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kenikas
03-16-2010, 07:25 PM
I'm hoping someone here can tellme if Aquila makes a set of strings especially for D tuning (A D F# B) or does everyone tune the C (G C E A) strings up for D. I've got several old uke books from the 20's thru the 50's that have many songs in D tuning, and I'd like to set up my old Harmony in D and try them. I'm just a bit worried about the tension being to high for my 60 year old uke. Any other sugestions would be welcome too.

Ken Middleton
03-16-2010, 09:31 PM
In my opinion most sets of soprano strings sound better in D tuning. Many people find soprano strings in C tuning a little to floppy (slack). There is no problem tuning Aquila strings up to D.

On the other hand, don't feel that you have to change the tuning just to play old ukulele music. All the songs will be perfectly singable if you play them in C tuning. Just play the chord shapes. The only problem being if you play with other people who are just reading the chord names or playing the piano part. That won't work then because you will both be in different keys.

Sambient
03-16-2010, 11:30 PM
In my opinion most sets of soprano strings sound better in D tuning. Many people find soprano strings in C tuning a little to floppy (slack). There is no problem tuning Aquila strings up to D.

On the other hand, don't feel that you have to change the tuning just to play old ukulele music. All the songs will be perfectly singable if you play them in C tuning. Just play the chord shapes. The only problem being if you play with other people who are just reading the chord names or playing the piano part. That won't work then because you will both be in different keys.

Wow. Why didn't I know this already? Good information like this is like hitting the jackpot. Hot damn! Thank you, Ken. Old sheet music, here I come.

Lanark
03-17-2010, 12:38 AM
Higher tension strings take care of the slack string problem for me on our sopranos in C tuning. I really hate playing with strings that are like rubber bands anyway.

And along with what Ken says you can alternately just play the chord as named and ignore the fingering chart (if there is one) in C tuning. A D chord is a D chord is a D chord to paraphrase Gertrude Stein.

D tuning used to be the sort of standard ukulele tuning, but somewhere along the line in the 20th C. it switched to C. It's usually not a problem until you're playing with somebody else and either have to tune to match them or if you can think fast, transpose on the fly (which makes my brain hurt)

MTGuru
03-17-2010, 02:14 AM
I'm hoping someone here can tellme if Aquila makes a set of strings especially for D tuning (A D F# B)
To answer the specific question ... Yes, Aquila make a soprano set specifically for D tuning. It's listed as "Codex 33U".

http://www.aquilacorde.com/en/modern-instrument-sets/ukulele.html

Don't know how available these are from the usual sources, which seem to carry only the standard C tuning set ("Codex 4U").

MTGuru
03-17-2010, 02:52 AM
I'd guess that part of the reason for the popularity of D tuning after the first big ukulele boom starting 1915 is that this time also coincided with the big mandolin / tenor banjo boom. D tuning transposes the 2 "easy" ukulele keys (C and F) into D and G - which are friendlier keys for playing with mandos and TBanjos. Once the mando/banjo craze subsided with the rise of the swing band era in the 30s and 40s, the uke was free to revert to its other tuning.

Yeah, to play the older music sheets by yourself, just play the chord shapes. Or with others, just capo on the 2nd fret and voilą, instant D tuning.

ambrose
03-17-2010, 04:32 AM
I just tuned my old Harmony soprano to D tuning. It's the one with ADF#B printed on the soundboard above the bridge. It sounds much better. Has anyone tried tuning a tenor to DGBE? I heard this was the tuning originally proposed for the tenor, which would explain the pretty high tension that people mention in C tuned tenors. I like my baritone in dGBE tuning and if I want to sound like C tuning, I play in second position or capo at the 5th fret. Best of both worlds.

SailingUke
03-17-2010, 07:08 AM
I'd guess that part of the reason for the popularity of D tuning after the first big ukulele boom starting 1915 is that this time also coincided with the big mandolin / tenor banjo boom. D tuning transposes the 2 "easy" ukulele keys (C and F) into D and G - which are friendlier keys for playing with mandos and TBanjos. Once the mando/banjo craze subsided with the rise of the swing band era in the 30s and 40s, the uke was free to revert to its other tuning.

Yeah, to play the older music sheets by yourself, just play the chord shapes. Or with others, just capo on the 2nd fret and voilą, instant D tuning.

Also ukes were used in Vaudville and Burlesque Theatres. There were no electronics back then and a "D" tuned uke is louder.

Ukuleleblues
03-18-2010, 12:27 PM
I have a few old harmony ukes from the 20's 30's 40's and 60's. SOme concert some soprano. Most are tuned to D with Aquilias. I've had no popped bridges, bows in the top, issues with the neck. The aquilias make them really project. I have had problems with a modern non-harmony concert uke with a bowed bellly under the bridge when I went to D. It is a non-issue with the Harmony ukes.

Chris Tarman
03-18-2010, 01:24 PM
I have my Maccaferri Islander tuned to D tuning with a normal set of Aquilas, with no problems whatsoever.

luvdat
08-15-2010, 06:53 AM
In my opinion most sets of soprano strings sound better in D tuning. Many people find soprano strings in C tuning a little to floppy (slack). There is no problem tuning Aquila strings up to D.

On the other hand, don't feel that you have to change the tuning just to play old ukulele music. All the songs will be perfectly singable if you play them in C tuning. Just play the chord shapes. The only problem being if you play with other people who are just reading the chord names or playing the piano part. That won't work then because you will both be in different keys.

I agree with you completely and I'm at the point where after going back and forth between C and D tunings on sopranos there's no more going back to C. It's arguable beyond simply a "tonal preferences" perspective that the smaller body of a soprano has specific preferences of its own related to uke-body resonances. In short, staying with D tuning on my sopranos.