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View Full Version : concert or tenor for fingerpicking?



barefootgypsy
05-03-2012, 12:18 AM
I love fingerpicking and am planning to get a new uke - I play a concert, but am wondering whether as time goes on, a tenor would be a better bet for fingerpicking. I don't like a tenor for strumming. I've got long fingers so I'm happy I could manage a tenor. I'm always trying ukuleles out at music shops, but I wonder, what size uke do fingerpickers out there prefer? I'm looking forward to reading your preferences! Thanks! :D

beginnerukeman143
05-03-2012, 01:31 AM
I've only ever played a Tenor.... well I have played a soprano, but only for a few strums XD

Tazthedog
05-03-2012, 02:33 AM
I have a Mainland Concert that sounds soooooo sweet for fingerpicking, but my other half's Islander MT-4 is so much easier to play because of the really good string spacing - even wider than my Martin 0015-S that has a wide 1.75" neck. I think I need a solid mahogany Islander tenor.

http://ukeshed.wordpress.com/

jazzbo
05-03-2012, 02:37 AM
Well, I prefer a tenor for fingerstyle and I believe that would be your best choice.

mr roper
05-03-2012, 02:51 AM
My next uke will be a "Super" concert.

Scott S.
05-03-2012, 04:46 AM
I tend to look at your question as someone who has played guitar for many years. So, do you see yourself playing more in high G or low G tuning? As a guitarist, I gravitate toward low G because I am much more comfortable with the lowest notes being on the bottom string. Especially when I'm fingerpicking. It just makes sense to me to have the thumb driving those big low notes. While sopranos and concerts often sound very good in low G, its my opinion that the larger sound box of the tenor is a better fit for low G tuning.

The second consideration is the width of the strings at the bridge. My limited experience with ukes tells me that generally the string width at the bridge is greater on tenors than on concerts. Especially if you have long fingers, you might appreciate the extra space between strings that a tenor would provide. I think most players can adapt, but if you are getting a new uke, why not get what feels most comfortable? For my fingerpicking style that means a tenor. Good luck with your search.

CTurner
05-03-2012, 06:40 AM
I think it might have as much to do with the type of song you're playing, not so much whether it is fingerpicked or not. A larger tenor size may give more oomph or drive necessary where a concert may give you a more delicate sound. YMMV.

janeray1940
05-03-2012, 07:20 AM
There are a lot of compelling reasons for opting for a tenor for fingerpicking, and if your hands are comfortable with it, that's what I'd recommend.

I'm primarly a fingerpicker but I'm definitely in the minority here - I play soprano. But I'm a small person with child-size hands - I can barely even form a Bb chord on a tenor, and a lot of the classical pieces I play require a 5-fret reach, which I can only do on a smaller scale.

barefootgypsy
05-03-2012, 08:31 AM
I tend to look at your question as someone who has played guitar for many years. So, do you see yourself playing more in high G or low G tuning? As a guitarist, I gravitate toward low G because I am much more comfortable with the lowest notes being on the bottom string. Especially when I'm fingerpicking. It just makes sense to me to have the thumb driving those big low notes. While sopranos and concerts often sound very good in low G, its my opinion that the larger sound box of the tenor is a better fit for low G tuning.

The second consideration is the width of the strings at the bridge. My limited experience with ukes tells me that generally the string width at the bridge is greater on tenors than on concerts. Especially if you have long fingers, you might appreciate the extra space between strings that a tenor would provide. I think most players can adapt, but if you are getting a new uke, why not get what feels most comfortable? For my fingerpicking style that means a tenor. Good luck with your search. High G or low G - well, I love the bluegrass style with the high G string played as the ghost-note - but I've heard fabulous music that needs a low G as well - perhaps I should aim for two ukes for finger-picking, one with high G and one with low! Need to save those pennies! It is what's most comfortable that counts, I think - I was wondering whether the all-round wider spacing on a tenor would make for easier placing of the fingers. My fingers are long but not fat.

barefootgypsy
05-03-2012, 08:38 AM
There are a lot of compelling reasons for opting for a tenor for fingerpicking, and if your hands are comfortable with it, that's what I'd recommend.

