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View Full Version : Not another post about low- vs high-g -- but I do have some low G questions



JessicaM
05-15-2016, 03:37 PM
I put a low-G Aquila red on my concert uke that's strung with Aquila Nylagut. So far there's a lot I like about the liner tuning, but when I'm finger picking I find the low G to be very "boomy." I feel like it over dominates and it's a little droning. I find myself avoiding the string when picking.

This is a question for folks who don't just dismiss low-G out of hand: is there any way around this boominess while still playing with a low-G? A different brand? A different technique?

janeray1940
05-15-2016, 03:43 PM
is there any way around this boominess while still playing with a low-G? A different brand? A different technique?

I hated low G until I started using wound strings - non-wound low G strings all sounded boomy on my concert ukes. My current combo of choice is a Fremont Soloist low G with Martin M600 fluorocarbons for the rest; sometimes I use Aquila Nylguts with the Soloist and I like that too - you can hear the latter in the video link in my sig.

JessicaM
05-15-2016, 03:50 PM
I hated low G until I started using wound strings - non-wound low G strings all sounded boomy on my concert ukes. My current combo of choice is a Fremont Soloist low G with Martin M600 fluorocarbons for the rest; sometimes I use Aquila Nylguts with the Soloist and I like that too - you can hear the latter in the video link in my sig.

But do you have to mess with the nut to fit the wound G?

janeray1940
05-15-2016, 03:53 PM
But do you have to mess with the nut to fit the wound G?

I didn't, but I guess it depends on the uke (mine are Kamakas, for what it's worth - I've put a low G on maybe a half-dozen different models as of now). The only uke I've encountered where a low-G string didn't fit in the nut as is was a Kiwaya, and that was when I tried a non-wound low G - the wound Fremont Soloist fit just fine.

JessicaM
05-15-2016, 04:07 PM
I didn't, but I guess it depends on the uke (mine are Kamakas, for what it's worth - I've put a low G on maybe a half-dozen different models as of now). The only uke I've encountered where a low-G string didn't fit in the nut as is was a Kiwaya, and that was when I tried a non-wound low G - the wound Fremont Soloist fit just fine.

Ok. Cool. Thanks! Moving on to a Fremont Soloist, I guess!

janeray1940
05-15-2016, 04:25 PM
Ok. Cool. Thanks! Moving on to a Fremont Soloist, I guess!

Good luck - let us know what you think!

kalmario
05-15-2016, 04:54 PM
southcoast strings have a good article on linear tuning, essentially the soprano and concert bodies are too small to handle low G, the concert needs to go to Eb before losing the boomy sound.

article here:

http://www.southcoastukes.com/006.htm

I have mine tuned like this, sounds great but I can't be bothered working the new chords out in my head so will go hack to high G tuning.

Cheers (and I hope that helps)

Cliff

farmerjones
05-15-2016, 05:52 PM
But do you have to mess with the nut to fit the wound G?

The unwound strings I've played are usually thicker than the wound ones. I've never had a problem with my tenor fitting any unwound string though.

My baritone, however, will not fit the D'Addario pro-arte strings. Too think for the nut and they made some gouges into my saddle. Aquila strings work well, but they tend to wear out quickly.

Croaky Keith
05-15-2016, 09:35 PM
Living Water low G strings - I have them fitted to half my concert scale ukes. :)

anthonyg
05-16-2016, 02:15 AM
Living Water low G strings - I have them fitted to half my concert scale ukes. :)

I like a bit of boom. It helps to fill out the sound. It makes the instrument bigger.

To a certain extent its just a matter of coming to terms with a new sound.

Anthony

JessicaM
05-16-2016, 03:48 AM
I like a bit of boom. It helps to fill out the sound. It makes the instrument bigger.

To a certain extent its just a matter of coming to terms with a new sound.

Anthony
My husband agrees with you! He plays the mandolin which has zero boom so it sounds kind of good when we're playing together. But it just sounds out of proportion to me.

stevejfc
05-16-2016, 06:05 AM
I had the same problem with my Boat Paddle concert. I strung an Aquila red low g with Living Waters c e a. The Aquila was distractingly too loud. Switched back to a Living Waters low g, and problem solved. Fremont Soloist also works nicely. I just think that Aquila reds are particularly loud.

