View Full Version : Baritone tuning preference -- linear or re-entrant?

06-03-2016, 02:51 AM
For the baritone players among you that stick to DGBE, which do you prefer, and why?

Linear with a low-D or re-entrant with a high-D?

Still loving my new baritone, and I'm amazed by the fullness of the sound, but I'm having second thoughts about the traditional DGBE tuning. The one time I had tried low-G on the tenor, I didn't really fall in love with it and I went back to re-entrant tuning. While I love the richness of the DGBE tuning, I'm missing that sparkling that re-entrant tuning offers, and perhaps there is a touch too much "boom".

I really only play ukuleles, so re-entrant is what I'm sonically used to, which no doubt plays into what I perceive as pleasant, but I just ordered a set of LW strings with a high-D from Ken Middleton, since it will likely haunt me until I've tried it. It'll probably take a bit for them to get here, which also gives me a few days to get used to the low-D, so who knows how I'll feel about this in a week or two.

06-03-2016, 03:31 AM
That's a great question discussed thousand and thousand times.
The answer I bring, but I must say I am a very amateur musician, is mostly depending of what you want to play.
I think for the smooth jazz and cool blues, the linear tuning is more adapted.
That's my only little experience.

Down Up Dick
06-03-2016, 03:42 AM
It depends on whether one's gonna strum or fingerpick. If one strums on a Uke with low pitched strings, they "boom" and don't fit (to my old ear) the rest of the strings, but, if one fingerpicks, they're okay. In addition, one gets more usable notes with them.

I have the low D on mine, but I don't strum it much, and I'm gonna use it for "slide" if I ever get around to it. I don't even like the low G on my strummer Ukes. I prefer them to sound like ukes.

I guess it's a personal choice, and, of course, I'm usually "out of step" with everyone else. :old:

Trader Todd
06-03-2016, 03:45 AM
I acquired my first baritone about a month ago which is strung re-entrant. I love the sound of the bari and at the time had been exclusively playing re-entrant on all my ukes. A few weeks ago, I started playing low G on one of my tenors, I did not like it at all, but now a few weeks later I have adjusted and I absolutely love low g. I imagine sooner or later the bari will get a low g, but for now I am very happy playing it high g. In a perfect world someday I will have 2, one in low and one in high. Actually, in a perfect world I'd have about 6 baritones, 9 tenors, 6 sopranos and...

06-03-2016, 03:48 AM
I have 4 baritones, all different tunings:

1. Makala MK-B is re-entrant DGBE (Worth Browns)

2. 1950's Harmony will be linear dGBE after I remove and re-seat/re-glue the lifting bridge (Worth Browns)

3. Lanika LU-21B is tuned linear but in FIFTHS tuning GDAE, one octave below a mandolin G2-D3-A3-E4 (D'Addario EJ46LP extra-hard tension classical guitar strings) similar to a cello (as in VIOLIN cello)

4. Savannah baritone is tuned linear EADG, as in the LAST 4 (deepest pitch) strings of a guitar and I use it as a 'piccolo bass' for my songwriting. (D'Addario classical guitar singles roundwound strings, 0.060, 0.048, 0.035, 0.030)

Over time I have tried several strings sets of GCEA as the same pitches as tenor scale and smaller but on baritone, and found the sound to be quite dead and overall uninteresting to me, I have also used extra-high-tension classical guitar strings and done both linear and re-entrant G2-C3-E3-A3 one octave BELOW, as an OCTAVE ukulele and while the re-entrant flavor was interesting, I felt that chords where still muddy and not worth leaving it that way. Yes, I both tried the octave GCEA and normal GCEA tunings on all 4 different baritones.

06-03-2016, 04:10 AM
I did the same thing you did and went reentrant Living Water high D's. That's my preference and agree with you on linear being too boomy, especially if you're mostly a strummer like me

06-03-2016, 04:25 AM
My baritone is set up linear, as my other ukuleles are set up low-g it means I can play the same music without having to worry about transposing.

06-03-2016, 05:11 AM
For me, the Baritone is about maximum practicality, and linear tuning increases its practicality as a "guitar-like ukulele"

06-03-2016, 07:49 AM
Here is a sound sample of linear vs Re-entrant tuning in G. My Big Zebra Baritone is tuned DGBE and strung with Worth Brown Baritone stings. I just strum, so no fancy finger picking here. The Strings are Worth Brown Baritone strings.

My Tenor Zebra tuned dGBE re-entrant. Approximately the same chords and you can here the sound differences. There are some differences in the instruments voices, but this is as close as I can come to comparing the same strings and tunings. Please excuse the flubbs I just wanted to give a sound sample. Strings are Worth Brown FATS (tenor) tuned dGBE.


Croaky Keith
06-03-2016, 08:07 AM
My baritone will remain DGBE, (unless I try out low GCEA), that is why I got it, for that lovely sound.
But, I'm a picker of melodies, & not really a strummer, so this is my bias.
My other ukes are split about 60/40 in favour of low G as well.
I think maybe if you like fast strumming, re entrant would likely sound better, but I quite like mine strummed slowly.
In the end it comes down to personal taste, neither is right or wrong. :)

06-03-2016, 01:22 PM
I definitely like trying different things, but on the whole I'm a linear bari guy.

