View Full Version : Can a soprano uke be tuned like a machete?

11-22-2015, 10:47 AM
Hi folks, I love the bright sound of machete. Can a soprano such as an Ohana SK -28 vintage handle being tune an octave higher? If so, what strings would work?

Jim Hanks
11-22-2015, 11:03 AM
Southcoast has a machete set. You can start with the XLL set

and just tune down the first string. You can also get an extra machete string

which will give you a little extra tension over the slacked normal string.

11-22-2015, 11:56 AM
Rob MacKillop has a machete tab book, and he explains how to tune a uke to play machete music. Let us know how it goes.

11-22-2015, 12:30 PM
Thanks to both of you...I'm going to start saving for a soprano and a set of machete strings!

Luke El U
11-22-2015, 05:35 PM
Oh yeah, been there, done that, and I LOVE IT! You can follow my earlier thread on this subject:


One word of caution, though. I put those strings on my very light weight, beautifully constructed KoAloha soprano. They sound great on a quality instrument like that, but on a cheap instrument, I wouldn't be so sure. That isn't meant to sound snobbish, it's just that I think a cheap, heavily made uke won't have the sensitivity needed to really let these thin strings resonate well.

Next, you'll need to get some good music for that tuning. Southcoast offers a free online copy of a Nunes book that uses that tuning. There used to be a bunch of free 19th century machete music available online. Or you could try to get a copy of Manuel Morais' bilingual Port./Eng book of machete music which was originally published in 1846. The music is wonderful and varies from easy to quite challenging.

Good luck!

11-22-2015, 06:05 PM
Hmm . . . apparently, I have to look up what a "machete" is, because you guys are not talking about what I'm thinking of.

11-22-2015, 10:24 PM
I have a $15 Hanknn Uke strung up with south coast dgbe, high, same notes as the 7 th fret on a gcea tuned uke.
Magic sweet sound even though the uke is low cost.

I can see this working :)

The treble note is the same as a mandolin or fiddle, so a length of 0.015" fishing line would be fine for the top string on a soprano ukulele at a push, should be straightforward enough to extrapolate the rest of the strings ... an excuse for another instrument ;)