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Thread: How important is solid wood uke vs solid top w/ laminate back and sides?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Southern California
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    3,476

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    I prefer laminate (plywood) mostly because I don’t like messin’ with all the humidity stuff. I do have a Kala KA FMB baritone with a solid top and a spalted body, and I really like it a lot. I also have a few tenor guitars with solid tops and plywood bodies.

    I’m more interested in teachin’ myself to play the best I can than what equipment I use. I believe the music comes from the player.
    Kala "Spalted" baritone - Lo D GBE - Finger style
    Gold Tone “Mini” Travel banjo - Steel GCEA - Noodling
    Luna “Peace” concert - CGBD Plectrum music

    Kala tenor eight string - gGcCEEAA Strum

    Flea "Red" concert - Hi-G CEA - Wall hanger
    Kala "Exotic Mahogany" soprano - Hi-A DF#B Wall hanger
    Mahalo yellow "Smiley" soprano - Wall hanger
    Ka-Lai Pineapple soprano (old) gift - Bookshelf

    God gave us old age so we wouldn't mind dying so much.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Ames, Iowa
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    I have all three and I like all three. Got to admit though that when I show up with the solid cedar top concert, it is a bit more expensive ukulele and it makes me feel a little classier. I think that feeling gets reflected in the playing. Anyway, they are all good.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

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

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Canada Prairies, brrr ....
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    779

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    The kind of wood only has a very small impact on the sound of a uke, other aspects such as bracing, thickness of wood and overall care of manufacture are much more important. Kala and Ohana are both very similar in these respects, so just pick the one that you like more with your gut feeling and don't try to justify your choice with supposed features. While most of my ukes are solid, I have found many examples where laminates actually sound "better" to my ears. One objective drawback of solid wood instruments is that they are sensitive to temperature and humidity changes, so need a lot more care in terms of protection from the elements and proper humidification to prevent damage.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
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    13

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    Quote Originally Posted by kohanmike View Post
    I can tell you this much, my Kala KAATP-CTG-CE tenor solid cedar top with laminate acacia koa body is one of the best sounding ukes I have (9). I also have all solid and believe it's not really necessary. Having said that, Mim is one of the best people to buy from, full setup and stands behind everything she sells.


    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, 14 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 39)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    • Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers
    I just ordered a Kala KA-ACP-CT (Solid Cedar Top / Acacia Sides and Back) from Sam Ash on ebay b/c the local KA-FMC seller cancelled on me for the third time. I think I like the look of it better anyway. Based on youtube videos, I think I like the sound as well. I'll be mostly strumming and I liked how the strumming sounded.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Posts
    13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    HONOMO: In my opinion, at the price level you are considering, the laminate with the solid spruce top will sound louder and crisper than the solid mahogany. The mahogany will be warmer, softer and have a little more complexity to the sound.

    Is this for strumming or fingerstyle playing? Will you be playing on your own, or will you be in a group such as a ukulele club? Will you be taking it places or will it stay at home? (The laminate will travel somewhat better.)

    Are the necks the same widths? Do both include a setup with purchase? (Very Important.) Do both have strap buttons? (If you play with a strap.) Both come with a case or gig bag? Do you like the looks of both equally? (Yes, it's actually important. We're more likely to pick it up and practice if we dig the way it looks and feels.)

    Plan to get a humidifier, a strap-if you use one, and an extra set of strings in the near future. Different strings can change the way your uke sounds by a lot. Are the strings it comes with genuine Aquilas or look-alike? If it doesn't say, assume they are look-alikes and buy a set of Aquila strings.

    Don't stress too much about it. Both seem like fine ukes and will work well for you.

    Have fun with it.
    I ended up ordering a Kala KA-ACP-CT (Solid Cedar Top / Acacia back and sides) on ebay from Sam Ash. Now the long wait for it to arrive...

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Posts
    27

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    My first soprano was an Ohana pineapple sk10 laminate which seemed great to me to work with the grandkids but then my wife treat me to an Ohana sk20 mahogany laminate sides and solid mahogany top what a difference in sound. It's a beautiful little instrument and certainly my go to instrument suitable for playing any type of music I am interested in

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Honolulu, HI
    Posts
    167

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    Quote Originally Posted by merlin666 View Post
    The kind of wood only has a very small impact on the sound of a uke, other aspects such as bracing, thickness of wood and overall care of manufacture are much more important. Kala and Ohana are both very similar in these respects, so just pick the one that you like more with your gut feeling and don't try to justify your choice with supposed features. While most of my ukes are solid, I have found many examples where laminates actually sound "better" to my ears. One objective drawback of solid wood instruments is that they are sensitive to temperature and humidity changes, so need a lot more care in terms of protection from the elements and proper humidification to prevent damage.
    I totally agree with merlin666; plus it's hard to compare the kind of wood unless they are identical except for that. I've heard laminates that sound very good & solid instruments that didn't. Ideally, it would be best if you could pick the one that sounds the best. As Kenn2018 said, strings can also make a dramatic difference.

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