PDA

View Full Version : How do you tune your Machete? (I mean your Sopranino?)



southcoastukes
09-19-2012, 06:53 PM
How do you?

1937Scott
09-20-2012, 05:45 AM
Howdy!

I have a KoAloha Noah, a Willie Wixom custom koa Sopranino, and a couple Kala Pocket Ukes. (One Acacia, one Mahogany.)

I tune ALL of them GCEA, and they sound fine. I can provide sound samples. Action height at the nut, as well as finger pressure and string choice are paramount in avoiding intonation issues, but otherwise, I can play in a group without having to finger different chords with a DGBE or differently tuned uke.

Cheers!

Linho
09-20-2012, 05:53 AM
My Hulabox Sopranino (under 10'' scale length) is tuned DGBE (one octave higher than a baritone ukulele).

Sounds quite good in my ears: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3TY1PY3R_s

Cheers,
Linho

frankiefirefox
09-20-2012, 06:04 AM
thats hilarious!!! and great!

ukeeku
09-20-2012, 06:16 AM
Ohana Sopranino
A D F# B
One full step up.
I know someone who tunes his little pocket uke the same notes as a baritone, just a full octave higher.

Kem
09-20-2012, 06:40 AM
I have the same uke as ukeeku, and I also tune it A D F# B.

1937Scott
09-20-2012, 08:15 AM
Hey, I just checked out South Coast Ukes' website...and I don't see any sopraninos...

Do you make any, or have any pictures?

Ken Middleton
09-20-2012, 08:20 AM
b flat, E flat, G and C. Brings it to life.

southcoastukes
09-20-2012, 03:10 PM
Hey, I just checked out South Coast Ukes' website...and I don't see any sopraninos...

Do you make any, or have any pictures?

Hey Scott- thanks for the interest, but we haven't made anything now in a little over a year. Thanks to the Lacey Act & CITES we've had to test and re-inventory practically all our woods. The first few intruments are just now starting to dribble in. We'll get our previous ukulele models (w/ some changes) out first, then 4-string guitars. A little model is intriguing, but if we do one it will be down the line.

While working on a new website for the strings, however, I thought of a possibility for the Sopraninos and thought I'd gauge some interest. I put "Machete" in the title of the thread because that was the name first used in Hawaii for what shortly after became the ukulele. In that more portugese form, it was a little smaller, and had an open high key of G tuning. In Helmholz notation you'd write it: d" - g' - b' -d".

Ken had a good suggestion - the E flat tuning, one step up from D should be very nice. Either of our Light Gauge sets should work for this, and some of the thinner soprano sets in general may do it as well.

But I was very impressed with Herr Ukulinho's video above. He's playing the same tuning ukeeku referred to - a standard reentrant high key of g tuning, an octave above the reentrant G tuning you might use on a Baritone. The only difference between this tuning (d" - g' - b' - e") and the machete tuning is that the first string in machete tuning is one note lower. If you had some strings that would work for the "Octave G" tuning, it would be easy to "slack" the 1st string a step and play around with the Machete tuning as well.

At any rate, give a listen to the video. The very first Ukulele Method published in Hawaii (probably when the instruments were still small by Soprano standards), was written by Angeline Nunes and was in the open G tuning. Linho's video gives an aproximation of what the first ukuleles may have sounded like.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3TY1PY3R_s

What we may be able to offer a bit quicker than an instrument is a set of strings - an "Extra Light Set" that could give either of those tunings on a Sopranino, the modern "Machete". Before the string site went up, I thought I'd see if anyone was interested.

1937Scott
09-20-2012, 03:24 PM
Dirk,

Thanks for the reply. The Lacey Act is the same law that got Gibson $500,000 in fines, right? Wood that used to be legal to import is now only legal if the work is completed in the country it comes from is my understanding. Glad I don't have to deal with that. I'd rather plant my own trees and wait for the wood to grow....

I watched the video. I just believe tuning 'up' makes a uke sound more like a toy music box. I have Worth Clear Lights on my Kala Pocket Uke. It sounds great in C tuning, I should stop being lazy and make a recording for you to hear. Be sure to post here on UU when you get the Machete going...

Scott

southcoastukes
09-20-2012, 04:37 PM
The Lacey Act is the same law that got Gibson $500,000 in fines, right? Wood that used to be legal to import is now only legal if the work is completed in the country it comes from is my understanding. Glad I don't have to deal with that....
I watched the video. I just believe tuning 'up' makes a uke sound more like a toy music box....I should stop being lazy and make a recording for you to hear...
Scott

There's a lot to Lacey & CITES and because of the Lacey part, your situation varies depending on the country you're working in. In our situation, the local government down south just doesn't staff the export section with enough employees to issue permits for every small shipment that leaves the country. To get restricted woods like Mahogany in here, we need a permit. To get a permit down there, we need to do a container load. As often happens, things are tough for the little guy.