I'm primarly a fingerpicker but I'm definitely in the minority here - I play soprano. But I'm a small person with child-size hands - I can barely even form a Bb chord on a tenor, and a lot of the classical pieces I play require a 5-fret reach, which I can only do on a smaller scale.

Thanks for that Jane - :D I need to test out the more awkward chords - but I have a wide reach on a piano... I've also thought of a long neck soprano.

barefootgypsy
05-03-2012, 08:39 AM
Well, I prefer a tenor for fingerstyle and I believe that would be your best choice.

Thats a very clear preference! Thank you jazzbo! :D

barefootgypsy
05-03-2012, 08:41 AM
My next uke will be a "Super" concert.

What's a "super" concert? A concert with a tenor neck? Do you have something in mind?

mr roper
05-03-2012, 09:37 AM
What's a "super" concert? A concert with a tenor neck? Do you have something in mind?


Right. Concert body with 17" scale neck. I'm intrigued by Dirk's Southcoast ukes but his new one's won't be available for a while. If there was an Islander long neck concert I'd order one right away.

sukie
05-03-2012, 09:45 AM
I have a super-concert. I've had it about a year and a half. I am not totally "one" with it yet. But I'm getting there. Whenever I play a regular concert now it seems so easy as far as fingering. No more hard reaches. But I still prefer the super-concert. It does not matter which one you play. It is totally a personal preference.

pulelehua
05-03-2012, 11:25 AM
I think that a concert neck just gives you so much more reach. I'm 6'4". I have long fingers. There are things I've written which I find really hard on a tenor, but which fit just right on a concert. It's like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears for me, I guess.

Ernest Ka'ai also wrote some lovely music with some big stretches.

SailingUke
05-03-2012, 11:41 AM
I like the super concert as well, it is kind of a "tweener".
More volume than a concert, but the sweet voice of a concert.
I also like the longer neck and scale for finger picking, just slightly larger frets.

barefootgypsy
05-03-2012, 11:46 AM
Thanks everybody! I knew I could count on you wonderful folks to point me the right way! A super concert sounds just the thing! I haven't noticed any about on the shop websites over here though - I'll have to get hunting! Any recommendations for a super concert that's not a custom? Can't afford those, much as I'd like to....:D

chris667
05-03-2012, 11:50 AM
I'm rubbish at fingerstyle (so far), but my friend who is very good at it thinks my C tuned Baritone is the best fingerstyle uke he's ever played.

I'm going to do the Stourbridge world record ukulele band attempt in August, if you're coming to play at that and haven't bought one I could bring it along?

barefootgypsy
05-03-2012, 11:57 AM
I'm rubbish at fingerstyle (so far), but my friend who is very good at it thinks my C tuned Baritone is the best fingerstyle uke he's ever played.

I'm going to do the Stourbridge world record ukulele band attempt in August, if you're coming to play at that and haven't bought one I could bring it along?Wow, I haven't heard about that, when is it?

Meerkatdawg
05-03-2012, 12:57 PM
Hello again. Probably not the most experienced uker to comment, but in my experience of the ukes I've tried for fingerpicking, for me, the larger the better. Being a Double Bassist and Baker for as long as I've been has left me with thicker fingers than I used to have lol. After the Bass and my Super Jumbo guitar I just love the smaller body, hence I chose the uke that I chose. I love the combined extra space on the tenor neck, but I love the smaller body of the concert. The only particular problem I've had with my Ukulele is that the geared heads upset the balance a bit. Personally for me, after a while my uke gets a bit top heavy to hold and becomes a bit tiresome...as lovely as it is I think it could have been improved with friction tuners as the headstock is just that bit too heavy IMO. Like others have said...and I suppose it's the oldest saying in the book, give everything a good try out first and just go for what feels good to you. I kinda feel you've already decided and are looking for that little push to go for the tenor. Good luck in choosing. Nice to have a fun decision to make!

barefootgypsy
05-03-2012, 01:00 PM
Okay, super-concert - available over here I've found the Ohana CK-35L, and I've watched Ken Middleton's review - could be that's the uke for me! I'd love to hear people's opinion on them - perhaps that'd need a new thread...

barefootgypsy
05-03-2012, 01:03 PM
I like the super concert as well, it is kind of a "tweener".
More volume than a concert, but the sweet voice of a concert.
I also like the longer neck and scale for finger picking, just slightly larger frets. YOu've got a Koaloha Super Concert! Drool........ No chance of one of those I'm afraid! Considering Ohana.....they're available here...

chris667
05-03-2012, 01:46 PM
Wow, I haven't heard about that, when is it?

