Posts tagged ‘F-Musiikki’

22/05/2017

Fender-päivä F-Musiikki Helsingissä keskiviikkona 24.5.

Mukana kitaralegenda Esa Pulliainen!

Käsintehdyt Fender Custom Shop -kitarat ovat saapuneet Kaisaniemeen!
Tule tutustumaan näihin uniikkeihin soittimiin Fender-päivänä ke 24.5. F-Musiikki Helsinkiin, Kaisaniemenkatu 7, klo 12-20.

Klo 16 alkaen mukana legendaarinen kitaristi Esa Pulliainen! Tervetuloa!

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17/05/2017

Kitarablogi’s Ukulele Round-up 2017

Welcome to Kitarablogi.com’s ukulele round-up! Summer’s just around the corner, and the uke is the perfect little instrument to take along to the beach or to a BBQ party.

Originally, I had hoped to flesh out a more tightly defined round-up of ukuleles of a certain price and/or size. The new additions to the CITES-treaty, which deal with rosewood (among other things), and the still-growing popularity of the uke here in Finland, have forced me to make concessions, taking into account current availability.

This is a round-up of affordable ukuleles between 80 and 290 €. The aim of this article is not to find the ”best” or ”worst” instrument, but rather to give you a cross-section of currently available brands and models in this price segment in Finland.

We will proceed alphabetically…

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Baton Rouge is a relatively young brand from Germany, specialising in ukuleles and steel-string guitars. Baton Rouge do their R&D and final quality control in Germany, but the instruments are actually made in their own factory in China.

We received our review instruments from Vantaan Musiikki.

Baton Rouge’s V4 Sun model range comes with gorgeous looking bodies made from curly mahogany. The very thin satin finish gives these ukes a satisfying tactile feel.

V4 Sun instruments come with bodies that are deeper than standard. They also feature arched laminated backs. The sun-moniker is a nod to the beautiful laser-engraved soundhole rosette.

The concert-sized V4-C Sun plays really well. The neck profile is a very soft V.

Thanks to its deep body the V4-C Sun has a louder and deeper voice than you’d might expect from a concert uke in this price range.

If anything, the review sample of the Baton Rouge V4-T Sun looks even more luxurious than its smaller sibling.

Tenor ukuleles often find their way into the hands of fingerpickers, many of whom prefer slightly wider nut widths, like 38 or 40 mm. Despite its regular nut width of 35 mm the V4-T Sun’s neck never feels cramped.

Sadly, our review instrument suffered from a slightly too sharp neck angle, making the action impossibly low. I shimmed the bridge saddle for a much more manageable string height of a little over two millimetres, which put an end to string buzz and rattling. I’ve played a number of Baton Rouge guitars and ukes and have never before noticed any neck angle problems, so I’d write this off as ”the one that got away”.

The V4-T Sun’s neck profile is a rounded D.

With the shimmed bridge saddle the V4-T Sun displayed a healthy, warm and big tone.

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Flight is a Chinese guitar and ukulele brand that is still quite new in Finland. In addition to its standard models Flight also offers aged ukuleles, as well as officially licensed Elvis Presley models.

The guitalele (also often spelled guitarlele) is the newest trend on the ukulele market, and marks something of a return to the uke’s roots. European immigrants brought their ”travel guitars” with them to their new home of Hawaii. Those instruments then became the forefathers of the modern ukulele. A guitalele is a tenor-sized six-string instrument, which is tuned to A (A-a), like a guitar with a capo on the fifth fret.

The Flight GUT350SP is a pretty and well made instrument. Despite its low price it even sports binding on the body and the fingerboard, as well as a neck with an adjustable truss rod.

The GUT350SP’s neck has been crafted from okoume (often called Gabon mahogany). The soundbox features a laminated spruce top and laminated back and sides made of sapele. The workmanship is crisp and clean.

The neck profile is reminiscent of a classical guitar – flattish and a bit angular. The instrument plays very well.

Flight’s GUT350SP maybe isn’t the loudest guitalele I’ve ever played, but it wins you over with its pretty voice and spot-on intonation.

The Flight NUS310 is an affordable soprano uke, and it even comes in its own stylish tweed bag.

The NUS310’s body is clearly wider than on most sopranos, in order to add a smidgen more bottom end to proceedings.

This is a well-made little instrument with effortless playability. The neck profile is a rounded C.

In my opinion the Flight NUS310 is a cool little soprano uke, offering a vintage-type sound and good intonation.

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The Koki’o brand belongs to German uke-specialists RISA, who are best known for their electric and travel ukuleles. Koki’o is the Hawaiian name for the islands’ national flower the Hawaiian hibiscus. The brand offers a wide variety of different models.

The Koki’o Mahogany Concert is a well-made affordable concert ukulele.

The fretboard sports black binding. The rosette is made up of koki’o flowers, which have been laser-engraved into the uke’s mahogany top.

