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View Full Version : What are the best tenors tuned high G?



katysax
07-26-2015, 11:48 AM
Is there anything in a tenor that tuned to high G has the depth, the sparkle, the resonance, the sustain etc of a truly spectacular ukulele.

In my experience my MB and LFDM are as good as they come in a ukulele but I have them tuned to low G and when I tried both of them with high G they came down to earth. My Ko'olau is almost as good when tuned low G, and it loses a bit when tuned high G (which is where I keep it because it is still pretty darned good). My Collings UT2 is probably the best tenor I've tried with a high G (and that one loses when you put a low G on it).

I've tried Mya Moe, Martin, Kanilea, Koaloha, various Collings, Kamaka, etc and they are all good in their way but they don't have the X factor of the very best ukes that I've played.

Is there anything in a tenor that is really really great, like Moore Bettah level great, when tuned to a high G. Is there anything obtainable that fits that description? Say with a price up to $5000?

Nickie
07-26-2015, 12:20 PM
5 Grand? Katy did you hit the lottery?

DownUpDave
07-26-2015, 12:31 PM
I don't think there is a uke out there that is that spectacular in high G as your stated standard.

My Collings UT2 strung with South Coast mediums with a wound third is head and shoulder better than any other high G I habve ever heard. The wound 3rd really gives it more bass and resonance. Give that a try on yours and see what you think

kypfer
07-26-2015, 12:39 PM
My Brunswick BU5T tenor is absolutely perfect in hi-G tuning with it's original Aquila strings. I bought it for it's looks but I'm totally satisfied by it's performance ... so much so that I bought it's matching baritone stablemate, though that is strung/tuned in fifths with what is effectively a (very) low-G, an octave below "conventional" ukulele low-G tuning.

They cost an equivalent of a little over $100 each !! :)

katysax
07-26-2015, 12:46 PM
Yes my Colling UT2 is strung exactly like that and it is the best uke I've experienced in high G. However, it's not quite there with the best of the low G ukes tenors that I've tried and I wish that it joined at the 14th or 15th and no 13th fret.

I have an LFDM on order with the request that it be specifically be built to be tuned high G, but I'll have to see it live before I know how it works out.


I don't think there is a uke out there that is that spectacular in high G as your stated standard.

My Collings UT2 strung with South Coast mediums with a wound third is head and shoulder better than any other high G I habve ever heard. The wound 3rd really gives it more bass and resonance. Give that a try on yours and see what you think

Camsuke
07-26-2015, 12:56 PM
I'm a big fan of low G tuning or at least linear tuning. Not necessarily tuned to C, more often I use B or Bb for tenors.
Saying that, I have a Kanle'a that I've always played in reentrant tuning and don't think I'll ever change it.

https://youtu.be/6zHkKTH8Cyg

NatalieS
07-26-2015, 01:04 PM
I'll second Kanile'a for high G. I've had two tenors that I stubbornly tried to keep in low G. They simply sparkle and sing in high G, which is where they will stay. I find that d'Addario T2 and Living Waters strings sound best.

Booli
07-26-2015, 01:40 PM
Not to be a smart-aleck, but the best uke for whatever you want to do, is the ONE you have in hand, and will actually PLAY.

Many folks have nothing to compare to, and using online videos are a trap unless you have pro $100+ headphones or are using 'studio monitor' speakers, as ALL OTHER headphones and speaker are designed to 'color' or enhance certain frequencies and should not be trusted, and least trusted should be garden-variety ear-buds and laptop/tablet speakers.

Sorry I can't actually recommend anything specific. :shaka:

stevejfc
07-26-2015, 01:48 PM
A 3rd vote for Kanile'a high G. Try with some Living Waters or Southcoasts

katysax
07-26-2015, 03:42 PM
I owned a Kanilea tenor and sold it. I don't like the wide fretboard. I think Kanilea is very good, even excellent but on a par with many other very good ukes and not as good as my Collings UT-2. I also have a Kanilea concert that I play a lot; the wide fretboard is a plus in the concert for me. All of the K brands make excellent tenors.

To some degree I think i am looking for a depth of body to the sound that maybe only exists in tuning a tenor with linear tuning.