Trader Todd
05-16-2016, 06:46 AM
I like a bit of boom. It helps to fill out the sound. It makes the instrument bigger.

To a certain extent its just a matter of coming to terms with a new sound.

Anthony

I just started playing Low G about 2 weeks ago. I hated it. It took a couple of good sessions, but I have come to terms with the "new sound". Now I struggle with high G. I did lighten my attack on the low G compared to high G and now muscle memory seems to have found the sweet spot. Good luck.

dickadcock
05-16-2016, 08:25 AM
I just started playing Low G about 2 weeks ago. I hated it. It took a couple of good sessions, but I have come to terms with the "new sound". Now I struggle with high G. I did lighten my attack on the low G compared to high G and now muscle memory seems to have found the sweet spot. Good luck.

I think that is something to strive for, but that kind of control is tough. It is probably how a pro gets beautiful sounds out of so-so instruments. A booming G or even a C can really screw up a recording.

JessicaM, I have had some success in controlling the too-loud-and-long sustain (boom) by tying ~4" piece of yarn onto the string at the saddle. Sliding the knot up the string adjusts the deadening effect. I've used it on Aquila Reds and Fremont Soloists.

jollyboy
05-16-2016, 09:09 AM
I agree with the sentiment that there can be a bit of a brain adjustment involved when switching from high-G to low-G - a mental 'settling in' period where perceived boominess might be as much to do with getting used to the change in overall sound as anything else.

FYI: I am not suggesting that everyone who has experienced boominess is just imagining it :) (Keep Calm and Carry a Ukulele.)

Anyway, I really like the Fremont Soloist and I'm glad to hear that the OP is giving low-G a second try.

photoshooter
05-16-2016, 10:23 AM
I changed my low G ukes to Southcoast ML-WB strings and really like the balance of 2 wound strings and 2 flouro trebles.

spookelele
05-16-2016, 10:54 AM
Although.. there are certainly some strings that are boomy, I think alot of times, when you first switch to low g... you're ear hears 2 things.
1) You're brain tends to focus on the low stuff, because it's something it's not used to hearing when you play
2) Bass strings are louder. They have more mass because they have to in order to make the low tones, and that more mass drives the sound board more.

When you first change.. give it a little time. What might sound boomy right away may not sound boomy as you get more used to it.
Or.. it could just be boomy.

The Thomastik-infelds... are pretty not boomy for wounds, which is part of why I've been liking them alot.

janeray1940
05-16-2016, 11:52 AM
One more thing about initially disliking low G: if you're playing standard first-position uke chords, especially in a group with mostly reentrant players, this might sound off to your ear. It certainly did - and does - to mine. I'm not a big theory person but I know that this is because playing reentrant-designed chords on low G causes them to become inversions, and often the lowest note of the chord ends up being whatever is being played on the low G string rather than the root. It's not wrong, necessarily, but doesn't always work best. I only use my low G uke for arrangements specifically designed for low G - I still can't stand how it sounds while strumming chords in a group.

Recstar24
05-16-2016, 12:02 PM
One of the weird quirks about low g voicing is that the way chords are voiced in high g end up being inverted in some weird ways of played the same. Take a basic C chord voiced 0003. Sounds just fine on high g uke because that g note is buried in the heart of the chord, but played on a low g uke the low g ends up being the bottom of the chord thus appearing to be the loudest. I find the 5433 voicing to sound more like a "normal" c chord on low g compared to high g. However, a G chord 0232 sounds awesome on low g because you get all that bass and it's the root of the chord.

You don't have to completely revoice all your low g chords but a few here and there can make a difference.

Tootler
05-16-2016, 01:40 PM
I have a Living Water Low G set on a concert and like others, I didn't really like it at first but I was determined to give it a fair trial. I find now, some songs seem to work really well with the low G and others are better on high G. Low G works well for finger picking. With some songs I like the drone effect you get with the low G string but I am a folk musician and drones are part of the style.

