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View Full Version : Best recommendation for "Classical" Ukulele...



ukulelelalala
01-22-2012, 10:09 AM
Hi,

I was wondering if there were a particular ukulele suited for classical guitar arrangements... price range can vary, sometimes an inexpensive instrument can sound better than a more expensive and vice-versa. So if price were not an issue, which uke (size, wood, etc) would be best for someone who wants to play classical guitar arrangements on the uke.... thanks in advance...

Joe

Gwynedd
01-22-2012, 10:38 AM
Some say a baritone is best as it's very like the baroque guitar. I can say that a low G tuning seems to be a bit easier if reading music. As to wood--a lute like tone is good, but that can be achieved with strings as well as wood, though I'd say from listening, Koa is the most beautiful sound I've heard. But a good solid mahogany baritone would work fine.

itsme
01-22-2012, 10:52 AM
The vast majority of classical guitars have spruce or cedar tops and rosewood back/sides.

Low G will sound more "guitar like" than re-entrant tuning.

While bari has the same notes as the top 4 strings of the guitar, low G tenor works well if you don't care that you're not playing in the same key. I can read standard notation or bari tab as if they were the same on guitar.

ukulelelalala
01-23-2012, 02:32 AM
Thanks for the replies... any particular brands/models fit these suggestions? Thanks again, Joe

Lori
01-23-2012, 06:14 AM
What is your price range? Kala is introducing spruce/ rosewood line of ukes soon. Check out the interview with Mike Upton from NAMM 2012 UU coverage.

A Fluke with a low G tuning would be an option, even though that would be a tenor size.

I like my Mainland mahogany baritone. You might look at their cedar top one too. Ohana makes baritones as well, and they make nice ukes.

For the upper end, price is no object, I would look at Boat Paddle M-style.

Look up John King on You Tube, and see what he does with a soprano. If you want something different than a guitar-like sound, going smaller will still sound great for classical music.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=935ExOpT5bI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASGPPAK-p7w
–Lori

Tsani
01-23-2012, 07:08 AM
There are advantages to both low-G and re-entrant tuned ukes for classical music. I play both. There is sheet music and TABs for both types of tuning. If you just choose low-G, your choice of music will be limited. I have played classical mostly on the re-entrant soprano, but I have a great baritone (Favilla) and I just bought a tenor just so I could play low-G arrangements. I see a lot of people who play classical playing the Glyph soprano, but some of them are playing custom ukes made especially for them. The soprano has a unique voice and is closer to the ukulele's original roots in the Portuguese "machete". The machete is very small, even smaller than the soprano uke. Check out Rob McKillop on YouTube. He recently posted a video playing a classical piece written for the machete. Most excellent. Welcome to our special breed of insanity. I love playing classical and early music on the ukulele.

ukulelelalala
01-23-2012, 03:21 PM
Thank you both for the responses. John King is truly amazing. What a loss....

Right now, a choice that I am considering is the KALA TENOR CEDAR KA-KTG-CT: http://www.theukulelesite.com/kala-golden-acacia-cedar-gatg-ct.html

I know one was sold on here a few days ago. I balked and it sold :-(

Does anyone have an opinion on this uke? Thanks, Joe

localmana
01-23-2012, 07:45 PM
I would suggest a Compass Rose with a cedar top and Rosewood back and sides....just like a classical guitar, only it's a tenor uke with a low G. Closest thing to a classical guitar I've heard.

Olarte
01-24-2012, 03:27 AM
Compass rose might be great but also a bit on the high end in price no?

Joe is considering the kala tenor cedar top limited edition. I have the concert and it's quite nice. The cedar really gives it a nice sound with a lot of projection.

I see Mainland has a nice looking cedar tenor with rope binding for around 300 but I don't know if the sound would be as warm and strong as the kala. I have a mainland pineapple and the kala cedar concert and for classical music, the kala is much better.

For my classical needs I use a mya-moe Koa tenor tradition in high g, a big island mango tenor for low g, and my first uke a kala cut away spruce top also in high g.

