Travelling with a wooden Instrument

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  • #37988
    sir_anzalot
    Participant

    Hi Guys!

    I searched for a little bit but did not find any Topics for this particular question.

    I’m currently looking for a Soprano Uke to take on trips with me and I stumbled over a lot of Instruments either completely or partially made of Carbon Fiber (outdoor Ukes, flight travel etc.), on the other hand I’ve seen travelling Ukes completely made of wood, but a lot thinner than the average build.

    My question is, is it mandatory or recommended to go with a Uke made with carbon fiber or could I take any Instrument with me without a wooden one being affected (much). Most of the time I do one major Trip of about 3 to 4 Weeks per year and hit a lot of different locations doing so. I personally would favor a wooden one if possible.

    I just wanted to check in with you guys and see if you could give me any input regarding this so that I dont’t buy a wooden Soprano which is rendered unplayable due to humid conditions and what not after one trip. Would be a waste regardless of the money invested.

    Hope you can help me out here 🙂

    Cheers to you
    Andy

    #37990
    lisadmh
    Participant

    I think the wooden travel ukes are more about size/portability than durability. Where are you traveling and how?

    If you’re taking a plane to a moderate climate and staying in a hotel the whole time, wood would probably be fine, with a good solid case. If you’re backpacking, going to the beach, going somewhere humid and somewhere dry, etc., something like an outdoor ukulele would be more durable. It doesn’t sound like wood, but it keeps on sounding like a uke even when it gets wet and bumped around and such.

    #37992
    sir_anzalot
    Participant

    Thanks Lisa!

    Climate actually varies a lot on my trips, which are more backpacking than tranquil hotel vacation. Last year I took my Uke to Borneo and a whole lot of indonesian islands, mostly by boat while playing on deck sorrounded by sea. This year I wanted to take on the trans siberian railway but sadly COVID interfered.

    The only Soprano I own and which I usually take on these trips was the first Ukulele I bought. It was really cheap and in hindsight it didn’t sound good from the start (not that I had realized that then). I neither thought of climate being a problem in the beginning nor do I think it would have really mattered with this one.

    EDIT:
    I forgot to mention that during research on this topic I stumbled across the Flight Travel series and the TUS50 Salamander comes off quite nice. Thoughts on that?

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by sir_anzalot.
    #37994
    rickeymike
    Participant

    Sir, I would prefer to use a wooden uke. Maybe an entry level like the Mitchell soprano that I used in the latest challenge. It only cost $38. I would get a structured hard case to keep it in. Use some anti humidity crystal packets in the case and dry wipe the uke before putting it back in the case. If something goes terribly wrong like dropping it in water, not a huge monetary loss. P.S. If you listen to my performance challenge, don’t go past Melody A……I failed to tune it before playing and it shows in Melody B.

    #37995
    coffeemug
    Participant

    I have a plastic Outdoor Ukulele soprano which I really like. It’s very durable. No, it doesn’t sound like a wooden uke but it does sound like a ukulele. I initially bought it for traveling and camping. Most of the time I leave it in my car. It’s great for traffic jams. When I’m playing it I never think “this isn’t as good as my mahogany uke,” I’m just happy to have a uke to play. I never worry about it getting too hot or wet. (Also no need for a case.)

    Good luck with your decision!

    #37997
    bklynsoul
    Participant

    I’m sorry but I do not know about the Flight or TUS50 but here’s my two cents. I travel with a cheap composite Makala Dolphin uke and I love it because I don’t have to worry much about damaging or loosing it. The sound was meh out of the box but once I put some new strings on it, it sounded pretty good. It’s small enough to fit in my backpack. I don’t put it in a case because that would count against my carry-on limit. I use the thin sleeve cover it shipped with and pad it with my carry on clothing. It totally meets my needs for practicing and playing while traveling. Since the body is composite, I’m not too worried about temp/weather extremes but I haven’t played it in a very hot or humid environment yet.
    My vote is for the carbon fiber/plastic/composite models if you want to off-road with your uke. Like with any purchase, go with the one that sounds good and fits your budget.

    #37998
    kanae926
    Participant

    I have the Flight TUS50 (standard neck, not the new long-neck version). Although it has a laminate walnut top, it still sounds like a plastic uke. It’s small and good to travel with, but that wood top is very thin, so I don’t know how durable it is compared to an all-plastic design.

    #38018
    sir_anzalot
    Participant

    Thanks for the all the feedback guys! 🙂


    @rickeymike

    I’d also prefer a wooden Instrument but I wouldn’t want to unnecessarily expose it to conditions in which it might not be happy in, regardless of the price 😉 Just doesn’t sit right with my principles in regard to throwaway culture, especially if I see means to prevent issues there. The tip with the anti humidity crystals is really good though, thanks!

