Saturday, May 7, 2011

Comparing a few concert ukes

Since receiving the Mya-Moe concert ukulele, I've been meaning to do some sort of a demo between it and some other concert ukes I have.  I got some free time this weekend so I decided to make a video playing it and three other ukes: William King ls-concert, Glyph mezzo-soprano, Collings UC-1.

Each of these ukuleles were strung with different kind of strings, so perhaps the comparison isn't as un-bias as it could be.  But I have found that at this level of ukulele, strings don't really change the basic dynamic of their sound anyway.  These ukes pretty much should sound good with any reasonably good strings.  The string setup:

Collings UC-1 (Aquila strings)
William King long-scale concert (Southcoast medium tension)
Glyph mezzo-soprano (Worth CD)
Mya-Moe concert (Worth CM)

Besides sharing the same scale length (the King is 1" longer than the rest), all of these ukes have radiused fretboards.  The Collings have a 1-3/8" nut while the other three have 1.5" nuts.  The string spacing are also all different, with the Mya-Moe being the widest followed by Glyph, King, and Collings.  This made it slightly challenging to quickly play the same things on these ukes in succession, as you will see a few mess ups and messy playing on the video.  But I think it gets the point across.

I won't make any comments on what I personally thought about the sound of each of these ukes, so you can form your own opinion.  I'm actually not sure if this exercise is of any benefit to anyone, but I guess it could just be a fun excuse to post a video featuring four different ukes or something.

Anyway, here's the vid:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Curly Brothers

My Glyph mezzo soprano had been back at Dave Mean's shop the last month for a little fretboard issue caused by winter dryness.  The issue occurred during the winter and caused me to play the uke a lot less than I would have liked (I wanted to wait until the weather warmed up a bit before sending it back for repair).  So in effect I basically have not played it for what seems like 4-5 months.

The repair is a minor one and the ukulele returned today.  Man I really missed playing this ukulele.  When it's right, it's perhaps my favorite sounding ukulele, certainly one of the very best I have.  Like the great custom built ukulele it is, it plays effortlessly and feels really alive while I play it.  It's hard to explain but the notes really bounce out of this thing.  I guess I better pay better attention to humidifying it next winter so I won't be without it for an extended length of time again.

Anyway, as I've been playing the Mya-Moe myrtle concert a lot lately, I just had to compare the curly wood found on these ukes.  The Glyph was supposed to be AAAA curly koa, and next to it, the Mya-Moe looks to be similarly curled.  I like this type of curly appearance very much, and I'm very happy with the appearance of both of these ukes.

One thing I noticed is that the scale length of the Glyph mezzo soprano is exactly the same as the Mya-Moe concert.  The mezzo is sort of a "long-scale" mezzo soprano in that it was joined at the 14th fret and Dave Means make the scale longer to place the bridge at the ideal spot.  I thought the scale length is just a little less than a concert scale but at least when compared with the Mya-Moe concert, it is exactly the same.  So I guess the mezzo soprano is something of a large bodied super-soprano, or a small bodied concert.  Or a long-scale mezzo soprano...

Ok, enough of that, a couple of more pictures of the curly bros:

Curly sides

Curly backs

What do you get with your Mya-Moe?

I've had my Mya-Moe myrtle concert ukulele for about a week now and for most of the past week, I've been playing it almost exclusively to get accustomed to it and also kind of start the break-in process.  So far it's proven to be a nice and robust ukulele and I've enjoyed playing it.  I plugged it in a few days ago and am very happy with the performance of the pickup.  This is the first ukulele I have with a K&K twin spot pickup.  The three other acoustic ukes I have with pickups all have Mi-Si.  I plugged it to my cheap acoustic amplifier through an L.R. Baggs DI and I thought it sounded pretty good.  All strings sounded loud and clear through the speaker, and that's all I pretty much ask for.  I'm still hoping that in time the sound will open up a little more, but even if it stays the same, it is a good sounding ukulele and I can't really complain.

So what else do you get with a Mya-Moe besides the ukulele itself?  If you ordered a Tradition model, which is the least expensive model they have, you're supposed to get a canvas foam case.  However, mine came with an upgraded Uke Crazy case.  I did upgrade the wood to curly myrtle and added the pickup, so perhaps they just threw in the case upgrade.  I don't know.  It's a pretty nice case, but the latches it has makes me just a little bit nervous.  They are the flip open type (you can see that they are in the open position in the above picture).  There are only two of them and they strike me as being easy to open.  They are probably just fine, but they just don't feel as secure as the "hook & latch" type found on Ko'olau and Ameritage cases.  I guess I'll just take extra precaution if I ever take the case out of the house.

Besides the case, you get a Mya-Moe micro-fiber cloth, a small bottle of lemon oil, a Mya-Moe sticker, and a spec sheet.  The micro-fiber cloth has the Mya-Moe logo on it, so you know which uke it's supposed to wipe.  The lemon oil is used to maintain the finish on the ukulele.  The spec sheet contains the build specifications and serial number on the uke, so if you ever pass it down to your kids, they know exactly what they're getting.

Anyway, I thought the stuff they included with the ukulele are pretty cool.  I will be spending more time with the Mya-Moe concert and post some random stuff about it from time to time.

Spec Sheet

Lemon Oil

Which uke should I bring on my next trip to Oahu???

What's the maximum you'd spend on a ukulele case for your best uke?

If you could steal one of my ukes, which one would it be???

How curly do you like your koa? (preferably on a uke)

What's the maximum number of ukes a perfectly sane person should have???

Poll: How often do you play the ukulele???

Poll: Which guitar company's approach to ukes do you prefer???

Poll: What's your favorite type of headstock???

Poll: The new basic Collings concert uke (UC-1) sells for about $1k, your reaction is: