Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 25

Thread: Laminate vs Solid Mahogany: A Question of Mellowness

  1. #1

    Default Laminate vs Solid Mahogany: A Question of Mellowness

    Hey Guys,

    I mostly strum and I am into the mellower side of the uke sound. I played a Kala Solid Mahogany and a Kala Laminate (both tenors) in a local store and they pretty much sounded the same. I know the solid mahogany has to "open up" and would sound different/"better" with strings other than the stock aquila, but do you guys think the solid mahogany uke would eventually get more mellow/warmer than the laminate? Or is a laminate uke with aquila or a nylon string a good baseline for ukulele "mellowness"?
    Cordoba Tenor Bocote

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Kekaha, Kauai
    Posts
    32

    Default

    Funny you should ask, as there has been a lively conversation about the opening up process in ukuleles on Uke Talk the last few days. For the record, after building several hundred instruments over the last 35 years, I believe that most instruments will improve in various degrees over time. That said however, I would not advise anyone to ever purchase an instrument based on some belief that the sound will change over time. Buy solely on the basis of what you hear at the time. I would go so far as to recommend trying various instruments blindfolded to compare them. Too many people hear with their eyes instead of their ears.
    Bradford

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Blaine, Washington
    Posts
    2,158

    Default

    I played vintage mahogany ukes and always thought nylon strings sounded better than flurocarbon. They gave a smokey, blusey mellow type sound. Not a fan of Aquilas so can't compare. Carbon and fluros seemed to make my 'hog's too bright.

    If you plan on playing outdoors, near a campfire etc, the laminate may be more appropriate. If basically indoors and not too much humidity change, I'd go solid wood.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Pickering, ON, Canada
    Posts
    5,188

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BuzzBD View Post
    Funny you should ask, as there has been a lively conversation about the opening up process in ukuleles on Uke Talk the last few days. For the record, after building several hundred instruments over the last 35 years, I believe that most instruments will improve in various degrees over time. That said however, I would not advise anyone to ever purchase an instrument based on some belief that the sound will change over time. Buy solely on the basis of what you hear at the time. I would go so far as to recommend trying various instruments blindfolded to compare them. Too many people hear with their eyes instead of their ears.
    Bradford
    Best post ever on this subject from someone with real world experience and expertise.

    To answer the question about tone quality, just use YOUR ears. If you like the laminate and want to save some money go that route. I have played and owned some very good sounding laminate ukes. Fingerpicking is where a high quality all solid wood uke usually seperates itself for laminate, but not always.

    Patrick made a great point about strings. Mellow can be had with good quality nylon strings, florocarbon and Aquila are usually brighter
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ames, Iowa/San Juan, Puerto Rico
    Posts
    3,344

    Default

    I don't know how you define mellow. I have a solid mahogany concert and a mahogany laminate concert. The solid mahogany is not as loud and does not have as much sustain. I've owned them for over five years. Neither has "opened up", and they still sound the same as they did when I bought them. The solid one started out more mellow and stayed more mellow, in the way I would identify mellow. I did put a set of no name fluorocarbon strings on the solid mahogany one and did not like the sound. They did not make it more mellow. Other than that I've only used Nylgut strings on both of them.
    Last edited by Rllink; 01-09-2019 at 04:46 AM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    3,292

    Default

    Well, I’m gonna go out on a limb here, and if I step on some toes it’s because of my ignorance and not just crankiness.

    I think all this talk about mellowness vs. brightness is a tempest in a teapot. My old ears just don’t hear all these vast differences that everyone goes on and on in the ol’ UU. THE NOTES ON A STRING INSTRUMENT SOUND DIFFERENTLY DEPENDING HOW THEY ARE PLAYED! THEREFORE AN INSTRUMENT CAN SOUND BOTH WAYS DEPENDING ON HOW IT’S FRETTED OR PICKED. IF ONE ALWAYS FRETTED/PICKED EXACTLY THE SAME, THE DARNED THING WOULD ALWAYS BE BRIGHT OR MELLOW! Like a piano. When, one plays a note on an in-tune piano, he/she gets that note.

    Most musical instruments can be manipulated to sound bright or low down. I played trombone in a dance band a long time ago, and if one doesn’t position the slide exactly right he/she will have an off sounding noise. I’ve played all the brass instruments, at one time or another, and, if one’s embouchure isn’t held correctly, the note will be off. I don’t think one can go buy a “bright or mellow” instrument in any of the families. It’s the player who controls the sound of mostly all of them. That’s what makes an artist an artist.

    The strings do probably make a difference, but it’s due to their reaction to one’s fretting/picking/strumming.

    I guess my point is that one should obtain a great looking, affordable ukulele, tune it up and start bangin’ away at it until it sounds the way HE/SHE wants it to. THEN, buy another and another and another . . .

