View Full Version : Ex Guitar player-GCEA or baritone?

07-16-2017, 07:56 PM
Hey folks

Am an expat Australian living in Vietnam at the moment. I played a lot of guitar and harmonica ( in bands ) when I was younger. Luggage restrictions ( and not playing much ) meant that shipping the guitars wasn't a high priority but now with some time on my hands am thinking about getting back into the music ( harmonicas are with me).

A ukulele is appealing (rather than buying a guitar) as most travelling is done by scooter. Yes I could buy a guitar bag with straps ( I'm sure some of you have seen the stuff people can move over here on their scooter including fridges, couches etc). but the smaller size is definitely a plus.

Preferred music will be around bluesy/ballady type stuff.

The questions I have for the more knowledgeable is should I go with a soprano - tenor in GCEA or go a baritone and "reuse" the cord patterns I know from guitar.

That being said, from early research it appears most of the shops over here only do up to a tenor so it might be moot!

Anyone else been in this situation?

All useful information and thoughts greatly appreciated :)

Croaky Keith
07-16-2017, 10:02 PM
Welcome aboard. :)

Depends on how big or small you want your uke, but a baritone usually has a better/deeper tone.

A tenor would likely suit your purposes, it can be down tuned or restrung to dGBE re entrant or DGBE linear, so you could just use the basic shapes you are already used to, allowing that you will be 2 strings less, or you can use the basic shapes on a gCEA or GCEA tuned, but just be in a different key.

(There is another option, a guitarlele, a six string the size of a tenor usually.)

07-16-2017, 10:10 PM
It all really depends on what you want to achieve!

A baritone, tuned DGBE, will serve well as a "substitute" guitar, where all the guitar chord-shapes you know will still work, in the same key as they would be on a guitar.

A gCEA tuned instrument is like a guitar with a capo on the fifth fret ... same chord shapes, just different names ... a D-shape plays G, etc., so no great learning curve!

Good luck :music:

07-16-2017, 11:27 PM
Hi and welcome. From a learning perspective, it doesn't matter: a guitar has the same chord shapes as a baritone, but they're also the same on the other sizes, just transferred up four full steps, like a guitar capoed at the fifth fret.

What might be more important is that sopranos ar mostly tuned reentrant (the fourth string being higher than the third and second), while tenors and baritones are more likely to take linear tuning like you're used to from guitars.

With your preferences in music, I suppose a tenor or baritone with linear tuning would be more apt. Baritones have a pretty bluesy and guitar-like sound, but some tune their tenors down a step or two to give it a deeper sound.

So in the end, I guess it all depends on how important portability is for you. You can achieve similar things with a tenor, but their still a lot smaller and hence more portable than a baritone.

By the way: Romero Creations makes an instrument called "Tiny Tenor" which is specifically designed for portability. As it so happens, they are made in Vietnam.

Good luck, and please report back on what you decide.

07-16-2017, 11:33 PM
Have you considered a Guitalele or Guitarlele??? If you don't want to spend a lot, consider the 3 least expensive Cordoba's.

07-16-2017, 11:37 PM
I'd go for gCEA tuning, and probably a concert size.

Much easier to transport by scooter!

But also a linear tuned (low D) baritone tends to sound like a guitar with two strings missing, especially if you play it as if it were a guitar. If you then move on a smaller size, that guitar playing technique will go with you, and you'll find it hard to switch to the different technique for playing a uke which brings out its musical potential. Better to start with something which is noticeably different and learn to play it differently - if you then pick up a baritone, all your guitar experience should come back.

07-17-2017, 03:20 AM
My two cents worth, it isn't hard to learn to play a re-entrant tuned ukulele, especially if you have already played a guitar. I mean, you just learn some chords. All the finger dexterity and everything else is already there.

07-17-2017, 05:41 AM
I'd say a Tenor tuned dGBE would do you very well. smaller that a bari or guitar and plenty of sound. There seem to be a number of Uke makers in VN, maybe look up Bruce Wei. He get some good comments here on UU.

Have a '33' for me some day. :D

07-17-2017, 12:47 PM
Go to a music store that sells ukes and try the different sizes. See which one you like the feel and sound of best. Portability goes to the soprano then concert, then tenor. Baritone is not really super portable like the smaller sizes but it can be made to work. A baritone will give you a guitar like sound, all the other in reentrant tuning sound like a ukulele.

Tenors are nice because it is still portable, can sound like a uke in reentrant or guitar like in low G, my preference.

07-17-2017, 08:38 PM
Well strike while the iron's hot.

I visit a few local stores ( I'm not in Hanoi or Saigon so choices are limited). Seems the only options around here are Soprano or Concert.

I didn't want to pay a fortune but ended up buying the most expensive one in the shop I think :p Why? Because the look ,sound and feel was right and the intonation at 12th fret was good. Some of the cheaper ones intonation was sooo off it wasn't funny. Just a Chinese made Andrew Concert but should do me well. Already thinking of going for a search for some new strings.

I must admit i was worried about how I'd test a uke not knowing any chords, but after seeing a video on how it's just a guitar capoed up 5 frets (as mentioned above) I could easily put together a G, C , D (Guitar) progression to test it out feel wise and sound wise...easy peasy.

Hopefully a well spend 1,000,000 !! :p

Having not played guitar for a while, I need to give my fingers a bit of toughening up :)

Thanks for suggestions and comments all

Let the woodshedding begin!

Croaky Keith
07-17-2017, 09:58 PM
Concert scale is good - I spent my first 6 months learning, mainly on that scale.

Strings - I like Living Water Low G, have them on most of my ukes. :)