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Thread: Tenor or soprano for adult beginner

  1. #1
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    Default Tenor or soprano for adult beginner

    Just wondering what the consensus is for an older guy to start to learn on.
    Is it easier on a Tenor given distance between frets and handling size being bigger.
    I suppose what l'm asking is do you disadvantage yourself my starting on the smaller Soprano as an older adult?

  2. #2
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    Well, the question is quite subjective IMO. I'm an older adult reaching my mid 50's (almost). I came from classical guitar, which we all know is quite a bit larger than a tenor ukulele, and I play the soprano. I just really love the punchy tone I get from it. Mind you, I still alternate back and forth from ukulele to guitar and have no troubles with the transition. Perhaps it should be said that I have been playing stringed instruments for about 40 years now, but not long ago the ukulele.

    Now, having said that, someone new to stringed instruments might be a different situation when it comes to the various ukulele sizes. I say it would be best to visit a music store with some time to spare and play them all. Only you can say which is best for you

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loveiz View Post
    Just wondering what the consensus is for an older guy to start to learn on.
    Is it easier on a Tenor given distance between frets and handling size being bigger.
    I suppose what l'm asking is do you disadvantage yourself my starting on the smaller Soprano as an older adult?
    This is one of those ‘it all depends questions’. I started on Soprano but, not having the technique needed, struggled with the closeness of the frets - but now I love Soprano. I tried Tenor and found the frets too far apart for some chords. To me Concert is a good (middle) size for adults to learn on so I suggest you look at those instead of the other two. A Concert is what’s by my chair now and I like it a lot. The Concert has a fuller sound than the Soprano but I’m still really missing the Soprano that I lent to a learner. Soprano’s sounds fine too and it’s so easy to leave them lying around ready to pick up and play ........ they fit in the armchair with me easier too.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 09-26-2018 at 11:42 AM.

  4. #4
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    I suspect this is personal - is there somewhere local to you that you can try out different sizes?

    My newbie-on-a-soprano experience is that the tight spacing isn't a big deal for beginner stuff where you're mostly playing low on the neck. Some of the more pretzelly chords are tricky up high on the neck, but a) I haven't seen most of those outside of a chord chart and b) creative barring reduces the need to stuff too many fingers in the same place. Longer stretches may also be easier on the soprano, but don't think I've run into anything there yet.

    What did make a huge difference for me was lowering the action at the nut. With the stratospheric stock action I needed a lot of reinforcement from separate fingers. After lowering it I can readily barre chords with fewer fingers: Dm (2210) went from a bear to fit in with three fingers to super easy once I could cover the G and C strings on fret 2 with a single finger tip.

    The bigger difference will be to pick the one that sounds best to you: you'll play it more and get better all the faster!

    That said, figuring this out is a good excuse to get one of each
    Last edited by Arcy; 09-26-2018 at 12:56 PM. Reason: sound is important!

  5. #5
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    I always recommend starting out with a concert, not too big, not too small, a slightly fuller sound than a soprano, & takes a low G string well, so you can experiment whilst learning.

    (Kala & Ohana are a good starting point.)
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  6. #6
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    It's quite subjective like other people have said! I play on a tenor because I like the range it offers (I find it easier to play further up the fretboard), it has a slightly deeper sound and good sustain (better than my concert ukes anyway). Arguably with the increased size it's could be seen as easier to hold but I've never really thought of this so maybe it's not that big of a deal.

    The sound on my concert uke is very bright. Being smaller, chords are easier to fret too. I think that may be a good compromise until you find out what you like best? I personally find sopranos a bit too small!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Croaky Keith View Post
    I always recommend starting out with a concert, not too big, not too small, a slightly fuller sound than a soprano, & takes a low G string well, so you can experiment whilst learning.

    (Kala & Ohana are a good starting point.)
    Concert is a great place to start. I have pretty large hands and like wider fret boards.

    I have now owned 2 dozen ukuleles and the Fluke concert is still my number one.

    I started playing 14 months ago and I'm now 55yrs old.


    All that said I have almost every size and play them all, soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.


    Tenors have been my least favorite until recently when I got a wide neck Islander with Living Waters strings(amazing)

    and restrung another tenor with lower tension dGBE strings,


    My buddy loves his tenors in standard tuning, but he likes to finger pick up the neck.


    Its all about preferences, and you won't really know till you start.

    Good luck in the search.
    Playing my Magic Fluke and grinning like a fool!

  8. #8
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    I would also suggest a concert.
    LACole
    Laurie Ann Cole

    Northern UK20 Concert Mahogany
    Beaver Creek Maple Flame Tenor
    Eddy Finn EF-Moon Concert
    Beaver Creek Soprano Mahogany

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the replies it's appreciated.
    I was thinking the Soprano might be restricting my learning,
    I am going to visit a shop in a day or two and try some other sizes.
    That said I do really like my little Soprano, there is nothing wrong with it.
    All my life I convinced myself I could never play an instrument. Now getting a start with this Uke has been great fun and am hopeful of playing some tunes in the future. But it's sloooooooow progress.

  10. #10
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    As you're in the UK, there's probably a uke group nearby (they'll meet in a pub!). Go along and ask to try other people's ukes. You might find all the sizes are equally challenging, as in the end I don't think size is the determining factor - I have fairly large hands and long fingers, and mainly play soprano). In the end, it's mainly down to practice.

    The style you want to play in is more important - long melodic runs tend to work best on a tenor, and I find a tenor less good for just strumming chords (but that's just my preference).

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