    Anyway, that’s what I think about all this brightness/mellowness malarky. Play (lots) in good health!
    Kala "Spalted" baritone - Lo D GBD - Fingerpick
    Gold Tone tenor banjolele - Lo F BbDF Fingerpick
    Luna “Peace” concert - CGDA Fingerpick (5ths)

    Kala tenor eight string - gGcCEEAA Strum
    Flea "Red" concert - Hi-F BbDG Strum
    Kala "Exotic Mahogany" soprano - Hi-A DF#B Strum

    Mahalo yellow "Smiley" soprano (Dad's Day gift)
    Ka-Lai Pineapple soprano (old) gift

    Old age should rather be feared than death. - Juvenal
    God gave us old age so we wouldn't mind dying so much.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    211

    Default

    A solid wood instrument that has been carefully constructed will be very resonant and vibrate all over when you play it, and it will have unique tonal characteristics. With mass produced instruments the type and quality of wood becomes more a matter of decoration and being a marketing gimmick, as consistency of output is priority and unique tonal characteristics get lost. The only reasons to pay more for a solid mass produced uke is if you really like its premium looks or for "status" among your peers.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
    5,421

    Default

    Hang on tight, Dick, you are sitting rather precariously on that branch......

    Having played a lot of brass instruments could have something to do with not hearing differences between ukes & strings.

    I have a 'collection' of ukes, & I certainly prefer the sounds that emanate from my solid wood ukes, compared to my laminates, but I do mainly pick melodies.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    3,292

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by merlin666 View Post
    A solid wood instrument that has been carefully constructed will be very resonant and vibrate all over when you play it, and it will have unique tonal characteristics. With mass produced instruments the type and quality of wood becomes more a matter of decoration and being a marketing gimmick, as consistency of output is priority and unique tonal characteristics get lost. The only reasons to pay more for a solid mass produced uke is if you really like its premium looks or for "status" among your peers.
    I don’t reallyl know if what you say about solids is correct or not, but the reason I only have one with a solid top (only) is because I don’t like messing with all that humidity stuff.

    All of mine are plywood (except my baritone’s top), and none of them have caved in or split or even cracked.

    The funny part about all this snobby stuff is that one can readily buy cheap, poorly made solid wood ukes! If one doesn’t tell it’s cost, no one will know whatcha got!

    Much better to buy a nice lookin’ uke and play the heck out of if it. Stop agonizing over what it’s made outta—PLAY IT!
    Kala "Spalted" baritone - Lo D GBD - Fingerpick
    Gold Tone tenor banjolele - Lo F BbDF Fingerpick
    Luna “Peace” concert - CGDA Fingerpick (5ths)

    Kala tenor eight string - gGcCEEAA Strum
    Flea "Red" concert - Hi-F BbDG Strum
    Kala "Exotic Mahogany" soprano - Hi-A DF#B Strum

    Mahalo yellow "Smiley" soprano (Dad's Day gift)
    Ka-Lai Pineapple soprano (old) gift

    Old age should rather be feared than death. - Juvenal
    God gave us old age so we wouldn't mind dying so much.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    3,292

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Croaky Keith View Post
    Hang on tight, Dick, you are sitting rather precariously on that branch......

    Having played a lot of brass instruments could have something to do with not hearing differences between ukes & strings.

    I have a 'collection' of ukes, & I certainly prefer the sounds that emanate from my solid wood ukes, compared to my laminates, but I do mainly pick melodies.
    I see . . . And do you always fret and pick them all with the exact same pressure? Are the sounds emanating from the solids sounding better because you like those ukes better? Do the solids “feel” better? Look better? If you picked one up blind folded and without knowing which one it was — what then?

    I suppose a person playing with a Stradivarius Ukulele would really sound better than I do on one of my Kala Plywoods, but so what? Am I a professional like the great Tiny Tim? Or am I just having fun? And, if I’m striving to sound my very, very best - for whom?

    Better to grab yer favorite ol’ uke, take a good swig of beer and belt out yer favorite ditty — perfect or not!
    Kala "Spalted" baritone - Lo D GBD - Fingerpick
    Gold Tone tenor banjolele - Lo F BbDF Fingerpick
    Luna “Peace” concert - CGDA Fingerpick (5ths)

    Kala tenor eight string - gGcCEEAA Strum
    Flea "Red" concert - Hi-F BbDG Strum
    Kala "Exotic Mahogany" soprano - Hi-A DF#B Strum

    Mahalo yellow "Smiley" soprano (Dad's Day gift)
    Ka-Lai Pineapple soprano (old) gift

    Old age should rather be feared than death. - Juvenal
    God gave us old age so we wouldn't mind dying so much.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •