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View Full Version : Why choose a Tenor Ukulele question



jessesouza
06-18-2014, 10:47 AM
Hello everyone, I am considering a solid body tenor. I have a Kala laminate concert which I love. I was initially considering a tenor thinking it had more frets but I find only a few like Pono, LoPrinzi, and KoAloha have a few more frets than my concert. What is the major sound difference? Thanks for any info...

janeray1940
06-18-2014, 10:52 AM
In my experience, and to generalize - tenors tend to be louder and have more sustain, especially when playing higher up the neck, than concerts. And tenors often have a 14-fret join rather than the standard 12-fret join most ukes have, which probably really only matters if you play high up the neck a lot.

RichM
06-18-2014, 10:58 AM
I would add to janeray's description that smaller body sizes tend to emphasize treble tones, while larger body sizes tend to emphasize bass tones. The results is that smaller bodies like sopranos often have a tone that's described as "percussive" or "cutting", and larger bodies like tenors often have a tone that describes as "full" or "mellow." Every instrument is different, and the nature of the build and bracing will influence the tone every bit as much as the size, so your mileage may vary. But those are some good guidelines.

itsscottwilder
06-18-2014, 11:09 AM
I agree with everything above. It sounds silly. But because the tenor physically has a bigger body, the voice of the uke also has a bigger body to it.

We could talk about things like how mass, string gauge and scale length affect sound. but sometimes it's good enough to know that bigger is bigger :)

coolkayaker1
06-18-2014, 11:23 AM
One thing to consider on a tenor is neck feel and size. While important on all Ukuleke sizes, smaller ukes have, by definition, smaller necks, so thickness, width of neck (nut width) and flat versus radiused fretboards have less bearing.

As you get into larger ukes, like a tenor, these factors come to bear (e.g. Pono that you mention has a noticibly thicker neck, and some are fretboard radiused; KoAloha is a thinner neck, no radiused fretboard).

How to tell what's best for you? A trip to Hawaii to try them out! Or your local uke shop or group gig (not as romantic a notion, but, admittedly, equally as successful for your goal).

tbeltrans
06-18-2014, 01:39 PM
This is probably a bit off the OP's topic, but I am curious. The OP mentioned a SOLID BODY tenor. Is that like a solid body electric guitar, except that it is a ukulele? It seems to me ther is far more for me to learn about this world of ukuleles than I realized.

As for the OP's question, a tenor ukulele is bigger and as has been said, generally has a bigger sound, longer scale length, etc. However, I have two ukuleles, one a tenor and the other a long neck concert. The concert has a tenor neck. Kamaka offers this as a custom upcharge and I believe other makers do too. This particular concert ukulele is supposed to actually have a body size somewhere between a concert and a tenor. It is said by Kamaka on their site to be "bell shaped". It is sort of like a dreadnaught guitar in that it has a waist, but not as deep as my tenor does. Fortunately, it still works with my Mobius strap though.

So it seems there are all manner of flavors of ukuleles that maybe blur the lines a bit between tenor, concert, and soprano. I don't mean to contradict anything that has been said in this thread, but instead throw in some other possibilities and combinations that various makers seem to offer that cross the lines between the various generally accepted sizes.

...and now I find out that there is a whole other version of ukulele that is solid body. :)

Tony

janeray1940
06-18-2014, 01:51 PM
This is probably a bit off the OP's topic, but I am curious. The OP mentioned a SOLID BODY tenor. Is that like a solid body electric guitar, except that it is a ukulele? It seems to me ther is far more for me to learn about this world of ukuleles than I realized.

As for the OP's question, a tenor ukulele is bigger and as has been said, generally has a bigger sound, longer scale length, etc. However, I have two ukuleles, one a tenor and the other a long neck concert. The concert has a tenor neck. Kamaka offers this as a custom upcharge and I believe other makers do too. This particular concert ukulele is supposed to actually have a body size somewhere between a concert and a tenor. It is said by Kamaka on their site to be "bell shaped". It is sort of like a dreadnaught guitar in that it has a waist, but not as deep as my tenor does. Fortunately, it still works with my Mobius strap though.

So it seems there are all manner of flavors of ukuleles that maybe blur the lines a bit between tenor, concert, and soprano. I don't mean to contradict anything that has been said in this thread, but instead throw in some other possibilities and combinations that various makers seem to offer that cross the lines between the various generally accepted sizes.

...and now I find out that there is a whole other version of ukulele that is solid body. :)

Tony

There are solid body electric ukuleles. I was assuming the OP meant "solid wood" (vs. laminate) but I may have been wrong.

