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View Full Version : Reentrant Eb on baritone?



Jim Hanks
05-21-2013, 06:08 PM
Here's a thought that I can't find reference to. The tuning would be bb Eb G C. This is somewhat common on soprano and sopranino but would be an octave lower on the baritone. Anybody done this? I know it is right at the limit of resonance and Dirk is going to say it shouldn't be done, but hey, it is a semitone higher than standard DGBE and it is way higher than octave GCEA that I have seen reference to, so it is certainly within the realm of possibility. If I were to try it, I'd probably start with a Living Water low D set and get an extra 2nd string. My only concern would be the nut slot on the 3rd string might not be big enough.

Jim Hanks
11-23-2015, 09:46 AM
So 2.5 years later and I had this thought again. This time I started digging into possible string sets and came up with two options.

1. Living Water. The gauges for a DGBE set are 1.05/0.91/0.74/0.62
To get to bb Eb G C, I would use the 0.74 tuned half step down, 1.05 tuned half step up, 0.91 as-is, and 0.74 tuned up a half step. So it just needs an extra 0.74 string. The problem is that the same 0.74 gauge is the C string in the low G tenor set so it is probably already iffy using as a B string for baritone much less C for baritone.

2. Worth (brown or clear). Normal gauges are:
Baritone DGBE: .91/.81/.74/.62
Tenor GCEA: .91/.74/.66/.57

Target would go like this: bb.74, Eb .91, G .81, C .66
Tuned down one, up one, as-is, and then the C baritone is the E tenor.

Anybody still with me and think this isn't totally nuts?

The other problem is that I no longer have an acoustic baritone to try this on. I have an Ono custom in the work but I haven't broached this idea with David. If I tried this and it didn't work well, could just fall back to dGBE without setup issues I think.

Booli
11-23-2015, 10:37 AM
I'd think that it can be done with 'standard' baritone string sets.

I've done similar experiments with the following:

Tenor uke, a full minor-third DOWN, tuned to re-entrant E-A-C#-F#, using Martin M620 strings. These strings the 'C' string is 0.0340" which is thicker than any other tenor all-non-wound set I've tried. Tension is fine, and sustain is like forever.

Baritone uke, a whole step DOWN, tuned re-rentrant C-F-A-D, using Worth Clear CF (their FATTEST set). Tension is ALSO fine, and sustain is forever.

The trick to tuning DOWN from standard, with NEW strings, is NOT to tune them up to concert pitch at all, for once they settle at that tension at concert pitch, if you tune them down afterwards, they are like rubber bands and will not only not intonate well, but sound pretty dead.

As far as tuning UP, you can use thinner strings. However, I did try to use the Oasis Warm re-entrant set to get GCEA on a baritone, and after a while, they just stopped tuning up, and then kept going flat the more I tuned them, which told me that all the elasticity was gone and the strings ruined. I threw them away.

Using my 2 previous examples for achieving a LOWER tuning right at the start with a fresh set of new strings, I'm thinking that for Eb re-entrant on a baritone, you could use either the Aquila GCEA baritone strings that come both in standard nylgut and also the LAVA flavor, and when tuning UP to pitch, just dont tune ALL THE WAY up to GCEA, stop at Eb, and see if they have enough tension. Aquila strings are cheap enough to try both styles of string sets. The LAVA strings are significantly thinner in diameter than the nylgut, and feel more like fluorocarbon than nylgut.

Also, if you are not opposed to traditional NYLON strings, you could use the D'Addario string tension calculator web app, which is NOT the old PDF file they provided whereby you had to do that math yourself, with the web app you can input all the variables you want and it calculates for you.

However, when you start it, tell it that you have a 'CUSTOM INSTRUMENT' and then say NO to the 'USE EXISTING STRING SET AS STARTING POINT', tell it '4 STRINGS' and scale length 19 or whatever you instrument is, put in your desired tuning, and then set all 4 strings to NO END, HOMOGENOUS and NYLON, and then at the end where it gives the option for string tension vs. gauge, use the tension option, and put in 12lbs for all 4 strings to start (most uke strings across all manufacturers and scale lengths are somewhere between 10-15 lbs per string or 40-60 lbs per set), and then click on GET RESULTS and it shows you the gauges it comes up with.

After that point you can fiddle with all the settings and use the +/- buttons to adjust the string gauge and it gives the tension. All of the sections of the settings will need to be 'expanded' horizontally to view/adjust them again, and as you change them the part with the string gauge/tension will show the new values automatically.

see the web page here: http://www.stringtensionpro.com

Once you have your set built, you can then go off to juststrings.com or stringsbymail.com and by them as singles as per the gauges you came up with.

I've been using this web app extensively myself to come up with string sets for fifths tuning for linear CGDA on tenor and linear GDAE on baritone and am quite happy with the results...(I posted recently about that over here:http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?108517-Tuning-ukes-in-fifths&p=1779628#post1779628)

Hope the above helps, at least a little bit...

Camsuke
11-23-2015, 11:36 AM
Great information here Booli, thanks for posting.

Booli
11-23-2015, 12:12 PM
@ Jim...I was also thinking...

what about the GHS re-entrant nylon baritone set?

http://www.ghsstrings.com/products/11428-re-entrant-tuning-baritone?category_id=1964772-ukulele

or the Craig Chee custom re-entrant fluorocarbon baritone set, "CU-BTR"?

http://www.ghsstrings.com/products/11424-6-string-baritone?category_id=1964772-ukulele

Fellow UU brother 'One Bad Monkey' aka John Moody works for GHS and I'd think he'd be happy to help you figure this out...

maybe send him a PM?

