View Full Version : Tuning Problem?

Little Island Nick
04-12-2011, 03:08 PM
I traded for my first ukulele about a week ago, a kala jazz tenor. This is the first ukulele I have had in my hands since I was a kid so basically I know very little about them at this point.
Today I went to the Guitar Center near me to check out all the ukulele stuff they had
and found all the uks were in tune but the strings were much looser which made chording and noting much easier.

I asked the "ukulele guy" at guitar center if the uke could be tuned up one octave or was that possible w/o breaking the strings or damaging the uke?

He wasn't sure but suggested I restring it, Please help, any advice appreciated.

04-12-2011, 04:32 PM
I think one octave higher would be too much tension for the normal ukulele strings. You could put a capo on the 12th fret, but I think it would be hard to play like that. The sting tone is not really that great up that high anyway.

Perhaps there is a effects petal you can plug your uke into (I assume the Kala Jazz has a pick-up). I know I have seen such things, where you can change the pitch without changing anything else.

A smaller uke, like the Sopranito that Ohana makes, or the Pocket Uke Kala makes could handle a higher tuning. Those sizes will make the room on the fretboard a bit tight. An octave is a bit of a big stretch though. You might still need to get special strings to make it sound good.

Welcome to UU!

Little Island Nick
04-12-2011, 04:54 PM
The current strings are some type of synthetic gut with the G string being a wound string.
The only strings Guitar Center had were Aquila Nylgut strings w/o the G string being a wound one.
All the strings on the ukulele are larger than each Aqulia replacement, do you think restringing will help?

04-12-2011, 05:01 PM
Sounds like your tenor is strung for low G. The G string should be lower than the C string instead of higher as on a reentrant ("normal") uke.

Tenors will be strung quite a bit tighter than smaller ukes, so if you were looking at soprano or even concert ukes at GC I'm not surprised they felt much looser.

It is (barely) possible to tune strings an octave up if you have geared tuners - but typically they will sound terrible and break after a while (not to mention the long-term damage you may do to the neck, etc.).


04-12-2011, 05:27 PM
Hi Little Island Nick

Did you get this ukulele new or used? Something doesn't sound right.

You said "the G string being a wound string". That probably means your ukulele is strung for a low-G. Do not tune it to a high-G.....

You also said "All the strings on the ukulele are larger than each Aqulia replacement". This makes me wonder if someone had put a concert (or even soprano) uke set on your tenor. Since a tenor scale is longer, a concert string would require a higher tension to be tuned to a pitch. You don't usually find a concert string with a low-G so this would be rather unusual. Or, maybe someone had used a baritone set??? That would explain why each strng is bigger, why you feel the tension is too high, and the G string is wound......

I think you are better off putting on a new set of strings.


04-12-2011, 07:32 PM
If you want to tune higher than one of the standard Uke tunings, then you might have to experiment with thin gauge fishing line. For some clues, look at this thread on substituting fishing line for strings in standard tuning. http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?18975-fishing-line-ukulele-string-recipe&highlight=fishing+line+strings
I am not sure how higher tuning might affect the neck of your uke, so be aware that it might be too much tension without a reinforced neck or a screwed-in bridge.