Frequently Asked Electric Ukulele Questions:
Why Electric Ukuleles?
Why Not? I’ve been playing and listening to the ukulele for many years now, and it has totally captured my heart. I am also a long time fan of the work of Leo Fender and in some small way I wanted to do for the ukulele what Leo Fender did for the guitar. I love the sound of an ukulele played traditionally or with a pop twist, but I also think that with more texture and more tonal variety, the ukulele can be a more versatile tool for singer songwriters and musicians. The steel strings and solid body of our ukes honor the traditions of the ukulele, but give it a new twist, allowing musicians to take their craft to another level.
What’s the difference between a tenor concert, and soprano ukulele?
Traditionally, ukuleles come in 4 sizes – soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone – the first 3 of which are all tuned the same (gCEA), but have different scale lengths (the string length from the nut to the bridge). A concert scale can be a little bit small for most hands and a baritone is tuned just like the top 4 strings of a guitar (DGCE), so except for custom orders we focus on concert and tenor scales.
Our concert ukuleles have a 15 inch scale length to create a bright compact instrument. This size is great for musicians with smaller hands or musicians on the go – I actually have quite large hands and often play a concert scale because I like the compact feel. It also makes stretches for melody notes down the fingerboard easily accessible.
Our tenor ukuleles have a 17 inch scale length which gives the instrument a more airy feel. The extra space makes complex chord shapes easier, while still keeping stretches short. The tenor scale length is a great choice for most musicians as it creates a great balance between space on the fingerboard and compactness, while keeping notes bright all the way up the neck
For our pineapple ukuleles we use a soprano+ scale of 14.3 inches, not quite a concert, but more room than a traditional soprano at 13.5″. This is our most compact instrument, but still has a big voice and is a blast to play.
What strings do I use for my electric ukulele?
All of our ukuleles are designed to accept standard ball end electric guitar strings. Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t package string sets for electric ukulele. I stock sets of SIT strings for each of my three standard scale lengths, but if you are in need of a set of strings and don’t want to order any good guitar store stocks single strings. It is important to get the correct string gauges for a number of reasons. It will help protect your neck from warping by keeping the correct amount of tension on the instrument. In addition it will help keep the string tension balanced across all strings, creating superior tone and feel. My standard strings are balanced to be a “light” gauge set.
Tenor: .0115 .015 .019(plain) .028 (the .0115 can be a harder string to find. a .012 works well too)
Concert: .013 .017 .024 .032
Soprano: .014 .018 .024 .036
What if I want to use medium strings?
Some players like strings that are a little bit heavier on their instruments. If you would like to give medium strings a go try the following gauges:
Tenor: .012 .016 .020(plain)* .030
Concert: .014 .018 .026 .034
Soprano: .014 .019 .026 .036
Note that even .001 inch of string diameter can make a huge difference in the amount of tension on your instrument’s neck. I recommend these sets as the maximum string gauges for your Joyner Uke.
*For a tenor set you could also use a .022 wound string for the C string
How often should I change my strings?
The easiest answer is once every whenever they need it. The more complex answer is it depends. If your strings develop flat spots where the frets are or have corrosion or discoloration, it’s probably time to change the strings. You can run a fingernail under your strings to check for flat spots. Fresh strings will help maintain consistent tuning and the bright sound you’re used to hearing from your Riverbend Instrument, so if you’re wondering if it’s time to change strings, it is!
What kind of Amp should I use?
Any guitar amp will work great with your Riverbend Ukulele. I have really enjoyed experimenting with smaller battery powered units so I can take them on the go, but if a Marshall half stack or a vintage Fender tube amp is more your style, feel free to rock!
Do you make custom instruments?
Absolutely! Whether you want special woods for your instrument or a double neck Ukulele/Bass, feel free to send us an email with your ideas or questions or check out our custom instruments page. We love custom designing!
What if I want a 5 string or a...?
Send me an email! I have created 5 string “baritenor” ukuleles and they are a blast to play. I love working with you to create the instrument you have been dreaming about.
How do I care for my instrument?
At Joyner Instruments, we believe in playing the heck out of your instruments and letting the love show! Our recommendation is if your instrument gets a scratch or ding, wear it with pride. That being said, a wipe down with a soft cloth after use and a polish or cleaning every once in awhile with a high quality instrument polish will keep your instrument looking great!
How should I store my Instrument?
The safest place to store your instrument is in it’s case, but I prefer hanging my instruments on the wall so I have easy access. Avoid instrument stands except in the case of a performance as they are easy to knock over.
How do you pronounce Ukulele?
Most people on the mainland refer to our favorite guitar like instrument as a yoo-ka-lay-lee, but in the Hawaiian language it’s actually pronounced oo-koo-lay-lay. Read the full story about how to pronounce Ukulele and why on our Stories page.
Whats with the butter knife?
If you’ve ever taken the neck off of your Riverbend Ukulele, you may have noticed a small butter knife with a date and signature. The butter knife is our sign of quality and authenticity, derived from an off hand remark that Adam would rather Jam than Rock. Read the full story on our Story’s page.
How do I become a sponsored Joyner Instruments Artist?
We appreciate your interest! Please send us an email telling us about yourself to be considered. Include videos and/or audio so we can see what you do!
What's a Joyner?
After doing business as Riverbend Instruments for two years, my brand had grown and changed and it felt like the right time for the name to change with it. I wanted to incorporate a little bit of family heritage into my brand as an homage to the great guitar builders and innovators like Fender, Gibson, and Martin. William ‘The Joyner’ Poole was the patriarch of the family, born in Virginia in 1704. A Joyner was a fine craftsman, more skilled than a carpenter, so it felt like a natural fit (not to mention virtually every other family name on both sides was already taken).
Wait, then what's Riverbend Instruments?
Riverbend Instruments was our original name. We’re based in Bend Oregon, a town named after the bend in the river that runs through. After a couple of years of developing the electric ukes, the business grew and changed and it felt like the right time to Re-brand, using a name based on family history. Riverbend Instruments was an amazing start to the business and Joyner will carry it on.