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View Full Version : More chipper sounding ukulele than my Mahogany tenor?



Whistle
11-16-2012, 06:50 AM
I LOVE my solid tenor Mahogany Pono uke. (LOVE) I am working my way through some song books though and I notice that for some songs, it's sound doesn't seem like the perfect fit. The sound is a bit too mellow and deep. I was wondering, what would the solution to this be? Should I eventually get another ukulele made out of different tone wood or should I go up a size and snag a concert? For now, it's not really a big deal, since I'm only playing for myself, but I'd like to get another ukulele one day, so I'm wondering what would be the most sensible side step, so I have different sound options when playing songs.

Thanks!

coolkayaker1
11-16-2012, 06:53 AM
http://www.theukulelesite.com/pono-rt-pro-classic-tenor-spruce-rosewood.html

The answer to your prayers, whistle.

dhoenisch
11-16-2012, 06:58 AM
Different size ukes are going to sound good on different songs. I tend to use mainly my soprano or concert, my two favorite sizes, but on the more mellow songs, I'll use my tenor with low G. My mom went as far as having a tenor in low G and another one in high G depending on the sound she is trying to get. If I am playing a song that should be bright and happy, I'll almost always use my soprano. If I want one that is mellow and slow, the tenor. The concert comes in play if the soprano makes it too happy :)

Just my two cents.

Dan

Dan Uke
11-16-2012, 07:55 AM
Different size ukes are going to sound good on different songs. I tend to use mainly my soprano or concert, my two favorite sizes, but on the more mellow songs, I'll use my tenor with low G. My mom went as far as having a tenor in low G and another one in high G depending on the sound she is trying to get. If I am playing a song that should be bright and happy, I'll almost always use my soprano. If I want one that is mellow and slow, the tenor. The concert comes in play if the soprano makes it too happy :)

Just my two cents.

Dan

+1 .

Kanaka916
11-16-2012, 08:31 AM
If you like the feel and comfortability of the Tenor, I would suggest trying different tone wood combos. These will definitely give you a different sound than Mahogany. One with a Koa top will be warmer and Spruce will be brighter. Eventually as previously stated, you'll try or want a different size instrument.

coolkayaker1
11-16-2012, 12:36 PM
Different size ukes are going to sound good on different songs. I tend to use mainly my soprano or concert, my two favorite sizes, but on the more mellow songs, I'll use my tenor with low G. My mom went as far as having a tenor in low G and another one in high G depending on the sound she is trying to get. If I am playing a song that should be bright and happy, I'll almost always use my soprano. If I want one that is mellow and slow, the tenor. The concert comes in play if the soprano makes it too happy :)

Just my two cents.

Dan

And, if you want to play "lost-my-wife-and-now-I'm-drinking-myself-to-death" blues, you grab the baritone.

OldePhart
11-16-2012, 01:26 PM
And, if you want to play "lost-my-wife-and-now-I'm-drinking-myself-to-death" blues, you grab the baritone.

Remember all the hullabaloo about rock songs being played backwards having satanic messages in the 70's? Well, you know what happens if you play a country song backwards?

Your dog comes back to life, your wife and your mistress come back to you, your pickup truck starts running again, and your barn rises from the ashes... :)

John

OldePhart
11-16-2012, 01:31 PM
For a more traditional sound look for a smaller body and brighter wood. Mango can be crazy bright in small bodies - really good traditional sound if it's what you're looking for but if your only experience is a mahogany tenor a mango soprano might be a bit too "brittle" for your tastes.

Koa is a good choice. If you're not comfortable with a soprano scale then consider a Koa concert or Koa longneck soprano.

Spruce tops are brighter than mahogany but they aren't really what I consider a traditional uke "chipper" or jumping-flea sound - they are more punchy than chipper, I think.

It is all very dependent on your perception, though.

Also, keep in mind that build quality and design (bracing, etc.) can have as much or more effect on the final sound than the wood or even the size.

Best thing is to try several.

Whistle
11-17-2012, 05:29 AM
For a more traditional sound look for a smaller body and brighter wood. Mango can be crazy bright in small bodies - really good traditional sound if it's what you're looking for but if your only experience is a mahogany tenor a mango soprano might be a bit too "brittle" for your tastes.

