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tbeltrans
06-14-2014, 03:18 AM
Yesterday, I traded some pedals for another ukulele. This one is a Riptide ECUT-2SC. I still really don't know much about ukuleles and will really start learning to play when I retire in two weeks. I have learned from some ukulele books that I have, that there is the low G tuning and the high G tuning (traditional re-entrant) in common use.

My first ukulele is a very expensive Ko'olau and I don't want to have to be swapping strings on it to go between various books I want to work with. I have a set of three books from Alfred that are edited by Daniel Ho (Beginning, Intermediate, and Mastering the Ukulele, all with DVDs) and a pair of books by Daniel Ho. These all use high G tuning. Then, I have Daniel Ho's Polani book and CD of solo fingerstyle ukulele. I really enjoy this music and it is on par with the best of solo fingerstyle guitar. The whole album is done with low G tuning.

In addition, I have several books of solo fingerstyle and chord melody ukulele because that is the area of my interest. I don't sing, and don't plan to.

The Riptide seems a reasonable ukulele, but the action needs to be lowered. There is plenty of saddle height, so I figure the manufacturer intended for the action to be lowered as needed. I have played solo fingerstyle and jazz guitar for many years, and this practice is common in the acoustic guitar world, so I don't see it as a problem with my ukulele, though my Ko'olau seemed to have low action when I got it.

From what I have read, there is the "old" version and the "new" version of the Riptide ukuleles, with the identifying difference being whether it has the Riptide name across the top under the strings. Mine doesn't, so it must be the newer version. It is sunburst with a cutaway and an active pickup. It also has a deeper body than the other Riptide models the store had in stock.

My plan at this point is to keep the Riptide in standard high G tuning and the Ko'olau in low G. I have lowered the action on guitars, so I will do that to my ukulele too. It is a simple procedure unless you run into sting buzz problems. It looks to me, because of the height of this saddle, that this won't be a problem.

Tony

Jim Hanks
06-14-2014, 03:23 AM
Sounds like you're off to a great start. Welcome to UU. Make sure you check the height of the strings at the nut as well. It is very common for that to be too high out-of-the-box on factory ukes causing intonation problems. Get that right and the saddle lowered and you should be good to go.

Kimosabe
06-14-2014, 06:04 AM
Smart idea to have both a high G and a low G uke, especially for learning picking and chord melody. There are very good books for both and some use high G and some use low G.

Riptide is a very decent uke. See how Glen Rose uses one in any of his videos. When it gets down to it, a player's ability is much more important than the uke he's playing. You've got a great uke in the Ko'olau. You know what a great uke sounds like. If the Riptide sounds good enough for you to learn on and enjoy, consider yourself well in. Later on when you're much better, take a step up and replace the Riptide. UAS is often a substitute for practice.

Jim Hanks
06-14-2014, 07:11 AM
UAS is often a substitute for practice.
You say that like it's a bad thing. :rolleyes:

dickadcock
06-14-2014, 07:46 AM
Congrats! I hope you like your RipTide as much as I do mine. The tenors I just got a couple of weeks ago but haven't written about them. The baritone, I got in February.
Yours has a spruce top & laminated rosewood back & sides. There should be a bit of a bulge in the back, as it is radiused or curved. They don't call it arched ... The laminate back & side on all, & the top on my Bari are quite thin. If yours is the same, experiment holding & touching different areas of the front and back. If you rely on the right arm to support the uke while playing it, you lose a lot of good sounds. Amplified, it should be fine. I mean, all ukes are like that, I guess; it just seemed more sensitive.
And, yeah, the newer ones say RipTide on the headstock, rather than Boulder Creek, & have no logo on the belly, & no abalone around the side port.
I have learned a little about the company recently, so if you have a question, let me know.
~ Dick

tbeltrans
06-14-2014, 11:03 AM
Uh oh! I already traded "up" from the Riptide. I took my Riptide down to a place that could check it out and do a setup. They were willing to do a trade-in for another ukulele. I ended up with a ... Kamaka. This one is all solid koa (back, sides, top) and has a body somewhere between a concert and a tenor and deeper than either apparently, but the neck and scale are tenor. It comes from the maker setup for low G, where my Ko'olau comes setup for high G. It also comes with a really nice hard shell case, just like my Ko'olau does. This Kamaka has a very warm and clear bell-like tone and seems really balanced with the low G. So my plan is to keep the Ko'olau as high G and the Kamaka as low G, since that is how they were set up by the respective builders.

Though the Riptide was a nice ukulele, there is a very, very noticeable difference between it and either of these ukuleles. I am retiring at the end of the month and really don't want to make this kind of expenditure when I no longer have a nice paycheck coming in. I have a bonus coming and all my vacation pay from the beginning of the year until now, so the Kamaka is easily paid for. A friend of mine works at this particular store, so I do well there in this sort of deal. It was an opportunity I simply could not pass up, though I would have been perfectly happy with the Riptide for some time to come.

Though I am not well versed in things ukulele yet, I have played fingerstyle guitar for many years, and have played in supper club bands professionally. I can get around on the ukulele reasonably well already - at least well enough to know this isn't a passing fad for me. I can also really tell the difference in quality between the various price ranges of ukuleles that I have tried. I am very fortunate that several price ranges are readily available for me to try right here where I live, rather than having to take my best guess buying sight unseen online.

