somewhat from medium to heavy, a good wood for basses. Koa has a warm sound similar to mahogany, but with a little more brightness. It falls in the middle of the tonal spectrum, giving the instrument a brightness of tone without sacrificing warmth.
Mahogany

Mahogany is a moderately dense and very durable wood. It is commonly used for the backs, sides and necks of acoustic guitars. Because it is very sonorous and durable, mahogany is also used in banjos, resonators, ukuleles and acoustic guitar soundboards. It is lighter than maple and specifically provides acoustic guitars with great sustain. Mahogany also provides great weight balance between the neck and the body of an acoustic. It is reddish-brown in color and is incredibly strong and resonant, giving the guitar big, beautiful tones. African and Spanish mahoganies are often used as a replacement for Honduran Mahogany.
Mahogany; Honduran

Fender uses the Honduran variety on their set-neck series. It provides a moderate to heavy weight (body weight at least 5 lb.) with a warm, full sound and good sustain; used in conjunction with a maple top to add brightness. Honduran Mahogany is a favorite choice of instrument builders, but is very hard to find.
Maple

Maple is a strong and extremely dense, heavy wood. It is excellent for guitar necks and bodies because it can handle an inordinate amount of string tension. Maple has a bright and crisp tone and is used on flamenco guitars as well as some electrics. It has a wide variety of exotic grains that show up quite well when finished. Flamed maple is a very popular and brilliant looking exotic type of maple. "Flamed" refers to the rippling, or curls of the grain of wood that run across the body. Flamed maple in generally "book matched," which means that the body is made of two half pieces of a single cut piece of maple. This gives the guitar even weight, look and tone throughout the body.
Nato

Nato wood, also known as Eastern Mahogany, is a reliable, strong wood used on low cost guitar necks. It is a value-priced wood used more for beginner instruments. However, it still embodies some of the properties of more commonly used mahogany.
Paduak

Orange to brown color, smooth feeling when played raw. Tone similar to mahogany.
Pau Ferro

South American Hardwood, combines rosewoods warm tone with Ebony's smooth feel. Primarily available as fingerboards. Medium brown color, very smooth fine grain, warmer tone than ebony.
Maple neck with Pau Ferro fingerboard

Quarter sawn Pau Ferro has the good properties of ebony but seems to be more reliable and stable. Pau Ferro is a tight grained hard wood with excellent clarity on the "chunk" tones when using gain, especially when teamed up with an alder body. In overdrive mode it has a fatter low end and more pronounced sparkle when compared to maple. It adds excellent definition to the notes especially when using overdriven tones. Strong in the lower mids and bass, scooped mids.
Rosewood; Brazilian

Highly sought after by generations of luthiers and players for its unmatched beauty. Brazilian helps to impart warmth and darkness to the tone of the guitar. Tonal differences between Brazilian and Indian Rosewoods are subtle and consideration should be based on aesthetics, rarity, future value, and collectibility.
Rosewood; Indian

Like Brazilian, Indian Rosewood keeps the guitar at the warm dark end of the tonal spectrum. While not as visually striking as Brazilian, Indian Rosewood has an elegant appearance and should not be considered inferior to Brazilian on any account.
Spruce

Spruce is the most commonly used wood on acoustic guitar soundboards. The soundboards on acoustics are generally made of tightly grained spruce. Naturally yellow in color, spruce is a lightwood that has a very high degree of resonance, so it is a perfect match for acoustic guitars.
Solid Spruce

Solid spruce refers less to a difference in the wood than to how it is actually cut for the guitar. Laminate spruce soundboards are built as layers of cross-grained wood glued to each other. Solid spruce soundboards consist of one piece of wood running all the way through. This gives the guitar a richer sound because the solid wood soundboard can vibrate more freely and thoroughly.
Canadian Sitka Spruce

Canadian Sitka Spruce is a harder to find, more expensive variety of spruce. It has a light yellow color and is also used for acoustic guitar soundboards. It gives guitars a bigger more resonant sound, flush with crisp highs. It also improves with age more than other types of spruce.
German Spruce

This increasingly rare wood has a higher weight to strength ratio than Sitka and correspondingly complements the brightness and clarity of the guitars.
Wenge

A black hard wood with chocolate brown stripes. Very hard, coarser textured wood with open grain. Good midrange tone with warm lows. Recommended for Bass Guitars.

cMejilla
07-06-2008, 04:06 PM
oh, and i can provide sound and video clips of the spruce top uke if you want so you can have some sort of idea of what an acoustic/electric uke around the price range of 280 sounds like.

