Thin body ukes

Pyewacket

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So I've seen several examples of these recently and I'm a little confused. I was always told that you get more resonance/better sound the more volume an acoustic instrument has in the body.

How can these be "resonant" (as marketed) when the bodies are so thin?
 
Kala has a curved back that certainly helps, I can attest to that by the Travel ukes members of my uke group have, which prompted me to buy one. With that, I found having nerve damage to my neck, thin ukes are most comfortable for me.

I now only use thins, including two Lanikai, which don't have quite the projection as the Kala, a Hricane, which has just as good projection, and two Bruce Wei customs, but one has a rather thick top that does not project well, the other I asked him to thin the top and it does project well.

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I've probably made around a dozen thin-bodied ukuleles to date.

The volume of the body, in combination with the area of the sound hole, plus some other factors, have an effect on the lowest resonant frequency, but in my experience the ukulele plays in a higher register than that base frequency anyway. Especially when all the overtones are considered. So the effect of the thin body is less than you might expect.

In fact the thin body can even punch above its weight, with a penetrating tone that cuts through other sounds.
 
Ok so then that would not be as true for a baritone then as it does play in a lower register than your typical soprano or even tenor uke. I guess not low-low, but lowER.

I have a soprano pineapple and it has much better tone IMO than any other soprano uke with the thinner bodies I've heard - better projection, and mellower and not so plinkety. It has what I would consider to be a normally "thick" body" for its size. I like it quite well but it is definitely the only soprano uke I'll ever have (unless something happens to it!)

I've got a tenor on its way that is the sort of normal-y uke/guitar shape, with the wasp waist. This one, too, has a normally-thick for its size body. I haven't heard it in person yet but again, I liked the sound of it better than other tenors I've seen on youtube, at least some of which are thin bodies (not sure they ALL were though). At least amongst affordable ukes. (say $200-$300 and keep in mind I am NOT looking at full wood and would rather not have solid wood top either).

Now I'm looking for a baritone Uke but most of the ones I am finding - and I'm NOT in the market for a full wood uke - are these thinner bodies. Actually all of them.

So I just wondered what the attraction of that thinner body is. For me it seems inappropriate or at least not to my liking, no matter the size of the uke itself.

Thanks for the input.
 
Some consideration is worthwhile about the amount of sustain you want for the songs you play (with that instrument). I have a blanca flamenco guitar, and typical of this sub-type of guitar, it is shallow and light in weight. An intent of the dimensions is to cut down on sustain a bit and increase the attack. Why you may ask? To reduce the amount of frequencies bouncing around, muddying the definition of each note when strummed rapidly.

I think this is why rapidly stummed songs sound just fine (well maybe passable) on my $60 Makala, but slowly plucked notes do not have mellifluous tones.

Hmm.
 
Judicious choice of strings can modify the sustain as well, can it not? Such as the so-called "baby bari" strings some people are liking for their tenor ukes? I THINK those increase sustain.

Oh drat! I've already forgotten. Was just reading about that today, and the post(s) wherein I read that are long lost in the dust of my browser history ...
 
I just had a quick look at the major UK ukulele retailers and didn't find a single thin bodied baritone.

I agree that it's not a variant I would naturally consider, but it does look to me like there are other options closer to your needs.

In the price / materials range you are looking for, I think setup and intonation are more important than the finer nuances of tone. I don't mean that in a snobbish way, just that for example an instrument with sweet tone but terrible intonation will never be satisfying to play.
 
Judicious choice of strings can modify the sustain as well, can it not? Such as the so-called "baby bari" strings some people are liking for their tenor ukes? I THINK those increase sustain....
That would be true to some degree, but the Baby Baritone strings are designed for down tuning a tenor to the same DGBE frequencies as a baritone. Whether they increase sustain would depend as much on the uke as the strings.
 
So I just wondered what the attraction of that thinner body is. For me it seems inappropriate or at least not to my liking, no matter the size of the uke itself.
To each their own. I would never judge why a person chooses a certain uke over another.
 