Like others I noticed a boominess at first and I get a similar effect with my Fluke which is tuned DGBE - so the G is the same pitch as the low G of my concert. However, I've had several people say how they like the sound of my Fluke and I recently was listening to the play back of a recording I had made with the Fluke and the boominess was nowhere near as obvious as it is to me when I am playing. That has led me to think that we as the players notice the boominess of the bottom strings far more than people listening to our playing and maybe it's not as much of a problem as we think. Something to do with the way the sound is transmitted to us and the way we perceive the sound of our own instruments.

The Fluke has a Worth Fat set on rather than Living Water but I find there is little or no difference between different makes of fluorocarbon strings, especially if the gauge of the strings is pretty much the same for those tuned to the same pitch.

JessicaM
05-16-2016, 03:29 PM
One of the weird quirks about low g voicing is that the way chords are voiced in high g end up being inverted in some weird ways of played the same. Take a basic C chord voiced 0003. Sounds just fine on high g uke because that g note is buried in the heart of the chord, but played on a low g uke the low g ends up being the bottom of the chord thus appearing to be the loudest. I find the 5433 voicing to sound more like a "normal" c chord on low g compared to high g. However, a G chord 0232 sounds awesome on low g because you get all that bass and it's the root of the chord.

You don't have to completely revoice all your low g chords but a few here and there can make a difference.

Yes! I think this is a big piece of it. I'll try moving up the neck!

JessicaM
05-16-2016, 03:33 PM
JessicaM, I have had some success in controlling the too-loud-and-long sustain (boom) by tying ~4" piece of yarn onto the string at the saddle. Sliding the knot up the string adjusts the deadening effect. I've used it on Aquila Reds and Fremont Soloists.

Thanks! I'll give this a try!

coolkayaker1
05-16-2016, 04:42 PM
I've never gotten over the booming low G in my playing. But, along the lines of Recstar's and others comments, high G players actually emphasize the high G, whereas low G players are deft at using that string. Subtle. It's not really playing the same chords the same way as high G for those that play low G well. In fact, low G always sounds swell when fingered, it's the open low G that booms.

Although I okay high G exclusively, I sure wish I could get this sound from low G. I sure wish.


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4Uug6jU75L0

kalmario
05-16-2016, 05:54 PM
seriously though, try this for an experiment, tune the uke up 3 tones to Bb,Eb,G,A, but do it one tone at time. you will see the boominess disappear from A-to-Bb.

Cheers Cliff

Griffis
05-17-2016, 03:46 AM
I wonder if any of the boominess people speak of might be due to the fact they only switched out a high G for a low G string? Meaning, if you had a set of strings on for a while, then only switched out the G, the G being a newer string might be a little more "live." Just a thought, although from reading the posts it seems like most people were just swapping entire string sets.

Do most low G sets come with a wound G?

Does anyone think the wound strings unravel or generally wear out faster than non-wound?

I plan to go for low G with the next (concert) uke I buy, but I am not sure what strings to try. I have played a lot of Aquilas, so I was leaning towards Aquila Reds, but from this thread I have picked up on a few others.

Can anyone make further recommendations or offer thoughts or comparisons (if you've experience with them) between these different strings? :

Living Water Low G
Fremonst Soloist
Southcoast Low G
Aquila Red

For what it's worth, I tend to prefer heavier gauges, but am not too picky. I also am looking for strings that hold up and last a while.

Thanks for letting me horn in on the thread!

spookelele
05-17-2016, 04:41 AM
If you think your low g sounds boomy, does it sound less so, if you strum up than if you strum down?

Im not saying boom is not real since we've all heard it.. but I wonder how much of it is what you're ear is used to. When you strum down, it's the first string you hear, which also makes it stand out extra.

The other thing you can try... is used wound g and c. It doesn't make the G less loud, but it blends the strings more so it sticks out less.

Croaky Keith
05-17-2016, 06:24 AM
I have used Living Water Low G strings, & Aquila Red low G string with Aquila nylguts, & I much prefer the Living Waters - the feel & the sound they produce. :)

Zagabog
05-17-2016, 07:13 AM
I replaced a set of Worth CD-LG with a set of CD-LGHD on my concert Fluke about a week ago. To my ear, the harder low-g has tamed the boom quite a bit compared to the softer low-g that the CD-LG set uses. Although the new low-G sounds a little bit "drier" and less bell-like, having the same harder fluorocarbon across all four strings seems to have brought better balance and a more blended sound when strumming.

janeray1940
05-17-2016, 07:33 AM
I wonder if any of the boominess people speak of might be due to the fact they only switched out a high G for a low G string? Meaning, if you had a set of strings on for a while, then only switched out the G, the G being a newer string might be a little more "live." Just a thought, although from reading the posts it seems like most people were just swapping entire string sets.