And it sounds like you have a Kamaka Ohta-San - great choice! I have one too. They actually have a scale length all their own, right in between a concert and tenor scale. To me it's the best of all possible worlds.

stevepetergal
06-18-2014, 01:55 PM
Just a side thought. You mention the number of frets. If you really make use of the highest frets on your concert, the tenor will probably make you happy. I play only concerts and the high frets are like my friend coolkayaker1 says like freting the tines of a comb.

CeeJay
06-18-2014, 02:01 PM
This is probably a bit off the OP's topic, but I am curious. The OP mentioned a SOLID BODY tenor. Is that like a solid body electric guitar, except that it is a ukulele? It seems to me ther is far more for me to learn about this world of ukuleles than I realized.

As for the OP's question, a tenor ukulele is bigger and as has been said, generally has a bigger sound, longer scale length, etc. However, I have two ukuleles, one a tenor and the other a long neck concert. The concert has a tenor neck. Kamaka offers this as a custom upcharge and I believe other makers do too. This particular concert ukulele is supposed to actually have a body size somewhere between a concert and a tenor. It is said by Kamaka on their site to be "bell shaped". It is sort of like a dreadnaught guitar in that it has a waist, but not as deep as my tenor does. Fortunately, it still works with my Mobius strap though.

So it seems there are all manner of flavors of ukuleles that maybe blur the lines a bit between tenor, concert, and soprano. I don't mean to contradict anything that has been said in this thread, but instead throw in some other possibilities and combinations that various makers seem to offer that cross the lines between the various generally accepted sizes.

...and now I find out that there is a whole other version of ukulele that is solid body. :)

Tony

Tony

I also got confused about this ...but I believe that what is meant by "solid " in this case is that the wood used is a single piece and not laminated or ply.Not solid as in electric guitar....although there are such ukuleles as well ....just to throw more mayhem into the mix ....like Risa and eleuke (yuk) and the sort of Bari that you will see in Iamesperambients signature picture........but generally the term Solid is more aimed ...I believe and will stand having the floor removed from beneath me as a correction if my belief is erroneous....at a ukulele built from one slice of the same wood....like my humbule Ohana Mahogany thingy......Concert CK10 I think....

And as to size definitions ...it gets stranger ...I know of a Brtish Uke-Luthier-lele builder who makes a soprano with a concert neck !! Liam Kirby........there are lots of little boutique builders that are worthy of sourcing out ..........check out Sammu on this site she plays one ....will be right up your alley ...beautiful fingerpicking and classical style playing.....

Jarvo.


Not such a rotten sod .:biglaugh:

janeray1940
06-18-2014, 02:22 PM
Just a side thought. You mention the number of frets. If you really make use of the highest frets on your concert, the tenor will probably make you happy. I play only concerts and the high frets are like my friend coolkayaker1 says like freting the tines of a comb.

Definitely a your-mileage-may-vary thing - I play high up the neck a lot, and I'm pleased with the sound all the way up the neck on my Kamaka concert uke and Ohta-San (especially the Ohta-San!). My soprano, on the other hand... not so much :)

tbeltrans
06-18-2014, 03:04 PM
There are solid body electric ukuleles. I was assuming the OP meant "solid wood" (vs. laminate) but I may have been wrong.

And it sounds like you have a Kamaka Ohta-San - great choice! I have one too. They actually have a scale length all their own, right in between a concert and tenor scale. To me it's the best of all possible worlds.

Yes, that is the model I have. However, mine is supposed to have a "long neck". The shop I bought it from, the owner is a very accomplished musician and ukulele is one of the instruments he plays, so he always has at least one "high end" customized (he seems to not order these "stock", but always with something special about them) ukulele in stock. They don't sell very quickly. My Ko'olau was there for over a year before I got it. The Kamaka was not there very long when I got it. When I looked on the Kamaka web site, the long neck was listed as a custom option, and the owner said that is what it had on it. I compared it to my tenor and it appears to be the same length. It came strung with their tenor low G string set (black strings).

My Ko'olau tenor has the traditional high G (re-entrant) string set from the builder, so the Kamaka seemed a perfect companion. I don't know if it really matters whether the ukulele comes from the builder strung up a certain way, but that was still a factor in my choice to purchase the second ukulele.

The koa on my Ko'olau is much fancier (highly figured) than that of the Kamaka I have, but then the Ko'olau was twice the price of the Kamaka. They both sound and play wonderful, and are lifetime keepers.

Tony

janeray1940
06-18-2014, 03:13 PM
Yes, that is the model I have. However, mine is supposed to have a "long neck". The shop I bought it from, the owner is a very accomplished musician and ukulele is one of the instruments he plays, so he always has at least one "high end" customized (he seems to not order these "stock", but always with something special about them) ukulele in stock. They don't sell very quickly. My Ko'olau was there for over a year before I got it. The Kamaka was not there very long when I got it. When I looked on the Kamaka web site, the long neck was listed as a custom option, and the owner said that is what it had on it. I compared it to my tenor and it appears to be the same length. It came strung with their tenor low G string set (black strings).

