Ukulele Sound Comparisons
All parameters were held as constant as
possible for these comparisons. The same chord shapes and progression were played on
each ukulele in the same manner; however, because of the different tunings, they are not
all being played in the same key.
The chords are for "Ridin' Down The
Canyon" (1939, Autry & Burnette). File sizes are adjusted for the best
sound reproduction. Note: Flukes are ukuleles.
listen to ukulele type, click on uke name.
Baritone Uke -- Cheap,
all wood, with 19-1/4" scale. Arthur Godfrey (1903-1983) is credited for
the baritone uke. He had been playing ukes since he was a teen, and in the late
1940s, he asked Eddie Connors of Vega Company to design a larger uke to go with his
The one heard here is tuned in the common DGBE, as are the
four highest pitched strings on the guitar. It has geared tuners.
2. Tenor Fluke
-- Scale is 17". Flukes have
many attributes. They are well-built with woody voices and are louder than many of
the fully-wooden uke equivalents -- unless much more is paid for the fully wooden
one. The one heard here is tuned DGBE but with D an octave high. This gives
the uke sound of the "My-Dog-Has-Fleas" tuning.
Has zero fret and peg tuners.
Fluke -- Scale is
15-1/2". Tuned to the common uke GCEA with the G an octave high.
This tuning is the source of the uke's "chirpy," happy voice.
This tuning still uses guitar chord shapes, but
the uke tuning makes the guitar shape "A", a "D" on the uke; the
guitar shape "D" is a "G", etc.
Zero fret and peg tuners.
Flea -- Scale is 14". This
soprano Fluke is tuned GCEA with the octave high G.
Zero fret and peg tuners.
5. Soprano Uke -- Scale is 13-1/2". Cheap, all wood. Sold with
"Travis" on label and is tuned GCEA with octave high G. No zero fret, but
has geared tuners.
This is the
most recognizable uke size. Cliff Edwards, "Ukulele Ike," did as much as
any one to inspire others to play them. However, many performers played ukes in
1920s and 1930s...some through the 1940s.
The Beetles have a
long history with ukes. When they were young lads, they saw and heard the popular
George Formby play his banjo uke.
6. Soprano Uke With Horn Attached
-- Same uke as above but with the sound deflector
(home-made) attached. I think it sounds better with the horn.
All my soprano
ukes will snap into this deflector, but only the wooden ones have their voices
improved; the plastic lslander gains too much treble. The Styron back of that
instrument needs to be muffled by having it against the player's body.
G-40 guitar is the same way; I had an attachment for the back of that guitar and
subsequently removed it.
7. Soprano Uke -- Scale is 12-3/4". Cheap, all wood. Sold with
"Hilo" on label. Tuned GCEA with octave high G.
Has zero fret and geared tuners.
8. Soprano Uke -- Scale is 13-3/4". 1950 Maccaferri Islander. All Styron. It was
dimensioned from the Martin "0" of 1920s. Those Martins sold then for $10
-- average income for factory worker was $1400/year.
I prefer the voice of these Maccaferri ukes to that of the
above wooden sopranos.
The Islander is tuned GCEA with octave high G. Has zero
fret and peg tuners.
9. Banjo Uke -- Scale is 13-1/4". Dixie brand from 1950. Frame is
all aluminum. Tuned GCEA with octave high G. No zero fret but has peg
The most popular early uke player
in Great Britain was George Formby, who learned to play uke from sheet music and listening
to Cliff Edwards records.
George's tradition was in British
Music Halls and he needed something louder than a standard uke...so he played the banjo
ukulele web sites --
/ Bungalow Boys -- http://www.picklehead.com/ian.html
Janet Klein / Parlor Boys
Roy Cone / Ukulele World -- http://www.ukuleleworld.com/
Jim Beloff / Flea Market Music, Inc --http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/
Catfish's Closet -- http://www.catfish1952.com/
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