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View Full Version : six string tenors.... thoughts, recommendations?



Doc_J
02-24-2013, 04:56 AM
I have not given too much thought to six string tenors until soupking put the idea in my head about a couple weeks ago (thanks Matt :) ). Soupking likes his Kamaka 6 string, a lot. I want to see what other people's experiences are with 6-stings. Kamaka's 6-string sounds nice, so do the Myamoe's. Kamaka developed six string from what I read on their web page.
I know that that there's a few other makers who have 6-strings (Kanile'a for one).

I've read the laminated wood models from the mass volume manufacturers aren't the best sounding.

Does anybody have experience on playing these or particular preferences?

mm stan
02-24-2013, 05:53 AM
I played a six string first model Koa Pono and it was the best I heard and played..it blew away my two kamakas...guess that was one of the better ones...
but they are really rare these days....

haole
02-24-2013, 05:56 AM
The 6-string is kind of a niche instrument, but I think it's worth getting a good one! The imports generally haven't impressed me, even if their 4-string models are nice.

I have a Maui Music 6-string that I absolutely love. The K-brands are always a good choice, as is Mya-Moe. I don't think you'd be disappointed with any of those!

Ken Middleton
02-24-2013, 05:58 AM
My recommendation would be to get a 4 string.

Paul December
02-24-2013, 06:40 AM
I had this one:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?69335-FS-6-String-Koa-Lanikai&highlight=lanikai
Really a good instrument. IMO it actually sounded better than all the solid-wood Lanikais and Kalas (louder too). The laminated top was a hint thinner than my Kiwaya!
Very pretty too, with good fit-n-finish.

Paul December
02-24-2013, 06:46 AM
I had this one:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?69335-FS-6-String-Koa-Lanikai&highlight=lanikai
Really a good instrument. IMO it actually sounded better than all the solid-wood Lanikais and Kalas (louder too). The laminated top was a hint thinner than my Kiwaya!
Very pretty too, with good fit-n-finish.

Please note, this is the Koa laminate, the Monkey Pod and Zebra models look similar but are more heavily built (less resonant?).

Kanaka916
02-24-2013, 06:53 AM
Here's my 6 string from GString . . .

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v486/hawhyen51/IMG_2983.jpg

connor013
02-24-2013, 06:54 AM
I had a six string Kamaka for a while.

I found there wasn't much difficulty in fretting chords, but it did change the way I thought about picking.

I'm also not really a fan of tenors (ducking!), so it ultimately wasn't a keeper. But it certainly added a sound unlike any of my other ukes.

I think Pono makes one, in which case picking up a blem would be a low-cost trial.

Harold O.
02-24-2013, 06:58 AM
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?76987-Lanikai-LU6-six-string-w-hardshell-case

Good way to test the waters for not a lot of money.

mds725
02-24-2013, 07:02 AM
I have one of the Pono blemished/seconds 6-strings that show up on eBay now and again. I don't play it often but I think it's a great instrument, especially for what I paid. The sound is fuller than a 4-string but not as "cluttered" as an 8-string can sound sometimes. I use my Pono 6-string almost exclusively for strumming. I liked the idea of a 6-string so much that I'm currently waiting for a Mya-Moe 6-string mahogany baritone.

Gillian
02-24-2013, 07:21 AM
I don't play my Kamaka Lili'u that often, but when I reach for it to strum certain songs, I'm glad I have it. I love to strum along to George Harrison when he plays his Lili'u on "Devil and the Deep Blue Sea". I've tried to do some picking, but the combination of two coursed and single strings sounded weird to me.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5CkIniOcqs

dkcrown
02-24-2013, 09:59 AM
I have a Kamaka Liliu that I really like. It has a nice full sound. Great for strumming.

strumsilly
02-24-2013, 10:09 AM
I had this one:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?69335-FS-6-String-Koa-Lanikai&highlight=lanikai
Really a good instrument. IMO it actually sounded better than all the solid-wood Lanikais and Kalas (louder too). The laminated top was a hint thinner than my Kiwaya!
Very pretty too, with good fit-n-finish.
I feel the same way about my Lanikai LU8. It had a popped bridge so I got it really cheap. It has a very thin laminate top, and sounds and plays amazingly well. It's actually one of my favorites, and I have some premium ukes. It has some bridge tilt, and a little dishing between the bridge and sound hole. but if I'm in a large group and want to be heard, it's the one I pick

anthonyg
02-24-2013, 10:23 AM
My opinion of 6 and 8 string tenors is that their real strength is for strumming. They give a bigger, chorus sound. Now I'm not a fan of picking with a standard 6/8 string because when I pick with my thumb I want to hit the lower pitched string first, not the higher pitched string which is how they are setup. With my 8 string tenors I just remove the octave string on the third leaving the instrument with 7 strings but I cant see that doing anything for a 6 string.

Some stage soon I'm going to get a custom nut cut for my 8 strings with the octave strings lower than the bass strings so I will then string them with the full compliment of 8 strings. My two bobs worth.

