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bsfloyd
08-05-2018, 09:15 AM
Hello everyone! I love playing classical music on my ukulele. I've really been into fifths tuning lately. I'm curious to hear what other classical players are using for instruments. Do you like soprano, concert, tenor, baritone, long necks, short necks? I know players like Samantha Muir, Rob MacKillop, and the late great John King can be seen playing their soprano instruments - which has been my preferred size and scale length lately. What is your preference? What do you look for when selecting an instrument for classical music. What is your string of choice? Thanks.

upskydowncloud
08-05-2018, 09:23 AM
I try to play a variety of music and do like classical! I always go for a tenor scale because of the range, and it’s also a bit easier to play higher up the fretboard as the ukulele is physically bigger. I use d’Addario Pro Arte strings.

Rllink
08-05-2018, 10:58 AM
What exactly is classical music on the ukulele? Is that like classical guitar music, your traditional Hawaiian music, or is it like Bach fugues?

Spicysteve
08-05-2018, 01:20 PM
Wow !! Nice find Campbell. I can’t even begin to describe how much I enjoyed that!!
Thank you so much for sharing that.

Cheers,

Steve.

bsfloyd
08-06-2018, 03:09 AM
Yes Rllink, classical as in Bach and the like. Great post Campbell!

Thanks for sharing, upskydowncloud. I've been meaning to add a tenor, or perhaps a long scale concert. Your point about playing higher up the fretboard is a good one.

stevepetergal
08-06-2018, 05:03 AM
I play only "classical" (really almost entirely Baroque) on ukulele. I use conventional ukulele tuning (both high and low G). In choosing an ukulele, I consider two things. First, I want an instrument I trust is of high enough quality to warrant the money I will spend having it professionally set up, every few years. Second I consider sound. The darker the sound, the better, for me. This being said, I have found that tone is heavily dependent on technique.

Although, I may occasionally experiment just a bit, I am perfectly happy with the results I get with fluorocarbon strings (usually Worth, but never the browns ones). I have Aquila sugars on one instrument and they sound very good so far. As for low G, I use a wound string. There are many and I find little difference between them.

I play only concerts, but only because of the limitations of my skills. I would find it difficult to begin adjusting to new scale sizes.

Rllink, Classical ukulele is very different from classic ukulele music. (And I'd be very interested to hear someone play a fugue!!!)

bsfloyd
08-06-2018, 05:34 AM
Thanks for sharing, stevepetergal. Are you tuned to A=415, the so called Baroque standard of the time? I would like to think this may aid in the darker timbre.

bratsche
08-06-2018, 06:35 AM
I play Bach and my own classical-baroque influenced fingerstyle arrangements of traditional tunes (mostly hymns). I prefer tenor and baritone - those are the only ukuleles I own, preferring their larger bodies' sound, and they're all tuned in fifths because I think in fifths tuning.

bratsche

Joyful Uke
08-06-2018, 07:49 AM
I play concerts, which is the size that works for me. (I'd play tenors if it didn't cause hand pain.) I play a mix of music, with some classical music mixed in there. Standard tuning, both linear & reentrant, with Living Waters strings being my favorite, & if linear, a Freemont wound low g string.

bsfloyd
08-06-2018, 09:51 AM
Thanks for sharing, bratsche and Joyful Uke! I'm a looooong time guitar player that discovered fifths tuning while studying the violin. I adapted to it very well and appreciate it's structure on the fretboard. Nowadays, I'm playing more ukulele (in fifths) and mandolin, though do still pick up the guitar from time to time. I find I never loose the fourths (with a third thrown in), muscle memory.

stevepetergal
08-07-2018, 03:06 AM
Thanks for sharing, stevepetergal. Are you tuned to A=415, the so called Baroque standard of the time? I would like to think this may aid in the darker timbre.

No, I tune to A440 (or about 440). For the same reason I tune in the conventional ukulele tunings in the Key of C, I tune at the (current) conventional pitch. My instruments were all built for these conventions. Perhaps I would be comfortable buying "high-tension" strings and lowering the pitch, but perhaps not. I choose to keep my efforts, regarding strings and the instruments simple. I prefer to concentrate on technique, not experimentation. I play one size ukulele and one tuning.