My Ko'olau tenor has the traditional high G (re-entrant) string set from the builder, so the Kamaka seemed a perfect companion. I don't know if it really matters whether the ukulele comes from the builder strung up a certain way, but that was still a factor in my choice to purchase the second ukulele.

The koa on my Ko'olau is much fancier (highly figured) than that of the Kamaka I have, but then the Ko'olau was twice the price of the Kamaka. They both sound and play wonderful, and are lifetime keepers.

Tony

Sounds like you got two fantastic ukes! I had no idea there was a tenor neck option for the Ohta-San. As for strings - I've settled on Martin M600 or M620 fluorocarbons on my Kamakas, much better than the stock black strings they come with, especially for solo/single note playing. For low G I use a Fremont Soloist or a guitar D string.

itsme
06-18-2014, 03:22 PM
As others have said, the bigger the instrument, the bigger the sound.

A lot of guitar players gravitate to the tenor, myself included. :) Some feel the baritone is actually too guitar-like.

CeeJay
06-18-2014, 03:31 PM
As others have said, the bigger the instrument, the bigger the sound.

A lot of guitar players gravitate to the tenor, myself included. :) Some feel the baritone is actually too guitar-like.

...ummm is it not 2/3rds of a guitar ? certainly in the string department ...leaving the E and the A out ....DGBE...and roughly 2/3rds the size ....

tbeltrans
06-18-2014, 03:39 PM
Sounds like you got two fantastic ukes! I had no idea there was a tenor neck option for the Ohta-San. As for strings - I've settled on Martin M600 or M620 fluorocarbons on my Kamakas, much better than the stock black strings they come with, especially for solo/single note playing. For low G I use a Fremont Soloist or a guitar D string.

Thanks janeray! I will have to try those Martin strings. I do have a couple of sets of Aquila low G string sets and will compare when I find a Martin set. This could be fun experimenting. As for the tenor neck, I wouldn't have known except that I got this particular ukulele. I really don't know much about these instruments yet. :)

Tony

stevepetergal
06-19-2014, 04:16 AM
Definitely a your-mileage-may-vary thing - I play high up the neck a lot, and I'm pleased with the sound all the way up the neck on my Kamaka concert uke and Ohta-San (especially the Ohta-San!). My soprano, on the other hand... not so much :)

Wasn't talking about the sound in the higher frets. I was simply pointing out that, all other factors being equal, it is easier to play the higher frets on a tenor than a concert (your Otah-San being in between). Hence the "tines on a comb" comment.

janeray1940
06-19-2014, 04:40 AM
Wasn't talking about the sound in the higher frets. I was simply pointing out that, all other factors being equal, it is easier to play the higher frets on a tenor than a concert (your Otah-San being in between). Hence the "tines on a comb" comment.

Ah, okay. I misunderstood and thought that comment was referring to sound.

Catulele
06-19-2014, 04:59 AM
Generally as you go up in size the frets are spaced further appart. I chose a Tenor because the frets fit the size of my hand(the spread of my fingers) and the width of my fingers best.

Ukejenny
06-19-2014, 06:26 AM
I started with the tenor size, but as my fingers and hands became acclimated to the instrument, I realized that concert is the right size for me. My husband is now the tenor player in our house.

dickadcock
06-19-2014, 10:23 AM
...ummm is it not 2/3rds of a guitar ? certainly in the string department ...leaving the E and the A out ....DGBE...and roughly 2/3rds the size ....

CeeJay, the Bari is the same body & scale as the 1/4 classical, & yes, 2/3 the strings - - and only 1/2 the calories.

CeeJay
06-19-2014, 12:38 PM
CeeJay, the Bari is the same body & scale as the 1/4 classical, & yes, 2/3 the strings - - and only 1/2 the calories.


1/2 the calories.......yummmmm.

Homer .......

CeeJay left his account open ...Doh !!

Booli
06-19-2014, 03:48 PM
Hello everyone, I am considering a solid body tenor. I have a Kala laminate concert which I love. I was initially considering a tenor thinking it had more frets but I find only a few like Pono, LoPrinzi, and KoAloha have a few more frets than my concert. What is the major sound difference? Thanks for any info...

There's some good info here from others, but nobody has really talked abou the science, i.e., the physics of sound (and as it relates to the size and scale of the ukulele).

I mentioned some details in two of my previous posts from another thread that are relevant, and for your convenience, I've linked those posts directly here (click the red text below):



[*=1]Why Low G? (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?91663-Why-Low-G&p=1454939#post1454939)
[*=1] Low G Concert? (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?92457-Low-G-Concert&p=1469402#post1469402)


These are mainly on the topic of if a uke has a larger 'sound box', which produces a 'larger resonant structure', which in fact enable more accurate (i.e., LOUDER) reproduction of lower (bass) tones (i.e., below C4).