The Mahogany Concert comes with a deeper-than-standard body with an arched back. All Koki’o ukuleles come with two strap buttons installed. A very decent gig bag also comes with the instrument.

The neck profile is a comparatively thin, oval C.

The Koki’o Mahogany Concert sings with a beautiful and strong voice.

The Koki’o Mahogany Tenor is the Concert’s larger brother.

In terms of features, the Mahogany Tenor is virtually identical to the Concert, save for a slightly wider neck.

Our review sample must have slipped through quality control, because it comes with a strange cosmetic quirk. The body’s sides look like they’ve been bandsawed to a regular ukulele rim depth, before the worker realised his (or her) mistake, and then glued the pieces back on. The result is a very clean and thin saw/glue line all around the body. Structurally, there’s nothing wrong with this uke, it plays very well, but it just looks funny.

The Koki’o Mahogany Tenor has a chunky sound with a slightly husky mid-range.

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Ortega is a large maker of acoustic string instruments, combining German engineering and quality control with Chinese production.

Ortega’s RU5 is the cheapest instrument in this round-up, but this isn’t borne out by its high standard of workmanship.

This is a surprisingly well-made and well-playing little instrument.

There’s black binding around the fretboard, while the body has received tasty looking binding in faux tortoise shell. The graphics in the lower bout of the spruce top have been made with a laser.

The RU5’s neck profile is a rounded D. The playability of this affordable concert model is great.

The Ortega RU5 has a strong and open voice with a nice dose of clarity.

Ortega’s new model, the RUMG, is a concert-sized uke with a reverse ”electric” headstock, and a body made from laminated mango. Mango may seem an interesting choice, but the woodgrain looks a lot like very light koa.

For the slightly higher price tag of the RUMG, you will get wooden binding and the nicest gig bag in this round-up, too.

The neck feels great with its profile being a mix of soft V and oval C.

Ortega’s RUMG is a real shouter with a warm, full-bodied mid-range, punching well above its price bracket.

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Tanglewood is Britain’s best-selling brand with a huge range of affordable to mid-price string instruments, which are built in the Far East. Tanglewood’s portfolio includes four different ukulele model ranges, of which Cove Creek is probably the most vintage-inspired.

Tanglewood’s Cove Creek TU-2ST is the only gloss-finished uke in this round-up. This soprano’s basic design stays true to the classics, save for the wood choices for the soundbox. There’s a solid spruce top, coupled with back and sides made of laminated bubinga.

The workmanship on the TU-2ST is extremely crisp. This soprano looks and plays great.

The neck profile on this Cove Creek is comfortably round and clubby.

A solid wood top naturally requires some playing in before ”opening up”, but I can state that the Cove Creek TU-2ST sounded great right out of the box. For a delicious vintage-inspired soprano sound you need not look any further.

Tanglewood’s Cove Creek TU-10 is the only all-solid wood ukulele in this round-up, and it comes with its own case.

Even though the TU-10 is clearly the most ”expensive” uke in this round-up, it actually is quite a steal, if you take into account the professional features of this instrument, like its one-piece mahogany neck.

The Cove Creek TU-10 clearly is an homage to the classic period of the ukulele with its open headstock, its maple binding, its pearl rosette, and its rich satin finish.

The neck profile is a medium-thick U.

The Tanglewood Cove Creek TU-10 offers you warm clarity and dynamic punch straight out of the box. As it is an all-solid uke its sound will only get better the more you play it.

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Looks like it’s a great time for buying your first ukulele. You can find decent instruments even in the sub-100 € price bracket that will play and sound well. There’s also a wide variety of different brands and different uke sizes available in Finland these days. What are you waiting for?

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12/05/2017

Kitarablogin ukulelekatsaus 2017

Tervetuloa Kitarablogi.comin ukulelekatsaukseen! Kesä on jo ovella, ja ukulele on täydellinen pikkusoitin rannalle, mökille tai grillijuhlaan.

Aluksi suunnittelin tekeväni tarkemmin rajatun katsauksen, jossa olisi ollut mukana kultakin valmistajalta kaksi, speksien ja hinnan perusteella, tarkoin valikoitua mallia. Juuri voimaan tulleet uudet lisäykset CITES-sopimukseen, jotka koskevat mm. ruusupuuta (palisanteria), yhdistettynä ukulelen suosion räjähdysmäiseen kasvuun, pakottivat minut muuttamaan suunnitelmiani maahantuojien varastotilanteita mukaileviksi.

Tässä katsauksessa esitellään edullisia ukuleleja, joiden hinnat vaihtelevat 80 ja 290 euron välillä. Katsauksen tarkoituksena ei ole löytää ”paras” soitin, vaan sen sijaan tehdä pienimuotoinen markkinan läpileikkaus, josta selviää millaisia ukuleleja tällä rahalla saa.

