Are you tenor or soprano?

mlolya

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So, since joining this forum I’ve read a lot of posts by so many great people here and I think I’ve noticed that there seems to be a tendency for ukulele players to be either mostly tenor or mostly soprano.
I know there are hardcore baritone players and those that love concert ukes, but it seems that the tenors and sopranos are the mainstream.
I’m sure everyone plays different sizes sometimes, but it appears that there are some people that are solid tenor players and others that stick to soprano.
As I fairly new ukulele player I’m curious as to how those paths were chosen and why.
 
I stopped playing anything smaller than a tenor. Mainly because it suits the songs I want to play and gives me the sound I want.

Fwiw, I started with a soprano then worked my way up to a baritone and a short scale guitar. I'm hanging on to my tenors, bari and 3/4 guitar.
 
I started on tenor, then made my way up to soprano, the pinnacle of uke playing. I play the tenor 1/3 of the time and sopranos the rest of the time. I love my tenor, but I won't be buying any more. I may build one, but I'm not too anxious to do it. I am building a concert right now so playing times will change soon. I'd say, I'm a soprano guy who enjoys the other sizes. I'm not at all interested in baritones though.
 
I guess I'm a trend buster. I have 6 concerts, a long-neck soprano which is concert scale and 1 soprano. I like the soprano but I wouldn't have it if I hadn't won it in a contest. I think concerts are the best of both worlds.
 
There was a poll of UU players not long ago, and concert was #2 in scale preference, after tenor (#1) and before soprano (#3).

 
I guess I'm a trend buster. I have 6 concerts, a long-neck soprano which is concert scale and 1 soprano. I like the soprano but I wouldn't have it if I hadn't won it in a contest. I think concerts are the best of both worlds.
You’re not a trend buster at all. You’re with the majority, according to the poll In January. There was lots of discussion in that thread. Concerts rule!
 
@Patty I hadn’t seen that poll, thank you. I’m surprised that the concert took second place.
I guess I’m more curious about why people feel strongly about a particular size. I’m aware of the practical reasons one might choose one size over the other, like performance needs or hand size, but I like what Mike $ said about sopranos, ‘the pinnacle of uke playing‘ and Patty’s ‘Concerts rule’.
That’s what I find interesting. What makes a particular size represent the true ukulele zone for some of us.
 
I think we all arrive at a favorite scale after trying others.

I started with a tenor, then bought a soprano for variety and found the smaller size immensely more comfortable to play, Later I wanted a somewhat more robust sound, and tried a concert. Bingo! Now I have only two ukes, both concerts.

Another factor that goes into the hopper is what kind of music you play, and whether linear (low G) or re-entrant (high G). These will affect the scale you prefer. (Though in my case, I played low G on them all.)
 
Coming from guitar but wanting to play GCEA I started with tenors. Still there 85% of the time. Like the voice, like the real-estate on the fretboard. But when I want a change I go straight for soprano for that voice. So soprano maybe 10% and I do have some "unusual" concerts that I enjoy for variety. When I'm playing in my ukulele band which is 2 tenors, 1 bari and 1 U-bass, I play a tenor scale soprano or tenor 8-string or tenor banjolele just for variety of uke voices!
 
@Patty I hadn’t seen that poll, thank you. I’m surprised that the concert took second place.
I guess I’m more curious about why people feel strongly about a particular size. I’m aware of the practical reasons one might choose one size over the other, like performance needs or hand size, but I like what Mike $ said about sopranos, ‘the pinnacle of uke playing‘ and Patty’s ‘Concerts rule’.
That’s what I find interesting. What makes a particular size represent the true ukulele zone for some of us.
When I first got into uke I approached it using the three bears line of thinking - too big, too small, and just right. With the tenor you're approaching guitar territory, it sounds less "uke-y", the larger frets made some chording more difficult and I didn't like the added tension in the strings. I developed a soprano aversion early on due to my clumsy inexperience. Early on I found it difficult to squish the chord shapes on the smaller fret board as I fumbled about so in my mind I ruled them out. As I got more experienced (years) I tried a soprano again and had a much easier time playing it. Just like mama bear in the story, concert scale ukes were "just right" for me. They were still small and still sounded "uke-y" and they were very comfortable to play.
 