    As for the Outdoor Ukes @coffeemug mentioned – On the one hand the concept intruiges me, but for the relatively limited use case I have in mind for the instrument I can’t afford nearly 150 Bucks to invest right now. That would actually be me more costly than the concert one I have as my main
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (I’m working towards a better mid ranged on here, but it will still take some time)

    While I am typing this I think I will go for the same Flight TUS50 @kanae926 has. I read some additional reviews about it yesterday which were all quite positive for what it is and to me it seems to be the best compromise between price, sound and travel features (and looks, I’m a vain guy I’m afraid). Seems at least worth to check it out. Durabilty on account of bumping is not my first concern beacause like @bklynsoul I keep it in a lightly padded gigbag sorrounded with extra padding of my clothes inside my backpack while I’m on the road, so I was really more concerned about humidity and temperature issues.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by sir_anzalot.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by sir_anzalot.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by sir_anzalot.
    #38027
    anirbaf
    Participant

    hey, it seems like you’re already decided but anyways I had a flight tus36 and I didn’t like the plasticky feel at all so I got rid of it right away. I’d always prefer an instrument that feels good in my hands but that’s different for different people so maybe you’d like the flight travel ukes. for a long time I had only one uke for everything and everywhere and it was a wooden soprano in a nice bag. I honestly think as long as you don’t sit on it or bath it in salt water you’ll be fine. Nobody thinks about travelling with a plastic guitar either ^^

    edit: I am thinking of a solid top/laminate back & sides model which are less susceptible to temperature changes

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by anirbaf.
    #38029
    kanae926
    Participant

    To add to what @anirbaf said, I like my Flight travel uke the least of all the ukes I own. I realized that I don’t care for sopranos in the first place, but on top of that, the arch back shape of the body makes it especially awkward to hold. I think the new models come equipped with strap buttons to help with that though.

    #38042
    sir_anzalot
    Participant

    I favor concert size a lot more than soprano as well @kanae926. This is just about having a more practical companion for exploring and I don’t plan on learning any complex arrangements on it. Concert is just too big to be carried in a backpack with a weeks worth of stuff beside it though.

    I did order the Flight @anirbaf and it should be here within the week, though I will test it thoroughly and see if it meets my needs and expectations. As it will be the first plastic uke I ever play, I will have to see for myself how it holds up in the end. If it does okay – great! – if not I can still return it and give all this another go. In any case I’ll be sure to get back to about it here.

    Thanks for all your help and thoughts on this guys! 🙂

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by sir_anzalot.
    #38077
    sir_anzalot
    Participant

    So I got the Flight TUS50 yesterday and played a lot on it since then to get a feel for it. I think it checks all my boxes except for the sound which I was a little disappointed in. The Volume is okay but it loses the warmth even my first, cheaply built soprano which I got for 20 bucks on Amazon has – I guess that’s just the difference in between a wooden and a plastic resonator box. BUT, other than that the feel and playability of the instrument are surprisingly nice. I don’t have any issues with the arch back and the ABS Fretboard feels somewhat comfortably “soft”. Also it keeps true to what I fret and play which the other poorly manufactured one does not – I do not know how to say this better in english but in german we have the wort “bundrein” for it (did not find a translation), to roughly translate maybe ‘fret-clean’ would work.

    I am going to sleep on wether I keep it or not, but I lean towards a yes right now, as it sure seems like it is suited well for travelling anywhere with it.

    #38078
    kanae926
    Participant

    You can try different strings if it’s just a matter of sound that you’re not completely convinced of. A great deal of difference can be made just by trying a new set of strings. Also, I’m not a fan of Aquila coming standard on most ukes.

    #38081
    lisamcc
    Participant

    Hi there,
    I have a red flight TUS35 – with the plastic back. I take it with me on trips. Last year we went to Laos and Cambodia. It was super humid and often raining and I had lots of fun with my little uke. The curve makes the structure a bit stronger for backpacking abuse AND if you are travelling in zones which require you wear deet and sunscreen – they are not going to damage the body. I don’t usually play a soprano – and yes, the set up felt weird – but I was happy sheltering from the pouring rain playing some tunes – or entertaining people at busstations when the bus was delayed for 4 hours! I put some living water strings on and it made a big difference too.

    #38083
    sir_anzalot
    Participant

    I stripped my other Ukes of their pre-installed aquilas as well @kanae926. Really like the Worth Clears I put on them but I doubt these would make for much of a difference on the FLight because they are not particularly warm either. I thought about getting a set of the Worth Brown Mellows because these are said to have a warmer tone than the Clears and it might be a good scenario for testing those. Since arriving here I heard much of the living water strings @lisamcc mentioned as well.

    Any of you have directly compared these to one another and would be able give me some pointers regarding tone by any chance?

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