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View Full Version : Which Ukulele is best to sing with?



alphophil
10-19-2012, 05:24 PM
Hello!

I'm interested in buying a ukulele and I'm a little confused. My primary aim is to learn chords so I can sing along with it.

I am an 18 year old guy so obviously my voice is a little lower and I'm a little bigger than most females/younger children. Would it matter which ukulele I buy? I know the Soprano is a bit higher pitched so am I better off going for a Concert or a Tenor in terms of pitch and size? Is there much difference?

I'm not sure whether to get a $50 soprano or spend around $80 and go for a concert ukulele.

Any advice?

Thanks in advance!

Phil

bnolsen
10-19-2012, 05:35 PM
uhh...sop/concert/tenor are all same pitch. the size changes the tone a bit. I suspect any uke will work and if you need to you can string swap to modify the tone some more. Sounds like you first need to get a clue regarding ukuleles. Find a basic ukulele to cut your teeth on and go from there. A makala dolphin from uke republic would fit you budget, hopefully be properly setup with good strings and be a starting point. A dolphin with aquila strings is very mellow.

alphophil
10-19-2012, 05:45 PM
uhh...sop/concert/tenor are all same pitch. the size changes the tone a bit. I suspect any uke will work and if you need to you can string swap to modify the tone some more. Sounds like you first need to get a clue regarding ukuleles. Find a basic ukulele to cut your teeth on and go from there. A makala dolphin from uke republic would fit you budget, hopefully be properly setup with good strings and be a starting point. A dolphin with aquila strings is very mellow.

Ahh, I'm clearly showing off my ukulele knowledge then eh hahaha ;)

Would a Soprano be a little harder to play in terms of the size of the frets and stuff like that because of my size or are they all similar in that regards too?

Thank you for your help by the way, much appreciated!

Patrick Madsen
10-19-2012, 06:18 PM
I suggest you go with either a concert or tenor. For myself I like a tenor for the wider frets and bigger body. Concerts are fun also but a soprano just feels too small in my large hands and er body.

Being harder to play is usually defined by how well the uke is set up and type of strings on it. That's why bnolsen suggested Uke Republic or Hawaii Music Supply for another. At the price you're wanting to pay and just buying a random one is setting you up for failure. You could look at used ones also, you may get a better deal.

Welcome to the forum. If you want to learn, this is the place. Once you learn a few chords it gets really fun. Ya have to be careful though cause ukes are chick magnets.

alphophil
10-19-2012, 06:42 PM
I suggest you go with either a concert or tenor. For myself I like a tenor for the wider frets and bigger body. Concerts are fun also but a soprano just feels too small in my large hands and er body.

Being harder to play is usually defined by how well the uke is set up and type of strings on it. That's why bnolsen suggested Uke Republic or Hawaii Music Supply for another. At the price you're wanting to pay and just buying a random one is setting you up for failure. You could look at used ones also, you may get a better deal.

Welcome to the forum. If you want to learn, this is the place. Once you learn a few chords it gets really fun. Ya have to be careful though cause ukes are chick magnets.

Sounds like I need to do a bit more research but I think I am definitely leaning towards going for a concert or tenor :) I shall go to my local music store and check out what they have on offer.

Hahahaha I'm not trying to get into ukes just for girls, but it is definitely a huge incentive ;)

Thanks for the help, much appreciated!

vanflynn
10-19-2012, 07:33 PM
Welcome Phil. Do you have a music shop or Uke group near by? That's two great places to try different Ukes. Each size has its own qualities. Testing each size out for yourself is the best way.

Ben_H
10-19-2012, 08:46 PM
Hi Phil,

It's a steep learning curve but very enjoyable and there is always something new!

If you want to sing I have a few suggestions and I will try to keep it simple.

Most shop sold sopranos, concerts and tenors are tuned GCEA. I find this a little high for my best <ahem> singing voice for the tunes my uke club sing.

If you're playing alone you could always downtune the strings to something you can manage a bit better but this could affect how good the instrument sounds.

You could speak to a string specialist like Southcoast as they do different sets for different tunings and instruments and get something best suited to a lower tuning - eg E,Bb,D,G and then if you happen to play in company you can add a capo at the second fret (device that clamps all the strings for you) and you just use that as an artificial top of the instrument and play below it. You are then all in GCEA but might not be so happy singing.

The third option when you get more comfortable with the music is to transpose the chords of the song so that it is in a key you find easier to sing in.

The fourth option is a cheat but also requires work if you want to play with others. This was the option I turned to. Get a baritone. Bigger instrument, not so easily portable. Generally tuned DGBE but others are available. If you play a simple chord of C on a soprano, the same same chord shape on a baritone gives you a lower G so you are automatically playing the song in a lower, more easily singable (for me) key. So, singing and playing by yourself you can play soprano chords on your baritone but in a lower key. The problem comes if you want to play with others tuned GCEA then you need to learn the baritone chords as well as the soprano chords. Just takes a bit longer. You could also do what I have tried and combine a couple of these options. Tune your baritone E,Bb,D, G and use a capo whrn in company. It depends just jow low your singing voice is.

I have both baritone and soprano and like them both for different things.

Have fun working out what you want

Patrick Madsen
10-19-2012, 09:37 PM
Good suggestions Ben. I think you mean tune to a Bb tuning which is F,Bb,D,G. This may be a little advanced for him. I have one of my tenors in Bb tuning and really like the lower sound.

If you're going to your local music shop Alph, ask them if they will set it up before you buying it. If they say it was setup at the factory and won't look at it, I suggest you look elsewhere. If anything your local shop will give you an opprotunity to test a concert or tenor. Those of us who have gone thru Uke Republic or HMS have never been disappointed because every uke that goes out the door is first checked by one of their luthiers.

