View Full Version : Change in Okoume Tone Over Time

06-03-2013, 04:37 AM
I just received my KA-SMLTE-C (solid okoume tenor) and the thing is magnificent. The setup is perfect (HMS rocks) and the tone is resonant, warm, has great projection and presence and is very smooth and beutiful. No harshness to be found.

That said, I like the new uke, but the tone is a little more bright than I had hoped. I was hoping for a full, loud, well rounded tone somewhere between the full, warm, low end of mahogany and the projection and presence of spruce. It seemed to me like this okoume would be just the the right thing. I have a lanikai LU-11 soprano (nato laminate) that is a couple years old, and it has a deeper tone (though far less articulate and powerful and with inferior intonation). Is that the case because the LU-11 has old strings on it and it is as "opened" as it is ever going to get?

I've only been playing the new uke for about 3 days now. Can I expect the tone to "darken" a bit as the strings (Aquilla) are further broken in and the solid wood opens up (with daily playing)?

Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

Patrick Madsen
06-03-2013, 04:42 AM
The Aquilla strings are on the brighter side of the spectrum. I suggest going with Southcoast if you play a wound linear G or perhaps Living Waters if you like an unwound 3&4.

06-03-2013, 05:49 AM
Sounds like the tone you were wanting was more of a mahogany which would've given you the mellow'd out depth you desired while keeping the warm resonance. String changing to something like Worth Browns, Living Waters, or Ko'olau alohi's would be my .02 cents, because that will give you a change right away toward what you are wanting. Darkening of any instruments tonal properties of a solid tonewood takes years, and considering Okoume has the same tonal properties as maple wood I wouldn't expect it to change drastically. What you have is an articulate seperation of tonal voices in okoume while having nice projection and resonance, work with what you have and play with multiple string sets.

The best advice for anyone purchasing an instrument is to try it before you buy it, with HMS however their deals and setup are worth buying without trying. So the next best advice for a buyer is to go for a sound you like and not expect it to improve over time (that will come on it's own) some instruments get sweeter and some instruments get thicker sound but you never know. That okoume tenor is a beautiful instrument especially with the slothead, so drop those aquila strings and find the ones best to compliment it.

06-03-2013, 06:30 AM
Thanks for the input, gents. I will try some new "darker" strings.

I actually went on a respectable quest to 6 shops to buy a new uke from a store (I didn't want to buy without trying first), but you would be surprised how few decent ukulele shops there are in New Jersey and Manhattan. Most them them only carried laminate Lanikais. I found a few in Manhattan that have a slightly better selection of Kalas in stock, but only 2-3 tenors, most of which were laminates. As such, I decided to order on line, knowing that HMS has a good return policy.

Don't get me wrong, the tone on the Okoume is amazing (and it looks awesome); I guess I was just hoping to have my cake and eat it too. Maybe I can with some Living Waters, Worths, or Alohis.

Thanks for the help.

06-03-2013, 06:46 AM
HMS is great, can't speak highly enough of how good those guys are. They'll make sure you get the best bang for your buck always! Good Luck ProgUke and happy Uking!

06-03-2013, 07:08 AM
If you want a little warmer, you should try nylon strings such as the D'Addario J line or the T2 is a fine compromise between nylon and fluoro or aquilas.....it has a very nice. I plaed with these strings for a long time before switching for Oasis fluoro but they sure can be an alternative for a cross over pure nylon and fluoro or something like Aquilas.....


08-05-2016, 09:09 AM
Thinking of buying my neice one of these. How'd you come out on strings on the SML?

08-05-2016, 01:22 PM
As previously mentioned, Aquila's are generally bright strings. Living Waters are far more on the mellow side with nice sustain. ENJOY!!

08-05-2016, 01:51 PM
Thinking of buying my neice one of these. How'd you come out on strings on the SML?

You might not have noticed but this thread is 3 years old. The OP hasn't posted anything since 2014, so I am guessing they won't see your question.

I friend brought one of those over to me to work on. I did a danish oil finish and put on a set of Oasis warms and it sounded really good.