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View Full Version : Tried D tuning on my soprano.



Mivo
02-08-2016, 03:32 AM
Finally got curious enough to try D tuning on my ukuMele mahogany soprano. And well, it was "interesting" in that mixed feelings kind of way.

What I liked about it was how precise the intonation up the neck was. This uke has 17 frets, and intonation was perfect to the 15th. I don't get it as accurately with C tuning on the same instrument, though it's not really "off", just not as perfect. I also liked how the higher tension and the "snappiness" of the strings felt for finger picking. Really enjoyed the brilliance of the former-A string (B in D tuning) rang on this particular instrument.

What I didn't like is the tension when strumming. This felt exactly like strumming on a tenor, and it's not my cup of tea. Great for picking, but strumming was too much washboard-like for me. I also "felt" the instrument less, as if it was more distant, more detached, less vibrant, which ties in with the next thing:

I had expected it to be louder in D tuning due to the higher tension, but that actually didn't happen. It didn't project better and it didn't resonate better. I recorded myself under the same conditions with both tunings to be able to compare the waveforms and the db, and this particular uke was louder and had a greater dynamic range in C tuning when strummed. Sustain was less in the lower third of the fretboard in D.

In other posts I had read that some sopranos are better suited for the C tuning and I think mine falls into that category (it's a little heavy, with the lower bout a tiny bit wider than a standard soprano, which is probably the reason). Sound aside, though, the high string tension is a deal breaker for me. I think tension-wise I enjoy the concert size the most, judging by my LN pineapple, though it does no doubt depend on the strings too. My tests were with Martin M600s and Worth Clears (medium).

One day I'll try this with my L&H Washburn from the mid, late twenties, but it needs some bridge repairs first. If I attempt this now, it will probably rip half of it off.

So, curiosity satisfied, and back to the C tuning! That was cheap, too! Much more affordable than my other point of curiosity... how a quality concert compares to my LN pineapple in an extended test. Well, one day I'll get to that. :)

UkieOkie
02-08-2016, 03:40 AM
Thanks for the report/review. Was this a soprano scale length or a super suprano?

Mivo
02-08-2016, 03:46 AM
That was a standard soprano size, except the slightly wider lower bout. 13" scale, though. I considered trying the tuning on my LN pineapple, but wasn't sure if it's a good idea.

Jim Hanks
02-08-2016, 08:51 AM
I see you're in Germany so this suggestion may not work for you, but if you want D tuning with lower tension, you could try Southcoast strings. I have a 16" concert in D and tension is not too high. I could even go up to Eb if I wanted. Or you could ask Kem Middleton to work you up a low tension Living Water soprano set that might take D tuning better.

Mivo
02-08-2016, 10:05 AM
I've been curious about Dirk's strings, so I may out together a bunch of sets I'm interested in and just order it all at once. If he ships internationally, it's just a matter of the shipping costs, and maybe customs.

Just what I needed -- tuning and string curiosity in addition to UAS. :)

JackLuis
02-08-2016, 11:21 AM
Ever since I got my baritone I've been intrigued by the different tunings available, besides "Club" tuning (C). I was reading the Southcoast strings selection pages and found the 'original' Nunes self instruction book (1915) They said the tuning should be d4-g4-b4-d5. (g?) I also found another book of that era (Kamiki Ukulele Method) that suggested tuning a4-d4-f#4-b4 (d?).

The only reentrant uke I have now is a Club Tuned soprano so I thought I'd try both of these tunings on my Little Filly. The Nunes tuning seems to be a bit of a stretch for my D'Addrios, it's not holding the tuning for long. It may take a few hours to actually try it out and I need to look up the chord forms for a few songs. It is interesting that the chord form instruction of both of these books shows the chords in Keys I-IV-V-I rather than the list of all the A, B, C... ect of modern chord books.

I just realized the tuning d4-g4-b4-e5 would give me an octave above my baritone and I could use the same chord forms!
I think I'll need different strings for these tunings though.