This works well for me as I, as mentioned in my previous post, use technique to develop tone. As for timbre, I said I prefer darkness or a colorful tone in an instrument. But this is my preference, not right or wrong.

Down Up Dick
08-07-2018, 04:47 AM
What Baroque pieces do you classical music ukers play? I like Bach a lot and stumble through some of his easy pieces, mostly by ear, but I also read music especially using fifths. So far, I mostly play just the melodies, but, from what I’ve seen, most of it played on uke or banjo is played that way.

Do you play your Baroque pieces with chords?

Also, I looked up the Aquila fifths string set for soprano ukes, and it says it’s tuned GDAe. Is that correct? It seems wierd to me. My Lanikai concert banjolele is tuned to CGDA, and it’s okay. But I’ve found that in tuning ukes to fifths, one must either use a high C for CGDA or the E’s too low for GDAE. Unless one uses the concert tuning sets (maybe for tenor too), but I dunno.

Well, so far, I’m just noodling classical music on my ukes. Mostly, I play it on my tenor banjo. I just thought I might pick up more info in this thread.

Thanks in advance. :old:

bsfloyd
08-07-2018, 05:30 AM
Also, I looked up the Aquila fifths string set for soprano ukes, and it says it’s tuned GDAe. Is that correct? It seems wierd to me. My Lanikai concert banjolele is tuned to CGDA, and it’s okay. But I’ve found that in tuning ukes to fifths, one must either use a high C for CGDA or the E’s too low for GDAE. Unless one uses the concert tuning sets (maybe for tenor too), but I dunno.

Aquila makes two sets for fifths tuning - they label their soprano set GDAe (same as the mandolin), and their concert set CGDA. However, I use their concert set for soprano. I have read stories about the soprano set high e string breaking due to the high pitch tension (though I also read that some have had success if they brought it up to pitch very slowly over a span of days. There has been mention of a fishing line substitute that works fine as well.), but I tried the concert set for soprano and I like the results. This same concert set has been said to work well on tenor scale, and also on baritone scale if tuned down to octave mandolin tuning. Of course I can only speak for the concert set on my sopranos, the other is just what I have read here on the forums - but still meaning to try.

Down Up Dick
08-07-2018, 06:26 AM
Aquila makes two sets for fifths tuning - they label their soprano set GDAe (same as the mandolin), and their concert set CGDA. However, I use their concert set for soprano. I have read stories about the soprano set high e string breaking due to the high pitch tension (though I also read that some have had success if they brought it up to pitch very slowly over a span of days. There has been mention of a fishing line substitute that works fine as well.), but I tried the concert set for soprano and I like the results. This same concert set has been said to work well on tenor scale, and also on baritone scale if tuned down to octave mandolin tuning. Of course I can only speak for the concert set on my sopranos, the other is just what I have read here on the forums - but still meaning to try.

My mandolin is tuned GDAE (doubled) like a mandolin. Are you talking about Aquila strings for mandolin? But I can’t imagine Aquila nylgut concert strings on a baritone Uke.

Anyway, what classical pieces are you presently playing on your ukes? :old:

bratsche
08-07-2018, 07:19 AM
What Baroque pieces do you classical music ukers play? I like Bach a lot and stumble through some of his easy pieces, mostly by ear, but I also read music especially using fifths. So far, I mostly play just the melodies, but, from what Iíve seen, most of it played on uke or banjo is played that way.

Do you play your Baroque pieces with chords?

I play a lot of JS Bach pieces from his repertoire for cello (six suites) and violin (six sonatas and partitas). Each one of these works is comprised of 5 or 6 movements, so there is a ton of music in there to keep one busy and interested, ranging from readily accessible to virtuoso-level difficulty and everywhere in between. I play a mix of all those, and probably have at least 90 minutes' worth of Bach, maybe more, committed to memory.

Some of my learning began when I was a whippersnapper violin student, then some cello bits got learned when I switched to viola, but I've added lots to it since then, and keep on using it to keep my brain young and flexible. ;)

bratsche

SandChannel
08-07-2018, 07:40 AM
Great thread. I'm hoping to delve into some classical as well. At the moment, I am working through MacKillop's Celtic Fingerstyle book, but I am going to dive into Paul Mansell's Classical Uke book next!