It's part of Smartfest 2012, on the 11th of August.

Quite looking forward to it - always nice to meet a few fellow ukers!

Plainsong
05-03-2012, 01:58 PM
You can really fingerpick on any size that's not the issue. It's more personal preference about sound and scale. I can say I love the sound of my superconcert, but also the Ohana sk38 too. If you don't like the sound of the tenor strummed well then that answers that question. If you need more fretboard and want a different sound (it is tenor strings after all), absotively, why not a superconcert? :)

guitarsnrotts
05-03-2012, 02:11 PM
I'm a converted fingerstlye guitar player and have a tenor in low-G that I exclusively fingerpick. Mostly stuff I brought over from the guitar that seems to sound better with the lower bass notes. Been working on some John Fahey on the tenor. I fingerpick on my concerts and sopranos as well in high-G. Some songs are easier to play on a longer scale. Just got a second concert on which I plan to try some low-G Worth Browns. So far I have not found a soprano and string combination in low-G that sounds right to my ears.

BlackBearUkes
05-03-2012, 04:06 PM
I tend to look at your question as someone who has played guitar for many years. So, do you see yourself playing more in high G or low G tuning? As a guitarist, I gravitate toward low G because I am much more comfortable with the lowest notes being on the bottom string. Especially when I'm fingerpicking. It just makes sense to me to have the thumb driving those big low notes. While sopranos and concerts often sound very good in low G, its my opinion that the larger sound box of the tenor is a better fit for low G tuning.

The second consideration is the width of the strings at the bridge. My limited experience with ukes tells me that generally the string width at the bridge is greater on tenors than on concerts. Especially if you have long fingers, you might appreciate the extra space between strings that a tenor would provide. I think most players can adapt, but if you are getting a new uke, why not get what feels most comfortable? For my fingerpicking style that means a tenor. Good luck with your search.

Some of the information here is not correct. The string width at the bridge is usually the same for soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. Because the instrument is bigger in body size, does not mean the string spacing increase with the body size. i use 1 3/8" nut on all the ukes I make, regardless of the size. This is turn results in the same spacing at the bridge location.

And as a point of interest, did you know that the string spacing on a soprano uke with a 1 3/8" nut width results in a wider string spacing than a standard guitar and even a classical guitar? I always find it amusing when a guitar player says the strings are too close together on a uke.

kapahulu50
05-03-2012, 04:59 PM
Sounds like youre on the right track. If you don't like a tenor strummed, you won't like It finger picked.

philpot
05-03-2012, 05:09 PM
I like the full sound of a tenor for fingerpicking, but some of the more intense reaches like in Jake's Pianoforte are tough for me to hit on a tenor. My concert is my go-to, but I have enjoyed playing tenors in the past, and will definitely get a tenor size when/if I order a custom. It's really up to you.

barefootgypsy
05-03-2012, 11:03 PM
Thrilled with all the new answers this morning, thank you everyone so much! Views, preferences, information - really helpful to me, all of it! Will reply in more detail to individuals a little later - bless you all! :D

vanflynn
05-04-2012, 03:24 AM
It's really a matter of personal preference. If IZ could pick a soprano, anyone can! I have a soprano, concert (3) and tenor and keep coming back to the concert size. It just seems to craddle better for me. The difference in the neck didn't really seem to matter for my hands. It seems like you have your mind set on a super concert. Super! Ohana makes a wonderful product and I am willing to bet you'll be real happy. If not, you'll probably have no problem selling it.

Keep us posted (and we want pic on New Uke Day)

barefootgypsy
05-04-2012, 04:12 AM
It's really a matter of personal preference. If IZ could pick a soprano, anyone can! I have a soprano, concert (3) and tenor and keep coming back to the concert size. It just seems to craddle better for me. The difference in the neck didn't really seem to matter for my hands. It seems like you have your mind set on a super concert. Super! Ohana makes a wonderful product and I am willing to bet you'll be real happy. If not, you'll probably have no problem selling it.

