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View Full Version : Moving back and forth between Baritone and Tenor Ukuleles



Osprey
01-24-2017, 05:23 AM
I am about to make the plunge into Baritone ukuleles. I played one our Uke group gathering last Saturday and loved it. I only used it on one song which I spent a few minutes figuring out the new chord shapes and chord changes and did pretty good. Absolutely loved the sound! The next song in a different key that I hadn't studied yet I got lost pretty quickly. My mind was not nimble enough to make the transition to Baritone chords. Now this was the first time with a Baritone ukulele. Does it get easier? Those that play both tunings, can you switch back and forth readily? I think it should be possible, but one of the group members that plays Baritone was discouraging. I still want to get this Baritone it is all solid mahogany and just sounds wonderful to me.

DownUpDave
01-24-2017, 05:37 AM
Cliff I am so glad you are getting a baritone. I love them but don't play them frequently enough to have remembered the chords shapes by their proper baritone names. I still think in GCEA tuning names and I cheat. As an example with a piece of written tab if will just scratch have out the G and write in a C. I form the C shape as I would on a tenor but I am actually playing a G on the baritone.

This works for fooling around by myself but no good playing with others in a jam. You can also play all of "your" songs as if you were playing a GCEA tuned uke a but it is now in a lower key.

Booli
01-24-2017, 05:42 AM
Yes, it gets easier.

Same chord shapes, just different names, since G6 chords are a fifth up from C6 chords.

E.G., on tenor play a C chord, any position...

Now take that SAME fingering and fret position play it on a baritone, and OMG it's now a G chord....

It's a bit of on-the-fly calculations of +5 for everything, but with not too much practice, you can go from 'tenor mode brain' to 'bari mode brain' without really needing to 'caclulate' any more and you just 'know'

Just have to invest a bit of time looking at the chord charts for tenor and bari and compare the names, and them you'll get it without thinking about it...

Please disregard that naysayer, as he's likely jealous of your intent to expand your horizons and thinks you will encroach on his turf. I would pay him no mind and carry on where your heart and ears are taking you...:music:

derbyhat
01-24-2017, 05:49 AM
Just go for it. Your ability to switch will get better with practice, probably faster than you expect.

Full disclosure: I don't speak from ukulele experience. But as a former bassoonist who had to learn to sight read sheet music in bass, treble, tenor, and alto clef in college, I promise the goal is achievable.

UkieOkie
01-24-2017, 05:50 AM
I agree with Booli. It gets easier. I used to have to think about chord changes and transposing and so on. Now I just play around a few minutes and it's like my brain makes the switch.

Trevor

JJFN
01-24-2017, 06:11 AM
Osprey, I am going to give you an out of the box suggestion. Purchase a set of gCEA strings for your baritone. I think you will enjoy the deep "ukulele sound" that the baritone produces. Then your switching problem is solved. If you don't like the sound, go back to the normal baritone tuning. Strings aren't all that expensive and I think you will enjoy the experiment. Enjoy

PS: Southcoast has a wonderful low G baritone configuration. It isn't cheap but the sound is more than worth the cost. Again enjoy

Uncle Rod Higuchi
01-24-2017, 06:15 AM
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?125280-DIY-making-Ukulele-Boot-Camp-suitable-for-D-and-G-tuning&highlight=ukulele+boot+camp

the above link should go to a thread I started yesterday dealing with a kind of upgrade to the Ukulele Boot Camp, involving using the Practice Sheets for both the D and G tunings, besides what's written for C tuning.

ubulele has replied with a wonderful explanation about the key, chord name changes from C tuning to both the D and G tunings.

please check out the link, or search for 'ukulele boot camp' and select the "DIY..." thread :)

keep uke'in',

Croaky Keith
01-24-2017, 08:09 AM
All you have to do is remember the equivalent names if playing in a group, as the shapes are the same. :)

Osprey
01-24-2017, 08:30 AM
Thanks for everyone's encouragement. With luck I will be happily playing it by this weekend. When I played it last Saturday I was grinning from ear to ear. I am really liking the solid mahogany body, what a nice warm sound.

JackLuis
01-24-2017, 08:33 AM
It took me about a month to get used to it. For a while I just played C shapes and listened to the tone then I started learning the names in a couple of months ( I'm a slow learner) I could switch from Concert to Baritone and play either in key. Just down load a chord chart and compare the chords between C and G tuning. Two of my tenors are tuned dGBE and I play them a lot, even though I now find the Baritone easier to play.

I thought about gcea tuning for my bari, but found just playing out of key for a while let me adjust to the stretch and accustom my ear.

FiL
01-25-2017, 02:47 AM
I agree that if you set your mind to it, you can learn to make the switch back on forth.

