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View Full Version : Cutaway affect sound much?



vanflynn
09-22-2011, 03:35 AM
I'm looking at getting another concert and have a question. Being fairly ignorant about body design, I'd like to ask UU's pros if the cutaway style affects the sound/loudness compared to the traditional design. I like the accessibility to the upper frets but don't want to sacrifice volume or tone.

Sorry if this has been discussed before. I tried the search and didn't find anything.


Thank for the insight

garywj
09-22-2011, 05:40 AM
My most recent uke is a cutaway. It is the only cutaway that I own. It has a beautiful sound and is as loud or louder than any other uke I own. I did not expect that would be the case when I ordered it. I have another uke by the same maker, and it also has a beautiful sound, but is NOT as loud as the cutaway. I do not know that is the case with all cutaways, but it is with the one I own.

Ken Middleton
09-22-2011, 06:35 AM
Theoretically, all else being equal (strings, body shape, woods, etc), a cutaway will be a little quieter and the tone will be different. However, in reality it makes precious little difference.

hoosierhiver
09-22-2011, 06:41 AM
It's pretty widely accepted that most of the sound comes from the lower bouts. As Ken said, in theory they could be a little quieter than a regular body, but in general it is not a concern for most folks.

strumsilly
09-22-2011, 06:51 AM
It's pretty widely accepted that most of the sound comes from the lower bouts. As Ken said, in theory they could be a little quieter than a regular body, but in general it is not a concern for most folks.
I think the wood/build has much more to do with the sound than if it's a cutaway or not. The Kala cedar top cutaway I just sold was my loudest uke. if you want a loud one I'd suggest a cedar top.

vanflynn
09-22-2011, 05:58 PM
Thanks for the feedback. It's greatly appreciated. My access to different Ukes is limited and although most of the big online folk have a easy return if you don't like policy, I want to do some homework before ordering.

Rick Turner
09-22-2011, 06:06 PM
I'm going to disagree re. the potential of the upper bout of the face. Potential, I said...

By going to a cantilevered fingerboard that does not touch the top of the uke...or guitar...I've been able to utilize the tonal potential of the upper bout of the face on instruments. It's more subtle on our ukes than on our acoustic guitars, but once you break out of conventional thinking and design, there's more you can do with the upper bout than most realize.

That said, with conventionally built ukes, there's not much to lose except time to building with a cutaway.

erich@muttcrew.net
09-23-2011, 11:56 AM
Well, I know noobs like me are no longer allowed to disagree with Rick, Pete, Chuck, Brad, Allen and all the other protected experts here at UU, but I am going to take the First Amendment (freedom of speech etc.) and disagree with you Rick.

Firstly, we have built a uke with a cantilevered fretboard, but it does not show a trace more "tonality of the upper bout" than any of our other ukes. I'm sure we did everything wrong and that's the reason, but likewise we did everything wrong building the ukes with "traditional" fretboards that contact the top.

Secondly, we have every number of instruments, both guitars and ukes, some with very similar builds, but there is no particular, notable difference in tonality between the instruments without and the instruments with cutouts that could not just as well be attributed to all the other factors that determine the voice of the instrument. Clearly, the cutout will affect the tonality to some degree, though not necessarily to the worse.

My advice to the OP would be to go to the local guitar/uke shop and find an instrument that you like. All the experts in the world can't decide which instrument is best for you, you've got to decide yourself.

Sven
09-23-2011, 01:30 PM
Well, I know noobs like me are no longer allowed to disagree with Rick, Pete, Chuck, Brad, Allen and all the other protected experts here at UU, but I am going to take the First Amendment (freedom of speech etc.) and disagree with you Rick.

Ooh, touchy..! But where have you been Erich, I've missed you.

Rick Turner
09-23-2011, 02:32 PM
Erich, please note that I said "Potential". I'm sure you hear your instruments your way, and I know I hear mine my way. I don't think you can authoritatively comment on my observations regarding my instruments unless you've played them built both ways. I hear a difference, and there is a difference in how the upper bout is braced which easily accounts for what I hear. The main quality I like is a sustain of the harmonics, especially of the lower strings.

I'll refrain from making rash comments about your instruments as I've not played them!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-23-2011, 02:58 PM
My most recent uke is a cutaway. It is the only cutaway that I own. It has a beautiful sound and is as loud or louder than any other uke I own. I did not expect that would be the case when I ordered it. I have another uke by the same maker, and it also has a beautiful sound, but is NOT as loud as the cutaway. I do not know that is the case with all cutaways, but it is with the one I own.

I'm familiar with this uke. ;) Its' increase in volume is more a function of other design features (sound hole placement/bracing pattern, etc.) rather than whether or not it's a cutaway. I've done this model in both traditional and cutaway styles and I'm not able to detect a difference. I think this is one of those cases where what may be true for guitars isn't necessarily so for ukes.
BTW, You are more than welcomed here Erich, you've paid your dues. I no longer want to be a "protected expert". I am forever a student, struggling with the mysteries of this craft like most builders I know are. Besides, I'm uncomfortable with status of any kind unless with come with an increase in pay.

erich@muttcrew.net
09-23-2011, 11:27 PM
Vanflynn, check out this thread where the whole issue was thrashed out a couple years ago: Cutaway-or-not (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?29900-Cutaway-or-not).

I don't think we need to get into a long discussion here, especially as I doubt it would help you in your decision for or against a cutaway. I really would advise you to go to the store, try out the instruments and see if you can find one that really suits you in terms of tone, volume, playability and so on.

EDIT: Sorry, I didn't consider that you might be intending to get a custom-made uke, in which case I would then say listen to what your luthier has to say and work out your ideas with him or her.