Keep us posted (and we want pic on New Uke Day)I've been up to my local music shop (again!) to try out the tenors for fingerpicking - it's certainly easier up the fingerboard, and the sound is nice, finger-picked; when playing barred at the fifth or seventh fret the notes were much easier and clearer. As I said before, I 'm not keen on strumming a tenor, but that doesn't matter, I might yet get one. The feel of the thicker strings is weird though - just not used to it! They're going to try and get an Ohana Super Concert in from somewhere for me to try - they don't usually stock them. If this new uke ever materializes, there will definitely be a picture! I've had my humble little concert uke for 6 1/2 years! (But she's only been played regularly for the last 6 months.)

barefootgypsy
05-04-2012, 04:16 AM
Some of the information here is not correct. The string width at the bridge is usually the same for soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. Because the instrument is bigger in body size, does not mean the string spacing increase with the body size. i use 1 3/8" nut on all the ukes I make, regardless of the size. This is turn results in the same spacing at the bridge location.

And as a point of interest, did you know that the string spacing on a soprano uke with a 1 3/8" nut width results in a wider string spacing than a standard guitar and even a classical guitar? I always find it amusing when a guitar player says the strings are too close together on a uke.That's really interesting - and quite logical when you think about it - it's the geometry... thanks for mentioning that, it's an important point - I've never actually tried a soprano....

barefootgypsy
05-04-2012, 04:18 AM
I'm a converted fingerstlye guitar player and have a tenor in low-G that I exclusively fingerpick. Mostly stuff I brought over from the guitar that seems to sound better with the lower bass notes. Been working on some John Fahey on the tenor. I fingerpick on my concerts and sopranos as well in high-G. Some songs are easier to play on a longer scale. Just got a second concert on which I plan to try some low-G Worth Browns. So far I have not found a soprano and string combination in low-G that sounds right to my ears. I tried a low G on my concert a few months ago - hated it though! Couldn't change it back quickly enough! But I want to try some low G music for finger-picking. That means TWO new ukes......!!!!

Thinker
05-04-2012, 04:37 AM
I tried a low G on my concert a few months ago - hated it though! Couldn't change it back quickly enough! But I want to try some low G music for finger-picking. That means TWO new ukes......!!!!

I've been having this same thought! I'm eyeing a pineapple - perhaps with a long neck - partially for that reason (and ostensibly so my kid can play with me....).

paeataa
05-04-2012, 05:34 AM
I just got a tenor yesterday. I'm not used to the string tension and the sound of low-G yet. But I think it's much easier for finger picking or fingerstyle music.

Though, barred chords require a lot more finger strength on a tenor than that on a concert. (I'm a female).

Sound wise, the tenor sounds much fuller than the concert. I think because of the thicker strings and bigger body size. The concert gives me much sweeter and brighter sound though.

I'll try to do a review on my brand-new tenor v. my still-new concert soon once I'm set with the ukes and gears :D

barefootgypsy
05-04-2012, 06:08 AM
I just got a tenor yesterday. I'm not used to the string tension and the sound of low-G yet. But I think it's much easier for finger picking or fingerstyle music.

Though, barred chords require a lot more finger strength on a tenor than that on a concert. (I'm a female).

Sound wise, the tenor sounds much fuller than the concert. I think because of the thicker strings and bigger body size. The concert gives me much sweeter and brighter sound though.

I'll try to do a review on my brand-new tenor v. my still-new concert soon once I'm set with the ukes and gears :DThanks very much for that input - I'm a female too! I look forward to your review! What's your preferred music for fingerstyle? At the moment I'm on beautiful stuff tabbed by Mike Lynch and Ken Middleton - at the easiest end of their arrangements. BTW what tenor did you get? :)

paeataa
05-04-2012, 06:19 AM
Thanks very much for that input - I'm a female too! I look forward to your review! What's your preferred music for fingerstyle? At the moment I'm on beautiful stuff tabbed by Mike Lynch and Ken Middleton - at the easiest end of their arrangements. BTW what tenor did you get? :)

I'm completely new to fingerstyle, but I have always wanted to learn. There are some pieces that I want to be able to play the most -- Aldrein Guerrero's Ukulele Waltz is the inspirational piece that I wanted to achieve. Though, it's very difficult for my skill level. :D

I like Ken Middleton's music a lot too. I subscribe to his YouTube channel, and wish I could play something like that someday.