I kind of have an ear for that "toy music box" sound, at least on a little body. There's a fair number of folks in these parts from the Canary Islands (400 years ago); some of the older ones still speak an old form of Spanish, and occasionally I've heard a little "Timple de las Canarias". Actually, I've got an invitation to go hear some playing next month. In general, I just like higher tunings on smaller instruments and vice versa. The Canary Islands are right by Madeira, where the Nunes, Dias et al came from, and the little instruments played on both islands have similar "music box" sounds.

A lot of people now have their ears tranined to C tuning - anything else sounds a bit odd. Maybe lower tunings are more accepted, because they are more "guitar-like", but I've heard some awful pretty things "up in the highlands", so to speak.

1937Scott
09-20-2012, 06:11 PM
What you say makes a lot of sense. I don't mind the sound from a smaller body, but the higher tuning is hard for me. I have a Tangi Mini (total uke length is 10") and it's C tuned, but the sound is truly tiny. I can pluck some stuff on it, but it's mostly for fun.

I appreciate what the Nunes family did for Ukes, and I think it's important to remember that always. Any builders that make Nunes (or Dias) replicas certainly get a premium for them. The bodies are definitely smaller than what is out there right now in the mainstream. The current trend from what I see (maybe professional Big-Name Ukers influence??) is for a LOT of people going to the Tenor Uke.

I resist that because the sound (for me, and only me) is the 'happiest' and 'most ukulele' on the sopranos or sopraninos.

Again, with the Lacey Act. I'd rather grow my own wood, cut it and (wait years to) cure it than have to deal with what you have to. I imported something to the U.S. once, and it took me months to find an importer to share a Cargo Container with to save me THOUSANDS... it was a pain. This was after I already had it built and paid for, sitting for months overseas. It almost inspires the notion to use reclaimed wood, or existing sources as I have seen many builders do.

For crying out loud, that's what Nunes and Dias both did! Koa was an available wood that is also a great tone wood. Before arriving in Hawaii they had probably never seen or used it. Maybe you have sources at your avail that you can look into....

southcoastukes
09-20-2012, 07:25 PM
It almost inspires the notion to use reclaimed wood, or existing sources as I have seen many builders do.

For crying out loud, that's what Nunes and Dias both did! Koa was an available wood that is also a great tone wood. Before arriving in Hawaii they had probably never seen or used it. Maybe you have sources at your avail that you can look into....

True, true - and that's more or less what we've done. We build in Central America because my partner is one of the finest luthiers in the Americas (fit and finish is up here). There are tons of woods there that no one has ever heard of. Of course you have to dry them and test them for whatever qualities you're looking for.

It has been a loooong delay, but right now, I really, really like what we've come up with. Some of the woods you actually will have heard of (not restricted) and others as I was saying, will be new. The neck was actually the most problematic, but in the end, boy did we come up with a winner there! You'll see - and thanks for asking.

Anyone else have thoughts on the high key of G tuning or Sopranino tuning in general?

Hippie Dribble
09-20-2012, 10:00 PM
Eb, F, G are all great tunings I reckon...

Linho
09-20-2012, 10:15 PM
Thanks, frankie and southcostukes! :)



I watched the video. I just believe tuning 'up' makes a uke sound more like a toy music box. I have Worth Clear Lights on my Kala Pocket Uke. It sounds great in C tuning, I should stop being lazy and make a recording for you to hear.
Hi Scott,

that's probably true, but for my feeling on this particular ukulele the one-octave-higher-than-baritone was the "deepest" tuning without too loose string tension. Maybe it's a question of the right strings?

BTW you mentioned the Tangi Miniature: Mine is tuned gcea too, but an octave higher than the "regular" gcea.
I like the sound of it, the very high tone fits to its body size. :D

(I tried to make a video of this "real pocket uke" more than a year ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TY2YmQQiaag)

Cheers,
Linho

1937Scott
09-21-2012, 03:33 PM
Linho!! I love it!!

Yes, my Tangi Mini is tuned the same as yours. I can strum a few chords, but if I hold it just right I can pluck single notes and melodies rather well. It always catches people off guard when I put down the Kala Pocket Uke and pick up the Tangi. They usually say, "Yeah, but you can't play that one." And I strum a version of 'Five Foot Two.' Har.

Dirk, I use Worth Clear Lights on my Kala Pocket and I love them. Tuned GCEA I can play it with very little intonation issues, but I've had to work the action (nut and saddle both) down quite a bit myself. It came with a horrid action, almost 1/4" above the first fret. (Kala should really look into improving Q.C. before selling ukes like that.) The Aquilas only magnified the intonation/sound issues. I tried the Worths and never looked back.

Scott

glass
09-21-2012, 03:59 PM
I tune it GCEA, thats how I got it so thats how I kept it.

connor013
09-21-2012, 04:03 PM
I've been tuning to D, but man, Eb sounds sweet.

I don't know if I have what it takes to tune it up to G.