Low or High G for learning?

JimQPublic

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TL;DR As a "one and only" uke for a beginner does the collective wisdom suggest High or Low G?

I'm a 3rd-year beginner and committed to getting serious about practice. Age 57 man with absolutely zero musical background. I've spent too much time fiddling around with three different ukes, no consistency in practice, yearlong breaks, etc.

One decision is to put my soprano in its case and only play my concert until I have achieved more competence. I find the concert easier to hold and my fingers don't trip over each other as much as the sopranos (although I really love the soprano sound, size, etc. and plan to get back to it).

My concert is an Ohana CK-38 which is solid mahogany. It's lovely with a very warm deep tone. Currently strung Low G with 3 year old strings. I'm going to replace the strings with Worth fluorocarbons (which I already have) and am undecided on low or high G string. Up until now if I was practicing something that was written for low G I used the concert and if high G I used the soprano.


Thanks,
Jim
 

DownUpDave

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If you were an absolute beginner I would say high G for sure. There is much more material available, especially chord melody, re-entrant is the standard. But with 3 years under your belt you can pretty much choice which you like the sound of better
 

merlin666

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I agree with Dave, but would like to add that it may also depend on the kind of music you want to play. Some songs or styles are better suited for low G. However, low G is also much better on a tenor that has longer scale and bigger body for resonance. If you want to stick with concert then high g will be more satisfying.
 

Oldscruggsfan

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I agree with Dave, but would like to add that it may also depend on the kind of music you want to play. Some songs or styles are better suited for low G. However, low G is also much better on a tenor that has longer scale and bigger body for resonance. If you want to stick with concert then high g will be more satisfying.
Having owned a uke one-third as long as Jim, I share his question but from a slightly different perspective. If I change out my High g for a Low G, will that change all the movable chord SHAPES I've learned, or does it simply change the order in which I'll roll/ pluck the strings when working out melody fingerings by ear? On the same subject but adding a different angle, I recently saw a post in which someone recommended tuning a soprano up to A-D-F#-B to stop C string "booming". Please forgive the really stupid question, but am I correct in assuming that if I do that, it will be the same as capo-ing at the 2nd fret and that an open strum will then be Bm7/D6 instead of Am7/C6, and so on?
 

donboody

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James Hill mentioned before that the ukulele in the classroom method starts kids off on Low G because it is easier for them to get the concept of the scales when the strings are linear and the notes on the staves are positioned relative to the strings location to one another.
 

man0a

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Personally, I only use low-G for certain types of fingerstyle playing. I use high-G for other types of fingerstyle as well as all strumming songs.
 

rainbow21

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The simple answer is to string with what you like (whether sound, looks, logic, bias...). You have experience with both, so preference is the main factor.

If playing chords, everything is the same except the sound of the low G string. It can matter if you play campanella or low G arrangements of chord melody.
 

KohanMike

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I'll chime in here, but this is very specific to me. I only play hi-G (tenors) because the sound is unique to a ukulele. I always say if I wanted to use linear, I would go back to playing guitar. Even Jake uses hi-G.

Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
4 tenor thinline cutaway ukes, 3 thinline acoustic bass ukes, 5 solid body bass ukes
•Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
•Member Cali Rose & The CC Strummers: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers
 

Oldscruggsfan

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I'll chime in here, but this is very specific to me. I only play hi-G (tenors) because the sound is unique to a ukulele. I always say if I wanted to use linear, I would go back to playing guitar. Even Jake uses hi-G.

Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
4 tenor thinline cutaway ukes, 3 thinline acoustic bass ukes, 5 solid body bass ukes
•Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
•Member Cali Rose & The CC Strummers: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers
Mike - Particularly from someone with your depth of experience, I appreciate the response and had wondered what tuning Jake used. I share your affinity for that unique uke sound. Also, because I have a 5-string banjo background, I'm spatially and acoustically accustomed to having a high-G top string.
 

donboody

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One option is to find arrangements that sound kind of the same on both high and low g. Not always easy, and you compromise a bit by showcasing neither approaches strengths, but it will allow you to max out your repertoire regardless of the available uke.

thinking in particular, ukulele time’s version of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer on YouTube. You don’t lose a lot playing this low G arrangement as High G, but it does sound better to my ears in Low G because of “bum bum bum” that happens constantly throughout, the first bum just sounds more appropriate on the Low G. Still sounds great in general on High G and not really sure anybody would notice having only heard the high g version.

compare that with the version of whole new world I play, another finger style piece, this time arranged by ukulaity, I can’t really play that on a low g at all because the arrangement uses the high g in ways that the low g just cannot accommodate, for melody notes. I would have to rearrange it myself, and transpose some of the notes on the high g string to the e or a string. Or c, who knows. I haven’t tried. I have the muscle memory for high g and I have no reason to play it on low g.

until a day comes that I only have access to a low g, and now my repertoire is minus 1 piece!

lots to unpack. Have fun laboring over it like the rest of us. Or at least me hahahhaa

for what it’s worth I am high g only for the last few months, I sold the uke I had with a low g on it and just haven’t bought a new low g string. Both ukes I have right now are high g, but I plan to make one low in the coming weeks.
 
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LorenFL

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Whichever one holds more interest to YOU. If you like the sound of Low G, you'll probably play more, and thus learn and enjoy more.
 

LukuleleStrings

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If you’re the type to only have one ukulele, the best one to learn is the one your uke is tuned to. ;-)

That’s not flippant - whichever ukulele tone sounds better to you, use that tuning and learn with it. Don’t worry about if it’s harder or easier - it’s your path.
 
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TL;DR As a "one and only" uke for a beginner does the collective wisdom suggest High or Low G?

I'm a 3rd-year beginner and committed to getting serious about practice. Age 57 man with absolutely zero musical background. I've spent too much time fiddling around with three different ukes, no consistency in practice, yearlong breaks, etc.

One decision is to put my soprano in its case and only play my concert until I have achieved more competence. I find the concert easier to hold and my fingers don't trip over each other as much as the sopranos (although I really love the soprano sound, size, etc. and plan to get back to it).

My concert is an Ohana CK-38 which is solid mahogany. It's lovely with a very warm deep tone. Currently strung Low G with 3 year old strings. I'm going to replace the strings with Worth fluorocarbons (which I already have) and am undecided on low or high G string. Up until now if I was practicing something that was written for low G I used the concert and if high G I used the soprano.


Thanks,
Jim
Hi Jim. I'm new to the uke myself. My concert sized uke sounds wonderful with a high G and I'll never change it. That said, I do intend buying another concert and restringing it low. My cheap tenor sounded awful with the high G it came with, so I restrung it with a new set of Aquilas, in low G. It now sounds lovely, and belts out a much richer, "guitary" sound. My advice, with my VERY limited experience, is this: For the relatively low cost of a set of decent strings, it's worth experimenting and seeing what suits your ear best.

Edit. I'm not sure about concerts, but the low G Aquila Tenor is steel wound. This gives a different feel when strumming and it took me a little while to get used to.
 
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merlin666

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Having owned a uke one-third as long as Jim, I share his question but from a slightly different perspective. If I change out my High g for a Low G, will that change all the movable chord SHAPES I've learned, or does it simply change the order in which I'll roll/ pluck the strings when working out melody fingerings by ear? On the same subject but adding a different angle, I recently saw a post in which someone recommended tuning a soprano up to A-D-F#-B to stop C string "booming". Please forgive the really stupid question, but am I correct in assuming that if I do that, it will be the same as capo-ing at the 2nd fret and that an open strum will then be Bm7/D6 instead of Am7/C6, and so on?
1) all chord shapes will be the same but will sound a bit different, and some people prefer different shapes on low or high g. Good example is em which I play 4432 on low G but 0432 on high g.
2) yes if you tune up everything will be higher and you have to transpose if you want to play in same key. This is good mental exercise and makes you better player.
 

