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blaise.douros
04-17-2018, 06:07 AM
Hey all, I'm new to the forum--I think this is the right place to post this?

I've just developed an interest in ukes, and I'm coming at them from a specific angle--I like instrument hacking. Short background--I've played guitar since high school (I'm in my 30s now) and always sucked at managing six strings. I tried ukes once in my twenties, and got frustrated with the tuning. Traded it out for a mandolin. I like fifth-tuning, but I hate having my fingertips shredded. So my mando doesn't get a lot of play.

A couple years ago, I wanted to play bass for my church--we wanted an upright bowed sound, but I didn't have the skills to play fretless. So I had a guy build me a radiused electric upright with frets, so I could bow it without taking three years to learn fretless fingerings. So now I'm interested in instrument hacking, creating crossovers in categories that don't exist. I got a U-Bass recently, and it got me thinking--what if I could make a cello-tuned nylon-string?

So recently, I bought an inexpensive Caramel baritone uke from Amazon, and got to work. I calculated out two different string sets; one for a CGDA cello tuning, and one for GDAE (three of the strings were common, so I hedged my bets).

The cello tuning worked, but the baritone uke body wasn't quite resonating enough. I switched it out for the GDAE tuning, octave mandolin/Irish tenor guitar, and that's where I'm landing today.

It's a gas to play. It's most of the tonal range of the guitar minus the low E, with only four strings for my tiny brain. The fifths tuning makes everything so logical--three-note chords and all their inversions are easy to find up and down the neck, and if you learn a melody or chord progression in one key, it's easy to transpose to another for the most part.

So now I want to make a concert uke with mandolin tuning, or get a tenor guitar body to see if that works better as a cello.

Anyone out there interested in this stuff? Has anyone done this before? I am not having much luck figuring out what strings can take the tension for mandolin tuning.

I figure if there are like-minded people anywhere, this is the place! Happy to share any specs I've come up with along the way :)

Jim Hanks
04-17-2018, 06:52 AM
Welcome to UU! If you search for "fifths tuning" you'll find previous discussions on this topic. Try this:
https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fforum.ukuleleundergro und.com+fifths+tuning

bratsche
04-17-2018, 07:02 AM
Hi! You're not alone here. Do a forum search on "fifths tuning". Also see this thread (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?128104-Baritone-ukulele-conversion&highlight=ukecello) from a member who did a successful "ukecello" stringing of a baritone.

I am a lifelong violist, have also played mandola for quite a few years, and I have my baritone ukulele tuned GDAE and my tenors CGDA. Contrary to a few purists, I find it works very well. Some people use fifths as just another variant tuning in their arsenal, but frankly, it's the only way I could ever hope to play these instruments with any degree of natural fluency. And I don't think it's a bad thing at all to extend their lower ranges, since the body size can certainly take it.

Welcome to the forum!

bratsche

kypfer
04-17-2018, 07:54 AM
My baritone, a Brunswick, was bought specifically with 5th's tuning in mind, initially as a stand-in for a four-string banjo, but now played as an instrument in it's own right. I've got it tuned GDAE, an octave down from my mandolin, and I'm very happy with it :) The D, A and E strings are original, the G string is a guitar E string. Given that the scale length of the baritone is very similar to a guitar with a capo on the third fret, it seemed like an obvious choice :)

As an aside, a mandolin that is set up correctly shouldn't "shred your fingers" ... try Ernie Ball's "Light Gauge" (9's) if your action is already reasonably low ;)

As always ... YMMV :music:

blaise.douros
04-18-2018, 05:38 AM
Hi! You're not alone here. Do a forum search on "fifths tuning". Also see this thread (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?128104-Baritone-ukulele-conversion&highlight=ukecello) from a member who did a successful "ukecello" stringing of a baritone.

bratsche

This thread, which I read before I actually joined the forum, was part of what made me think it was possible :) I used the string calculator at http://stringtensionpro.com to calculate the gauges I'd need, and ordered up a set from LaBella--they were the only company I could find that made silver-plated-copper nylon cores in a large enough gauge. If anyone's interested, I'm happy to share, though I think I need to make some refinements. The sustain on my E string isn't what I'd like, and I think it's because the tension is too high.


As an aside, a mandolin that is set up correctly shouldn't "shred your fingers" ... try Ernie Ball's "Light Gauge" (9's) if your action is already reasonably low ;)

I probably need to give the mando another chance, but I'm loving the nylon sound a lot right now. I had it set up pretty well, but can't remember what string gauge I had on it when I loaned it to my dad.

I know there's an Aquila fifths string set for soprano uke--anyone tried it?

Lapyang
04-18-2018, 03:51 PM
I use the Aquila CGDA set on my Kanilea Concert, tuned like a cello, an octave higher. It has been working well.

Booli
04-19-2018, 10:04 AM
I've detailed my own experiences and string selections for 5ths tunings previously here on UU.

You can get to those threads by clicking on the FAQ link in my signature below.

CeeJay
04-19-2018, 10:42 AM
I've just tuned my mandolin to GCEA.

blaise.douros
04-20-2018, 06:24 AM
I've detailed my own experiences and string selections for 5ths tunings previously here on UU.

You can get to those threads by clicking on the FAQ link in my signature below.

From these threads, it sounds like you've been challenged to find a GDAE set in mandolin octave for anything other than soprano uke?

Booli
04-20-2018, 08:24 AM
From these threads, it sounds like you've been challenged to find a GDAE set in mandolin octave for anything other than soprano uke?

If you study how string tension works, you will see that getting an E5 pitched string, in other than steel strings (which is the whole point here) is near impossible unless you are looking at 0.15" dia fluoro (Savarez) or 0.20" nylon (D'Addario) strings.

The rest may fall in line, but to duplicate the pitches of a proper Mandolin G3-D4-A4-E5 on anything with a longer scale length than a soprano is a fools errand unless you wish to keep snapping strings for your E5 note repeatedly...

I do not care to try these pitches on longer than soprano.

CGDA (mandola C3-G3-D4-A4) works fine on concert, tenor, baritone and longer scales, as does GDAE as an 'octave mando' G2-D3-A3-E4 on baritone, 22" and 25" scales...

Also, I had once tried to figure out strings for '5-string octave mandola' sort of tuning on 25" scale with CGDAE as C2-G2-D3-E4-4A, but rand out of time for trying more strings...

I lack the time, the interest and the cash to try and get Mandolin G3-D4-A4-E5 pitches on anything besides a soprano. However if you are inclined to do so, then go for it :)

kypfer
04-20-2018, 11:44 AM
I've just tuned my mandolin to GCEA.

Low G or re-entrant ;)

:music:

kypfer
04-20-2018, 11:52 AM
I know there's an Aquila fifths string set for soprano uke--anyone tried it?

I've got a set on my Mahalo 'pineapple' soprano. I found when trying out hi-G and lo-G tunings that a "conventional" soprano didn't quite have the response I wanted ... the pineapple body, with it's larger capacity, gives a nicer tone to the low notes ... IMHO

CeeJay
04-20-2018, 12:14 PM
Low G or re-entrant ;)

:music:

Low G G , so I can horse around on it :biglaugh: Okay ,so maybe it wasn't that funny lol.