Mivo:
If I find these interesting enough, I may make a 'new instrument' in MuseScore for each of them and make up an exercise score for their individual tunings. I did figure out, finally, how to make a linked set of tab and staff for both tenor and baritone in MuseScore. I'm still having some problems figuring out how to change the tab notes to different fret numbers. I can enter notes on the staff and they show up in the tab, but not the other way around?

coolkayaker1
02-08-2016, 06:05 PM
Mivo, that's an interesting observation about the intonation being better with D tuning for your particular soprano.

I have an inexpensive soprano with only so-so intonation; I think I'll give it a whirl.

I hope not to hurt myself, so I'll wear safety goggles when I crank it up.

igorthebarbarian
02-08-2016, 06:25 PM
I have a set of D'addario Nylon EJ65 strings for Soprano. And the packaging says it's recommended for D tuning (up from C). I do prefer Worth's or Martin's and the normal C tuning. But it's interesting to play around with different tunings/ different strings. Much like tuning most tenors down to Bb.

JackLuis
02-08-2016, 06:52 PM
I had the Filly tuned to D but the tension was a bit too tight. I backed it down to Club tuning. I'm hoping that I haven't over stressed the strings?

The G string is a little floppy now!

JackLuis
02-10-2016, 07:55 PM
Well my D tuning ruined the G string on my D'Addarios. I replaced it with a PhD G string and it sounds a lot better. The D'Addario was the same diameter as the PhD ~0.23x" . It sounds much better in C now. Oddly the other strings were not effected like the G, which would retune but felt like a rubber band!

I'm glad I had one around.

hollisdwyer
02-11-2016, 04:26 AM
I've been curious about Dirk's strings, so I may out together a bunch of sets I'm interested in and just order it all at once. If he ships internationally, it's just a matter of the shipping costs, and maybe customs.

Just what I needed -- tuning and string curiosity in addition to UAS. :)

Mivo, I highly recommend that you do try South Coast strings. Every different set I've tried has made my Ukes really sing. I first tried them on my Mya Moe six string. It made that instrument sound even better than it did with Worths(which I like very much). I put a Ukulele set (high g) on my tenor Mya Moe Koa and Sitka cut away and those made a wonderful instrument sound better also. I will be putting on one of Dirk's new medium light with 2 wound bases on my Boat Paddle ML Tenor this weekend. Also Dirk's shipping costs are low. I think a fixed price for any size order.

barefootgypsy
02-11-2016, 11:12 AM
I just got this sopranino sized solid maple pineapple uke from Dave Morgan (DJ Morgan Ukuleles)... it is a superb little thing, beautifully made, and is my third Morgan uke - anyway, it sounds great in C tuning but even better in D tuning! I can't stop playing it!I did this video to demonstrate today....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTpKhtcIGFs

drbekken
02-11-2016, 07:31 PM
Mivo, I highly recommend that you do try South Coast strings. Every different set I've tried has made my Ukes really sing. I first tried them on my Mya Moe six string. It made that instrument sound even better than it did with Worths(which I like very much). I put a Ukulele set (high g) on my tenor Mya Moe Koa and Sitka cut away and those made a wonderful instrument sound better also. I will be putting on one of Dirk's new medium light with 2 wound bases on my Boat Paddle ML Tenor this weekend. Also Dirk's shipping costs are low. I think a fixed price for any size order.

Southcoast strings are wonderful. Absolutely worth ordering, no matter where you are.

Tootler
02-12-2016, 01:21 PM
I have recently retuned the Living Water strings on my Bruko soprano back down to C from D with no problems. The strings needed a little time to resettle but apart from that they are fine and I've had no problems with them.

Mivo
02-12-2016, 01:40 PM
As mentioned in the other thread, I tried the Bb tuning on my two tenors today, and that vastly improved their sound. I am floored by how much difference it made, and really happy about it, too. The D tuning didn't work for me on my mahogany soprano, but I think that is in part (or entirely) related to the specific instrument (the body is a bit larger than a standard soprano, though smaller than a standard concert, which might explain why it sounds great/better with the C tuning).

It's really neat to learn about, and try out, different tunings. In three years with ukuleles, I had never really considered this or was willing to experiment (no previous background of playing stringed instruments, or really any instruments in the thirty years that had passed since exposure to the organ and recorder in my childhood and early teens). It's an interesting part of the journey that adds a whole new dimension for me.