I would much rather get really decent ukuleles up front and not go through the searching and trading/selling/upgrading. My intent was to have one low G and one high G ukulele, and now I have that. I don't see myself having to get more ukuleles. From what I can tell, there really isn't any "up" from here anyway.

Thanks to all the responders here. I sincerely hope that my quick turnover of the Riptide does not reflect badly on the brand or the model I had. If I had turned it over quickly for something in the same price range, I could see some concern among others that maybe there is something wrong with the Riptide brand. There were a number of Lanakai (spelling?) ukuleles at Guitar Center and I personally preferred the Riptide over these, so I still think the Riptide was a good choice. However, since this was a chance to step into the "final" ukulele that I would have gotten to at much more cost for each trade/sale along the way, all I did was skip all that and just do it.

This Kamaka is rather plain looking (really, I would say "understated" rather than "plain") compared to my Ko'olau with its highly figured koa, but then it is also half the price (though still quite expensive). What gets me about these high end ukuleles is their sound and playability, especially the sound. I tried a couple of Collings and a Martin, but none of them sounded as good as either the Kamaka or Ko'olau to my ears (maybe the Hawaiian builders really just have a natural feel for how these instruments should sound?). Both of these have a smoothness to the sound, especially the midrange that I have not heard in any of the other ukuleles I have tried, and a depth to the overall sound. If I didn't go this route, no matter the expense, once I heard these I would be looking for a way to get to them and a lot of trading simply raises the expense of getting there. I really believe, that at least for myself, once I heard and played these, there is no going back.

Some people say it is mostly in the fingers rather than the particular ukulele. I have to say that there were some rather accomplished players who demoed the various ukuleles for me so I could stand out in front and listen. Even with the same player playing the same tunes, the often irritating midrange that some ukuleles exhibit was completely absent from these two that I now own. There really IS a difference, though you probably have to go way up to the high end to get that lushness in the midrange.

Anyway, now I am ready to pick up my shovel and go home for good at the end of the month, and not have to spend any time looking at ukuleles so I can focus on playing my own. I have a nice collection of solo fingerstyle and solo chord melody books. One I am particularly interested in is the Recipe For Solo Ukulele book that somebody mentioned in the forums. I did a search about books and this was some time ago. I think it is out of print now, but I got a copy brand new old stock, complete with the CD through ABE books online from a bookstore in Indiana. So now I am ready...

Tony

Kimosabe
06-14-2014, 01:11 PM
Good reply and great buy, the Kamaka. I mentioned that the playing is more important than the uke but you're absolutely right: a good player sounds better on a great uke, maybe even a not so good player.

I have a Kanilea which is one of the K's in the world of ukes, generally speaking the great ukes. It definitely sounds better than my other ukes; a friend of mine who is quite a good guitarist described it as buttery the other day.

In case you don't know: Mark Nelson, Craig Brandau, Tony Mizen, Rob McKillop, Pekelo and others have great picking books.

Also, as you're already a good guitar player it makes sense to get good ukes right away. You can hear tones and overtones much more clearly on a good uke. You also get more sustain and the intonation is truer down the neck.

But there are some very fine less expensive ukes out there for all those reading this who can't afford one of the K's: Riptide, Kala, Mainland, Pono, et cetera.

tbeltrans
06-15-2014, 03:31 AM
Thanks Kimosabe!

Here is a Youtube link to a demo of my Kamaka ukulele: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r28ZaA-GmrI

Yes, I am aware of several authors of solo fingerstyle ukulele books, and have probably 15 of them in my collection now.

Thanks,

Tony

UkerDanno
06-15-2014, 04:26 AM
gorgeous uke! Post more pic's of both, it makes the thread more interesting and meaningful...nothing like more uke pic's!!!

Ukejenny
06-15-2014, 08:56 AM
Wow! Great choice on the Kamaka. Welcome to UU!

tbeltrans
06-15-2014, 11:32 AM
Here are the pics UkerDanno asked for. If you want closeups of the Ko'olau, I have those too. The last two
pictures here are my entire ukulele collection.

http://i1288.photobucket.com/albums/b499/tbeltrans/DSCN00291_zps0a61bd16.jpg (http://s1288.photobucket.com/user/tbeltrans/media/DSCN00291_zps0a61bd16.jpg.html)

http://i1288.photobucket.com/albums/b499/tbeltrans/DSCN00281_zpsd82692e6.jpg (http://s1288.photobucket.com/user/tbeltrans/media/DSCN00281_zpsd82692e6.jpg.html)

http://i1288.photobucket.com/albums/b499/tbeltrans/DSCN00271_zps10c69760.jpg (http://s1288.photobucket.com/user/tbeltrans/media/DSCN00271_zps10c69760.jpg.html)

http://i1288.photobucket.com/albums/b499/tbeltrans/DSCN00261_zps10a8e680.jpg (http://s1288.photobucket.com/user/tbeltrans/media/DSCN00261_zps10a8e680.jpg.html)

tbeltrans
06-15-2014, 11:33 AM
Wow! Great choice on the Kamaka. Welcome to UU!

Thanks Ukejenny!

Tony

tbeltrans
06-16-2014, 01:18 PM
The pics of my ukuleles are now posted in this thread. They had to be approved by the moderator, probably because I am new here.

Tony