Baritone players, was it hard to make the switch?

Sporin

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Pretty much the title.... Baritone players, was it hard to make the switch?

I know the chord shapes are the same as on a regular uke but the notes are different so I'm thinking it would be relatively easy to adjust.

A buddy is a uke builder and he stopped by last night with the 2 Bari's he built for his twin girls who are graduating high school. They are gorgeous, custom instruments. But aesthetics aside, when I held it in my hands and played it, the size and sound just really felt right in my hands.

So I'm thinking of picking up a cheapie to try out. Any tips?

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bunnyf

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I go back and forth on c tuned and d tuned and it's not really hard. It pretty quickly becomes implanted in your head, what chord shape is what chord on each instrument. I play Bari primarily and once in a while a stray gCEA chord will accidentally rear its ugly head in a song I'm playing, but not as often as you'd think. On the plus side, if you're a guy or alto girl, those easy things you play in C but can't sing, become the voice friendly key of G. Also that dreaded E chord is the oh so simple A.
I had a cheapie Lanikai LU-21B for years and it served me well. If you find you want a nicer one later, it becomes a nice beater/beach/campfire uke. Just FYI, I have an old Harmony that I'm parting with, but you can find something like the LU21B used, for a song and I don't think you could go wrong.
 
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Tommy B

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I enjoy switching back and forth, and although there's a bit of an adjustment, I think it's good for my middle-aged synapses. I also think it has made me a better uke player in that the baritone has forced me to learn fingerings that I ordinarily would avoid on a gCEA-tuned instrument. For example, to play a song in the not-uncommon key of F on the baritone requires using the same fingerings as if playing a song in Bb on a regular uke. Now that I've gotten those fingering patterns in my muscle memory, it's no problem for me to pick up a gCEA uke and play in the key of Bb. (And this is great for me because a lot of songs in C are too high for my singing voice, so being able to transpose down a step comes in handy.) It's all good.
 

Brad Bordessa

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I've found it to be super hard. Maybe I'm just lazy because I haven't done the time to memorize the names on bari. The only way I get by is thinking of chords as they relate to the root - I IV V - and knowing my home key looks like a ____, but is really not that at all. Great practice though for transposing and musical skills. Go for it - it's a worthwhile adventure! :music:
 

WCBarnes

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I picked up my first baritone about a month ago and it is awesome! I now pretty much only play soprano or baritone. It has taken me about 3 weeks to have the ability to adjust between the different tuning, but now I find it relatively easy. If there is a chord that is not used often I may have to stop and look it up (or think it through in my head) to be sure, but it is not too bad and I figure another month or so and I will have it down.

Another option is to tune your baritone to GCEA. I know Ken Middleton makes Living Waters string sets for GCEA baritone tuning (both linear and re-entrant). I don't know how it would sound, but it is an option.

Just FYI, I have an old Harmony that I'm parting with.

I may be interested. I have been looking for a nice vintage baritone (Favilla, Harmony, Silvertone, etc)
 

hammer40

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Definitely give it a try. As you said, the chord shapes are the same, so it's just a matter of remembering the names. And if you play alone, that doesn't really matter either. It has made me a better player as well, having to get used to the slightly larger fret spacing. Which was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.
 

Sporin

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Thank you everybody, this is very encouraging!
 

bariukish

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Really not a tough change. I played bari for a couple of years because I had a little guitar (DGBE) experience. Then I got a Boat Paddle tenor and like the sound of it so much that I now seldom pick up the bari. When I first changed from the bari to the gCEA it took about a week of 1 hour sessions to feel comfortable with the new chord names. Now I need to play the bari from time to time. I encourage you to spend the few hours it takes to feel comfortable with both tunings. You'll be glad you did.
 

SteveZ

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I came to ukulele by way of mandolin (GDAE) , tenor guitar and tenor banjo (both CGDA and GDAE, but mainly CGDA). Rather than go through the awkwardness of adding GCEA to the mix, simply retuned the ukes first to GDAE (the E was too screechy) and then settled on CGDA. Now, everything supports each other. Making the instrument adapt to the human just made more sense to me than make the human adapt to the ibstrument. So far, it's worked well.
 

tangimango

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if I had to pick one size ukulele it would be a baritone.
My favorite is the Kala Solid hog version. For some reason its sound so sweet. I also own a custom Pono Bari and Kanilea Bari. But that Kala just amazing for the price range.
 

kissing

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I found the transitiom easy, and now it is the opposite.

I find baritone tuning more versatile and easy
 

Jim Hanks

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I treat the bari (and all my ukes) as a transposing instrument. In other words, I pretend it is a C tuned (GCEA) instrument even if it is not. I currently have ukes tuned in C, Bb, G and A and will probably have a D tuned one soon. I refuse to learn 4 or 5 different names for the same chord shape. 0003 is always a C chord regardless of what uke I am holding. When necessary, I transpose the music to fit the uke, not the other way around.
 

igorthebarbarian

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I'm with Jim in that I don't bother learning / transposing them. I play it as a C regardless. It works/ it sounds good. I don't play with others so no big deal. Also, I should throw out that Ken Middleton Living Water strings makes re-entrant DGBE (high-D) all fluorocarbon strings, which I like and have on a vintage Giannini baritone.
As someone else mentioned, I'm steering towards the extremes too - soprano or baritone.
 