Koa is a good choice. If you're not comfortable with a soprano scale then consider a Koa concert or Koa longneck soprano.

Spruce tops are brighter than mahogany but they aren't really what I consider a traditional uke "chipper" or jumping-flea sound - they are more punchy than chipper, I think.

It is all very dependent on your perception, though.

Also, keep in mind that build quality and design (bracing, etc.) can have as much or more effect on the final sound than the wood or even the size.

Best thing is to try several.

Maybe chipper wasn't the right word. I just want something un-mahogany like. Some of the Christmas songs I am playing just don't sound right with this tone wood. I adore my uke, but it's almost like the sound has to be a bit clearer and brighter. I like playing individual notes on it, and sometimes it falls a bit flat in this department. It seems like it's perfect for strumming though. I've listened to mango uke's online and I agree - probably too brittle for what I'm looking for.

So it sounds like a koa or something with spruce might work best? I definitely am not keen on how Soprano's sound, so I guess I need to either experiment with another tenor, or snap up a concert.

I'm not necessarily looking for a traditional sound, just something different that can give me some more playing options. I don't have any access to ukulele's in my area, so I can't try before I buy. I have to listen to sound clips online and purchase from said stores.

Whistle
11-17-2012, 05:30 AM
Isn't Mahogany pretty warm to begin with though? How does koa differ? Is it a richer sound, or more clear?

Whistle
11-17-2012, 05:41 AM
Wow - beautiful!!! Listening to the sound clip right now. :)

Paul December
11-17-2012, 06:14 AM
The answer is: Cedar Tenor

coolkayaker1
11-17-2012, 07:03 AM
Remember all the hullabaloo about rock songs being played backwards having satanic messages in the 70's? Well, you know what happens if you play a country song backwards?

Your dog comes back to life, your wife and your mistress come back to you, your pickup truck starts running again, and your barn rises from the ashes... :)

John

LOL, John. But, does it act as a soundtrack to The Wizard Of Oz movie, that's the question.

coolkayaker1
11-17-2012, 07:04 AM
The answer is: Cedar Tenor

That is, in fact, the answer.

Bill Mc
11-17-2012, 07:06 AM
I LOVE my solid tenor Mahogany Pono uke. (LOVE) I am working my way through some song books though and I notice that for some songs, it's sound doesn't seem like the perfect fit. The sound is a bit too mellow and deep. I was wondering, what would the solution to this be? Should I eventually get another ukulele made out of different tone wood or should I go up a size and snag a concert? For now, it's not really a big deal, since I'm only playing for myself, but I'd like to get another ukulele one day, so I'm wondering what would be the most sensible side step, so I have different sound options when playing songs.

Thanks!

Whistle, "chipper" defined as "cheerful and sprightly; in good spirits," describes each of my soprano ukuleles no matter what the wood - acacia, maple, mahogany, or spruce. Try a soprano then go from there.

PhilUSAFRet
11-17-2012, 12:47 PM
Not sure what strings you've tried....could be a good place to start. It'll never sound like rosewood and spruce, or koa, but Pono's have been known to have a bright ring to them with the right strings. I like the Ko'olau Alohi's on my Pono mahogany concert. Lots of good reports about Living Waters and Southcoasts. If you are trying to get away from the mellow, sweet mahogany sound, Aquilas may even get the job done. Not normally considered best for solid mahogany ukes, they can make some of them sound bright and chimey. i.e. some folks have found they make their Vintage Martin sopranos sing. You never know until you try some.

peaceweaver3
11-17-2012, 03:24 PM
Different size ukes are going to sound good on different songs. I tend to use mainly my soprano or concert, my two favorite sizes, but on the more mellow songs, I'll use my tenor with low G. My mom went as far as having a tenor in low G and another one in high G depending on the sound she is trying to get. If I am playing a song that should be bright and happy, I'll almost always use my soprano. If I want one that is mellow and slow, the tenor. The concert comes in play if the soprano makes it too happy :)

Just my two cents.

