View Full Version : Sopranos: gCEA versus aDF#B

03-15-2013, 11:13 PM
Which tuning makes your sopranos sound better?

03-15-2013, 11:23 PM
Try both and go for what you prefer!

I'd recommend gCEA is you are a beginner though as it is 'standard'.

03-16-2013, 01:57 AM
In general, I tune in C, but also play my ukes from Bb all the way up to D. Sound good all over the place. It's like they morph into other instruments. There isn't a right answer; there are multiple right answers!

03-16-2013, 02:30 AM
+1 on the above advice.

Trying out new tunings is the best (temporary) cure for UAS. It can even help to curb SAS.

03-16-2013, 10:57 AM
Which tuning makes your sopranos sound better?That actually depends on the uke and strings you put together - besides all the personal preference of course.
Every now and then you read things like "at first the strings sounded like crap, but after I tuned them to ... they started singing."

Bottom line: as usual with almost all string related questions there is no definitive answer.

Hippie Dribble
03-16-2013, 10:57 AM
I think every uke has it's 'sweet spot' so yes, like the others said, experiment and see what sounds best. I have a Tiwi soprano and it's perfect in D tuning. But on my old Black Bear soprano, the D tuning seemed to suck the life out of it.

mm stan
03-16-2013, 11:21 AM
Depends on your ukes voice,your voice, your style and preference...you just have to figure it out....with strings and tunings...sometimes, it's just not the right uke too for you...good luck and happy strummings....hope you got a set up for your uke too..and yes the tension of the strings for the sweet spot as Eugene says...
and get a good digital chromatic tuner if you cannot tune by ear....:)

03-16-2013, 11:29 AM
Both tunings are great. My ears do prefer one tuning or the other on certain ukes.

03-16-2013, 11:30 AM
As others have said.

Also it can depend on the song and style of accompaniment you're after. Say you're singing a song in D, you can either accompany it using the "standard" D, G, A7 chords in C tuning, or use "C shapes" (C, F G7) on a uke in D tuning. Same chords, different voicings and you get a different effect. One may suit a song better than the other.

Not forgetting that if you find you need to sing the song a tone higher (or lower) you can keep the "same" accompaniment.

03-16-2013, 12:02 PM
My Dolphin seems to prefer C tuning and my cheap Lidl prefers D (maybe because that's what's most popular in Germany, or so I'm told.) ;)

03-16-2013, 03:53 PM
aDF#B with southcoast ultralight (ula) strings is out of this universe

03-16-2013, 04:39 PM
Standard C tuning has always been great for my ukulele. I feel that it has an adequate amount of bass to my liking already. I'm going to try sopranino tuning soon though, Aquila sells a set and who knows, maybe it will be much better than it is now!

03-16-2013, 08:15 PM
I tune both C and D. I like them both and usually keep a few standard size ukes in D at all times.

03-16-2013, 08:52 PM
Try F C F A open barre 5 or barre 7. On a bari it becomes C G C A

03-20-2013, 06:33 PM
On the Tunings page 2 of our site, we discuss the implications of "tuning at the resonance". I'll just say here that it means some Sopranos do not handle the c' note well.

Sopranos had Machete tuning to begin with, a one-line octave open G tuning. From there it went to Rajao tuning, minus the 5th string, which is the modern key of C Ukulele reentrant tuning. The Rajao, however, was a good bit bigger than the Soprano, and so the tuning fluctuated between C, D, and E flat.

May Singhi Breen, the premier Ukulele artist and arranger at the turn of the 20th century, together with the big publishing companies stateside eventually decided that "Ukulele Standard Tuning" should be the key of D. You'd have to admit from an acoustic standpoint, it was the best choice, as any Soprano should sound good tuned to that range of notes.

To get back to C tuning, however, there are a lot of Sopranos, the large majority in fact, that handle that c' note without any problems. If yours sounds good both ways, then here's what I'd think about.

A D tuning will be lighter, brighter, livlier, respond better and project more. This was the sound that made the Ukulele reputation. In the days before microphones, (think vaudeville), these were the most important qualities, especially for a performer.

On the other hand, a C tuning will be mellower and softer, with more of a bass. Of course these are relative qualities - remember the Soprano is a light, bright instrument by nature. If you are playing primarily for yourself, or with a microphone for Youtube, for example, the softer sound may be what will work best for you.

03-20-2013, 07:53 PM
Wow! Thanks for all the advice!

03-20-2013, 07:59 PM
To me I depends on what song you are playing like James hill always plays in adf#b and jake shimabukuro and most hawaiian players are in gcea however if you are just strumming and messing around I'd recommend doing gcea it has a better range and I personally think it is a lot easier to play

03-21-2013, 09:00 AM
Being standard tuning, GCEA is what is more universally known and dare I say... accepted? Most people who listen to ukes and play ukes are familiar with the sound of a standard tuned ukulele. However most people aren't familiar with the sound of a uke tuned in D... therefore it can be a real crowd pleaser when played. Whether it is a small family gathering, or a gig, there are people who will enjoy the brighter sound that makes them think of the islands (mmm hear those waves... feel the sand between your toes, smell that salty air?)

Basically, the moral of my story is that a little variety never hurt. But play what it is comfortable for you. And what sounds good on your uke. If your uke doesn't sound that great tuned in D, then leave it in C. Don't feel pressured to play around and experiment with your uke.

Different strings will produce a different sound as well. So once you change strings, especially if you put a completely different set on from what you had... mess around with the tuning. There are always surprises to be found. :-)