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Sporin
06-04-2015, 08:15 AM
Pretty much the title.... Baritone players, was it hard to make the switch?

I know the chord shapes are the same as on a regular uke but the notes are different so I'm thinking it would be relatively easy to adjust.

A buddy is a uke builder and he stopped by last night with the 2 Bari's he built for his twin girls who are graduating high school. They are gorgeous, custom instruments. But aesthetics aside, when I held it in my hands and played it, the size and sound just really felt right in my hands.

So I'm thinking of picking up a cheapie to try out. Any tips?

http://elderly.com/images/books/273/708-39.jpg

bunnyf
06-04-2015, 08:29 AM
I go back and forth on c tuned and d tuned and it's not really hard. It pretty quickly becomes implanted in your head, what chord shape is what chord on each instrument. I play Bari primarily and once in a while a stray gCEA chord will accidentally rear its ugly head in a song I'm playing, but not as often as you'd think. On the plus side, if you're a guy or alto girl, those easy things you play in C but can't sing, become the voice friendly key of G. Also that dreaded E chord is the oh so simple A.
I had a cheapie Lanikai LU-21B for years and it served me well. If you find you want a nicer one later, it becomes a nice beater/beach/campfire uke. Just FYI, I have an old Harmony that I'm parting with, but you can find something like the LU21B used, for a song and I don't think you could go wrong.

Tommy B
06-04-2015, 08:51 AM
I enjoy switching back and forth, and although there's a bit of an adjustment, I think it's good for my middle-aged synapses. I also think it has made me a better uke player in that the baritone has forced me to learn fingerings that I ordinarily would avoid on a gCEA-tuned instrument. For example, to play a song in the not-uncommon key of F on the baritone requires using the same fingerings as if playing a song in Bb on a regular uke. Now that I've gotten those fingering patterns in my muscle memory, it's no problem for me to pick up a gCEA uke and play in the key of Bb. (And this is great for me because a lot of songs in C are too high for my singing voice, so being able to transpose down a step comes in handy.) It's all good.

Brad Bordessa
06-04-2015, 08:55 AM
I've found it to be super hard. Maybe I'm just lazy because I haven't done the time to memorize the names on bari. The only way I get by is thinking of chords as they relate to the root - I IV V - and knowing my home key looks like a ____, but is really not that at all. Great practice though for transposing and musical skills. Go for it - it's a worthwhile adventure! :music:

WCBarnes
06-04-2015, 09:27 AM
I picked up my first baritone about a month ago and it is awesome! I now pretty much only play soprano or baritone. It has taken me about 3 weeks to have the ability to adjust between the different tuning, but now I find it relatively easy. If there is a chord that is not used often I may have to stop and look it up (or think it through in my head) to be sure, but it is not too bad and I figure another month or so and I will have it down.

Another option is to tune your baritone to GCEA. I know Ken Middleton makes Living Waters string sets for GCEA baritone tuning (both linear and re-entrant). I don't know how it would sound, but it is an option.


Just FYI, I have an old Harmony that I'm parting with.

I may be interested. I have been looking for a nice vintage baritone (Favilla, Harmony, Silvertone, etc)

hammer40
06-04-2015, 09:36 AM
Definitely give it a try. As you said, the chord shapes are the same, so it's just a matter of remembering the names. And if you play alone, that doesn't really matter either. It has made me a better player as well, having to get used to the slightly larger fret spacing. Which was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Sporin
06-04-2015, 10:20 AM
Thank you everybody, this is very encouraging!

bariukish
06-04-2015, 01:30 PM
Really not a tough change. I played bari for a couple of years because I had a little guitar (DGBE) experience. Then I got a Boat Paddle tenor and like the sound of it so much that I now seldom pick up the bari. When I first changed from the bari to the gCEA it took about a week of 1 hour sessions to feel comfortable with the new chord names. Now I need to play the bari from time to time. I encourage you to spend the few hours it takes to feel comfortable with both tunings. You'll be glad you did.

SteveZ
06-04-2015, 01:40 PM
I came to ukulele by way of mandolin (GDAE) , tenor guitar and tenor banjo (both CGDA and GDAE, but mainly CGDA). Rather than go through the awkwardness of adding GCEA to the mix, simply retuned the ukes first to GDAE (the E was too screechy) and then settled on CGDA. Now, everything supports each other. Making the instrument adapt to the human just made more sense to me than make the human adapt to the ibstrument. So far, it's worked well.

tangimango
06-04-2015, 02:45 PM
if I had to pick one size ukulele it would be a baritone.
My favorite is the Kala Solid hog version. For some reason its sound so sweet. I also own a custom Pono Bari and Kanilea Bari. But that Kala just amazing for the price range.

kissing
06-04-2015, 02:50 PM
I found the transitiom easy, and now it is the opposite.

