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View Full Version : A little advice from the more experienced



Joe90
10-04-2012, 11:43 PM
Picking up a new uke tomorow but sadly im working so a family member will be getting it. Thing is its either a concert or a tenor and im undecided which to go for size wise.

Im coming from a soprano size uke, and ideally would like to buy the tenor size one. My question is would a tenor be harder for me to play being still in the beginner stages? As i cant try it, what would your advice be? Thanks joe

CasanovaGuy
10-05-2012, 12:30 AM
I've actually played all three sizes, so here's my comment:
Since playability's your issue, I'm gonna guess that you're considering a tenor mainly because of the larger fret widths and, secondarily, more frets and better sound quality. More frets should actually be a little more comfortable since it would encourage the proper (and ergonomic) way to hold an ukulele. However, the larger fret widths were what troubled me the most. It took a long time to get used to the transition between uke sizes, but eventually the tenor became the easiest to play out of the three sizes. If you switch to a tenor now and practice with it, then playability shouldn't be a problem.

garyg
10-05-2012, 12:42 AM
The uke is the only stringed instrument that I've played and I originally bought a tenor because of the fret width issues mentioned above. I found it too difficult to play however and now play almost exclusively sopranos, even though on some chords like D I have the opposite problem (difficult to squeeze my fat little fingers all in one soprano fret). But I wouldn't suggest making a decision about the size of uke you buy without trying out the different sizes first and seeing which is most comfortable for your body (fingers, hands, etc.). I ended up loving vintage instruments which pretty much means that I'll be playing sopranos, but every so often I pick up my concerts and go, wow, those wider frets are nice. Problem is it's a much more awkward instrument to hold and less portable (I do a fair amount of traveling) than a soprano. Each size has advantages and disadvantages and more depends on your particular preferences than anything else. cheers, g2

Doc_J
10-05-2012, 12:52 AM
It is unfortunate you can't try the different uke sizes and models before you buy. I play soprano, concert, and tenor sizes. If you want a tenor, go for it. But be prepared to work through the feel differences.

webby
10-05-2012, 01:10 AM
Picking up a new uke tomorow but sadly im working so a family member will be getting it. Thing is its either a concert or a tenor and im undecided which to go for size wise.

Im coming from a soprano size uke, and ideally would like to buy the tenor size one. My question is would a tenor be harder for me to play being still in the beginner stages? As i cant try it, what would your advice be? Thanks joe


go for a concert with at least 14 frets before the body starts, best of both worlds

fernandogardinali
10-05-2012, 02:00 AM
I've actually played all three sizes, so here's my comment:
Since playability's your issue, I'm gonna guess that you're considering a tenor mainly because of the larger fret widths and, secondarily, more frets and better sound quality. More frets should actually be a little more comfortable since it would encourage the proper (and ergonomic) way to hold an ukulele. However, the larger fret widths were what troubled me the most. It took a long time to get used to the transition between uke sizes, but eventually the tenor became the easiest to play out of the three sizes. If you switch to a tenor now and practice with it, then playability shouldn't be a problem.

I think the tenor is the hardest to play. The string tension is very high. My favorites are Soprano and Concert.

strumsilly
10-05-2012, 02:06 AM
I think the tenor is the hardest to play. The string tension is very high. My favorites are Soprano and Concert.I don't think that is necessarily true. it depends on the strings. you can buy strings for any size uke in different tensions. ex. worth makes tenor strings in light,med,and heavy tensions there will be trade offs in tone and volume

mm stan
10-05-2012, 02:11 AM
Aloha Joe,
If you cannot try before you buy, I'd really recommend you pass and find a place that does.....no sense wasting your money and you might be bummed out....Good Luck..

savagehenry
10-05-2012, 02:18 AM
You should wait and buy one when you can go and check it out for yourself.

hmgberg
10-05-2012, 02:25 AM
I agree with Stan that it is always best to try before you buy. However, I kind of agree with webby, too. I haven't heard much complaining about concerts in terms of playability - people with larger hands don't find it terribly cramped, and those with smaller hands can still manage the scale length comfortably.

The type of music you wish to play is a significant factor. I'm only speaking from my experience here, and my intention is not to engender a heated debate, but if you are going to play "island style" you may want a tenor. If you are going to be playing "vaudeville style," for a lack of a better descriptive, the soprano is great. Here again, the concert has some potential in either case, although perhaps not maximal potential in either one. Check out players on Youtube. When you hear a style of playing you like, determine whether it is most often played on a particular scale.

PhilUSAFRet
10-05-2012, 03:14 AM
I play all three sizes and favor the concert as my main player. Soprano a little small, tenor a little large, but so what. Just a little practce and you are in the groove for a few numbers. Keep your favorite size for when you are going to play a lot at one time. Holding them both and choosing the one that feels best is always preferable, but it doesn't mean you can't get at least somewhat comfortable with all three sizes, even if you do have a favorite.

vanflynn
10-05-2012, 03:46 AM
I would agree with waiting until you can play it. Not only from the size standpoint but also from the sound and look stand point. Two ukes of the same make can look and sound totally different.

Curb the impulse until you can do it in person. You won't reget it.

