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>> Ukulele Hints >> I have a question about soundbox size.

Message started by Acabooe on May 2nd, 2008 at 3:23am

Title: I have a question about soundbox size.
Post by Acabooe on May 2nd, 2008 at 3:23am
Hi everyone,

I am thinking of trying something different in a future build.
I don't want to get to specific, but here is my question.

If I were to build a Tenor scale Ukulele with a soundbox that has about the same volume ( speaking in math terms, not sound terms ) as a soprano, what would happen.

Would it be a very high pitched sound, or would it not work at all, or what?

It would be something along the lines of a super soprano, but slightly different.

Has anyone ever tried anything like this, and how did it work?

Bob 8)

Title: Re: I have a question about soundbox size.
Post by Matt Blacka on May 2nd, 2008 at 6:37pm
Hi Bob,

Follow this link:

I think this is a similar thing to what you are talking about.

Probably you would be best to aim for a concert size body with the tenor scale, as the two are more similar in terms of dimensions. Musically, I think you could get it to sound ok, but you would have to do some preliminary design work in order to establish a custom design that still had the bridge in the rightish area of the soundboard. There's no point having the bridge too high or low on the soundboard (due to the difference between scale length and body size) as this will restrict the way the soundboard is able to be vibrated by the bridge.


Title: Re: I have a question about soundbox size.
Post by unkabob on May 3rd, 2008 at 8:56am
What you discribe sounds like a "long-necked soprano". Musicguymic usually has one listed on E-Bay. A lot of people like it because it has the sound of a soprano but the fretboard fits big fingers.

Remember to locate the bridge at the correct scale length and locate the soundboard bracing based on the saddle location.

I am preparing to start a tenor pineapple to scout the soundbox size in the other direction. I can use the standard tenor plans with minor adjustments to bracing in the waist area. I like the sound of a baritone but am too lazy to learn new chord names.


Title: Re: I have a question about soundbox size.
Post by Mr_Roboto on May 4th, 2008 at 12:06pm
The sound you get from the instrument and its tonal qualities, such as sustain, will be affected by the type of wood you employ and the thickness of the wood.  It isn't just the size.  Some woods, like mahogany, tend to produce a warmer tone with lower pitch.  Other woods, like poplar, will produce a higher pitched tone, like an acoustic, country guitar that might be heard with a bluegrass band.  If you switch to an oak body, you will likely get a "woodier" sound.  

The soundboard material and thickness will also have an effect.  Thinner soundboards tend to be louder.  A thin, spruce soundboard can become so thin, and loud, that it begins to sound like the instrument is being "overdriven" and detracts from the tone if one is eager to push the instrument to its limits.

The scale of the body will tend to affect where resonant frequencies occur.  In approximate terms with regard only to size, the longest dimension will tend to impact where the lowest resonant frequency occurs.  In ukulele terms, it can be difficult to produce a resonant frequency via the physical scale of the instrument due to small size and a limited scale.

One expert I've consulted has essentially advised me to use mahogany for the neck.  I am eager to gain fret slotting skills, so I can employ maple for the soundboard, instead of rosewood.  This can marginally impact tone.

The mass of the instrument, including that of the neck and headstock, will affect sustain.  With finite energy introduced into the ukulele system by plucking a string, there's only so much energy that can be translated into sound (as a result of plucking a string once).  That tends to mean that a very loud instrument will expend the energy imparted to the string faster than an instrument that is much less loud, producing a louder instrument in the former instance but one with a shorter tone.  (You can either "bank" the energy in the instrument in resonant structures or expend it in sound energy imparted to the air.  A good design will try to extend note sustain through resonance over a useful duration in practical terms, while still maintaining reasonable volume.)

I won't go into bracing, as I know nothing about it except in the most general terms.  In general, fan bracing seems to be widely accepted at this time, but this "Kasha" bracing, with its curves, may catch on among a certain crowd if its improvement is signficant, not too difficult to implement in real (rather than wishful) terms with regard to precision, and not capable of being reproduced using some simpler means.  

I look forward to seeing some of the designs in the photo gallery of this site become more common in instruments produced in Hawaii.  

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