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Thread: Can you tell how good a ukulele is in part by tapping on it?

  1. #11
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    A local luthier, Brian Griffin, has made a number of shakers, each identical except for the tonewood. The variation in sound is quite surprising between them.

  2. #12
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    The concept of tap tuning has been around for some time now, the most famous examples are the Lloyd Loar mandolins and arch top guitars made by Gibson during the mid 1920’s. Roger Siminoff is a modern day proponent of the process and has written a book and several articles on the subject. I have had a number of conversations with Roger on the subject and he makes a good case for tap tuning as a method for duplicating superior instruments, much like top deflection measurements are used. With smart phone apps like IStroboSoft available, it is very easy to measure the resonant frequency of various parts and assemblies. I have been measuring the resonant frequency of my assembled bodies for many years now and have amassed enough data to be useful to me.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  3. #13
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    Interesting thread. It reminds me of discussions here on UU about dead notes on ukulele. The theory was that dead notes are caused when the resonant frequency of the uke body is the same as the note you are playing. Does that mean when you are tuning a top- you need to avoid common frequencies?
    "Everyone I know who is into the Ukulele is 'crackers' so get yourself a few and enjoy yourselves" - George Harrison

    I'm still trying to determine how many George meant when he said "few"..

    Pono RTSH-C-PC Cedar/Rosewood tenor
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    2008 Kiwaya KTC-02 Mahogany concert
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  4. #14
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    The short answer is, for me, is yes. As it happens, the body resonance of my Martin style sopranos is usually close to middle C, the same frequency as the C string. On a couple of occasions, the body resonance has been within 2 cents of that note, which in my opinion is too close and to avoid any wolf note issues I have tweaked the top to get at least a 10 cent difference. A story from Roger Siminoff; the Loar mandolins parts were tap tuned to notes of the C major scale. The top and back were a C and G, and the tone bars individually tuned. At the time, these mandos were quite expensive and not a big financial success. Also at the time, concert A was 432 Hz. These mandos became highly desirable after concert pitch was sweetened to A 440! Draw your own conclusions on that.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  5. #15
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    That's so cool that you do this, Brad.

    Kurt at Southcoast strings had a lot of info on his site about relative frequencies,, particularly in regard to body size.


    Quote Originally Posted by BuzzBD View Post
    The short answer is, for me, is yes. As it happens, the body resonance of my Martin style sopranos is usually close to middle C, the same frequency as the C string. On a couple of occasions, the body resonance has been within 2 cents of that note, which in my opinion is too close and to avoid any wolf note issues I have tweaked the top to get at least a 10 cent difference. A story from Roger Siminoff; the Loar mandolins parts were tap tuned to notes of the C major scale. The top and back were a C and G, and the tone bars individually tuned. At the time, these mandos were quite expensive and not a big financial success. Also at the time, concert A was 432 Hz. These mandos became highly desirable after concert pitch was sweetened to A 440! Draw your own conclusions on that.
    Brad

  6. #16
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    I'm a tap dancer and when one talks about tapping, that's what I think, even if someone is talking about something else. I was just thinking about it and taping on a uke just doesn't seem good. But to get serious, lots of tap dancers have their favorite woods to tap on. Studios are notorious for using plain old plywood and there is endless debate about what wood tap floor gives the "best" sound. People carry around their own folding portable dance floors. Anyway, when you test a dance floor you tap it with a fifty cent piece.
    Last edited by Rllink; 03-09-2020 at 07:44 AM.
    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

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rllink View Post
    I'm a tap dancer and when one talks about tapping, that's what I think, even if someone is talking about something else. I was just thinking about it and taping on a uke just doesn't seem good. But to get serious, lots of tap dancers have their favorite woods to tap on. Studios are notorious for using plain old plywood and there is endless debate about what wood tap floor gives the "best" sound. People carry around their own folding portable dance floors. Anyway, when you test a dance floor you tap it with a fifty cent piece.
    Do you tap it with a modern, post 1965, fifty cent piece? Or use an older solid silver half dollar? I'll bet you could start a whole new subset discussion within the tap dance community regarding which gave the most accurate results.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  8. #18
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    Default Tapping Ukes

    I often tap the top and back of a new or prospect ukulele.

    I think it gives a slight indication of its resonance. I've tapped some inexpensive ukes that sounded like a muffled box when I tapped it.

    Some laminates that sounded dead and others that sounded echo-y and excellent. And they played pretty much the same.

    Those with the thinner tops and/or back seemed to produce a louder sound when tapped. Almost all of those had a more open resonance and longer sustain.

    You get a lot of sound from the vibrating back as well as the top.

    I bought a Limited Edition Pono MTSH-C-MS Master tenor with a Mahogany body and Cedar top. The description stated: Noa then hand selected the 16 western red cedar tops for this model, going through piles
    of instrument grade sets, feeling for stiffness, weight, and resonance (tap tone).

    I don't have a contemporary Pono PC Cedar/Mahogany to compare it to. So, I can't say if the tap tone process made a difference in sound or not.

    I have read that luthiers who hand-scrape their tops, especially if the tops have a varying thickness to them, use tapping to make sure the sound produced is consistent and without quieter areas. (I'm not saying this exactly correct, but I think you get the idea.)

    I have read of owners returning a high-end uke because it didn't sound quite right and the luthier removing the top to re-tune the top. Resulting in an instrument that better met the owner's liking.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    Do you tap it with a modern, post 1965, fifty cent piece? Or use an older solid silver half dollar? I'll bet you could start a whole new subset discussion within the tap dance community regarding which gave the most accurate results.
    Actually, In all honesty I've been told that, I've not actually tapped one with a fifty cent piece. Even if I did I wouldn't know what to listen for. However, I have tap danced on several different surfaces and I know that I don't sound any better on an expensive floor than I do on a cheap particle board floor. Proving once again, you can't buy talent. Kind of like my ukuleles.
    Last edited by Rllink; 03-12-2020 at 01:54 PM.
    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

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