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Tootler
05-04-2012, 08:45 AM
I have tuned my Kala soprano uke to A-D-F#-B and I like it.

Positives (for me)

The uke has a brighter tone

I can use more open chord voicings in some keys I regularly sing in.

Both of these are a plus for singing folk songs, which is what I usually sing, though it may not be for other genres of music.

The only downside - so far.

I found the strings (Aquilas) felt very hard initially but I have got used to that. After reading through the recent threads on strings on UU, I ordered a set of Worth Browns to try as a replacement, but can't quite bring myself to replace a perfectly good set of new strings just yet.

Now a query.

It seems (as far as I can make out) that the D-tuning was once the standard, for soprano ukes at least. When and why did gCEa replace aDF#b?

Just curious.

janeray1940
05-04-2012, 09:40 AM
You might find this thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?31577-D-Tuning-why-did-it-fall-out-of-favor) I started some time ago to be of interest. D tuning is still common in Canada and parts of Europe.

strumsilly
05-04-2012, 10:11 AM
I experiment with every ukulele I own and see what sounds best on them. some sound better in C, some D, some A#. I like tuning old/fragile ukes down a step or 2, especially those with lifting saddles so there is less tension. by tuning up or down from C you can sometimes find the ukes 'sweet spot'. of course , if you play with others it's easier to be in the same tuning. I know I didn't answer your question , but Janeray's thread about covers it.

OldePhart
05-04-2012, 12:55 PM
I experiment with every ukulele I own and see what sounds best on them. some sound better in C, some D, some A#. I like tuning old/fragile ukes down a step or 2, especially those with lifting saddles so there is less tension. by tuning up or down from C you can sometimes find the ukes 'sweet spot'. of course , if you play with others it's easier to be in the same tuning. I know I didn't answer your question , but Janeray's thread about covers it.

+1 on this. Very short scales seem to be quite critical on intonation up the fretboard and often you'll find that an ukulele intonates better with a different set of strings at something other than "standard" tuning. Perfect example is the little blue dolphin I have right now. I needed to tune it up a step to get more tension on the neck to pull a touch of backbow out of the neck (the alternative was to take the strings off and go after the frets with my long sanding block, then recrown them, etc.). Anyway, discovered that with the Aquilas it intonates a lot better in D anyway.

John

Ukuleleblues
05-04-2012, 02:25 PM
I play in D, I like it better than C more punch and volume for me. I was once told by Joel Eckhaus in a workshop (Joel played/studied/toured with Roy Smeck) that the D tuning was used before amps in live settings to get the sound up to the audience, like in vaudeville

myrnaukelele
05-04-2012, 03:57 PM
For many years I played only in ADF#B tuning. I taught myself to play in the late 1970s (this was before computers lol!) and the only books I could find were from the 1920s. All the books from that era taught the chords in this tuning. It is only within the last year that I switched to GCEA. I still keep a uke tuned ADF#B but am having lots of fun playing in GCEA.

guitarsnrotts
05-05-2012, 03:32 AM
My Martin S-O with Martin M600 strings always sounded better in a D tuning. Recently strung it with Worth Medium Clears and went back to C which sounds good.

Tootler
05-05-2012, 12:30 PM
I play in D, I like it better than C more punch and volume for me. I was once told by Joel Eckhaus in a workshop (Joel played/studied/toured with Roy Smeck) that the D tuning was used before amps in live settings to get the sound up to the audience, like in vaudeville

That makes sense. Higher pitched instruments tend to cut through.


For many years I played only in ADF#B tuning. I taught myself to play in the late 1970s (this was before computers lol!) and the only books I could find were from the 1920s. All the books from that era taught the chords in this tuning. It is only within the last year that I switched to GCEA. I still keep a uke tuned ADF#B but am having lots of fun playing in GCEA.

I have three ukes. A concert and a soprano in GCEA and a soprano in ADF#B. Both tunings have their advantages, it depends on the song. I have found that having a uke in a higher tuning gives me the option to take a song up a tone which can suit my voice better. Bit like using a capo on a guitar really.

Hippie Dribble
05-05-2012, 12:44 PM
I experiment with every ukulele I own and see what sounds best on them. some sound better in C, some D, some A#. I like tuning old/fragile ukes down a step or 2, especially those with lifting saddles so there is less tension. by tuning up or down from C you can sometimes find the ukes 'sweet spot'. of course , if you play with others it's easier to be in the same tuning. I know I didn't answer your question , but Janeray's thread about covers it.
agreed on everything strumsilly said. I change the tunings all the time up or down between Bb and D on my soprano and F and Bb on my baritone...usually it's to make playing easier and/or suit my (narrow) vocal range better

southcoastukes
05-07-2012, 07:55 PM
As mentioned above, an ukulele can have characteristics in construction that allow it to resonate well within the limits of a couple of keys. As to why D tuning has faded somewhat (at least in the U.S.), I'd say the main factor was the development of larger ukuleles.

When the ukulele and the soprano ukulele were the same thing, D tuning was predominant. May Singhi Breen promoted it as "Ukulele Standard Tuning", and that's how it was referred to for decades. The majority of Soprano Ukuleles will sound best in that tuning.

The Concert is a great C tuning instrument, but wasn't as popular as the Soprano in the beginning. The Tenor came along not too far after - it was tuned in a reentrant G. Most people didn't like it at all (that "low G" string was too low), and the Tenor was often ridiculed as a gimmick for decades after it was released.

Finally people began tuning the Tenor in (reentrant) C. Not sure why this happened, but in the beginning, there was some confusion with the names. What we call a Concert today was usually called a Tenor in the short interval before the modern Tenor was introduced.

At any rate, with three instruments there needed to be some sort of consensus. The logical way, from the standpoint of best sound, would have been to follow the path of most tradtional instrument families and have the smallest of the tribe tuned highest, and the biggest tuned lowest. In the case of the ukulele family, this would most likely have been D for the Soprano, C for the Concert, and B flat for the Tenor (all reentrant).

Instead, what won out was a philosophy that all ukuleles, regardless of size, should be tuned the same way. C tuning was great on the Concert, and "sort of works" on the other two. I'm sure the music publishing companies preferred this, and there has always been the idea that "we don't want to make life confusing for these ukulele players - after all they're not real musicians".

The funny part about that is that the great majority of ukulele players play solo. Since all keys finger the same, it doesn't matter to the majority what key you tune to. At the same time, most don't realize that.