Suuri sopraanoukulelekatsaus on ilmestynyt Rockwayn blogissa.
Where there’s a forum, there’s a fight – or at least that’s what it looks like.
Electric guitarists like to argue for ages about valve amplifiers and digital amp modellers, and which one is ”better”.
Uke players, for their part, get all hot under the collar when it comes to ukulele strings. There are two main camps – Nylgut-fans and fluorocarbon-connoisseurs. Although the uke is classified as an nylon-string instrument, very few instruments are strung with straight nylon anymore.
Nylgut and Supernylgut strings have been developed in Italy. A string company named Aquila came up with a patented way of manufacturing plastic strings, whose sound and feel is as close as possible to traditional gut strings. Gut strings have always been somewhat problematic, because it is hard to produce a string of uniform quality, when the basic material is of animal origin. Additionally, gut strings react far stronger to changes in humidity and temperature (resulting in pitch fluctuations), compared to plastics like nylon.
Aquila Nylguts have become a de facto industry standard, especially for affordable and mid-price ukuleles.
Nylguts are easy to spot thanks to their milky look and silky surface. First-generation Nylgut strings tended to have a coarser surface, which made them susceptible to a bit of handling noise (faint squeaks), but current versions have managed to do away with this problem (almost) completely.
Aquila Nylguts tend to produce a crisp, bright and open sound, which is why they can be a good choice for darker sounding ukuleles (like many plywood-bodied instruments). Some players, though, dislike the soft bendiness of Nylgut strings.
Fluorocarbon strings are a quite recent addition, too, despite the fact that the material has already been in use for fishing lines for quite some time. Fluorocarbon is a sturdy and dense material that makes it possible to make slightly smaller gauge strings than Nylgut. Fluorocarbons also tend to feel a bit stiffer.
C.F. Martin’s ukuleles come strung with fluorocarbons as standard, and many high-end makers have started to follow Martin’s lead. Fluorocarbon strings are also quite popular with progressive players and many vintage ukulele owners.
Most fluorocarbon strings are clear, even though you can also buy coloured versions of this string type, too. In Finland Martin-strings are the most widely available, but many other manufacturers, like D’Addario, GHS or Worth, make their own quality fluorocarbons.
A seldomly mentioned advantage of fluorocarbon strings is that – because of their slightly smaller diameter – they can sometimes solve intonation problems, if a uke pitches slightly sharp with a set of Nylguts.
Fluorocarbon strings tend to sound meatier and punchier compared to Nylgut strings.
Read Kitarablogi’s Ukulele Round-up 2017 HERE.
Missä nettifoorumi siinä ilmiriita – tai siitä ainakin näyttää.
Sähkökitaristit kinastelevat siitä, onko putkivahvistin parempi kuin digitaalinen vastine.
Ukulelesoittajat taas riitelevät kielistä. On olemassa kaksi pääleiriä – Nylgut-fanit ja fluorocarbon-ystävät.
Nylgut- ja Supernylgut-kielet on keksitty Italiassa. Aquila-niminen kieltenvalmistaja keksi tavan valmistaa muovisia kieliä, joiden soundi ja soittotuntuma on mahdollisimman lähellä laadukkaita suolikieliä. Suolikielten huonot puolet ovat – eläinperäisyyden lisäksi – tasalaatuisuuden saavuttamisen hankaluus, sekä se että kielet elävät tuntuvasti sään mukaan (niiden vire muuttuu).
Aquila Nylgut -kielistä on tullut edullisien ja keskihintaisten ukulelejen keskuudessa tietynlainen laatustandardi.
Nylgutit tunnistaa yleensä kielten maitomaisesta värityksestä ja silkkisestä pinnasta. Vanhoissa Nylgut-kielissä niiden karheammasta pinnasta syntyi joskus kummallisia sivuäänejä (vikinä) soittaessaan, mutta nykyisissä versioissa ongelma on saatu (lähes) sataprosenttisesti halttuun.
