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View Full Version : Suggestions for a tenor or bari for mom?



NatalieS
09-10-2012, 08:07 AM
Hey guys, I need your help on this one. My mom has been a guitar player for 40 years. After I got into uke, she wanted to try it as well. She happened to go to Oahu for vacation around that time, and came home with a concert Kanile'a. It's a gorgeous instrument, but she hasn't gotten comfortable with it and it's been 3 years! She said it feels so small that it's foreign to her, and therefore it just sits there. As a daily uke player, this pains me. I suggested to her that she probably needs to switch to a larger size. I offered to sell the uke for her and use that money to help find a replacement for her.

My heart is screaming to get her a tenor Kamaka; however, I wonder if the thin neck would be just as difficult for her to transition to. Any other suggestions? Maybe a Pono Pro Classic in a tenor or bari size? She'd tune it GCEA no matter the size.

kauaijim
09-10-2012, 08:41 AM
Just a suggestion, but how about a Koaloha tenor neck soprano? Larger neck but certainly the ukulele sound. A baritone with Southcoast strings for re-entrant tuning might also suit her as the neck is even larger. I'm not sure which set of strings would be used for GCEA tuning for the baritone but Dirk at Southcoast could advise. The Pono baritones are very nice.

mds725
09-10-2012, 09:06 AM
I have a few baritones (including an Ohana BK-35 solid mahogany baritone that I'm going to sell :) ) and the one with the thickest neck of the baritones I own (Ohana, Kamaka, Mya-Moe, Pono) is the Pono. Kanile'a ukuleles have wider necks than most others, I believe, so if thin necks are an issue for your mom, a Kanile'a might be an option as well.

Patrick Madsen
09-10-2012, 10:01 AM
It sounds like it's the body size that is so different for your mom as well as the fretboard. With her many years of playing, a bari. might suit her better as they can be tuned to use the same chord shapes as a guitar. As an old guitar player myself, the concert fretboard was a little small, with the tenor being just right. I'm in the process of checking out a bari. myself.

What I look for in any instrument is a slim, low fast action with a radiused fretboard. I suggest you ask your mom what type of neck she's looking for. Some like a fatter neck so go with a Pono while others llike a slimmer neck and go for something like a Mya Moe or what MDS suggested.

Personally, I don't care what type of wood it's made out of or who makes it' it's all about the intonation and how the neck feels when playing.

NatalieS
09-10-2012, 10:24 AM
Thanks for the ideas, everyone. I've been showing her different sizes and tonewoods today (well, pictures of them, that is). She really wants a spruce top so that limits the options somewhat. Having played Ponos myself, I think the thick neck would be a good match for her. I wonder if a baritone would be so guitar-like in size that it wouldn't offer enough variety from the guitar. I personally would like to get her a tenor, but if I can find good GCEA strings for a bari then I think she'd be most comfortable with that size.

Off to search TheUkuleleSite and see what they've got in terms of Ponos. :-)

mds725
09-10-2012, 10:36 AM
I think a baritone with GCEA strings would feel and sound a lot more like an ukulele than like a guitar. First, four strings instead of six. Second, a baritone scale is still shorter than that of a conventional guitar. Third, a baritone ukulele sounds like an ukulele, even with DGBE tuning. I have baritone ukes and a tenor (4-string) guitar, all tuned DGBE, and the two types of instruments sound different -- the baritones have that more percussive sound of an ukulele -- and that ukulele sound would only be enhanced by GCEA tuning (try capoing a baritone at the fifth fret to hear the difference). I hope Pono or Ko'olau (which designs Ponos) make a spruce top baritone. Please let us know what you decide.

Ooooh .... pretty!
http://www.theukulelesite.com/pono-mhbs-mahogany-baritone-spruce-top-slothead-cutaway.html

saltytri
09-10-2012, 10:47 AM
I think a baritone with GCEA strings would feel and sound a lot more like an ukulele than like a guitar. First, four strings instead of six. Second, a baritone scale is still shorter than that of a conventional guitar. Third, a baritone ukulele sounds like an ukulele, even with DGBE tuning. I have baritone ukes and a tenor (4-string) guitar, all tuned DGBE, and the two types of instruments sound different -- the baritones have that more percussive sound of an ukulele -- and that ukulele sound would only be enhanced by GCEA tuning (try capoing a baritone at the fifth fret to hear the difference).

+1

You might want to try the Linear (low G) gcea bari set from Dirk at Southcoast. Or Dirk can probably get you a re-entrant gcea set as well. He knows strings and I've been happy with every set he has sent.

Teek
09-10-2012, 01:52 PM
Just a +1 for a Pono spruce top bari, strung in C tuning, probably re-entrant.

luluwrites
09-10-2012, 01:54 PM
I'll vouch for these. They are just aces.


+1

You might want to try the Linear (low G) gcea bari set from Dirk at Southcoast. Or Dirk can probably get you a re-entrant gcea set as well. He knows strings and I've been happy with every set he has sent.

katysax
09-10-2012, 01:54 PM
Maybe your mom just likes playing guitar and ukulele isn't for her.

