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Thread: Thoughts on a Bruko ukulele

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanks View Post
    And that's it in a nutshell.

    I had a baritone that sounded great but still had action higher than I liked after adjusting as far as I could. I eventually sold it but it took a much more expensive instrument to take its place.

    The only soprano I've had also had high action and was a one piece bridge so not adjustable. I sold that as well.

    But I'm not saying I wouldn't get another though.
    That‘s it basically, Jim pretty much summed up all the issues with the Brükos. There are pretty common here in Germany, as they‘re built here. I went there twice, both times coming back with some outstanding instruments that didn‘t even make it to there website, mostly because the couple that basically IS Brüko isn‘t too much into online stuff.

    Uke players in Germany are mostly split in two parties: Those who adore Brüko (also called Brükologists) and thos who are somewhat more critical.

    I used to belong to the former group. However, since I laid my hands on higher classed (but considerably higher priced ones, too!), I realised why some people tend to be critical. Yet, you still can find some really decent instruments for a very affordable price. Sound is an issue, of course, if you like it or not is always a matter of individual taste. But: To my ears, at least, a Brüko always has a very distinctive sound. Some call it vintage, others percussive, some call it the „Brüko plong“. While I‘m not claiming that they all sound the same, there is a certain harshness to most of their models, that do set them apart - especially from the warmer, what I call „Hawaiian mellow“ sound. People who are more into that may tend to dislike the Brüko sound. However, it may also make for a nice variation soundwise.

    I have to admit I never was considerably impressed by the regular Brüko models, i.e. those with the numbers. Although I owned a flat No 5 at some point which sounded really nice and was nice to travel with. However, as I owned more than one Brüko soprano and at that point didn‘t think of myself as a soprano player, I sold it. Yet, I still (or again) do have a few Brüko sopranos (most of them bought used) which I like very much: among them a vintage no 3 made of okoumé wood. The model is not made any longer. This one has a nice loud and rich tone, but has the issue of many Brüko models: The high action. Especially the standard models with the one-piece bridge tend to have that. The special models nowadays (and for some time now) have a two-piece brdge, and it‘s mostly not an issue to adjust the action.

    It‘s mostly those special models that I like very much. I own a longneck soprano made of Brazilian rosewood and a cedar top, and that uke is a cannon. I compared it face to face with a Koaloha Longneck Soprano Opio, and it came in as a very close second soundwise, and for about half the price (although I bought it a couple of years back). It made me exchange the Opio for the concert model. I still have the soundfile somewhere, comparing the two instruments directly.

    The other really impressive instsrument is a flat soprano, made of wenge wood (the very dark brown stuff) with a cedar top. it has a fantastic sound, too.

    One thing with the Brükos: the wood is quite thick, on all parts - from the top to the sides. That causes them a little on the heavy side (well, for a Uke!), but of course they are also quite sturdy (although I did have some isses with cracks from getting too dry, as well).


    To make a long story short: For the money of a Brüko you get some neatly built instruments, all made of solid woods. I‘d always recommend to get hold of a special or custom model, though. You may even get in touch with Brüko directly for some special requests (well, mostly regarding the wood, not so much the overall design of the instruments). They added a pineapple shaped line to their repertoire about two years back, originally made of maple or mahogany, but mmore recently they started using other woods as well. If I lived in the US, though, I‘d try to lay my hands on a few before ordering, to get an idea of the distinct sound.

    I hope you like yours, though. ANd would be glad to hear about if once you tried it.

  2. #12
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    For $100 USD it couldn't hurt, but if I don't like it I'll put it here on UU lol.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by frolicks View Post
    Uke players in Germany are mostly split in two parties: Those who adore Brüko (also called Brükologists)...
    Thanks, I'll use that! :-)

  4. #14
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    “ ..... To my ears, at least, a Brüko always has a very distinctive sound. Some call it vintage, others percussive, some call it the „Brüko plong“. While I‘m not claiming that they all sound the same, there is a certain harshness to most of their models, that do set them apart - especially from the warmer, what I call „Hawaiian mellow“ sound. People who are more into that may tend to dislike the Brüko sound. However, it may also make for a nice variation soundwise.

    I hope you like yours, though. ANd would be glad to hear about if once you tried it.”



