View Full Version : Tuning a guitar uke style with a twist - need help from those with the knowlege...

04-11-2014, 05:53 AM
Note: I tried searching this topic heavily, and couldn't quite find what i was looking for... if this has been discussed i apologize and would love a link! thanks! Also to Mods, feel free to move this if you think it should go in a uke talk section, i wasn't sure.

For some time now Ive been playing the bottom 4 strings of one of my acoustic guitars basically as a baritone uke (ive been ignoring the top 2 strings and playing chords as i would on a baritone), however i do really enjoy the standard GCEA tuning, and had a thought. I have a few acoustics laying around and would like to tune one "uke style" and go a bit more extreme with it, i want to leave off the 1 and 6 strings to center 4 strings tuned GCEA. I have been to several "string tension calculators" but they aren't as helpful as i thought for a few reasons. They don't allow for leaving off strings as to the total tension, I'm not sure if i need to match the total tension (which would be difficult with 4 small strings) to the normal recommended tension, and im not sure what diameter strings to use based off of the tension of the string being appropriate to not break or be too loose when tuned up to the keys i want them.

So far it seems that all the strings i use should be plain, not wound (if you disagree with any of this please feel free to tell me why, I'm only theorizing here) and between .022 and .010 for all 4 strings, i am planning on purchasing 4 singles to do this so i don't need set recommendations, i am looking for what sizes i need for the G,C,E, and A strings individually. I am most interested in what sizes to use for a reentrant tuning but would also love to see a low G recommendation.

04-12-2014, 03:07 PM
I know that GCEA is an "optional tuning" for a a tenor guitar. Here's Ry Cooder's Chart...scroll down to GCEA tuning for string diameters:


04-15-2014, 08:34 AM
I've done something similar - using the 4 middle slots to try octave mandolin (GDAE) and mandocello (CGDA) tunings. If it's just for experimentation and such, I wouldn't worry about overall tension. But if you're trying for standard GCEA tuning on a standard scale guitar (24.5-25.5 inches), you will have a hard time with the A string. A .009 might work, but be prepared to replace snapped strings frequently if you're going to stick with it.

A smaller bodied guitar would probably sound better as well (i.e. parlor-size vs. dreadnought).

You could try "octave uke" tuning, GCEA an octave lower. I tried it on a tenor guitar once and it sounded pretty cool. It's a better fit with the scale & size of a guitar.

04-16-2014, 08:58 AM
Thanks! Very helpful!

04-16-2014, 02:16 PM
Get a tenor guitar. You can tune it DGBE, GCEA or gCEA and a bunch of other ways with the right strings.
I have an electric and an acoustic tenor. Right now both tuned DGBE. The electric sounds great tuned GCEA but the acoustic not so much.
I decided to keep them DGBE and capo 5th fret when needed just like Nick Reynolds from the Kingston trio used to do. He was a uke player that switched over to tenor guitar when playing with the trio.

04-16-2014, 03:45 PM
I played a Blueridge in a music store, I liked it so much I'm thinking of getting one. I had a vintage tenor guitar but the neck was so bowed it was hard to play, the blueridge was very nice for the price.

04-23-2014, 09:48 AM
The easiest way would be to take the DGBE strings and put them in the center 4 slots, then remove the low D and put an E string in its place but tune it to a high D. Then get a capo and place it on the 5th fret. Thats all you need to get a steel string ukulele sound. I don't think there is any way to get the same pitch GCEA at the scale length of a guitar without using a capo.

The Big Kahuna
04-23-2014, 11:12 AM
You might also need to adjust the truss rod if you're only using 4 strings, especially if you're not using the E & A

04-23-2014, 02:52 PM
I'd love to have a tenor guitar tuned GCEA, but my fingers aren't long enough to play all the chords I want to play.