PDA

View Full Version : Baritone uke thoughts requested!



Teresa Young
03-01-2011, 10:50 AM
Greetings, uke-impassioned people!

Mike at Mainland Ukes referred me here, thinking some of you may have insights for me. I have a new baby: a beautiful cedar and rosewood baritone that arrived from him last week. (I'm a pianist and vocalist who returned to the bari a few months ago. It was my first instrument at 4 years old before guitar and then piano, and I'm thrilled to be re-discovering it.)

My questions relate to the baritone's resonant properties and its unique "place" within the uke family, which I consider part of the larger guitar family. I told Mike I'm just not sure these great Aquila nylgut strings are actually "it" for me, because I keep imagining the instrument's resonant properties with some good steel strings on it. It does seem that the baritone is a bit of a "hybrid" in the family, and I'm wondering about anyone's thoughts on this and whether you have experimented with steel strings on a bari. I'll have the chance to get this little instrument heard in some intriguing settings, and I want to discover and develop its resonance to its full potential.

Thanks VERY much for your thoughts...

Mraz
03-01-2011, 10:54 AM
I prefer the nylon strings, just because it has that classic ukulele feel and sound. You could get a set of strings that has one or two wound string I think, if you would prefer that. I'm sure that other membes have a better insight on the steel :)

mm stan
03-01-2011, 11:12 AM
Aloha Teresa,
Putting steel strings on a ukulele is a definete no no...the ukulele is not made for that much tension...find some nice fleuro carbon strings for warmer sweeter tones and resonation.. drop tuning might do the
trick too.. Good Luck and Happy Strummings..MM Stan.. check this out...http://accessories.musiciansfriend.com/product/Martin-M630-Modified-True-Nylon-Baritone-Ukulele-Strings?sku=100049

revdrkate
03-01-2011, 11:15 AM
I'm a long time guitar player who started with ukulele at 4 or 5 and came back to ukulele about ten years ago. I've totally fallen in love with nylon. Just got my first baritone recently and love it. I'd go with nylon for your baritone. I'm not really sure there is a steel string set for baritone. The bracing is so different; it would be like putting nylon strings on a steel string guitar (doesn't really work!).

I'm using Savarez strings from a classical set on my baritone. I enjoy the sound.

Teresa Young
03-01-2011, 12:11 PM
Sooooo, Stan, you like the fluorocarbon strings better than nylgut? And what IS fluorocarbon, anyway? Thanks for the additional info!

mds725
03-01-2011, 12:17 PM
This was very helpful to me when I had similar questions about different types of strings.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?39969-FYI-Uke-Strings

The first post provides background about different string manufacturors, and the second post has links to all kinds of string-related information.

lozarkman
03-01-2011, 12:23 PM
A lot of threads on this theme and they vary considerably person to person. I personally love my Baris and don't consider them as small guitars. In G tuning they will definitely sound more guitarish, but in C tuning, they resonate pretty much like the other ukuleles, jut a bit fuller sounding. For me they are a larger tenor, as a tenor is a larger concert, and down the line. I keep mine in C tuning with low G . really like them for melody picking and getting the few lower notes. I use Southcoastukes linear strings which give you a low G without having to mess around with trying to adapt some other string. They are also well balanced and the G doesn't overwhelm the other strings. It really comes down to trying several string combinations and settling on what sounds good to you. Lozark

ukulelecowboy
03-01-2011, 05:30 PM
Interesting thread. After playing for several years, and really focussing on jazz and swing, I now play baritone almost exclusively. I have several models that I play on stage with various tone woods and tunings.

I can tell you directly that steel strings on a ukulele is generally a bad idea. The instrument neck is simply not capable of handling that kind of tension and neck bowing will result. Certain ukulele models do have truss rods (Mele - unadjustable truss rod and Pono - adjustable truss rod) but it still is not a good idea.

Baritones are nice because they adapt well to various tunings. Although, I play primarily soprano tuning with a low "g" string, many prefer the traditional DGBE with is obviously more closely aligned with the guitar. And because most DGBE string sets include a wound D and G string, the resonant qualities of the guitar are even within closer reach.

Additionally, a baritone player can opt for two re-entrant tunings gCEA and dGBE, this tunings have their own characteristics and fit well into nostalgic and Celtic kinds of playing environments. I cannot navigate the fretboards of smaller ukuleles so I use a baritone tuned gCEA for performances that require a vintage or "old-timey" sound. It really does the trick.