    I have wondered whether these Ukes sound any different with fat Nylon strings. At one time they were fitted with Pyramid Nylon strings as standard, did they have a mellower sound then? What do those in Germany use to loose some of that harshness and gain some Hawaiian mellow sound?
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 07-07-2019 at 11:16 AM.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Greenbag View Post

    “ ..... To my ears, at least, a Brüko always has a very distinctive sound. Some call it vintage, others percussive, some call it the „Brüko plong“. While I‘m not claiming that they all sound the same, there is a certain harshness to most of their models, that do set them apart - especially from the warmer, what I call „Hawaiian mellow“ sound. People who are more into that may tend to dislike the Brüko sound. However, it may also make for a nice variation soundwise.

    I hope you like yours, though. ANd would be glad to hear about if once you tried it.”



    I have wondered whether these Ukes sound any different with fat Nylon strings. At one time they were fitted with Pyramid Nylon strings as standard, did they have a mellower sound then? What do those in Germany use to loose some of that harshness and gain some Hawaiian mellow sound?
    I put a set of Ernie Ball nylons on mine: 28, 32, 40, 28. It does sound better, but I still don’t really like it.
    Sopranos: aNueNue Khaya Mahogany 1, Bruko No. 6; Kiwaya KS-1; Kiwaya KTS-4; Kiwaya KTS-4K; Martin S-O
    Concerts:Cahaya CY-0112; Kiwaya KTC-1; Martin C-1 (ca. 1947-1955); Musicguymic's Kolohe
    Tenors: Cordoba 24T; Kiwaya KTT-2K
    Baritones: Cordoba 24B

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Yankee View Post
    I put a set of Ernie Ball nylons on mine: 28, 32, 40, 28. It does sound better, but I still don’t really like it.
    Thanks, that’s pretty much as anticipated but it’s nice to have the confirmation. Though the type of nylon material might be very slightly different I believe that the EB’s are broadly similar in size to the Pyramid’s (28,36,40,32), so the sound would likely be around about the same - though I wonder if the bigger g and e strings give fractionally less treble and fractionally more bass.

    I hope that frolicks will post his experience of what the Brüko enthusiasts in Germany fit.

    I now think of the Bruko as being quite percussive and something that can cut through the ambient sound - a little bit Banjo like - that’s not my style of play but it would be right for some people and situations. All that aside, for what you pay you get a particularly well made instrument.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 07-08-2019 at 12:38 PM.

  7. #17
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    Compared to what that price would get you elsewhere, certainly worth a try. There aren't many ukes at that price point that will thrill everyone, but the fact it thrills some means it is worth taking the chance. Not that it makes any difference, but I do like the logo being literally branded inside the soundhole... and 'Made in West Germany' suggests they got their money's worth out of the brand!
    Matt - Ukulele Man at World of Ukes
    Editor of UKE Magazine

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kvehe View Post
    ...you either liked the Brüko sound or you didn’t.
    This is pretty much how I feel, but which camp I'm in varies form day to day. Sometimes I love the sound and sometime I don't care for it. I describe it as almost clangy. I have moments where I think of selling mine, but I have a soft spot for it. Also, the first time I showed it to my uke teacher who plays a 100 year old martin and is a very well respected jazz guitarist and uke player in Philly, they said to me . "I'd gig with that", which definitely made me warm to it.

    Seriously last week I was thinking of selling it, then I was looking at that one you ended up buying, and then this morning I was looking at all the newly listed sopranos and long neck sopranos on their website thinking about getting another one and trying to decide if I wanted another cedar or solid cherry or solid mahogany and a long neck or a pineapple or a standard.... I think I I love the idea of Bruko's more then I like Bruko's themselves, but there is just something about the unique sound, look, and all the unique wood choices that draws me back to them even when I think I've had it with mine. FWIW, I bought my cedar/hog one about 3 months ago and it came with pretty decent action (a little under 3mm at the 12th). I did have an issue that when plucked moderately hard it did tend to buzz a little at the nut on the C string (I think they cut their slots a little to wide), but I was able to fix it with a few swipes of a very cheap nut file.

    On one hand they are great ukes for the money; all solid wood, lots of projection, cleanly built in a small factory/workshop. On the other hand I think, at least when it comes to the pricier special models, there are better all around ukes for the money.

