View Full Version : High G low g Q/A here...

09-25-2008, 05:13 PM
Yes another High G Low g question... Hopefuly this might be my/the last one!!!

A couple of weeks ago the guy at my uke store told me I should make one of my Tenors a Low g, he gave me a wound string and I went home... well I have been playin it using the same lesson books, same songs, same fingerings and chords not knowing the difference.

I do know it sounds different and normaly uses a wound string, is normaly found on a Tenor but can be on found on Concert's, Sopranos and since you can GCEA a Baritone you could have one of those as Low g too I suppose.

Then this reply was made to a thread I answered

"I just checked out a few sample pages over on Sheet Music Plus, and it looks like the book is all about low-G ukes (those "sixths" would really be "thirds"--and vise versa--on an high-G).
Is this true? Would a re-entrant fella such as myself get much from the book?"

it made me wonder... It will be a week till I see my Instructor so I am turning to the great UU Hive Mind for answers.

So just what is the difference?
For this g = Low g, G = High G

Is g re-entrant tuning?

I know there are g scales and G scales.

I see on some of Dominator's Uke tabs that some are written in g some in G. Do you have to have g songs to play g or will any song work?

Are there g chords and or do normal chords work?

Are there fingering patterns for only g?

How do you tell if a peice of sheet music is g or G?

The answers I am looking for need to come from those with the experience to answer clearly and correctly.
Please no posting of "I like/don't like g/G" and the such...and please if you don't know an answer don't wing it.

Thanks to anyone that posts!!!

This thread could be the place for those beginners like myself to post/find the answers to those Low g questions with out having to search(for those that use the search) and read thru a bunch of threads that come up without any meaningful infomation.

Ukulele JJ
09-25-2008, 06:58 PM
Well, since I'm the guy who asked about the book, I guess I'm obligated to explain myself. :D

As you probably know, notes that are an octave apart in pitch get the same letter name. An octave is equal to 12 frets.

Here's an experiment: Play your third string without fretting it anywhere. It's a C note, right? Now play that same string with your finger on the 12th fret. That's still a C, but it's a C one octave higher.

A ukulele is traditionally tuned with a "high G". What that means is that the pitch of the G string actually falls between the pitches of the E and the A string, even though the string itself is not physically positioned between them.

That G string is higher (in pitch) than the C and E strings. Only the A string is higher than the G... and even then, it's only higher by two frets!

In other words, if you wanted to play the strings in order, from lowest pitch to highest pitch, you can't just play them from "top to bottom" (G C E A). You'd have to play it C E G A, which is out of order! That's all re-entrant tuning means. It's just a fancy way of saying that the strings aren't tuned in order.

With this traditional, re-entrant tuning, the C string is the lowest note you can play.

At some point, someone (probably a guitarist!) decided to tune the uke differently. They lowered the G string one octave. It's still a G, because--remember--notes in different octaves still get the same letter name. But now the strings are in order! Furthermore, you have access to notes that are lower than C.

And that's "low G" tuning.

As far as strumming chords goes, you can usually play the same chord fingerings on either tuning. A chord is defined by the note names, and unless you're after a very specific sound, it doesn't really matter so much what octave any of those notes are in. If the right letters are involved, you've got the right chord! That chord will "fit" into the song just fine.

But when it comes to melody playing, it does matter which tuning you're using, if part of that melody is played on the fourth string.

If the melody is written out for a low-G uke, but you play it on a high-G uke, then the melody will seem to "jump" up one octave when you're on the fourth string. Like someone whose voice is changing! Similar deal going the other way. A high-G song on a low-G will drop down one octave when you get to the fourth string.

Here's another experiment: Play a C major scale on your high-G uke, like this (this way of playing it might be different and new for you):

A -----023
E --01----
C 02------
G ----0---

Now play the same thing on your low-G uke. If your low-G is really tuned with a low G, that scale won't sound quite right. That fifth note will be the equivalent of 12 frets (one octave) too low.

Does that answer some of your questions?

Does it raise any others?

Was it all just confusing as @#!$? :o


09-25-2008, 07:17 PM
That is the kind of answers I am looking for for this thread.
Clear easy to understand.


Now how do you know if what your looking at is Low or High if it doesn't say like Dom's tabs do?

Ukulele JJ
09-26-2008, 03:35 AM

Now how do you know if what your looking at is Low or High if it doesn't say like Dom's tabs do?

You're welcome! :D

The best way to tell which tuning an arrangement is for is simply to play it. If it "sounds right", then it's for the uke you've got in your hand. :rock:

But another way to tell is if the chart is written out in both TAB and standard musical notation. You can look at the standard notation and (usually) tell when part of the piece is supposed to be played lower than C. Since you can't go lower than C on a re-entrant uke, you know you need a low-G to do it.

JJ's crash course in music notation: Take a look at one of the pages from Exploring the 'Ukulele (http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/store/smp_inside.html?item=18356940&page=02). Check out the fourth "sixth" that you're playing there. It's the one where you're fretting the 5th fret on the 2nd and 4th strings (5x5x).

Now look above it at the standard notation version of the same thing. There are two notes written there. Look at the one that's lowest (lowest on the page--and also in pitch!) See how it's written just below the five horizontal lines? And see how it sort of has a "mini" line drawn through it, as if to temporarily extend the five lines down to six lines for just that one note?

That, my friend, is a C note! If your chart has notes any lower than that--and you can see that the preceding three "sixths" do go lower--then you know you need a low-G uke.

Extra credit round: If they wanted you to play 5x5x on a re-entrant uke, then in standard notation it would be written just like is for the last "third" in the middle system of that same page. It's the one that you're playing 12th fret for the C string and 14th fret for the G string (14x12x). See how the notes are right on top of each other instead of spread out? That's because the pitches really are closer to each other when that G string is tuned closer in pitch your E string instead of waaay down below the C string.


09-26-2008, 06:50 AM
So even though it's written as sheet music Low G, it could sound ok played High G if you don't have the sheet music, just tabs.

This is what I like... useful info!!!!

09-30-2008, 02:43 AM
So even though it's written as sheet music Low G, it could sound ok played High G if you don't have the sheet music, just tabs.
Right. Both sound fine, just the high G is an octave above the low. I have ukes with both tunings and I like the low G for some tunes (blues for example) or whan I want a run with a lower note. But for a lot of strumming and finger picking, the high G is great. You use the same chord patterns on both.

10-07-2011, 04:18 AM
Thank you for your thorough explanation. I am a 73 y/o and just ordered my first ukulele. (Oh, I played around with one while in my teens, but nothing serious.) Having more time on my hands now, I decided to get more serious about learning the ukulele. I ordered a tenor and, while waiting for it to arrive, have been browsing the internet to get a jump start. Information about high/low G was confusing to me until I read your post. I look forward to learning more on this forum. Thanks again.

12-12-2013, 04:50 PM
I'm a little to this thread (only about two years) but I wanted to thank you JJ for your clear information on the low G vs high G. Very helpful.


07-29-2017, 11:18 PM
Still a useful thread. Bump worthy for sure.