A resonator ukulele offers something different in terms of look and sound compared to its conventional cousins. These instruments use metal as their means of producing sound rather than wood as is the case with traditional instruments. They offer a difference in tonal quality that is attractive for effect and sometimes as a way to offer a player of new means of creating their own, signature sound. They also offer a significant advantage in terms of the volume of the instrument which, as any ensemble player knows, can sometimes be a problem for instruments as soft in voice as is the ukulele.
A resonator uke uses aluminum cones as the means of amplifying the sound. The aluminum cone has a bolder sound to it than does wood and enables the player to be heard above other instruments and ambient sounds. In fact, this technology was first adapted for acoustic guitars to make up for their shortcomings where being heard by a large audience or from within a large ensemble is concerned. This cone allows the player to use more subtle finger techniques and to enjoy the purer tone thereof and to still be heard above other players.
It offers a different tone than do wooden ukuleles, as well. While wooden ukuleles are noted for their soft and pleasant tone, a resonator model is capable of being soft and soothing but also of being very loud and sharp in timbre. This allows for more variation in the player’s repertoire of sound and, especially for very advanced players, can rather avail them of a whole new instrument with which to experiment. There are some significant differences between the conventional methods of playing these instruments compared to how their resonator guitar counterparts are played.
When one sees a resonator guitar played, it is usually flat on the lap of the performer and, more often than not, the notes are not fretted but rather barred by the use of a metal or glass slide. This is not the case with a resonator ukulele. These instruments are generally played in the traditional fashion and the notes are usually fretted. A slide will work but it is not as much a convention with the ukulele as it is with the guitar. There are other means of amplifying an instrument today, electric pickups being the most common and, therefore, a resonator ukulele is usually specifically chosen for its tone rather than for its volume at present.
It offers a new way to play a traditional instrument. While one may never need to take full advantage of the impressive volume which can be produced by these devices, the tone is still something which offers a new mode of expression, even to very experienced players. Of course, such an instrument is something of a conversation piece, as well, and demonstrates that the ukulele is as diverse and as serious an instrument as any other stringed instrument in current use.Return to Home Page
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