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View Full Version : Do you prefer light body ukes or heavyly built ones?



mm stan
12-11-2011, 03:32 PM
I mean light like vintage martins or collins like I heard...or the white
label kamaka's...
you know it's a totally different sound.. and process and thought of a
uke build....maybe for the old traditional sound..

hmgberg
12-11-2011, 05:05 PM
I like them light and barky.

Doc_J
12-11-2011, 05:09 PM
Light. I also prefer friction tuners, as they are light and look better.

joejeweler
12-11-2011, 05:58 PM
I prefer a light weight ukulele also, as it usually sounds louder and is more responsive.

That said,.....i think i will never prefer the "classic" soprano sound. My 1920's Martin style 2 is loud, feather light, and very responsive. But the shallow body depth just doesn't produce the "meaty tone" you can get with a deaper bodied soprano uke.

I've gotten spoiled with my Moore Bettah and Kanile'a sopranos. The deeper bodies is not the only difference, of course,......but it is a BIG difference in helping to get a fuller, deeper, and "meatier" tone.

bbycrts
12-11-2011, 06:06 PM
I like it light. And small. My Brad Donaldson custom super soprano is light and has a Kumalae-inspired design. Light and lovely!

mm stan
12-11-2011, 06:17 PM
For me there are two school of thought for uke build...build them light which adds added barking volume and that certain tone...and of course, a narrower body like the vintage for comfort also the weight factor....I notice these ukes sound better a half step to a full step...lower
Then on the other side, most of the the customs are beefier and more heavily constructed...which gives if their classic deep rich sound with more resonation and substain...more guitar like qualities...
Which is better...It is personal preference...for me if I had to choose between the two...it's a hard choice...but I rather have the first...then again the second is nice too..
maybe my decision is partly based on my disabled back....but that certain tone is foremost..

southcoastukes
12-11-2011, 07:47 PM
Hello Stan,

I'll throw in a third option: Medium. At least that's how I'd describe ours. We use different woods for sides and backs. We like sides that are extremely stiff - less sound loss. Stiff generally means dense, and dense means more weight. We also do our cypress lined backs; these are probably a bit heavier than normal. The tops, however, are very thin - thinner than normal and very lightly braced. The necks are on the light side as well. Lightweight tuners. Overall, in other words, Medium.

The other thing that complicates the issue is the woods you choose. Build with a Rosewood, a Macassar Ebony, and even thinning them to the minimum. they'll weigh more than Koa or Mahogany. So is the question one of construction, of wood selection, or both?

mm stan
12-11-2011, 08:24 PM
Aloha Dirk,
I like the idea of the stiff sides..but never tried a combination like that before..on woods..I have a madgascar rosewood back and sides with a thin spruce top...it had a tone like no other..
I haven't had the oppertunity to try your strings yet..a friend of mine just ordered some of yours....I should have tried yours long ago since we have the same Philosophy on strings...
BTW...I have posted and amazing and inspiring video in the general section...it you had a bad day, watch this... if you could only watch one video, this is it.. a real tear dropper...believe me.

pulelehua
12-12-2011, 09:27 AM
It was once described to me as follows: a string produces energy. The heavier the ukulele, the more energy required to vibrate the body (not just the top). I understand Dirk's theory of stiffness, but I imagine he's still, in that context, trying to create the lightest ukulele possible. He's simply working with woods whose "lightest" is not as light as others.

Everything I've ever read always talks about how thin you can make things. Never read anything from a top luthier along the lines of, "You can thin it more, but I don't."

PoiDog
12-12-2011, 10:17 AM
Interesting question.

At first I was under the uninformed impression that a lighter build would translate into a louder volume. It was just an assumption on my part. As it happens, I have a light build uke (the aNueNue) and a more solidly built one (the Kanile'a). Now, I don't know how these would compare to other ukes, but when next to each other, the Kanile'a is much heavier and sturdier than the aNueNue. It's also louder. By a lot.

Overall, I prefer the solid feel of the Kanile'a. It honestly just feels more sturdy and stronger. The wood feels more dense, though that's likely an artifact of the fact that the pieces are just thicker on the Kanile'a. Also, things like where the neck joins to the body, or where the two side panels meet at the okole feel like they're more solidly connected.

I guess that puts me into the "heavier" group. Though again, I only have hands-on experience with these two.

fabioponta
12-12-2011, 10:30 AM
For sopranos, light is my choice. I sold my heavy Martin S-O last month and bought a Kiwaya KTS-4 that arrived today (thanks EDW!). Amazing uke compared in sound quality and complex tone.

Tenor models: heavy construction sounds more fuller to me.

haolejohn
12-12-2011, 10:39 AM
I mean light like vintage martins or collins like I heard...or the white
label kamaka's...
you know it's a totally different sound.. and process and thought of a
uke build....maybe for the old traditional sound..

I love my koaloha concert. I didn't like my custom ana'ole as much. One was light and one was heavy.

haolejohn
12-12-2011, 10:40 AM
Interesting question.

At first I was under the uninformed impression that a lighter build would translate into a louder volume. It was just an assumption on my part. As it happens, I have a light build uke (the aNueNue) and a more solidly built one (the Kanile'a). Now, I don't know how these would compare to other ukes, but when next to each other, the Kanile'a is much heavier and sturdier than the aNueNue. It's also louder. By a lot.

Overall, I prefer the solid feel of the Kanile'a. It honestly just feels more sturdy and stronger. The wood feels more dense, though that's likely an artifact of the fact that the pieces are just thicker on the Kanile'a. Also, things like where the neck joins to the body, or where the two side panels meet at the okole feel like they're more solidly connected.

I guess that puts me into the "heavier" group. Though again, I only have hands-on experience with these two.

I wonder if that is the bracing??? My Meles were a little bit heavier than my koalohas and there volume wasn't nearly as loud but the ana'ole I had was very loud. Still not as loud as my koaloha concert.

OldePhart
12-12-2011, 12:24 PM
I wonder if that is the bracing??? My Meles were a little bit heavier than my koalohas and there volume wasn't nearly as loud but the ana'ole I had was very loud. Still not as loud as my koaloha concert.
Bracing would be my bet. Well, bracing and top thickness. Get the top as thin as possible and the bracing just right and you can probably make the sides and back out of poured concrete and still get good sound. :)

mm stan
12-12-2011, 12:51 PM
Yes the thin soundboard and lighter bracing makes a big difference.. I see some builders trying the scallop bracing too...

NatalieS
12-12-2011, 12:56 PM
I much prefer lighter ukes. My DaSilva is featherlight, compared to the Kanile'a I used to have. It's so easy to carry and play, and I love that the neck is so thin and light.

roxhum
12-12-2011, 01:17 PM
My vote goes for lighter ukes.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
12-12-2011, 01:59 PM
Ah, an easy question...

Among ukes I've gotten my hands on, my favorite vintage ukes are Martin, Kamaka, and Kumalae; my favorite new ukes are Kamaka, Collings, and KoAloha. Light ukes all. Plus I've got deep love for my Maccaferri Islander, and it's even lighter than light.

So, for me, it's light.

May your holidays all be filled with love and light (ukes).