I got a KoAloha tenor from Cymbalism Music -- the best deal with the best customer service ever! Highly recommended. Period.

Scott S.
05-04-2012, 06:20 AM
That's really interesting - and quite logical when you think about it - it's the geometry... thanks for mentioning that, it's an important point - I've never actually tried a soprano....

Barefootgypsy, the first uke that I purchased, and still own is the Ohana CK-35L. My other two ukes are a custom LoPrinzi tenor and a Kanile'a K-1 tenor. Regarding geometry, this is what I can tell you. On the Ohana, the nut width is 1 3/8"; the string spacing at the nut is 1 1/8"; and the string spacing at the bridge is 1 1/2". On the custom LoPrinzi and the Kanile'a, the nut width is 1 7/16"; the string spacing at the nut is 1 3/16"; and the string spacing at the bridge is 1 11/16". So what's interesting to me is that with the 1/16" increase in string spacing at the nut, there is a corresponding 3/16" increase in the string spacing at the bridge. Probably a matter of simple geometry. While I'm not an expert in ukes like Mr. GrouchyBear, my experience with stringed acoustic instruments is that small changes in geometry can result in perceptible differences in how comfortable I am playing a particular instrument. For me, the extra spacing of the strings at the bridge of my tenors make them much more comfortable to fingerpick, probably because I'm used to a guitar. Having said that, I am perfectly happy fingerpicking the Ohana as well.

Since no one else has chimed in on the Ohana, here's a link to a short review I did on mine: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?53311-Ohana-CK-35L

After getting my tenors, I realize that I personally enjoy the fuller sound of the tenor for fingerpicking, but find the Ohana a delight for strumming. Hope this helps you in your quest.

barefootgypsy
05-04-2012, 06:31 AM
Barefootgypsy, the first uke that I purchased, and still own is the Ohana CK-35L. My other two ukes are a custom LoPrinzi tenor and a Kanile'a K-1 tenor. Regarding geometry, this is what I can tell you. On the Ohana, the nut width is 1 3/8"; the string spacing at the nut is 1 1/8"; and the string spacing at the bridge is 1 1/2". On the custom LoPrinzi and the Kanile'a, the nut width is 1 7/16"; the string spacing at the nut is 1 3/16"; and the string spacing at the bridge is 1 11/16". So what's interesting to me is that with the 1/16" increase in string spacing at the nut, there is a corresponding 3/16" increase in the string spacing at the bridge. Probably a matter of simple geometry. While I'm not an expert in ukes like Mr. GrouchyBear, my experience with stringed acoustic instruments is that small changes in geometry can result in perceptible differences in how comfortable I am playing a particular instrument. For me, the extra spacing of the strings at the bridge of my tenors make them much more comfortable to fingerpick, probably because I'm used to a guitar. Having said that, I am perfectly happy fingerpicking the Ohana as well.

Since no one else has chimed in on the Ohana, here's a link to a short review I did on mine: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?53311-Ohana-CK-35L

After getting my tenors, I realize that I personally enjoy the fuller sound of the tenor for fingerpicking, but find the Ohana a delight for strumming. Hope this helps you in your quest.Oh, brilliant stuff, thank you! I'll study those figures - that stuff matters! You're a star! I'm not getting an Ohana unless I try it out first. That goes for any uke, really. :D

barefootgypsy
05-04-2012, 06:36 AM
I'm completely new to fingerstyle, but I have always wanted to learn. There are some pieces that I want to be able to play the most -- Aldrein Guerrero's Ukulele Waltz is the inspirational piece that I wanted to achieve. Though, it's very difficult for my skill level. :D

I like Ken Middleton's music a lot too. I subscribe to his YouTube channel, and wish I could play something like that someday.

I got a KoAloha tenor from Cymbalism Music -- the best deal with the best customer service ever! Highly recommended. Period.A Koaloha - Drool....! ukulelemike's Cherry Blossoms is gorgeous and delightfully achievable... it's on Youtube but you have to buy the tabs. Worth it. I've posted that and some fabulous fingerstyle videos on my blog - most unachievable by the likes of me!