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View Full Version : Semi New Player with Sausage Fingers... Wondering which Uke to Get



Uke Player 1
07-16-2014, 10:02 AM
Hey everyone,
I apologize since this is my first post on this forum, and I'm sorry if I'm not doing this correctly. But, I need some help

About a year ago I bought a cheap, $25 soprano uke online, just to get the hang of it and see if I liked it. Well, I did, but I didn't have much time to practice and it kind of just sat. But when I did play, one of my biggest problems was fitting my fingers on the frets.

Now, I'm looking to get back into the game, and I think I want to get a new uke. Now obviously, I should get either a concert or a tenor, but to be honest, I have no idea which I should get. I like the sound of a tenor better, but concert is cheaper and I'm still not so sure how much I'll get to play. So I guess my real question is how much of a noticible difference is there on the frets for someone with larger fingers with a concert and a tenor uke. If someone could help me out with this decision, that'd be great. Thanks!

-Pat

philrab66
07-16-2014, 10:06 AM
Hey everyone,
I apologize since this is my first post on this forum, and I'm sorry if I'm not doing this correctly. But, I need some help

About a year ago I bought a cheap, $25 soprano uke online, just to get the hang of it and see if I liked it. Well, I did, but I didn't have much time to practice and it kind of just sat. But when I did play, one of my biggest problems was fitting my fingers on the frets.

Now, I'm looking to get back into the game, and I think I want to get a new uke. Now obviously, I should get either a concert or a tenor, but to be honest, I have no idea which I should get. I like the sound of a tenor better, but concert is cheaper and I'm still not so sure how much I'll get to play. So I guess my real question is how much of a noticible difference is there on the frets for someone with larger fingers with a concert and a tenor uke. If someone could help me out with this decision, that'd be great. Thanks!

-Pat

Some sopranos are the same width as concerts it varies by manufacturer.

Uke Player 1
07-16-2014, 10:13 AM
Some sopranos are the same width as concerts it varies by manufacturer.

I'm not really looking to get another soprano though, I have one already and I like the sound of the concert and tenor better

philrab66
07-16-2014, 10:35 AM
I'm not really looking to get another soprano though, I have one already and I like the sound of the concert and tenor better
From my experience a tenor was to much of a stretch for me so i have settled for a concert. But I would like to get a soprano with the same width neck as my concert.

Uke Player 1
07-16-2014, 10:37 AM
From my experience a tenor was to much of a stretch for me so i have settled for a concert. But I would like to get a soprano with the same width neck as my concert.

I'm sorry I'm not familiar... What do you mean by stretch?

DownUpDave
07-16-2014, 10:58 AM
I understand where you are coming from. I started with tenor then bought a concert and then a soprano. Most neck widths are the same about 1-3/8" the big difference fret size which is the distance between fret wires. More distance, more room for your sausage fingers, just had to throw that in there :p

Here are some measurements of distances from nut to first fret wire. Tenor = 15/16", concert=7/8", soprano=3/4". It does not seem like much but it does make a difference the farther you move away from the nut the smaller the frets get. Here is the distance from second to third fret wire, Tenor=13/16", concert=3/4", soprano=11/16". These are just off my instruments and others will vary a bit but it gives you the general idea.

My hands and fingers are not big and I find tenor easiest with the most fretting room, I do notice a difference. Buy a $110 - $150 tenor from Hawaii Music Supply, Uke Republic or Mims. They will set it up for you the same as if you had spent a grand. This will make it easy to play, sound good and you will WANT to practice and play because it is fun.

BlueLatitude
07-16-2014, 11:06 AM
You might want to try something like an Islander, which have wider necks (1 1/2").

On the other hand, you will hear plenty of people here who started on tenor and moved down to soprano even though they also have sausage fingers.

As far as concert or tenor, are your particular sausages long or short? If they are short you might be more comfortable with a concert scale. I have slender fingers but they are also short; I cannot play a tenor very comfortably because the frets are too far apart for me.

itsme
07-16-2014, 11:10 AM
Where do you live? If you're near a decent sized city, surely there's a Guitar Center or some other store you could go to to try out the sizes in person. Doesn't mean you need to buy from them.

Or see if there are any uke clubs or meetup groups near you. You'll find people with all makes and sizes of ukes, and most are more than happy to let you check theirs out.