Aquila Nylgut -kielten sointi on suhteellisen kirkas ja hyvin avoin, minkä ansiosta ne ovatkin hyvä valinta tummasti soivalle soittimelle (esim. vanerikoppainen ukulele). Jotkut soittajat eivät kuitenkaan tykkää Nylgut-kielten taipuisuudesta.
Fluorocarbon-kielet ovat myös melko uusi keksintö, vaikka materiaalia tunnetaan jo pidemmän ajan kalastussiimoista. Fluorocarbon on hyvin kestävä materiaali, josta saa valmistettua Nylgutia (tai nylonia) ohuempia kieliä, joilla on kuitenkin jäykempi tatsi.
C.F. Martinin ukulelet toimitetaan tehtaasta fluorocarbon-kielillä, ja niiden suosio vintage-ukulelejen omistajien ja progressivisten soittajien keskuudessa on yhä kasvussa.
Fluorocarbon-kielet ovat usein täysin läpinäkyviä, vaikka värillisiä vaihtoehtojakin on olemassa. Yleisimmät fluorocarbon-kielet Suomessa ovat varmasti Martin-kielet.
Yksi etu fluorocarboneissa – josta ei puhuta niin usein – on, että kielet voivat joskus, pienemmän läpimittansa ansiosta, parantaa hieman ylivireisesti soivan ukulelen intonaatiota.
Fluorocarbon-kielet soivat tavallisesti hieman isommalla keskialueella ja volyymillä kuin Nylgut-satsi.
Kitarablogin suuri ukulelekatsaus 2017 löytyy TÄÄLTÄ.
Rockwayn sopraanoukulele-katsaus ilmestyy marraskuun alussa: blog.rockway.fi/
Demobiisi on coverversio Yellen/Ager-biisistä ”Ain’t She Sweet”.
Ukulelet äänitettiin kahdella AKG C3000 -studiomikrofoneilla.
Tämä Rockway-katsaus ilmestyy marraskuun alussa: blog.rockway.fi/
Do it like Jay Graydon or just be yourself. Jam over the chord changes of the guitar solo from ”Peg” by Steely Dan!
• Made in Germany
• Single-transducer double bass pickup
• Mounts in bridge scroll
• Output jack attaches with velcro
Audio demo recorded with an East European plywood double bass. The Shadow SH951 was plugged straight into a Focusrite Saffire 6 USB-soundcard.
Juttu löytyy TÄSTÄ.
How do you assess the condition of an instrument?
In my view, the condition of any guitar can be gauged by dividing up any possible issues into three groups:
• Group 1 – Things that can be changed/corrected easily:
++ truss rod settings
++ dead strings/”wrong” string gauge
++ string height (action)
++ pickup height
++ pickup model (if no woodwork/modification is required)
++ worn-out tuners (if no woodwork is required)
• Group 2 – Small and slightly bigger issues that a qualified repairperson can solve:
++ a cracked top nut
++ string slots in nut too deep or not deep enough
++ a faulty vibrato system
++ worn frets or high/low frets
++ crackling controls
++ faulty switches
• Group 3 – Issues that are difficult and/or expensive to repair:
++ a badly warped neck (so-called corkscrew)
++ a set neck that is out of alignment
++ a broken truss rod
++ unrepaired (or badly fixed) cracks in the wood (for example a broken-off headstock)
++ a botched DIY ”customisation”
Would you buy a guitar from Pete?
Here’s one way of assessing the condition of a guitar systematically:
• Tune the instrument and play it for a minute or two. You’ll get an idea of the current set-up, as well as of the general condition and sound of the instrument.
• Is the neck correctly aligned to the body (especially important in set-neck instruments)?
Look at the distance of the e-strings to the fingerboard edges at the 14th fret. If both e-strings are approximately the same distance from the edge of the fingerboard, you’re good to go.
