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Thread: What exactly is neck heavy?

  1. #1
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    Default What exactly is neck heavy?

    I was reading the Martin OX neck heavy thread when I realized, I don't know what the standard is for "neck heavy" in ukuleles. What makes a uke neck heavy, what makes one balanced? I haven't picked up a uke without the neck taking a nose dive, but I never played any of the K brands. All the Martins I play need to have the neck supported while playing them. None of the ukes I have played have been a struggle to support. Is there some point on a uke body to hold it in balance? For instance, when I turn my tenor uke over and balance it on my stretched out, pointing index finger, it is perfectly balanced when my finger is directly below the 15th fret. Is this neck heavy, body heavy or balanced? Thanks
    Last edited by Mike $; 02-28-2021 at 08:58 AM.

  2. #2
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    I've never heard of "neck heavy". I've heard of head heavy, so maybe neck heavy is like head heavy since the center of gravity of the neck is beyond the neck/body joint.

    I've played a uke that was harder to play because it wants to fall over (Kala KA-SSTU travel soprano). It requires me to put more pressure on my left hand to hold it in place; and if I switch chords slowly, I must consciously remember to rest/hold the uke in my left hand (otherwise, it'll flop over). It isn't a bad uke actually because it is designed to be small and very travel friendly; and I like playing it once a while. But it is definitely noticeably different in terms balance.

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    My experience of the 'slimline' Kala soprano is just the same as Clear. The tuners were enclosed geared type and weighed way more that regular friction tuners. I couldn't abide the weight pulling down on the head stock. To fit more suitable tuners, I had to fill the holes and re-drill, but it was worth the trouble.YMMV

    John Colter

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    I rarely play a uke without a strap, fastened at the butt and either the heel or headstock. With the strap, my ukes will remain in place when I remove my hands, so needing to use the left hand to support the uke is not an issue.
    I would assume that a "neck heavy" or "head heavy" instrument would have more weight in the neck than in the body. I've just tried balancing each of my ukes with the fulcrum where the neck meets the body and all of them seem to be "body heavy".

  5. #5
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    I noticed this with KoAloha Silver series concert and soprano ukes. Usually KoAloha have light friction tuners for these sizes, but for silver series they upgraded to geared paddle style tuners. They sure dragged the head down quite noticeably when you play them just holding them up on your chest.

  6. #6
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    My Cocobolo concert is definately neck-heavy.
    With a strap attached to the headstock you dont notice it, but trying to rest it on your knee - or holding it traditionally, which I never do - that neck is going to drop.

    If you want to stabilise it by holding the body, a heavy neck can be difficult to handle.
    Playing:
    Anuenue AMM tenor - Magic Fluke Koa Tenor - Cocobolo concert - Kamaka Tiki concert - Cort concert - Ohana LN soprano.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by UkingViking View Post
    My Cocobolo concert is definately neck-heavy.
    With a strap attached to the headstock you dont notice it, but trying to rest it on your knee - or holding it traditionally, which I never do - that neck is going to drop.

    If you want to stabilise it by holding the body, a heavy neck can be difficult to handle.
    Same with my Cocobolo Long Neck Soprano. Hardly surprising since cocobolo is a very dense wood and they use a piece of it as a truss rod. And to be fair, mine is fairly well balanced at the 12th fret, but if I hold the uke at the body joint it is neck heavy. Not a huge issue and perfectly playable but it is more noticeable than with any other uke I own.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Yates View Post
    ...I've just tried balancing each of my ukes with the fulcrum where the neck meets the body and all of them seem to be "body heavy".
    Thanks Jim, my uke, is also body heavy, but when I hold it without a strap and remove my left hand, the neck does dip. I wouldn't want to strum it like that for very long, but it doesn't bother me while playing. Also, I took off the stock Grover geared tuners and replaced them with Gotoh UPTs. The added weight probably contributes somewhat, but it certainly isn't back breaking.

    I wonder if the guys who have the neck heavy or head heavy problems could do the fulcrum experiment (it can even be done by hand) as well and let us know where the center of gravity is, and/or at least tell us which way the uke dips when held at the point where the neck meets the body, so we can all know exactly what we are dealing with.

    It may not be interesting for everyone, but I am interested to see exactly what we all see as "too top heavy" and maybe what is "just right". If some of you could compare one of your ukes that feels right to one that feels head/neck heavy, that would be perfect. Thanks everyone indulging me.

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    I'm a Neanderthal when it comes to this kind of stuff. I just don't have an analytic thought process. But it could be an unconscious factor as I've never picked up a slot head that I didn't say, "no good, me no like." I don't think about it though, until someone posts something. So I went down to the basement, pulled my favorite ukulele , an Ohana concert off the wall and played a half dozen measures while hefting the neck and head up and down. I came to the following conclusion, "ukulele good, make good music, me like head and neck." So there we are, proof positive of something.
    Last edited by Rllink; 03-01-2021 at 10:58 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.

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  10. #10
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    I think the Gibson SG electric guitar is the lute family black sheep/worst offender of this type. Using that balance profile as a guide I would say it comes down to, "Are you having to consciously hold up the neck?" Then it is neck heavy or head heavy, depending on your term for this affliction.

    Like CLEAR, my KA-SSTU-TE Kala thinline tenor is head heavy.
    Too chicken to install strap buttons...

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