As far as a concert being cheaper, it's generally not by much for the otherwise same model/brand. And there are plenty of tenors out there that won't cost you as much as some other concerts.

philrab66
07-16-2014, 11:42 AM
I'm sorry I'm not familiar... What do you mean by stretch?

The space between the frets are further apart.

rockyl
07-16-2014, 11:48 AM
I have small hands but found it very difficult to cram my finders into a "D" chord, etc. on a concert. Moved up to the tenor size and have been very happy with it and many chords have become easier for me to play. My pinkie is short and won't stretch to the 5th fret from a "G" chord. I've learned to move fast and throw that little sucker wherever I need it.

kypfer
07-16-2014, 12:04 PM
Before I make any valid comment/suggestion, I'd like to know what size are considered "sausage" fingers. With the four fingers on my left (fretting) hand held close together (as one might if one was saluting) the distance from the "thumb" side of the index finger to the "pinky" side of the third finger is just over 2 1/2" (6.5cm) at the end knuckle. Come down to the second knuckle, so's to include the pinky at the first knuckle and the width is slightly under 3 1/2", just over 8.5cm. Fully splayed, it is 6"/15cm from the tip of my index finger to the tip of my pinky.

I have little problem playing a soprano ukulele, but a concert is easier. I do have many years experience fretting a guitar, so practice may have improved my capability on the smaller instrument ;)

PhilUSAFRet
07-16-2014, 12:56 PM
fretting finger positions require practice and good form. It is a skill like any other aspect of playing uke. Lots of players with "sausage fingers" play all sizes including soprano. I personally like the concert size and second the recommendation that if your fingers are truly "fatter" than normal, focus on the ukes with 1 1/2" fret boards. There are a few models out there actually advertised as a "wide neck" model. Availability depends on your price range.

Here are some tutorials in fingering positions. There is often more than one way to fret a chord, with one way easier for a given player than the other(s):

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ukulele+how+to+fret

Shorebird
07-16-2014, 02:17 PM
Welcome I would go for a concert or a tenor. Lots of choices out there

Uke Player 1
07-16-2014, 05:13 PM
Hey everyone, sorry I haven't responded; I've been out for most of the day.

To add a little depth to my problem, I probably should've clarified a bit. My fingers aren't exactly "sausages", they're just large fingers on a large hand. I'm 6' 1" and 215 lbs, and my hands are about the same normal proportion. I just have a problem with fitting my hands on to my soprano. I find that the distance between frets are too little and the neck isn't wide enough. If what I'm hearing from you guys is true though, neck width is probably just something I'll have to live with. (It seems as though the wider necks are uncommmon and I'd have to shell out more money for one, which I'm unwilling to do). So, it really just comes down to the concept of a concert and a tenor.

Are they really about the same price? I don't want to spend too much money on this, again, I don't know if I'll stick with it, but if they're about the same price, that seems like a very good thing.

Unfortunately, I don't know of any very local places that stock different types of ukes for me to try out.. I wish there were. I'd also feel kinda stupid to go over and try out ukes meanwhile I barely know how to play one anymore.

And finally, I used to play a little guitar (I was very, very bad and didn't like to play it or practice it), but from what I remember, the frets being too far apart didn't matter much to me. It's just being too close together on my soprano that hurts me.

I guess what I'm asking is what do you guys think I'd feel more comfortable with for the price. I don't have anyway to really try the different types out (God I wish I did), so I'm trusting you guys haha. I think I'm leaning more towards the tenor but I don't want to make a stupid decision or spend more money than I need to, especially if you guys dont think it will help me much (although you guys seem to agree that a bigger uke than a soprano is a good idea). Anyways, thanks so much guys!

bnolsen
07-16-2014, 05:48 PM
i have large hands myself. My faorite player is a martin oxk (soprano) followed by a lanikai pineapple I got dirt cheap from nutler music.

First rule: Low action good, high action bad.

High action is worse for us with large fingerpad area. The harder you have to press the bigger chance you're going to interfere with other strings. Even worse down the frets, esp with chords like 'C' 0787. (like the 'g' chord but way shifted).

Narrow string spacing makes action problems much worse.

Uke Player 1
07-16-2014, 05:59 PM
i have large hands myself. My faorite player is a martin oxk (soprano) followed by a lanikai pineapple I got dirt cheap from nutler music.

First rule: Low action good, high action bad.

