What’s your ukulele “hot take”?

bbkobabe

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The soprano is the only uke. Anything else is just a wanna be! 😁

OUCH! I just burned my fingers on this flaming take!

Seriously? Or are you just trying to turn up the heat in here? :devilish:

Justify this, please, with some reasons why you believe this... assuming you really do believe this...
 

bacchettadavid

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OUCH! I just burned my fingers on this flaming take!

Seriously? Or are you just trying to turn up the heat in here? :devilish:

Justify this, please, with some reasons why you believe this... assuming you really do believe this...

I'll respond since I started it. I really do believe that serious 'ukulele-specific instrumental study (note: not ALL musical study on the 'ukulele) should begin with a soprano. My reasons are as follows:

1. The soprano's diminutive size is inextricably linked to the 'ukulele's traditional identity as an auxiliary chordophone for the soloist.
All 'ukulele players will at least occasionally need a soprano for THAT sound -- brash and piercing, the sound of the soprano cuts through most other instruments in a string ensemble. This makes it exceptionally well-suited to melodic and/or dense rhythmic assignment within an ensemble. The larger sizes are also capable in this role, but a good soprano and a matching technique make quick work of the sonic demands in acoustic settings.

2. The soprano 'ukulele's envelope of note production encourages the development instrument-appropriate right-hand technique.
The abrupt attack, rapid decay, and diminished sustain of the soprano places onus upon the student to develop a sophisticated, technical right hand approach to rhythm. This leads in turn to the achievement of lively rhythmic accompaniments. The larger sizes, with their slower decay and longer sustain, invite students to postpone or neglect the development of right hand technique beyond basic strokes and finger picking.

3. The low string tension and short scale length ask the student to listen in order to correct intonation.
The soprano, being susceptible to issues of intonation, asks that the performer make the necessary accommodations in order to produce the correct pitch. This includes modulating pressure applied through the fretting hand, bending the string to make subtle alterations, modifying string displacement prior to release applied with the plucking hand, etc.

4. The short scale length entices students to access the upper frets.
The close spacing of the frets invites study of the upper reaches of the fret board. Happy discoveries through experimentation with regards to note selection are frequent, and moving between positions requires little effort.

5. The soprano is intimate and inviting.
I trust I don't need to explain this one. ;) Musical achievement is sometimes elusive; we all need our early encouragements.
 
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I'll respond since I started it. I really do believe that serious 'ukulele-specific instrumental study (note: not ALL musical study on the 'ukulele) should begin with a soprano. My reasons are as follows:

1. The soprano's diminutive size is inextricably linked to the 'ukulele's traditional identity as an auxiliary chordophone for the soloist.
All 'ukulele players will at least occasionally need a soprano for THAT sound -- brash and piercing, the sound of the soprano cuts through most other instruments in a string ensemble. This makes it exceptionally well-suited to melodic and/or dense rhythmic assignment within an ensemble. The larger sizes are also capable in this role, but a good soprano and a matching technique make quick work of the sonic demands in acoustic settings.

2. The soprano 'ukulele's envelope of note production encourages the development instrument-appropriate right-hand technique.
The abrupt attack, rapid decay, and diminished sustain of the soprano places onus upon the student to develop a sophisticated, technical right hand approach to rhythm. This leads in turn to the achievement of lively rhythmic accompaniments. The larger sizes, with their slower decay and longer sustain, invite students to postpone or neglect the development of right hand technique beyond basic strokes and finger picking.

3. The low string tension and short scale length ask the student to listen in order to correct intonation.
The soprano, being susceptible to issues of intonation, asks that the performer make the necessary accommodations in order to produce the correct pitch. This includes modulating pressure applied through the fretting hand, bending the string to make subtle alterations, modifying string displacement prior to release applied with the plucking hand, etc.

4. The short scale length entices students to access the upper frets.
The close spacing of the frets invites study of the upper reaches of the fret board. Happy discoveries through experimentation with regards to note selection are frequent, and moving between positions requires little effort.

5. The soprano is intimate and inviting.
I trust I don't need to explain this one. ;) Musical achievement is sometimes elusive; we all need our early encouragements.
Dude…this is beautifully written! You're a wordsmith.

And I never thought about the soprano’s shorter scale encouraging playing up the neck, but that totally matches my experience. My first uke was a cheap Mahalo that I would just keep in my car and play at random times, and the small neck definitely made me experiment with playing higher up the fretboard. Never really realized that until you just wrote it out, though.
 

