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View Full Version : Soprano/Concert/Tenor - why?



GeoffLB
10-29-2013, 09:09 PM
I know I'm a bit slow, but being new to ukuleles and only having spent much time with a tenor, I've only just realised that soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles are all tuned to the same pitch. I had vaguely thought that it was like the recorder where a tenor plays an octave higher than a soprano.

If this is the case, why do people own the different sized ukes? Coming from 40+ years of guitar, I chose a tenor as my first ukulele because I found I liked having more room for my fingers and also it sounded better to me than soprano or concert. Is the answer here? Different qualities of sound for different purposes? Soprano for chord strumming as opposed to tenor for finger style for example?

What thoughts from the experienced?

Geoff

Tootler
10-29-2013, 10:05 PM
Try different tunings.

Sopranos often sound better tuned ADF#B. I have just one tenor which I have tuned FBbDG.

bazmaz
10-29-2013, 11:49 PM
For me they sound different as they resonate differently. I mainly play sopranos and tenors - (concerts for me are neither one thing or the other)

Soprano is for me the traditional , portable uke sounding uke. Love them

I play tenors live as I strap them on, add pickups and like the extra frets on the fingerboard. Not about extra space on fingerboard - that is a misconception. I have sopranos with more finger space than some concerts

hucklelele
10-30-2013, 12:53 AM
Sopranos sound the best, and have that ringing high bell quality that made the uke famous.

The rest are just bastardizations
that don't sound as good, for people with larger hands or to get more volume for recording or concert playing

PhilUSAFRet
10-30-2013, 01:08 AM
It's all very subjective. As you can see, some folks have views that may be based more on passion than reason. As with any instrument, people have personal preferences as to size, weight, tone, etc. etc. If you have read many posts here about uke choices, you have seen many recommendations to play them if possible. Often it comes down to other subjective criteria such as neck size and profile, weight, finish, tone, loudness, projection, body shape, etc. etc. The object is to find one that "sings" to you and feels good in your hands. For many people, it's a soprano, for most, it is not.

The original instrument that came to Hawaii had metal strings, so I guess you could say the soprano uke is a bastardization of the Machete'.....but why would you? Keep an open mind, play what you enjoy, and afford others the same privilege.

phil hague
10-30-2013, 02:02 AM
They all sound different. To me a soprano makes the real ukulele sound. However i prefer the concert because of the longer scale and I like the sound when playing fingerstyle. But a soprano is a real ukulele. I also like the baratone with its deeper sounds.

prooftheory
10-30-2013, 02:11 AM
Sopranos sound the best, and have that ringing high bell quality that made the uke famous.

The rest are just bastardizations
that don't sound as good, for people with larger hands or to get more volume for recording or concert playing

This post reads as "The instruments that I like are rad and all the other ones suck." Way to phrase your subject impressions as fact. All ukuleles are bastardizations. All instruments are. Soprano ukuleles don't sound any better than any other instrument and they are in no sense more pure. You might like them better but that is no excuse for belittling other people's opinions or tastes.

cdkrugjr
10-30-2013, 02:16 AM
Oh you can't decide something like that without experimenting for yourself.

Besides, EVERYONE knows that at LEAST one of each is the MINIMUM . . . anyone who says otherwise . . well . . . denial isn't just a river in Egypt.
:)

cigarfan
10-30-2013, 02:54 AM
They sound and feel different! We are all of different shapes and sizes ... and opinions.

Differences

The scale (distance between nut and saddle) are different for each one (soprano 13", concert 15" and tenor 17") with different fret spacing to match.

Body size is different yielding sonic differences. One could argue bodies are different within a size and that is true (i.e., a pineapple and dreadnought shape tenor are definitely different) but in general soprano to concert to tenor bodies are smaller to larger in that order.

And then there are so many other contributing factors and preferences (woods, headstock type, tuning machines, neck profile, bling or not, strings, etc, etc.) that choice of uke size is only one of many factors in finding the perfect uke(s) for you.

