Small Instruments:  Soprano & Concert Ukuleles

 Update:   New Model Sopranos and Concerts will have fretboards which terminate at the body.  3 standard configurations will be available.  Check “Design Notes - Models & Features”  for further details.

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Soprano Ukulele tuning samples - click below - wait for file to load

 

                 Soprano Ukulele - High re-entrant D                                      Soprano Ukulele - High re-entrant C

         Construction” and “Standard Features” for all Instruments are in the “Design Notes” section

 

Our smallest instruments are called Soprano and Concert Ukuleles.  Among all our designs, they are closest to the standard configurations.  To us, the basic design of the standard instruments is tried and true - with “true” being the key.  The Soprano or Standard Ukulele is a design that has evolved in the traditional manner over time and the Concert is a legitimate variation of that design. 

 

Our basic twist on these instruments is to give them a longer scale - in other words, our instruments are “long-neck” Sopranos and Concerts.  The Soprano has a 15” scale, and the Concert is 17”.  We are not unique in offering this general formula, but perhaps we are unique in not offering the standard “short-neck” versions.  We feel the longer scales give an advantage.

 

First and most obvious is that they give more room on the fretboard.  Our Soprano body is a standard shape and size, but with the longer fretboard, it now gives 15 frets to the body.  Of course those frets are more widely spaced, and we give the neck a generous width. 

 

To the true traditionalist, the sound of the ukulele is the sound of this original Soprano Uke box.  It has a delicacy that contrasts with the fuller crispness of the concert box..  At the same time, however, it can produce a sharp, cutting sound that make this, the smallest of ukuleles, one of the best choices in a band setting.  The high bright sound carries nicely over the accompanying instruments. 

 

With the concert we actually change the shape of the body a bit.  While the interior volume of the body is the same as a standard instrument, ours has different proportions:  it is somewhat shorter than normal but also somewhat wider.  We get the general form of this body from the ukulele’s older relative - the Brazilian Cavaquinho.  This shape gives our instrument two advantages. 

 

First, this fretboard goes a full 16 frets to the body - room usually only found on a cutaway.  While the 15” scale of our Soprano makes playing easier than with a standard soprano scale, the 17” scale of our Concert is large enough for almost anyone.  More complicated chord passages and fingering become possible, yet with the concert body, a “classic” ukulele sound is maintained.

 

Second, it is the lower bout that gets the extra body width, and this is the area of the soundboard that produces sound.  Our layout here gives not only the easiest playing concert currently available, but one with a very full voice. 

 

The Concert may not have the sharp attack of the Soprano, but it has a greater range, and subtler tones can be produced from the bigger body.  This, together with the generous fretboard and longer scale, make our version of this ukulele a “Concert” instrument in the true sense of the word.  It is a players choice - the largest instrument that still produces a classic ukulele sound.          

 

Finally, we think the longer scales gives both instruments the possibility of superior stringing and tuning.  Most ukulele players today prefer tuning to the key of C.  This was not the case, however, when the Soprano first came into being.  The key of D - one step higher - was the preferred tuning.  The key of C is actually pushing the lower limits at which this little body is comfortable.  Depending on construction and set-up, booming overtones with the low notes of the 3rd string in C tuning are problematic with many Standard Sopranos. 

 

Our longer scale means somewhat thinner strings can be used, and this practically eliminates the possibility of these “sonic booms”.  At the same time, the sound becomes a bit brighter, more in character with the early tone of these instruments, when most Sopranos used the higher tuning.

 

Our Sopranos can also be tuned to the original key of D.  It will then give a very bright and delicate sound compared to a standard scale instrument, and if this is your preference, of course you have a more generous fretboard to play with. 

 

While standard Concerts play very nicely in the key of C, with a longer scale you not only get the generous fretboard, but a more delicate, Soprano-like sound.  A Concert body can also be beautiful with deeper tunings - they give a richer mellow tone that Ukulele Ike, for example, liked to use on his solo recordings.  Again the longer scales give these lower tunings a livelier, brighter and more responsive sound the would be possible with the shorter standard scale. 

 

For a detailed discussion on tunings and specific string recommendations, click here for our Southcoast Guide to Tuning and Strings.

 

Premium materials, and construction techniques combining the traditional with the modern are used in all our instruments (see Design Notes page).  The Southcoast Soprano & Concert Ukuleles are one-of-a-kind, bench built, signed and numbered instruments from Estudio Corrales, and details will differ somewhat from the instruments on this page. 

Concert Ukulele tuning samples - click below - wait for file to load

 

              Concert Ukulele - High re-entrant C                                                      Concert Ukulele - High re-entrant B flat

 

                                                                 Concert Ukulele - High re-entrant A             

             Soprano Ukulele

             Concert Ukulele