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View Full Version : New tuning makes baritone easy for ukers.



jkevinwolfe
07-04-2012, 02:59 AM
Happy 4th all. I recently strung a baritone with what I'm calling Contrentrant tuning. C Reentrant, but an octave lower. You can play standard uke frettings and it has a nice rich feel. How to do it and video demo.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17385890/voodoo/baritonecontrentrant.html

It's still a work in progress. Let me know what you think.

SweetWaterBlue
07-04-2012, 03:40 AM
It sounds nice and mellow, Kevin. The one thing I didn't like about my baritones was having to transpose the chords in my head when someone passed out a chord sheet at uke meetups, or worse yet trying to watch their fingers - then transposing on the fly. Your method solves that problem.

nohoval_turrets
07-04-2012, 03:45 AM
Wow, mellow sound. I like it.

jkevinwolfe
07-04-2012, 03:54 AM
Thanks nohaval. SWB: Yeah, it solves all the problems related to playing a Baritone. I'm getting close to getting the string formula right.

mattydee
07-04-2012, 04:16 AM
Interesting sound. For what it's worth, Southcoast makes a linear string set in C for baritones, though in the standard octave, and Guadalupe makes a set in your octave - they may even have a reentrant set, too but down the octave like yours.

I have mine in reentrant G, which for me sits perfectly with the expanded resonance of the baritone, but stays uke-y. It's been a good challenge for me to transpose Chorda in my head while working on the Bari. Same reason I have my sopranos tuned to D. I think they sound better there and I like the challenge of transposing keys. I think it's helping to make me a better musician.

Pondoro
07-04-2012, 09:12 AM
I heard Kevin play this way with several other conventionally-tuned ukes. One uke tuned in the lower tuning adds a lot of bottom to an ensemble.

mm stan
07-04-2012, 09:57 AM
Yes I drop tune my baritones...slows dow the tempo and sounds richer...not that new at all, but a whole lot better to me...Happy Strummings

themax
07-04-2012, 11:10 AM
I'm gluing closed a seam in a beat-up baritone from ebay today. I had planned to tune it this way and I have a set of D'Addario baritone strings I was going to try. If I don't like that, I'll try your fishing line gauges. Thanks for the tip! It sounds nice in your video.

OldePhart
07-04-2012, 12:45 PM
Happy 4th all. I recently strung a baritone with what I'm calling Contrentrant tuning. C Reentrant, but an octave lower. You can play standard uke frettings and it has a nice rich feel. How to do it and video demo.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17385890/voodoo/baritonecontrentrant.html

It's still a work in progress. Let me know what you think.

Hey Keven, I did this a while back (there's a thread about it somewhere, not worth looking up). Here's the YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIC1c4wYwTA&list=UUAgBWJlWUS5d95ixRC0Gg8Q&index=3&feature=plcp

I made one change after the video - the G was still a bit soft even with the harder D'Addario string so I ordered some 130lb Seaguar leader, which works better. The tuning has a very low and mellow sound without losing the "ukiness" of the reentrant tuning. My "formula" is three strings out of a D'Addario "hard" classical guitar string set plus a 130lb Seaguar leader for the G string. So, you end up with wound strings on the C and E and unwound on the G and A. I call it an "octave uke" since that's basically what it is (you're probably familiar with "octave mandolins").

The strings work pretty good but still tends to be just a touch "snappy" if you strum hard. Beautiful for finger picking, though.

Shame I didn't know you were interested in this during UWC I could have shown it to you as I had it with me up there though I didn't pull it out much.

John

kissing
07-05-2012, 02:47 AM
This has already been done by a string company called Guadalupe, readily available from Mainland ukuleles:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?62861-Guadalupe-custom-baritone-strings
Except this is a low-G version.

I made a topic about it a while ago too:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?50244-Never-been-so-EXCITED-over-a-new-set-of-strings-before-YOU-GOTTA-TRY-THIS!-D



Overall impressions is that yes, it's certainly a unique, different tuning.
However, it has limitations when it comes to strumming (sounds too muddy), but is best suited to fingerpicking.
It sounds very nice in person in a room, but when you have it in any live playing situation (especially with other instruments), amplification is essential to be heard.
Physically, the notes are too low for the baritone's body size to fully support (technically, even DGBE tuning is too low for a Baritone body to ideally support).

I never really saw it as a corner-cut to not having to learn baritone chords, as I really don't think transitioning to baritone chord shapes is a challenge worth avoiding. In fact, being able to play baritone chord shapes is an advantage, as it is a different key to the regular uke, making it easier to play in some keys (eg: an uke's E chord is an easy-peasy "A-chord shape" on a baritone), and in the emergency situation where the only available instrument is a guitar, you'll be able to play one. It also makes playing instrumental/solo/improvisation in certain keys easier. You simply get a wider palette to work with.


With a bit of practice, playing in both keys comes very quickly and natural. I don't personally think we should discourage people from learning something new.

However, I like the low GCEA tuning for its unique place in the ukulele voicings. Mellow, warm and deep. It gives the ukulele some guitar-equivalent bass tones, while maintaining ukulele playability. Afterall, a baritone uke (DGBE) is still "like a guitar lacking the bass notes". However, DGBE-tuning and GCEA-tuning on baritones come with different playability, tone and feel - I keep one of each tuning for their pros and cons.

Tazthedog
07-05-2012, 05:35 AM
It's a real coincidence that this topic has just come up as I was going to ask whether anyone had done exactly this.

I recently bought a Koloa baritone from eaglemusicshop here in the UK. For 150 this instrument is unbelievably good - all solid mahogany with one piece neck. Fit and finish is as good as on my Mainland so I'm a very happy bunny. However, it came strung DGBE with 2 wound strings and sounded like a 3/4 classical guitar with 2 strings missing - really dull!

Luckily enough I had seen Ken Middleton's vid of him noodling on his baritone with a set of high D strings from his recently launched Living Water range and had ordered a set at the same time as I had ordered the uke, so I had them to hand when the bari arrived. What a transformation! The bari now sounds wonderful and I've hardly been able to put it down - but I'm playing GCEA shapes so my G chord is actually a D etc., and this is very confusing when playing with friends.

I bought a set of GCEA Aquilas in the hope that they would be pitched down an octave but I now know from this thread that that won't be the case. I guess I'll just have to start playing bari chords, which is no big deal really, and has got to be worth it to be able to use Ken's great strings!

I'll be putting a full review of the Koloa on my blog in a few days.

http://www.theukeshed.com

ukuhippo
07-06-2012, 03:26 AM
Hey Keven, I did this a while back (there's a thread about it somewhere, not worth looking up). Here's the YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIC1c4wYwTA&list=UUAgBWJlWUS5d95ixRC0Gg8Q&index=3&feature=plcp

John

Hmmmm, this thread gets more and more interesting. I just dusted of my Bari (it is on sale but still not sold), and ordered the required d'Addario strings. Thanks for the video.

jkevinwolfe
07-06-2012, 08:49 AM
Figured this idea was too logical to be new. Glad to hear so many have experimented.

Taz: The standard reentrant Aquila's will be to loose to play.

Kissing: How do you like that Risa electric "Bean" in your photo?

clayton56
07-06-2012, 08:56 AM
I tried it and didn't like it too much; currently my baritone is strung in re-entrant A, 3 steps down from standard. Sounds nice and takes the same strings as my sopranos tuned to D. Useful, too.

I think there's too much playing in the key of C out there. Harmonicas, flutes, white piano keys, most ukes, it never ends.

For those that want to do it (not re-entrant), some strings to try are the bottom 4 strings of the GHS Doyle Dokes classical set, available at Elderly. They are heavier than normal and have an extra heavy third string, it's the only wound third string out there. The fourth is heavier than normal too. These two are tuned lower than they would be on guitar, so the tension is just right when tuned to the uke spread. And it's nice to have a fatter wound first string.

kissing
07-06-2012, 04:04 PM
Kissing: How do you like that Risa electric "Bean" in your photo?

I really do love all of Risa electric ukes.
The Bean is a top notch instrument. Semi-hollow body, sweet sounding single coil pickups with great sustain and tone and a snazzy design.
It would equate to a great quality electric guitar, such as a high-end Fender Strat or Telecaster - definitely professional quality and tone versatile for a very wide range of music styles.. jazz, rock, country, blues, etc..


However, "overall", I like Risa's Les Paul models better.
But that's more because I like the thicker, juicier tone of humbuckers and the style of "Les Paul" guitars.
If you prefer single coils and Tele/Strat style guitars, the Risa Bean would be the better choice.

jkevinwolfe
07-07-2012, 03:08 AM
Rigk makes great stuff. The bean was really temping, except for the metal strings.

jkevinwolfe
07-07-2012, 03:16 AM
Put this up on soundcloud. Makala Baritone and Mainland Longneck Concert together:

http://snd.sc/NdwXPG

Bonita: The 170lb seaguar was a little to thick and taut. But the 150lb should work. I now have a low and high tension recipe for Contrentrant:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17385890/voodoo/baritonecontrentrant.html

YooperUker
07-08-2012, 06:08 AM
kissing, who has already chimed in, is obviously the sage on this issue.

There is also some information/speculation in the following thread:
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?59058-Bass-Uke

coolkayaker1
07-14-2012, 11:18 PM
I want to play a baritone ukulele. I'm not a string or tuning wonk, so I understand little about what's been said on this thread...lol. My criteria are:

No wound strings.

Learning no new chords/transpositions (just use those that I know from my tenor, concert, sopranos)

No substituting one string here and there from a set, and no fishing line and no guitar strings.

Does anyone know of a simple ukulele string set I can buy to play gCEA or GCEA on a baritone without warping the neck from the high tension?

Thanks.

Pete Beardsley
07-15-2012, 12:36 AM
I want to play a baritone ukulele. I'm not a string or tuning wonk, so I understand little about what's been said on this thread...lol. My criteria are:

No wound strings.

Learning no new chords/transpositions (just use those that I know from my tenor, concert, sopranos)

No substituting one string here and there from a set, and no fishing line and no guitar strings.

Does anyone know of a simple ukulele string set I can buy to play gCEA or GCEA on a baritone without warping the neck from the high tension?

Thanks.

There are gCEA sets available off the peg specifically for baritone ukulele, I know Aquila makes one and I'm sure a lot of other brands do too. Just put "GCEA baritone ukulele strings" into Google (other search engines may be available, see Internet for details) and you will find what you are looking for.

kissing
07-15-2012, 01:35 AM
The plot thickens with the introduction of the new Kamoa "bass" ukes tuned EADG (regular guitar octave, one octave above bass guitar)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DT7fp8ByJs8

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of these "one octave high tuning" basses..
It is essentially something that already exists in the bass world, known as a "piccolo bass". Furthermore, there are shortscale basses, like the half-size Samick Corsair, which are capable of playing in the proper EADG tuning with short scale bass strings.. *shrug*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU-vzsZz1Dc <-- I have one of these, in red.. LOVE it, and it was fraction of the price for a Kala Ubass.

There is also a bass called the Fernandes Nomad bass, a solid body short-bass with piezo pickups and a built-in amplifier.. wouldn't mind one of those too someday..

Beaver Creek has an inexpensive metal string "Ubass" type design
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBzOPpq7Rvk


This one amazed me the most out of all the "Bass Ukulele" designs I've encountered so far.. alas it appears to be a custom job (expen$ive) and availability of strings seems a bit tricky too
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cF4omm67jkQ




If only the Ashbory bass had frets..

luluwrites
07-15-2012, 02:24 AM
Southcoast linears will give you that GCEA (that's how you indicate a low g, right?). They are terrific.


There are gCEA sets available off the peg specifically for baritone ukulele, I know Aquila makes one and I'm sure a lot of other brands do too. Just put "GCEA baritone ukulele strings" into Google (other search engines may be available, see Internet for details) and you will find what you are looking for.

OldePhart
07-15-2012, 09:23 AM
The plot thickens with the introduction of the new Kamoa "bass" ukes tuned EADG (regular guitar octave, one octave above bass guitar)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DT7fp8ByJs8

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of these "one octave high tuning" basses..
It is essentially something that already exists in the bass world, known as a "piccolo bass". Furthermore, there are shortscale basses, like the half-size Samick Corsair, which are capable of playing in the proper EADG tuning with short scale bass strings.. *shrug*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU-vzsZz1Dc <-- I have one of these, in red.. LOVE it, and it was fraction of the price for a Kala Ubass.