Joe90
10-05-2012, 06:12 AM
It turns out i dont have work now and can test which uke i like the feel of. So even though ive not actually learned a great deal on the soprano, do you still think taking a dive on a tenor straight away, will be a bit much too soon?

katysax
10-05-2012, 06:32 AM
No matter what you get at this point, you'll be in a different place a few months from now. And a different one again a year later. It also depends on the particular uke. Some have wider nuts than others. I like at least 14 frets to the body, and I don't like the body too big to hold. Whatever you get now does not have to be forever.

mds725
10-05-2012, 09:00 AM
It would be best if you could play a concert and tenor before choosing. When I bought my first ukulele, I played both tenors and concerts in the shop I bought from for three hours before picking out a concert. Ironically, I've since grown to lake larger scales (tenors and even baritones) much more than concerts or sopranos in terms of playability (I still have concerts and sopranos for that "plinky" ukulele sound). If you can't try before you buy, find out if the shop you're planning to buy from has an exchange policy.

v30
10-05-2012, 09:07 AM
I'm far from an experienced player but I do have all 3 sizes. I find changing from any one to another only feels weird for about 15-20 minutes. Its not that big a deal to switch between them. Buy the size/sound you want, you'll adapt in no time.

Newportlocal
10-05-2012, 09:39 AM
It turns out i dont have work now and can test which uke i like the feel of. So even though ive not actually learned a great deal on the soprano, do you still think taking a dive on a tenor straight away, will be a bit much too soon?

Purely just one man's opinion.
I went from Tenor to soprano. It was no problem. Very glad you can go try them out. Fretboard length is only a small part of the equation. Tone is a huge factor. Find the one with the tone you enjoy best. When you are playing you won't be listening to your fretboard.

haolejohn
10-05-2012, 09:43 AM
It turns out i dont have work now and can test which uke i like the feel of. So even though ive not actually learned a great deal on the soprano, do you still think taking a dive on a tenor straight away, will be a bit much too soon?

I don't think it will be. I play all three sizes but I swap between tenor and concert the most. I have about a minute to two minutes before my muscles remember their spacing at times, but I also find that the more frequently I swap between sizes the less time it takes to adapt. I learned on a concert, then bought a tenor b/c I thought that was what serious uke players played. THen I went back to a concert when I got my koaloha and I wondered why I left it.

I really do not think there is that big of a difference between the sizes. If you can play one size, you should be able to play all the sizes. Regardless of how big or small your fingers are. It just may take some retraining.

haolejohn
10-05-2012, 09:44 AM
Purely just one man's opinion.
I went from Tenor to soprano. It was no problem. Very glad you can go try them out. Fretboard length is only a small part of the equation. Tone is a huge factor. Find the one with the tone you enjoy best. When you are playing you won't be listening to your fretboard.

This is my opinion as well. But I have never thought to put it this way. You won't be listening to your fretboard. I love love love it.

Newportlocal
10-05-2012, 09:48 AM
This is my opinion as well. But I have never thought to put it this way. You won't be listening to your fretboard. I love love love it.

Thanks:D...

vanflynn
10-05-2012, 09:59 AM
Glad to hear you'll be able to try them out. IMHO if you mostly chord up by the nut either size will be OK. Picking and chording up the neck is where you will notice the difference. Also, if you want to tune with a Low G then you will have more string choices with a tenor.

Keep us posted and make sure you have some pics of the new uke.

peaceweaver3
10-05-2012, 10:43 AM
Purely just one man's opinion.
I went from Tenor to soprano. It was no problem. Very glad you can go try them out. Fretboard length is only a small part of the equation. Tone is a huge factor. Find the one with the tone you enjoy best. When you are playing you won't be listening to your fretboard.
I went from soprano to tenor. Got the tenor because I liked the sound and knew that soon enough I'd move up to the higher frets and want more room to move around than on soprano. I agree, buy the sound you want. Though size/scale is a factor, it's not the main thing. Plus, if you get something larger, you still have your soprano too. Have you not yet heard of UAS? :D
Choose what works for you and above all, enjoy!

Kem
10-05-2012, 11:15 AM
I have everything from a sopranino to a baritone, and I find I can switch between them without much of a problem. I played soprano and concert for something like twenty-five years before picking up my first tenor, and it didn't take long to adjust. It's not a bad idea to become familiar with all the sizes; you never know when you may wander innocently into a room and encounter a life-or-death situation involving making music on an unfamiliar uke. It's happened to me twice.

kalmario
10-05-2012, 02:37 PM
Take a tuner with you though, make sure you get them both in tune, or you may end up with the most in tune one as it will sound 'better'

Good luck and have fun

Cliff

OldePhart
10-05-2012, 03:06 PM
It's really best if you delay until you can lay hands on in person. That said, a tenor shouldn't be a problem for any adult with normal size hands and normal strength, absense of arthritis, etc. Still, I much prefer smaller scales and smaller bodies just because they seem more "uke like" to me. I haven't even played my concert scale instruments much since I happily discovered that a couple of years of uking had given me the dexterity to deal with a soprano scale and I bought a couple of sopranos.

Of course, I come from a guitar background and even a tenor or baritone is ridiculously low tension compared to a steel-string acoustic guitar. Still, if tenor is what you want go for it unless you have real mobility or strength issues. It may take you a little time to adjust to it but adjust you will.

John

Lori
10-05-2012, 04:48 PM
I don't think tenors are harder to play, and in a way they are more forgiving for fretting technique. The only thing that might be difficult are long stretches over many frets.

Another option to remember is that they make long-neck versions of the different sizes. A super soprano (concert neck on soprano body), and super concert (tenor neck on concert body) can give you a more uke-like sound, but more finger room. They're a little harder to find, but they offer good options.

Happy shopping!!

–Lori

ichadwick
10-06-2012, 02:23 AM
...would a tenor be harder for me to play being still in the beginner stages?
No. Tenors may be a bit bigger, but they're not that much bigger. You may find the opposite - they are easier to play because the keyboards are not as cramped. I have more trouble playing a soprano than any other size because the fretboard seems so cramped, and playing up the neck is usually not very accurate.