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View Full Version : What's your take on 8 string ukes?



Theresaamusic
09-26-2012, 03:38 PM
I really love "different" instruments, for example banjolele, guitalele, sitars, 8 string ukes, etc. I absolutely LOVE the sound of 8 string ukuleles. I kind of want to buy one that's not too expensive but still great sounding, I'm thinking A kala tenor Just something to get started with.

If anyone has an 8 string, is it hard to play? Hard to tune? What are the pros and cons of it? What do you guys think of it?

Also, what might be a good choice? I want something at a low price but still beautiful sounding. Thanks.

efiscella
09-26-2012, 03:43 PM
I have a wonderful Kamaka 8 string Lili'u tenor that I got at the kamaka factory in 1979. it does take longer to tune, and is difficult to finger pick (actually it is meant to be strummed), however, the sound is so full and rich. it is like having an orchestra in one instrument. It just sounds so full. I do find it a bit more difficult to chord but it is all good.

Rubio MHS
09-26-2012, 04:04 PM
The Lanikai name is often maligned by uke purists (and rightly so, because 90% of their ukes suck), but I love my O8-E. It's absolutely gorgeous, with a solid spruce top and laminated sides. No, it's not as good as a solid-wood 8-string, but that would run you $500 to $1000, while the Lanikai costs $300. It comes with fairly good electronics, and a non-electronic version costs around $250.

An 8-stringer is hardly my go-to uke, but sometimes I like to sing extra loud, and sometimes I like the clock-like sound of fingerpicking chords on it. It's a lot of fun, and I'd recommend you getting one if you have $300 to throw around.

BassGuyukin'
09-26-2012, 04:31 PM
I bought a Kala KA-8 tenor and really didn't care for it. I loved the idea of an 8-string and just wanted to expirment, but in this case I was disappointed two-fold. First, the Kala, though OK for just over $200 was not up to my standards. There are alot of great tenors out there for around $200, but I think for a decent 8-string you are probably going to need a better quality instrument than it's 4-string counterpart. Second, IMO everything I loved about the uke sound was gone with the 8-string. sure, it was big and cool sounding in it's own way, but it sounded to me much more like a 12-string guitar than a ukulele. If that is what you are looking for, then great. Just turns out I wasn't looking for that. So I scaled down and now play an Oscar Schmidt 5-string tenor. You get a bit of that paired string twang with the octave Gs, but it is alot more subtle and it still sounds 100% uke.

Theresaamusic
09-26-2012, 04:46 PM
Thanks for the feedback! The reason why I'm so interested in the 8 string is because it's so different, it sounds unique. But I understand what you're saying, thanks.

Millbrook
09-26-2012, 04:58 PM
Not sure if it's in your price range, but I just got a Pono MT-8 solid mahogany 8-string tenor from HMS for $399. It sounds wonderful, great tone, lots of sustain. I like the looks too. It can be a little bit hard on the fretting hand. I may switch it from the stock Koolau Mahanas to lower-tension Aquila strings.

Paul December
09-26-2012, 05:46 PM
Not sure if it's in your price range, but I just got a Pono MT-8 solid mahogany 8-string tenor from HMS for $399. It sounds wonderful, great tone, lots of sustain. I like the looks too. It can be a little bit hard on the fretting hand. I may switch it from the stock Koolau Mahanas to lower-tension Aquila strings.
I too just got that Pono :)
IMO the Pono strings sounded dead so switched them to Aquila...
...much better sounding now.

Mim
09-27-2012, 02:58 AM
The Lanikai name is often maligned by uke purists (and rightly so, because 90% of their ukes suck), but I love my O8-E. It's absolutely gorgeous, with a solid spruce top and laminated sides. No, it's not as good as a solid-wood 8-string, but that would run you $500 to $1000, while the Lanikai costs $300. It comes with fairly good electronics, and a non-electronic version costs around $250.

An 8-stringer is hardly my go-to uke, but sometimes I like to sing extra loud, and sometimes I like the clock-like sound of fingerpicking chords on it. It's a lot of fun, and I'd recommend you getting one if you have $300 to throw around.

I stocked the Kala 8 strings, and they were good, but though they were comprable to the Lanikai (probably made in the same facotry) the wood was not as pretty and the pickups were not as good and their spruce just had a laminate mahogany back and sides rather than the laminate Ovangol, but cost the same.

