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katysax
05-10-2015, 09:33 AM
I've been messing with my ukes and high and low G strings. It seems to me like tenors almost always sound better with a low G. This is a bit frustrating as a lot of what I play uses high G. I can still make modifications for a low G, but I like to play a lot of stuff that uses the high G string.

It seems like when I take a tenor uke that has a low G and put a high G on it, it loses something. Sometimes to the point that it just sounds wrong. I just haven't found a tenor that is just "wow" when strung with high G. At least for me.

On the other hand, my concerts seem to be "right" with a high G. I try low G and they are OK, but I do have a couple of concerts that are great with high G.

Is it just me? Is there a tenor that comes to life with a high G and loses a lot with a low G?

tbeltrans
05-10-2015, 09:39 AM
I have not experimented with changing high/ow G on my two ukuleles. My concert size Ohta-San came from the factory (Kamaka) tuned low G. My tenor Ko'olau came from the factory (is Ko'olau a "factory"?) tuned high G. I like both as they are. They both seem to "sing", so no need to change that.

Tony

Dan Uke
05-10-2015, 09:58 AM
I think it has a lot to do with body volume, resonance and David Hurd wrote about it. Southcoast Strings also mention it. http://www.southcoastukes.com/tunings.htm

It could be also that our ears are used to hearing a certain sound on the size. It's coincidence that you started this thread as I just put a High G on my MBU this morning and the uke lost its mojo IMO. I'll eventually put the Low G back on it.

janeray1940
05-10-2015, 10:05 AM
I think it all depends on a combination of the uke, and the strings - not to mention personal preference. I think my Kamaka concert sounds great low G with Martin M600s and a Fremont Soloist, and is my main low G player. Before I discovered this magic combination, though, I tried several all-fluorocarbon low G sets and absolutely hated it with low G.

As for tenors - my friend plays a Kamaka HF-3 tenor both low G and reentrant. Sounds great either way, but the sound of it when strung reentrant has been the source of my "tenor envy" for many years - because of the greater volume, that uke sounds better for campanella playing than just about anything I've ever heard.

On the other hand - some time ago when I was considering buying another friend's Martin tenor, I test-drove it both reentrant and low G. Reentrant, it absolutely sang; low G, not so much.

spookelele
05-10-2015, 10:10 AM
I guess it depends on what you mean by better. Sometimes it's just different. Also could be the string set too. Like.. on my pono atsh, I've tried both high and low G versions of the D'addrio carbon. With those strings, I like the high G better because the low G in that tenor set on that uke is quite boomy/overwhelming. But with worth clears on that same uke I like the low g better than the high g.

Kekani
05-10-2015, 10:56 AM
Katy, I don't think that your tenors are necessarily "losing" anything. I think its your ear hearing what a Tenor can do when lower registers are in the tuning. There is also a different set of harmonics (if you go for that stuff), an octave lower actually. I would simply call it more "complex", for lack of a better term.

Think of a 6 string guitar - now play it without the bottom two strings, OR, tune it an octave higher. A 12-string would be a better analogy actually.

So, why wouldn't a Concert come alive with a low G? I would say physics, which would have to do with plate resonance and body size, but I'm just spewing BBT language and really have no clue what I just said. I can mention the obvious - larger bodied instruments sound different than smaller bodied instruments - you finish the rest. . .

katysax
05-10-2015, 11:55 AM
I think it has a lot to do with body volume, resonance and David Hurd wrote about it. Southcoast Strings also mention it. http://www.southcoastukes.com/tunings.htm

It could be also that our ears are used to hearing a certain sound on the size. It's coincidence that you started this thread as I just put a High G on my MBU this morning and the uke lost its mojo IMO. I'll eventually put the Low G back on it.

Daniel, Funny you said that. What prompted this was that my LFDM came with low G Southeast heavy medium. I had a set of high G heavy medium so I switched the low G to a high G and it sounded "wrong". I left it that way for a few days and changed it back. My Moore Bettah has low G because it just isn't the same with a high G. Putting a low G on my Martin or Collings or Mya Moe does not give them the same depth as the LFDM or MB. My Custom Ko'olau left me unexcited when I switched it to high G. I've noticed that when people come over, they always pick whatever is strung as low G tenor as their favorite.

PhilUSAFRet
05-10-2015, 11:56 AM
According to Southcoast, it's more about the scale length. Low g will work on any size uke, but the shorter the scale length, the less efficiently it plays the lower registers and conversely, the longer the scale length, the more efficient......or "deeper" if you will. Of course the size of the body also has a great influence, it's just mostly about the scale length. This may be why, with some players, long neck or "super" sopranos, concerts, or tenors are preferable to them, even when the body volume is more or less equal. Other's may have different views on it.