Edetään aakkosjärjestyksessä…

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Baton Rouge on suhteellisen uusi merkki Saksasta, joka on erikoistunut ukulelejen lisäksi teräskielisiin kitaroihin. Soittimien suunnittelu ja laadunvalvonta on saksalaista käsialaa, mutta soittimet valmistetaan firman omalla pajalla Kiinassa.

Saimme testisoittimet lainaan Vantaan Musiikilta.

Baton Rougen V4 Sun -malliston soittimet ovat erittäin näyttäviä niiden kauniiden loimumahonkirunkojen ansiosta. Mattalakatut puupinnat on jätetty tarkoituksella hieman huokoisiksi, mikä antaa Baton Rouge -ukuleleille mukavan luonnollisen tuntuman.

V4 Sun -soittimissa on erikoissyvät, kaarevapohjaiset rungot. Sun-sana viittaa kauniiseen, auringon muotoisen rosettiin, joka on kaiverrettu kanteen laserilla.

Konserttikokoisen V4-C Sun -mallin soitettavuus on erinomainen. Kaulaprofiiliksi on valittu hyvin pehmeä, keskipaksu V.

Suuren koppansa ansiosta V4-C Sun soi hieman isommalla ja syvemmällä äänellä kuin ehkä odottaisi tämän hintaluokan konserttiukulelelta.

Testiin saapunut Baton Rouge V4-T Sun näyttää jopa vielä prameammalta kuin sen pienempi sisar.

Tenoriukulelet nähdään usein sormisoittajien käsissä. Monet heistä suosivat hieman leveämpiä otelautoja, 38 tai 40 mm satulan leveydellä, mutta 35 mm satulasta huolimatta V4-T Sunin kaula ei tuntunut minusta lainkaan ahtaalta.

Testisoittimessa oli valitettavasti hieman liian jyrkkä kaulakulma, minkä vuoksi se saapui testiin mahdottoman matalalla kieltenkorkeudella. Shimmaamalla tallaluuta hieman sain kielten korkeutta nostettua yli kaksi millimetriä, jolloin kielet lakkasivat rämisemästä nauhoja vasten. Olen kokeillut jo useampaa Baton Rouge -kitaraa ja -ukulelea, enkä ole tähän mennessä kohdannut ongelmia kaulan kulmissa – pidän tätä siis harvinaisena yksilövikana.

Kaulaprofiili on V4-T Sun -mallissa pyöreä D.

Shimmauksen jälkeen V4-T Sun soi erittäin terveellä ja voimakkaalla äänellä.

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Flight on kiinalainen kitara- ja ukulelebrändi, joka on meille Suomessa vielä melko uusi tuttavuus. Perusmallien lisäksi Flight tarjoaa myös relikoituja ukuleleja, sekä virallisia Elvis Presley -malleja.

Guitalele (kirjoitetaan myös usein guitarlele) on uusin suuntaus ukulelemarkkinoilla, vaikka se onkin tavallaan paluu ukulelen juurille. Eurooppalaiset maahanmuuttajat toivat aikoinaan omia ”matkakitaroitaan” mukanaan Havaijille, joista sitten ukulelet kehittyivät. Nykyaikainen guitalele on kuusikielinen soitin tenorikokoisella kopalla. Viritys vastaa kitaraa, jossa on kapo viidennellä nauhalla (A-a).

Flight GUT350SP on hyvin siististi tehty soitin, joka tarjoaa maltillisesta hinnastaan huolimatta reunalistoitukset kopassa ja otelaudassa, sekä säädettävän kaularaudan.

GUT350SP:n kaula on veistetty okoumesta, joka tunnetaan myös nimellä gaboninmahonki. Koppa taas koostuu kuusikannesta ja sapellipohjasta (ja sivuista). Työnjälki on kauttaltaan siistiä.

Kaulaprofiili on lainattu klassisesta kitarasta – laakea ja suhteellisen leveä. Flightin soitettavuus on mukavan vaivatonta.

Flight GUT350SP ei ehkä ole kovaäänisin kaikista kokeilemistani guitaleleista, mutta sillä on hyvin kaunis ääni. Myös Flightin intonaatio on mukavasti kohdallaan.

Flight NUS310 on edullinen sopraanoukulele, joka myydään omassa laadukkaassa tweed-bägissään.

NUS310 eroaa keskivertosopraanosta leveämmällä rungollaan, jonka on tarkoitus lisätä pienikokoisen soittimen soundiin hieman muhkeutta.

Työnjälki on hyvin siistiä ja Flightin soittotuntuma on mukava. Kaulaprofiiliksi on valittu pyöreä C.

Minun mielestäni Flight NUS310 on mainio perussopraano vintage-tyylisellä soundilla ja hyvällä intonaatiolla.

