Scott Wise Ukulele FAQ Page 1
We have been stocking (and selling quite a few of) Scott Wise’s ukes for four years now and they sell themselves in many ways. They look great and sound superb so uke buyers who really want the best can quickly tell that a Wise uke is the real deal…but why is it the real deal. Scott’s website has a knowledgeable (what else would you expect?) coverage of what makes a fine ukulele and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me quoting from him here. So if you are considering buying a Scott Wise uke, or you are looking for a topline uke or you simply want to know more about the construction of these lovely instruments here’s a four page FAQ from a world expert…
The soprano ukulele
What is known as the soprano ukulele nowadays is often called the “standard” ukulele in Hawaii. This small, short scale instrument was the original ukulele. It is tuned GCEA or a tone higher at ADF#B. The model I use is copied from a Kumalae ukulele from the 1920s, which in turn seems to be a close replica of the original ukuleles made popular by Manuel Nunes who was one of the first ukulele makers in Hawaii. Nunes, a cabinet maker and younger brother of Madeira’s most famous luthier, Octaviano Nunes, is said to have adapted the small Portugese instruments, machete or braguinha and the rajao to make the first ukuleles.
Utilising very similar body dimensions and scale length, my soprano ukulele is a little different to the old original instruments. Like them, it is very lightly built but has some differences which enhance its sound, intonation and longevity…..an ebony fingerboard, a compensated bridge for correct intonation, “Peghead” geared tuners for ease and accuracy of tuning, a cylindrical arch in the top which allows for a finer graduation of the top thickness, making the instrument more responsive and helps prevent cracks due to humidity variation.
A unique arch in the back, formed before the back is joined and reinforced by a single lightweight arched laminated brace running along the seam. This gives the back the ability to both support lower frequencies and also enhances projection of sound in all directions. As there is no transverse brace in the back it can handle shrinking and expanding across the grain with humidity fluctuations. This feature is my own design and is currently unique to my soprano ukuleles only. It produces a very rich, rounded tone for such a small instrument and a wonderful rhythmic “pulse”.