I've been playing stringed instruments for 53 years and have found very few that didn't need somesort of setup; even my more expensive 8 grand Breedlove CM guitar.

If you're like the rest of us, this is only the beginning. Uke acquistion becomes an addiction. Have fun finding one. Aren't the Dolphins close to the range he's talking about Ben?

alphophil
10-19-2012, 10:43 PM
Good suggestions Ben. I think you mean tune to a Bb tuning which is F,Bb,D,G. This may be a little advanced for him. I have one of my tenors in Bb tuning and really like the lower sound.

If you're going to your local music shop Alph, ask them if they will set it up before you buying it. If they say it was setup at the factory and won't look at it, I suggest you look elsewhere. If anything your local shop will give you an opprotunity to test a concert or tenor. Those of us who have gone thru Uke Republic or HMS have never been disappointed because every uke that goes out the door is first checked by one of their luthiers.

I've been playing stringed instruments for 53 years and have found very few that didn't need somesort of setup; even my more expensive 8 grand Breedlove CM guitar.

If you're like the rest of us, this is only the beginning. Uke acquistion becomes an addiction. Have fun finding one. Aren't the Dolphins close to the range he's talking about Ben?

No one sells Dolphins in my area according to their websites :/ I shall have to go to the local store and try the different ukes all out to work out which one I prefer.

After seeing so many Youtube videos, I'm already in love with these beautiful instruments although I've never played one before. I just hope I'm patient enough to persevere until I'm able to play and sing at the same time hahaha. Thank you Patrick and Ben for your help.

Ben_H
10-19-2012, 11:05 PM
Good suggestions Ben. I think you mean tune to a Bb tuning which is F,Bb,D,G. This may be a little advanced for him. I have one of my tenors in Bb tuning and really like the lower sound.



It's entirely possible as I was half asleep when I typed this and trying to organise baby milk and cups of tea at the same time ;)

Ben_H
10-19-2012, 11:12 PM
No one sells Dolphins in my area according to their websites :/ I shall have to go to the local store and try the different ukes all out to work out which one I prefer.

After seeing so many Youtube videos, I'm already in love with these beautiful instruments although I've never played one before. I just hope I'm patient enough to persevere until I'm able to play and sing at the same time hahaha. Thank you Patrick and Ben for your help.

What country are you in? Would help with recommending a shop. Dolphins only come as a soprano though Makala make other budget ukes in all sizes, just not as cool/cute/kitsch (delete as applicable). I personally think a baritone dolphin would be awonderful development but am still waiting.

I've had two dolphin sopranos and the first was wonderful, the second one not so great in terms of intonation. Opinion is divided on them depending on individual experience but if you buy from a reputable shop that does a basic setup on them then you should be ok.

Tootler
10-20-2012, 06:23 AM
Most shop sold sopranos, concerts and tenors are tuned GCEA. I find this a little high for my best <ahem> singing voice for the tunes my uke club sing.


It all depends on your singing voice and your hands what size is best for you.

I have a tenor voice and find that GCEA instruments sit very nicely for my voice most of the time. Sometimes, I find the slightly higher tuning ADF#B better.

If your voice is lower then a lower tuning is worth looking at. However as a beginner, I suggest you start with a GCEA tuned instrument as that is the most common tuning and most of the tutors and chord charts are for that tuning. Also if you want to play with others, it is easier if you are using the same tuning as everyone else, especially as a beginner.

As to what size, it all depends on what is most comfortable for you and there is only one way to find out and that is to go to a shop that has a range of sizes and try them out and find what fits you best. The problem with recommendations on a forum like this is that most people will recommend what suits them and it may not suit you so you have to go and find out for yourself.

I have fairly small hands so a soprano suits me fine but others prefer the larger sizes and if you have large hands you may well find a tenor is best to start with, but each size has its own character.

Patrick Madsen
10-20-2012, 08:32 AM
It's entirely possible as I was half asleep when I typed this and trying to organise baby milk and cups of tea at the same time ;)

LOL, been there Ben.

alphophil
10-20-2012, 11:54 AM
What country are you in? Would help with recommending a shop. Dolphins only come as a soprano though Makala make other budget ukes in all sizes, just not as cool/cute/kitsch (delete as applicable). I personally think a baritone dolphin would be awonderful development but am still waiting.


I'm from Sydney, Australia. There is only one reputable guitar shop in Sydney that I know of but I do not know if it specialises in ukes :/


It all depends on your singing voice and your hands what size is best for you.

I have a tenor voice and find that GCEA instruments sit very nicely for my voice most of the time. Sometimes, I find the slightly higher tuning ADF#B better.

If your voice is lower then a lower tuning is worth looking at. However as a beginner, I suggest you start with a GCEA tuned instrument as that is the most common tuning and most of the tutors and chord charts are for that tuning. Also if you want to play with others, it is easier if you are using the same tuning as everyone else, especially as a beginner.

As to what size, it all depends on what is most comfortable for you and there is only one way to find out and that is to go to a shop that has a range of sizes and try them out and find what fits you best. The problem with recommendations on a forum like this is that most people will recommend what suits them and it may not suit you so you have to go and find out for yourself.

I have fairly small hands so a soprano suits me fine but others prefer the larger sizes and if you have large hands you may well find a tenor is best to start with, but each size has its own character.

I shall definitely have to try it out, which is why I'm not going to get it online. I'm leaning towards a concert/tenor in my mind just because of my hand size but again I won't know until I've tried them :)

Lalz
10-20-2012, 09:18 PM
Definitely best to try out ukes at your local shop before choosing size. Most people play sopranos btw, not just children and women ;-)