The Orange Mage
09-10-2012, 09:17 PM
There's a Spruce Top Pono Baritone in the marketplace right now if I remember correctly!

kauaijim
09-10-2012, 10:49 PM
I was on Oahu today and went by Koolau in Waihiwa to look at the Pono factory seconds just because I happened to be Miliani for an appointment. Mr. John Kitakis showed me a sample of the spruce top baritone like the one on the marketplace. Wonderful sound. If I hadn't gotten a cigar box gituar last weekend to play Robert Johnson songs I would have bought something today. The Pono seconds at Koolau are a good buy...the flaws are minor and the sound unimpaired. Those of you visiting Oahu would enjoy a visit there if you're going to the North Shore. Great visit with Mr. Kitakis as we talked about topics ranging from Javanese workmanship to the use of music in psychotherapy. Ukulele people are nice people.

Your mother might really like the Pono spruce top baritone.

The Village Woodworker
09-10-2012, 11:20 PM
There is this one.
Spruce top and rosewood body tenor ukulele.
42803

It is here:
Tenor Ukulele (http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/FREE-SHIP-Indian-Rosewood-Tenor-Ukulele-Aquila-String-Gloss-finish-UJ17-178-/170908117818?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27caeaeb3a)

mm stan
09-11-2012, 01:26 AM
Aloha Nat,
I think you mother's issue may not be only the size of the uke, but also the sound and volume of the ukulele...she needs to play the ukulele more to get accustomed to the transition....being a
guitar player for 40 years may have her in a set ways and she may expect that certain sound..and needs to learn how to tune her uke to other alternative tunings as well..I know when I switch over
from a guitar to a concert it is so much a drastic change I need a few minuetes to get used to it and feel comfortable...sometimes it could just be the brand of uke too and the voice of it...as
ukers we have a certain preference of a brighter uke or more warmer sound...she needs to realize these are two different instruments and like the guitar you have preferences, and in the ukulele you have
as well...it may not just be a neck thing only, have her go into a uke store and see what she likes...then she and you will know, till then you'll only be guessing and taking a chance..Happy Strummings

NatalieS
09-11-2012, 05:29 AM
Great insight, guys. Thanks...

I showed her the Pono bari currently for sale in the Marketplace, and she's adamantly against cutaways. Oh well! Some people hate them.

I think we may have settled on getting a Pono spruce top. Based on HMM's current supply, I don't see exactly what she wants. She's not a fan of the extremely light or dark tonewoods, so the maple and rosewood are out. (I know, she's picky). I don't currently see any acacia or mahogany spruce tops available in a figure-8. It might be time to make a call to them. :)

Patrick Madsen
09-11-2012, 07:42 AM
Have you thought about having a custom made? A person with that much experience playing may demand a little more from an instrument because they know what they like in one.

I was the same way when first trying out a uke. It took a custom to finally even get close to what I wanted. Don't flame me people, it's just a suggestion lol.

mds725
09-11-2012, 08:14 AM
Great insight, guys. Thanks...

I showed her the Pono bari currently for sale in the Marketplace, and she's adamantly against cutaways. Oh well! Some people hate them.

I think we may have settled on getting a Pono spruce top. Based on HMM's current supply, I don't see exactly what she wants. She's not a fan of the extremely light or dark tonewoods, so the maple and rosewood are out. (I know, she's picky). I don't currently see any acacia or mahogany spruce tops available in a figure-8. It might be time to make a call to them. :)

Hey Natalie,

Too bad about cutaways (although I understand - I don't like the way they look either); the spruce top Pono baritone at HMS has beautiful mahogany back and sides. I think your idea of calling HMS, or Ko'olau/Pono, is a good one. They may have what your mom wants or they may know where to find it. Good luck!

NatalieS
09-11-2012, 06:19 PM
We have a winner! My mom chose a Pono RTSH-5 (rosewood spruce top tenor slothead with bling). She really liked it on the site and wanted it bad. I ordered it for her and hopefully in a week or so she'll be making sweet music! :)

kvehe
09-12-2012, 12:52 AM
That's great news! If I were in the market for another uke (which, given recent acquisitions and things soon-to-arrive, I can't imagine), that would be the one for me.

NatalieS
09-26-2012, 05:39 AM
Mom's new uke came in, and she loves it!! I insisted on being able to Skype with her as she unboxed the Pono, and we were both grinning ear to ear, hahaha. I kept begging her to play it over Skype and she said, "I don't know anything yet, I need to practice first!". She's forgotten everything she learned 3 years ago. Let me tell you guys, this uke is gorgeous (well, from what I can see on Skype). The rosewood has a nice lighter stripe up the center on the back, and I think the purfling offered on the -5 series is really classy. She likes the slothead too. In short, this uke is a much better fit for her. She said it even feels like a little guitar to her, so the transition will be easier.

So without further ado, here's a really washed-out picture of her dog, uke, and guitar. As she said, "One of them has been my buddy for 28 years, another for 11 years, and the uke is my newest friend."
http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa270/nksteckler/60711_4680706655373_1527878132_n.jpg

Newportlocal
09-26-2012, 06:27 AM
Aaawwww.. Very nice!!

mm stan
09-26-2012, 07:07 AM
Wow 3 best friends there......nice

mds725
09-26-2012, 09:56 AM
Thanks for the follow-up post! Congratulations to your mom for her new ukulele and to you for helping her pick out an ukulele she loves. Please let us know when she starts posting ukulele music on her YouTube channel. :)

kvehe
09-26-2012, 10:00 AM
Great photo!