The boominess for me never had to do with it being a new string while the rest were old - it only had to do with the balance between the thick, non-wound strings I tried and the thinner Martin M600s I used for the other three. I didn't care for it.


Do most low G sets come with a wound G?

Depends on the maker, but in my experience I've encountered the opposite - most sets come with a non-wound string. In fact, when I first started playing the only wound low G that came in a set that I was aware of was Aquila Nylgut - all the others were non-wound fluoros. I had to use classical guitar D strings in order to get a single wound string! I buy single low G Fremont Soloist strings now and would never consider buying a set again.


Does anyone think the wound strings unravel or generally wear out faster than non-wound?

Not the Fremont Soloists that I use - I've never had one show any signs of fraying. I change them when I change my other strings, which is about every three months. Those aforementioned guitar strings, on the other hand, began fraying and wearing out really fast.


Can anyone make further recommendations or offer thoughts or comparisons (if you've experience with them) between these different strings? :

Living Water Low G
Fremonst Soloist
Southcoast Low G
Aquila Red


I haven't tried the Southcoast but of the other three, the Fremont Soloist is my go-to. I didn't care for the sound or feel of the Living Water or the Aquila Red.

Griffis
05-17-2016, 08:11 AM
^^^

Thank you, janeray!

JessicaM
05-17-2016, 09:00 AM
If you think your low g sounds boomy, does it sound less so, if you strum up than if you strum down?

Im not saying boom is not real since we've all heard it.. but I wonder how much of it is what you're ear is used to. When you strum down, it's the first string you hear, which also makes it stand out extra.

The other thing you can try... is used wound g and c. It doesn't make the G less loud, but it blends the strings more so it sticks out less.

Probably. Some of the problem is technique. The G gets the most force because it's the first string I hit in a downward strum. And some is just getting used to the sound. I'm new to ukulele but ice played guitar for years and years so you'd think I would be used to the bass sound.
Maybe there're two things at play, the boominess of the Aquila red (it sounds a little flabby to me) and just not being used to this sound from my ukulele.

The Fremont is in the mail, so time will tell!

Soundbored
05-17-2016, 09:36 AM
The smaller soprano body size completely negates any boominess of a wound low g string, IME. Tenor should be the worst offender, with its resonant frequency right at ~196Hz.

spookelele
05-17-2016, 09:54 AM
The smaller soprano body size completely negates any boominess of a wound low g string, IME. Tenor should be the worst offender, with its resonant frequency right at ~196Hz.

How did you determine that a tenor resonant frequency is 196? 196 is G but.. I'm curious how you are getting to that assertion. Tenors have quite a bit of variance in volume and port size, so you're not doing helmholtz. Please elaborate on how you are coming to this conclusion.

Recstar24
05-17-2016, 10:02 AM
How did you determine that a tenor resonant frequency is 196? 196 is G but.. I'm curious how you are getting to that assertion. Tenors have quite a bit of variance in volume and port size, so you're not doing helmholtz. Please elaborate on how you are coming to this conclusion.

One source is southcoast, Dirk has tons of information on his website. I believe there is enough data to support that your "standard" tenor size and body depth will produce a resonant frequency of G3 aka 196 hz.

However, custom builders can mess with that a little bit. For example, my hoffmann ML is tuned to a resonant frequency somewhere between F and F# (closer to F for all practical sakes). The low g on the hoffmann tenor is pretty effortless in my opinion, but the body is signifcantly larger than your common tenor. Most of the high quality custom tenors I believe are tuned somewhere around F to F#.

Recstar24
05-17-2016, 10:04 AM
The smaller soprano body size completely negates any boominess of a wound low g string, IME. Tenor should be the worst offender, with its resonant frequency right at ~196Hz.

