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Paul December
08-30-2011, 12:36 PM
I just ordered Ian's collection of vintage uke sheets and some indicate
B♭ E♭ G C Tuning
What is this tuning called?
Do I need to buy a different set of strings for it?
How does it sound different from G C E A?

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
08-30-2011, 01:02 PM
Most folks call tuning to G C E A the C6 tuning since this is a C6 chord. So Eb6 would be as good a name as any for that tuning.

Old sheets I've got that use that tuning recommend tuning to D6, which is A D F# B, and using a capo on the first fret. Of course, you could as easily use a capo on the third fret if you're tuned to C6.

The difference in sound between C6 and Eb6 is that each note is three semitones higher. The nice thing about playing in different tunings is you get a different selection of "easy" chords---Eb, Ab, and Bb7, for example, aren't "easy" chords when you're tuned to C6, but if you put a the capo on at the third fret (or tune up), these chords use the same fingerings as C, F, and G7 when we're tuned to C6.

If you're not into capos---they can get in the way a little---it may be good to use smaller gauge strings to tune up that high. Look for strings advertised with "light tension" or "low tension".

E flat's a great key! Have fun!!

OldePhart
08-30-2011, 01:02 PM
I just ordered Ian's collection of vintage uke sheets and some indicate
B♭ E♭ G C Tuning
What is this tuning called?
Do I need to buy a different set of strings for it?
How does it sound different from G C E A?
I guess you'd call it an Eb tuning (GCEA is typically called "C" tuning). It's just three half-steps up from standard tuning on all strings, so it's not going to have any special sound. You might be able to use your current strings, depending on how they sound at GCEA (sometimes higher-tensions can make a uke go "tinkly" with poor sustain, sometimes it works fine.

In the good old days "standard" uke tuning was ADF#B and this BbEbGC tuning would be only a half step up from that. They probably used that tuning to match a key that a song was originally arranged in. I.e. lots of hymns were written in Eb so tuning to Eb would make it easy to play along.

John

Dougf
08-30-2011, 01:07 PM
I'd call it Eb tuning, since GCEA is called C tuning.

Mya-Moe has string sets for D tuning that have slightly different diameters than the equivalent C tuning sets. The safe thing would be to get a D set, and tune it up a half step. I've tuned my soprano to D with my existing C strings, and it seems fine, but once I tried going another half step to Eb, and the tension was pretty stiff.

As for the sound, it will probably be brighter and a little louder, similar to what happens with D tuning.

My guess is they published for that tuning to make the fingering easier for the key of Eb, and since most of the ukes in that day used D tuning, another half step was probably no big deal.

Here's a link to the string specs on the Mya-Moe website:

http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/string%20details.html

23skidoo
08-30-2011, 01:51 PM
I'd call it Eb.... oh wait, it's an hour later..... :) I love it when great minds think alike in such a short stretch of time.

Brad Bordessa
08-30-2011, 05:05 PM
I just ordered Ian's collection of vintage uke sheets and some indicate
B♭ E♭ G C Tuning
What is this tuning called?
Do I need to buy a different set of strings for it?
How does it sound different from G C E A?

Where do you get the little flat symbols?

southcoastukes
08-30-2011, 06:05 PM
You guys nailed it!

Ralf is technically correct on the C6 - Eb6 nomenclature. When you strum open in GCEA, for example, you get a C6 chord. As a matter of convention, however, the "6" is generally dropped. It's assumed that if the tuning is in 4ths (4 note intervals), as are all standard ukulele tunings, that an open strum is a 6th, and so the tunings are just referred to as key of C, etc. - in this case Eb.

An even easier way to look at it is that the third string is the name of the tuning. G C EA is key of C while Bb Eb GC is key of Eflat.

Apparently the earliest Hawaiian instruction manuals used Eb, D & C tunings. It was after the turn of the century, on the mainland, where Breen promoted D tuning - what then was known as "standard". Eb was also the suggested tuning for the first Sopraninos.

As OldePhart noted, it is usually easier to play, and often sounds better, to have your tuning match the key of the song, and Eb compositions are not uncommon. Capos are a nice option for switching between the high tunings (especially with a long-neck soprano), and finally, either of our Light Gauge string sets will handle this tuning nicely on a standard soprano scale:

http://www.southcoastukes.com/stringuide_files/ltuke.htm

You can "pull them up" from D and relax them back down again.