• The truss rod setting (aka relief):
Press the bottom E-string down simultaneously at the 1st and 14th frets (you can use a capo at the first fret), and use it as a straightedge. Take a look at the string at the 8th fret; there should be a small gap between the top of this fret and the E-string – that’s what we call the relief. If the gap is around 0.5 mm, the truss rod is set as it should be. Check the treble e-string in the same way. If there’s a substantial difference between the relief at the low E and the treble e, you’re most likely looking at a warped neck.
If the truss rod setting is not ideal (too tight = no relief; too loose = relief greater than 0.5 mm) you should ask the seller to adjust the truss rod for you.
• Check the nut slots:
Each string is pressed down in turn at the 3rd fret. The string should now be resting on the second fret. Look for a small gap between the 1st fret and the string you’re pressing down. Using a regular 009- or 010-gauge set, there should be a tiny gap beneath the treble e-string and the first fret (when fretting the string at the third fret), just about large enough to fit a sheet of printer paper in there. Because the bass strings need more clearance to vibrate freely, the gap between the first fret and the bottom of each string increases slightly going from the top e-string to the bass E-string.
If the nut slots aren’t cut deep enough, the guitar will be hard to play, and sound badly out of tune in the lowest (open) positions, regardless of action settings and intonation. A luthier will be able to correct the matter for a small charge using a set of special nut files.
If the string slots are too deep (= the strings rest on the first fret, when pressed down at the third), a nut replacement will be in order (except with locking nuts that can be shimmed). Nut slots that are too deep will result in rattling open strings, even if the action and the truss rod have been adjusted correctly. Note: You should check for string rattling using clean amp settings. Playing the guitar unamplified might make you whack the strings harder than necessary.
In most cases replacing a nut is an easy procedure for a repairperson.
• The condition of the frets:
On a used guitar, slight wear marks on the frets are the result of normal use, and this light wear won’t cause any problems.
If the frets are very worn (like the ones in the picture below), you should take the cost of a fret dress (or even a complete refret) into consideration, and maybe try to get the seller to lower his/her asking price.
Refretting bound fingerboards is more complicated and time-consuming than dealing with unbound ’boards, which is usually reflected in the cost. Ask you luthier.
• Check the bridge:
Are all the screws and bridge saddles in working order? Is there ample scope for intonation adjustment?
If the guitar’s set-up is unsatisfactory – the action may be too high or too low; the intonation may be off – ask the seller to adjust the guitar for you before making a buying decision!
• Check the electronics:
Play around with all controls and switches – is everything working as it should? Do all the pickups work?
Scratchy, crackling pots and faulty switches are quite easy for a luthier to exchange. If we’re talking about a new guitar, the shop should take care of this before you buy. With a pre-owned instrument, you will have to take care of the repairs. Note: Replacing electrical components and pickups in semi-acoustic and archtop guitars is generally much more complicated, which will be reflected in the luthier’s quote.
• Check the vibrato:
Does the vibrato (aka the tremolo or the whammy bar) work as it should? Are all the parts in working condition, or are you faced with rusty screws or even broken parts? Is there ample scope for action and intonation adjustment?
If the vibrato bridge looks very worn, or if there are structural problems, like a broken off (or loose) bridge post, you might be facing a complete replacement or a costly repair.
• And finally: Plug the guitar into an amp, and play it some more. Listen to the sound of the instrument. Check its playing feel, its ergonomics, and make a final assessment of its overall condition.
• Based on this checklist (and any possible issues you might have found) you should ask yourself two questions:
What are the advantages of buying a new guitar vis-à-vis a pre-owned instrument?
• Buying a guitar in a reputable shop has the following advantages:
++ Your new guitar will be just that – brand-new and untarnished (unless you go for a relic’ed axe).
++ The shop assistant can help you finding the right guitar for your playing style.
++ Many shops also offer to set up your new guitar to your own specifications.
++ Should there be any problem due to faulty workmanship, you’re covered by a warranty.
• Why can it make sense to buy a used guitar?
++ In many cases, you will be able to afford a slightly more expensive instrument. Depending on the age and condition of the guitar, a used guitar usually goes for about 60-80 % of its price when new.