PhilUSAFRet
10-30-2013, 04:06 AM
Neither ukes or bells come in one size only. Soprano's are no more or less likely to sound "bell like" than any other uke of the same construction, woods, bracing, strings/tension, body shape, etc. etc. etc. Just sayin.

wayfarer75
10-30-2013, 06:29 AM
I think all sizes of ukes sound great in their own ways. Just like different sizes of saxophones do (wellll, except I can't stand soprano saxophones--IMO just get a clarinet). Sopranos have that traditional sound, and some sopranos definitely resonate/sustain more than others. Tenors get a deeper tone, more sustain, and IMO sound better in low G. Concerts are in between--can sound like both, depending on how you play it/how you tune it/how the luthier built it.

GeoffLB
10-30-2013, 11:35 AM
Thanks all for your views. I've got the picture now and I'm grateful. What you say is sort of implied in the beginner type books I've used, but you've put it much more clearly.
When I bought my first uke, a tenor, it seemed pretty cramped after 40 years of guitar. Now I've just bought a cheap soprano to try and it doesn't seem cramped at all. A slightly smaller voice maybe, but it's all laminate so only to be expected. I'll certainly be looking for a better soprano next. On the slippery UAS slope.

Thanks again.
Geoff

hucklelele
10-30-2013, 12:54 PM
This post reads as "The instruments that I like are rad and all the other ones suck." Way to phrase your subject impressions as fact. All ukuleles are bastardizations. All instruments are. Soprano ukuleles don't sound any better than any other instrument and they are in no sense more pure. You might like them better but that is no excuse for belittling other people's opinions or tastes.

Well, you're the childish one putting words into other people's mouths.
My post actually "reads as": this instrument has a history and started as one thing- a soprano, and it had a certain sound. FACT!
The others came later and for varying purpose. But if you read through the posts here, you'll see that other people think it sounds best too.

lizziep
10-30-2013, 02:21 PM
Wow! This thread is gathering some haters! :confused::confused::confused: Ukulele hate is a weird phenomenon.

I like all sizes; each size has its benefits. I like my long-neck soprano because it is small and portable for air travel. I love the big volume of my tenor. I think all of my ukes sound beautiful. I like the opportunity to try different tunings and different chord inversions, depending on the instrument.

Steveperrywriter
10-30-2013, 02:34 PM
Perhaps a reading of the ukulele's history might be useful. The instrument has evolved over time and distance, and what we see being made today are somewhat different than they were, such as has happened with other musical instruments.

Steve

hucklelele
10-30-2013, 02:52 PM
Well, you can do that with almost every instrument- they've derived from some other form with some other name.
So for the uke, we see it arrived in Hawaii in the 1800's from Portugal, where it had other names.

And so it's emergence is really inextricably linked to Hawaii rreally.
And for the purpose of discussion, I think you'd have to focus on the uke as we know it mostly,
or at least through the twentieth century and emergence in popular culture

and so we have basically the soprano
until the concert size came along in the 1920's- well into the era of modern media

don't know or care about the others that much-

the sound is less uke and more guitar as they get bigger

and once again,
I'm RIGHT about it all,
and everyone else is just peeing into the wind....

y'all need to BLOW HARDER
and you won't get so WET!

Steveperrywriter
10-30-2013, 06:51 PM
Well, you can do that with almost every instrument- they've derived from some other form with some other name.
So for the uke, we see it arrived in Hawaii in the 1800's from Portugal, where it had other names.

And so it's emergence is really inextricably linked to Hawaii rreally.
And for the purpose of discussion, I think you'd have to focus on the uke as we know it mostly,
or at least through the twentieth century and emergence in popular culture

and so we have basically the soprano
until the concert size came along in the 1920's- well into the era of modern media

don't know or care about the others that much-

the sound is less uke and more guitar as they get bigger

and once again,
I'm RIGHT about it all,
and everyone else is just peeing into the wind....

y'all need to BLOW HARDER
and you won't get so WET!

Um, if I'm being charitable, I think maybe you're trying to be funny, but simply aren't very good at it, because it doesn't come across as funny.

If you are being serious, then that's just sad. You might want to, you know, adjust your medication a little.