I almost picked up the great bargain from mr moonlight here in place of the big island but I prefer to have a different uke (the mango) than the same kala cedar that I already have in concert in a tenor size too. Besides the big island mango is sweeter after I changed to fluorocarbon strings that are thinner and brighter. I think the kala cedar top tenor is an excellent choice for the price and for classical and earlier music.

On a side note:

I use the leash for concerts and smaller body ukes. But I find that when playing tenors, specially for classical/instrumental pieces a mandolin strap is much more stable. It frees up both arms when playing.


I would suggest a Compass Rose with a cedar top and Rosewood back and sides....just like a classical guitar, only it's a tenor uke with a low G. Closest thing to a classical guitar I've heard.

mandrew
01-24-2012, 05:44 AM
One thing to consider is that most production line makers use a 1 3/8" nut width, and use uniform spacing to the saddle. This is a little harder to finger pick on. I would consider an Islander solid mahogany or a Kamoa because they have a 1 1/2 nut and strings spread out more toward the saddle, giving a lot more room for finger picking without loosing any strum effect. It sort of sounds like you want a ukulele that sounds like a classical guitar. A ukulele sounds like a uke.

Olarte
01-24-2012, 07:14 AM
Good info mandrew.

Although a warm toned tenor can sound very nice and perfect for early renaissance or classical music, while a pineapple, would not. So while a uke will not sound, like a guitar, some are better suited than others for this.

ukulelelalala
01-24-2012, 06:40 PM
Wow, I have a lot to think about... The suggestions are very helpful though... I am searching for sound samples of all of the suggestions... I have some time to research this... I didn't know about the spacing between the strings... Interesting...

Joe

Paul December
01-24-2012, 07:32 PM
IMO Warmer tone and tenor scale sounds most similar to a guitar. I'd stick to Mahogany, Koa, and Acacia. Cedar and Spruce are Bright and won't give you the tone you are looking for. True that guitars are made with Spruce and Cedar, but they are much larger instruments. My most guitar-sounding uke is a Tenor Kala Acacia.
Also, I've found most Classical pieces are written for high G.

Gwynedd
01-25-2012, 01:13 AM
I'm still waiting on my mahogany tenor, but if I get another ukulele, it will probably be a mahogany baritone. I've reviewed a lot of music and videos and for classical music (which is my lifelong love), the baritone has some advantages. And it's not far off from a baroque guitar. The "lute-ulele" interests me but sound seems a bit muted to me--but lutes sound that way as well. As to high g vs low g-- one can have one of each, or even possibly use the rare five string that Ohana makes--that's also tempting me because you have a choice of which string to go to if you need a low g, plus it adds a deep resonance. I read music, so the low g is sadly, easier for me as it's down the scale. There are some very nice books out there, with notation and tabs, for pieces from Sor and Tarrega to Bach. I've heard some later classical (like Strauss and Beethoven) but I wasn't so entranced by the sound.

By the way, if you want to hear some beautiful guitar pieces that are a bit rare, there is a guitar and violin sonata set (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/B000001GJB/bge-20) by Paganini (who was an incredible violinist.) His mistress played guitar, so he wrote some duos that are fit to her skill (moderate) and are very pretty. He also wrote some solo guitar works but they are more ambitious. I think the duos could be rearranged for two ukes or uke and another instrument if you have no violinist (keyboard?) and they sound, to my ears, that they'd be BETTER with ukulele. Luckily, the repertoire from Renaissance on for guitar is huge (not so with the flute) and transcriptions work well on one or more of the instruments. This was the shocker when I took up transverse flute for grins in grad school. I was used to the huge piano repertoire and flute was basically music by the yard baroque until you get to the 20th Century when it becomes outstanding.

Olarte
01-25-2012, 01:34 AM
Well the Kala -Golden Acacia/ Cedar GATG-CT is made of both acaia for the sides and back and cedar for the top. I dunno about the tenor but my concert sounds very very nice...

stevepetergal
01-25-2012, 02:00 AM
There's a member here calls himself slackkey007. He's selling a custom Oceana classical. It is stunning. (I would have, but I'd be living in the garage with it.) It's a lot of instrument for a great price. Be sure to contact him. If you send me a PM with your email address, I can put you in touch and I'd even forward the photos and sound bytes he sent me.