DownUpDave
05-10-2015, 12:22 PM
The only tenor in my stable that sounds better to me in high G is my Collings UT2. It came string with Savarez low G, wound 4th string. It seemed too warm and muddy to me so I switched out the floros only for Worth CT, still was not what I was looking for. I then added a SC wound third, still not happy. I then put on high G South Coast mediums with a wound third and hit nirvana.

Sam 13 played it with some on the low G sets and agrees that the high G set on there now sounds the best. My Mya Moe is high G with the stock strings and I like the sound. I am leaving that one alone for fear of running down the string changing rabbit hole

I think most people hit the nail on the head regarding the larger body size and longer scale length contributing to low G being optimal on tenors. Tenor is my favorite size and low G my favorite tone.

kypfer
05-10-2015, 01:37 PM
Here's my experience ... FWIW

My Brunswick tenor BU5T sounds great with a set of hi-G Aquilas .... what it was supplied with as it happens ;) It does exactly what I bought it for, making ukulele-type sounds with a little more depth and resonance than my concert or soprano instruments with the advantage of the extra space for four-finger chords up to the ninth fret and beyond :)

I've not tried stringing the tenor with a low G, I bought it for what it is and it serves the purpose admirably!

My Brunswick baritone BU5B is strung in fifths (with a low G) ... this gives me virtually the same range as a 6-string guitar (discounting the three lowest semitones) but with the light-weight build of a ukulele.

From this experience, if I wanted a low-G ukulele in a larger size, I'd go with a baritone and find a string-set to suit the tuning.

At the other end of the scale, again FWIW, I tried a conventionally-shaped soprano with a low-G set and it really didn't do it for me. However, the same set of strings transferred to a Mahalo pineapple worked fine ... all that was needed was a little more body-volume (capacity, not loudness) to emphasise the lower notes :)

As always, YMMV ... but enjoy the trip :)

Ukejenny
05-10-2015, 02:16 PM
We have a tenor with a high G (Gretsch Deluxe mahogany) and one with a low G (KPK acacia). Both sound wonderful. Both are sweet and have nice sustains.

I have a concert with a high G (Cedar Rosewood Ohana) and a concert with a low G (Blackbird Clara). They both sound great. The rosewood on the Ohana really brings out the lower sounds and has a really rich sound. The Clara has an amazing sound and the low G is beautiful.

I think maker and materials plays into it quite a bit. It isn't just about size.

Icelander53
05-10-2015, 03:38 PM
I ended up there too. I really only like low G on my tenors but there is lots and lots of music written for high G. It's a problem. But in songs and the music I usually play it's no problem because the Low G really shines there.

PereBourik
05-10-2015, 06:12 PM
I have Martin tenors, a T2K and a T1K. These are so good in High G that I wouldn't try them in linear tuning. My Pono ATD is way better in low G.

The Martins are almost identical in sound. That surprised me. Makes a T1K a great bargain.

kissing
05-10-2015, 07:55 PM
I am probably not being conventional, but I prefer having my Sopranos and Concert as low G and my tenor as high G.

Since I strum more with high-G, i feel that the higher tension of tenor make the re-entrant chords ring better and brighter. I find sopranos and concerts easier to play finger style, which is what I often do with low-G due to less tension.

Am I being weird?

tbeltrans
05-11-2015, 03:28 AM
I am probably not being conventional, but I prefer having my Sopranos and Concert as low G and my tenor as high G.

Since I strum more with high-G, i feel that the higher tension of tenor make the re-entrant chords ring better and brighter. I find sopranos and concerts easier to play finger style, which is what I often do with low-G due to less tension.

Am I being weird?

Not in this case. :) My concert ukulele is low G and my tenor is high G. So either we are both being weird or two of doing this makes us normal. Of course, there is always that "do your own thing, it is all good...". :)

Tony

SteveZ
05-11-2015, 04:27 AM
All of my ukuleles are low-G, with the baritone, tenor and banjo uke at low-C. All are tuned CGDA, reentrant C or linear. The sopranos and concert are tonally "Low-G GCEA-equivalent" as the CGDA is C4-G3-D4-A4, (low-G GCEA is G3-C4-E4-A4), while the others are "C3" instead.

The sopranos and concert can handle the low-G satisfactorily, but that seems about as low as the instruments can take at that scale and respond decently. That matches with mandolins and mandolas. Mandolins (14 1/4 inch scale) are normally tuned GDAE (G3-D4-A4-E5) and mandolas (20 1/4 inch scale) are normally tuned CGDA (C3-G3-D4-A4). I've tried tuning a mandolin like a mandola and was disappointed with the response.

it seems the shorter the scale length, there is a point where the "deeper" tones don't respond well. Conversely, the reverse doesn't seem true. Tenor banjos (17- fret 20 inch scale; 19-fret 23 inch scale) normally come tuned CGDA, but are often tuned to GDAE for certain genres and take the higher tuning in a tonally acceptable manner.

i once tried tuning a pocket uke (11 inch scale) to CGDA. As most who have pocket ukes have learned, the higher the tuning, the better the pocket uke seems to respond. Try to "go low" and it becomes an exercise in frustration.

wickedwahine11
05-11-2015, 06:49 AM
It's coincidence that you started this thread as I just put a High G on my MBU this morning and the uke lost its mojo IMO. I'll eventually put the Low G back on it.