Please take a minute to check these links, and I'd be happy to clarify anything if needed.

-Booli

Down Up Dick
06-20-2014, 08:18 AM
I am a concert user. Like some of the others, I decided on concerts because my fingers fit just right. I have one tenor that's a little stretch, but it's all right. My baritone gives me the yips when I play some of the chords, but, since I mostly use it for fingerstyle, it's okay too.

pixiepurls
06-21-2014, 03:32 AM
Hello everyone, I am considering a solid body tenor. I have a Kala laminate concert which I love. I was initially considering a tenor thinking it had more frets but I find only a few like Pono, LoPrinzi, and KoAloha have a few more frets than my concert. What is the major sound difference? Thanks for any info...

1) More space for your fingers. My hand cramps on a soprano, very badly.
2) Larger body created a very different sound. I don't know how to describe it but we have a local ukulele shop and I sit and play various ukulele's and the sound is simply different from the larger body. It feels more finished, and more professional almost. I don't know the technical difference in the quality of sound but it just is much "better" for my ears. Even very loud soprano's don't have the fullness. I think some people most certainly prefer the sound of a soprano to a tenor though.

For really learning a lot of chords I find the concert is best because for the chords that require I stretch my pinky down I can reach better on a concert, and I'm not too terribly cramped on chords that are squished up (like a G).

iamesperambient
06-21-2014, 05:22 AM
This is probably a bit off the OP's topic, but I am curious. The OP mentioned a SOLID BODY tenor. Is that like a solid body electric guitar, except that it is a ukulele? It seems to me ther is far more for me to learn about this world of ukuleles than I realized.

As for the OP's question, a tenor ukulele is bigger and as has been said, generally has a bigger sound, longer scale length, etc. However, I have two ukuleles, one a tenor and the other a long neck concert. The concert has a tenor neck. Kamaka offers this as a custom upcharge and I believe other makers do too. This particular concert ukulele is supposed to actually have a body size somewhere between a concert and a tenor. It is said by Kamaka on their site to be "bell shaped". It is sort of like a dreadnaught guitar in that it has a waist, but not as deep as my tenor does. Fortunately, it still works with my Mobius strap though.

So it seems there are all manner of flavors of ukuleles that maybe blur the lines a bit between tenor, concert, and soprano. I don't mean to contradict anything that has been said in this thread, but instead throw in some other possibilities and combinations that various makers seem to offer that cross the lines between the various generally accepted sizes.

...and now I find out that there is a whole other version of ukulele that is solid body. :)

Tony

solid body ukuleles have been around for a while now.

iamesperambient
06-21-2014, 05:26 AM
Hello everyone, I am considering a solid body tenor. I have a Kala laminate concert which I love. I was initially considering a tenor thinking it had more frets but I find only a few like Pono, LoPrinzi, and KoAloha have a few more frets than my concert. What is the major sound difference? Thanks for any info...

its going to have a more emphasis on the bass end rather than treble end
and thats all a personal preference (if you prefer a slightly deep instrument than concert than this is a good one for you
if not stick with concert) It has a slightly longer neck so a little more fret room and the space is a little wider.
I find concert the perfect size of smaller ukes ( i actually mostly play baritone these days though)
its not to big where it loose the fun uke sound, but still has more depth than soprano, has more
fret room and wider spacing and i think just enough for my hands to be comfortable. Just depends
on preference.


BTW have we figured out if the OP means solid body electric tenor or hard wood bodied acoustic?

jessesouza
06-21-2014, 06:43 AM
sorry, yes I meant solid wood, thanks everyone for responding.

jessesouza
06-21-2014, 06:46 AM
Thanks everyone, yes I meant solid wood not solid body, sorry. I wish I could go to Hawaii and try a pono but I don't see that in my forseeable future. Your responses regarding the thicker neck was something I had not thought about. Guess I'll try any tenor I can to compare to my concert. Meanwhile I'll keep going on my concert size. Thanks again everyone...

iamesperambient
06-22-2014, 12:57 PM
Thanks everyone, yes I meant solid wood not solid body, sorry. I wish I could go to Hawaii and try a pono but I don't see that in my forseeable future. Your responses regarding the thicker neck was something I had not thought about. Guess I'll try any tenor I can to compare to my concert. Meanwhile I'll keep going on my concert size. Thanks again everyone...

you could order a set up pono on HMS
and maybe try a basic tenor (any brand at a local shop) and see if you like the size
if so HMS would be a good place to order a set up pono tenor.

jessesouza
08-08-2014, 10:56 AM
thanks I'll check out your posts