I find baritone tuning more versatile and easy

Jim Hanks
06-04-2015, 05:49 PM
I treat the bari (and all my ukes) as a transposing instrument. In other words, I pretend it is a C tuned (GCEA) instrument even if it is not. I currently have ukes tuned in C, Bb, G and A and will probably have a D tuned one soon. I refuse to learn 4 or 5 different names for the same chord shape. 0003 is always a C chord regardless of what uke I am holding. When necessary, I transpose the music to fit the uke, not the other way around.

igorthebarbarian
06-04-2015, 06:47 PM
I'm with Jim in that I don't bother learning / transposing them. I play it as a C regardless. It works/ it sounds good. I don't play with others so no big deal. Also, I should throw out that Ken Middleton Living Water strings makes re-entrant DGBE (high-D) all fluorocarbon strings, which I like and have on a vintage Giannini baritone.
As someone else mentioned, I'm steering towards the extremes too - soprano or baritone.

SteveZ
06-05-2015, 02:02 AM
If key is important, but keeping all transposition formula straight in the speed of play is rough (for me it is) that's why capos exist.

drbekken
06-05-2015, 02:10 AM
I play the piano, which has fixed positions for each scale, or key if you will. That makes it a bit complicated for me to relate to so called transposing instruments on which the same chord shapes give different keys on different instruments. If I have played the soprano exclusively for some time, it takes some mental adjustment to get back to the baritone. It doesn't take that long, but still, I mess up the chords at first.
I also play diatonic accordion at times, and they are the same. I learned to play on a two-row button accordion tuned to G-C, and consequently, playing a C-F messes my brains up. So much for autism, or whatever.

Booli
06-05-2015, 02:20 AM
I enjoy switching back and forth, and although there's a bit of an adjustment, I think it's good for my middle-aged synapses.

The biggest help for me is that I find playing the same 'tenor' fingerings that require a stretch that spans 4+ frets on a bari, makes them so much EASIER when I again pick up the tenor.


Definitely give it a try. As you said, the chord shapes are the same, so it's just a matter of remembering the names. And if you play alone, that doesn't really matter either.

I refuse to relearn the chord shape names for G6 right now (unless I am playing along with others - see below), I just play the same fingerings in G6 as I would in C6. Nobody is listening but me so most of the time it does not matter to me what key I am in, only that I am playing.


Really not a tough change. I played bari for a couple of years because I had a little guitar (DGBE) experience.

When I first started with the ukulele in C6 tuning, it was like I was on another planet for chord names, having played guitar for 35+ yrs, but it took me about a month to unbind the 'guitar brain' from a ukulele fretboard, and develop the vocabulary to name the chords on ukulele in C6 tuning. Now when I pick up the bari, if I 'want to' engage the 'guitar brain', e.g., to play along with an mp3 file of a popular song that I knew on guitar, the chord names and shapes come fast and easy, though some times I get an awkward feeling that 2 bass strings are 'missing' (but then my mind wanders to my U-Bass, and I starting thinking of arrangements that can creatively fill in the sound).


I treat the bari (and all my ukes) as a transposing instrument. In other words, I pretend it is a C tuned (GCEA) instrument even if it is not. I currently have ukes tuned in C, Bb, G and A and will probably have a D tuned one soon. I refuse to learn 4 or 5 different names for the same chord shape. 0003 is always a C chord regardless of what uke I am holding. When necessary, I transpose the music to fit the uke, not the other way around.

I do exactly this too. It's very easy and smooth. Most of my tenors are in Bb, but I always refer to them as C6 to avoid confusion when discussing with others. In Bb I like the tension better and the extended sustain, but I need to put a capo on the 1st fret to play along with YouTube videos, or with other folks in C6 tuning. I find this much easier and better for me than retuning or transposing the chord shapes from C6 to Bb.

SteveZ
06-05-2015, 02:25 AM
I treat the bari (and all my ukes) as a transposing instrument. In other words, I pretend it is a C tuned (GCEA) instrument even if it is not. I currently have ukes tuned in C, Bb, G and A and will probably have a D tuned one soon. I refuse to learn 4 or 5 different names for the same chord shape. 0003 is always a C chord regardless of what uke I am holding. When necessary, I transpose the music to fit the uke, not the other way around.

