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BigD
09-11-2013, 02:11 AM
So ive been pondering this for quite some time. Will a less expensive laminate uke ( mahogany laminate koa laminate etc.) be a good representation of the sound qualities of that wood? Say i enjoy the sound of a mahogany laminate with its warmth and such will a solid mahogany sound similar but better? I know its sort of a blanket statement considering all the factors in a specific ukes build quality, setup, etc. but any ideas on this? I guess its mainly because i live pretty far away from any serious uke shops and the smaller guitar shops only sell laminate models of different ukes at way overpriced numbers but its nice to stop in and try new things once in a while to get an idea.

Shady Wilbury
09-11-2013, 02:19 AM
Hey, BigD.

I don't have any answers, but wanted to chime in, because I've been wondering the same thing.

Take care,

Casey

AndrewKuker
09-11-2013, 02:37 AM
http://vimeo.com/67054589

Each one of these concerts is laminate mahogany. All unique to my ear. Most have solid versions. Some solid versions sound very similar, often a bit "richer". But some solid versions are quite different in tonality. Models will commonly change over time, but the biggest factor is the design. Ideally I would say brand, but it's not always that consistent. Which is a good thing when improving.

sugengshi
09-11-2013, 02:45 AM
Watching the video, I can only say that the player's skill is very important to bring out the music of the ukulele be it laminate or solid or anything else.

vanflynn
09-11-2013, 03:22 AM
The problem with laminates is you can’t see what’s in the middle. You don’t know what type of wood it is or if it is nice clean wood or all full of knots. Odds are that it is not the same type of wood that is used as the fascia, so a koa laminate probably wouldn’t sound like a solid koa.

This is also why “play before you pay” is so important with laminate ukes. Some are just plain dead because of the poor quality of the middle wood, others sing beautifully.

ChaosToo
09-11-2013, 03:45 AM
Andrew - that's a fantastic 'back to back' video that really helps identify the differences - do you have any more of those online anywhere? :D

Ukejenny
09-11-2013, 03:50 AM
The problem with laminates is you can’t see what’s in the middle. You don’t know what type of wood it is or if it is nice clean wood or all full of knots. Odds are that it is not the same type of wood that is used as the fascia, so a koa laminate probably wouldn’t sound like a solid koa.

This is also why “play before you pay” is so important with laminate ukes. Some are just plain dead because of the poor quality of the middle wood, others sing beautifully.

And, for those of us who aren't close to sources where we can pay before we play, it can be a real crap shoot. My guess is that laminate ukes are not a good representation of the sound quality of the same solid wood. I'm not saying laminates can't sound good, just that they won't tell you what solid wood ukulele you will best like the sound of.

vanflynn
09-11-2013, 03:56 AM
And, for those of us who aren't close to sources where we can pay before we play, it can be a real crap shoot.

I'm in that boat too Jenny. There are plenty of great sounding laminates as Andrew showed (sounded) us. That is why getting a uke from a reputable dealer with a good return policy is important. They will usually check them over and send back the stinkers.

Ukejenny
09-11-2013, 04:05 AM
I'm in that boat too Jenny. There are plenty of great sounding laminates as Andrew showed (sounded) us. That is why getting a uke from a reputable dealer with a good return policy is important. They will usually check them over and send back the stinkers.

I agree. The two laminates we have sound pretty good (one needs a little set-up work), but I got lucky on ordering them. I went through Butler Music on ebay. At that time, I was shopping mainly for price since I was purchasing for my sons and they aren't addicted to ukulele yet.

PhilUSAFRet
09-11-2013, 04:14 AM
Too, part of the "quality" of a laminate instrument is the thickness of it. There are some fine, thin laminate ukes that actually sound better than some solid ukes that aren't made very well. I think Kiwaya is a prime example. Some Makai laminates sound surprisingly good because they are very thin. Kamoa's laminate pineapple made quite a positive stir when they first came out. Another contributing factor in a cheap laminate is the "glue" used. Too much can dampen the sound.

AndrewKuker
09-11-2013, 08:33 AM
Andrew - that's a fantastic 'back to back' video that really helps identify the differences - do you have any more of those online anywhere? :D

thanks, my blog is at my signature and toward the middle of the home page their is a tab called Video Comparison. But I realized I didn't really answer the question. Just pointing to the complexity and inability to formulate opinions that work across the board. But what Big is asking I believe is, can he hear koa from a koa laminate or will laminate rosewood give him an idea of how solid rosewood back and sides will affect the tone. I would say no. The very thin veneer is almost always followed by sheets of mahogany, even with mahogany laminate. So if any reflected the tone it would be mahogany but that was my earlier point. Even within one wood you would have a hard time patterning this judgement. For instance a Cordoba 15CM all laminate has more bass and projection than the solid top Cordoba 20CM. Does that tell me something about solid and laminate. No, it just tells me about those two models. Narrow your search and then ask someone that knows.

ChaosToo
09-11-2013, 08:44 AM
Mahalo Andrew :D

Doc_J
09-11-2013, 09:15 AM
Takamine mahogany laminate tenors sounded pretty good to me, but not really representative of a solid mahogany uke.

So much depends on the builder. Wood is less important than the builder for the general sound of an instrument.


http://vimeo.com/73162661

sugengshi
09-11-2013, 06:31 PM
I have really come to the conclusion that the player's skill is very important as well as the built of the Uke. Wood is a bonus whether it is laminate or solid. :-)

kenikas
09-13-2013, 03:59 PM
Takamine mahogany laminate tenors sounded pretty good to me, but not really representative of a solid mahogany uke.

So much depends on the builder. Wood is less important than the builder for the general sound of an instrument.


http://vimeo.com/73162661

I have to agree with Doc J, I just got a Takamine lam mahogany tenor from HMS and it does have a very nice sound, but doesn't sound like either of my solid mahogany ukes. But then they don't sound at all alike either! I had to get a Takamine since one of my favorite guitars is a "lawsuit" Takamine I decided it needed a little partner. And they do look good together

itsme
09-13-2013, 05:03 PM
My guess is that laminate ukes are not a good representation of the sound quality of the same solid wood. I'm not saying laminates can't sound good, just that they won't tell you what solid wood ukulele you will best like the sound of.
I'd have to agree with you. Laminates are plywood, literally according to the definition. There are different degrees in quality of laminates. But they are not solid woods and won't exhibit the exact same sound as a solid.

mm stan
09-13-2013, 05:34 PM
I myself would not put down laminates in general....to me you pick a uke for sound with your ears...so simple.. don't try to over analyze what materials they use... waste too much time and
not very efficient... if you like the uke you play buy it... of course if you are buying online....look and listen to videos or call the company and let them play it over the phone for you...
I have a few laminates I love... it's the builders and you selecting the best of the crop....every uke and builder will have exceptional sounding ukes in the bunch, not all but your job is
to find them...it could be cheap ukes to customs....choose wisely...

bazmaz
09-15-2013, 12:18 AM
In short - no.

With the exception of high end laminates such as on Kiwaya instruments, the outer wood finish is just a very thin veneer over who knows what wood in the sandwich.

That isn't to say they wont sound good - many do, but it's more a case of batches or build having an effect. The outer veneer of one laminate may look strikingly different from another, but the main body of the plywood is likely the same.