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Koki’o-brändin takana on saksalainen ukulelespesialisti RISA, joka on tunnettu erityisesti matka- ja sähköukuleleistaan. Koki’o on nimetty havajilaisen hibiskuksen mukaan, ja se tarjoaa laajan valikoiman akustisia ja mikitettyjä ukuleleja.

Koki’o Mahogany Concert on hyvin siististi tehty, edullinen konserttiukulele.

Otelauta on saanut koristeeksi mustan reunalistoituksen. Mallin rosetti koostuu koki’o-kasvin kukkasista, jotka on kaiverrettu laserilla mahonkikanteen.

Mahogany Concertissa on perinteistä syvempi runko kaarevalla, muotoon prässätyllä pohjalla. Koki’o:n kaikissa soittimissa on kaksi hihnatappia valmiiksi asennettuna. Myös laadukas topattu pussi kuuluu hintaan.

Kaulaprofiiliksi on valittu verraten ohut, ovaali C.

Koki’o Mahogany Concert soi hyvin kauniilla ja vahvalla äänellä.

Koki’o Mahogany Tenor on edellä mainitun Koki’o:n tenorikokoinen veli.

Ominaisuuksiltaan Mahogany Tenor vastaa lähes täysin Concertia, paitsi että Tenorissa on hieman leveämpi otelauta.

Testiyksilö näyttää olevan ns. maanantaikappale, vaikka soittimen työnjälki on sinänsä hyvin siistiä. Ukulelen sivuissa on nimittäin nähtävissä hieno sahausjälki/liimasauma. Joku on tehtaalla ilmeisesti sahannut sivut ensin perinteiselle ukulelelle sopiviksi, tajunnut sitten virheensä ja liimannut sen jälkeen molemmat sivut taas siististi yhteen. Vika on ainoastaan kosmeettinen, eikä se vaikuta lainkaan Mahogany Tenorin hyvään soitettavuuteen.

Koki’o Mahogany Tenor soi erittäin vahvalla, hieman savuisella äänellä.

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Ortega on iso, kielisoittimiin erikoistunut saksalainen brändi, joka yhdistää saksalaista suunnittelua ja laadunvalvontaa kiinalaiseen tuotantoon.

Ortega RU5 on tämän katsauksen edullisin soitin, mitä on sen laadun perusteella vaikea uskoa.

Työnjälki on ukulelen hintaan nähden erinomaisen siistiä.

Otelauta on reunalistoitettu mustalla muovilla, kun taas kopan reunoja koristaa läpikuultava kilpikonna-kuvioitu muovilista. Kuusikannen grafiikka on kaiverrettu siihen laserilla.

RU5:n kaulaprofiiliksi on valittu pyöreä D. Konserttimallin soitettavuus on erinomainen.

Ortega RU5 soi kauniilla, selkeällä ja dynaamisella äänellä.

Ortegan uutuusmalli RUMG on konserttikokoinen ukulele käänteisellä sähkökitaran viritinlavalla, sekä mango-puusta tehdyllä kaikukopalla. Mango vaikuttaa ensisilmäykseltä ehkä hieman epätavalliselta valinnalta, mutta sen ulkonäkö muistuttaa aika lailla hyvin vaaleaa koa-puuta.

Epätavallisen puun lisäksi, tämän Ortegan hieman korkeampaan hintaan saa myös puiset reunalistoitukset otelaudan ja kopan ympärille, sekä tämän katsauksen selvästi laadukkaimman gigbagin.

Kaulan profiili on mukavan tuntuinen sekoitus pehmeää V:tä ja ovaalia C:tä.

Ortega RUMG:n armoton atakki ja soittimen täyteläinen keskialue tekevät tästä konserttiukulelesta erittäin vahvaäänisen.

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Tanglewood on suuri kielisoitinbrändi Englannista, joka teettää omat luomuksensa Kiinassa ja muissa Aasian maissa. Tanglewoodilla on peräti neljä ukulelemallistoa, joista Cove Creek on ehkä perinnetietoisin.

Tanglewood Cove Creek TU-2ST on tämän katsauksen ainoa kiiltäväksi lakattu soitin. Ulkomuodoltaan perinteiseen sopraanoon on valittu kokopuinen kuusikansi, sekä bubingavaneriset sivut ja takakansi.

TU-2ST:n työnjälki on erittäin korkealla tasolla ja soitin saapui testiin erinomaisissa säädöissä.

Cove Creekin hyvin pyöreä ja keskipaksu kaulaprofiili tuntuu oikein mukavalta.

Kokopuinen kuusikansi vaatii luonnollisesti hieman pidempää sisäänsoittoa, mutta jo tämän testirupeaman perusteella voin todeta, että Cove Creek TU-2ST:stä lähtee herkullisen vanhahtava sopraanoukulelen soundi.

Tanglewood Cove Creek TU-10 on tämän katsauksen ainoa soitin kokopuisella kopalla ja kovalla laukulla.

