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RiotNrrd
09-22-2014, 04:09 PM
I stopped by GuitarFish Music this evening on my way home from work to pick up a... peg winder?... I don't actually know the technical name, but the spinny gizmo that helps you put strings on.

While there, of course, I took a look at their ukuleles. In amongst the stock, they had one baritone. This was the first baritone ukulele I've seen, although I only got to play with it for a moment. It was a Makala, which I understand is a low-end brand, but it had a really nice, very guitarish sound, and it seemed easy enough to play. I can see where someone might easily mistake it for a small guitar rather than a ukulele.

It was not tuned like a baritone, however. It had just a regular low-G tuning; i.e., my soprano chords worked just fine. Now, I don't know if this is because the person who tuned it didn't know any better, or if this is an acceptable tuning.

My question is, do people do this? Do people tune baritones like non-baritones often, or is there a very good reason for the standard baritone tuning that I would have found out if I'd played with it longer? I mean, I thought it had a very nice, deep, rich tone. But... in practice would it be too muddy, or boomy, or too low pitched, or too...?

Anyway, if baritones really do, as a practical matter, require a tuning which requires the learning of a whole different set of chord shapes, then I'll probably take a pass on baritones. At least, for the time being. I have plenty of shapes to learn with the gCEA tuning. But if not, I did like the deeper tone. I just don't know if it'll work with the tuning I actually know.

Down Up Dick
09-22-2014, 04:33 PM
RiotNrrd, Baritones are normally tuned to Lo-DGBE or Lo-GCEA. The DGBE chords are all fretted the same as the other Ukes, but the names of the chords are different. For instance 0003 is G on a Baritone but C on the other Ukes. If one plays "regular" chords on a DGBE Baritone, it'll sound all right, but he'll be in a different key. The Baritone strings are the same as the top four strings of a guitar. :old:

Jim Hanks
09-22-2014, 04:40 PM
If it sounded deeper than your soprano, then it was almost certainly lo-DGBE. As DUD says, the same chord shapes will work. It is possible to tune a baritone lo-GCEA but you need different strings - tension would be very high (perhaps dangerously so) if you tried to tune the normal DGBE strings up to GCEA.

RiotNrrd
09-22-2014, 05:12 PM
I admit to total newbiehood. I didn't realize that the same chord shapes would work. I now know.

I also now know I want a baritone.

itsme
09-22-2014, 05:21 PM
I stopped by GuitarFish Music this evening on my way home from work to pick up a... peg winder?... I don't actually know the technical name, but the spinny gizmo that helps you put strings on.
It's usually just called a string winder. Everyone should have at least one in their arsenal, just like if you have multiple ukes, it's handy to have more than one clip-on tuner. :)

I know people often fit baritones with non-standard tuning. But to me, DGBE is what makes it a baritone. Like DUD said, the shapes are the same, you're just playing in a different key.

bunnyf
09-22-2014, 07:17 PM
Riotnrrd, go for the bari. I love mine. If you are playing by yourself, it won't matter what key you are playing in, except you may find that if, for example, you are used to playing something in the key of C, as Down Up Dick said, you will now be plaing in G, if you use the same chord shapes and you may or may not like that key for singing. I find often that stuff written in the so-called people's key ( of C), is not singable for me, it's much too high (and too low, if I try to drop down an octave). Without bothering to transpose, I can just grab my baritone and play it in G and often the key is just right for me. If you are playing with others though you will have to learn different names for the same shape, like C is G, and D is A, E is B, F is C( just count up 5), etc. The nice thing is that the dreaded E chord is easy on the bari (it's the A shape). I, personally, use DGBE tuning on my bari, re-entrant dGBE on my tenor, low G (GCEA) on my concert, and high G (gCEA) on my soprano. Like Jim said, the Bari is more mellow with DGBE tuning, but if you play with others regularly and find it too confusing to remember the different chord names ( it can be at first, and you may play the occasional wrong chord but it does get easier) you can get special GCEA strings ( I think Aquila has them, also prob. Living Waters and others). It won't sound quite as mellow but still more mellow than yoUr other smaller ukes.

igorthebarbarian
09-22-2014, 08:20 PM
Yeah, I don't even bother "learning" the new chords. I just play C as C even though it's G. If you're playing solo, it's all good. It's a more mellow sound and I like it too.
And for some reason, baritones are usually a lot cheaper $-wise than tenors.