High action is worse for us with large fingerpad area. The harder you have to press the bigger chance you're going to interfere with other strings. Even worse down the frets, esp with chords like 'C' 0787. (like the 'g' chord but way shifted).

Narrow string spacing makes action problems much worse.

Sorry... I kinda didn't understand anything except that last sentence...

kypfer
07-16-2014, 09:25 PM
I'm 6' 1" and 215 lbs, and my hands are about the same normal proportion. ... much the same as me, then. From my experience, you should be able to cope with anything, with practice, just don't sit on it ;)

Booli
07-17-2014, 01:26 AM
I don't want to make a stupid decision or spend more money than I need to, especially if you guys dont think it will help me much (although you guys seem to agree that a bigger uke than a soprano is a good idea).

Pat,

You do NOT have to spend $1000 or $500 or even $300 to get a decent, playable instrument.

You can get a decent, factory-made, laminate-wood tenor for $100-$150 that is playable, with a decent setup done by HMS, MIM, Uke Republic, Zen Ukes, etc from many brands (Kala, Luna, Ohana, to name a few).

However, if you buy it from Amazon or Guitar Center it will NOT be set up, and usually comes from the asian factory assembly line typically with high action, poor intonation, and rough frets.

Mitchell and Rogue brands are made exclusively for sale by Guitar Center and their sister companies (music123, Musicians Friend, and others I dont remember) and typically are considered with very low regard as starter instruments (and basically define the essence of 'cheap' while demonstrating the bare minimum qualities to be called a musical instrument, as opposed to a toy or wall-hanger)

(others may correct me if I am wrong) With regard to coming 'set up' from the factory, the sole exception that I have read about on all of UU in the past year, are the Oscar Schmidt instruments, as they seem to be 'set up' from the factory, almost as if they already got the magic touch from the above mentioned vendors.

I have not played one yet, but am still on the fence about the Oscar Schmidt OU2P Concert Pineapple for $79 from Austin Bazaar (knowing I will do the set up myself if needed). Oscar Schmidt ALSO has a reputation for having a wider NUT, i.e. more space between each string, so if your fingertips are like giant gumdrops, you will have more room to place them with hopefully less interference.

Also, The Magic Fluke Company, which makes the Fluke and Flea ukuleles, have a wider nut (38mm), but starting at around $180 for a concert Flea, this may be outside your budget. I own a concert Flea and tenor Fluke and find them very EASY to play and they sound great.

Without getting your instrument 'set up', you have at least a 50% chance of getting a turkey (as in uncomfortable to play, or impossible to keep in tune due to intonation being miles off - and this is NOT talking about the strings as they stretch until they settle down - that is, in fact, an entirely other discussion).

Having said all that, learning to correct the set up yourself is not rocket science, and you can learn to adjust both the nut and saddle for better intonation yourself, as well as learning to dress the frets.

if you are not comfortable doing this yourself, you can still buy a factory-made instrument, but then you need to find a local luthier or guitar repair shop to do the set up for you, and that might cost at least $50.

Keep in mind that the above mentioned vendors (HMS, MIM, Uke Republic, Zen Ukes) all INCLUDE the setup in all the ukes they sell, and they all have great reputations judging from what SO MANY others have said here in the forums on UU in the past.

Getting a proper set up is critical to having a playable instrument, so this is something you should consider...

-Booli

Uke Player 1
07-17-2014, 09:18 AM
Wow... I really had no idea that it was that important to get the uke set up before playing it... I had previously only tuned it and re-tuned it until the strings settled; is it really that noticeable of a difference?

In that case, I will definitely try to buy from one of the pre set-up brands, so I wont have to do it myself. I want something that sounds good, but primarily, I can actually play. Thanks so much.

Booli
07-18-2014, 02:40 PM
Wow... I really had no idea that it was that important to get the uke set up before playing it... I had previously only tuned it and re-tuned it until the strings settled; is it really that noticeable of a difference?

In that case, I will definitely try to buy from one of the pre set-up brands, so I wont have to do it myself. I want something that sounds good, but primarily, I can actually play. Thanks so much.

Any time.

Just FYI - Hawaii Music Supply (HMS) has a page on their site about setups and why they do them, and why they are important, along with a short video, that demonstrates some of the procedures:

http://www.theukulelesite.com/ukulele-setup.html

This video might clarify what's involved, instead of just going from a description.

