ain’t she sweet?
a sopranino, how cute….. and tuned like a “normal” uke, not an octave higher like the iukes. the combination of both was interesting enough to give it a go. the fact that the whole body and neck are carved from a single piece of mahogany comes as an engineering bonus on top. which is an excellent transition to the
- back, sides and neck: cnc carved from a single piece of mahogany
- soundboard: val di fiemme red spruce (comes from the paneveggio forest, the same wood antonio stradivari preferred for his instruments)
- fingerboard: pear with zero fret; 12 frets with markers on 5, 7, 10 and 12 on fretboard and side
- bridge: pear
- nut & saddle: ebony
- open geared tuners with black buttons
- strings: falcon fishing line for g, e, a (diameters 0.70 0.78 0.57mm) and 1.00mm seaguar fishing line for c
(possible alternative is fremont soprano strings + low g in different order: e=>g, low g=>c, c=>e, g=>a)
- weight: 310g
- length overall: 43cm (~17″)
- upper bout: 10cm
- lower bout: 13cm
- depth: 3cm
- fretboard width: 3.7cm at zero fret
- string spacing: 3cm at zero fret, 3.7cm at 12th fret
- scale: 28.5cm (~11 ¼”) from zero fret to bridge
- serial #177
- tuning like a standard ukulele g4 – c3 – e4 – a4
handmade in italy by marco todeschini of antica ukuleleria
fremont soprano strings are available at southern ukulele store (and probably elsewhere near you).
first hands-on impressions
even though i knew i had ordered a sopranino i was still surprised how small it really was. workmanship is flawless (as you would expect from a mostly handmade instrument), the (literally) solid body shows some nice grain and the oil finish gives a nice decent look and feel to the whole instrument. the neck is relatively fat and heavy with a flat heel, but that is no problem at all. in fact it is an advantage as it gives you good grip and an impression of sturdiness. the body is smaller than my right hand, thus most of the holding comes from the left hand on the neck anyway. and no chance to mount a strap without ruining the complete look…
action is very low (due to the zero fret) without compromising on intonation – it plays like a breeze even though the upper frets are really narrow.
the handmade felt bag gives a little extra protection when the instrument is tucked away in my backpack. without the bag it fits into a cargo pocket of my trekking pants…
according to marco: “a special string setting allows this sopranino model to sound clear and loud to the standard gcea tuning despite the small scale length. the sound is punchy and unexpectedly powerful. the first time i tried it, it reminded me of an old valve radio!”
well, there’s not much to add o that statement. don’t expect too much volume in absolute terms; she is loud compared to the size (or rather lack thereof) but not loud in absolute terms. you can still hear the slightly “scratchy” old radio sound, but it won’t stick out of a bigger group.
my next experiment will be using worth bm strings (as i have just swapped them on the 8string for a set of ko’olau mahana which were highly recommended for the pono by alex of southern ukulele store) – diameters are roughly matching marco’s set as already mentioned above for the fremont strings:
|allegro original||worth medium|
|g4 (0.70 mm)||e4 (0.66 mm)|
|c3 (1.00 mm)||g3 (0.91 mm)|
|e4 (0.78 mm)||c4 (0.74 mm)|
|a4 (0.57 mm)||g4 (0.57 mm)|
in the meantime marco has changed the material – and i am almost tempted to buy another one for a direct comparison: instead of mahogany he now uses cherry or pear….