The point, basically the main and often only thing I order from Lanikai is their 8 strings. They are the best bang for your buck in the 8 string department, sound good, and now they have a better fishman pickup system in it with a built in tuner which I like.

Just got a bunch in (telling you that to make a point, not to promote) and they are in the best shape I have seen then. I still do nut adjustment and a few fret leveling things (I am very particular), and it is still cumbersome to set up, but better than they were.

In general though, check out some youtube videos. They are a bit combersome to get used to strumming at first, but there are some people that once they go 8 string they dont go back. I sell a lot to uke players in bands with guitars so the sound can compete at times. Also one not set up can sometimes be a pain because it takes more pressure to push down 2 strings than one and if you have high nut action it can be a pain. But a good set up makes it a lot easier.

Yestyn The Great
09-27-2012, 03:33 AM
I tried an eight string in a store. Just know that you can't treat it like a normal uke. It is its own instrument. A lot of more advanced uke techniques don't transfer over.

manapualabs
09-27-2012, 03:37 AM
I just posted this video of Liko playing his 8 string Pegasus in the Pegasus thread,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFGUuaPv2TY

8-string `ukuleles are common for hula halaus, It might be because they're naturally louder and all the dancers can hear the music. We recently bought a solid mahogany Pono 8-string with a pickup from Hawaii Music Supply for Liko's hula kumu and it sounded great for the price; nice and full without being too "chime-y".

I want to add, if you don't like changing strings, don't get an 8-string. It seems to take *forever* to change them and for all the strings to stretch out and stay in tune! (Speaking as the official string changer in the household.)

Barbablanca
09-27-2012, 05:24 AM
I was so fascinated by the Hawaiian (with subtitles) that I didn't hear the Uke, the first time around (my first love is languages). :D

My very first instrument was a small-bodied twelve string and I learned to love it. Sadly, it expired on a warm day in the back of the car when the bridge came flying off and my repair failed to take (I'd never heard of a Luthier, back then). Never seen or heard one like it since (40 years ago) :(

I have only ever played an 8-string Lanikai (LU-8 their cheapest model) in a shop and was not that impressed. In terms of double stringed instruments, there are just so many out there that sound more individual than that one (Viola Braghuesa; Mandola; Tsouras; Cittern; etc) - unless you are exclusively a Uke player, I'd try some of them first. (I've got MIAS not just UAS :) ).

PS Anyone heard the Ashbury 8 String?

strumsilly
09-27-2012, 05:36 AM
I have a well played Kamaka white label 8 I was thinking of selling to possibly buy another much more expensive uke. I will put it in the marketplace today if I have time. it has lots of honest play wear but plays and sounds beautifuly.

OldePhart
09-27-2012, 06:42 AM
I had a Lanikai 8 string acoustic electric (08-E, I think it was). It came out of the box from a drop shipper with a dead-perfect setup at the nut - this is almost unheard of on Lanikai ukes, frankly. It also sounded awesome plugged in.

Unfortunately, unplugged it was like playing wet dog fur - absolutely no volume or sustain to speak of. It was bad enough that I couldn't bring myself to sell it here in the marketplace so I gave it away to a friend (compared to the junk uke he had it was a step up in spite of its shortcomings). A few weeks ago we happened to be playing some uke at his house and he was marveling at how loud my Mainland mahogany soprano was because it was completely burying the 8-string tenor!

John

Barbablanca
09-27-2012, 06:48 AM
Here's a link to the Ashbury 8 String, I mentioned:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ashbury-Acoustic-Instruments-LU-8-EQ-Ukulele/dp/B00235Q1YY/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=3NYNGCLSXR4SL&coliid=I3MC3L633B79G0

Anyone know anything about this model?

GaryC1968
09-27-2012, 06:50 AM
I picked up a Lanikai 8-string tenor earlier this year and I love it! It is by first choice for strumming songs. I am kind of regretting not getting one with a pickup, but I can always add one at a later time.

Barbablanca
09-27-2012, 06:59 AM
Just gave your Lanikai a listen on a couple of your videos Gary and it sounds so much brighter than the LU-8 - which John so accurately described as sounding like wet dog fur ;)

To my untrained eye your instrument actually looks like the Ashbury (see Link above) - maybe they're made by the same manufacturer. What model number is yours Gary?