Vaikka TU-10 on tämän ryhmän selvästi kallein soitin, on sen hinta itse asiassa melko edullinen, sillä tämä konserttiukulele tarjoaa pro-luokan ominaisuuksia, kuten esimerkiksi yksiosaisen mahonkikaulan.

Cove Creek TU-10 on perinteitä kunnioitava soitin avoimella viritinlavalla, vaahteraisella reunalistoituksella, helmiäisrosetilla, sekä kauniilla mattaviimeistelyllä.

Kaulaprofiiliksi on valittu keskipaksu U.

Tanglewood Cove Creek TU-10:n ääni soi erottelevasti, lämpimästi ja vahvasti jo suoraan paketista tulleena. Kokopuiselta soittimelta on odotettavissa vielä lisää soundin kypsymistä ja kukkimista säännöllisen soittamisen ansiosta.

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Tämän katsauksen perusteella näyttää vahvasti siitä, että nyt olisi hyvä aika aloittaa ukulelen soittoharrastus. Jopa alle 100:n euron hintaluokassa on tarjolla laadukkaita soittimia, joilla soittaminen on hauskaa. Myös eri merkkejä, malleja ja kokovaihtoehtoja on nykyään Suomessakin laajalti saatavilla.

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05/05/2017

Ensi viikolla ilmestyy Kitarablogin ukulelekatsaus

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28/04/2017

Ukulelen anatomia

Ukulele on pienikokoinen nelikielinen kielisoitin kitaraperheestä. Musiikkiistorian kirjoissa sanotaan, että havaijilainen ukulele kehittyi nykymuotoon 1800-luvun loppupuolella espanjalaisista ja portugalilaisista ”matkakitaroista”. Lähteestä ja näkökulmasta riippuen, soittimet saapuivat Havaijille joko Etelä-Amerikan kautta (vihuela) tai suoraan europpalaisten maahanmuuttajien mukana (machete tai braguinha).

1900-luvun alussa Yhdysvalloissa kasvoi kiinnostus Havaijin-saaria ja havaijilaista kulttuuria kohtaan. Vuonna 1915 alkoi erilaisten näyttelyjen ja kiertävien musiikkiryhmien kautta USAssa suoranainen Havaijibuumi. Etenkin ukulelellä vaikutti olevan erityisen suurta viehätysvoimaa ja soittimen kysyntä kasvoi räjähdysmäisesti.

Jostakin syystä ukulelen suosio ei loppunut muutaman vuoden jälkeen, vaan pikkuinen soitin teki onnistuneen hyppäyksen hula-hula soittimesta varhaisen jazzin ja vaudeville-viihteen soittimeksi.

Vasta 1960-luvun beat-, rock-, blues- ja folk-aallot veivät lopulta ukulelelta sen pitkän suosion.

Nyt näyttää kuitenkin siitä, että ukulele on tekemässä suuren comebackin. Aktiivisoittajia on tulossa koko ajan lisää. Myös monissa kouluissa oppilaiden ensisoitin on yhä useammin nokkahuilun sijaan ukulele.

Kuvassa (vasemmalta): sopraano-, konsertti- ja tenoriukulele, sekä guita(r)lele.

Alkuperäisestä sopraanoukulelesta kasvoi ajan myötä kokonainen soitinperhe. Sopraanon lisäksi yleisesti käytössä ovat konsertti- ja tenoriukulelet. Pikkuinen sopranino- tai tasku-ukulele on tarkoitettu lähinnä hauskaksi kuriositeetiksi. Baritoniukulele taas eroaa muista perinteisistä ukuleleista virityksen suhteen, sillä sillä on C-virityksen (g1-c1-e1-a1) sijaan sama viritys kuin kitaran neljällä ylimmällä kielellä.

Komppisoittajat suosivat yleensä perinteistä ”korkeaa” C-viritystä – myös tenoriukuleleissa – kun taas monesti melodiaa soittavat soittajat suosivat tenoreissa usein ”matalaa” C-viritystä (g-c1-e1-a1), jossa g-kieli on soittimen matalin kieli. Jotkut taas pitävät sopraanoukulelejään vanhassa (alkuperäisessä) D-virityksessä (a1-d1-fis1-h1).

Perinteisten kokojen lisäksi on markkinoilla vielä bassoukuleleja, joilla on paksujen kumimaisten kieltensä ansiosta sama viritys kuin bassokitaralla, sekä guitalele (tai guitarlele), joka on tenorikokoinen pikkukitara A-virityksellä.

Ukulelen perusrakenne on hyvin kitaramainen – soittimessa on kaula, nauhallinen otelauta, sekä ontto kaikukoppa.

Vintage-tyylisissä sopraanoissa on usein vain 12 nauhaa, mutta isommissa malleissa voi olla jopa 18 nauhaa.

Kitaratyylisen muodon lisäksi on myös tällaisia nk. ananasmallisia soittimia (ns. pineapple uke), joilla on hieman erilainen ääni.