My Moore Bettah has low G because it just isn't the same with a high G. .

It is interesting to me that both of you felt the MB lost something with the high g. I was planning on trying one out on my MB. May I ask what high g strings you used? I already have a Savarez setup and was just planning on swapping out my Savarez wound low g for a high g option.

Lori
05-11-2015, 07:07 AM
I bought my Kanile'a super concert strung in re-entrant (tenor neck, concert body). Wonderful tone. I then tried it out as a low G, which is what I use the most these days for ensemble playing. It lost part of that really pretty sparkling sound I liked so much, so I switched it back to re-entrant. It is possible a different string choice would change my mind, but I had successes with the Worth low g up to that time, so it was based on that string.

–Lori

NewKid
05-11-2015, 08:07 AM
I always thought I would have a tenor in high G and one in low G but I also found the high G tuning to be significantly weaker in depth of sound to my ears.

However, I love the high G on my Martin soprano and feel like I get the true and pure ukulele sound out of it.

With the jazz standards, rock classics, pop, and classical music I play, my tenors and baritone really do function as little guitars for me. It's feels kind of liberating to write that. I played guitar for 30 years before discovering the ukulele. I don't see myself ever going back to guitar because I love the small size of the uke. And my tenors and baritone are sweet sounding with great sustain. The four strings make so much more sense to me than the six on guitars, and since I primarily play alone, I have all the volume I need for reflective and satisfying play.

Tootler
05-11-2015, 08:37 AM
According to Southcoast, it's more about the scale length.

I suggest you reread that article. It's primarily about body resonance. Dirk is suggesting the optimum tuning is 1 - 3 semitones above the body resonance. String choice only comes into play after that.

I have my Bruko soprano tuned ADF#B. It sounds much better in that tuning than GCEA and that's with the same strings I do like my Flea in GCEA, though.

I'm basically a strummer and reentrant tuning suits me. To me, it's what the ukuleles are about. I don't like tenors in GCEA, though so I have mine tuned dGBE. The G is the same pitch as the G in low G GCEA and they sound good. The Bruko really seems to suit it but the G on my Fluke does "boom" a bit but it sounds great fingerpicked. I like concerts tuned down a bit too. I have mine tuned to Bb. I did try down further to A but they didn't sound right so Bb it is.

katysax
05-11-2015, 08:44 AM
It is interesting to me that both of you felt the MB lost something with the high g. I was planning on trying one out on my MB. May I ask what high g strings you used? I already have a Savarez setup and was just planning on swapping out my Savarez wound low g for a high g option.

I have Southcoast heavy medium on my MB and LFDM. I have just swapped out the low G for a high G from another set when I was trying it out. Same idea as what you are planning to do.

DownUpDave
05-11-2015, 09:23 AM
I always thought I would have a tenor in high G and one in low G but I also found the high G tuning to be significantly weaker in depth of sound to my ears.

However, I love the high G on my Martin soprano and feel like I get the true and pure ukulele sound out of it.

With the jazz standards, rock classics, pop, and classical music I play, my tenors and baritone really do function as little guitars for me. It's feels kind of liberating to write that. I played guitar for 30 years before discovering the ukulele. I don't see myself ever going back to guitar because I love the small size of the uke. And my tenors and baritone are sweet sounding with great sustain. The four strings make so much more sense to me than the six on guitars, and since I primarily play alone, I have all the volume I need for reflective and satisfying play.


Thanks Newkid for one of the most pleasant and liberating posts I have read.

I wanted to be a guitar player but never really got there so the ukulele is "my"small guitar and I am no longer ashamed to say it either. I love the ukulele, it's sound, it's size, it's ease of handling and tension free playing. I have no desire for guitar anymore.

Sorry for the threadjack. As I said tenor and low G for me. I own comcert and soprano but only ever strung re-entrant.

brUKEman
05-11-2015, 12:49 PM
I have a Fluke Concert with a Low G which I love the sound of. Was not a fan of low G until I came across this one.

Dan Uke
05-11-2015, 12:54 PM
It is interesting to me that both of you felt the MB lost something with the high g. I was planning on trying one out on my MB. May I ask what high g strings you used? I already have a Savarez setup and was just planning on swapping out my Savarez wound low g for a high g option.

I have Southcoast on them but I switched out a wound Low G with a Worth High G.