View Full Version : which size is best for fingerpicking/strumming?

02-26-2011, 05:17 PM
I bought a new Kala KA-S soprano form musicguymic, and I love it! I am realizing that although I have rather small hands for a man, It is a wee bit cramped to play on. I really want to learn more finger picking like Peter Moon. Which size is the best for a combination of finger picking and stumming; a tenor or concert?

BadLands Bart
02-26-2011, 05:21 PM
Probably the best size is the tenor not only for the extra room, but the tension of the strings is a bit harder. However, you can pick on a concert uke. Best bet is to get to a store that has both sizes and try them out. (if possible)

02-27-2011, 12:57 AM
I'd agree - Tenor. That said, I pick on my Concert just fine.

02-27-2011, 03:31 AM
From my limited knowledge, I'd go with the Tenor...

02-27-2011, 03:37 AM
I think if you want to know the answer look at what most of the really good finger pickers play - its tenors by a large margin. Its not just more room you get for your fingers with a tenor. You also get more volume and better intonation. I love finger picking my soprano even more than my tenor (its just more fun to me), but even the best soprano players have to live with poorer intonation, due to the tiny scale length.

02-27-2011, 07:06 PM
No, it's not tenor.

The answer is: Whichever is more comfortable for you. Seriously, that's it. Tenor is not better than concert, which is not better than soprano. It's about what feel and what sound you want. I've seen crazy fingerpicking on a soprano.

02-27-2011, 08:11 PM
i got a tenor because i wanted to learn to finger pick, as well as strum. My room mates soprano is much more difficult to use for me, not because its hard to pick, but the left hand positions you need to make with certain songs that are heavy in finger picking. the frets are just too small for me in certain situations. of course, im sure that it would get easier with practice, but i thought that the tenor was just the right size.

03-12-2011, 03:36 AM
No, it's not tenor.

The answer is: Whichever is more comfortable for you. Seriously, that's it. Tenor is not better than concert, which is not better than soprano. It's about what feel and what sound you want. I've seen crazy fingerpicking on a soprano.

repeated for emphasis.

I've got a tenor, concerts, sopranos and a sopranino. I pretty much play the same way & fingerpick on all of them. Initially it will seem a tad cramped, but seriously after some practice you'll be surprised at how much room there seems to be. You just started. It's a small neck. It will take a little time & practice to make it work.

Ukes sizes are just tonal differences and scale lengths that bear no relation to how or what you can play on them beyond how many notes there are on the neck to use. There is no right uke for any particular style of playing any more than there is a right size of saxophone to play for jazz as opposed to marching band.

I mean, most days the instrument closest on hand to me is the sopranino and I can do all the same stuff on it that can be done on the tenor. (if not more because I can usually get a few extra frets in reach on the smaller scale.) But once again, as with most things that people seem to initially have trouble with on the boards (see numerous threads on the "E" chord & friction tuners) it's almost always a simple matter of practice.

Stick with it and it will get easier.

03-12-2011, 06:19 AM
This is one of those questions that doesn't have a "right" answer. It's really all about what you're comfortable with and that comfort can't be predicted as "your hands are this big so this would be right for you." You really have to experiment and find what you are comfortable with - besides, experimenting with different ukes is fun, and at least it's not as expensive as experimenting with different guitars!

All that said I find that my personal preference for a strumming rig is a soprano body (for the tonal response) with a concert neck. I find myself struggling to make some chords, and quickly running out of usable frets, on soprano scales. But, again, that's me - I know some people with hands much larger than mine who can play a soprano just fine. I don't really pick much but when I do I find that I usually grab my tenor strung low-G.

03-12-2011, 07:21 AM
No, it's not tenor.

The answer is: Whichever is more comfortable for you. Seriously, that's it. Tenor is not better than concert, which is not better than soprano. It's about what feel and what sound you want. I've seen crazy fingerpicking on a soprano.

What she said.

I PREFER a concert body with a tenor fretboard. But that's ME.

03-12-2011, 07:40 AM
Try concert, tenor and bari, and then see what suits you best. Also, never underestimate your ability to learn to pick on anything--even a soprano!

mm stan
03-12-2011, 08:17 AM
I agree...the best way is to try all the sizes and see which size and sounds fits your preference....also necks can be differrent widths and spacing with dfferent brands...also another point is the action...
Happy strummings... MM Stan

03-12-2011, 12:09 PM
What mm stan said. Try different sizes and brands. Also what others said about practice. I have two tenors, two concerts, buncha sopranos. If I had to pick one size I would pick concert because my hands are getting old and sore. The tension is just right for me too. The tenor tension is a little harder to fret but there is a lot of room for picking from the neck to the bridge.

BUT with practice all sizes get easier for everything.

BUT if you find one that really feels just right to you to start with, you will practice more and have less frustration! And if you want to play farther up the neck, which eventually you will, 14 frets or more is a nice option, though I find it hard to go past 12.

And as Stan noted, I also find action makes a world of difference on every size. Only three of my sopranos have great action, the Makala Dolphin, an Ohana Vita and an old Favilla. The others are fun but for myself I find them more of a PITA to mess around with in any serious way.

03-12-2011, 01:46 PM
even though Tenor is easiest or 'the best size', I like the sopranos and concerts better lol-- because they are smaller and I like small things and they sound different than tenors.

mm stan
03-12-2011, 02:38 PM
Aloha Teek..
I meant string spacing and neck width...for different brands...sorry for not explaining clearly...

03-12-2011, 05:49 PM
Right on everyone. I started with a Tenor because the expert in store said I had big hands which I do and it would be easier to play. Well I only have ONE tenor now but 7-8 of each- concert & soprano as I like the sound better, my big hands did find a way in short order to play the shorter frets . Love the concert but always play the soprano , take them both on trips

03-13-2011, 06:57 PM
I've found that my hands fit my Concert the best. I get cramped up on my soprano, and just too strung out on most tenors that I've tried. My baritone drives me nuts.

03-13-2011, 11:22 PM
I always go with a baritone. Just a personal opinion. The string spacing, width of fretboard, and scale length are the determining factors for me.

03-14-2011, 02:57 AM
right now concert size seems to be my favorite but I like sopranos too. The other sizes that are bigger don't give me any benefit but the pros play the bigger ones it seems.

pat rock
03-14-2011, 04:44 AM
Everybody, as you can see, has their own personal preference. The only other thing I might point out is that even the strings you use make a difference! Aquilas feel very different than fluorocarbon or nylon strings like worths or pro arte. That can really affect your fingerpicking. good luck!