Soprano and low g you get issues on the other end, where technically the low g is not as resonant as it should be on a soprano as the resonant frequency of your typical soprano body is a good chunk higher than 196 hz. Not saying that I haven;t heard low g on a soprano sound good (which I have) but just to add another piece to the discussion.

Everything is a compromise and the balance between instrument and player should bring out the best qualities you seek, regardless of body size or low vs high g.

Soundbored
05-17-2016, 10:08 AM
How did you determine that a tenor resonant frequency is 196? 196 is G but.. I'm curious how you are getting to that assertion. Tenors have quite a bit of variance in volume and port size, so you're not doing helmholtz. Please elaborate on how you are coming to this conclusion.

I googled it. You could also?

Soundbored
05-17-2016, 10:11 AM
Soprano and low g you get issues on the other end, where technically the low g is not as resonant as it should be on a soprano as the resonant frequency of your typical soprano body is a good chunk higher than 196 hz...

Yep, which is why it sounds so well balanced. No "issues" there, IMO.

spookelele
05-17-2016, 10:18 AM
There's a couple kinds of resonance.

Helmholtz is a thing of volume and hole size. That frequency.. I'm guessing is lower than low G. If you could blow enough air to get a flute kinda noice from the hole.. that would be helmholtz resonance.

Then there's the resonance of the top. The frequency that it wants to make if you tap/flick it. Like when luthiers tap test a top while thicknessing. But that frequency changes after it's glued to body. There's still going to be a natural frequency from the top... but I don't know how to measure it outside the sand thing. But even so.. not all ukes are going to be the same there, because of different woods, and different thickness/bracing.

So that's why I was questioning how you came to the conclusion that it's tuned to a G, when the way its built isn't congruous with tuning to a pitch, especially not a concrete number like 196.

johnson430
05-17-2016, 12:35 PM
I will chime in.
My KoAloha pineapple sop. sounds very balanced with the Fremont Low G.
Here is a sound sample:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJcV88qKcgc

My mango tenor was strung for a long time with low g string sets of all sorts. I recently put some high g strings on it and honestly think it sounds better in high g.
Go figure.

My conclusion: your mileage will vary on every uke for every string set weather high or low g. Depending on everything from the player's ability to uke size, shape, wood selection, bracing, et al.

Soundbored
05-17-2016, 01:21 PM
There's a couple kinds of resonance.

Helmholtz is a thing of volume and hole size. That frequency.. I'm guessing is lower than low G. If you could blow enough air to get a flute kinda noice from the hole.. that would be helmholtz resonance.

Then there's the resonance of the top. The frequency that it wants to make if you tap/flick it. Like when luthiers tap test a top while thicknessing. But that frequency changes after it's glued to body. There's still going to be a natural frequency from the top... but I don't know how to measure it outside the sand thing. But even so.. not all ukes are going to be the same there, because of different woods, and different thickness/bracing.

So that's why I was questioning how you came to the conclusion that it's tuned to a G, when the way its built isn't congruous with tuning to a pitch, especially not a concrete number like 196.

Here's the luthier that Southcoast got the original data from: http://ukuleles.com/?page_id=820

If it's flawed, I'd like to hear why, as it gets quoted here *a lot*. I have no investment in it either way.

JessicaM
05-17-2016, 02:16 PM
There's a couple kinds of resonance.

Helmholtz is a thing of volume and hole size. That frequency.. I'm guessing is lower than low G. If you could blow enough air to get a flute kinda noice from the hole.. that would be helmholtz resonance.

Then there's the resonance of the top. The frequency that it wants to make if you tap/flick it. Like when luthiers tap test a top while thicknessing. But that frequency changes after it's glued to body. There's still going to be a natural frequency from the top... but I don't know how to measure it outside the sand thing. But even so.. not all ukes are going to be the same there, because of different woods, and different thickness/bracing.

So that's why I was questioning how you came to the conclusion that it's tuned to a G, when the way its built isn't congruous with tuning to a pitch, especially not a concrete number like 196.

Good lord! Y'all are talking right over my head. I only have the one uke (Ohana Concert 50g) to play with so that cuts down considerably on the variables I have to account for. Sounds like that might be good thing!

Recstar24
05-17-2016, 02:31 PM
Good lord! Y'all are talking right over my head. I only have the one uke (Ohana Concert 50g) to play with so that cuts down considerably on the variables I have to account for. Sounds like that might be good thing!

