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Thread: Soprano versus Tenor

  1. #1
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    Default Soprano versus Tenor

    Hi,
    I have only ever owned a soprano. I have played a few tenors but frankly, I couldn't hear a lot of difference in the sound (I thought it would be way louder and bassier). I guess the longer scale is a factor though. I would like to hear from people who preferred one over the other, or can tell me about the relative differences.
    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Take this input with a grain of salt because I am a total newbie to ukes....
    But when I went to try out a bunch of ukes over the course of a few visits a big difference in the sizes was the comfort factor of the size re: holding it and how it feels in your arms and neck size/length and room for finger movement. As I talked with a few other players on a group play night, one said he chose the tenor just because of the size and finger space (he was a big guy) but he felt the sound was similar.
    The sound was not AS different as I expected, however, different strings do make a big difference with this too.
    I do hear a mellower tone with the tenor, but it's not marked like with a baritone.

    If you listen to different sizes on youtube, you can hear the differences more obviously if they use higher quality strings. I listened to a bunch of of these and could definitely hear differences in the higher quality instruments.

    That my measly .02 worth but I hope someone with a lot more experience will chime in here.

  3. #3
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    Sopranos are short sustain, percussive instruments.

    Tenors are resonant instruments that allow improved picking and soloing.

    They sound completely different, and your ear will detect that difference with a little more time, OP.

  4. #4
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    Yep, In addition to that, sopranos are usually tuned with high g, and tenors either high for low G. Which adds to the differences. That's how I tune all my sopranos (high g) and tenors (Low G)

    Quote Originally Posted by coolkayaker1 View Post
    Sopranos are short sustain, percussive instruments.

    Tenors are resonant instruments that allow improved picking and soloing.

    They sound completely different, and your ear will detect that difference with a little more time, OP.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by coolkayaker1 View Post
    Sopranos are short sustain, percussive instruments.

    Tenors are resonant instruments that allow improved picking and soloing.

    They sound completely different, and your ear will detect that difference with a little more time, OP.
    A slight overgeneralization, but your ear will be able to detect subtle differences in time. Don't try and tell my pre-war Martin O that it's a "short sustain, percussive" instrument. Many high quality sopranos don't fit into that category. Also, after you try a uke, it might be helpful to have someone else play it so you can hear what the world hears when you play it. That's why personal sound holes were developed, so the person playing can hear their instrument better. You will also learn how strings can make a huge difference. Good luck.
    Last edited by PhilUSAFRet; 07-24-2013 at 11:31 AM.

  6. #6
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    I was in the same situation as you a couple months ago. I had a soprano and played a few tenors and didn't hear a difference but once I bought a tenor and brought it home and played it for a little while it was a big difference in sound and playability. Once you get a good amount of playing time in a tenor you'll hear a difference
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  7. #7
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    The difference between a soprano and tenor of similar build style and quality will be that the tenor will have a little longer sustain, more volume, and more bottom end - a slightly more full sound, if you will.

    The problem, of course, is that many people compare apples to oranges when comparing instruments. My KoAloha longneck soprano will slay many "factory" (Ohana, Mainland, Kala, etc.) tenors - even their solid-wood models. That's not criticism, and shouldn't be surprising considering the relative prices, but it does mean that if one is going to talk about comparisons between sopranos and tenors they need to be from the same branch on the quality tree, so to speak.

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  8. #8
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    Maybe it could be the strings. My tenor sounded really trebly, a lot like my cheap soprano, but once I changed the strings, it really helped to establish a difference.

  9. #9
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    Wing,

    What you're looking for -- louder, bassier -- exists (cue dramatic music): check out a baritone.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by connor013 View Post
    Wing,

    What you're looking for -- louder, bassier -- exists (cue dramatic music): check out a baritone.
    I think I want it all - that's the trouble! lol! I love how portable the soprano is, but I think I am going to need the extended range of the tenor. I want to play fiddle tunes, jazz solos, chord melody - whatever!

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