    That 6 you got should be a great buy. You can lower the action on it by filing down the top of the saddle if you need too. One word of warning though. If you do that go slow and pay attention to the break angle of the strings BEHIND the saddle. I had a pre-1980 vintage one that I had to rebuild the nut because when the action was less then about 3mm there was not enough downward pressure on the saddle so the string tended to buzz on it. (See thread here)

    One last thing I'll say. The more I play and hear Bruko's the more I think that they are build to project above all else. I feel like they are a relic from an era without amplification (which is sorta true I guess). I've noticed that sometimes if I record myself practicing (just on my phone mic, for the sake of self evaluation). The Bruko comes through really nicely and a lot of the "clang" doesn't get picked up, where as something that sounds better while I'm playing (say my ks-5 that is in the marketplace...plug, plug) can lose some of its definition. It sort of reminds me of what I learned as a gigging drummer. If you tune and muffle your drums so that they sound to you while playing them the way you want them to sound to the audience, they won't come through to the audience. But if you tune them to be open and ringy with no little/ no muffling the audience will hear them and the ringyness will get drowned out. That's how it is with Brukos; I feel like they are meant to be heard from a distance out in front (which of course is true of all instruments, but you get what I'm saying hopefully).

    Anyway, at this exact moment I find myself wanting to play my Bruko and buy several more, a week from now I might feel different, but for now I like having one in the heard.
    Last edited by CPG; 07-09-2019 at 05:54 AM.
    Kala KA-ATP-CTG
    Takumi TC-1M
    1940s Martin Mahogany Concert
    Bruko Cedar Top Mahogany Soprano

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Greenbag View Post

    “ ..... To my ears, at least, a Brüko always has a very distinctive sound. Some call it vintage, others percussive, some call it the „Brüko plong“. While I‘m not claiming that they all sound the same, there is a certain harshness to most of their models, that do set them apart - especially from the warmer, what I call „Hawaiian mellow“ sound. People who are more into that may tend to dislike the Brüko sound. However, it may also make for a nice variation soundwise.

    I hope you like yours, though. ANd would be glad to hear about if once you tried it.”



    I have wondered whether these Ukes sound any different with fat Nylon strings. At one time they were fitted with Pyramid Nylon strings as standard, did they have a mellower sound then? What do those in Germany use to loose some of that harshness and gain some Hawaiian mellow sound?
    Well, I tried Nylon strings (Hannabach) on one Brüko uke, a longneck soprano, cedar top/mahogany body, a real cannon. While it lost some of its harshness, it still was quite booming. Personally, I prefer brown Worth strings on nearly all my Brükos. Seems to somehow tame them. Although some did well with Savarez strings, too.

    But for some really Hawaiian mellow sound, I guess, you‘ll have to buy a uke that‘s not a Brüko, I guess. It‘s somehow their USP, I feel, that they do indeed sound different. And I understand, it‘s not for everyone.

    I agree with Graham Greenbag, that they indeed have their qualities in making themselves heard in larger groups, too (an advantage that‘s somehow lost sometimes in German ukulele meetings, as they are quite frequent here). And on recordings, too. I feel that some of my Brükos did indeed sound better on recordings than I felt them to sound while playing. And also in mixes with a bunch of other instruments they get through quite well.

    But I can feel with CPG, as well: I do have days, when I think I‘m not in the mood for the Brüko sound. In fact, I had a somewhat rough start with them. When I got my first Brüko, a longneck soprano made of Cedro wood, my first reaction was: what the heck is that? Sounds more like a banjo than a uke! And it took me some time to warm up to them. I was then a Brükologist for some time, and I think I was lucky to pick up a few that are really outstanding instruments. And most of them I got used, so considerably cheaper than the factory price. One of the few advanteges of living in Germany as a ukulele nerd. However, I wouldn’t mind a few more options of vintage Martins around here, either. For since I advanced into higher priced realms, like Koaloha, Dupont, Martins, or custom-built ukes, I see and most of all, hear the limitations of most Brükos. I‘d never discourage anyone from buying one, though. I‘d just make sure he knows what to expect.

  10. #20
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    I've had 3-4 Brukos over my 3 year uke journey. Loved them all at first, but after awhile, realized they just weren't a match for my skill set. IMO, they shine for fingerpickers, and not so much for my strumming style. Oh well, only took me a few tries to find out. Lovely ukes though.
    John

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