View Full Version : Alternative tunings

09-23-2015, 09:17 AM
I know about GCEG and FCFA, but opened two new ukuleles right from the importer tuned as EAC#A and DGBG. What a nice sound, and to have the IV chord as 2-0-1-0 and the V7 as 0-2-1-2 as well as 5-5-5-5 and 7-7-7-7 respectively. Any one else use other open tunings?

Down Up Dick
09-24-2015, 12:11 PM
I use both Lo-G CEG and Lo-D GBD, and I like 'em both. But, although it's not open tuning, I really like Hi (or Lo) C GDA (5ths tuning) for finger picking and noodling.

Mostly I use open tuning for Clawhammer Banjolele/Banjo and Bluegrass Banjo. :old:

09-24-2015, 12:28 PM
Not quite the same as the open tunings or fifths tunings...but

my preferred tuning for tenors is a re-entrant F-Bb-D-G or even lower with the right strings as re-entrant E-A-C#-F#

and my preferred tuning for baritone is a re-entrant C-F-A-D...

my concerts and sopranos are all re-entrant GCEA.

I want to explore fifths tuning on a tenor, but need to buy another instrument for that since I need to keep the others as they are now (do not wish to restring or retune the existing collection) - UAS never ends :)

09-24-2015, 04:47 PM
I have a concert in 5ths tuning; that's challenge enough. Although I play baritones and classical guitar and am used to hand stretches, I'd find a tenor in 5ths tuning a bit much to handle. The tuning change means that your fingers go from covering (on average) one fret per string to covering two.

Are you using the Aquila fifths-tuning strings to get the fifths tuning on concert scale, or some others?

09-24-2015, 04:51 PM
I slack the top down to gCEg on 4-string, gG-cC-EE-gg (Taropatch) on 8-string, and GGG-CCC-EEE-ggg on cuatro-menor -- nice shimmering sound on the last and its steel strings play well with a slide. I have one soprano strung in 5ths with Aquila Soprano Fifths 30u and another strung backwards and tweaked to pseudo-5ths to a# F C g or 'Irish' a# F C f which allows some nice ringing strings.

Very occasionally I'll tune my concert to 'Sawmill' EAea or GCgc for "power chord" playing. But mostly I like to explore different re-entrant possibilities, from standard gCEa to odd GcEa to cuatro-style GceA. I can combine those last two somewhat on my Kala KA6 6-string in G-cC-E-Aa by being careful of picking positions.

Down Up Dick
09-24-2015, 05:55 PM
Fifths tuning just makes more sense to me. It seems to be more like a wind instrument's fingering. Especially when reading music or noodling. Maybe I'll have more trouble with it as I progress like others do, but for now, I like it.

I have my baritone tuned open because I wanna try slide with it when I have the time. I like open too. :old:

09-24-2015, 07:51 PM
I like 5ths tuning for melodic stuff, with maybe a harmony note thrown in here or there, but I don't like it for chord work or broken arpeggio-style fingerpicking. I find the reversed-strung-and-tweaked pseudo-5ths a# F C g and 'Irish' a# F C f setups are great for chording -- I must *focus* on the mando chords, still a bit alien to me after many decades of guitar. And these make for interesting and challenging re-entrant (counter)melodic picking.

Maybe I'll have to go over to the dark side: the mandolin. Mando is good -- my mind parallel-tracks with these small lutes and especially with all the varied stringings and tunings available. Standard "Eye-talian" GDae tuning can be dropped three semitones for Yank Rachell 'blues' tuning with a nice low E. Standard or blues can have the top course slacked a whole tone to 'Irish' tuning for simpler chords and singing drones in some keys. I plan to restring a mando with the courses in octaves rather than unison for a 12-string-guitar-like chording effect. And then there's the mandola...

Hippie Dribble
09-24-2015, 09:08 PM
Interesting thread Bill, thanks for it. Must admit it is all a different language to me but I enjoy reading and learning from y'all Gonna try some of these.

09-24-2015, 09:24 PM
Maybe I'll have to go over to the dark side: the mandolin.

I was cured of this when I looked at prices of some mandolin luthiers! (Also not into metal strings, so that helped to dodge the mando bullet.)