Soprano. Just love ‘em. I’m not even sure why tbh. They can sound horribly plinky, I’m not a strummer, and even with my small hands the fretboard is pretty cosy.

But they have a special kind of magic for me, maybe it’s because of all the things I mentioned above!
 
My first uke was a soprano.

The day I played my first tenor, was mind-blowing.

However, I choose the uke based on the suitability for the current song I'm playing/practising.

But I'm more inclined to concerts since their size is the most comfortable for me to play.

But between a soprano and a tenor, I'd choose tenor. Hands down.
 
When I first got into ukes, I thought sopranos were just toys like a plastic harmonica. I am no longer that ignorant and I have recanted completely. However, I started with tenors and stuck with them. I only play tenors and baritone.
 
I had to look it up, and unless the online pitch meters are lying...
I am neither. I cant even go high enough to qualify as a bass in most definitions 😂.
Like if sopranos go to A5 and tenors go to A4, I am only comfortable up to A3. I can hit C4 on a good day, but only briefly coming from the right notes before and after. And even to be a bass, I am supposed to go to E4 😂.

Oh, you meant which ukulele size I prefer, not what voice I am? 😁.
Concert.
But if I have to choose between the two, I would go for the tenor. I have a couple of those, while I cheat and use super sopranos in stead of sopranos.
 
So, since joining this forum I’ve read a lot of posts by so many great people here and I think I’ve noticed that there seems to be a tendency for ukulele players to be either mostly tenor or mostly soprano.
I know there are hardcore baritone players and those that love concert ukes, but it seems that the tenors and sopranos are the mainstream.
I’m sure everyone plays different sizes sometimes, but it appears that there are some people that are solid tenor players and others that stick to soprano.
As I fairly new ukulele player I’m curious as to how those paths were chosen and why.
It would be wrong to assume that this forum is representative of Uke players in general, from my own experience it is not representative of all players.

Adult players in clubs tend, in my experience, to play concerts and do so because the size just works for them - it’s a ‘Goldilocks’ size.

I usually play Soprano Ukes because: I particularly value their compactness; the fretboard matches my stubby fingers; I rarely go beyond the fifth fret; and the supply of inexpensive but reasonably good Soprano Ukes is fairly good. Sopranos can be quite percussive (short sustain) but so far that hasn’t been an issue.
 
I'm strictly tenor, and thinline and cutaway. The first uke I bought in mid 2013 after playing guitar for almost fifty years, was to be a wall hanger next to my Fender Telecaster guitar because the uke looked like it. Then I was invited to the Los Angeles Music Center Summer Play-Along series that I had done before with guitar, this time it was with ukulele, so I took down the uke and tried to play the three chords required, but my fingers were very cramped. I looked up ukes and found that mine was a soprano, so I made a bee line to Sam Ash and bought a standard depth tenor cutaway with electronics, just right.

A few months ago I found that I was playing my thinline uke more than my seven standard depth and realized it was most comfortable for me with nerve damage to my neck spinal cord, so I let go of those seven, bought and also had custom made, five more thinlines.

Ukulele Collection.jpg
 
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I play tenors exclusively. They fit me better, even though I have short fingers, and I prefer the tenor voice. I like the lower tone of a tenor and I mostly play Low-G Linear for strumming and High-g Re-entrant for learning fingerstyle. But some songs are better suited for one or the other.

I don't particularly like the plinky, barky sound of a soprano or even a concert. Indeed I don't care for Nylon strings for the same reason. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against soprano or concert ukes. Lovely music can be made with both sizes. They just don't, uh, resonate with me. Maybe because I sing tenor/baritone.

I've owned two sopranos and I just couldn't bond with either. The fretboards felt too cramped and awkward. Concerts just seemed like a compromise between the Soprano and Tenor, and the tenor wins.

Interestingly, when I first started learning to play ukulele in 2017, I read and heard on videos and podcasts that the concert size was the most popular ukulele size based upon sales figures. Today, the tenor is reportedly the most popular. In my uke club of 125 members, there are four soprano players and only two concert. Three baritones, and two base uke players. The rest play tenors for their primary ukulele.

I don't play baritones, even though I like their sound. I don't want to learn D tuning and G tuning is a possibility in the future, but right now I'm quite content with my tenors.
 
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