Please note: This kind of price reduction tends not to apply to collectable (vintage) guitars, as well as many special run and/or custom shop instruments from sought-after brands. The value of some of these instruments may even rise considerably with the passing of time.
++ A pre-owned guitar is also pre-aged, so the possibility of nasty surprises due to wood shrinkage/expansion is also considerably lower. If a three- or five-year old guitar’s neck is still straight and its fingerboard hasn’t shrunk, chances are that things will remain stable in the future, too.
Shopping for a used instrument does require some experience from the buyer, though, because he/she will have to be able to correctly gauge the condition and market value of the instrument on offer. If you feel unsure take a more experienced guitarist along with you.
• If you want to buy a used guitar via the internet, you should make sure to apply the same amount of care, as with other shopping on the net. Don’t hand over any credit card details to a private seller, and direct payment in advance is also generally a no-no. The safest way to do business is by using well-known platforms, such as Ebay or Reverb.com, which provide for relatively secure payment options, such as Pay Pal.
Remember there are also pirate copies of popular guitar models sold on the internet. Again, if you feel unsure, as a friend for additional advice. And remember the old adage: ”If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!”
So, you want to buy an electric guitar? Let Kitarablogi.com help you find the guitar that’s ”the right one” for you.
There are a few things you should think through in advance, before setting out to your local guitar shop.
What guitar do I really want/need?
• The way you feel about a guitar’s looks and design can be an important factor in making a buying decision, and the same goes for the guitar your favourite artist plays. There’s nothing ridiculous in choosing an instrument for its looks, as there’s always a psychological component to how you approach a guitar. If you really dig the way an instrument looks, you will want to play it, and play it more often. This goes the other way, too – if you feel your guitar is ugly, playing it won’t be as much fun.
• Nevertheless, the most important criterion for buying your guitar should be the style of music you plan to use it for. Yes, theoretically you can play any guitar in any style – as Ted Nugent proves by playing loud Rock on an all-hollow archtop (a Jazz guitar) – but if you choose the ”right” instrument for a musical style, it will make things much easier.
Here are some examples of musical genres:
++ Modern Metal: As you’re dealing with large amounts of volume and gain, the best choice would be a solidbody guitar, equipped with humbuckers. Some prefer active pickups, while others like traditional passive designs more. Lead guitarists often go for a model equipped with a locking vibrato system, like a Floyd Rose.
As many bands in this genre use lower than standard tunings, you could consider opting for a seven-string model (which offers an additional lower string), or even go full-out for a baritone electric.
++ Jazz: Most Jazz guitarists like to stay in the traditional sonic space offered by all-hollow archtops or semi-solid ES-335-type guitars. The preferred pickup choices are humbuckers and P-90s.
++ Blues: Blues musicians use a wide variety of different guitars, depending on their personal taste. Here the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with your chosen instrument, in order to express your feelings without being hindered by your guitar. Locking vibratos and active pickups are very rarely seen in Blues music.
++ Country: Traditional Country guitarists tend to drift towards guitar models with a lot of chime and bite in their tone. Very often this means Fender-style single coils or a Gretsch guitar. Over the past couple of decades there’s been quite a lot of crossover from Rock into Country music, though, which has lead to more variety in the choice of instruments in this genre.
++ Classic Rock: Traditional 1970s Classic Rock is built upon humbucker-equipped solidbody guitars, which offer enough grit and output for this genre. Think Les Paul, SG or Telecaster Deluxe.
++ If this is going to be your first electric guitar: If you’re a beginner, we would suggest choosing a model that won’t confuse you with a large array of pickup- and switching-options. A non-vibrato bridge would also be a welcome feature, as vibrato bridges are generally harder to set up and keep in tune.
Set yourself a budget and stick to it!
• It is important that you set yourself a budget for your guitar shopping. If you have a good idea of your target price range, you will be able to sift through all the different guitars on offer much more quickly, by leaving out any models that are too expensive (or too cheap). This will make choosing your instrument a bit easier.