View Full Version : Keep coming back to D tuning

01-04-2017, 11:30 AM
I had tried D tuning (ADF#B) a longer while ago, on a soprano, and with regular fluorocarbon C tuning strings, which didn't work for me. It sounded strangled, too much tension. I blamed it on the instrument (which since has passed on), but in retrospect I think it was the strings (Martin M600) that weren't designed for the tuning. The advice often given is that C tuning strings work "just fine" for D tuning, but it's really not my experience.

In the past year, I gave it another whirl, this time using Aquila's dedicated D tuning strings (U33, which are thinner than their C tuning strings (labeled U4)), which gave me far superior results. These are also the only white Nylgut strings that do it for me. My vintage soprano remained permanently in D tuning, because it really sprang to life with that tuning and those strings. Very present. Nice tension, too. Not "soprano floppy", but still comfortable and "just right".

In autumn, I picked up a Kiwaya/Famous FC-5G that came in C tuning and with a compensated saddle. I thought it sounded great, acoustically, but there was a certain dullness compared to the D tuned vintage uke. It sounded more like a boxy concert, sort of. A good sound, but very serious. I figured I'd give it a while to see if it was just a matter of getting used to it, but that didn't really happy, so tonight I slapped on those Aquila U33 strings to find out how it would respond to D tuning (the fretboard needed oiling anyway).

And it's glorious! Still a sound cannon, better tension for fingerpicking (also for flatpicking: low tension and picks really don't go well together), and it sparkles! Intonation is still spot on too, which is a great relief as I didn't know if the compensation would work for these strings (it came with Titaniums).

So, if you have a soprano that you think could bark more and be a little more alive, I really recommend giving D tuning a try, preferably with strings designed for it. It may just be a game changer for your instrument. :)

01-04-2017, 12:21 PM
I love d tuning! Do not currently have any instruments tunes that way, because I can't find songs to play…

01-04-2017, 01:40 PM
I love d tuning! Do not currently have any instruments tunes that way, because I can't find songs to play…

Ian Chadwick's collection of 3000+ songbooks, sheets, and textbooks from the 1910s forward contains a lot of material for D tuning (also C and Eb). You can get the whole collection on DVDs or an USB stick from him for the price of the media and shipping: http://www.vintageukemusic.com/collection.htm

The materials by James Hill (including all songs) on The Ukulele Way (http://www.theukuleleway.com/) site are all available in D tuning also.

Other stuff I just play as if it was in C tuning. It's the wrong key, but sounds "right", just two half-steps higher. :)

Bill Sheehan
01-05-2017, 05:02 AM
I too have found that the aDF#B tuning works best with the soprano. I have a Martin S-1 soprano, and always felt that its sound was kind of unremarkable (tuned to gCEA), but when I recently upped it to the aDF#B tuning (using the Martin M-600 strings that I already had on it), it came alive with a snappiness and improved projection that are really nice!

01-05-2017, 04:52 PM
Mivo- are you doing D tuning on a Concert FC-5G or the Soprano version. I like D tuning on my Famous Soprano FS-5G

01-05-2017, 05:44 PM
The soprano version - I don't have the concert one. Still thinking about it! :)

01-06-2017, 02:51 AM
I'm one of those people that reckon D tuning is simply 'right' for a soprano. I have three sopranos in C, D and Eb tuning so I can play whichever, whenever it suits.

01-06-2017, 07:29 AM
I have also found that added string tension significantly improves intonation, yet on concert and tenor scales, also significantly cuts sustain.

So far, I am liking the D'Addario EJ99SC, and Worth CM/BM strings for their intonation accuracy, tone and sustain on concert and tenor in C tuning.

I will have to try D tuning on a soprano, and maybe I will get my Mahalo cheapie out of the closet and see how it sounds and feels. C tuning on soprano always felt too floppy to me, no matter what strings, even thicker strings - still too floppy....:(

THANKS Mivo for giving me the idea :)