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View Full Version : low g or high g...mmmm...



jonnyonauke
02-01-2010, 09:09 PM
hi, i'm sure this has been discussed many times, but....

i'm pretty new to the ukulele, but have been playing guitar for many years.
my concert uke has a high g, which i find a bit disconcerting after playing the guitar, but i really wanted to go hi-g as it seemed to be the 'proper' tuning, and i wanted to get some transcriptions for uke which i pesumed would be in this tuning.

however i'm coming across a lot of music and players using low g, so now i'm doubtful - it would be easier to play for me too..

so any thoughts, recommendations, what do you prefer?

thanks
Jonny

iDavid
02-01-2010, 09:48 PM
I am a long time guitar player and now have moved full time to Uke.

Started with a Baritone and thought my daughters high-g soprano was odd

Then got a tenor and decided the High-g is the coolest thing and now it sounds so right

Now I am thinking a Concert is more my speed.

Guitar now seems big and harsh sounding.

Never thought I would be a Uke player, but man do I love it.

heyjude
02-01-2010, 11:49 PM
Two ukes, one of each. Unless you're a strummer and then high G is the way to go IMO. I'm a beginner but I need high G when playing melodies such as Over The Rainbow, Waltzing Matilda or Cheating Heart but prefer low G for Ashoken Farewell, Wildwood Flower and a few gospel tunes I noodle around with.

Jude

jonnyonauke
02-02-2010, 01:07 AM
thanks for the replies

i should add that i'm mostly interested in solo fingerstyle stuff

deach
02-02-2010, 01:13 AM
thanks for the replies

i should add that i'm mostly interested in solo fingerstyle stuff

That Aldrine guy uses reentrant tuning and it hasn't hampered his solo fingerstyle stuff.

Like heyjude said, get one of each.

jonnyonauke
02-02-2010, 02:23 AM
at last a valid reason to buy another uke!

ukecantdothat
02-02-2010, 05:53 AM
That Aldrine guy uses reentrant tuning and it hasn't hampered his solo fingerstyle stuff.


No kidding. There are some pretty cool four-finger roll things that you can only get thru reentrant tuning - those "inside out" patterns if that makes sense. And when I grow up, I shall have one of each. The blues really benefit from a low G.

UkuEroll
02-02-2010, 06:59 AM
at last a valid reason to buy another uke!
I guess you where waiting for that as an excuse...UAS has struck again :-)

UKISOCIETY
02-02-2010, 07:03 AM
Depends on the music you'll be playing. If I'm playing old country blues or bluegrass, the low- G is necessary. But on so many other types of music, the reentrant G sounds wonderful.

Yep. 2 ukes.

johncaudrey
02-02-2010, 07:15 AM
at last a valid reason to buy another uke!

I never need a reason to buy a new uke, just the money!

GrumpyCoyote
02-02-2010, 07:18 AM
q: Low G or high G?
a: Yes!

I play both. It depends on what I want out of the song.

Now for the rant (some folks get pretty uptight about this subject). The whole "strum vs. picking" thing is largley non-sense. Low G does give you notes below middle C, but it's not needed really. Same goes for High G sounding "right" - non-sense to me. Arguably the most popular uke song (certainly the one played the most off the islands - "Over the Rainbow") is done on low G. There is no such thing as "right".

To me, It's all about the right tool for the sound I want at the time... It's not a religion, or marriage - switch it up as often as you like.

Want a nice bright strum with cool inversions? Pick up your high G... see if that helps.
Need a lower register for a melody, or a decending bass-line? Low G migh be good for that song.

Ukes are nearly the most inexpensive stringed instrument I can think of - even the on high end. Having one in each tuning is part of being a uke player in my opinion. Not required of course, but it doubles what you can do. Even though I mostly play in Low G, I'd feel like one hand was tied behind my back if I couldn't play High G for some songs.

Lori
02-02-2010, 07:56 AM
I really love both Low G and High G tunings. Since I had a guitar and banjo background, it seems pretty natural to me. I just have a different group of songs for the Low G verses the High G. Both of them work great for fingerpicking. The Low G just gives you a wider range of notes for both melody and harmony. The High G can give you some easier left hand fingerings because you can make good use of the re-entrant string in the melody. Both are great fun!

