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Reservoir Dog
09-30-2012, 07:07 AM
I have Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Masters - Lyle Ritz Jazz, published by Hal Leonard. Its collection of arrangements by Ritz, some of which probably go back to the 1950s. As a prefatory note, Ritz says that sopranos and concerts have GCEA tuning and that tenors and baritones are tuned DGBE. Ritz says he played a Gibson tenor.

Was it common for tenors to have DGBE tuning at one time? And if so, when did the change to concert tuning happen?

southcoastukes
09-30-2012, 08:29 AM
A reentrant G tuning was the original Tenor tuning, and was predominant into the 1970's. Of course this was also when most ukulele players considered the Tenor to be an illegitimate ukulele. In effect, it was the first mainland design attempt to make a "little guitar ukulele".

It was abandoned because it was felt that the low G note was too low (look at all the trouble people have with that note in linear C tuning) and that the overall tuning was so low it lacked any sort of brightness. To illustrate, our "Heavy Gauge" strings are not heavy enough for this tuning. You always need a wound third, and the outside notes are more like a second string.

If you want a very mellow sound, often paired with a "booming" G note, you can give it a try, but likely you'll abandon it too. I'm not an expert on Lyle Ritz, but on what I've heard, he often used the Tenor like a deep rythym instrument to back a smaller C tuned ukulele, and it also seems everything was amped. Then of, course, you can tune anyway you like.

It was Cliff Edwards who hit the sweet spot on a Tenor - B flat. Victoria Vox tried to go there - her publishing company let her put out one songbook in B flat, and then pushed her back to C tuning.

It's a shame that so many people are afraid of an intermediate tuning. It's not such a big deal. The Tenor is an intermediate sized instrument. An intermediate tuning will suit it best.

SailQwest
09-30-2012, 11:06 AM
My husband and I keep most of our tenors tuned in reentrant G. That is his size and tuning of choice. :D

When we first started playing together we loved the baritone and concert sound blend between our two ukes, but the baritone was too big for our sailboat (Rich kept hitting the headstock on the bimini poles). The reentrant G tenor works great for him. (It also works well for me when I play with guitar players, who typically play tons of stuff in E.)

wendellfiddler
09-30-2012, 11:11 AM
I tried it recently on my Pono tenor with the Aquila reentrant G strings. The strings fit the tuning well, but I didn't like the feel of the heavier strings. I could be ok if you don't mind the string thickness. It didn't sound bad, but I wouldn't say it sounded real good, either - certainly not as good as a baritone tuned the same way.

Doug

ichadwick
09-30-2012, 12:29 PM
Was it common for tenors to have DGBE tuning at one time? And if so, when did the change to concert tuning happen?
No. It's a baritone tuning. You can get it by putting a capo on the seventh fret of a tenor.

SailQwest
09-30-2012, 12:32 PM
No. It's a baritone tuning. You can get it by putting a capo on the seventh fret of a tenor.

But that would make it an octave higher than a G-tuned tenor.