Voran

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I wouldn't go so far as to say a soprano is the only true uke, but I DO appreciate them a lot. A soprano is very freeing to own because you can make music anywhere on it - in the passenger seat of a car, out in a walk, in a narrow souterrain...I can't do that with an electric guitar.
 

bbkobabe

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I'll respond since I started it. I really do believe that serious 'ukulele-specific instrumental study (note: not ALL musical study on the 'ukulele) should begin with a soprano. My reasons are as follows:

1. The soprano's diminutive size is inextricably linked to the 'ukulele's traditional identity as an auxiliary chordophone for the soloist.
All 'ukulele players will at least occasionally need a soprano for THAT sound -- brash and piercing, the sound of the soprano cuts through most other instruments in a string ensemble. This makes it exceptionally well-suited to melodic and/or dense rhythmic assignment within an ensemble. The larger sizes are also capable in this role, but a good soprano and a matching technique make quick work of the sonic demands in acoustic settings.

2. The soprano 'ukulele's envelope of note production encourages the development instrument-appropriate right-hand technique.
The abrupt attack, rapid decay, and diminished sustain of the soprano places onus upon the student to develop a sophisticated, technical right hand approach to rhythm. This leads in turn to the achievement of lively rhythmic accompaniments. The larger sizes, with their slower decay and longer sustain, invite students to postpone or neglect the development of right hand technique beyond basic strokes and finger picking.

3. The low string tension and short scale length ask the student to listen in order to correct intonation.
The soprano, being susceptible to issues of intonation, asks that the performer make the necessary accommodations in order to produce the correct pitch. This includes modulating pressure applied through the fretting hand, bending the string to make subtle alterations, modifying string displacement prior to release applied with the plucking hand, etc.

4. The short scale length entices students to access the upper frets.
The close spacing of the frets invites study of the upper reaches of the fret board. Happy discoveries through experimentation with regards to note selection are frequent, and moving between positions requires little effort.

5. The soprano is intimate and inviting.
I trust I don't need to explain this one. ;) Musical achievement is sometimes elusive; we all need our early encouragements.

OK! I'm convinced... I'm just about to make an order for 25 ukes for my school, and I was considering the question of soprano vs. concert... we are going with sopranos...

AND: they're cheaper as well... a fact you missed!

BTW: EDUCATORS- Kala has a special discount section for schools and non-profits that are teaching ukulele. Check it out:

education.kalabrand.com

Yes- you must apply and qualify and have a federal tax id number... it won't work for everyone! But the discounts are pretty good...[/URL]
 

bacchettadavid

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OK! I'm convinced... I'm just about to make an order for 25 ukes for my school, and I was considering the question of soprano vs. concert... we are going with sopranos...

AND: they're cheaper as well... a fact you missed!
RE: Price — decent sopranos aren’t necessarily any cheaper than decent concerts.

For school use (I.e., not particularly serious instrument-specific study in most cases), I’d generally recommend concerts, especially if budget and/or student behavior concerns constrain your ability to select lightly built soprano ‘ukulele. At the lower price points, concert ukes generally sound fuller and have better projection.

YMMV. Either way, ukes are fun tools for making music.
 

bbkobabe

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RE: Price — decent sopranos aren’t necessarily any cheaper than decent concerts.

For school use (I.e., not particularly serious instrument-specific study in most cases), I’d generally recommend concerts, especially if budget and/or student behavior concerns constrain your ability to select lightly built soprano ‘ukulele. At the lower price points, concert ukes generally sound fuller and have better projection.

YMMV. Either way, ukes are fun tools for making music.

Gee... batchettadave...What's going on here? Are you backtracking on me now? Geeezze...

Actually, when I bought for my sixth graders last year, I bought mostly concert size... I'm thinking since these kids are 9 and 10 sopranos might be a better choice... THANKS for making my like more difficult! Back to the drawing board...

And yes, of course you are correct: For high end instruments, there is little difference in the S/C prices... but at the lower end the difference is almost $15... and $15x25 students is... worth considering!
 

bacchettadavid

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Actually, when I bought for my sixth graders last year, I bought mostly concert size... I'm thinking since these kids are 9 and 10 sopranos might be a better choice... THANKS for making my like more difficult! Back to the drawing board...
If you’ve already got a set of concerts, get sopranos. All day long.
 

bbkobabe

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Wooooh! Thanks... the pressure is off. I feel so much better... and I think I just found them for $40 each... it's all coming together!
 

Justaguest

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My hot take: If middle school students (age 11-14) were picking out the ukes they would be tenors. In my classroom students had access to all the sizes of ukes and nearly always fought over the tenors and concerts. Sopranos, baritones, no. When they asked for birthday or holiday gifts they asked for tenors or concerts. Thank Grace Vanderwaal, twentyone pilots and others.
 

bbkobabe

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My hot take: If middle school students (age 11-14) were picking out the ukes they would be tenors. In my classroom students had access to all the sizes of ukes and nearly always fought over the tenors and concerts. Sopranos, baritones, no. When they asked for birthday or holiday gifts they asked for tenors or concerts. Thank Grace Vanderwaal, twentyone pilots and others.