–Lori

jonnyonauke
02-02-2010, 09:14 AM
oh man my wife isnt going to be pleased

pulelehua
02-02-2010, 09:15 AM
Since I'm new, and have no wisdom, and haven't been playing long enough to say anything with any slight degree of credibility:

If it ain't High-G, it ain't a ukulele!

<ducks behind nearest rock to avoid the incoming cabbages and rotten tomatoes>

As a long time guitarist, I really do find that low-G kills part of the ukuleleness of it. That being said, if you look into the history, we have no idea where the High-G comes from. Well, okay, we have a number of ideas. But it allows for some really interesting things. Look up John King, if you haven't. He developed a style which absolutely depended on the High-G. If you work out scales across, rather than up the fretboard, and muck around with those, I believe you'll be sold.

Nope. Don't care. Gonna say it again.

If it ain't High-G, it ain't a ukulele!

I'm a Luddite about everything else. Why change?

(Sincere modest apologies to any of the vast majority of superior players who I may have, in some small way, offended.)

:D

Jason Paul
02-02-2010, 09:36 AM
This has been on my mind lately too.

I would like to focus on a style, to get better at it. I like cool jazz chord solos, which often call for low g tuning. But, I still see the value (and so many comments by others) in standard high g tuning.

I thought I wanted a new tenor strung low g, but now I'm thinking maybe I'll just save my money and stick with my Mainland Concert in re-entrant.

I understand the recommendation to get two ukes - one for each tuning. But, I like the idea of really becoming proficient with one thing. I know that personally, if I try to spread myself too thin, I just won't really get much better at anything. I'd rather pick one and stick with it for a while. To be honest, I haven't been having much luck with fingerpicking/chord solos, so I don't need to make it even harder by trying to do too much.

So, I'm beginning to think that high g is the way to go for me. Low g is a bit more guitar-like and less uke-like.

Plus, I see a lot of people say that they went to low g for a while, but ended up liking high g better. I don't think I see as many opinions going the other way.

Jason

GrumpyCoyote
02-02-2010, 10:08 AM
This has been on my mind lately too.

I would like to focus on a style, to get better at it. I like cool jazz chord solos, which often call for low g tuning. But, I still see the value (and so many comments by others) in standard high g tuning.

I thought I wanted a new tenor strung low g, but now I'm thinking maybe I'll just save my money and stick with my Mainland Concert in re-entrant.

I understand the recommendation to get two ukes - one for each tuning. But, I like the idea of really becoming proficient with one thing. I know that personally, if I try to spread myself too thin, I just won't really get much better at anything. I'd rather pick one and stick with it for a while. To be honest, I haven't been having much luck with fingerpicking/chord solos, so I don't need to make it even harder by trying to do too much.

So, I'm beginning to think that high g is the way to go for me. Low g is a bit more guitar-like and less uke-like.

Plus, I see a lot of people say that they went to low g for a while, but ended up liking high g better. I don't think I see as many opinions going the other way.

Jason


This is a solid reason - mastery of one "way". And some styles lend themselves to certain sounds.

But my point of view is that Low G and High G are just parts of the same thing. In the same way a guitarist wouldn't hesitiate to drop the low E to a D if the song called for it, a uke player shouldn't look at that G string as if it were alien. It's not suddenly a different instrument. The fact that it's an octave actually makes it easier than most other alternate tunings - you don't have to change much of what you are doing - if any.

In our case, High G (sadly) requires a string change, so keeping an extra uke on hand serves the same purpose as that guitarist dropping into D.Thats the only thing that makes it stand out as a "choice". Changing tunings on the fly is standard procedure for many stringed musicians, we just do it by reaching for another axe. You don't have to tie one hand behind your back.

gobes
02-02-2010, 11:57 AM
You can count me as one that started with high g and now I prefer low g. I've been playing low g exclusively for over a year.
I like to try to arrange a variety of different types of music from classical to punk and having the low g gives you more flexibility.

Having said that, I will be getting another ukulele tomorrow (another fluke) so I'll probably put a high g string on the old one.

Rick
02-02-2010, 12:21 PM
It's all about your playing style. Whenever I pick songs, I like to have the lower notes on a G-string but when I strum it over powers the sound. I recently took my low-g off my concert. It's fun to play with sometimes. I say keep a low-g string handy just in case you want to switch back to it. I do so constantly depending on the song I'm going to play.