I admit to total newbiehood. I didn't realize that the same chord shapes would work. I now know.

I also now know I want a baritone.

kypfer
09-22-2014, 09:07 PM
RiotNrrd wrote :
My question is, do people do this? Do people tune baritones like non-baritones often, I don't know about often, but I found strumming chords on a DGBE-tuned baritone sounded just too much like a guitar to be "different". However, tuned GDAE, like a mandolin, but an octave lower, is a whole different game :music::cool:

SteveZ
09-23-2014, 03:13 AM
RiotNrrd wrote : I don't know about often, but I found strumming chords on a DGBE-tuned baritone sounded just too much like a guitar to be "different". However, tuned GDAE, like a mandolin, but an octave lower, is a whole different game :music::cool:

Being a non-traditionalist, I tune all my 4 and 8 string instruments to the same tuning (GDAE or CGDA, depending on the mood). That way my brain-finger linkage only has one pattern to work, and playing each instrument reinforces the skill for the others. Bottom line is, do whatever feels good with the instrument and don't worry about the "music police" coming after you....

river_driver
09-23-2014, 04:05 AM
I admit to total newbiehood. I didn't realize that the same chord shapes would work. I now know.

I also now know I want a baritone.

RiotNrrd, if you are serious about wanting a baritone, consider finding a c.1950's Harmony (or Silvertone). These are all solid mahogany, made in Chicago back in the day when (1) mass market consumer goods were still made in the USA, and (2) mass market consumer goods were excellent quality. The best part, one probably won't cost you a heck of a lot more than that Makala.

There have been a couple posted in the Marketplace recently (within the last month, I think). I don't know if they've sold yet.

strumsilly
09-23-2014, 04:31 AM
RiotNrrd, if you are serious about wanting a baritone, consider finding a c.1950's Harmony (or Silvertone). These are all solid mahogany, made in Chicago back in the day when (1) mass market consumer goods were still made in the USA, and (2) mass market consumer goods were excellent quality. The best part, one probably won't cost you a heck of a lot more than that Makala.

There have been a couple posted in the Marketplace recently (within the last month, I think). I don't know if they've sold yet.
Just make sure you know who you are buying from and ask lots of questions. I have bought several Harmony bari off ebay that were unplayable [warped necks, really high action] and would have cost more to fix then they were worth. That being said, the US made vintage mahogany baritones [Martin,Gibson,Favilla,Harmony,Vega]] are great sounding instruments. and all except the Martin and Gibson are very affordable. Also be aware that there really wasn't a standard scale length and they vary from about 19-21 inches. How to tune for best tone can get complicated. I once had [sold to my son-in-law] a vintage no=name that was built like a tank and sounded really dull. I put Aquila strings for a BARI for GCEA tuning, and WOW, it totally changed it into a really nice sounding instrument. I have 4 baritones, and my favorite ukulele is a Favilla tuned GCEA with Southcoast lights. sometimes tuning an instrument up or down from the " normal" tuning will find it's sweet spot and the tone will sparkle. for a great tutorial on tunings I suggest wandering through Southcoast strings website. Dirk is very knowledgeable and is a member here on UU.

Doug W
09-23-2014, 04:32 AM
I don't actually know the technical name, but the spinny gizmo that helps you put strings on.


Spinny gizmo is the technical name, sometimes referred to as twirly thingy.

VegasGeorge
09-23-2014, 04:54 AM
If you're used to singing while you play your GCEA Uke, then you may find that the DGBE Baritone tuning throws you either too high or too low for your vocal range if you use the same chord shapes. In that case you would want to learn your tunes in a different key for playing on the Baritone, or install a set of GCEA strings to get you back to your familiar key. My understanding is that a GCEA set of Baritone strings sounds an octave lower than a GCEA strung Soprano. Would someone who knows about that for sure either confirm or refute that notion? Thanks!

strumsilly
09-23-2014, 05:07 AM
If you're used to singing while you play your GCEA Uke, then you may find that the DGBE Baritone tuning throws you either too high or too low for your vocal range if you use the same chord shapes. In that case you would want to learn your tunes in a different key for playing on the Baritone, or install a set of GCEA strings to get you back to your familiar key. My understanding is that a GCEA set of Baritone strings sounds an octave lower than a GCEA strung Soprano. Would someone who knows about that for sure either confirm or refute that notion? Thanks!
refute, but you usually tune a soprano gCEA, high g, so just the G is an octive lower.