SteveZ

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If key is important, but keeping all transposition formula straight in the speed of play is rough (for me it is) that's why capos exist.
 

drbekken

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I play the piano, which has fixed positions for each scale, or key if you will. That makes it a bit complicated for me to relate to so called transposing instruments on which the same chord shapes give different keys on different instruments. If I have played the soprano exclusively for some time, it takes some mental adjustment to get back to the baritone. It doesn't take that long, but still, I mess up the chords at first.
I also play diatonic accordion at times, and they are the same. I learned to play on a two-row button accordion tuned to G-C, and consequently, playing a C-F messes my brains up. So much for autism, or whatever.
 

Booli

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I enjoy switching back and forth, and although there's a bit of an adjustment, I think it's good for my middle-aged synapses.

The biggest help for me is that I find playing the same 'tenor' fingerings that require a stretch that spans 4+ frets on a bari, makes them so much EASIER when I again pick up the tenor.

Definitely give it a try. As you said, the chord shapes are the same, so it's just a matter of remembering the names. And if you play alone, that doesn't really matter either.

I refuse to relearn the chord shape names for G6 right now (unless I am playing along with others - see below), I just play the same fingerings in G6 as I would in C6. Nobody is listening but me so most of the time it does not matter to me what key I am in, only that I am playing.

Really not a tough change. I played bari for a couple of years because I had a little guitar (DGBE) experience.

When I first started with the ukulele in C6 tuning, it was like I was on another planet for chord names, having played guitar for 35+ yrs, but it took me about a month to unbind the 'guitar brain' from a ukulele fretboard, and develop the vocabulary to name the chords on ukulele in C6 tuning. Now when I pick up the bari, if I 'want to' engage the 'guitar brain', e.g., to play along with an mp3 file of a popular song that I knew on guitar, the chord names and shapes come fast and easy, though some times I get an awkward feeling that 2 bass strings are 'missing' (but then my mind wanders to my U-Bass, and I starting thinking of arrangements that can creatively fill in the sound).

I treat the bari (and all my ukes) as a transposing instrument. In other words, I pretend it is a C tuned (GCEA) instrument even if it is not. I currently have ukes tuned in C, Bb, G and A and will probably have a D tuned one soon. I refuse to learn 4 or 5 different names for the same chord shape. 0003 is always a C chord regardless of what uke I am holding. When necessary, I transpose the music to fit the uke, not the other way around.

I do exactly this too. It's very easy and smooth. Most of my tenors are in Bb, but I always refer to them as C6 to avoid confusion when discussing with others. In Bb I like the tension better and the extended sustain, but I need to put a capo on the 1st fret to play along with YouTube videos, or with other folks in C6 tuning. I find this much easier and better for me than retuning or transposing the chord shapes from C6 to Bb.
 
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SteveZ

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I treat the bari (and all my ukes) as a transposing instrument. In other words, I pretend it is a C tuned (GCEA) instrument even if it is not. I currently have ukes tuned in C, Bb, G and A and will probably have a D tuned one soon. I refuse to learn 4 or 5 different names for the same chord shape. 0003 is always a C chord regardless of what uke I am holding. When necessary, I transpose the music to fit the uke, not the other way around.

Jim's technique is quite common among many professionals and very logical. If one ever goes to a rock/folk/country concert and sees several guitars either on stage or shuttled out to performer(s) by a roadie, odds-on the instrument is keyed different than others and only used for tunes done in that key.
 

anthonyg

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My main ukuleles are tenors tuned E,A,C#,F#. Having stated that I don't think about what the chords really are in that key. I'm either playing baritone/guitar chords transposed up 2 semitones or I'm playing standard ukulele chords tuned down 3 semitones.

I kind of have the 2 sets of chords i my head but sometimes I do get confused. Truth be known, when I'm playing a song I have it down pat in my head and I'm playing shapes.

Yes, this is hard if your playing with other people of chord sheets. I have baritones in standard DGBE tuning so I think in that key when playing a baritone.

I don't find it that hard although I do play certain songs on certain instruments. I'm not trying to play songs I've learned in one key and then trying to learn them in another key. Not unless I'm simply transposing the key anyway.

Anthony
 

Sporin

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I've been so happy with my Kala KA-STG for the last year+ that I haven't even looked at other ukes. This one is perfect for me.

My new Baritone jones has me spending time online looking at various models though. Love the looks of this.... Kala KA-SMHB ~ All Solid Mahogany Baritone Ukulele

Would be a nice addition to my uke family.
 

Jim Hanks

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In Bb I like the tension better and the extended sustain, but I need to put a capo on the 1st fret to play along with YouTube videos, or with other folks in C6 tuning. I find this much easier and better for me than retuning or transposing the chord shapes from C6 to Bb.
Ah yes, I forgot to mention capo - another great tool to play nice with others.