SailingUke
02-02-2010, 12:25 PM
Two ukes is the answer. I like high G for strumming chords and singing, has that cool traditional ukulele sound.
Low G is great for soloing and finger picking, gives you serveral notes below middle C (assuming GCEA tuning).
Sometimes when I am playing in a large group I strum the low G just to add some low for everyone. A choir with all sopranos just does not work.
I have thought about five string, with a paired high/low G. Wondering if it would work.

GrumpyCoyote
02-02-2010, 12:29 PM
I have thought about five string, with a paired high/low G. Wondering if it would work.

Oh now THAT is a very cool idea. Any 8 string would do as a platform to try it out. Just swap the doubled G with an octave, like a mandolin.... Hmmmm.

sukie
02-02-2010, 12:35 PM
Like heyjude said, get one of each.

LOL! You are such an enabler!

Lori
02-02-2010, 01:08 PM
Two ukes is the answer. I like high G for strumming chords and singing, has that cool traditional ukulele sound.
Low G is great for soloing and finger picking, gives you serveral notes below middle C (assuming GCEA tuning).
Sometimes when I am playing in a large group I strum the low G just to add some low for everyone. A choir with all sopranos just does not work.
I have thought about five string, with a paired high/low G. Wondering if it would work.
:agree:

I would like to try that option too. A five string uke with both high and low g. Not sure if I want them paired or separate though. And I also agree with adding texture to a uke group by adding a low G.
–Lori

wickedwahine11
02-02-2010, 01:11 PM
I have flirted with low g (and I have one of my tenors permanently strung that way) but I guess I'm just a high g kind of girl. That is what I play 99.% of the time.

rpeters
02-02-2010, 03:00 PM
I am a long time guitar player and now have moved full time to Uke.

Started with a Baritone and thought my daughters high-g soprano was odd

Then got a tenor and decided the High-g is the coolest thing and now it sounds so right

Now I am thinking a Concert is more my speed.

Guitar now seems big and harsh sounding.

Never thought I would be a Uke player, but man do I love it.


I agree. When I first got the ukulele I wanted it to sound like a guitar. (I'm a piano player). So I got a tenor and put low G worth tuning on it. While it sounded perfectly fine, it just did not feel like a ukulele anymore. It did not have that sweet high sound.

jazzbo
02-02-2010, 03:53 PM
Same here..........I don't want a Uke to sound like a guitar with 4 strings. The high G gives them that distinct sounds that goes away when you change to a low G.

GrumpyCoyote
02-02-2010, 04:01 PM
Same here..........I don't want a Uke to sound like a guitar with 4 strings. The high G gives them that distinct sounds that goes away when you change to a low G.

GCEA sounds like a guitar to you? Interesting. Iz didn't think so. Those five half steps up and that small body are pretty distinctively ukulele, with or without the high G.

It's all personal opinion of course, but I think that argument is odd unless you are talking about a baritone in DGBE... now that sounds like a guitar :)

afeistyfiesta
02-02-2010, 04:17 PM
Switch strings? Do what I did...get a tenor for low-g and a soprano or a concert for high-g. You honestly will come across different songs that sound better with different tunings, as many people have said. I used to think it changed the instrument in some core way, but it reallly doesn't.

And anyway, IZ played low-g, so it can't be all bad, right?

countrybumpkin
02-02-2010, 04:36 PM
Been playing for 5 months, now switching to low G. Like the slightly increased range, though I'm getting used to the sound. Learning pentatonic and blues scales and having fun with it.

Gipserio
02-03-2010, 01:00 AM
I'm with you PULELEHUA, Ukulele = high G! Go play the guitar if you don't like re-entrant!

Ukulele purists against low G tuning!!!!!

pulelehua
02-03-2010, 01:28 AM
I'm with you PULELEHUA, Ukulele = high G! Go play the guitar if you don't like re-entrant!

Ukulele purists against low G tuning!!!!!

Mwahahahahaha. Soon we shall take over...

I wonder about all the people who prefer Low-G for fingerpicking. I think that at least half of the fun with re-entrant tuning is fingerpicking. You have to seriously change your mentality versus guitar playing, which MIGHT be what puts people off. But I once again point to the horizontal possibilities. You can have 4 adjacent notes from a scale ringing together. That is not nearly so plausible on a guitar. You can get note doublings very simply, which again is more of an issue on guitar, especially once you're away from open strings.

I think it's learning a new idiom. If I play in Low-G, I have to think a lot less. I can rely much more on my old instincts. I like having to get to know a new instrument.