Down Up Dick
08-07-2018, 07:50 AM
Yes, I like some of Bachs cello pieces, but most of what you listed are probably beyond me. I’m playing his Minuet in G and Sheep May Safely Graze, etc. Just whatever I can remember from my flute days. I’m also bangin’ away at Handl’s Hornpipe from the Water music. And though it’s not Baroque, I’m fumbling with Beethoven’s Fur Elise too. I’m also playing a few other things as they pop into my head.

I know all this is pretty basic, but I’m really just beginning. I only took up uke because my flute embouchure was growing old and weak. Since then I’ve taken up banjo/mandolin which I really prefer.

bsfloyd
08-07-2018, 11:40 AM
My mandolin is tuned GDAE (doubled) like a mandolin. Are you talking about Aquila strings for mandolin? But I can’t imagine Aquila nylgut concert strings on a baritone Uke.

Anyway, what classical pieces are you presently playing on your ukes? :old:

I think we may have a communication gap :) When I mentioned the Aquila 30U for soprano in GDAE tuning like a mandolin, I was just referring to the pitches. They both share the same pitches. Actually, when using the Aquila 31U for concert scale in CGDA tuning for baritone instruments, tune it down like an octave mandolin or else the tension would be too high. As mentioned, I have not actually tried this but have read about it here on the forums. It does seem like it could work though with the longer scale. The strings may be a little slack though.

I like to play the mentioned Bach pieces, as well as Handel and Mozart. I do have a great deal of violin music that I have been meaning to dig out to give a whirl. I know I have some Wohlfhardt exercises that would surely give me a run for my money! I also have a nice collection of O'Carolan pieces I love to play.

bsfloyd
08-07-2018, 11:46 AM
Great thread. I'm hoping to delve into some classical as well. At the moment, I am working through MacKillop's Celtic Fingerstyle book, but I am going to dive into Paul Mansell's Classical Uke book next!

I've had Rob's Celtic Fingerstyle book on my want list for a while now. It looks like a great book! However, I do play spectrum style - so I guess I play my ukulele more like classical mandolin. I've had my years of fingerstyle from my classical guitar days, but I really enjoy plectrum style now.

Down Up Dick
08-07-2018, 12:23 PM
What is spectrum style? Plectrum style? What pieces do you like to play? :old:

bsfloyd
08-07-2018, 12:38 PM
Sorry, auto correct. Not spectrum, plectrum. Using a pick.

For Bach, I like the well known Cello Suite Prelude, minuets from The Little Clavier Book for Anna Magdalena, Handel's Harmonius Blacksmith, Minuets from Leopold Mozart (Wolfgang's father), some early dances from Dowland as well as some medieval dances from unknown composers, etc. Pretty much of the mentioned, as well as others, can be found in mandolin books.

Down Up Dick
08-07-2018, 02:31 PM
Great!, Camsuke, and thanks for slowing it down. I enjoyed it a lot. :old:

bsfloyd
08-08-2018, 12:16 AM
Thanks for sharing, Campbell! I like your arrangement.

SandChannel
08-08-2018, 06:02 AM
I've had Rob's Celtic Fingerstyle book on my want list for a while now. It looks like a great book! However, I do play spectrum style - so I guess I play my ukulele more like classical mandolin. I've had my years of fingerstyle from my classical guitar days, but I really enjoy plectrum style now.

Rob does have a book called "Twenty Old Time American Tunes" that he arranged for plectrum playing. Here is a clip of him playing through some of the tunes:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jjo1h8lCno

bsfloyd
08-08-2018, 11:13 AM
Rob does have a book called "Twenty Old Time American Tunes" that he arranged for plectrum playing. Here is a clip of him playing through some of the tunes:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jjo1h8lCno

Thanks for sharing this SandChannel!! I remember seeing this book on Amazon, but I didn't know it was for plectrum style. Also, I love Old Time! This book is a must for me.

I'm very impressed with Ron's versatile playing. His banjo work is also an inspiration to me - it makes want to get a tenor banjo one day.

SandChannel
08-08-2018, 12:19 PM
If it has strings, Rob can play it. He is a brilliant musician.