Its fine to ignore them :) knowledge of such things shouldn't impede on your enjoyment!

spookelele
05-17-2016, 03:44 PM
Here's the luthier that Southcoast got the original data from: http://ukuleles.com/?page_id=820

If it's flawed, I'd like to hear why, as it gets quoted here *a lot*. I have no investment in it either way.

Because your link is claiming calculated air resonance @195.
They're talking about helmholtz resonance which is a function of volume of the cavity and the size of the port (sound hole).

But.. tenors are not "standard" sized, or even shaped.
My Pono atsh-pc is 3/4" thicker than my Rebel alchemist.
The projected area of the body is also larger on the Pono.

So.. there's no way they have the same volume.
And then take like.. a Romero tiny tenor. The volume on that is less.

Or take a Hoffman thats completely non-standard shape, or even a pineapple.
They're all going to have much different volumes.

I don't see how you can say "tenor" is 196. It may be that a particular tenor is 195, but it seems unlikely that all, or even most are.

Recstar24
05-17-2016, 04:10 PM
When I referred to my Hoffmann, I should clarify that I was referring to the resonant frequency of the top when tapped

Booli
05-18-2016, 01:44 PM
The unwound strings I've played are usually thicker than the wound ones. I've never had a problem with my tenor fitting any unwound string though.

My baritone, however, will not fit the D'Addario pro-arte strings. Too think for the nut and they made some gouges into my saddle. Aquila strings work well, but they tend to wear out quickly.

Please check your PM. PM sent on 5/16. THANKS!

Lori
05-18-2016, 02:34 PM
I noticed Low G boom when I first tried low G tuning. I found I could lighten up on my thumb picking, and that fixed it. Some (not all) unwound low G strings are thick, and tend to be muted (and require a strong attack to make any sound). When polished wound strings became available, I switched to them and they sound more lively. It is a good thing to learn how to listen carefully to the sounds you make, and how little adjustments in pressure and positioning (both left and right hands) change the sound. It is the little things that you can add after you have learned a song, that affect the tone, volume and phrasing, to give it subtle expression. If you are sensitive to it, you are always adjusting your technique to control your sound and make it as musical as possible.
–Lori

Nickie
05-18-2016, 03:56 PM
One more thing about initially disliking low G: if you're playing standard first-position uke chords, especially in a group with mostly reentrant players, this might sound off to your ear. It certainly did - and does - to mine. I'm not a big theory person but I know that this is because playing reentrant-designed chords on low G causes them to become inversions, and often the lowest note of the chord ends up being whatever is being played on the low G string rather than the root. It's not wrong, necessarily, but doesn't always work best. I only use my low G uke for arrangements specifically designed for low G - I still can't stand how it sounds while strumming chords in a group.

Janeray, I'm pretty much with you there. I don't care for strumming the lo G either, but it works superbly for music arranged for lo G, like Canon in C. I'm liking the Fremont wound, I didn't have to file the nut groove at all. It is a little learning curve to get my pinkie strong enough to hold it down without buzzing.
This is the perfect justification for owning at least two fine ukuleles.

spookelele
05-18-2016, 06:41 PM
I noticed Low G boom when I first tried low G tuning. I found I could lighten up on my thumb picking, and that fixed it. Some (not all) unwound low G strings are thick, and tend to be muted (and require a strong attack to make any sound). When polished wound strings became available, I switched to them and they sound more lively. It is a good thing to learn how to listen carefully to the sounds you make, and how little adjustments in pressure and positioning (both left and right hands) change the sound. It is the little things that you can add after you have learned a song, that affect the tone, volume and phrasing, to give it subtle expression. If you are sensitive to it, you are always adjusting your technique to control your sound and make it as musical as possible.
–Lori

:agree:

Control is a real thing. HMS videos are a great example of this. They always sound great no matter what the instrument not because of the string choices but because the ninja level control of the players.

johnson430
05-19-2016, 02:29 AM
:agree:

Control is a real thing. HMS videos are a great example of this. They always sound great no matter what the instrument not because of the string choices but because the ninja level control of the players.

I agree 100%. Control is a big deal.