Dan
You got a discerning mom, Dan! :D

I'd say go for a concert, or if you want to stick with tenors, try playing a cedar top rosewood back and sides. Might fit the bill, but only if you can play one first. Otherwise, concert or even sop, depending on how "happy" you want it. Great question, and the usual caveat...it's all subjective and a matter of personal preference.

bynapkinart
11-17-2012, 03:42 PM
In my experience, Koa is the solution for those who want the warmth and body of mahogany with a brighter tone and a more percussive attack. Cedar, paired with a rosewood back in this example, will have a similarly percussive attack, but it will be louder, have a similar warmth, and not quite as bright a tone. Spruce and rosewood in my experience is super bright, super loud, pretty percussive, and doesn't have as full and warm a tone as Koa or Cedar.

Out of what I play, my Johnny Marvin is perfect for that really rich warm vintage ukulele tone, and my Pono is perfect for a more contemporary tone. I'd like to get another Pono tenor with a cedar top to complement the Koa...cedar is a better top for fingerpicking and I'd like to get a clearer, more pronounced tone but still retain the warmth of koa. I still think I'll prefer my koa tenor for singing and songwriting with, though.

connor013
11-17-2012, 04:46 PM
Hmmm. You want bright and "chipper," check out maple.

The Mya Moe site has some sound samples (they only do maple back and sides, unless it's a resonator), but for my taste Bruko is the one to look at. (There's one for sale -- that I promise I will stop lurking around, after one last look -- on the marketplace now.

I'll put my Timms against any other soprano for a warm, deep mahogany tone, but for those tunes that want something brighter, the Bruko wins the day.

AndrewKuker
11-17-2012, 07:28 PM
Should I eventually get another ukulele made out of different tone wood or should I go up a size and snag a concert?

I've played and listened to different woods and sizes. I was such an opinionated kid.. but I've heard too many things I wasn't supposed to. My conceptions are blown.

If you can, get out there are just try stuff, without looking for a wood or size. Maybe start with strings. Others suggest based on their experience but even if you have a similar preference I've seen the same popular model change bracing four shipments in a row. With significant difference.

I believe every suggestion in this thread. All of that and more

bazmaz
11-17-2012, 10:23 PM
If you want a tenor with real zing and volume - bite - bright - great harmonics look at

http://www.gotaukulele.com/2012/09/martin-t1k-tenor-ukulele-review.html

I was mighty impressed.

Bill Mc
11-18-2012, 06:31 AM
Hmmm. You want bright and "chipper," check out maple.

The Mya Moe site has some sound samples (they only do maple back and sides, unless it's a resonator), but for my taste Bruko is the one to look at. (There's one for sale -- that I promise I will stop lurking around, after one last look -- on the marketplace now.

I'll put my Timms against any other soprano for a warm, deep mahogany tone, but for those tunes that want something brighter, the Bruko wins the day.

Good choice connor, the "maple" I referenced in my recent post is none other than a Brüko maple flat soprano. While I believe all sopranos are "chipper" by nature, that maple is very brightest of my bunch and might fit the needs of Whistle should Whistle be willing to stray from the beaten path a bit.

kauaijim
11-18-2012, 07:15 AM
I was at HMS a couple of weeks ago and Andrew told me that the Koaloha tenor neck soprano was the brightest sounding uke he had ever heard. I had gone to look at them and the last of the batch had been sold so I didn't hear one myself but I certainly trust Andrew's opinion...he's heard and played everything.

That said, this is one of those situations where size matters. Hard to make Leonard Cohen sound right on a soprano with high g.

Whistle
11-19-2012, 03:46 AM
I wish I could stroll into a store and sample all the ukulele's being mentioned here. Alas, I am limited by what's available online. I think that I like the idea of a tenor still (they just feel perfect) but one that sounds different. Haven't given up on the notion of a concert though - I am on theukulelesite.com, adding instruments to my wish list, trying to make a decision. Will probably agonize over this choice for a good few weeks.

Whistle
11-19-2012, 03:52 AM
Thanks for the detailed breakdown and about differences. Food for though. :)

Whistle
11-19-2012, 03:53 AM
Thank you for the link! Going to go take a look...