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View Full Version : Wish I'd gotten a five-string a long time ago...



OldePhart
03-20-2014, 08:54 AM
I wish I'd picked up a five-string a long time ago. I posted a NUD thread yesterday so I won't reiterate all that.

But, the five string is exactly what I've been looking for in a uke. It overcomes what I've always considered the shortcoming of a low G - boomy finger rolls. With the five string you can get very natural reentrant-sounding finger rolls simply by brushing just the outside high-G string. But you've still got the extra notes for picking a melody and a more full-sounding strummed chord.

BTW, the C string that came on the uke appeared to be defective - Even after a full day it wouldn't hold a tune long enough to even get through a full song and the intonation up the neck wasn't terrible but not as good as I'm used to. I suspect that it was overstretched when it was installed - I accidentally tuned a string up a full octave once when restringing and it behaved exactly like this string.

So, I put on a Thomastik-Infeld chrome flat wound .027 classical guitar string for the C and it's much better. I bought two of those strings - the other went on a soprano (the one I overstretched the string on a few weeks ago). I like the string on the soprano okay but I especially like it on the tenor. I may string my tenors with wound 3rd strings from now on.

John

SailingUke
03-20-2014, 09:19 AM
I have one of the early Ohana 5 strings, I don't play it often enough, but I do really like its versatility and voice.

Nickie
03-20-2014, 12:46 PM
Olde, I tried a 5er only once....it wasnt mine, and I was on stage and nervous as hell, so I didn't care for it. Clearly, this needs to be revisited....

OldePhart
03-20-2014, 01:21 PM
Olde, I tried a 5er only once....it wasnt mine, and I was on stage and nervous as hell, so I didn't care for it. Clearly, this needs to be revisited....

Yeah...those aren't ideal conditions to try a new uke - especially not if it's your first experience playing with an octave string. It takes a little bit to get used to the feel of the octave strings and lose the feeling that you're accidentally covering the C string or something. I remember the first time I picked up a 12-string guitar I was completely flustered for a bit.

But...it's only been a day and on a model that is "just good enough" and I don't see myself going back to four on a tenor anytime soon. When I get my BP 5-string I have the feeling my wife will have to pry it out of my hands to get me to come to bed... :)

John

OldePhart
03-20-2014, 01:28 PM
I have one of the early Ohana 5 strings, I don't play it often enough, but I do really like its versatility and voice.

I would rather have had the Ohana if only it had been a cutaway. I really wanted the cutaway body so the Oscar Schmidt was the only "inexpensive" option. (I also wanted a pickup but would have added one to an Ohana if it had been a cutaway.) The OS isn't bad...and it's growing on me a little...and in the most important things (playability and intonation) it is really quite a decent uke. It will make a good "beater" (really better than the Ohana for durability) which is what I bought it for.

But, FYI for anybody considering an "inexpensive" 5-string, unless you really must have a cutaway or will be playing primarily amplified, or like me are looking for something fairly rugged to save travel wear on a better uke, you will probably ultimately be happier with the less expensive solid-wood Ohana 5-string purchased from a reliable dealer than the Oscar Schmidt. Again...the OS is not bad at all...but it is laminated. It's got pretty good volume and sustain for a laminated uke...but it is laminated. :)

John

(Did I mention it's laminated?)

Doc_J
03-20-2014, 01:49 PM
Sorry missed your NUD thread. Congrats!

I find my 5-string has near the richness of 6 string sound, but with more versatility. But I won't be giving up playing my 4-string ukes. Variety truly is a spice in life.

blue_knight_usa
03-20-2014, 02:13 PM
I wish I'd picked up a five-string a long time ago. I posted a NUD thread yesterday so I won't reiterate all that.

But, the five string is exactly what I've been looking for in a uke. It overcomes what I've always considered the shortcoming of a low G - boomy finger rolls. With the five string you can get very natural reentrant-sounding finger rolls simply by brushing just the outside high-G string. But you've still got the extra notes for picking a melody and a more full-sounding strummed chord.

BTW, the C string that came on the uke appeared to be defective - Even after a full day it wouldn't hold a tune long enough to even get through a full song and the intonation up the neck wasn't terrible but not as good as I'm used to. I suspect that it was overstretched when it was installed - I accidentally tuned a string up a full octave once when restringing and it behaved exactly like this string.

So, I put on a Thomastik-Infeld chrome flat wound .027 classical guitar string for the C and it's much better. I bought two of those strings - the other went on a soprano (the one I overstretched the string on a few weeks ago). I like the string on the soprano okay but I especially like it on the tenor. I may string my tenors with wound 3rd strings from now on.

John

Hi John,

Wound C definitely makes a difference especially on concerts. My Collings finally sang with a wound C where before any unwound just didn't have that full sustain. I've had wound G on almost all my tenors except for re-entrant of course, may go to wound G and C on all. I really like the way it plays and sounds going to the wound, and with the polished strings you won't get the string noise. However, ( I know some folks scream when they hear this) you can take 400 grit and hit it on the strings (if you only have round wounds....I did this today on some D'Addarios) and sure enough it made a HUGE difference. Not like a polished but about 75% less noise to where if you have good technique and pick your fingers up as you slide rather than dragging them with a lot of pressure, it's actually a quite pleasant sound. I should clarify that was on my Octave Uke, not a Tenor or Bari, but I am sure you'd get the same result.

The strings do turn copper as you are rubbing off the silver coating, so it will be interesting to see how these wear over the next few months. I always wipe down my uke and strings after playing so I'm curious to see what these strings do have been sanded. Just another fun experiment, as I like string experiments. Then I'll put on my Thomastik-Infelds that I was going to put on my Martin bari and just order some more.
I have .35 and .30 I am going to use for the 4th and 3rd on my Octave uke.