GaryC1968
09-27-2012, 07:22 AM
Just gave your Lanikai a listen on a couple of your videos Gary and it sounds so much brighter than the LU-8 - which John so accurately described as sounding like wet dog fur ;)

To my untrained eye your instrument actually looks like the Ashbury (see Link above) - maybe they're made by the same manufacturer. What model number is yours Gary?

I have the LU-8. Maybe I just lucked out, but as you mentioned, it has a very bright sound.

PhilUSAFRet
09-27-2012, 09:00 AM
I kind of like the sound of a 6 string better....much of the chime of a 8 string, lots of tuning options with an 8 string set of strings....Southcoasts of course. A little easier to fingerpick. I picked up one of those Pono tenor 6 string refurbs....awesome for the money.

Freeda
09-27-2012, 09:06 AM
I have a Lanikai 08-EK. It's fabulous. :) Definitely for strumming more than picking, but a ton of fun.

Barbablanca
09-27-2012, 10:12 AM
I have the LU-8.

Weird. The one I tried looked like the one in the picture here - without the electrics and it was very dull sounding. Only the one I tried had a matt finish too, IMS.

43465

Strange how to "luck out" means you got lucky....

GaryC1968
09-27-2012, 10:57 AM
Weird. The one I tried looked like the one in the picture here - without the electrics and it was very dull sounding. Only the one I tried had a matt finish too, IMS.

43465

Strange how to "luck out" means you got lucky....

That's the one I have, just without the electronics. Maybe the gloss finish makes a difference. I know Bornagainjeeper has a few videos posted with his LU-8E. I think his has a spruce top and it is very bright sounding.

Barbablanca
09-27-2012, 11:39 AM
Gary, the one you are playing in several of your contributions to the seasons looks a lot lighter than the one I played, which was a very dull and dark mahogany. Lanikai don't seem to use any other model number for their various 8 string models, I guess. :confused:

OldePhart
09-27-2012, 11:39 AM
I wonder if maybe their pickup and or the way they install it gobbles up a lot of the vibration? Or maybe they put more bracing in the electric models to deal with the preamp installation and what have you so it kills them acoustically? Or...I may have just gotten a poor sample - Lanikai consistency is pretty spotty - I've bought several of them for grandkids - all needed setups to one extent or another but some were definitely better than others.

Like I say, the one I had would have been outstanding if the acoustic performance had been even marginally acceptable. It had the best factory setup of any factory uke I've purchased that wasn't worked on by the dealer and that includes about six or seven other Lanikai ukes. The plugged in sound was also marvelous.

FiL
09-28-2012, 03:02 AM
Count me as another big fan of the Laniaki O-8E. It is by far my go-to instrument (not just uke). I strum and fingerpick. I play with a lot of guitarists, and when I use a plastic guitar pick, I can compete with them. It is harder to play than four strings, but not *that* hard. I love the sound, and I love its uniqueness.

Changing strings is indeed a pain. My biggest complaint is that when I break a high C string, I can't buy an individual replacement, so I now have several sets of strings missing that one string.

I've been using Aquilas on mine, but one of these days I want to try Southcoasts.

- FiL

mailman
09-28-2012, 03:55 AM
I bought a Lanikai LU-8EK from Mim this week. It is the mahogany laminate withe the Fishman electronics. I love it! Looks good, sounds great and plays well. I am a strummer, and don't finger pick, so it meets my needs quite nicely. I'm particularly fond of the on-board tuner. We'll see how much my impressions change when it comes time to change all these strings....;)

manapualabs
09-28-2012, 04:10 AM
Changing strings is indeed a pain. My biggest complaint is that when I break a high C string, I can't buy an individual replacement, so I now have several sets of strings missing that one string.
- FiL

I just bought some Seaguar 30lb Fluorocarbon line last week to replace the High C on the `Oiwi 6 string. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm tired of replacing just that string out of a set every couple of weeks. I'm hoping it won't make too great a difference in the sound. We've been using Worth Clears on the `Oiwi.

