View Full Version : My experience with baritone, Low-G, Re-entrant

03-16-2011, 03:07 PM
I got a baritone uke so I've been tinkering with it and with different strings on my old tenor fluke. I'm probably not breaking new ground with anything here but I thought I'd share my experience.

I went into the guitar shop just looking for strings, but walked out with a new Kala baritone... It sounded amazing and the price was marked down to where it was hard to pass up. Plus my girlfriend was looking for an anniversary gift, so it was practically meant to be. Right away I loved that I could get properly voiced major seven chords out of it. And the sustain is gorgeous. Having played uke for a year, I knew to check the intonation, and it was very good. Not flawless, but close. Better than my Fluke at home, which gets a little tangy around six or seven frets up the C string. And no instrument is perfect.

The common complaint about the baritone is that it's too much like a guitar for ukers and too much like a uke for guitar players. But I don't have a problem with it. The two lower strings do sound guitar-y but the overall sound of chords and melodies has that uke mellowness to it.

I have to think more about chord positions on the bari, because having more low end also means that chords don't sound as good outside of root position. But that's a worthy trade-off because the instrument has a lot more practical range to play chords in.

The appearance of it is totally conventional, which I tend to dislike. That's why I chose a Fluke for my first uke. But there's no arguing with the sound, and when I look at the wood grain I have to admit that it looks really nice in spite of my eccentric tastes. On the back of the headstock is a Made in China sticker to remind me that I probably lucked out big time on the quality of this uke.

DGBE tuning is kind of breaking my brain. Today I looked over some chord progressions I'd scribbled down over the past few days, and realized I'd jumbled things up, and had to ask myself things like "did I really mean to put B minor there or did I mean F#?" It's going to take some practice to keep both tunings in ready-to-play proficiency. But then, practicing two ukes every day is not a sad fate.

Anyways, the other part of this story is the restringing of my Fluke. It came with black strings that had a nice mellow sound that I liked enough that I didn't get around to changing them 'til now. I'd read that Aquila was the popular brand so I tried those; the guitar shop only had them with low G. I'd been meaning to try that as well.

The Aquilas seem a little too loud and punchy on my fluke. You might think "is that a bad thing?" but it seems kinda flat, not as pleasing. I'll give them more time, though, because I might just be used to the way it sounded before.

I was also not so impressed by the low G, and I ended up putting the old G string back on. Yeah, it was neat to hear those lower notes coming out of my fluke but it wasn't like I gained that much range, just a fourth from G through B, and it threw off a lot of the chord voicings I've learned. Like on the baritone, chords started sounding weird if they were in second inversion, which limited how I could play progressions and have them sound right. F major in particular was hard to find a good position for, where it had been dead simple in re-entrant tuning.

Funny how I love low wound strings on the bari but dislike them on a standard uke. Of course, if I'd started out with a low-G, I might feel differently now. And I must try an 8-string uke some day - that goes on my wishlist alongside an electric uke.

03-16-2011, 03:17 PM
I have baritones strung low- and high-D, and I've played one with GCEA tuning. By far the high-D sounds better to my ears. The GCEA tuning was too stiff and the strings felt immovable, very hard on the fingers. Low-D is okay for some songs but overall I like the high-D.

03-17-2011, 02:25 AM
I just put a low G on one of my tenors. Still unsure if I like it. I had given it a brief try before but didn't like it then either. Thought it was the uke then, but it appears I may have been wrong (is there another Fluke in my future?). I think I will take it off and put it on a lesser played uke. I'm not giving up on low G yet, but I've yet to make it really work for me.

Good score on the bari. I keep a low D on mine and think it sounds good on most songs.

Not sure why low D works for me and low G doesn't. Maybe I secretly view the bari as more guitar then uke.