This is about the playing experience more than how it sounds to someone else. I think that there are many very good ukuleles out there and that every one of the K brands along with the Pono pro classics, Martins, Mya Moes and many others are plenty good. It's about how it feels in your hand, feels in your body and vibrates with your soul. I realize that no one can tell me what uke will have this feeling. I have four ukes that to me stand out above all the others that I own. I've tried a few ukes that friends own and occasionally found one that blew me away. I'm wondering if it is possible to have this "je ne said quoi" in a reentrant tuned tenor. Perhaps linear tuning is the natural voice of the tenor. Both my MB and LFDM completely lose their depth of character when I use reentrant tuning on them.

To be clear I'm not dissatisfied with what I have nor am I necessarily looking to buy anything. I just want to know if my unicorn exists.

strumsilly
07-26-2015, 03:56 PM
My ear adjusts to the instruments I play the most, which are a Koaloha tenor [low G]and a favilla bari tunedlow G with southcoasts. When I play another [fine] uke strung high G, it doesn't have the full tone [wider frequency range] I've been used to . Play a high g uke exclusively for a week and low g may sound muddy.

mm stan
07-26-2015, 03:59 PM
Aloha Katy,
When you say you want high end customs and the whole package, they are like any other ukes
Per se, in the luck of the draw...because the many variations in the building process
Best bet is you buy a custom off the rack as you can play it first and know how it feels and sounds
Before you drop the cash. You will probably pay more through a dealer but it is well worth the guarantee
If you dropping 5 grand, you certainly can hop on a plane and try what you like. It's the only way,
Believe me..

southcoastukes
07-26-2015, 04:50 PM
Is there anything in a tenor that tuned to high G has the depth, the sparkle, the resonance, the sustain etc of a truly spectacular ukulele.


Hello katy,

Simply stated - no; at least by your definition.

It's not the instrument, it's the tuning. If you want the depth of a Linear tuning and the high end sparkle of a Linear tuning, the only way to get it is with a Linear tuning.

More depth on an Ukulele reentrant Tenor is something we get asked about all the time. The answer is easy - just tune down. But when you tune down, your high string note goes down as well. In other words, you've found your depth but lost your sparkle.

Reentrant tuning is the ideal solution for responsive strings on short scales / small bodies. It's not that it doesn't also work well on larger Ukuleles, but you'll start to give up something on one end or the other. If you want both depth and a bright high end, then a reentrant tuning on a bigger Ukulele can never give it to you. Or to put it another way - "can't have your cake and eat it too".

hollisdwyer
07-26-2015, 05:02 PM
This is a tough question particularly for me who really prefers low G on my tenors. The only uke I currently have that is tuned reentrant is my Mya Moa Koa/Bearclaw Sitka cut away which sounds much better strung high g instead of low g. I have and have had some very nice instrument over the past year but my MM Koa/Sitka has been the best sounding reentrant of them all.
Also, not that I'm that experienced or a particularly competent player but I think certain songs sound better played with a reentrant strung instrument. Liking low g so much I even tried it on my DaSilva Martin 3K repro with low g and it was just so wrong. I quickly returned it high g.

Camsuke
07-26-2015, 05:09 PM
This is a tough question particularly for me who really prefers low G on my tenors. The only uke I currently have that is tuned reentrant is my Mya Moa Koa/Bearclaw Sitka cut away which sounds much better strung high g instead of low g. I have and have had some very nice instrument over the past year but my MM Koa/Sitka has been the best sounding reentrant of them all.
Also, not that I'm that experienced or a particularly competent player but I think certain songs sound better played with a reentrant strung instrument. Liking low g so much I even tried it on my DaSilva Martin 3K repro with low g and it was just so wrong. I quickly returned it high g.

Well said Hollis, I think ultimately the instrument tells us what is best.

k0k0peli
07-26-2015, 05:23 PM
Per se, in the luck of the draw...because the many variations in the building process
Best bet is you buy a custom off the rack as you can play it first and know how it feels and sounds Before you drop the cash. Quite. The sounds of instruments off the same handcraft production line can vary tremendously. It's not like camera lenses, where I can be pretty sure that one M42 Tomioka 55/1.4 is about the same as the next. High-end hand-built instruments will all have individual quirks. My suggestion: Ignore brands and models. Go to music shops and play everything. Visit luthiers and try their products. If something sings to you, you'll know it. That's how I got my KE Coleman Celtic mandolin -- I played everything in several states and found one that was just right, from a guy who spent three months crafting it.

southcoastukes
07-26-2015, 05:31 PM
Well said Hollis, I think ultimately the instrument tells us what is best.