Joissakin malleissa voi olla muotoon prässätty kaareva pohja, niin kuin kuvan taaemmassa soittimessa.

1900-luvun alussa kaikissa ukuleleissa käytettiin virittämiseen esim. monen jousisoittimen tavoin yksinkertaisia puutappeja, joissa puiden kitka piti kielet vireessä (kuvassa: ruskeat virittimet).

1920-luvulla ns. patenttivirittimet astuivat mukaan kuvaan. Myöskään näiden metallisten viritystappien sisällä ei ollut varsinaista koneistoa hammasratoineen, vaan nekin toimivat viritystapin, metalliprikkojen ja -jousien välisellä (säädettävällä) kitkalla.

Moderneissa soittimissa käytetään yleensä joko avoimia tai suljettuja kitaratyylisiä virittimiä.

Nykyisin markkinoilla olevissa ukuleleissä voi olla joko perinteinen talla, jossa tavallinen solmu pitää kielet paikoillaan, …

… tai sitten klassiselta kitaralta lainattu, hieman monimutkaisempi ratkaisu.

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24/04/2017

Ukulele Roundup 2017 – The Kitarablogi-video

21/04/2017

Ukulele Roundup 2017 – Now on SoundCloud

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20/04/2017

Ukulele-Porn

Baton Rouge V4-C Sun

Baton Rouge V4-T Sun

Flight GUT350SP

Flight NUS310

Koki’o U-LMHLMH-C Mahogany Concert

Koki’o U-LMHLMH-T Mahogany Tenor

Ortega RU5

Ortega RUMG

Tanglewood Cove Creek TU-2ST

Tanglewood Cove Creek TU-10

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19/04/2017

Tulossa toukokuussa ++ Coming in May ++ Ukulele-Mania

Toukokuun katsauksessa edullisia ukuleleja. Mukana ovat:

In May we will take a look at affordable ukuleles from these companies:

Baton Rouge

Flight

Koki’o

Ortega

Tanglewood Cove Creek

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30/12/2016

Review: Ten Affordable Solid Top Classical Guitars

classical-guitars-intro

The classical (aka nylon-string or Spanish guitar) is still a very popular instrument. Many guitarists start their musical journey on an affordable classical guitar.

This is why Kitarablogi.com decided to do a little round-up of a cross section of nylon-string acoustic in the all-important price segment of 250-400 euros. These days you can get a decent instrument with a solid wood top for a moderate outlay.

A solid top is an important ingredient in an acoustic guitar, played regularly the top will ”come to life” and mature to its full tonal potential. It’s true, you can make music on a plywood-topped acoustic, too, but such a guitar’s tone and volume will always stay somewhat restricted.

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Torres laid down the rules

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(photo: Wikipedia)

The father of the classical guitar was Spanish cabinet maker and luthier Antonio de Torres Jurado (1817-1892). Torres came up with the final shape of the Spanish guitar, the basic construction principles (like the top bracing pattern or the separate bridge saddle), and his choices of materials still inform and influence builders to this day.

Torres mostly used cedar for his necks and rosewood for his fretboards. Most of his tops were made from solid spruce. His choice of sound box woods was more varied, though. His back and sides were made from rosewood, mahogany, (flame) maple, and cypress.

Because cypress was a much cheaper wood in Torres’ time than, say, rosewood, cypress body instruments were usually the least expensive. Most flamenco guitarists of that time were cash-strapped, which is why they tended to play Torres’ cypress guitars. This, in turn, is the reason why many flamenco guitars are still made with cypress backs and sides today.

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Most modern classicals are built with dovetailed glue joints – the neck and sound box are made separately, and only glued together relatively late in the building process.

Torres used a different technique, which is nowadays called a Spanish Heel:

The neck blank and the neck block are made from one piece of wood, with the neck block looking like an angular ”U” or ”L” (viewed from the side). Either side of the neck blank has a deep groove for the rims to be glued into. The neck blank and sides together then constitute a frame for the top and back.

Fans of the Spanish heel claim that this type of construction will give you maximum vibrational transfer and better tone. Distractors, on the other hand, point to the difficulties the Spanish heel will give you, should a neck angle reset ever become necessary. I think I’ll keep on sitting on the fence on this one…

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(photo: Andy Manson, luthier)

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Nothing but winners

I feel like a sleazy gameshow host writing this, but there aren’t really any losers in this round-up. All ten guitars are real instruments that are well up to the job of making beautiful music.

Still, it is very interesting to take a look at the different ways modern manufacturers use to re-interpret Torres’ time-honoured concept for the modern player.

We will proceed in alphabetical order…

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Admira is one of the largest makers of classical guitars in the world.

German-born Enrique (orig. Heinrich) Keller founded an instrument workshop in northern Spain in 1944. Over time Admira has grown from a small maker into a well-known brand.

