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View Full Version : Baritones can be tuned GCEA



DownUpDave
01-30-2017, 05:42 PM
Griffis has a thread asking about string sets to tune a baritone to low G . This of course is the same GCEA low G tuning popular on tenors, concert and sopranos can also be tuned in low G.

His thread got some replies that suprised me. People saying it sounds terrible, don't bother because you will lose all the low end, tension will be too high and on and on. One person said "the relative pitch of having your baritone tuned to GCEA is so terribly low that the tone and the resonance of the instrument is almost a cacophony" This person must have mistakenly tuned down octaves instead of up.

I have restrung and tuned up three different baritones to low G with great results. If you like low G and want more bass, sustain and resonance a baritone is a good way to do it. I use standard low G tenor strings, either South Coast HML-RW or Oasis warms. When tuning "up" you are increasing tension so you decrease string diameter to compensate, it is as simple as that.

Here is a very quick and dirty sound sample recorded on my phone of a baritone with HML-RW tuned up to GCEA. See if you think it is acceptable

https://app.box.com/s/vtu1i0akdnizflqn7hvz0j58wgh86p59

Jim Hanks
01-30-2017, 06:16 PM
Sounds fine to me. I like my baritone lower since I can't get "that sound" in the smaller ukes, but certainly there are valid reasons to do C tuning on a baritone - you like the sound, you like the fretboard space, you don't want to transpose, etc.

You're throwing me a bit with the string recommendation though. Southcoast no longer lists the HML-RW set. The HML-WB is not recommended for baritone C, neither are the ML sets. You have to go up to LML for a high tension and LL for medium tension.

DownUpDave
01-30-2017, 06:29 PM
Sounds fine to me. I like my baritone lower since I can't get "that sound" in the smaller ukes, but certainly there are valid reasons to do C tuning on a baritone - you like the sound, you like the fretboard space, you don't want to transpose, etc.

You're throwing me a bit with the string recommendation though. Southcoast no longer lists the HML-RW set. The HML-WB is not recommended for baritone C, neither are the ML sets. You have to go up to LML for a high tension and LL for medium tension.

Sorry Jim those are HML-WB and they work just fine. Tension is not much higher than on a 17" tenor, but I do prefer high tension, so some people may dislike these. I do prefer a lower tuning on a baritone but I have had some fun with the big boys tuned up to GCEA.

saltytri
01-30-2017, 06:54 PM
I'm with Dave on this. If you like playing a low G tenor, you'll probably like playing a low G baritone, which sounds pretty much like a great, big tenor.

JackLuis
01-30-2017, 09:01 PM
Nope, C does nothing for me. I tune tenors dGBE and like the Baritone re-entrant dGBE too. A capo on the first fret turns it to Bb and still Okay by me but C is too high. However that is what is so nice about Ukes, they can be what ever you want and you can still play in key. But I like the lower tensions too.

It would however be interesting to hear a ensemble of Bari's tuned differently playing together.

DownUpDave
01-31-2017, 12:37 AM
Nope, C does nothing for me. I tune tenors dGBE and like the Baritone re-entrant dGBE too. A capo on the first fret turns it to Bb and still Okay by me but C is too high. However that is what is so nice about Ukes, they can be what ever you want and you can still play in key. But I like the lower tensions too.

It would however be interesting to hear a ensemble of Bari's tuned differently playing together.

Jack this wasn't about like or dislike. It was about answering the question Griffis asked "what strings can you use for C tuning on a baritone". I don't like dGBE on a tenor, but as you say the beauty of ukes is their ease of use and flexibility.

PhilUSAFRet
01-31-2017, 12:52 AM
I suspect that is why so many bari players who tune GCEA or gCEA like Southcoast strings.....they focus more on proper tension for a given scale than most string makers.

DownUpDave
01-31-2017, 12:59 AM
I suspect that is why so many bari players who tune GCEA or gCEA like Southcoast strings.....they focus more on proper tension for a given scale than most string makers.


I agree with you on that Phil, Dirk has done a lot of work in that area. On the opposite end of things is Oasis, which are my go to strings. The same set is used for soprano, concert and tenor. These same strings are also in their classical guitar sets. This was verified by David at Oasis. That kinda blows your mind. I have worked with all those instruments with the same Oasis brights and they function well and sound nice.

cml
01-31-2017, 01:24 AM
It works, but it does sound a lot like a tenor ;).

EDW
01-31-2017, 01:45 AM
Sounds great!

Booli
01-31-2017, 02:26 AM
Griffis has a thread asking about string sets to tune a baritone to low G . This of course is the same GCEA low G tuning popular on tenors, concert and sopranos can also be tuned in low G.

His thread got some replies that suprised me. People saying it sounds terrible, don't bother because you will lose all the low end, tension will be too high and on and on. One person said "the relative pitch of having your baritone tuned to GCEA is so terribly low that the tone and the resonance of the instrument is almost a cacophony" This person must have mistakenly tuned down octaves instead of up.

I have restrung and tuned up three different baritones to low G with great results. If you like low G and want more bass, sustain and resonance a baritone is a good way to do it. I use standard low G tenor strings, either South Coast HML-RW or Oasis warms. When tuning "up" you are increasing tension so you decrease string diameter to compensate, it is as simple as that.

Here is a very quick and dirty sound sample recorded on my phone of a baritone with HML-RW tuned up to GCEA. See if you think it is acceptable

https://app.box.com/s/vtu1i0akdnizflqn7hvz0j58wgh86p59

Sounds great Dave! Very oo-koo-lay-lee like :)

Thanks for sharing the sound sample :music:

I know that first chord progression is used in many songs, but could not help think of the Jason Mraz 'I'm Yours' from the strumming pattern, and followed by The Eagles 'Hotel California', but was the next one The Animals 'House of The Rising Sun'?

Griffis
01-31-2017, 03:33 AM
Really appreciate this. As I said in the other thread, I need to replace the strings on my bari. The G string mysteriously broke.

I definitely want linear tuning on the bari.

I do enjoy the lower Chicago tuning, but my aging, addled brain would enjoy not transposing from C. On the other thread, someone hipped me to Guadalupe strings who make both gCEA and GCEA sets for bari.

Really, with DGBE I'm only gaining a couple of lower notes, right?

Osprey
01-31-2017, 04:41 AM
I picked up my first Baritone ukulele on Saturday. I didn't mess with it much over the weekend (my Uke group had a gig on Sunday and I didn't want to confuse myself). I did spend some time with it yesterday and I am really getting into the DGBE tuning. This may change, but now I am enjoying the distinct difference between the tenor and the Baritone. It is good to have both. I will try to take some pictures today and do a NUD post.

Croaky Keith
01-31-2017, 04:58 AM
:agree: Definately sounds like a tenor uke with more sustain, but worth knowing, so thanks for posting. :)

Booli
01-31-2017, 05:04 AM
Really appreciate this. As I said in the other thread, I need to replace the strings on my bari. The G string mysteriously broke.

I definitely want linear tuning on the bari.

I do enjoy the lower Chicago tuning, but my aging, addled brain would enjoy not transposing from C. On the other thread, someone hipped me to Guadalupe strings who make both gCEA and GCEA sets for bari.

Really, with DGBE I'm only gaining a couple of lower notes, right?

Aquila ALSO makes string sets for C6 GCEA tuning on baritone:

Nylgut #23U
http://www.stringsandbeyond.com/aq23unysofit.html

LAVA #117U
http://www.stringsandbeyond.com/aqlasebagctu.html

If you use my referral link here, and click this (http://goo.gl/oqLYcF) before purchasing from any other link (it sets a browser cookie), you save 10% and I get points to use for my future string purchases.

I have tried both sets on my Makala MK-B baritone and liked them well enough, but went back to linear G6 DGBE since I already have a few tenors in C6 GCEA tuning with a nice sound that I like.

DownUpDave
01-31-2017, 05:49 AM
I picked up my first Baritone ukulele on Saturday. I didn't mess with it much over the weekend (my Uke group had a gig on Sunday and I didn't want to confuse myself). I did spend some time with it yesterday and I am really getting into the DGBE tuning. This may change, but now I am enjoying the distinct difference between the tenor and the Baritone. It is good to have both. I will try to take some pictures today and do a NUD post.

Congratulations Cliff, I am really happy for you. Baritones in DGBE have a relaxed mellow tone and vibe about them that I love. I look forward to your NUD post.

Croaky Keith
01-31-2017, 07:49 AM
Really, with DGBE I'm only gaining a couple of lower notes, right?

You gain or lose 5 semitones. :)

JackLuis
01-31-2017, 08:34 AM
Sorry if my comment above was rude.

The strings sounded 'good' and the baritone body does add some resonance to the C tuning. I had thought of using GCEA on my baritone when I first got it, but soon after realized that you give up (as Keith says) 5 semitones. I learned quickly to play bari chords and got the same result with proper fingering. It can be confusing for a while to make the shift but it becomes easier with a little time.

I've only been playing Uke for two years, one year on Baritone. The baritone has taught me a lot and I hope it will teah me more as I start the Baritone Ukulele Aerobics course, this week. In fact I need to go practice with my Uke Buddy. so Happy Strumming guys what ever you play!

southcoastukes
01-31-2017, 12:30 PM
Hello all,

Yes, we do have strings for all sorts of C tuning forms on all sized Ukuleles. You can tune to both g' c' e' a' or g c' e' a'. But for those who are looking for strumming or chord melody as opposed to picking (picking is not excluded - just takes some adapting) then there are a couple more forms that will give you C tuning and deeper sound.

C tuning in both the Cuatro form: g c' e' a and Lili'u form: g' c' e' a provide added depth. The latter is new in gauges that give C tuning on a 20" scale and it gives very nice reentrant inversions for chords in the first positions as well as up the neck.

strumsilly
01-31-2017, 01:13 PM
I suspect that is why so many bari players who tune GCEA or gCEA like Southcoast strings.....they focus more on proper tension for a given scale than most string makers.
yes. I thought my Favilla baritones sounded great with them.

southcoastukes
02-01-2017, 12:21 PM
In looking back at this thread I noticed (should always begin with the first post) that Dave started it all up because of a perception that Baritones couldn't or shouldn't be in C tuning. I guess I should have realized that perception was out there, since Baritones were "designed" for a Linear G set-up. Then again bear in mind the "who it was for" (young novices) and the "why" (too small to play a "real" guitar) of that design and you realize there just might be options for those who don't have "6-string guitar trainer" as their main objective.

You just might make the argument that the original tuning was in fact a Linear C. That is if you stretch things a bit and count the Renaissance Guitar as the forebear of the Baritone Ukulele. They are about the same size and both have four courses, though in the earlier design some of the courses could often be doubled. The tuning was Sol Do Mi La, which in fixed note tuning would now be g c' e' a'. Then they didn't use fixed pitch, so there could be some variation, and even substantial variation in solo play, but the standard was in the same neighborhood as what a lot of Ukulele players use for C tuning today.

There were reentrant forms as well, and you find one of those on the direct ancestor of the Renaissance Guitar, the Cuatro Venezolano. Right around the time the Baritone Ukulele came out, however, a fellow named Fredy Reyna, deceased now, but a legend in his country today, took the national Venzuelan instrument and began playing it in Linear form. Now called the "Cuatro Solista" style, in fixed pitch he was often lower than C tuning - usually around B flat, sometimes lower (however, in "moveable Do" you can still call it Sol Do Mi La).

Today the finest practioner of the Cuatro Solista style is a fellow called the "Maestro" down south: Leonardo Lozano. All this is a roundabout way to get to some sound. A lot of folks reading this post may wonder about the sound, and up north you really aren't going to find a lot of polished players playing at C tuning pitch. And not all of them do down south either, but Leonardo likes to compose duets for piano, and so I imagine he finds that pitch well suited to those situations. At any rate, he is generally in fixed tuning and it is almost always g c' e' a'.

Most of the videos you find of him are those that display his unmatched technique, but I found one that is slow, simple, and though his Cuatro is actually a bit bigger than a Baritone (Cuatro sizes are not fixed either) for those who are curious about the sound, I think this gives a good idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO0wVxzsQiY&list=PLfVCj2C0TnIrV0PvtUd5bJd4hHzJXYjb_&index=11


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO0wVxzsQiY

Everybody has their preference as to sound, of course. That's as it should be. The "warm" heavy sound of the original Baritone tuning, the ringing clarity you hear from Leonardo, or the intemediate range (I like it there myself). But hopefully this video will show that "viability" should never be a question with a Linear C set-up on the Baritone.

DownUpDave
02-01-2017, 01:39 PM
I just want to say Thanks Dirk for adding to this thread and our knowledge base. You are always a wealth of great information and I appreciate it. Oh......you make pretty good strings too:), three of my favorite tenors have your HML-WB set.

WCBarnes
02-01-2017, 02:18 PM
IMHO, one of the best aspects of the baritone IS that it is so flexible and accommodating to many different types of tuning. In addition to the linear/re-entrant G and C tuning that has already been discussed, it also sounds extremely good in A or Bb tuning. That is all I have experimented with to this point, but I am sure others could chime in with alternate an alternate baritone tuning they have tried and enjoyed.