PDA

View Full Version : Do you think your hands are to large to play soprano?



Uke Republic
11-08-2011, 08:49 AM
I often hear " My hands are to large to play soprano." Well at the Tampa Bay Ukulele Fest Mr Jim Allen played a nice piece as a demo. Jim is 6'5 and has hands the size of baseball gloves. The uke being played is an aNueNue U900 pineapple soprano:cool:

http://youtu.be/vOcKk05jHvo

UncleElvis
11-08-2011, 08:53 AM
I liked it when he made it sound like a motorbike!

RyanMFT
11-08-2011, 09:08 AM
Mike....don't let the masses know this....it leaves more great vintage sopranos for me if everyone thinks they can only play tenor!!!

Bob Bledsoe
11-08-2011, 09:15 AM
Well said! I have huge hands and started learning on a Makala soprano. I thought I needed a tenor but when I tried some ukes at the guitar shop, I decided to just bump up to a concert. Tenor seemed too big after playing on a soprano for a month.... Big hands + tiny uke = hilarious juxtaposition!

Bradford
11-08-2011, 09:44 AM
I love soprano ukes and have a number of them, but I also have short, fat fingers with very tight joints, the the standard D chord is hard for me. Going up to a concert or tenor scale, no problem. Everyone is different.

Brad

itsme
11-08-2011, 10:01 AM
Hey, Mike, if Jim's 6'5", how tall are you, 6'9" or so? :eek:

Tudorp's a pretty big guy and he likes sopranos, too. :)

Actually, instead of "my hands are too big to play soprano" I hear a lot more of "my hands are too small to play a tenor." I never really understood that argument, as tenors are way smaller than guitars. Just look on youtube for "little Korean girl playing guitar" and you'll see that some kids are quite adept at playing an instrument that's nearly as big as they are.

OldePhart
11-08-2011, 10:49 AM
I've always thought I "needed" a concert scale or longer until recently. Just last night I was playing my granddaughter's little LU-11 and realized it isn't too bad. I'm still more comfortable on a concert or tenor, though, especially for anything beyond simple open-chord strumming.

In my case I never "credited" it to hand size, though - in fact my hands are on the smallish to medium size for a man. For me it's more of a "limberness" issue, which is probably why a soprano doesn't seem quite as cramped as it used to.

John

Uke Republic
11-08-2011, 10:53 AM
I am 7 ft tall :) Actually about 6ft , Big Jim is sitting but here is a pic with him , Manitoba Hal (about 5"9)Steve Boisen (about 5'10") Typhoon a Polynesian performer (6'2) all playing Sailor ukes- shameless plug 29730
Hey, Mike, if Jim's 6'5", how tall are you, 6'9" or so? :eek:

Tudorp's a pretty big guy and he likes sopranos, too. :)

Actually, instead of "my hands are too big to play soprano" I hear a lot more of "my hands are too small to play a tenor." I never really understood that argument, as tenors are way smaller than guitars. Just look on youtube for "little Korean girl playing guitar" and you'll see that some kids are quite adept at playing an instrument that's nearly as big as they are.

drbekken
11-08-2011, 11:30 AM
I'm 195 cm tall (don't understand that ft & inches system), and my hands are large. Soprano is still the thing, though. Even if I do have a tenor, which is a little better for fingerpicking stuff. Haven't tried a baritone.

Uke Republic
11-08-2011, 11:42 AM
Your a tall guy too, that 195cm is about 6'5. Mighty tall indeed Ukulele Viking :). Wonder how tall Iz was?

I'm 195 cm tall (don't understand that ft & inches system), and my hands are large. Soprano is still the thing, though. Even if I do have a tenor, which is a little better for fingerpicking stuff. Haven't tried a baritone.

Lexxy
11-08-2011, 11:45 AM
Bout 181CM (6'0) here. Would i still grow after 18? :P

Oh, and I kinda lean towards tenors... Oh man.

itsme
11-08-2011, 11:56 AM
Wonder how tall Iz was?
According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_Kamakawiwo%CA%BBole) he was 6'2".


Throughout his life, Kamakawiwoʻole was obese and at one point carried 757 pounds (343 kg; 54.1 st) on his 6-foot-2-inch (1.88 m) frame (BMI = 97.05 kg/mē).

Ambient Doughnut
11-08-2011, 12:49 PM
I'm 5'8" with small girl-hands
All your soprano are belong to us!

laundromatt
11-08-2011, 01:09 PM
"Playing" is one thing. Playing cleanly with less effort/struggle is another. Yes, the soprano size can be played decently enough by almost everyone, regardless of hand size. But bigger sizes may allow you to play the same piece/run/chord more cleanly without as much struggle. That's the reason why there are people (of all hand sizes) who prefer the bigger body sizes.

Same thing with guitars. With enough practice, almost all pieces can be played on a dreadnought, OM, etc. but the nut width, fret size, neck size makes one size/type of guitar easier for people to play.

If you're a beginner, there's no need to needlessly struggle with a smaller size when there are other options out there. Try out other sizes to see what's most comfortable.

(And leave the sopranos for me!)