-Booli :)

1931jim
07-20-2014, 04:30 AM
Hello Uke Player 1,
You wrote earlier about your guitar. Posting #14. To save yourself some money pick up the guitar again and put a capo at the fifth fret. This will give you GCEA on the strings 4,3,2,1 and from there just play the four strings 'til your fingers get the old feeling again. Nothing will be better than practice as many others have written here on the UU family. Jim

DownUpDave
07-20-2014, 08:18 AM
Wow... I really had no idea that it was that important to get the uke set up before playing it... I had previously only tuned it and re-tuned it until the strings settled; is it really that noticeable of a difference?

In that case, I will definitely try to buy from one of the pre set-up brands, so I wont have to do it myself. I want something that sounds good, but primarily, I can actually play. Thanks so much.

You may have used the term " pre set-up brands " as a general comment but it is the retailer that does the set up before shipping it to you. That is why HMS, Mims and Uke Republic are continualy recommended here, they know their stuff and do a great set up job.

bnolsen
07-20-2014, 12:59 PM
I think I might suggest you get a flea (or fluke), either soprano or concert. Both sizes have roomy fretboards and if anything, are dead on consistent with intonation and setup. Maybe they aren't the sexiest, but they sure are practical ukes. And I do guarantee they are great for helping you be able to identify the difference between a good ukulele and a POS in the future.

Shorebird
08-06-2014, 01:36 AM
I would definitely get a Tenor. I bought a Martin C1K for my first UKE and really like it. As I made progress with my lessons I had trouble cramming my fingers into the smaller fret spaces on the Concert. I tried a Pono tenor and found i was able to play the chords cleaner because of the larger size. I may need to sell the like new martin C1K to fund a "backup" tenor.

bnolsen
08-06-2014, 03:55 AM
I would definitely get a Tenor. I bought a Martin C1K for my first UKE and really like it. As I made progress with my lessons I had trouble cramming my fingers into the smaller fret spaces on the Concert. I tried a Pono tenor and found i was able to play the chords cleaner because of the larger size. I may need to sell the like new martin C1K to fund a "backup" tenor.

tenor is huge. over time you'll get over the small feeling and get used to the smaller sizes, even perhaps prefer them. I can't understand how anyone can play bari, even less real guitar.

DownUpDave
08-06-2014, 05:45 AM
tenor is huge. over time you'll get over the small feeling and get used to the smaller sizes, even perhaps prefer them. I can't understand how anyone can play bari, even less real guitar.

So true about getting use to smaller sizes. I started with a tenor, then bought a concert and newest uke is a soprano. I like all the differents sizes and their inherant sounds now, but at the begining it was all about the tenor.

trickcyclist
08-06-2014, 08:33 PM
Hi Uke Player 1. You've had some good advice so far, especially about set up. When you say that you have difficulty getting your fingers between the frets on the soprano and fitting all your fingers into the chords, I know just what you mean:) For me, moving from tenor to soprano meant I had to change the way I used my fingers.

On tenor I fret chords just like on a guitar, with my fingers between the frets and all the fingers sort of curving nicely alongside themselves. There's often not room to get fingers between the frets on a soprano , but you don't need to. You just need to let your head get used to putting the finger in the right place for the note you're playing, even if this means the pad of your finger goes over the wire of the fret behind, not nicely between the wires. It makes no difference to the sound. The other change in technique was to use less fingers for chords, so there aren't as many to get in the way. So on tenor I play d minor (which looks like your a minor shape on guitar) with 3 fingers. That's my second finger on second fret on the high g, my 3rd finger on 2nd fret on the c and my first finger on 1st fret on the e (with an open a as well). On soprano I use my second finger to cover the c string as well, and leave my 3rd finger off, because it's really hard to make it fit. This means you need to be able to play more than on string with one finger (that is, you need to be able to play a bar chord, or barre chord if you want to use the posh way of writing it...) and this takes a bit of practice to train your muscles. Realistically, 3 to 6 months of regular practice from scratch.

Now if that's going to turn your fun hobby into a chore, I would get a tenor. It'll still feel small, but you'll be able to use the guitar technique you already have. I would suggest a tenor, not a concert if you're coming from a guitar background originally. You might find concert a bit small still, you definitely won't find a tenor too small. I now find a guitar way to big! You've already had great advice about a set up and not sepnding a fortune to get a great instrument - have fun :D