06-03-2016, 07:03 PM
However, linear tuning requires a lot of adjustments in playing style; those conditioned to reentrant tuning ...

I'm definitely conditioned to re-entrant tuning, and I think it shaped my sonic preferences, too. I like having a second a melody string, but it's chiefly about the sound, especially with chords. Upstrokes sound distinctly different with linear tuning, and just a tad "dark". I miss the sparkle, the liveliness of the high 4th string.

But I'm also aware that I really don't know anything else. I never played guitar or any linearly tuned stringed instrument. It's strange to me that the third string isn't the lowest tuned one, and it feels a bit like I have to relearn quite a few things. That isn't a bad thing, though. It's mostly about the sound that I find too dark and "dull" (too strong a word). I'll give the LW high-d strings a spin when I get them, just so that I can better compare, and until then I familiarize myself more with the low-D tuning. You're right that a second baritone wouldbe a good solution! But that's for later, strings are cheaper. :)

Speaking of comparisons, I found a low-d/high-d/gcea baritone demonstration video by Aaron Keim:


I prefer the high-d here too. But yes, it's what I'm used to. My tenor is re-entrant Bb tuned (the tuning where I feel it really shines), and my other ukes are in re-entrant C.

Croaky Keith
06-03-2016, 11:15 PM
I have a couple of books where it clearly states that the different sized ukes used different tunings.
So I'm guessing it was to do with sales that they all became gCEA, except the baritone.

06-04-2016, 05:21 PM
Good topic. Currently, I play linear DGBE most of the time. Live, I also pick up my wife's re-entrant gcea to play clawhammer and other stuff. At home I also keep a re-entrant baritone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY8lvdGYzso

07-11-2016, 02:13 AM
I've set my soprano linear baritone tuning (DGBE). As I wanted to play arpeggio like guitar, I needed bass tone on 4th string. The result is quite happy so far.

07-11-2016, 06:37 AM
I just switched my Big Zebra to High d a couple of days ago and I really like it. I'm a strummer mostly so maybe that's a factor. I'm using Worth Brown Baritone strings and a High G string from a Brown Tenor set. The tension of the d String is pretty high, a lot higher than the low D was. Though tuning it this morning it doesn't seem as tight(?)

Re-entrant makes it sound like a Ukulele. Of course it doesn't sound Hawaiian like a C tuned Uke, but it does sound like liquid chocolate, which I like. In dGBE it rings nicely and my wife says she could listen to it all day. I'm finding out that the extra room on the fret board makes it easier to play than my concerts and even my tenors (also dGBE).

The 'warmth' of the Worth's is nice, but in my SAS I'm wondering what a 'bright' set would sound like? My thin line tenor wears Fremont Black lines and they are supposed to be 'medium bright', and the other big voiced tenor wears Worth Brown's also 'warm'. I bought a set of D'Addario Carbons high g tenor strings and I'll try them out on my big tenor, in dGBE. I've been meaning to try Southcoast dGBE strings as everyone seems to like them, but they have so many different sets it is hard to choose.

07-11-2016, 06:59 AM
I settled for linear tuning for now, by the way. Coming from re-entrant tunings, it took me a while to adjust, but with a high-d my Pono sounded somewhat "gutted". All the nice bass was gone, and it sounded like a big concert more than a baritone (I also felt only one wound string gave an unbalanced sound, and the unwound G strings I tried didn't do it for me). It was a nice tone, but not as different from what I already have.

Linear tuning makes a number of things (scales among them) more intuitive to me, and it seems to have boosted my learning progress. I might consider linear A tuning down the road, but for now I stick to G tuning as most materials are for G tuning. It makes learning a bit easier for me (I can really recommend Bruce Emery's "Baritone Ukulele from Scratch" and the Christmas Carols tune book from the same author), and for the moment I'm done tinkering and focus more on making music. :)

I settled for Aquila Reds after trying various different sets, with two wounds. I might try two Thomastik-Infeld classical guitar wounds at some point, but right now I love the instrument just the way it is. No problems with breaking strings, either.

07-12-2016, 08:54 AM
I thank Coastal Strings for yet another tuning. Historically, it well might be the original, and all others are variations of it. It has a low string on each outside dGBe or gCEa. One can be tuned to whatever variation of dgbe chosen and witha capo at the 5th fret, be immediately changed to gcea. The double low outside strings is called cuatro tuning. Thank you Kirk, it makes blues really down to earth. Strumming "normal songs" has people coming up asking what instrument is it. Comments are far more favorable than not.

07-12-2016, 09:07 AM
For the baritone, I prefer linear tuning.

Ukulele Eddie
07-12-2016, 11:52 AM
I'd say why not both!

07-12-2016, 01:39 PM
I haven't tried a bari reentrant yet. I did have it cuatro for a while. I have my bari down tuned a whole step to CFAD much prefer picking on it. I tend to strum the small stuff and pick the big stuff.