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View Full Version : I tuned my Stratocaster like a ukulele



Mel Ott
02-01-2012, 07:22 AM
Aloha! I tried a little experiment with my Stratocaster last night, and I thought some folks here might be interested in what I did.

First, I took off the high and low E strings.

Then I tuned the A, D, G, and B strings to G, C, E, and A (respectively).

The result is (just like the thread title says) a guitar tuned like a (low-G) uke. I want to be clear that it sounds nothing like a ukulele (that's why I didn't title the thread "I turned my Stratocaster into a ukulele"). It's just an electric guitar in a weird alternate tuning, and that's exactly what it sounds like.

There are some advantages, though. If (like me) you're a frustrated guitar player who loves the ukulele tuning but nonetheless wants to play around with amplification, effects pedals, etc. (and can't afford an electric uke), and you have an old electric guitar lying around, well... good news! You can apply your ukulele skills directly to your old guitar without transposing.

The strings, being under lower tension than a standard tuning, are very easy to bend (something I've never been any good at). Because the high and low E strings are gone, you also have a little more real estate on the neck for bending your strings. I suspect that it's great for blues. I was afraid the strings might be too loose, but they were totally playable.

As I said, it sounds nothing like a ukulele, although I do wonder whether tuning it reentrant might recapture a little uke flavor. And of course it's still a full-size electric guitar, so it's not nearly as portable as a real uke. But I had a lot of fun with it last night!

Deaks
02-01-2012, 08:35 AM
Would love to hear what it sounds like, I've been playing with the idea of doing this to a kids electric guitar.

uke4ia
02-01-2012, 12:13 PM
You can always run a ukulele through pedals. One thing I haven't seen yet that I'd like is a ukulele with a whammy bar, and this would be a way to accomplish that.

ukecantdothat
02-01-2012, 12:28 PM
That's so weird... Last night I tuned my uke like my Stratocaster! :nana:

ScooterD35
02-01-2012, 01:23 PM
You can also just put a capo on the 5th fret and ignore the bottom two strings.

Scooter

MrKempo
02-01-2012, 02:46 PM
I did this a few months ago with my old Telecaster (I call it a... Telelele) completely rearranging the strings in the position of the middle four strings with reentrant tuning, albeit an octave below the uke. If I get the chance I'll restring it with the strings on EADG positions, that way I can cover the g string by wrapping my thumb around the neck.

I was surprised about how different it sounded as well, mainly the extra sustain from the steel strings. As for ukes with effects, I had an idea on uke I recorded with mic on my multitrack recorded with a wah-wah and it sounded pretty sweet. If anyone's interested, I can put it up on my soundcloud account.

kissing
02-02-2012, 12:15 AM
There are actual steel-string electric "ukuleles".

Here's a quick snapshot I took of my ones :D

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y121/pactio_kiss/2012-02-02221227.jpg
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y121/pactio_kiss/2012-02-02221227.jpg

tjomball
02-02-2012, 12:23 AM
@ Kissing..
What did you do to the Epiphone Mandobird to make it playable as a uke?
I'm currently looking at getting one for myself.
Since it seems to be the only reasonably priced option for getting a steel string uke like contraption where I live.

kissing
02-02-2012, 12:51 AM
The Epiphone Mandobird is not the ideal for a ukulele though. You can "make it work", but it has a Mandolin's neck (thinner than uke).

It's rather simple to get it tuned like a uke. I just use electric guitar strings (DGBE strings from a D'addario Super Light Gauge set suffices for a low-G tuning).
Just need to adjust the screws on the bridge a bit to get the intonation right (search on google how to set intonation on an electric guitar), then voila.

However, I do not find it comfortable to play as an ukulele. The string spacing is too close together.
Hence, I have it modified to be like a Lapsteel ukulele (as you can see at the nut, I've installed a nut heightener which is used to make normal guitars into slide guitars). It doesn't really work all that well as a Lapsteel either (or I just suck at it), but it's somewhat fun.

It can do some cool things.. but it's not exactly my favourite.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ_tqZjE108
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ_tqZjE108


If you want an affordable steel-string electric, I suggest keeping an eye out for Jupiter Creek electric ukuleles that come out on eBay every now and again, or wait for the Eleuke steel string... which was supposed to be released years ago, but has been severely delayed. Or get the real deal and save up for a RISA. Risa are really really sweet - some of the best in steel-string electric.

Beyond that, you're looking at custom jobs from makers like Mann and Monkey Wrench, which are easily over $1000

kissing
02-02-2012, 01:08 AM
I wouldn't mind one of these... if I had a spare 2500 euroes handy y'know lol
http://sonntag-guitars.com/english/Archtops/Jazz-Uke_acoustic.php

It's kind of my ridiculous dream uke

WhenDogsSing
02-02-2012, 01:40 AM
I wouldn't mind one of these... if I had a spare 2500 euroes handy y'know lol
http://sonntag-guitars.com/english/Archtops/Jazz-Uke_acoustic.php

It's kind of my ridiculous dream uke

What a beauty...!!! Here is my Dark Star Hibiscus which is a very sweet steel string tenor. Sustains for days with the string through body:

http://www.darkstarguitars.com/index.php?id=161

ukecantdothat
02-02-2012, 05:34 AM
The Epiphone Mandobird is not the ideal for a ukulele though. You can "make it work", but it has a Mandolin's neck (thinner than uke).

Beyond that, you're looking at custom jobs from makers like Mann and Monkey Wrench, which are easily over $1000
If you really wanna go :nana::nana::nana: with it, get the Gibson custom shop to make a wider necked ukulele version. I wonder what THAT would run! It's probably a matter of time before someone at Gibson puts out an electric uke. Stands to reason, since the uke continues to gain popularity.

tjomball
02-02-2012, 07:53 AM
If it's only the neck that's the issue I can make my own.. ;)
Just call me Bob the Builder.. LMAO.. :D

YooperUker
02-04-2012, 01:50 PM
And of course it's still a full-size electric guitar, so it's not nearly as portable as a real uke. But I had a lot of fun with it last night!

A couple years ago, I picked up a short-scale Strat (a Fender Starcaster Mini with about a 22-inch scale length) with the intention of converting to it play like a 6-string tenor uke. Two octave-tuned, two-string courses and two single-string courses.

I still haven't gotten around to doing it--mostly because changing the string spacing requires a lot of re-engineering of the Strat-style bridge. I bought a spare bridge and saddles to monkey around with so I can test my modification ideas. Of course, I could keep the bridge plate and just replace the saddles with a bridge design of my own, but I want to try to keep it looking close to the original.

The math to determine what string gauges to use for G3-C5/C4-E4-A3/A4 at that scale length is much less of an problem. (Okay, .007"-diameter steel strings are a little rare, but they exist.)