But for me, I have my mind set on too many other things. :) So what I ended up doing was tuning by bari up a whole step to ADF#B and putting a capo on the third fret to play in GCEA. It may seem like a pointless exercise (just play your tenor, silly), but it actually achieved multiple goals: 1) it increased the tension of the strings a little (I'm used to the high tension of a tenor, so baris and sopranos always seem too "floppy" for me); 2) it allowed me to enjoy the sound of the larger-bodied bari without having to think about the chords; and 3) it allowed me to "capo down" up to three half steps if a song was too high for me to sing. That last point has opened up many songs to me that I wouldn't other wise be able to sing. (I know I could just learn the songs in a different key, but sometime the best key to sing a song in is not a great key to play the ukulele in.) This is not the answer for everyone, but it works for my needs.

- FiL

drbekken
01-26-2017, 07:04 AM
The more you play both tunings the easier it gets. It's all about practice. Time and patience, too. Good luck!

bunnyf
01-26-2017, 02:31 PM
The more you play both tunings the easier it gets. It's all about practice. Time and patience, too. Good luck!
This.

I now find myself playing a good mixture of soprano, baritone, and guitar, with the majority of the time on my Bari. After a fairly short while, I found it not very difficult to switch between different scale length and tuning. With continued regular use of all three, it becomes somewhat second nature. I'm not saying this happens overnight, but it wasn't the struggle that I thought it would be.

vcs700s
01-26-2017, 02:51 PM
The more you play both tunings the easier it gets. It's all about practice. Time and patience, too. Good luck!

Well said.

Sandee
01-26-2017, 05:21 PM
Great question! Thanks for asking! I want to try a Bari as well, and was wondering the same thing. Fun to read the responses :)

Tootler
01-26-2017, 10:19 PM
I dealt with this some years earlier as a recorder player playing C and F recorders involves learning different names for the same fingering. It takes a little time but it does become easier over time. Going from GCEA to DGBE involved a similar process, though I had already partially dealt with it as I have one of my sopranos tuned ADF#B. There is the approach that some people adopt of thinking of everything in C tuning but I'm not convinced that's a good idea. It's the usual approach if you put a capo on, to leave the chord names the same and write where you put the capo at the top of the chord sheet. If you have the ukulele in a different tuning learn the chord names for that tuning.

kypfer
01-27-2017, 05:43 AM
I now find myself playing a good mixture of soprano, baritone, and guitar, with the majority of the time on my Bari. After a fairly short while, I found it not very difficult to switch between different scale length and tuning. With continued regular use of all three, it becomes somewhat second nature. I'm not saying this happens overnight, but it wasn't the struggle that I thought it would be.

I'm much the same ... + banjo & mandolin ... no big deal after a while ;)

I tend to think in "instrument-keys" - so, banjo-G, guitar-G, mandolin-G etc.

I try NOT to equate C on the guitar to F on the ukulele, or whatever, just serves to confuse if I'm reading from tab when the fingers go into "autopilot"! ... if that doesn't make sense, the F shape on a soprano ukulele is the same as a C shape on a guitar ;)

I must admit I find switching between different fretted instruments easier than switching between C and F recorders ... or clarinet for that matter, it's all down to practice ;)

:music:

TheCraftedCow
01-27-2017, 05:50 AM
I have a paper translator that makes it easy to make the switch between different tunings. It makes it quick and easy to convert from instrument to instrument. If I had your email, I would send you a copy. If I knew which section of the site to post it, I would do it....also need to know how to send something to this site.

Osprey
01-27-2017, 06:22 AM
I have a paper translator that makes it easy to make the switch between different tunings. It makes it quick and easy to convert from instrument to instrument. If I had your email, I would send you a copy. If I knew which section of the site to post it, I would do it....also need to know how to send something to this site.

PM sent. Thanks for offering this. I can use any help.

JackLuis
01-27-2017, 06:31 AM
The handiest thing I found to develop the C-G shift is a pair of ~128 Chord Charts one for C and one for G tuning. I down loaded them and my neighbor who has a lamination machine laminated a set for each of us so we have them handy and they are durable. The plastic makes them easy to identify in our music binders and it is a quick way to verify the chord forms, when we are unsure of the Bari or concert forms. It also keeps our lead sheets less busy when the chord forms are not on the lead sheets. We also have a Key Chord Chart with Major and minor Key's shown to quickly identify the chords in the keys so transposition is easier.

Since much of Uke music is in the Key of C, I often play it using C forms and it comes out in G, which is easier on the baritone and easier for me to sing to. Since he bought his baritone last month, we often use the "just play C forms" method wen we jam with our bari's.

I think most of quick printing shops will do lamination for you so it isn't necessary to own a lamination machine.