D off set vs center sound hole


May 30, 2020
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Hey everyone, I have a question about the volume of an off set D sound hole verses the traditional center sound hole. I busk a lot at locations that do not allow amplification of any kind. So I am looking for a uke with maximum front projection. Does the D off set sound hole have greater projection because of the bigger top sound board or is the traditional center sound hole louder? Thanks for any reply. :)


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My experience playing the D series Kanile'a tenors in the Kaneohe store is that the volume is INSANE. I felt like the guy in the old Maxell XLII cassette ads. Blew my hair BACK, son, no kidding.


Now, was that the D-shaped sound hole, the bracing, the strings, or what? Probably all of it. But yeah, very easily FELT louder than anything else I played in the shop. Kaimana Souza mentioned informally that he's thinking that these will be the year's bestsellers for Kanile'a, so I guess we'll see.

(And really, for me, the appeal is as much how nicely the D series shows off the wood on the top as anything else. Also, the side sound port is dynamite, and not all the models I played had one. Me, I've already told them that they need to standardize on these, as Chuck Moore has. :) )

In general, for busking, I'd be more inclined to be thinking about resonators for volume as the wild card, rather than the location and shape of the sound hole. This is something that @Yukio can tell you about, as a busker who is typically in areas that don't allow amplification, using a Mya-Moe resonator. Sounds loud to me over YouTube, but he can tell you the rest! Calling you, @Yukio!
Recently I have been experimenting with moving the sound hole to the upper bout on both sides of the neck. It increases the area of the top that vibrates in the monopole mode. That has the effect of lowering the body resonance and making the lower strings louder. I have done this with both my flattop and archtop designs. I don’t think there is much change in the overall volume, but the timbre is lower. If you are looking for total volume, you may want to explore the archtop ukulele concept. In my experience, the loudest ukulele are banjo, resonator and archtop in that order.
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A resonator or banjo uke will be very loud, if you're OK with that sound. I had a custom uke made by Bruce Wei Arts in Vietnam from a design of his with small sound holes all the way around the bouts and a larger one in the cutaway. I've been told by members of my uke group that it's the loudest non-amplified uke they've ever heard.

It's all solid, spalted mango top and curly mango body, with spalted mango binding, spalted mango faceplate, maple neck, ebony fretboard and bridge, cost $445 about 7 years ago, probably around $750 now with shipping. I added two strap buttons and includes a strap and KLIQ USB clip-on tuner. I was planning on auctioning it to my uke group and donate the proceeds to The Ukulele Kids Club, but if you're interested and will pay for shipping, make me an offer.

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A spruce top will usually give you greater volume. I tried out an all-koa Kanile's D for a few short strums and picks. It seemed somewhat louder. But that may have been the side sound port. When the woman who owns it plays in front of our uke club, it is only mildly louder than other ukes sound. (It's definitely louder than her cedar/ebony Pono.) I suppose a D-sound hole and a spruce top with a cantilevered fret board would give you the most sound from the top. A back that is freer to move would also add to the sound. Then the string choice would enter the equation.
Try a banjolele
Try a banjolele
Yeah to this. If you like the timbre of the banjo, these will be the loudest. You can even get one with a normal sized banjo head, which will have (IMHO) a better sound and projection. A resonator instrument can also be quite loud, but there is more variance in both volume and timbre in these instruments. I have a good friend that has a national resonator mandolin, at that thing is SO LOUD it blows everything else off the stage.

I notice that there are more Neo-guitars that have amplification and effects built right into the guitar. Companies are developing this same idea for ukuleles. My idea is that maybe you can "slide by the rules" with something that doesn't plug into a separate amplifier. I don't know how loud these instruments are, however. Good luck!
This is Bobby Ray. He busks professionally in Columbus Ohio. He mostly plays tin pan alley tunes with his banjolele and kazoo. This recent video is pretty representative of his sound and how the banjolele is able to cut through the street traffic noise. My own resonator couldn't compete with Bobby on this street. I would need to find a quieter location.

Thanks for all the responses! Seems like the banjo resonator is the popular suggestion. Unfortunatlely that is not my sound. So far i tried the kanilea with D sound hole which was louder than the regular models. I did try a Ono with a center hole which was very loud and the loudest of ukes I have tried. I did see a Ono with a D hole on reverb for sale which I am thinking about. That’s the reason for my question about which sound hole would be louder. Thanks everybody!
@Leongdad I think the Onos in general are very loud, so youll probably get a uke that can be loud and clear no matter where the soundhole.

But for more projection without amp you may want to consider steel strings either by tenor guitar
@Leongdad I think the Onos in general are very loud, so youll probably get a uke that can be loud and clear no matter where the soundhole.

But for more projection without amp you may want to consider steel strings either by tenor guitar
Thanks, that means a lot to me seeing that you play an Ono :)
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