I do love their sound, though. Amazing instruments.

09-25-2015, 01:18 AM
Any one else use other open tunings?
I was also interested in an alternate tuning. I wrote a book, which describes 28 tuning: Open Tuning for Ukulele (https://www.melbay.com/Products/30100/open-tunings-for-ukulele.aspx)
It is rather a "starter's book" suitable for further exploration.
Each chapter focuses on a particular tuning and explains how to retune the instrument, useful scales and chords across the fretboard and three songs with tablature will also be presented for each tuning.

09-25-2015, 06:33 AM
Doubled steel strings and artificial, high gloss finish: just not the same warm, friendly, mellow vibe as ukulele. And yes, the cost for a decent one is significantly higher. But one can't deny that the mandolin is more suitably designed for fifths tuning. High-gloss finish can be removed; I'll do that to my cheap Rogue. [EDIT: No I won't; my lazy side wins.] The luthier-crafted Celtic mando (satin light chestnut finish, no glossy sunbursts) I bought a couple of months ago was US$650+tax, on par with some higher-end factory 'ukes. It sure gives *me* a "warm, friendly, mellow vibe".

And I find the doubled strings no tougher on my fingers than an 'uke. Doubled strings spread the pressure across fingertips more smoothly; a single thin nylon string can hurt more. Of course, I *do* have some calluses from many years on guitar. ;) But I have one mando (a cheap Soviet-made oval-hole flattop, no gloss, no sunburst) with high action that *could* be bothersome -- except I've slacked it three 1/2-steps to EBf#b 'blues' tuning with a nice low E. That lower tension, plus smooth D'Addario FT74 semi-flatwound strings, makes it easy to play.

09-25-2015, 07:02 AM
The Aquilas (31U)—only set I know of.

I like 5ths tuning for melodic stuff, with maybe a harmony note thrown in here or there, but I don't like it for chord work or broken arpeggio-style fingerpicking. And with nylon-style strings, the sound doesnm't work well on such a small body. I think what is really needed is the inverse of a super concert: a super-tenor body with a concert fretboard. Maybe I'll have to go over to the dark side: the mandolin.

Amother trick is to take a GCEA (low-G) string set, invert the G and C, detune the E to D and yoy have CGDA (reentrant C). That way if you don't like the feel of fifths, the strings are salvageable. The sound is pretty good, and I have it on my Lanikai tenor, Effin concert and Flea soprano. Will probably try it on the baritone as well.

09-25-2015, 07:29 AM
I like AC#EA. All I have to do is tune the G string up a whole step and the C string up a half step.

09-25-2015, 08:10 AM
I like AC#EA. All I have to do is tune the G string up a whole step and the C string up a half step. Ah yes, the bright 1-3-5-8 open A-major-chord tuning. Those 3-3b-4 intervals (4-3-5 semitones) only take a little getting used to. ;) I just now tuned my concert Harmonia there Yet MORE fingerings to master...

09-28-2015, 09:36 PM
Any one else use other open tunings?

I like to use this tuning: EADA
More in this thread http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?101464-EADA-ukulele-tuning&highlight=eada


09-29-2015, 06:44 AM
The problem is that one only gets a partial taste of 5ths tuning with a reentrant emulation. Quite right. As I mentioned a few posts back, I find my re-entrant-strung soprano useful for focusing on mando chords, not melodic playing (although I manage a bit of that too). It is certainly not as mando-like as my other soprano strung with an Aquila fifths set. (And that set is not too costly -- around seven bucks IIRC.) No, re-entrant fifths are for novelty, not playability.

I like fifths-strung sopranos -- same scale length as a mandolin but with a wider neck, easy for my big fingers to chord. I see a problem with 5ths-stringing anything much longer than a concert. Many chords on my mandola are quite a stretch. My baritone is the same scale so I will keep it in friendlier tunings. I may commission a mandola with a shorter, thinner neck. I will first try fifths-stringing my next tenor 'uke to see if that scale is comfortable.

Some pseudo-fifths tunings to consider are the 'Sawmill' (power chords) family like CGcg or GDgd (or tune up or down a whole step from those). CFcf or GCgc work also. These tuning are suitable for many fiddle tunes.