I totally agree... However, these kids are in 4th grade with some are still in the single digits, age wise. They seem so tiny compared to my seventh grade! Anyhow, this is the first time we have bought a class set, and they will stay with that grade. I think sopranos are the right size for them to get started with for all the reasons already stated...

I do encourage parents to get tenors for larger kids, some of whom are reaching for the sky. My ukulele "program" was my own initiative. I bought ukuleles cheap on eBay and re-sold them to some the parents at cost. Then I bought every decent cheapie I could find over the course of a summer (twice). I say here on UU that I own 5... but in reality it's probably more like 18...

Along the way of doing this (twice now), I've found that concert size is most likely to resale cheaply, more so than the other sizes... Five I got for less than $20, and another five new but open box Kalas for under $50 last time out. A dozen more,, mostly concerts. I suppose most people are either looking for sopranos or tenors... Anyhow, tenors cost more in the resale market, AND, they completely fill the kids lockers that we have... so then I have a storage issue, too! So, if you need to buy a bunch of ukuleles on the cheap and you don't care if they don't match, concerts seem to be the best value!

I'll let you all know how it turns out... Happily, our music teacher is leading the 4th graders, and I'm the assistant this time. I'll take my 12 and 13 year olds, thank you very much. It will be interesting to see how this goes.

You know... I think I just infected my school with UAS... Here comes the first 24!
 

bbkobabe

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BTW: I just love to play that 21 Pilots song House of Gold... It's in my daily rotation!

Check it out if you haven't heard it...
 

uketorik

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When I really want to piss people off, I play a mash up... My fave is called 64 Jingle Bells, where I sing the holiday favorite Jingle Bells to the tune of the Beatles When I'm Sixty Four. Even my Junior High aged students can't stand that one... Mash-ups are a decidedly acquired taste, it seems!
Oh, I would love to hear it! Do you have a video/recording of it?

I quite enjoy this mashup myself.
 

kerneltime

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The soprano is the only uke. Anything else is just a wanna be! 😁
I agree!!
I'll respond since I started it. I really do believe that serious 'ukulele-specific instrumental study (note: not ALL musical study on the 'ukulele) should begin with a soprano. My reasons are as follows:

1. The soprano's diminutive size is inextricably linked to the 'ukulele's traditional identity as an auxiliary chordophone for the soloist.
All 'ukulele players will at least occasionally need a soprano for THAT sound -- brash and piercing, the sound of the soprano cuts through most other instruments in a string ensemble. This makes it exceptionally well-suited to melodic and/or dense rhythmic assignment within an ensemble. The larger sizes are also capable in this role, but a good soprano and a matching technique make quick work of the sonic demands in acoustic settings.

2. The soprano 'ukulele's envelope of note production encourages the development instrument-appropriate right-hand technique.
The abrupt attack, rapid decay, and diminished sustain of the soprano places onus upon the student to develop a sophisticated, technical right hand approach to rhythm. This leads in turn to the achievement of lively rhythmic accompaniments. The larger sizes, with their slower decay and longer sustain, invite students to postpone or neglect the development of right hand technique beyond basic strokes and finger picking.

3. The low string tension and short scale length ask the student to listen in order to correct intonation.
The soprano, being susceptible to issues of intonation, asks that the performer make the necessary accommodations in order to produce the correct pitch. This includes modulating pressure applied through the fretting hand, bending the string to make subtle alterations, modifying string displacement prior to release applied with the plucking hand, etc.

4. The short scale length entices students to access the upper frets.
The close spacing of the frets invites study of the upper reaches of the fret board. Happy discoveries through experimentation with regards to note selection are frequent, and moving between positions requires little effort.

5. The soprano is intimate and inviting.
I trust I don't need to explain this one. ;) Musical achievement is sometimes elusive; we all need our early encouragements.
well said/written !
Also, sopranos are like puppies, guaranteed to bring a smile.
 

bbkobabe

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I totally agree with you, ubulele... Moveable shapes are the best way to play... if you can do them.

But... there is something about how my hands work and are formed that just won't allow this to happen. I have short fingers, and my hands are a bit stiff from all the manual labor I did when I was younger. I would if I could... and I've tried and tried... what I really need is an instantly moveable capo, I guess.

SO instead, I have learned to play with an idiosyncratic hybrid of strumming, picking, and single line play. I was a bass player originally, so my rhythmic sense is pretty good. And it all works because I can sing like a bird while doing all that, to the point of where most people focus on how it all comes together rather that my amazing playing ability.

Am I passing on my limitations to my students? Of course I am... and they will pass me by someday with their own abilities, I hope. But I get them strumming and having fun, and celebrate when the day comes that they become better players than I am!

I'll be me, and ubeu, and we will all do the best that we can with the gifts we have been given!