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Thread: volume or quality of sound

  1. #1

    Default volume or quality of sound

    Hi there, as I slowly inch forward in my four-string journey and read posts in the forum I am getting the impression that lot more of the ukulele players aim for volume rather than sound quality ( how sweet and dark and mellow). I like to fingerpick that I prefer to have a sweet, dark and mellow sound. Am I wrong to think that because a player prefers to strum that volume is that player's preference?

    Please help me clear this fog and thank you so much.

  2. #2
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    I don't doubt that volume is the goal for some....a few play with pop bands. The serious uker is like a serious acoustic guitar player...the quest for the "perfect" instrument that reflects your moods and techniques to the listeners. An acoustic amp should be able to accurately do the same. The better the tone (sweet, mellow, dark, or whatever) the more important it is to choose pickups and amplification that will reproduce those sounds. Here's hoping you will find the perfect "setup" to accurately reproduce the "real you" to your listeners.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dancingflee View Post
    lot more of the ukulele players aim for volume rather than sound quality
    Hi DancingFlee

    I cannot speak for others but I aim for tone and dynamics, that is, "articulation". Loudness means nothing to me, if there is no quietness. What I aim for is musicality.

    To me, volume is not critical since I play solo, and on my gigs, I can plus into PA and get amplified anyway.

    Just my opinion.....
    Chief

  4. #4
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    For me it's definitely tone before volume, anytime. Ukes with a nice tone tend to have a decent volume anyway because they tend to be built very nicely, but the opposite isn't necessarily true. Some loud ukes sound very harsh.
    I'm not particularly interested in being really loud though, and like cheifnoda very well explained, dynamics and articulation are more important. You don't want some of the notes to be drowned by others for example, even when strumming. One thing that bothers me about some cheaper ukes with bad strings on is that sometimes you can't hear the A string because the C string is too loud and booming.
    Getting the right strings to match the uke is very important. Their surface needs to be smooth, and they need to be well balanced acoustically and in terms of tension. The rest is a matter of personal preferences: higher vs. lower tension, brighter vs more mellow tone etc. In general, I recommend South Coast or Living Water strings for solid woods and Aquilas or m600s for laminates, can't really go wrong with theses (although I find that m600 tend to have some kind of quality control issues, at least at the moment).

  5. #5
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    Personally for me. It is all about the tone.

  6. #6
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    For me it's about the action on the neck, intonation, feel of a thin neck. If intonation is on, tone is on.

  7. #7

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    If a uke is capable of being played loudly, it can potentially offer more range for musical expressiveness. You have more of a range to go from loud to soft. Also, loud allows for more time for a note to decay. A lot of ukes that are not able to be loud are muffled - which is not good. Generally I prefer louder ukes. However, I have an Anuenue Papa I longneck soprano that has a lovely, sweet and clear sound, but is not very loud at all, and I like it very much. When listening to music most people subconsciously equate louder with better tone. Loudness is not everything, but I want a uke with great tone that is also capable of being loud.

  8. #8
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    Very subjective question. Playability and sound over volume for me. I've never came across a uke that was too soft volume wise, whether it be a cheapy or top of the line.
    I play and sing without amplification although I have 2 ukes with pickups that came that way. I don't want to be drowned out by my uke. Subsequently, when I strum, I use my thumb to keep the volume down. As far as picking, I use the meat part of my fingers, nails sound too harsh for my needs..............................BO............. ...............
    Uku Itch: Live It, Love It, Share It
    Mele: My Song, My Joy, My uke....
    Proud Designer and Owner of the "B&D Special" and the "Maui Kai" by Willie Wixom

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Madsen View Post
    For me it's about the action on the neck, intonation, feel of a thin neck. If intonation is on, tone is on.
    Not trying to start a fight nor am I just trying to be oppositional.
    I beg to differ. While the things you listed are high on my list. At least for me that is not tone.
    I personally picked the maker and the woods on my custom for a more bass/guitary sound. Other makers have more of a chimey/harp like sound. Also, soprano vs tenor body. For that matter ten ukes from the same maker with the same wood in the same body size. A few will have what many might consider a better tone out of the bunch. I am certainly no expert. That would be guys like MMstan.

  10. #10
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    Just check my sig line for my opinion on the matter - and since I change my sig from time to time and someone might be reading this after such a change, I'll quote it.

    "Choosing an instrument by judging which is loudest is like choosing a painting based on how big it is."

    That said, on an acoustic instrument volume and tone often, but not always, go hand in hand. Put it this way, an acoustic instrument that is so poorly designed or built that it has little volume will likely not have very good tone, either. But, you can't simply reverse the logic - i.e. it is quite possible to build a loud instrument that sounds dreadful and I can think of a couple of very loud instruments that are quite popular around these parts that simply sound dreadful to me (I'll not mention brand names because my flame retardent suit is at the cleaners).

    John
    I'm not entirely convinced that it is possible to polish a turd. However, if one were to accomplish that feat one would still have a turd, and one all the more noticeable for being shiny.

    Check out my ukulele-themed "stuff" at http://www.cafepress.com/fivebyfiveukulele - proceeds go to a good cause...UAS treatment!

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