My first 5 string is being built now. I'm very excited to get my first 5 string.

Cheers,

OldePhart
03-20-2014, 04:26 PM
Hi John,

Then I'll put on my Thomastik-Infelds that I was going to put on my Martin bari and just order some more.
I have .35 and .30 I am going to use for the 4th and 3rd on my Octave uke.


That's what I use on my linear DGBE bari. The CF30 also makes a great low G string on a tenor. Not only is it mostly squeakless it also seems to be brighter than most of the wound low-G strings. Could be my imagination but I like the way it sounds.

John

sirwhale
03-20-2014, 11:24 PM
Southcoast are making a 5 string set now with two wound bass strings. I'm jsut waiting for the nod and I'll snap them up. Not long till my Rob Collins 5 stringer is made. I've been playing low g a lot recently as I needed that bass, but then I've missed my reentrant string for playing melodies across strings... soon to be rectified...

coolkayaker1
03-21-2014, 02:16 AM
John, I have never considered that albatross, a muti-stringed uke; I was repulsed by the seemingly radiation-inspired, inbred looking, five-stringed ukulele until I saw your threads.:D I respect your opinions.

Low G hidden under an outer high G. Interesting. It sounds like it would feel...funny...for lack of a better word. To the finger. To the strum.

Hmm. (Scratches chin stubble). Hmm.

"Let's give it to Mickey. He won't like it...he hates everything. Hey Mickey! He likes it!"

I look forward to one of your exceptional videos showing the advantages and sound of a five stringed ukulele. Thanks.

savagehenry
03-21-2014, 03:28 AM
I was trying to look up more about your Willie K 5 string and I found this and thought it was pretty cool.

Willie K (http://youtu.be/R8lx2_z_kbk)

OldePhart
03-21-2014, 03:36 AM
Low G hidden under an outer high G. Interesting. It sounds like it would feel...funny...for lack of a better word. To the finger. To the strum.


It does feel a little funny under the finger at first - especially since one string is thicker than the other. But, you get used to it pretty quickly and after that you don't even give it a thought. As for strumming and finger rolls, it doesn't really feel much different from a standard 4-string. It's a little quirky if you want to pick a low melody note because you need to come up from the bottom of the pair with your index finger. I think in time I could get used to picking just the bass string with my thumb but I don't do enough of those low notes to worry too much about it.

I knew a guy who finger picked a 12-string guitar just like it was a six string. On the octave courses he could pick either one cleanly. Of course, he'd been playing a 12-string for twenty years...


John

Five Ways
03-21-2014, 04:25 AM
Thanks John just when I thought I had bought my last uke you have got me wanting one too.
All the best Steve.

Osprey
03-21-2014, 04:50 AM
I was trying to look up more about your Willie K 5 string and I found this and thought it was pretty cool.

Willie K (http://youtu.be/R8lx2_z_kbk)
Really cool. Thanks for sharing tHe link
Cliff

Icelander53
03-21-2014, 07:27 AM
Yeah that was a great little history lesson too. I've greatly enjoyed this thread as a beginner listening in. It's fun to hear the conversations of the skilled players that I never would otherwise get to listen in on. I'm greatly in awe of you all... and inspired.

bonesigh
03-21-2014, 03:41 PM
Your making me even more eager to get my hands on my first custom uke. It will be an Iriguchi keystone, side soudhole, tamarind soundboard, gold fretwire with electronics and 5 STRINGS! Yeah!!

OldePhart
03-21-2014, 06:28 PM
Your making me even more eager to get my hands on my first custom uke. It will be an Iriguchi keystone, side soudhole, tamarind soundboard, gold fretwire with electronics and 5 STRINGS! Yeah!!

Schweet!

John

ChaosToo
03-23-2014, 07:55 AM
A 5 string is very much on my 'to buy' list, but the availability over in the UK is the only thing putting me off. And the prices are only just a little cheaper than having a custom made one from one of the lesser known makers .......

Unless anyone is selling one secondhand? Hint, hint? :-)

ChaosToo
03-23-2014, 07:56 AM
A 5 string is very much on my 'to buy' list, but the availability over in the UK is the only thing putting me off. And the prices are only just a little cheaper than having a custom made one from one of the lesser known makers .......

Unless anyone is selling one secondhand? Hint, hint? :-)

grumper
11-19-2014, 02:03 PM
I just converted a Gretsch 9210 tenor into a 5 string tenor. No big deal either, it took all of 3 hours
and it sounds really nice. Theres no room for a 5th tuner on the headstock, but when there is a will there is a way. the new tuner took over the C string
and the old C tuner is now my high G ----- the old C tuner had to be moved toward the center, to avoid the existing lowG tuner.
the new tuner the knob sticks straight up at a 90 degree angle to the other tuners, looks weird and a real attention getter im sure.
If anyone asks I will say I ordered it from Mars, it looks like your giving someone "the finger" ----- Paul from NJ [where else]

chefuke
11-19-2014, 03:14 PM
I just converted a Gretsch 9210 tenor into a 5 string tenor. No big deal either, it took all of 3 hours
and it sounds really nice. Theres no room for a 5th tuner on the headstock, but when there is a will there is a way. the new tuner took over the C string
and the old C tuner is now my high G ----- the old C tuner had to be moved toward the center, to avoid the existing lowG tuner.
the new tuner the knob sticks straight up at a 90 degree angle to the other tuners, looks weird and a real attention getter im sure.
If anyone asks I will say I ordered it from Mars, it looks like your giving someone "the finger" ----- Paul from NJ [where else]

Cool idea - have you considered fitting a friction tuner in the centre of the headstock?