Jim's technique is quite common among many professionals and very logical. If one ever goes to a rock/folk/country concert and sees several guitars either on stage or shuttled out to performer(s) by a roadie, odds-on the instrument is keyed different than others and only used for tunes done in that key.

anthonyg
06-05-2015, 02:27 AM
My main ukuleles are tenors tuned E,A,C#,F#. Having stated that I don't think about what the chords really are in that key. I'm either playing baritone/guitar chords transposed up 2 semitones or I'm playing standard ukulele chords tuned down 3 semitones.

I kind of have the 2 sets of chords i my head but sometimes I do get confused. Truth be known, when I'm playing a song I have it down pat in my head and I'm playing shapes.

Yes, this is hard if your playing with other people of chord sheets. I have baritones in standard DGBE tuning so I think in that key when playing a baritone.

I don't find it that hard although I do play certain songs on certain instruments. I'm not trying to play songs I've learned in one key and then trying to learn them in another key. Not unless I'm simply transposing the key anyway.

Anthony

Sporin
06-05-2015, 04:21 AM
I've been so happy with my Kala KA-STG for the last year+ that I haven't even looked at other ukes. This one is perfect for me.

My new Baritone jones has me spending time online looking at various models though. Love the looks of this.... Kala KA-SMHB ~ All Solid Mahogany Baritone Ukulele (http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/size/baritone/kala-all-solid-mahogany-baritone.html)

Would be a nice addition to my uke family.

Jim Hanks
06-05-2015, 11:08 AM
In Bb I like the tension better and the extended sustain, but I need to put a capo on the 1st fret to play along with YouTube videos, or with other folks in C6 tuning. I find this much easier and better for me than retuning or transposing the chord shapes from C6 to Bb.
Ah yes, I forgot to mention capo - another great tool to play nice with others.

Farp
06-05-2015, 01:26 PM
This is probably a bit unrelated, but I thought I'd pass it along anyway, along with a couple of comments. I have played the ukulele, 4-string banjo and 6-string guitar since I was 9 years old. That was in 1959. I played through my teens and young adult life, often playing for my self enjoyment for many hours on end, as well as in a folk group, teaching guitar, etc., etc. For various reasons, I didn't pick up an instrument for over 20 years, finally rekindling my interest last year because I wanted to teach my grandkids to play. I purchased a couple of inexpensive baritone ukuleles and starting plinking again, along with teaching one of the more interested GK's. When I tried to remember the fingering for several tunes, I was at a loss; but I just started in plinking away with what I knew. Here comes the interesting part:

I couldn't remember chords, finger positions or transitions for several tunes; and as I started to try and do some of my old favorites, I often was stumped. However, I would restart the song or phrase and see what I could remember. It was during these times, my fingers would progress to the next chord without my thinking about it. It was like I couldn't remember some things, but my fingers did (if that makes any sense). This happened again and again. If I just played away, my fingers would automatically go to the next needed spot--both on the fret board and picking, without me actually remembering what came next. It has been quite an interesting experience--actually shocking at times.

So, here is how I relate it to your original post: Practice makes perfect. Yes, I know you have heard that before; but it's really true. As you are learning a new song, you need to practice perfectly and repeat, repeat, repeat. You will reach a point where you no longer are even thinking about the chords, the fingering, the strumming, etc. Your mind and fingers will eventually work without a conscious thought process. Once you advance that far, the foregoing will make a whole lot more sense to you. I am unable to articulate it any better than the above attempt. And, I will add, I am not a great player; but I enjoy the ride, playing mostly my baritone, but I also have a concert. I find it to be no problem to change between the two, and neither will you as you progress.

On another note, I am mostly a baritone player. Linear tuning is necessary for the style I enjoy playing most with DGBE tuning. And with that tuning, my best playing, or rather, my favorite playing, is mostly done with my own picking style in the key of D. The 4th string, D, is a base note that allows me to do things on the other 3 strings and not have to worry about fretting the 4th for the most part. Again, this is difficult to explain in a sentence or two. I hope to do a couple of videos on the tube as soon as I can get my son to do the taping. My "style," such as it is, is a relatively easy method and it will show why I am into the baritone with linear tuning better than I can express here.

I hope you have found this post helpful...

Tootler
06-06-2015, 07:51 AM
I don't have a baritone, but my tenors are tuned DGBE (reentrant) so same issue.