CurtainGuy
07-06-2008, 04:09 PM
Dude you are too awesome. That would be great.. I'm going to scroll up now and read all that info you gave me up there haha..

CurtainGuy
07-06-2008, 04:19 PM
Wow ok.. so I just finished reading all of that.. really informative stuff! As far as koa/tenor/acoustic-electric goes this is the cheapest thing I could find anywhere: http://www.justplaymusic.com/product.php?productid=2295

So.. now I'm starting to think.. maybe mahagony with bright-ish strings might be a good alternative for me..? Or maybe even a bright instrument with less bright strings..? So many options! And.. I guess maybe I'd be willing to spend a tiny bit more if it was reaaally really worth it.


But ok.. I'd be interested in listening to some clips of the spruce top you were talking about. Also.. any more suggestions would be great!

cMejilla
07-06-2008, 04:33 PM
i learned that having that perfect tone is really worth the extra. i'll see if i can get those vids up in a bit or by tomorrow. i didnt know cordobas made acou/elec ukes. they look sweet.

grappler
07-06-2008, 04:46 PM
yeah That Codobra sounds awesome.. Ive heard many things about it.
Have you looked in to the Big island Honu Soild Koa Tenor?
I was going to buy that one before i got my custom.
look into that, you would be surprised.

CurtainGuy
07-06-2008, 04:49 PM
Sweet.. if you or anyone else has any more suggestions/tips in the meantime let me know!

CurtainGuy
07-06-2008, 05:12 PM
yeah That Codobra sounds awesome.. Ive heard many things about it.
Have you looked in to the Big island Honu Soild Koa Tenor?
I was going to buy that one before i got my custom.
look into that, you would be surprised.

Wow I checked it out.. looks amazing. But the price made me cry a little bit. It you're talking about the one I saw it around 500 haha. I'd be willing to go with something other than koa as long as I get a really nice tone.

cMejilla
07-06-2008, 05:44 PM
hey certainguy,

i guess i decided to just put up the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTnqSh0CMEo), but after i did, i realized that maybe i could have done something better. I guess it's better than nothing for now. lol. sorry.

i posted something on my blog here (http://cmejilla.blogspot.com/2008/07/anak.html) that really is a good example of the Pono uke with the Dean Markley Transducer. i'm probably going to install an undersaddle pickup in the future because i dont think i'll invest in another uke for a while since i'm so set with this one. :)

CurtainGuy
07-06-2008, 06:16 PM
Wow thanks so much for making that!! Very informative! I'm actually tempted now to get a regular acoustic uke and then a transducer, because I feel like I'll have more options that way. But... how do you feel about the pickups in an acoustic/electric vs. the transducer? Is there a major sound difference?

cMejilla
07-06-2008, 06:40 PM
But... how do you feel about the pickups in an acoustic/electric vs. the transducer? Is there a major sound difference?

The way the transducer works is that it picks up the vibration on the sound board. If you place the transducer near the G-C strings, it'll pick up more of the bass notes. Near the E-A strings, it'll have more treble. It depends on the placement so it takes a bit of time and experimenting.

The advantage of the active pick-up is that there's more control over the fine-tuning of the sound before it goes to the amp. plus the cable that connects the uke to the amp won't transfer any extraneous noise to the amp when cable moves.

So there are some advantages/disadvantages to the whole shabang.

CurtainGuy
07-06-2008, 07:04 PM
The way the transducer works is that it picks up the vibration on the sound board. If you place the transducer near the G-C strings, it'll pick up more of the bass notes. Near the E-A strings, it'll have more treble. It depends on the placement so it takes a bit of time and experimenting.

The advantage of the active pick-up is that there's more control over the fine-tuning of the sound before it goes to the amp. plus the cable that connects the uke to the amp won't transfer any extraneous noise to the amp when cable moves.

So there are some advantages/disadvantages to the whole shabang.

Hmm interesting.. and I know when I play I'm going to want to move around a little bit.. I mean I won't be running a marathon or anything but yeah.. would I be able to move a little??

Ok so.. after thinking about it for awhile, I guess what it's going to come down to is.. I want to be able to plug in a uke to an amp and get the best sound possible.. both from the uke and pickup.. for under $300 haha. So either acoustic uke + a pickup i can install or just an acoustic/electric uke.