There is also a bass called the Fernandes Nomad bass, a solid body short-bass with piezo pickups and a built-in amplifier.. wouldn't mind one of those too someday..

Beaver Creek has an inexpensive metal string "Ubass" type design
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBzOPpq7Rvk


This one amazed me the most out of all the "Bass Ukulele" designs I've encountered so far.. alas it appears to be a custom job (expen$ive) and availability of strings seems a bit tricky too
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cF4omm67jkQ




If only the Ashbory bass had frets..

If you're just looking for a short scale bass with great tone, get a five string bass and play starting at the fifth fret. I play five-string bass and when I started having problems with my wrist I started looking for a really good sounding bass with a short (~20") scale. Was thinking I was going to have to have a custom made - then pulled my head out and realized that I already had that bass if I started at the fifth fret on the five string. So, that's what I mostly do now with occasional forays into thunder territory when the song really calls for it. Wrist has healed up (loosening the strap so I could pull the body back and bring the headstock closer also helped a lot) and all is well with the world. :)

John

Zenin
07-15-2012, 10:19 AM
The plot thickens with the introduction of the new Kamoa "bass" ukes tuned EADG (regular guitar octave, one octave above bass guitar)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DT7fp8ByJs8

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of these "one octave high tuning" basses..
It is essentially something that already exists in the bass world, known as a "piccolo bass".
To me this is an instrument that's begging to be tuned down just slightly to D-G-B-E, octave below a baritone uke, making it the first "actual" ukelele bass. Considering both the company and the tone of the instrument, it would have seemed like a no-brainer to me to tune it DGBE and appeal to uke players rather then tune it like a bass that had its balls cut off and try to appeal to bass players wishing to sound like a guitar.


Furthermore, there are shortscale basses, like the half-size Samick Corsair, which are capable of playing in the proper EADG tuning with short scale bass strings.. *shrug*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU-vzsZz1Dc <-- I have one of these, in red.. LOVE it, and it was fraction of the price for a Kala Ubass.
Holy crap that does sound good, and you're right about the price. I had been thinking of a solid ubass with those new metal wound over silk strings for a guitar like sound, but this does seem to do the job better for a lot less.

Can it use normal bass guitar strings? Or are you limited by what options are available for (very) short scale basses?

Pippin
07-15-2012, 11:14 AM
I heard Kevin play this way with several other conventionally-tuned ukes. One uke tuned in the lower tuning adds a lot of bottom to an ensemble.

Hye Pondoro, weren't you in Northern Ohio before? My wife's family is from Cincinnati. Maybe we should all get together down there some time. Kevin comes to Columbus occasionally for COUP meetings. Although we have not had one for a good while.

Pippin
07-15-2012, 11:17 AM
Kevin, sounds great. I hope to see you at the next COUP meeting that I can attend... my work will let up a bit after the end of summer and I'll have more time on my hands to play some music again.

kissing
07-15-2012, 07:37 PM
Can it use normal bass guitar strings? Or are you limited by what options are available for (very) short scale basses?

I've got D'addario shortscale bass strings on mine (half rounds), which are easy enough to find on ebay.
But I have a feeling that regular scale bass strings will work too. But I can't be sure until I experiment.

I bought mine from here:
http://www.smallguitars.com/results.php?CategoryID=12

However, it seems to be listed as "GMB" instead of Samick now, so you'll have to email them and find out whether it is the Samick Corsair.
Great value! It's one of the best purchase decisions I made. It sounds really good - not as "big" bass sound as a full scale bass, but it really does pack a punch, gives a unique comfortable playability and has a proper electric bass tone, as opposed to the short-sustain/twangy tone of Ubasses.

OldePhart
07-16-2012, 06:33 AM
I've got D'addario shortscale bass strings on mine (half rounds), which are easy enough to find on ebay.
But I have a feeling that regular scale bass strings will work too. But I can't be sure until I experiment.