Hello Cam! Not to be too cute about it, but what the instrument will tell us is that it's a Tenor.

Just to be clear, I don't want to say that Reentrant tuning is out of place on a Tenor. But a Linear tuning simply has a wider range than a Reentrant tuning. If I understood the question as katy framed it, she was looking for both depth and high end. Reentrant tuning is "closed", in other words, it has a narrower range than a Linear set-up. It's simply impossible for a reentrant tuning to give both the depth and the bright high end of a linear tuning.

But thousands of players (and some very successful ones at that) play reentrant tunings on a Tenor with brilliant trebles and little regard for depth. Others tune down and love the deeper low notes combined with mellower highs. However if you want both depth and a bright high end, as it seems katy does, you'll need a Linear tuning to do it on a Tenor.

southcoastukes
07-26-2015, 06:22 PM
Hello Cam! Not to be too cute about it, but what the instrument will tell us is that it's a Tenor.

Sorry Cam, you're right. There are some Tenors that just can't handle a g note well. It's right on the edge of a Tenor body resonance. For those Tenors, the only option is to avoid that note, and if you're tuning to Key of C, then play the reentrant form with those instruments.

But the builders Katy listed have all taken that note into account - all those builders make Tenors that don't "boom out" on a g note. As such, she'll still need the Linear set-up for both depth and brilliance.

Tuning to C all the time leads to some unusual situations, such as reentrant tuning being the best option on the smaller Ukuleles and Linear tuning then coming into play as the scale and body size increases. Not a firm and fast rule, but something to think about when selecting an instrument and a style of play.

katysax
07-26-2015, 06:28 PM
I think that Dirk is hitting on where my thinking has gone. I'm really not shopping for another tenor, but I am wondering whether a tenor really is the best vehicle for reentrant tuning. I don't generally like linear tuning on a concert - but it can go either way. I hate - for my playing - linear tuning on a soprano. I don't think it's an accident that the two ukes that have it all to me and are tuned reentrant are a concert and a soprano.

It's not that reentrant is bad on a tenor - its just that even the best tenor with reentrant seems to be missing something that is there with linear tuning. The thing is that a lot of things that I play don't necessary work with a linear tuning. Some do, some don't. Maybe the combination of depth and sparkle that I want doesn't exist on a tenor with reentrant tuning. It's not that reentrant tuning is "wrong" or bad on a tenor, but I haven't found it to have that certain something that can be found on a great tenor tuned linear.

southcoastukes
07-26-2015, 06:41 PM
... I am wondering whether a tenor really is the best vehicle for reentrant tuning. I don't generally like linear tuning on a concert - but it can go either way. I hate - for my playing - linear tuning on a soprano. I don't think it's an accident that the two ukes that have it all to me and are tuned reentrant are a concert and a soprano.

It's not that reentrant is bad on a tenor - its just that even the best tenor with reentrant seems to be missing something that is there with linear tuning. The thing is that a lot of things that I play don't necessary work with a linear tuning. Some do, some don't. Maybe the combination of depth and sparkle that I want doesn't exist on a tenor with reentrant tuning. It's not that reentrant tuning is "wrong" or bad on a tenor, but I haven't found it to have that certain something that can be found on a great tenor tuned linear.

katy,

This may work (or not - depending on other factors). If a lot of what you play works best with reentrant tuning and you like or need to tune to C, then you might want to consider a long-neck concert. You have more room up the neck than on a standard Tenor and the smaller body gives a quicker response than a Tenor body in reentrant C (gets your notes "out of the box" faster).

SailingUke
07-26-2015, 06:58 PM
The best Uke I have played is DaSilva.
I have a James Hill model, it sparkles.
Mike builds his ukes for high g as that is his preferred tuning.

