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Thread: What size would a modern professional use?

  1. #1
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    Default What size would a modern professional use?

    I say folks, does anyone know, or have a pretty good opinion on what size Ukulele is the most popular in today’s world with professional musicians?

    I would imagine that the Soprano was once hailed as not only the traditional size Uke, but also the most widely used by professionals, but wondered if that has changed.

    I know styles have changed, or at least there seems more people now moving away from what I would once call the “norm”, as in strumming to popular songs, so I wondered if the attitudes have changed and now more and more are moving up to the Concert or Tenor, or maybe even starting out with those rather than the Soprano.

    Or is it a case of where you live? For instance, I have not seen many people from Hawaii play old time favourites, but rather popular songs or those from the Islands.

    I also don’t think it’s a case of what you want to do with the Uke that predicts which is more suited, as anything can be played on anything.

    So what size would overall be most popular for the professional?

  2. #2
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    I think it totally depends what they're playing. Jake Shimabukoro plays a tenor, and it's ideal for the sort of fancy fingerstyle he plays - plenty of room for your fingers. Soprano, however, has that great barking sound which works so well for chordal stuff.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Witters View Post
    I say folks, does anyone know, or have a pretty good opinion on what size Ukulele is the most popular in today’s world with professional musicians?

    I would imagine that the Soprano was once hailed as not only the traditional size Uke, but also the most widely used by professionals, but wondered if that has changed.

    I know styles have changed, or at least there seems more people now moving away from what I would once call the “norm”, as in strumming to popular songs, so I wondered if the attitudes have changed and now more and more are moving up to the Concert or Tenor, or maybe even starting out with those rather than the Soprano.

    Or is it a case of where you live? For instance, I have not seen many people from Hawaii play old time favourites, but rather popular songs or those from the Islands.

    I also don’t think it’s a case of what you want to do with the Uke that predicts which is more suited, as anything can be played on anything.

    So what size would overall be most popular for the professional?
    This is a pretty subjective question really so it will all depend on the individual player. Pretty much all the best players I know play with a tenor. Probably because it can be louder and has a bigger note range.

  4. #4
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    i agree.
    Pretty hard question, but i'd say either the concert or Tenors.

  5. #5
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    My 'ukulele teachers Jody Kamisato and Herb Ohta, Jr. both play the tenor and so does Jake.

  6. #6
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    It does seem that the faster players prefer tenors for perhaps a few reasons. They are a great size for bigger, longer fingers, and the longer scale has many advantages. Tenor ukes are a little more substantial in terms of weight and that helps when you are playing fast and combining finger-style and fast chord-melody. Playing unplugged, they have a bigger voice (solid wood ukes) and they have higher string tension. All of these things help professional performing artists play the way they do.
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  7. #7
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    I think most uke serious performers from the mainland usa prefer a tenor, and alot want some sort of pick-up in it. Except those who are die-hard soprano players, whether that be for nostalgia sake ,novelty, or just plain love of the soprano. There are some players that I don't think I've ever seen play anything but a soprano, HH, Janet Klein and Hot Time Harv come to mind.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoosierhiver View Post
    I think most uke serious performers from the mainland usa prefer a tenor, and alot want some sort of pick-up in it. Except those who are die-hard soprano players, whether that be for nostalgia sake ,novelty, or just plain love of the soprano. There are some players that I don't think I've ever seen play anything but a soprano, HH, Janet Klein and Hot Time Harv come to mind.
    Nonsense. I play sopranino a lot too.

    And if you really look closely, like with any endeavor, there's a small cadre of really talented folk playing any given size and then a huge sea of folk who want to be just like their hero. Lately the hero is often Jake. Nothing wrong with that (though I think lots of folk would be better off copping Jake's attitude rather than his licks). But that style is really not the be-all and end-all of ukulele playing.

    In the soprano field: if you don't count Craig Robertson as a serious player, I don't know who is.

    How about Pops Bayless? He doesn't do a lot of the finger-pickety stuff, but he can blaze circles around most anybody. (Certainly me, anyways.) I'm pretty sure he goes no larger than concert.

    The late, much lamented John King seems to have favored sopranos and the occasional concert and only a deaf person would consider him anything less than a serious player.

    Then there's Neil Paisley. That boy is all over the uke like white on rice. Yep, soprano.

    I can't remember what size Victoria Vox likes but I think it's concert. I just asked her on Twitter so if her response comes back before I finish this rant I'll letcha know.

    Mark "Jazzukes" Occhionero seems to get along pretty darn well without benefit of tenor.

    I could go on -- I know I've left out a lot of people -- but I don't think that's necessary.

    IMNSHO, it's really not a matter of the tenor being "bad" or something... I just get really tired of the "tenors are for serious players" or "start on whatever and graduate to a tenor" crap.

    Choose whatever size for whatever reason.

    But just remember what Craig sez: "Real men play sopranos."
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  9. #9
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    Well put HH!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howlin Hobbit View Post
    Lately the hero is often Jake. Nothing wrong with that (though I think lots of folk would be better off copping Jake's attitude rather than his licks).
    well said.

    btw, i play a concert, and i am a serious player. i am not at all good, but i am serious about playing in my dining room and my front porch.
    "...the Dude abides."

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