Admira guitars are distributed by Musamaailma in Finland.

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The Admira A5 is an affordable instrument from the Spanish maker’s Handcrafted-series.

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The workmanship is crisp and clean. The thin finish brings out the beauty in the A5’s woods. The golden tuning machines with their pearloid knobs add a nice touch of bling. The rosette is unusual, displaying a chain of little guitars in a row.

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Admira’s A5 is one of three instruments in this round-up built with a Spanish heel.

The neck profile is genuinely classical, meaning the neck is wide and flat with slightly angular shoulders.

The moderate action results in a very comfortable playing feel.

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The Admira A5 has a big voice with an even balance between its chunky bottom end and clear treble attack.

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Admira’s Malaga is part of their Student-range.

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The Malaga is one of the lightest instruments in this review. The workmanship on this cedar-topped beauty is excellent. The affordable nature of this guitar is only reflected in the very clean, but thinner-than-usual (non-kerfed) wooden linings joining the top and back to the sides.

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The neck profile on the Admira Malaga is traditional.

The review sample came with a surprisingly low action (for a nylon-string). This makes the Malaga an excellent choice for a beginner, but also a very viable candidate for flamenco players, who prefer a very fast action and a clicking attack.

Despite its very low action the Malaga plays with a clear and strong voice, completely devoid of string buzz or rattles.

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Esteve is a very traditionally-minded Spanish maker of classical guitars.

Esteve guitars are imported by Musiikki Silfverberg. Our review sample was kindly provided by Vantaan Musiikki.

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The Esteve 4ST is an instrument from the maker’s Student-range.

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This guitar is a real beauty with its tinted cedar top and its intricate soundhole rosette. Spanish style at its best.

The 4ST is the second guitar (of three) in this round-up that sports a Spanish heel. The workmanship is very crisp throughout.

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Esteve’s neck profile is genuinely classical – wide and flat. The action is at traditional settings. The guitar plays like a breeze.

Esteve’s 4ST has a huge and deep tone, which is warm and well-balanced. The instrument’s attack is clear and precise.

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Kantare Guitars are a celebration of Finnish knowhow and ingenuity.

Kantare guitars are designed in Helsinki by the grand old man of Finnish luthiery, Kauko Liikanen.

The special top bracing system sets these guitar apart from any other nylon-string. Instead of the traditional fan bracing (or a variation thereof), Kantares employ the patented LRS-bracing. Kauko Liikanen’s and Uwe Florath’s Lens Resonance System concentrates an oval pattern of braces around the top’s bridge area. The sound is concentrated in a way not dissimilar to an optical lens. LRS adds strength to the bridge area, while letting the rest of the top vibrate more freely than traditional bracing patterns.

Most Kantares are built in Romania. Hora is one of Europe’s largest makers of string- and bowed instruments.

Kantare’s Finnish distributor is Liikanen Musical Instruments.

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The Kantare Dolce C hg is a gloss-finished guitar with an LRS-braced cedar top.

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Our review sample sports Kantare’s brand-new arm rest, which is sold separately. The arm rest has been developed to put your plucking arm into a comfortable playing position, as well as to minimise top damping.

The Dolce C hg is a very beautiful, cleanly built instrument.

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Apart from the LRS bracing, a common denominator among most Kantare models is a maple neck.

Classical guitars traditionally feature mahogany or cedar necks; on the other hand, most bowed instruments use flame maple necks. The strength and density of maple makes it an enticing choice for use in a classical guitar neck, too, and the Hora factory has a large stock of flame maple.

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Kantare’s Hauser-style machine heads are of very decent quality, and work precisely.

The Dolce C hg’s neck profile is noticeably more rounded than a traditional Spanish neck, probably making this neck feel more comfortable for many. To help the beginner with finding the right fret positions, Kantare have included side dots at the fifth and seventh frets.

The Kantare Dolce hg has quite a loud voice and projects nicely. The sound is clear and precise.

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Kantare’s Vivace C features a brand-new, ecologically sound satin finish.

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The Vivace C is finished using a new German-made (by Hesse Lignal) non-poisonous product, called Proterra Resit. Proterra Resit uses a novel mixture of shellac, oil and carnauba wax.

Shellac (also called French polish) is an organic polymer that has been in use by instrument makers for centuries. Traditional French polish is very time-consuming and work-intensive in use, which is why you’ll find it on only a limited number of handmade instruments. The huge advantage of Proterra Resit lies in the fact that it is quick and easy to apply.

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The Kantare Vivace C looks and feels very ”eco” and ”organic”, in the best sense of these terms.

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The new finish nicely accentuates the beautiful wood grain of the guitar’s maple neck.

The neck profile is rounder than a traditional classical guitar neck, and there are two side dots (at the fifth and seventh frets) on this Kantare, too.