TheCraftedCow
09-28-2012, 07:44 PM
I traded a very nice koa Pulelehua 8 string for a 1923 Martin tiple. it had been strung as Gg cC EE AA, but it was remarkably better strung as Dd gG bB EE. Double and triple strings seem to act as snow shoes for fingers. My tiple also has Aquila strings tuned Dd GgG BbB EE. I have discovered charrango strings with a high E , so all of strings will soon be octaved. I both finger picked and strummed with it.
There are times for it, and times for something else.

Woodcutterron
10-06-2012, 04:43 PM
Here's a link to the Ashbury 8 String, I mentioned:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ashbury-Acoustic-Instruments-LU-8-EQ-Ukulele/dp/B00235Q1YY/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=3NYNGCLSXR4SL&coliid=I3MC3L633B79G0

Anyone know anything about this model?

I've been told that the Ashburys and Oscar Schmidts are the same ukes, just branded differently depending on which side of "the pond" ya live on. It does look a lot like my Oscar Schmidt OU28T, though the Ashbury you link to looks to be a spruce laminate, and my 'base model' OU28T is of course a mahogany laminate.

I know when I was first looking into trying an 8 string, I heard a lot about trouble with finger picking. I'm not really seeing that. I've only played concert sized ukes, so It was a step up in size and number of strings. It took me about 20 minutes to get the hang of it. Near as I can tell if ya just put the fact there are two strings instead of one out of your mind, finger picking is a piece of cake, at least with my style of fingerpicking.

Then again, from what I have read, Oscar Schmidts have closer string spacing than some 8 strings. Tuning takes a little getting used to, but since with the new strings ya have to retune about every five minutes, heheh, you get the hang of it pretty quick.

As for my Oscar Schmidt itself, I'm pretty satisfied, especially for the money. Heck, I feel like I got in nearly free. It cost me $85.00 new, including shipping, from Saint Fishys. It came with Aquila Nylgut strings, and the action wasn't too bad, and no fret buzz, at least when I do my part. (Fingering two strings obviously takes more pressure) Tone and sustain seemed pretty good to me, though I really had nothing to compare it to, other than my two concerts.

This is just my impression as sort of a "beginner-intermediate" so take my opinion with a little grain of salt. I might try to record a sound sample or something, once I get used to what the low-G tuning is best for playing. Some songs I know seem to sound better than others in low G.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
10-06-2012, 10:59 PM
The main pro for eight-string ukes is that they sound like psychedelic love dreams. The only con is that strings cost about twice as much.

Woodcutterron
10-07-2012, 10:30 AM
The main pro for eight-string ukes is that they sound like psychedelic love dreams. The only con is that strings cost about twice as much.

"Psychedelic love dreams" great description, lol. Another interesting thing is that while looking around here and other places, by most accounts the Aquila nylgut 8 string set is the way to go, which is what this Uke came with, but the general consensus is that the wound low G string wears out super fast. Even the companies own website states that when ya buy a set, we should probably order 3-4 individual low G strings.

That does appear to be the case, since I've probably got less than "4 playing hours" on it, and sure enough, when I roll the string a little and looked at it under a magnifying glass (I''m half blind, might not be necessary for some of ya'll) I can already see the wear.

I've ordered six low G single strings and another set, hope they get here before the Low G dies, heheh.

OldePhart
10-07-2012, 02:05 PM
"Psychedelic love dreams" great description, lol. Another interesting thing is that while looking around here and other places, by most accounts the Aquila nylgut 8 string set is the way to go, which is what this Uke came with, but the general consensus is that the wound low G string wears out super fast. Even the companies own website states that when ya buy a set, we should probably order 3-4 individual low G strings.

That does appear to be the case, since I've probably got less than "4 playing hours" on it, and sure enough, when I roll the string a little and looked at it under a magnifying glass (I''m half blind, might not be necessary for some of ya'll) I can already see the wear.

I've ordered six low G single strings and another set from Juststrings.com, hope they get here before the Low G dies, heheh.

Three- or four-to-one seems about the norm for wound strings to nylon strings regardless of whether you're talking 8 or low-g 4 or baritone sets. The other thing you'll probably find is that the high C breaks pretty easily - and unfortunately I don't think you can get those in singles unless you're rolling your own sets with fishing line or something.

John

FiL
10-08-2012, 02:46 AM
I've ordered six low G single strings and another set from Juststrings.com, hope they get here before the Low G dies, heheh.

I use classical guitar D strings to replace my wound low G's. Easy to get at my local music store.

- FiL