I am a recorder player so am used to moving between C and F tuned instruments and even between bass and treble clef as well so the idea of learning different names for the same chord shapes wasn't at all an issue for me.

To my mind, the advantage is that I can take a standard chord or or lead sheet written for any C instrument and play it on either a C-tuned or G-tuned ukulele - or even a D-tuned ukulele (one of my sopranos is tuned ADF#B).

Treating the ukulele in different tunings as a transposing instrument does have the advantage that if you find the key a song is in doesn't suit your voice it's easy to play in a different key while still using the set of chord shapes you originally learned for the song. A capo enables the same thing but I find that a capo on a ukulele gets in the way and I have not found a way to hold the left hand that keeps the capo from interfering with my chord fingering - even on a tenor, though I can imagine it might be easier on a baritone. I play a lot around folk musicians where a capo is standard equipment.

k0k0peli
06-30-2015, 07:25 PM
I've been a guitar player for 50 years, a mandolin noodler for 30 years, and a 'uke-ist for two years. Besides accumulating a pile of sopranos and tenors (and finally a concert) I just got a baritone last week. It's cheap, Chinese-made, branded Harmonia, feels impressive, but is rather thin and quiet. Its voice isn't helped by the factory-installed wrong strings. Their replacements (and a piezo pickup) will arrive soon. But for now it's tuned a nice bright F-Bb-D-G. What keys do I play in? The same as usual. I merely pretend I've capoed-up a guitar three frets, no problem.

And yes, I still think in terms of guitar chords, still trying to internalize mandolin chords. But one thing I *won't* do is re-string the baritone in fifths. I bought a mandola (another cheap but louder Harmonia) whose fretboard is about the same size as the bari (their scale lengths are both 19 inches) and my hands don't like making those chord forms on such fret spacings. So for now, the bari is like a quiet little guitar.

mds725
06-30-2015, 08:54 PM
I've played baritone for a while. When I'm by myself, it doesn't matter what key I'm playing in, so if by using tenor uke chord shapes in the key of C I'm playing in G, I don't care (except if it creates vocal range issues). I recently started playing baritone with others who are playing tenors, concerts, and sopranos. At first, I would change the chord letters - if I was supposed to play a C chord on a baritone, I'd write in the letter "F" and pretend I was playing a GCEA-tuned instrument. That's not always a practical solution, though, so now I'm focusing on memorizing the baritone shapes for chords so that when I see a C chord on the sheet music I automatically make the GCEA-uke F chord shape. So far, so good, although I'm not loving the key of F (it's like playing in the key of Bb on a tenor uke).

ubulele
06-30-2015, 11:50 PM
A simpler approach than Bill1's 7-step program:

Learn the sequence BEAD-GCF and (later) its inverse (FCGDAEB). This BEAD order is the "flatter" direction, the FCG order is the "sharper" direction.

You may recognize the FCG order as the order in which sharps are added to key signatures; the BEAD order is the order in which flats are added. The FCG (sharper) order is also the clockwise direction on the circle of fifths, while chords in many progressions resolve in the BEAD (flatter) order. So there are plenty of good reasons to commit these two sequences to memory. For the present purpose, concentrate on the flatter order (which is also easier to remember).

These sequences wrap but with the wrinkle that you either go up or down a half step for the next iteration. Here's the full sequence in "sharper" order:
Fb Cb Gb Db Ab Eb Bb F C G D A E B F# C# G# D# A# E# B#
and in "flatter" order:
B# E# A# D# G# C# F# B E A D G C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb
The transition in accidental is always between F and B, with F being "higher" in terms of accidental.

How does this help you?

When reading lead sheets or lyric/chord sheets (whether for ukes or guitars), on baris play the shape for the next "flatter" soprano chord. For C, you'd play the F shape, for E7 you'd play the A7 shape. Doing this enough, eventually, you'll just start directly knowing the proper bari shapes. And because chord progressions frequently follow this same sequence, once you think of the "E-A" part, your brain is already primed to follow with D, should that part of the song follow the typical resolution: for an Em A7 D progression (cf. BEADGCF), you'd play Am D7 G. Muscle memory patterns you've already gotten down pat playing soprano in the next flatter key will help you out, too.

There is no alteration you need to make when playing guitar lead sheets on soprano. You play exactly the same way you play uke lead sheets. Just ignore any guitar charts (they frequently work on bari, but sometimes they're too incomplete; a bari player would use a different voicing).