The Vivace C’s voice is very woody and a little bit dry. You can clearly hear the wood amplifying the string vibrations. The bottom end isn’t overpowering, the mid-range is warm, and the trebles sound open, but never too bright.

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LaMancha is a young brand from Germany.

LaMancha-instruments are design in Germany and made in China (under German supervision), in the company’s own factory.

LaMancha has managed to become Germany’s best-selling brand of classical guitars over the course of just a few years. Many of their models have already won awards by the European Guitar Teachers Association.

LaMancha’s distributor in Finland is Musiikki Silfverberg. Our review instrument was kindly provided by Vantaan Musiikki.

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LaMancha’s Rubi CM SN is a satin-finished guitar with a narrower-than-usual neck (LaManch call it ”Small Neck”), making it a good choice for young students and players with small hands.

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The Rubi CM SN is the third guitar in this round-up constructed around a Spanish heel.

The neck is made from toona, a south Asian relative of cedar, that also grows in Australia.

The neck is stiffened by two graphite rods, which have been inserted into the neck from the front, prior to the fretboard being glued on.

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The workmanship on this LaMancha is very clean. The Rubi CM SN is a very stylish and lightweight guitar.

The Rubi’s neck profile is narrower and rounder than that of a traditional classical guitar. There are two small side dots in the fingerboard for orientation.

The LaMancha plays like a dream.

The Rubi CM SN displays a well-balanced voice with a slender bass register and a woody top end.

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Japanese company Takamine is best known for its acoustic-electric steel-string guitars, but the company has always made classical guitars, too.

Takamine’s Finnish distributor is EM Nordic. The test instrument was kindly provided by DLX Musiikki.

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The Takamine GC3-NAT is a spruce-topped classical guitar made in China.

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The top’s yellow tint is reminiscent of the look of French polish.

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The stark and unadorned rosewood bridge of the GC3-NAT is a stylish contrast to the instrument’s beautifully intricate soundhole rosette.

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Takamine is one of the very few makers of Spanish guitars who uses a truss rod inside their nylon-string guitars’ necks.

The GC3-NAT’s neck profile conforms to tradition – it’s wide, flat, and a touch angular. The action is low-ish (for a classical), making for a very comfortable playing feel.

This Takamine needed a bit of breaking in to realise its potential fully, but it was well worth the effort. The GC3-NAT has a beautiful and fluid voice, a clean and open mid-range, as well as a precise attack.

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Valencia was a new name to me, even though the company has been in existence since 1972.

Valencia-guitars are designed in Australia, and built in  several factories in China and Indonesia.

Valencia’s Finnish distributor is EM Nordic. The review sample was kindly provided by DLX Musiikki.

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The spruce-topped Valencia GC50 is probably the most richly ornamented instrument in this review.

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There is multi-ply binding on both top and back, with the outermost ply being mahogany.

The back’s centre seam has also been adorned with a mahogany inlay.

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The neck of the GC50 is glued together from three side-by-side strips. The middle piece’s grain orientation is reversed to make neck warping less likely.

Valencia’s neck profile is fairly traditional, with just a touch of added roundness.

The action on our review instrument felt a bit high and stiff for my taste (I’m not Andrés Segovia). A guitar repairer (or a reasonably skilled guitarist) shouldn’t have a problem lowering the bridge saddle, though. Shaving off a millimetre, or so, should result in a much better playing feel.

The Valencia GC50’s voice is beautifully lyrical and open. Even in the highest registers the notes still have an astonishing richness and depth.

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Classical guitars have always been a very important part of Yamaha Guitars’ wide range of models. The C40 is still the best-selling classical guitar on the planet.

The more recent Concert Series bears testament to Yamaha’s ongoing commitment to research and development.

Yamaha’s Finnish distributor is F-Musiikki.

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The Yamaha CG122MS is one of the most affordable Concert Series instruments.

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TheCG122MS’s matte finish is applied very thinly, which is great for tone and feels nice, too.

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The CG122MS is a lightweight instrument with a slightly more rounded neck profile.

Side dots at the fifth and seventh frets make finding your way around the fingerboard a little bit easier.

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The CG122MS plays very well with a nice, traditional action.

The tone is warm and woody. The Yamaha sounds well-balanced, and displays a crisp and clear attack.

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The Yamaha CG142S is the only guitar in this round-up that combines a gloss-finished body with a satin-finished neck.

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Understated beauty is the thing with the CG142S. This is a very cleanly built guitar.

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On this Yamaha, too, the neck profile is a tad more rounded compared to a traditional neck profile. The playability is very comfortable.

The CG142S’s fretboard also has a couple of side dots for easier orientation.

Yamaha’s CG142S sings with a well-rounded, beautiful voice. There’s a healthy amount of clarity in the mid-range.

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To summarise I could state the obvious – there are many well-built, well-playing instruments in the 250-400 euro price segment. There should be the right guitar for everyone, depending on finish, neck profile and sound preferences.

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