I tried regular scale bass strings on my Ibanez 25" scale bass and they wouldn't work. The wound part of the string was about an inch too long, and the wound part won't fit into the tuner (and even if it did, putting the wound part into the tuner sometimes results in the winding getting cut, loosening up, and then buzzing.

John

YooperUker
07-19-2012, 11:35 AM
Southcoast linears will give you that GCEA (that's how you indicate a low g, right?). They are terrific.

In standard Helmholtz Pitch Notation,
soprano uke in reentrant D: a' d' f#' g'
soprano uke in reentrant C: g' c' e' a'
soprano uke in linear C (with low G): g c' e' a'
baritone in linear G: d g b e'
standard guitar: E A d g b e' (often miswritten as EAdgbe)
string bass: E, A, D G

and, dropping an octave as discussed,
low-octave reentrant C: gcea
low-octave linear C: Gcea
low-octave linear G: DGBe
low-octave reentrant G: D,GBe

Frequently, the notation is mangled and folks just arbitrarily mixed caps and lower case to indicate an octave change. Pet peeve of mine.

Anyway, the octaves are as follows (I show also Scientific Pitch Notation, which follows a similar pattern--using C as the start of each octave):

c" C5 (~522Hz, an octave above Middle C)
c' C4 (~261Hz, Middle C)
c C3 (~130Hz, an octave below Middle C)
C C2 (~65Hz)
C, C1 (~34Hz)

a" A5 (880Hz)
a' A4 (440Hz)
a A3 (220Hz)
A A2 (110Hz)
A, A1 (55Hz)

Dan

southcoastukes
07-19-2012, 11:45 AM
... Helmholtz Pitch Notation...
Dan

Helmholtz rules! Nicely done.

YooperUker
07-23-2012, 01:00 PM
I wrote (regarding re-stringing a baritone so that each string is an octave lower than normal):



low-octave linear G: DGBe
low-octave reentrant G: D,GBe


Oops, I labeled those in reverse. The first one is reentrant, and the second is linear.

Here's some more explanation on Helmholtz notation.

The mark after the "D" technically shouldn't be a comma, but rather a subscripted prime marking (likewise, the marks in g` c` e` a` are primes, not accents or apostrophes). However, in this medium we're limited typographically to the ASCII character set.

Middle C and the 11 semitones above it are denoted in lower case, followed by a prime mark. The next octave up is double-primed lower case (such as for the high-C on a 6-string tenor: g' c"c' e' a'a). The octave above that is, of course, irrelevant to a discussion of open tunings for ukuleles, but it would be triple-primed lower case.

The octave below Middle C is un-marked lower case, and the octave below that is un-marked upper case.

The second octave below Middle C, as indicated above, is upper case with a subscripted prime (sometimes it is written prime preceding the letter, rather than following it). Similarly, the next lower octave is upper case with a double prime subscript.

Dan

jkevinwolfe
07-25-2012, 12:30 AM
Glad to see so much talk about interest in a low-down uke.

I put up a track on SoundCloud using the High Tension Contrentrant string recipe. Recorded with a Makala Baritone.

http://soundcloud.com/wolfewithane/r...okhara-journey

I really prefer the lighter finger feel of the Low Tension formula, but the High definitely sounds better on the Makala. Both string formulas here:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17385890/voodoo/baritonecontrentrant.html

jkevinwolfe
07-31-2012, 12:28 AM
Hasn't been a COUP meeting in a while. That's what happens when the den mother of a uke group gets married. Sigh.

coolkayaker1
08-03-2012, 03:42 PM
First baritone here.

I got GCEA unwound, nylon strings, and rather than go up to GCEA and have another tenor uke, and snap the bridge off in my face (unlikely with GCEA bari strings, I think), I dialed it down to (reading from tuner): F Bb D G

Okay?

Wait..,. I just went down to E A C# F# and it still doesn't sound flabby.

ukuhippo
08-08-2012, 11:17 AM
I just got a set of Southcoast reentrant heavy gauge unwound strings, so my tuning is now DGBE, with a high D. This is the best my baritone ever sounded, I love this tuning.