Anthony

CanuckUkeMaui
02-24-2013, 11:19 AM
I have a Kamaka 6 string tenor strung as a Lil'u ...C and A doubled strings were an octave apart ...recently I removed the low A string but kept the low C. I also have a Mele 6 string concert.
Both are great for a fuller sounding strum...I don't fingerpicking well but the 6 string isn't a problem for me....

Any thoughts from others on getting a 6 string and later switching it to a 4 string If desired? .....the distance between strings doesn't look too significant.

Terry

Doc_J
02-24-2013, 11:47 AM
Here's my 6 string from GString . . .

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v486/hawhyen51/IMG_2983.jpg
Very cool. GString makes awesome sounding ukes. I would definitely go for GString -6 string


I have one of the Pono blemished/seconds 6-strings that show up on eBay now and again. I don't play it often but I think it's a great instrument, especially for what I paid. The sound is fuller than a 4-string but not as "cluttered" as an 8-string can sound sometimes. I use my Pono 6-string almost exclusively for strumming. I liked the idea of a 6-string so much that I'm currently waiting for a Mya-Moe 6-string mahogany baritone.

Good idea on the Pono's. BTW that MM Baritone should be outstanding!


I have a Kamaka 6 string tenor strung as a Lil'u ...C and A doubled strings were an octave apart ...recently I removed the low A string but kept the low C. I also have a Mele 6 string concert.
Both are great for a fuller sounding strum...I don't fingerpicking well but the 6 string isn't a problem for me....

Any thoughts from others on getting a 6 string and later switching it to a 4 string If desired? .....the distance between strings doesn't look too significant.

Terry

I would just keep the 6-string a 6-string. I got plenty 4-string tenors.

soupking
02-24-2013, 12:31 PM
Gillian, love the vid! I'm a Beatles freak and knowing George Harrison played and loved the Lili'u was the driving force behind my purchase. Doc, as the one who got you started thinking about this, I guess I should chime in. Haha. It really, really is a different animal, the six string. I'm not sure why I waited so long to buy one. I'm a major KoAloha fanboy, so I really overloaded on purchasing their instruments for a good while, and I think that's part of it. Anyway, I had a chance recently to play pretty much every Kamaka production model, and all I can say is that I was pleasantly surprised. I think that they're wonderful instruments. As far as tone goes, head-to-head, I'd give the edge to KoAloha, but that's just a subjective opinion and I'm sure the consensus, if measured among uke enthusiasts, would be split down the middle. However, Kamakas are every bit as "good" as KoAlohas, they're just different. I love the two Kamakas I presently own; both purchased very recently.

The Lili'u I bought had a bit of a buzzing type issue initially. I spoke with Dana about it and he gave me some good advice which I appreciated; I was thinking about returning it but he suggested keeping it for the uniqueness factor. I agreed and did so, and I'm glad I did. Some have commented on the "fullness" of the six string sound already, and I agree- but it's not that it's necessarily louder than other ukes I own, as the KoAlohas are all pretty much louder- there *is* a fullness to the sound that cannot be duplicated with a four string. Like Gillian, I agree that I don't see myself playing it all too much compared to my other ukes *because* it's so different, but that could very well change- especially now that I just changed the strings on it three times today with various sets and have finally resolved the buzzing issue with a new set of Kamaka strings; which I think I prefer after sampling the Worth CTs and Aquilas.

So yeah, it's different. I really hardly ever fingerpick, but I still think it's strange playing a six string. But again, it's different and that's what I like about it. Plus, having a Kamaka Lili'u, from the inventors of the instrument, makes it that much more special. Here's a video from Corey at HMS, which I'm sure many of us have already seen. He tears it up both fingerpicking and strumming... good stuff:
http://vimeo.com/59227567

Barbablanca
02-24-2013, 12:32 PM
When I built a hammer dulcimer some years back, I used a piece of laminate for the soundboard. This was because I didn't have access to any better wood and it was an experiment anyway. (It ain't pretty, but it still plays nearly 30 year on).

Anyway, shortly after making it, I met up with a real luthier who made Hammer Dulcimers and he remarked that I had made a wise decision, because he reckoned that good quality hard woods produced too many overtones on the instrument. So, perhaps this is an issue with Ukes with more than 4 strings. Perhaps that is why some people have expressed a preference for laminates. Just my 2 Euro cents.

Doc_J
02-24-2013, 06:57 PM
Interesting that several folks have had some good experiences with laminated 6-string ukes.

Every video I have heard with a Lanikai LU6-string, just didn't sound any where near as good as a Kamaka, but then I haven't seen Corey play a LU6 either. And I know the Kamaka is 5+ times as much.

That HF-36 Kamaka really sounds good. I hear Kanile'a makes a good 6-string too. CanuckUkeMaui also mentioned the Mele 6-string. Those sound pretty good. Haolejohn usually has something good to say Mele ukes too.

haolejohn
02-24-2013, 07:50 PM
Interesting that several folks have had some good experiences with laminated 6-string ukes.