Tablature/fingerpicking is another ballpark: only low-G tabs also work well on baris (when they play in a different key). Do not expect reentrant tabs to work on linear instruments, or linear tabs to work on reentrant instruments. And if you must keep the key the same (to play with others or to match your vocal range), you'll have to come up with your own arrangement.

ubulele
06-30-2015, 11:59 PM
Also, if you're noodling on bari and you want to know the bari name for the familiar shape you're playing, remember that bari is "sharper" than soprano. If you recognize the chord shape as a (soprano) C7 chord, on bari it plays a G7 chord; a soprano Eb shape plays Bb (backward in BEAD order or forward in FCG order).

It's because bari is "sharper" that, when reading chord names from a sheet, you play the next "flatter" shape in order to get the chord written.

Name to shape: flatter
Shape to name: sharper

Ken608
07-01-2015, 10:51 AM
Have any of you occasional baritone players who normally play a tenor with GCEA tuning tried Guadalupe Custom Strings (low G) GCEA strings?

The chords are shaped like a tenor but the strings are pitched an octave lower. Reminds me somewhat of a classical guitar sound. Seems to me like a great alternative.

Comments and opinions please. Thanks.

earljam
07-01-2015, 12:47 PM
I'm in the process of learning the bari now since my playing buddy got a Lyle Ritz Jazz Standards book that has bari parts included for playing duets and I found a Vega Arthur Godfrey model bari for $100 in a junk store. I don't find the switch too difficult but the transposing has slowed me down a bit, just need more practice. I'm thinking that if I were allowed only one uke I'd want a 5 string baritone tuned dDGBE and a capo.

Futurethink
07-01-2015, 01:29 PM
Have any of you occasional baritone players who normally play a tenor with GCEA tuning tried Guadalupe Custom Strings (low G) GCEA strings?

The short answer is yes. Type Guadalupe into the Search box here, and you'll find several threads on the subject. Some of them are quite recent.

ubulele
07-01-2015, 02:31 PM
Have any of you occasional baritone players who normally play a tenor with GCEA tuning tried Guadalupe Custom Strings (low G) GCEA strings?

The chords are shaped like a tenor but the strings are pitched an octave lower. Reminds me somewhat of a classical guitar sound. Seems to me like a great alternative.

Comments and opinions please. Thanks.

One of the advantages of playing bari is that you can play the same shapes as for soprano but be playing a fourth lower, which often suits one's voice range better. (I often use a bari and capo just to drop the standard pitch range a step or two rather than a full fourth.) If you drop by an octave, you lose this advantage.

Also, baris are not designed to resonate well in that pitch range. Of course, the advantages of dropping a full octave may, for you, offset these small sacrifices.

drjond56
07-03-2015, 04:15 PM
I started on guitar so the baritone in standard tuning is no problem. Going from guitar to tenor was a different matter. However, I came along as a trumpet player, so I was quite used to transposing. After a little while I was able to transpose the standard guitar or bari shapes to the tenor, and I am sure that you would have a little learning curve going the other way as well, but it is certainly not insurmountable, and, yes, you will be a better musician in the end for all your effort.

mds725
07-03-2015, 10:15 PM
Have any of you occasional baritone players who normally play a tenor with GCEA tuning tried Guadalupe Custom Strings (low G) GCEA strings?

The chords are shaped like a tenor but the strings are pitched an octave lower. Reminds me somewhat of a classical guitar sound. Seems to me like a great alternative.

Comments and opinions please. Thanks.

Rick Turner built me what he calls an "octave ukulele." It's essentially a baritone ukulele that came tuned GCEA an octave lower than tenor ukulele. It has a lower voice than my baritone ukulele but it can be played without having to learn new names for GCEA chord shapes.

Here's a thread started by UU member blue_knight_usa (Jay) about the octave ukulele Rick Turner built for him. There's a link to a sound sample, too.
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?93974-quot-OCTAVE-quot-UKE-Sound-Sample-of-quot-The-Eagle-quot-by-Compass-Rose-Rick-Turner&highlight=eagle+rick+turner%26quot%3B%26quot%3B
The whole thread is a good read on GCEA octave-lower ukes. By the way, I gave Guadalupe Strings a shout-out in post #73.

Here's a direct link to the sound sample.
https://soundcloud.com/ukulele-jay/the-eagle-1st-public-voicing

Coincidentally, Jay and I both began talking with Rick about the concept of an octave-lower baritone at about the same time, and Jay and I have since been able to play our octave ukuleles together and compare notes.