PDA

View Full Version : Tonewoods for Baritone?



Ben_H
08-25-2012, 10:37 PM
It's difficult to play lots of baritones and compare sound due to their relative scarcity in the shops. When you do find a few they are often of such different quality/price that the comparison seems worthless.

Do tonewoods for baritones sound the same as smaller ukes only louder or does the additional volume of the instruments change things in some way? Is it reasonable to listen to guitars in a range of tonewoods and make assumptions on how a baritone would sound?


Cheers

ben

HoldinCoffee
08-25-2012, 10:58 PM
Wow, that's a tough one.

I think you can only generalize here. Its not so much speaking about baritone ukes, rather an individual instrument. Sometimes you might find a spruce top baritone uke and pick up the same uke by same same maker and it will sound less bright. Why? Magic.

So I would not make that assumption. However, you're right, a lot of vendors don't carry a broad range of baris. So what else can you do but generalize? I do. And I've been pleasantly suprised.

But generally speaking spruce baritones have the same sonic properties as spruce quitars and nothing a maker does will change the fact that its spruce.

I probably didn't answer your question, but it was a difficult question.

mds725
08-25-2012, 11:51 PM
I have three baritones -- a Pono solid mahogany, a Kamaka koa, and a Mya-Moe myrtle (same scale, different builders). There are variations between them that I think are attributable to the builder and the strings (each has the strings it came with), but if I were to generalize it would be to say the same thing about tonewoods with baritones that people say about tonewoods with other ukuleles -- of the three woods, mahogany is going to sound the warmest, myrtle the brightest and koa somewhere in the middle. The question that's specific to baritones is which wood better takes advantage of the baritone's low voice. When I was talking with MM about my baritone, Char said that she had just built a mahogany baritone for James Hill and loved the way the warmth of mahogany brought out the low voice of the baritone. Already having a mahogany baritone, I picked myrtle because I wanted a different sound thatn the sound of my other baritones, and myrtle might have been a mistake. I find that my myrtle MM baritone sounds a little more muted than my myrtle MM tenor (same builder, different scale), and I wonder if its because myrtle doesn't produce a sound that best takes advantage of the lower-than-tenor bass voice. My two cents, based only on my own anecdotal experience.

coolkayaker1
08-26-2012, 02:22 AM
Coffee and mds have more experience w baritones than I do. They've played several types.

All I can contribute to your good question, op, is my recent experience. My research seemed to find more mahogany b's than most other sizes. I couldn't figure if it's wood availability at that larger size,or what the reason was. Maybe it's sound.

Well, in general, ilike Koa, so I sprung for an all Hawaiian Koa uke from Peter Hurney. And, its a humdinger for sound. Deep and rich, yet with fabulous tone. Never muted or muffled. It is as mds describes his Koa uke.

I think it took the best of my other Koa ukes, and brought it out fully

I think koa on baritones is less common because of the size of the wood, and thus cost, to make it. It's sure not because of the sound.

Ben_H
08-26-2012, 04:10 AM
I'm really, really pleased with my Pono Mahogany baritone. It's strung high D with Living Water strings and it's tone is wonderful.

I would however like another instrument strung low D to give me a greater range of playing options. I've already come up against some blues tab and other stuff that just doesn't work with the high D.

This isn't going to be an immediate purchase as I'd like to go custom, so saving will take a bit of time giving me an opportunity to look around. That said, custom opens up an enormous range of woods that I know nothing about wrt to tone and am unlikely to meet at your average uke group or gathering.

Guess I'll have to keep surfing the web for sound clips and have a good old chat with the luthier about tone when I'm nearer having the money ready.

The Orange Mage
08-26-2012, 04:45 AM
Mahogany seems to be the go-to wood for Baritones, though I've seen one or two that used a combination of Koa and Mahogany that sounded lovely, too.

Who wants to be a brave/foolish soul and order a Mya-Moe Baritone with Purpleheart back and sides and a Redwood top? :p

bariukish
08-26-2012, 06:25 AM
I"m certainly no expert but I have three bari's ,an unknown brand from Vietnam, a Kala KA-ASAC-B all acacia (koaish), and a custom pau ferro body/ port orford cedar( actually cypress) top. The beginner uke never sounded good and is now banned to the closet.Probably not properly set up. I played the Kala for 10 months and listened to the sound improve with age; low and mellow with good sustain and volume. I have been playing the MM for several weeks and it is much brighter and with sustain that goes on forever. My wife tells me to ease up and strum a little softer. I'm trying. There is no doubt in my mind that the hardness of the top wood is a major factor in the "brightness" of the sound. You can compare the sounds a lot different woods on the Mya-Moe website. From there it is a matter of personal preference. You can't go wrong.

Ben_H
08-26-2012, 06:32 AM
I"m certainly no expert but I have three bari's ,an unknown brand from Vietnam, a Kala KA-ASAC-B all acacia (koaish), and a custom pau ferro body/ port orford cedar( actually cypress) top. The beginner uke never sounded good and is now banned to the closet.Probably not properly set up. I played the Kala for 10 months and listened to the sound improve with age; low and mellow with good sustain and volume. I have been playing the MM for several weeks and it is much brighter and with sustain that goes on forever. My wife tells me to ease up and strum a little softer. I'm trying. There is no doubt in my mind that the hardness of the top wood is a major factor in the "brightness" of the sound. You can compare the sounds a lot different woods on the Mya-Moe website. From there it is a matter of personal preference. You can't go wrong.

Pono top of the range is spruce top, hog body. Sounds wonderful and possibly best of both worlds.

I've had a look at the Myo Moe website and they only have three baritone samples in the wood section. Was one of the reasons I asked about whether the size change of the instrument affected the tone and is doubly interesting given mds comments above.

Keep them thoughts rolling!

Ben_H
09-04-2012, 10:30 AM
I"m certainly no expert but I have three bari's ,an unknown brand from Vietnam, a Kala KA-ASAC-B all acacia (koaish), and a custom pau ferro body/ port orford cedar( actually cypress) top. The beginner uke never sounded good and is now banned to the closet.Probably not properly set up. I played the Kala for 10 months and listened to the sound improve with age; low and mellow with good sustain and volume. I have been playing the MM for several weeks and it is much brighter and with sustain that goes on forever. My wife tells me to ease up and strum a little softer. I'm trying. There is no doubt in my mind that the hardness of the top wood is a major factor in the "brightness" of the sound. You can compare the sounds a lot different woods on the Mya-Moe website. From there it is a matter of personal preference. You can't go wrong.

I found a different way of searching the Mya MOe site today and came up with many more variations of sound clip. Still plenty withought though.

They have a new build Spruce/ Rosewood that sounds awesome but also some great sycamore sounds and a cedar koa combo. Lots of choice :0)