You could also talk to builders. I know Mya Moe would make you one that would amaze.

If you're not looking for custom, I remember Mike Lynch mentioning an Oscar Schmidt model with a wider flat fretboard designed for Classical. I don't remember the model. You could contact him through his site or call Oscar Schmidt.

Olarte
01-25-2012, 07:01 AM
Nice I just checked the oceana website http://www.oceanaukuleles.com/online-store.html and it is indeed stunning, definitely more in the classical guitar territory and I would say not too bad a price just under 1000.00.

Their Tenor T149 looks particularly sweet! :shaka:

I use my mya-moe tradition and it's quite good for classical. But man the oceana ukes do look and seem to sound quite nice.

stevepetergal
01-30-2012, 11:38 AM
The Oscar Schmidt model is the OU6W. Flat fretboard and a saddle width of 1 3/4". A very nice instrument for about $250.

guitarsnrotts
01-30-2012, 12:47 PM
My red cedar/rosewood Mainland has a very classical guitar sound as you might expect with that wood combination.

Ted4
01-30-2012, 12:47 PM
Why not just take two strings off your guitar? :D

Uke Republic
01-30-2012, 02:49 PM
We had a LoPrinzi custom Flamenco inspired tenor made for a UU member. LoPrinzi guitars are very well respected for their classical guitars and their ukuleles, very well priced . Just one of many makers to toss in the hat. I do like Mainland's red cedar/rosewood combination as has been mentioned. They also make a spruce/mahogany concert that has great sound.

mr moonlight
01-30-2012, 03:20 PM
Thank you both for the responses. John King is truly amazing. What a loss....

Right now, a choice that I am considering is the KALA TENOR CEDAR KA-KTG-CT: http://www.theukulelesite.com/kala-golden-acacia-cedar-gatg-ct.html

I know one was sold on here a few days ago. I balked and it sold :-(

Does anyone have an opinion on this uke? Thanks, Joe

That was probably mine. I sold it about a week ago. A really nice uke.

I've been playing classical guitar for close to 20 years and when I started looking at Uke's I wanted something that was a bit more familiar. I really liked the Kala Cedar top Tenor. It was loud and had a great tone. I traded up to a Ko'olau Tenor (low G) with Koa back and sides and a cedar top. It works very well for playing classical. Extremely well balanced, great volume, warm tone, good bass, lots of clarity and definition... I sold off my other uke's and picked up a Pono Spruce top/maple back and sides Tenor as my travel uke. I wanted something a little closer to the level of my Ko'olau. It also sounds great for classical although it's much brighter. Better for early music or Bach vs. Spanish guitar. It also has the clarity and balance that I love about Ko'olau ukes. Not quite on the same level, but still a very nice uke. Of course both of these cost quite a bit more than the Kala.

ukulelelalala
01-31-2012, 03:13 PM
Update: I ended up purchasing a two month old Oceana Tenor T156 at a good price. I was emailed a sound sample. It sounds really nice and I can't wait to get it. I should have by Friday. Very excited...

Thanks to everyone for the input. All of the responses were taken to heart and although I went in a different direction, I'm happy to report that my sister took the advice I received and purchased a Kala KA-ASAC-T Solid Acacia Tenor....

Joe

hapuna
01-31-2012, 05:56 PM
For the price this is probably a good choice. I think the tenor size is a good choice and you can always experiment with the regular or low g tuning and have the maximum flexibility. This is a nice ukulele!!!!


Thank you both for the responses. John King is truly amazing. What a loss....

Right now, a choice that I am considering is the KALA TENOR CEDAR KA-KTG-CT: http://www.theukulelesite.com/kala-golden-acacia-cedar-gatg-ct.html

I know one was sold on here a few days ago. I balked and it sold :-(

Does anyone have an opinion on this uke? Thanks, Joe