RiotNrrd
09-23-2014, 03:49 PM
Well, I picked up the Makala on my way home from work. The price tag said $115. The best price I could find on the internet was $82.99, so I called the place up to see if they would match it. When the guy answered, I asked if they still had the baritone - the one priced at $115? He said yes, they did, but the price was actually $80. The $115 was just the "suggested retail price", but that wasn't their price. In a smaller font under the $115 it gave the $80 price, which I hadn't noticed.

So... yeah. I told him I'd be over to pick it up.

I gave it a good half hour play when I got home. It sounds fantastic (to my ears). A little boomy because of the lowest string, but I think that's the sort of thing that some practice will resolve - I'm playing it like a soprano, and it's very much not a soprano.

RiotNrrd
09-23-2014, 03:52 PM
Also, after a half hour of the baritone, I picked up the Dolphin and played it for a moment.

Man. You put those two back to back like that, and the stock strings on the Dolphin sound unbelievably plinky. I've got to change those strings.

ubulele
09-23-2014, 04:24 PM
If you're used to singing while you play your GCEA Uke, then you may find that the DGBE Baritone tuning throws you either too high or too low for your vocal range if you use the same chord shapes. In that case you would want to learn your tunes in a different key for playing on the Baritone, or install a set of GCEA strings to get you back to your familiar key.

An excellent reason to have a G-tuning baritone (or tenor) is to be able to play arrangements for C tuning which are too high or (much) too low for your vocal range, without transposing the chords as written or tuning your standard uke downward. Baritone is like a C-tuned uke capoed at the seventh fret or above (something you'd never do in practice), but thankfully sounding an octave lower and with a lot more space between the frets. With C tuning, G tuning and a capo, you can almost pick your key, though there will still be a couple where transposition is all but required. For best results, though, the bari tuning (reentrant or linear) should match the mode the arrangement was really scored for—a good reason to get two.

backwoodsmark
03-08-2015, 08:10 PM
I usually tune the baritones I make to Gcea, but decided to try one in lowDgbe like the guitar. I used Aquila baritone strings. the strings just seem too loose, floppy and buzzy. a client would like her baritone tuned to Dgbe but this is discouraging. could it be the uke? it has a cedar top and Honduran mahogany b&s. I have heard of people using classical guitar strings that were heavier. what are your thoughts on this?

sryoder
03-10-2015, 07:33 AM
Another great reason to own a bari, and the reason I got mine, was to make it easier to play along with guitarists when doing a song that I haven't got the chords memorized. Now I can just follow their chord shapes rather than trying, on the fly to recognize that they're playing an A and then figuring out that that means I need to play a D and getting it done before they go to the next chord.

Whoops, screwed that up. What I mean is that is ee the guitarist playing an A and rather than mimicking his chord shape and playing a D, I need to recognize his shape, realize that it's not a D, and instead, play an A. All on the fly. Easier to use a baritone.

Patrick Madsen
03-10-2015, 08:43 AM
Try a set of Southcoast HL-SW's. They are higher tensioned and sound great. For myself, C tuning on a baritone just didn't drive the soundboard like a lower tuning does.

Phluffy the Destroyer
03-10-2015, 11:27 PM
Last summer I had a Rogue baritone strung with low G tenor strings. Sort of a "super tenor". It actually sounded pretty nice.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up another Rogue bari, and thought I would try the baritone gCEA strings by Aquilla. They're nylon with no wound strings, which was a bit of a surprise. They're low tension, so playing them is a little Raggedy Andy. Frankly I don't think they're worth a whooping fundt for strumming, but they have an interesting sound for picking. This is a little experiment in trying to incorporate the way the strings slap against the fret board...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NAGZaj6ekg