View Full Version : Thoughts on Low G Strings and Baritone Ukes

10-31-2009, 01:01 PM
I've been playing uke for almost two years now. And I had never really given the Baritone uke or even low G tuning a chance. I did buy a Pono PKT with Low G Ko'olau Golds on them. But I hated the sound, because it just didn't sound right, and took the strings off and swapped them for Aquilas (I was in my Aquila phase back then...played nothing but Aquilas) as soon as I got home.

But the whole time, I've heard things about how everyone needed to try Low G because they'd love it. The KoAloha Factory suggested I put low Gs on my uke when I had pickup work done there (amazing install job), but I turned them down on that one and had them use my favorite high Gs. But if Paul and Brian recommend something, you know it's good stuff. So recently, MGM put Worth CT LGs up. (I'm in a Worth phase now...if I restring something, it is with the appropriate set of Worth Clears.) And when I got them (which is very fast with MGM) I threw it on a Koa Pili Koko tenor. It was sort of an annoying restring because I needed to sand both the nut and saddle slots wider to take the fatter low G string. But it was not too difficult because I had already sanded down all of the nut slots and the bridge to lower the action, which makes the KPK play almost as smooth as any of the "K-brand" tenors. (Paying for a setup has become a no no for me...I've been there and tried it, and the guitar tech did no better than I could have done myself. Since my time is free, it was a complete waste of money.)

Anyway, as for sound, I love the low G sound now. Maybe it's because I've been playing more guitar recently, but I actually like the sound. Not too different, but with that extra layer of bass. I'm not going to stop playing high G, because that's still the sound that I'm used to, and the sound that all of the artists I love (Aldrine, Jake, Danyo, etc) play with. If you haven't tried low G, you definitely should get a set and put it on a uke. It made a believer out of me. And now I can try Dom's Europa tab!

As for Baritone ukes, I recently added one to my arsenal. And I thought I would really like it because it is a beautifully made uke, and it is basically a mini guitar, so something I'd be sorta familiar with. And it really does sound good strung up with Worth clears. But I feel like unless you have mad transposing skills and can transpose up 5 half steps in the blink of an eye, it's not really an instrument that you can play with others. I know, because I tried. And I don't have mad transposing skills, and all I could really do was play fills in the jam session. It takes me a little while to figure out that a C chord on uke is a F chord on baritone. I need to actually count it out...so it doesn't work well at all after a few social beverages.

If people are into trying a new uke, the baritone isn't really on the top of my list of suggestions. I'd actually recommend one of the other sizes first, just because it sounds so different from a uke. I think it actually sounds like a totally different type of instrument.

Anyway, enough about me. I just wanted to know what you guys thought about Low G and Baritone ukes.

10-31-2009, 02:52 PM
for me the low G is just for strumming, for melodies I use the high G in melody lines going back and forth and to get a low G is quite a shock.

But for backing up, it's better, a little richer, and fuller sound. A lot of uke chords have the same notes repeated on the first and fourth strings and having them an octave apart is nice.

For baritone, just learn the chord names. Yes, it's a different instrument but you can do it. I don't see all that much point in several sizes of uke that all play the same notes. In other instrument families, different sizes play different notes so you can learn one machine and play in different ranges.

If you're confused when playing the baritone, write out your music using transposed chords. Then you won't have to transpose in real time. That's how wind players do it. They play a C on paper, and it comes out Bb or Eb depending on which horn they have in their mouth.

So you would write your baritone sheet out transposed, and when you play along with someone else, it will be correct. For example, sit down with a new sheet of paper, and when a C chord is called for, you write F. When you play your uke F, it will be a C. When you play your uke C, it will be a G.

10-31-2009, 03:39 PM
I like the low G tuning for melodic playing, because you get a wider range of notes when you have a low G string. That opens up a lot of melodies to being played in different keys, since you now have four additional notes at the bottom end of your scale. It doesn't really confuse me much, going from low G tuning and High G, since for chords it makes no difference, and for melodic picking, it is a whole separate group of songs. I would not give up my high G ukes; I like to have variety.


10-31-2009, 04:06 PM
Slap a set of high fourth strings on that bari, or go low fourth GCEA. Voila, long scale tenor!

10-31-2009, 08:21 PM
Slap a set of high fourth strings on that bari, or go low fourth GCEA. Voila, long scale tenor!
Thats what I'm going to try on mine. I just bought a Hilo Baritone for $10 and MGM has a set of Aquila's (high G) and a single low G string, so I figured it would be a great way to have a uke set up with the low G and not have to change out my tenor.

Ahnko Honu
10-31-2009, 09:47 PM
My baritone "Doane Clone" is strung with Aquila GCEA but I recently ordered several D'addario J4804s to try as low g so will be trying out on this 'ukulele.