Uke Republic
11-09-2011, 05:59 AM
That wasn't the uke, he just ate a plate of baked beans
I liked it when he made it sound like a motorbike!

bynapkinart
11-09-2011, 09:25 AM
I was positive I wouldn't be able to play soprano based on my 6'2" frame...not only would my fingers surely not be able to work on the short scale, but it would look downright silly. I can't do anything about looking strange, but I can play a soprano easily. Actually, it's even a little easier to play soprano than any other scale, in my opinion. I have skinny fingers, though, and even though I come from playing guitar I find that it actually gives me an edge with soprano. I feel like I have a little more room to breathe.

Pueo
11-09-2011, 10:55 AM
When I first got the notion to try ukulele, I thought I would need a tenor, since I had played guitar since fourth grade. I found a tenor very easy to play, string spacing even being "roomier" than a guitar. I then got a concert ukulele, and I really like that size. Soprano seemed (and still seems) like it is just too small for me to play comfortably, but it is getting easier. I now have a soprano as well, and I can play it OK, but I really prefer the concert and tenor scale for playability. I no longer think my hands/body are too large for a soprano, as I am sure that even though I am a large man, I am still nowhere near as large as Iz was, and he seemed to do pretty well!

OldePhart
11-09-2011, 10:59 AM
I do distinctly prefer my tenors over even my alltime-favorite longneck soprano (concert scale) when picking or doing fast, distinct arpeggios, though. Not because of fret spacing but because the wider string spacing lets me get much cleaner notes at speed. I.e. for me it's as much a right hand issue as a left hand one.

John

Nixon
11-10-2011, 01:10 AM
I'm 6"5 and I can easily play a piccolo. ;)

Tor
11-10-2011, 02:13 AM
Bout 181CM (6'0) here. Would i still grow after 18? :P

Some do.. I'm about 1.82 and I was fully grown at that size when I was 15 (got the weight I would keep for the next twenty years too). A school mate of mine who was slightly shorter started a growth spurt when he was nearly 20, and ended up a couple of years later as a fairly big guy at around 1.92 or maybe a bit over. All his sons are now around that height too, but in their case they reached it (and stopped growing) at around 18 years of age.

-Tor

bassfiddlesteve
11-10-2011, 04:39 AM
I have all four sizes of ukulele but gravitate towards concert. I have a nice old Martin soprano from the 1930's but I find that some of my chord solo arrangements are harder to play on this uke if they incorporate upper register chords.

Big Jim Allen's actually won a Kala travel soprano at the first TBUS event that he attended. When he played it he said it looked like a belt buckle on him.

- Steve

MisterRios
11-10-2011, 05:30 AM
I started with a soprano, and have normal fingers. The funny thing is that I keep getting asked if the soprano size isn't too cramped (tenor players). I say no because it's what I learned on. I did try a concert once, and it seemed big, but I might upgrade to one in the distant future. When I was handed a tenor, I thought it was comically large. The woman I had switched with thought the soprano was comically small. Go figure.

Jim T.
11-10-2011, 09:39 AM
I was always amazed at how John King's big hands managed to pull such superlative music out of a soprano. He insisted on playing sopranos -- he once told me that for him real mastery of the instrument meant playing it in its original form.

csibona
11-10-2011, 10:51 AM
There are so many things that others can do that I can not do. I have a soprano-sized banjo ukulele with a small scale length (13 inches?) and trying barre a chord beyond the 7th fret is, well, difficult. My fingers are bigger than the fret spacing at the tenth fret. That said, I am sure the banjo ukulele would sound great in John King's hands.

Maxjunk
11-10-2011, 11:23 AM
I've got a pineapple soprano and two massive hands. But the bigger sizes sound more rich :)

joejeweler
11-10-2011, 12:11 PM
It was already brought up that bigger and fatter fingers sometimes have a more difficult time playing a soprano "cleanly". I would tend to agree, although it does matter what style you play. If you're a singer and strum chords for accompiament,...then i don't think it's as much an issue. You'll be playing in the wider fret spaced 1st position most of the time.

However, working thru a complicated fingerstyle solo arrangement is a totally different challenge, where the upper frets are needed a great deal. Mr. King was one of the few who was able to extract all a soprano was capable of,....and he had some FAT fingers. Ever try to figure out what he was playing from a video? His fingers generally covered up what you needed to see! lol

Another point worth considering is that all sopranos are not the same. My 1920's Martin Style 2 has a narrow nut width and neck thickness, and i find there's not as much to grab onto with that dimunitive body.

My Kanile's soprano, on the other hand, is almost as easy to play for me as a concert. The nut width is a full 1 1/2", and the scale a touch longer than the Martin also. There is also a substantial "meatiness" to the neck on the Kanile'a that allows for much better control of the neck. The deaper Kanile'a soprano body is also easier to hold to your body.

With the 1 1/2" nut width i was able to extract a bit more string separation, by making a new ebony nut. I didn't gain a lot, but 1/16" or so means a LOT on a soprano! :D

I would venture a guess most anyone would have an easier time playing a soprano constructed similiarily.