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Thread: Are ukes made to sound best when pressed against the body?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2020
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    6

    Default Are ukes made to sound best when pressed against the body?

    I got a new Kanilea soprano uke for Christmas, and when I was playing it at first, with the way I was holding it the back of the ukulele could freely move - and it sounded peaky, with some dead notes or wolf tones. But I noticed that when I held it against my body, the sound was much more even and the dead notes largely disappeared.

    I then experimented some with my Kanilea tenor, and though it's less noticeable, it too sounded peaky when not played against my body.

    Is this by design?

    With acoustic guitars, they tend to send good regardless of if the back is pressed against the body, but maybe this is a common trait of ukuleles.

    Mark

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Central Illinois
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    Default

    Hi Mark, I've wondered about that too. And although I'm not so sure it's specifically by design, my ukes invariably sound "tighter" and nicer to my ear when they're nestled close against my chest.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Leeds, UK
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    Default

    I suspect you'll find that the answer varies by ukulele. My Romero Creations XS Soprano benefits from being held away from the chest, whereas my Kiwaya concert sounds its best when held more closely to the body. Having seen articles and videos where Daniel Ho discusses holding the ukulele in the classical guitar manner I believe that the Romero is a deliberate design choice.
    "If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair." - Samuel Johnson

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
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    If I hold it too tight then it sounds a little muffled. Near the body but not too snug seems to be the sweet spot for me.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Canada Prairies, brrr ....
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    Good ideas. I usually keep it away from the body when I need to maximize resonance and volume but I never thought about it in terms of tone. But as player I can't really hear what it sounds like to the audience anyway and they don't usually care much. Have you tried to record with different body closeness positions?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    New England, USA
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    I notice much more difference (more volume) when keeping my arm from touching the soundboard. Some players can easily do that, but it's a challenge for me.
    John

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    Yet one more reason for straps. Just saying....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Honolulu
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    All of mine sound best held off the body, allowing the back to vibrate freely. More volume and better tone. It's less obvious with my Kale Elite, Kremona and Kanile'a designs but really obvious with Romero Creation designs. RC are the extreme example since the back is designed like a secondary soundboard (hence fan-like bracing and thinner thickness). I use a strap and a small spacer between chest and instrument back.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Canada Prairies, brrr ....
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    Concerning body contact I find that my right arm contacting the top has a much bigger effect than the back touching my belly. I can find a position where I lean the uke on my leg almost upright that allows playing with very little body or arm contact. That provides most volume for sure.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
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    360

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    Congrats on the Kanile'a. They are wonderful instruments!
    "So many ukes, so little money..."

    Kanile'a KSR-T premium koa tenor
    KoAloha KTM-00 tenor
    Rebel Double Cheese spruce/mahogany tenor, my BFF.
    Pono ATC-PC acacia cutaway tenor
    Kala KA-ASFM-T-C flame maple tenor
    Pono MT-SP tenor
    Cocobolo concert #467
    Pono ASD acacia soprano deluxe
    Pono MGS mango soprano

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