Steve

hucklelele
10-30-2013, 07:30 PM
"Um, if I'm being charitable, I think maybe you're trying to be funny, but simply aren't very good at it, because it doesn't come across as funny.

If you are being serious, then that's just sad. You might want to, you know, adjust your medication a little.

Steve "


Must be "faith-based dour-ism."
Are we giving out "Conformity Points" again?
"medication" accusations are so cliche-
maybe you should smoke some weed and mellow out
and humor might seem more humorous to you.

kohanmike
10-30-2013, 08:24 PM
I've been playing guitar for about 50 years, and started playing the ukulele about five months ago with a Mahalo soprano before I knew about sizes. I found very quickly that I had problems holding many of the tighter chords. I then learned about sizes and sold the soprano for a tenor cutaway with electronics and now I'm very comfortable. Since then I've bought five more tenor cutaways with electronics, all of different materials and simply because of they way they looked, but turns out, they all have a little different sound.

iamesperambient
10-30-2013, 08:54 PM
I know I'm a bit slow, but being new to ukuleles and only having spent much time with a tenor, I've only just realised that soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles are all tuned to the same pitch. I had vaguely thought that it was like the recorder where a tenor plays an octave higher than a soprano.

If this is the case, why do people own the different sized ukes? Coming from 40+ years of guitar, I chose a tenor as my first ukulele because I found I liked having more room for my fingers and also it sounded better to me than soprano or concert. Is the answer here? Different qualities of sound for different purposes? Soprano for chord strumming as opposed to tenor for finger style for example?

What thoughts from the experienced?

Geoff


I would compare a soprano uke to a tenor or baritone like comparing
a mandolin to an octave mandolin its in the same family but different voice.
Tenor is a lower register than a soprano, I almost wished concert was called
alto it may be less confusing to new comers to the uke. Anyway their all great
soprano has a nice bright punchy tone, concert is a little deep, tenor is even deeper
and baritone is the deepest it just depends what style your playing or the song your playing
or the goal you have in mind in terms of playing a uke in music. its all just preference.

iamesperambient
10-30-2013, 08:57 PM
Um, if I'm being charitable, I think maybe you're trying to be funny, but simply aren't very good at it, because it doesn't come across as funny.

If you are being serious, then that's just sad. You might want to, you know, adjust your medication a little.

Steve

ugh internet trolls and people on forums always this cryptic sarcasm i try to just ignore it and read the comments /replies that actually make sense and carry actual information with out a snideness.

prooftheory
10-31-2013, 03:27 AM
Sopranos sound the best
Does not mean the same thing as :


this instrument has a history and started as one thing- a soprano, and it had a certain sound.

As for the last quote. It simply isn't true. Kalakaua era ukuleles had a whole range of sizes. It wasn't until people started categorizing them into soprano/concert/tenor that soprano became the "standard" size.

kissing
10-31-2013, 04:55 AM
lol, with this much anger over what size is the standard ukulele, I really do not recommend viewing the topic about the justification of baritone ukes o.O

revyolution
10-31-2013, 05:31 AM
i'm new in play uke too, and have tried various type ukuleles, from pocket, sopran, concert, to tenor...
maybe they didn't have any different in octave, but it surely very different in how they sound and resonate. even if you try 2 different Tenor ukes, they are surely has a different sound.
if you play all types of ukuleles on stage at the same time, they will sound more interesting.

for me the ukuleles have the same beautiful sounds, but they have different character..

mangorockfish
10-31-2013, 05:39 AM
This post reads as "The instruments that I like are rad and all the other ones suck." Way to phrase your subject impressions as fact. All ukuleles are bastardizations. All instruments are. Soprano ukuleles don't sound any better than any other instrument and they are in no sense more pure. You might like them better but that is no excuse for belittling other people's opinions or tastes.

Don't take this post so seriously OR this thread either, please.

iamesperambient
10-31-2013, 08:42 AM
lol, with this much anger over what size is the standard ukulele, I really do not recommend viewing the topic about the justification of baritone ukes o.O

i like baritone because it isn't the standard its kind of like the black sheep and i like that.