View Full Version : How common is it, among Ukulele players?

08-04-2013, 07:01 AM
"How common is it among Ukulele players" to change the High G String, to a lower octave "G" string? I've noticed that in a few different YouTube videos?

What's the reason for doing it, besides "personal preference?"

08-04-2013, 07:20 AM
It is mostly personal preference however with a low g you get 5 notes that no other string has. High g you don't really get any. You'll find the most high g fingerpicking songs don't even use the g string unless it goes into some sort of chord. I prefer high g mostly because its more common

08-04-2013, 07:42 AM
5 notes? I thought there were 8 notes in an octave? I'm confused! (lol)

08-04-2013, 08:01 AM
You get G, G#, A, A# and B which are lower than C with a low G-String.

08-04-2013, 08:33 AM
Low-G is common, for sure. Many great players love having those lower pitches available for playing melodies and finger-picking. One does have to give up the traditional ukulele sound in exchange for those extra five notes, though. If you're curious, you can buy a single guitar string. Here are great ukulele player's James Hill's recommendations (from the Ukulele in the Classroom website):

We recommend using a classical guitar G string (hard or extra hard tension). The gauge (thickness) of the string should be about 0.040". Cut the guitar string in half to get two ukulele strings! D'Addario is a very good brand:

D'Addario Pro-Arte (Hard Tension, 0.0410")
D'Addario Pro-Arte (Extra Hard Tension, 0.0416")

These can be found at most local music stores.

Important Note: if you are using a soprano-sized instrument in C6 tuning (g, c, e, a) we recommend that you use a wound low-4th string (just like Hawaiian ukulele master Herb Ohta, a.k.a. "Ohta-san"). You will get a much better low-G sound on soprano-sized instruments this way. String gauge should be between 0.026" and 0.030". Our recommendation:

D'Addario Classic Silverwound (0.029")

08-04-2013, 08:46 AM
I listened to a sound comparison of some Ukulele strings and liked the tone of a High G set by Kamaka, but decided to order a Low G set (since the Kamaka strings were not available on Amazon.com) from Aquila.

I'm a big advocate for D'Addario strings across the board, but I'm always open to other options.

08-04-2013, 10:07 AM
What's the reason for doing it, besides "personal preference?"Pretty simple: a good excuse to buy another uke - you can't easily swap the string and let it settle, this will take a couple of days on a single uke. If you have one in low and one in high, you can swap the sound much quicker...

08-04-2013, 10:04 PM
Louis0815: Depends on the amount of usage. When "I" change out a set of strings on any of my guitars, or mandolins or what have you, I play for a couple hours after the change out. So in MY case, it's not a matter of "days."

08-04-2013, 11:21 PM
Yeah, but still: even a couple of hours seems too long if you wanna swap just for a few songs ;)
Admittedly, once people go for either high or low g they usually stick with it for a while (or indeed have different ukes for the different tunings like myself)
As you said, it's mostly a matter of personal preference.

And I would be honestly surprised if a set of ukulele nylon strings would really be settled (i.e. holding the tuning for longer than just an hour or so) after a couple of hours playing. Not that I doubt it, I simply don't have any experince with that - I am just an occasional player and have never tried to "break in" new strings with extended playing. Actually I never thought about that (and I don't think it's fun in the beginning with the strings getting out of tune while looking at it).
Maybe some of the more experienced players & performers can add some opinions here....

08-05-2013, 02:25 AM
I play mostly low G. Or in my case low E or low F as I usually detune the ukulele 2 or 3 semitones. It suits my style and vocal range as I play ukulele to accompany my singing.

I'm not a traditional ukulele player however. If you want to go traditional you want high G. Other than that try it out and see if it suits you.


08-07-2013, 02:12 PM
To me, low G sounds more layered and lush, fuller. But it will be a mellower sound. I have a low G tenor and have been playing my son's high G concert. He wants his next set of strings to be low G. When I get ready to get a soprano, I plan to get one with a high G. What I'm really trying to do is get my whole family addicted to ukulele so I can indulge in my UAS and buy more instruments.

I haven't played long enough to know for sure, but so far Worth strings feel and sound wonderful to me.

08-07-2013, 02:43 PM
I didn't log too many minutes on the new uke before ripping that high G off and putting a low G on.
Ahhh, much better. :)

08-07-2013, 04:27 PM
Got low G with southcoast wound basses on my moody blackwood Tenor, high G on my cedar top concert. The tenor has a very rich, bassy tone, not really very uke-like, the concert has conventional ukey sound and I like them both.

08-08-2013, 08:44 AM
To me, the unique ukulele sound is lost with low G tuning (or worse, traditional baritone tuning). I have guitars to play, so no need for a uke that sounds pretty much like a little guitar.

There are definitely times when the added range is nice for picking out notes in the key you prefer, rather than being limited by the range of high G tuning, but even at that, a little innovation in bumping the melody up an octave for some passages can add something a little less ordinary than straight melody picking.

I keep one tenor tuned to low G for the above purpose, but can't bear to change over any of my other ukes. Even the couple of baritones I have are likely to end up with GCEA eventually, and one already is but with low G (which may change).

It's all just personal preference of course, but while I can see a uke-only player maybe wanting the more guitar-like sound, it's hard to imagine why a guitar player would want his ukes to sound like the guitar. Smaller and more portable I guess, and fewer strings to worry about, but I enjoy the unique sound a uke gets with high G or other re-entrant tuning.

08-11-2013, 12:42 PM
It's hard for me to think of the sound of a Ukulele as similar to a guitar, with the "G" string high OR low. The two body sizes being so different, .........to me there is definitely a difference either way. I'll change out the Mahogany Ukulele with the low G set, after the current strings bother me. I'm not sure when that will be. I play about an hour a day.