Jim Hanks
11-23-2015, 05:38 PM
Wow, excellent reply Booli! :bowdown:

I think you're on to something with the tenor dGBE sets. Going from 17" to 19" scale is easily worth a step lower at similar tension then I need to slack off another step and I'm there. The Worth CF and CU-BTR ideas are worth pursuing. Looking at the Southcoast charts again seems less promising as their very thickest set is recommended for Eb tuning on a 23" scale and has two wounds - ugh. Looking at Living Water again, Ken has a tenor dGBE set but doesn't list the gauges.

Any of those is probably a quicker path to success as they've already been balanced as a set whereas my technique would involve tuning up and down from a balanced set and mixing in from a different set.

Booli
11-23-2015, 06:29 PM
Wow, excellent reply Booli! :bowdown:

I think you're on to something with the tenor dGBE sets. Going from 17" to 19" scale is easily worth a step lower at similar tension then I need to slack off another step and I'm there. The Worth CF and CU-BTR ideas are worth pursuing. Looking at the Southcoast charts again seems less promising as their very thickest set is recommended for Eb tuning on a 23" scale and has two wounds - ugh. Looking at Living Water again, Ken has a tenor dGBE set but doesn't list the gauges.

Any of those is probably a quicker path to success as they've already been balanced as a set whereas my technique would involve tuning up and down from a balanced set and mixing in from a different set.

Thanks Jim.

I'm happy to share the results of my own 'crazy' experiments, which also includes info about the failures so that others can learn from my experience.

Just to be clear, Aquila makes both tenor dGBE sets (Nylgut with a RED low-d), as well as baritone GCEA sets (Nylgut and LAVA, both re-entrant), but in either case, when you first install the strings, be careful not to tune up beyond your target pitch, for if you accidentally do that, and later tune down, the strings will be too relaxed to have the necessary tension, which likely will only be near 7-8lbs per string, and thus feel like rubber bands and sound pretty dead, and your intonation will be almost totally gone, if there at all. Been there - done that - killed a few sets of strings :(

I found something else interesting that might help with string gauge vs. string tension...

I've been thinking about building a 22-24 string (maybe electric) chromatic Celtic-style harp (kinda sorta like this one (http://www.ethnicmusicalinstruments.com/Roosebeck-Balladeer-Harp-22-String-Zachary-Taylor-HBLAZT.html), but with guitar tuners instead of zither pins) from all the leftover parts I have from hacking guitars and ukes over the years (yes, I am a bit insane :)), and I was looking at the strings required, and in the chart linked on the page below, they show the same gauge of strings used at various lengths, with different tensions, and +/- 2-4 semitones in pitch, FROM THE SAME STRING GAUGE....

Basically there are only six physical strings that get cut to length to make 22 strings, and each of the six strings are use for 3 different pitches, are in slightly incremental lengths across a chromatic scale, form the lowest pitch to the highest pitch.

http://www.ethnicmusicalinstruments.com/assets/images/Mid-East/String_Charts/RBSHS22C-chart.png

taken from here:
http://www.ethnicmusicalinstruments.com/Roosebeck-Harp-22-String-Set-C-thru-C-RBSHS22C.html

My takeaway was that from seeing this, IN ADDITION to seeing the string tension graphics on the Southcoast site, as well as working with the D'Addario web app that I linked in my post above - is that you can have a small bit of leeway with string tension vs. pitch vs. string gauge, with the single absolutely critical variable being how strongly the instrument is braced in order to handle greater tension.

Someone on UU (my memory fails me) quoted a famous luthier (sadly cant recall the name) in saying something that an instrument will only truly resonate 'perfectly' when it is just below the threshold of collapse from the string tension...and since I've been experimenting on factory-make easily replaceable instruments, I have not been afraid to approach that threshold, but VERY careful not to cross it. I have been lucky so far.

Just keep an eye on your bridge and see if it is lifting, and if the top is dishing between the bridge and the sound-hole, and/or bellying between the bridge and the butt of the instrument, and if so, you are likely approaching that threshold. If you see these telltale signs of distress, you might want to either lower the pitch or use a thinner gauge of strings for the intended pitch otherwise the instrument can implode from the stress, or at the very least tear the bridge off, and/or warp the neck...

So keep this caution in mind, I would hate to see your new custom Ono collapse from extreme string tension...

Please report back what you end up testing, and in the end what you stay with...and if I was to go further down this road like you are, for myself, I'd think a conversation with 'One Bad Monkey' (John Moody) would be quite helpful.

Jim Hanks
11-23-2015, 06:54 PM
"Extreme string tension" - I tend to want lower tensions anyway so yeah, if I can't do it on the lower side of the tension scale I won't do it anyway. I haven't talked to David about tunings yet for the new baritone- I'm sure he will have some good insight when the time comes.

Jim Hanks
11-29-2015, 07:01 PM
Update: I discussed the tenor dGBE option with Ken Middleton and he says this is a no-go with the Living Water set as it is on the low side as far as tension. So, like Booli said up in post #3, this would make a good cFAD set (I.e. reentrant F) but almost certainly too floppy for Eb.

So I mentioned idea up in post #2 and Ken isn't entirely convinced it won't work. :-)

Stay tuned...

cdkrugjr
11-29-2015, 08:29 PM
What about South coast Extra Heavy reentrant? Looks like Dirk lists low Eb as an option at 19"

Jim Hanks
11-30-2015, 01:49 AM
Well, the XHU set is recommended for Eb tuning on a 23" scale, F for 20" scale, so probably F# for 19". I'm pretty sure that would not work for Eb on 19" scale. Plus it has two wound strings and I don't like wound strings.