If you are looking for a transitional/hybrid steel string instrument in a four string configuration, you might want to consider a tenor guitar. Typically tuned in fifths, CGDA, the tenor guitar is really fun to play and there are several nice models available presently due to a mild resurgence in the last year or so.

Just a few thoughts...

Mike

Teresa Young
03-01-2011, 06:12 PM
I appreciate your comments, everybody. I'm truly crazy-thrilled with this return to my early childhood beginnings as a musician, and I just wanted to take the time to think through my adult approach to the instrument. And I get it regarding the steel strings: just not appropriate to the design of the instrument. I'll no doubt be back with more questions in the future, meanwhile thanks again and have fun. I've gotta go play! Woooooo!

pdxuke
03-01-2011, 06:37 PM
A lot of threads on this theme and they vary considerably person to person. I personally love my Baris and don't consider them as small guitars. In G tuning they will definitely sound more guitarish, but in C tuning, they resonate pretty much like the other ukuleles, jut a bit fuller sounding. <snip> Lozark

Wait: I know nothing about Bari. But you CAN tune these to C?

Kekani
03-01-2011, 09:49 PM
I told Mike I'm just not sure these great Aquila nylgut strings are actually "it" for me, because I keep imagining the instrument's resonant properties with some good steel strings on it. It does seem that the baritone is a bit of a "hybrid" in the family, and I'm wondering about anyone's thoughts on this and whether you have experimented with steel strings on a bari. I'll have the chance to get this little instrument heard in some intriguing settings, and I want to discover and develop its resonance to its full potential.

Thanks VERY much for your thoughts...

Why would you describe Aquila's as great then state that you're not sure they're "it" for you? Certainly a statement against the trend here. And you seemed suprised that MMStan likes flourocarbons? Sheltered life you have in the `ukulele world - welcome to UU.

Personally, well, lets not get personal. You already know about steel strings, but what you haven't heard is what strings period would match a Baritone with a softwood top (baritone being an anomaly amongst most members here). I can share what the LAST set of strings I would use is, but you may already know that. I'd suggest doing a search on the threads for using classical guitar strings (you'll come up with something along the lines of D'Addario and Savarez I'm sure - not unlike MMStan suggestions, D'Addario Titaniums and Savarez Alliance are composite and carbon based, respectively - very unlike nylon, and certainly nowhere near nylgut).

These are my thoughts, and I'm a Tenor person (not quite an anomaly, but certainly part of the minority).

Have fun.

HoldinCoffee
03-01-2011, 10:06 PM
I have a Mainland red cedar bari. The Aquilas were not to my liking on this uke so I switched to a set of Saverez Alliance from StringsByMail. That was a great fit.

ukulelecowboy
03-02-2011, 12:38 AM
Wait: I know nothing about Bari. But you CAN tune these to C?

Yes. Aquila makes string sets that are specific to "c" tuning on a baritone ukulele. Many players swap strings "pilfered" from other sets to accommodate different string dimensions, etc. I have many packets of ukulele strings with various, individual strings pulled out for various reasons. A lot of this is trial and error.

This is quite a nice guide for the Bari player, which is really the anomaly around here, as it was so eloquently stated. The string issue is something else entirely and really does come down to matching tone woods, etc. Because of the bright tonal qualities of Aquila nylguts, I find them to match the darker, more mellow sound of my Mahogany baritones. However, I wouldn't put them on my spruce top Pono or cedar Mainland, because they are simply too bright and merely accentuate the ukulele's specific characteristics. I would choose strings that match or complement the instruments tonal characteristics and we, as players, are the best judges of that relationship.

And finally, when I am really looking to experiment, or I need to put non-steel strings on a tenor guitar or tenor banjo, or I want to try a different configuration on one of my baritone ukuleles, I turn here:

http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/

Or any reputable sporting goods store where I can find non-braided fishing line in 40, 50, and 60lb tests (the required thickness for the heavier ukulele strings) where length is not a limitation and I can string up as many instruments as I want..

Thanks...

PhilUSAFRet
03-02-2011, 01:27 AM
I think this site will give you a new slant on uke strings in general, baritone strings in particular.

http://www.southcoastukes.com/stringuide.htm

dans003
03-02-2011, 06:25 AM
experiment, by all means. that is how people get where they are. if thats what feels good for you, then do it. however, when re-discovering, i think you should give it some time to impress you. just give it a bit, listen to what it sounds like and appreciate it, and see whether you actually think 'you know what, i want it to sound this way, that way'. once youve played for a while, then experiment, to get what sounds, feels, and looks best for you
dans