So.. what do you think my best option is? A solid mahogany uke plus that dean markley might be affordable and sound nice.. but what if it gets all noisy when I move around? Your spruce uke also sounds tempting and not too expensive considering my price range.. ahh this is tough haha..

cMejilla
07-07-2008, 03:46 AM
the transducer cable doesn't go crazy when you're casually moving around. just dont pretend to be indiana jones and use it as a whip to put down all those uke hecklers

CurtainGuy
07-07-2008, 10:43 AM
the transducer cable doesn't go crazy when you're casually moving around. just dont pretend to be indiana jones and use it as a whip to put down all those uke hecklers

Hahaha fair enough.. alright then! So here's what I'm thinking.. I might get a Bushman Jenny Tenor because those are made of solid mahogany for a pretty respectable price.. and then get the Dean Markley you were talking about.

http://www.jumpingflea.com/productdetail.cfm?Model=BU7T

Does that sound like an okay plan?

CurtainGuy
07-07-2008, 11:19 AM
Orrrr.. perhaps this one..?

http://cgi.ebay.com/Ohana-TENOR-solid-Mahogany-TK-35G-Gloss-ukulele-w-cs_W0QQitemZ330249698820QQihZ014QQcategoryZ16224QQ cmdZViewItem

Kanaka916
07-07-2008, 11:35 AM
You should check his showroom (http://stores.ebay.com/Musicguymics-Room) and he maintains an inventory of ukes for different budgets. You can email or call him for info. Many here will attest to his customer service and fast shipping. Did I mention he's a forum member?

cMejilla
07-07-2008, 02:07 PM
i just wanted to note that i use the transducer on a gloss finish uke. the adhesive that comes with the dean markley doesn't ruin the finish. i've been using it for about a year and i haven't had any problems.

sometimes when you remove it, there can be a residue that's left on the uke but it wipes off fine.

i'm not sure if matte finish ukes may differ on how the puddy comes off when you remove the transducer.

CurtainGuy
07-07-2008, 09:29 PM
i just wanted to note that i use the transducer on a gloss finish uke. the adhesive that comes with the dean markley doesn't ruin the finish. i've been using it for about a year and i haven't had any problems.

sometimes when you remove it, there can be a residue that's left on the uke but it wipes off fine.

i'm not sure if matte finish ukes may differ on how the puddy comes off when you remove the transducer.

Good call, thanks!

CurtainGuy
07-08-2008, 11:56 AM
So in the end... I decided to order a Jenny Tenor from Bushman. The one I noticed from MGM's shop.. I guess there must have been a mistake because it now says just "solid TOP mahogany" instead of all solid mahogany. And the Jenny is all solid wood for the same price. Now I'll just get that Dean Markley and I guess I'll be set!

Was this the one you were talking about?

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Dean-Markley-Artist-Transducer?sku=304005

cMejilla
07-08-2008, 06:42 PM
yup thats the one.

grappler
07-09-2008, 02:36 AM
Ive heard so many good things about the Jenny Bushman Tenor
Infact i was about to buy one from the start!
good choice!

SailQwest
07-09-2008, 03:21 AM
My husband plays a Bushman Jenny Tenor and he loves it!

CurtainGuy
07-09-2008, 08:00 AM
I'm pretty excited.. it should be arriving tomorrow! I was really impressed with Bushman's service too.. like 10 minutes after I ordered it they CALLED me to help me pick one! I had a choice between mother-of-pearl tuners or amber tuners.. I picked amber just because I thought it was a little more unique (mother of pearl tuners are a dime a dozen).

They also mentioned Julia Nunes and I was like yeahh I'm seeing her in NYC on Saturday! It was pretty cool.

Now I just have to run to guitar center to pick up a dean markley artist transducer..

CurtainGuy
07-11-2008, 09:34 PM
Just to let you all know I got the Bushman Jenny Tenor (which is awesome) and the Dean Markley transducer.. which works great! Thanks cMejilla and everyone else who helped me out!!

deach
07-12-2008, 01:29 AM
You got it already?!?! WOW! That was fast.

polynesianpop
07-12-2008, 07:22 AM
Post up some pics -- lets see what your new baby looks like! ;)

CurtainGuy
07-15-2008, 06:43 PM
I'll do that soon! I've been so busy these past few days.. I actually got it autographed by Julia Nunes in NYC! She signed it on the back of the headstock so I don't mess with the signature when I slap on a transducer.

You can actually see the uke for a second in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emBSSemur9k&feature=PlayList&p=B2DB7579622CBE59&index=4
But yeah I'll try to get some pics for you guys!