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Thread: Unsure whether I have bought the right Ukulele

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    5

    Default Unsure whether I have bought the right Ukulele

    Dear all,

    I am slowly entering the ukulele world and it feels good I have only played some really low-end ones I found lying around, but now I am getting my first decent instrument. I have ordered a Pono AT and expecting it at the beginning of next week. The overall problem is that I am in Europe where ukulelestores are a rare find, apart from some in UK and DE, and so I had to order one online.
    I am having second thoughts about the AT though, since my plan is at least at times to use it in a band situation. I am a banjo player and I know the frustration when your instrument is just not cutting it volumewise. And I have heard that AT, although nice and sweet sounding, is on the quieter side. So I am considering returning it and getting a spruce or a cedar top (Pono MTD-SP or ATD-CR). They are really hard to find but probably doable but will of course also be an online order unfortunately. So my question is... is it really worth the hassle to make this "upgrade"? I know I can always buy another spruce or cedar top eventually but I would really like to get a really well-working instrument now, that I can have for many years to come without feeling I havde to complement it with another.

    I know there are a lot of other great brands than Pono but since the selection is rather limited in Europe at the moment, it still seems like the way to go.

    All inputs are highly welcomed!

    /A confused Ukubeginner

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    370

    Default

    Does it have an under saddle pickup? If so then plug it in and set it to 11.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)
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    If your acoustic banjo is not being heard, then yeah, you are probably going to have a problem with any acoustic uke in that setting. Spruce or cedar isn't going to change that equation appreciably, so get the uke you like the sound of. I assume that's what you did when selecting acacia so spruce or cedar isn't going to be an "upgrade" for you.

    I agree with getting it amplified should you need more volume.
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
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    Pelem, B reentrant
    Jupiter #71, A, UG1

    !Flukutronic!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanks View Post
    If your acoustic banjo is not being heard, then yeah, you are probably going to have a problem with any acoustic uke in that setting. Spruce or cedar isn't going to change that equation appreciably, so get the uke you like the sound of. I assume that's what you did when selecting acacia so spruce or cedar isn't going to be an "upgrade" for you.

    I agree with getting it amplified should you need more volume.
    Thanks for the answer I know that amplification is a possibility but I think that my uku will often be used acoustically - in an outdoorsy/jam way. I did upgrade my banjo so I now have one that is heard. And that is bluegrass stuff, that tend to be very loud in general. It would most def not be the same kind of music I would use my uke for, but instead some more mellow acoustic music, playing along with guitar for instance. As I said, my assessment has been made based on online sound samples. There are some good ones, but as we all no, you can't make a really sound choice based on sound samples. Unfortunately I have to. And I stumpled upon the cedar and spruce ones after ordering the AT, so now I am just considering whether the choice was the right one. This is of course highly subjective

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    315

    Default

    You have chosen a good mid range Uke, which will stand you in good stead.

    A wooden Uke will not be as loud as your Banjo and either a clip on pickup or a Luthier installed fixed system will give you options.

    Amplification can be small and very portable with something like a Boss Katana Mini which packs a loud punch for solo and jamming.

    I use said amp when I am jamming with my keyboard and it is more than loud enough and only $100, I also use it with my solid Risa ST.
    Col.
    From the UK with a bad case of MIAS.
    Korg PA700, Korg Kross 2, Gibson LP, Fender Jazz Bass,
    + Amps, PA, Boss GT100, mixer.
    Ukes - Kala KA-TEME and Risa ST electric solid body.
    Uke wish list, a Bass, make and model yet to be determined

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
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    The wood for the top of the uke is not as important for volume and projection as is the construction. The Kala Travel Thinline is surprising loud, even with a shallow body. It seems the arch they put in the back makes that happen. Having said that, my Kala KAATP-CTG-CE solid cedar top and acacia koa body also has very good projection and sustain, it's my go-to gig uke since it has a built-in pickup and preamp/tuner. I have a Blackstar Fly3 Duo mini amp that does a great job.


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Chicago
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    As uke players we notice subtle differences in tone and volume. But I think to ordinary people listening from 10 feet away, there really isn't much difference. Other ukes might be slightly louder, or brighter, or have a sharper attack (which can make it seem louder). But honestly, if the Pono isn't loud enough then other wood-body tenors won't be, either.

    You can try dozens of ukuleles while seeking tiny incremental acoustic improvements -- and I think most of us on UU have done that! -- but really the way to get it done is pick any uke that you like the sound of and add a pickup and small portable amp when needed.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by acmespaceship View Post
    As uke players we notice subtle differences in tone and volume. But I think to ordinary people listening from 10 feet away, there really isn't much difference. Other ukes might be slightly louder, or brighter, or have a sharper attack (which can make it seem louder). But honestly, if the Pono isn't loud enough then other wood-body tenors won't be, either.

    You can try dozens of ukuleles while seeking tiny incremental acoustic improvements -- and I think most of us on UU have done that! -- but really the way to get it done is pick any uke that you like the sound of and add a pickup and small portable amp when needed.
    Thanks all! You are probably right. Maybe I should just stick to the AT for now. I mean, even if I eventually fall in love with a cedar or spruce and get to the chance to try one out, it will hopfully be that exact instrument instead of just based upon the wood. I just wish I could go to Hawaii tommorow and try everything!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Tampa Bay, FL
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    If you are looking for enough volume to be heard alongside a guitar, why not consider a resonator uke?
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Salem,Oregon
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    If more volume of sound is what you want, and what you have got for an instrument is in tune enough that it doesn't drive you nuts , why not get a stick-on pickup unit? They can be placed on the instrument wherever it gives the best sound to you, and you can move it from one instrument to any other. You could even put it on your banjo. The "stick on" does not adversely affect the finish to the instrument. This is not a sales pitch, but the Humbucker and Transducer styles both work well. I find the transducer adequate for the stuff I do. The transducer is so small and light weight, it would NOT require taking a second mortgage on your car to pay for the shipping to where you are from the USA. { I have several resonator ukes, and they do not keep up with a guitar for equal volume. My favorite is my 1929 Dobro (the real thing) mandolin strung as a uke.}

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