Yeah, I've seen those on Amazon. However some of them do not come with a truss rod. Some do. Some don't. There doesn't seem to be a way to be sure what you're getting. There have also been reports of having to sand the frets down because they are sharp enough to cut you, and the neck separating from the body. It seems to be a QC issue so if you get a good one, you're golden. If not - well then not.

Also they are using a GCEA tuning which they say is "the same as our soprano ukuleles", which seems to imply NOT a low G. Normal Baritone tuning is DGBE just like the four outside strings on a guitar. Even if that is a low G, that's several notes higher than typical Baritone tuning. My guess is that the neck can't handle the higher tension of the thicker, lower strings needed for DGBE tuning in the proper octaves.

Lots of folks seem happy with it, you included (obviously). But its not quite what I'm looking for.

OK I'm just going to say it. I want an all HPL instrument just like my Enya HPL soprano Pineapple and the HPL Tenor that should arrive this weekend. I've got enough wooden instruments that I have to monitor and protect - 2 harps and 3 native American flutes. I don't want another. Not even a wood laminate. That's what I'm actually trying so hard to find.

Let the laughter and ridicule begin .... :ROFLMAO:
 
So I've seen several examples of these recently and I'm a little confused. I was always told that you get more resonance/better sound the more volume an acoustic instrument has in the body.

How can these be "resonant" (as marketed) when the bodies are so thin?

I have several thin ukes, and the sound is fine.
 
That this is possible is confirmed by some historical acoustic research and by a recent research paper entitled "The Relationship Between Resonant Frequency, Sound Hole Diameter, and Body Depth in Acoustic Guitars" by Alyssa Fernandez. Basically, and as tinguitar mentions, the instrument's lowest resonant frequency is a coupled mode of vibration consisting of low frequency modes of vibration of the top, back, ribs, and what is called the Helmholtz resonance. The latter is a resonance related to the volume of air inside the box and the diameter of the soundhole. Changing the frequency of any of these should affect the frequency of the coupled resonance, which may produce an audible effect on the tone of the instrument.

Changing the depth of the body should have little effect on the plates but it has a direct effect on the volume of air in the body, which affects the Helmholtz resonance frequency. This in turn should affect the frequency of the lowest resonance of the instrument.

We have available to us a mathematical model (an equation) that predicts what the Helmholtz frequency will be, based on body volume and soundhole diameter. The problem is that this equation is only valid under certain constraints, and these constraints are just barely met by typical instrument construction. Some of these constraints include:
  • The hole must be placed in the center (not near an edge) of a plate of large area (relative to the hole area);
  • The plate the hole is in must be thin;
  • The body must be considerably deeper than the diameter of the hole.
What Fernandez' research did was to compare measured and theoretical low frequency resonance frequency of a "guitar body" that could be varied in body depth and soundhole diameter. The results were essentially that if the body was considerably deeper than is conventional, or the soundhole was considerably smaller than is conventional, then measured frequency was close to the frequency predicted by the model equation. Now, here's the important part for this discussion: If the body was shallower than is conventional or if the soundhole was larger than is conventional, then measured frequency was not close to frequency predicted by the model equation. Under these circumstances, the frequency tended to move in the predicted direction (for example, making the body more shallow did in fact raise the resonant frequency) but it did not change it very much.

So, long story longer (!), noticeably shallower-than-conventional bodies may very well not result in large audible changes in the lowest resonant frequency of the instrument.

There are implications here for soundhole diameter changes as well of course, but they are not related directly to this discussion. Plus, I've yammered on long enough.
 
For the past 8 years I have been building shallow body ukulele. My direct experience is based on the research I did for my Bachelor's thesis on guitar construction where I interviewed in 1976 a really interesting builder called Peter Sensier. Using his observations and playing some of his vast collection of ethnic instruments I learned that to get the right balance between volume, tone and note separation or articulation requires you to do something very special to the top which I'll tell you about when I hang up my apron for the last time. Or you could join my Facebook tribe and access my video catalogue to find the answer....
 
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