Every video I have heard with a Lanikai LU6-string, just didn't sound any where near as good as a Kamaka, but then I haven't seen Corey play a LU6 either. And I know the Kamaka is 5+ times as much.

That HF-36 Kamaka really sounds good. I hear Kanile'a makes a good 6-string too. CanuckUkeMaui also mentioned the Mele 6-string. Those sound pretty good. Haolejohn usually has something good to say Mele ukes too.
I love my 6 stringer. I've owned three. When we came to Alaska my current 6 string uke came with me. I left all my koa ukes at home (not that I didn't want to bring them, I just didn't want to expose them to the extreme weather).

I read the good reviews on those Lanikai 6 stringers but I have never played a decent cheap 6 stringer (and I've played a lot of them, but this was a few years ago) the 8 string Lanikais sound very well on the other hand.

Doc, seeing the ukes you have, I would say get you either a Pono or a Mele. THese two makers make a very decent ukulele in a very nice price range. Not to high, and not to low. IF you like the sound...go big.

haolejohn
02-24-2013, 07:51 PM
Interesting that several folks have had some good experiences with laminated 6-string ukes.

Every video I have heard with a Lanikai LU6-string, just didn't sound any where near as good as a Kamaka, but then I haven't seen Corey play a LU6 either. And I know the Kamaka is 5+ times as much.

That HF-36 Kamaka really sounds good. I hear Kanile'a makes a good 6-string too. CanuckUkeMaui also mentioned the Mele 6-string. Those sound pretty good. Haolejohn usually has something good to say Mele ukes too.
I love my 6 stringer. I've owned three. When we came to Alaska my current 6 string uke came with me. I left all my koa ukes at home (not that I didn't want to bring them, I just didn't want to expose them to the extreme weather).

I read the good reviews on those Lanikai 6 stringers but I have never played a decent cheap 6 stringer (and I've played a lot of them, but this was a few years ago) the 8 string Lanikais sound very well on the other hand.

Doc, seeing the ukes you have, I would say get you either a Pono or a Mele. THese two makers make a very decent ukulele in a very nice price range. Not to high, and not to low. IF you like the sound...go big.

molokinirum
02-25-2013, 06:28 AM
I have a Kanile'a 6 string that I LOVE!!! Sound is amazing!!

haolejohn
02-25-2013, 07:17 AM
Better internet connection today. I prefer the 6 string sound over the 8 string sound. I sold my first 6 string uke to fund an 8 string uke. I got rid of the 8 stringer. Then I got another 6 stringer and gave it away. But I missed the sound and got another one. I am looking for another 6 stringer. I want a spruce top one.

Doc, take your time. Get what you want. You will enjoy it.

PhilUSAFRet
02-25-2013, 01:50 PM
I picked up one of the recent Pono 6 string tenor blems at a steal. Can't find any blem. Put Southcoast strings on it. I like 6 string better than 8. Much of the chime, easier to fingerpick. Love it.

Pueo
02-25-2013, 02:11 PM
I almost bought one of those 6-string Tenor Koa Ponos TWICE! The only reason I did not is that I already had a Koa Pono Tenor. I really like those, so if you can find one I would get it if you want a six string.
My six string is a custom. It was made by Emil Bader here on Oahu. It is made of Milo wood and I just love it. I don't have any really good pictures of it handy.
I love the sound, different than an 8-string. You can string them Low A, Low G, or even both, so you have a lot of flexibility of sound.
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808boy
02-25-2013, 02:16 PM
Aloha Doc_J,
I bought a Double Puka Koa Mele 6 on impulse. Love the sound but hated the wide 1 1/2" fretboard. Recently sold it at a substancial lost but to a nice young musician.
Purchased a PKT-6E Koa Pono on Honolulu's Craiglist last month for a GREAT price. Had my eye on it for awhile and just so happens that Bruddah mmStan seen it and played it. With his reccomendation, I made arrangements to buy it. One of the 2 best sounding uke in my collection. Switched out the Worth strings for Southcoast w/Flatwounds and it's even better. Since then, bought a Mele Mahogany 6 with a more friendly fretboard. Waiting for my Southcoast Linear w/roundwounds strings to get to Maui along with a 5 string set for my last purchase, a Willie K model 5-stringer from Oscar Schmidt.
Love my multiple string ukes. Next up, an 8 stringer...................Bo.............

Doc_J
02-25-2013, 04:27 PM
Hey John, Phil, Pueo, and Bo, Thanks for the thoughts on the Pono's and Mele's.
Nice looking Pono 6-string Bo. I had a couple mahogany Pono's last year and was impressed with the quality and sound.

I'm surprised I haven't heard from anyone with Mya-Moe 6-string. But those are pretty pricey, more than the K brands. I'd probably rule those out.

Doc_J
03-13-2013, 11:10 AM
Update, I acquired a good used Kanilea K-1 T6. Wow! This uke makes a very full sound when strumming.

I wouldn't play it for every song, but it sounds awesome.
Here's a brief sample.
https://www.box.com/s/yvbqzjyatv64648v5t6y

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