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Thread: Sopranos, Strengths and Weaknesses

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wukulele View Post
    That generally excludes finely made. I'm sure there's are outliers of soprano here & there under a few hundredred $USD that have fretboards that extend up to the sound hole. Feel free to share.
    I don’t quite understand why you linked part of my post to your comment above in #7. Anyway here’s a couple of not particularly expensive laminate Ukes that have fretboards extending beyond the 12th fret (16 frets if I count correctly):
    https://ohana-music.com/product/sk-15wg-willow-soprano/
    https://www.gretschguitars.com/gear/...bag/2730020321
    It didn’t seem to take me more than a minute to find those two and Sopranos with more than twelve frets seem commonplace to me. I’m puzzled as to why anyone would think that Sopranos (as a collective group) only (ever) have twelve frets.

    Perhaps they’re (the two above) particularly fine instruments but in my experience (of less expensive Ukes) that number of frets is normally pointless on a Soprano because the Uke’s voice is rather muted that far down the fret board. YMMV.

    My thanks to the many people that have responded to the thread so far.

    Here’s an extra comment or two:

    Feature: Quite a cutting or treble voice compared to Concerts and Tenors.
    Strength/Weakness: Weakness for me, but others might like it.
    Comment: For a less cutting voice seek out mellower strings - Worth BM’s seem to be the string of choice to tame a Bruko.

    Feature: Typically greater affordability than the Concerts and Tenors.
    Strength/Weakness: Strength, I think.
    Comment: What’s not to like about saving money or getting a better Soprano for the price of a Concert or Tenor?

    Feature: Reatively closely spaced frets, compared to the Concert and Tenor
    Strength/Weakness: Strength for me but maybe not you.
    Comment: Less stretching of the fingers required at the nut end of the scale but it starts to get cramped a bit past half way down. If you finger pick toward the saddle end of the scale a bigger Uke might be better for you, but for strumming and picking up towards the nut end I (with short stubby fingers) like Sopranos. YMMV.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 10-08-2018 at 06:37 AM.

  2. #12
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    I have a concert, and two tenors, but I always come back to the soprano.
    I fingerpick more than I strum - Living Waters strings are especially nice for this, as are Martin M600, but YMMV.
    My most played sopranos happen to be twelve frets - KoAloha Opio, Bruko #2, Martin S-O . But, after a song or two, I can make the shift to a fifteen fret or more quite easily - Martin OXK, Kala ASOV, and some vintage ukes I own.
    - Laura

  3. #13
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    I tend to agree with some of what you are saying in your last post, Graham - the staccato sound, easier chording (up to a point), for strumming in the main.
    (I know there are some great finger pickers on soprano).
    But I think you missed out greater variety, as I think there are more sopranos than of any other size available.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  4. #14
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    I love the soprano because it's just the coolest, simplest, most down-to-earth music-making machine there is! A perceived disadvantage is that it doesn't give you the "lower part of the sound spectrum" (especially when tuned in "aDF#B"), but that can be a blessing in disguise if you use the soprano to accompany yourself singing; in my case, my voice lives "below" the range of the soprano, so when you put the two together, it balances nicely, and each stays out of the other's way, if you will. But I must confess, mainly I love the soprano because it's just so darn cute!

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Croaky Keith View Post
    But I think you missed out greater variety, as I think there are more sopranos than of any other size available.
    Ah, I think that you might have misunderstood the nature of my recent post. My idea wasn’t to post everything on my own list of strengths and weaknesses (that could bore readers and miss useful points too) but rather to offer some as additions to the comments already made. I think it much better to involve the brains on UU and to learn from each other.

    When this thread has run its course I hope that the list will be comprehensive, but as it runs forward I’ve certainly been presented with a few angles and ideas that are new perspectives to me - Bill gives one above about pitch and tone (sound spectrum), and whilst absolutely valid it wasn’t ‘on my Radar’.

    All posts are welcome but one thing I hope is that the thread does include the weaknesses and doesn’t become one of pure praise for the Soprano. The better we understand what Sopranos don’t do well, what their weaknesses are, the better we can manage those difficulties to get the best out of them. Sharing the way(s) you have found around weaknesses would be good.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 10-08-2018 at 08:30 PM. Reason: Clarification

  6. #16
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    Others have mentioned scale length, number of frets and spacing. For me the main weakness I have found in a number of inexpensive sopranos is the lack of sustain and depth. Not all of them as I did get a chance to play a Martin 5k and a Palm Tree that had a nice full sound. But at around to $3k, the tone needs to be great.

    John

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Greenbag View Post
    .....All posts are welcome but one thing I hope is that the thread does include the weaknesses and doesn’t become one of pure praise for the Soprano. The better we understand what Sopranos don’t do well, what their weaknesses are, the better we can manage those difficulties to get the best out of them. Sharing the way(s) you have found around weaknesses would be good.
    I don't like sopranos, personally, as they don't have much sustain, in general, that is why I used to prefer my long neck soprano, the extra length of the strings gave it more sustain, an easier fret board for me, & it seemed to have a bit more volume too.

    I also have a tenor scaled soprano bodied uke, (Ohana), solid mahogany, & that sounds so much better to me than your average soprano, but we are all different, no one is right or wrong.
    Last edited by Croaky Keith; 10-08-2018 at 11:04 PM.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  8. #18
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    I usually just ignore references to "long necked sopranos", but in a thread devoted to soprano ukuleles, I can't resist pointing out that ukuleles are classified according to the scale length. If your uke has the scale length of a concert - it is a concert. It might have a body size and shape more commonly associated with a soprano, but if the scale length is that of a tenor - then it is a tenor.

    John Colter.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Croaky Keith View Post
    I don't like sopranos, personally, as they don't have much sustain, in general, that is why I used to prefer my long neck soprano, the extra length of the strings gave it more sustain, an easier fret board for me, & it seemed to have a bit more volume too.

    I also have a tenor scaled soprano bodied uke, (Ohana), solid mahogany, & that sounds so much better to me than your average soprano, but we are all different, no one is right or wrong.
    Thanks. Valid, I believe, as I have found similar. I rephrase and add an own observation or two below.

    Feature: Rapid note decay compared to larger Ukes.
    Strength/Weakness: Could be either (depends on your style of play and the music in question).
    Comment: Different strings and changing the scale length can produce longer sustain from a Soprano body. Better quality Ukes and solid wood Ukes typically have more volume and more sustain than cheaper and laminate Ukes. I prefer longer sustain for finger picking, but for strumming less sustain doesn’t seem, to me, to mater much and might even be an asset - punchier sound?

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukantor View Post
    I usually just ignore references to "long necked sopranos", but in a thread devoted to soprano ukuleles, I can't resist pointing out that ukuleles are classified according to the scale length. If your uke has the scale length of a concert - it is a concert. It might have a body size and shape more commonly associated with a soprano, but if the scale length is that of a tenor - then it is a tenor.

    John Colter.
    Just following the convention of this forum in regards to the names - Long Neck Soprano a soprano with a concert scale - Giraffe Neck Soprano a soprano with a tenor neck.

    I do like to think of them as small bodied whatever scale myself, but just using the generally accepted names on here.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

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