Doc_J
07-26-2015, 07:41 PM
Based only on what I have played, my Pegasus koa tenor with PHD strings is my favorite reentrant uke. It has crispness and clarity with just the right amount of resonance and sustain. It has excellent volume too. Kawika and Ko'olau tenors also shine in reentrant for me.

mm stan
07-26-2015, 07:50 PM
We all seek clean crisp tones on re entrent tuning without being brash, higher tension and strings type and guages. can do so much
To me, it is the build, the top, the bracing, nut and saddle material also. You just got to know what youre looking for
To be able for you to dial in the tone you seek.

katysax
07-26-2015, 08:53 PM
I have played your James Hill and it is incredible. I didn't remember whether it was linear or reentrant, but I remember it clearly as one of the finest ukuleles I have ever played.


The best Uke I have played is DaSilva.
I have a James Hill model, it sparkles.
Mike builds his ukes for high g as that is his preferred tuning.

hollisdwyer
07-26-2015, 08:58 PM
The best Uke I have played is DaSilva.
I have a James Hill model, it sparkles.
Mike builds his ukes for high g as that is his preferred tuning.

Totally agree. Reentrant tuning sounds great on my DaSilva Martin 3K repro soprano.

kkimura
07-27-2015, 04:18 AM
I know you're talking tenors but an Kamaka "Ohta San" high g may be the sound you're looking for.

dsummers
07-27-2015, 04:18 AM
As far high G goes, I really think my Koaloha custom Sceptre tenor sounds great! Spruce top/Madagascar back and sides gives the uke a sound like no other IMO. My custom Koolau tenor is really nice, redwood top, nice walnut back and sides.

Hippie Dribble
07-27-2015, 04:36 AM
This thread is porn without pictures. :drool:

wickedwahine11
07-27-2015, 04:38 AM
It might be a little too brash for your liking, but the only uke I ever successfully kept high g was my KoAloha Pineapple Sunday. Everything else usually always ended up going back to low g.

rappsy
07-27-2015, 05:47 AM
Wow, this this thread is hitting at exactly at a time when I have been PM'ing some of the usual suspects with questions about it. Although the Ukes in question that I have are different than the ones the OP first mentioned, it goes along with the theme. If I am derailing the thread, please advise and I will remove.


I find my reentrant MM tenor has a beautiful combination of lower (not low, but fine for me) and mids and seems to be lacking in the highs. I know that MM designs their Ukes to do this. I am using Oasis Brights, which I figured would give it a bit more high. So I am looking for suggestions on a brighter A and maybe a brighter E. To further add to the mix, I like thin strings.

I also have a Jason Wolverton tenor that I just received. I immediately took off the Low G and put on Oasis Brights as I don't like Low G, and I have the same strings on both Ukes for comparison purposes.

It is almost impossible to compare, in that these are two completely different sounds with the same strings. The MM has a nice lower and middle sound with a bit lacking on the highs. I like the sound it produces on the low and middle. The JW has a clean clear and ringing middle and highs, but lacks in the lows.

DownUpDave recommended a wound C for the JW to give it more bottom, which I understand in theory, although I am not a fan of the wound sound. Is there another solution to the C without it being wound that would give it lower overall sound?

As far as brightening up the MM, it has been suggested that I contact Southcoast and I have an email into Dirk about this.

Suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

hollisdwyer
07-27-2015, 06:02 AM
.....As far as brightening up the MM, it has been suggested that I contact Southcoast and I have an email into Dirk about this.
Suggestions?
Thanks in advance.

I put a set of Southcoast on my Mya Moe 6 string tenor after discussion with Dirk and the results were amazing. Although the 6 string is quite a different instrument to a 4 string, the overall sound of the instrument improved markedly. Highly recommend you talk to Dirk about various solutions.

katysax
07-27-2015, 06:12 AM
Lenny I think it might be worth trying South Coast strings on my Mya Moe. I agree with you that the sound is quite mid-rangy. I do like the wound C string but some people find a wound C overpowering. I like the wound C because it gives the C string the same thickness as the other strings.

Perhaps finding the "right" strings would alter one of my tenors so that it hit the elusive sweet spot I am looking for. Strings do make a difference but I think they help give an instrument more ring and more responsiveness. Unless the tuning is changed they don't generally add depth.