Graham Greenbag

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TL;DR As a "one and only" uke for a beginner does the collective wisdom suggest High or Low G?

I'm a 3rd-year beginner and committed to getting serious about practice. Age 57 man with absolutely zero musical background. I've spent too much time fiddling around with three different ukes, no consistency in practice, yearlong breaks, etc.

One decision is to put my soprano in its case and only play my concert until I have achieved more competence. I find the concert easier to hold and my fingers don't trip over each other as much as the sopranos (although I really love the soprano sound, size, etc. and plan to get back to it).

My concert is an Ohana CK-38 which is solid mahogany. It's lovely with a very warm deep tone. Currently strung Low G with 3 year old strings. I'm going to replace the strings with Worth fluorocarbons (which I already have) and am undecided on low or high G string. Up until now if I was practicing something that was written for low G I used the concert and if high G I used the soprano.


Thanks,
Jim

The commonest tuning is, by far, high g and that’s what a traditional Uke is best suited to. Having said that I find advantages in some fingerpicking - say 1/3 of material - to having a Uke in low G, but for strumming chords and a lot of fingerpicking high g is the way to go.
 
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The answer to this question is a question.

The question is: What music do you want to play? Once you work out what music you want to play, you can work backwards and know what tuning and what instrument to use.

Ukuleles are musical instruments. They are designed and built to play music, not to play with.

My suggestion in this thread is for the person to put both ukuleles in a case and leave them there until you know where you want to take them musically. Spend a week without the practice and other stuff, and just listen to music and work out what you want to play on your ukulele. Write it down on a 3x5 card and keep it in your case or pocket. And keep listening to music and updating it.

This is a rhetorical post, there is not much use in typing out and answer to me, work out the answer to yourself. What music or piece or tune do you want to play (and sing?) on your ukulele. Invest some time in working out your answer.

If you need a process, write out your own top 10 chart, and that is your playlist to learn for the next however long it takes.
"This is a rhetorical post, there is not much use in typing out and answer to me"

Well, that's a cowardly cop out if ever I read one. I'm going to weigh in anyway.

Your post isn't at all encouraging, informative or constructive. Some of us are just beginning our ukelele journey and being told to put our musical instruments (not playthings) away until we figure out what we want to play is not what people with a genuine interest and developing passion want to read. So much for the ukulele bringing a smile to people's faces.
 
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Well you only need to put it away until you do work out what you want to do. Then you can get it out again and you will know what you want to do.

Like for example do you want to play a piece that needs a low G note, or not? Low G and High G have a few musical differences, that is what could be driving why you choose one or the other. Some examples of differences are embodied in the concepts of voicing and chord inversions. If you have not reached a stage to understand these concepts yet, it may not make any real difference whether you use high or low G.

My post does not say what you want to hear. Sorry about that. Learning a musical instrument can get frustrating once you get past the physical learning and have to work on the intellectual part and work out what to do next. Maybe a physical teacher or mentor who knows you well enough can help you with the answer, but otherwise you need to work it out yourself.

I don't have a problem with you being frustrated and not appreciating my comments at the present time. I hope you find out what you are looking for. Many UU members who are beginning will struggle with this issue, a lot because of distracting sales and marketing campaigns, but they are not brave enough to ask the question on UU. My answer is for all of them. You have taken the first step to solving your problem by being brave enough to post the question. The answers are flowing in. What is your next step?
My next step is to continue to to do what I've been doing. Practicing with my high G concert and my low G tenor. I profusely apologise if my response to your post seemed off. I've re read it and undoubtedly could have worded it better. I'm very new to the ukulele and very, perhaps overly, enthusiastic. Being told to put them away until I figure out what I want to play hit a nerve. I want to play everything! No offense was intended and I apologise unreservedly if any was taken.
 

greenfrog

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"This is a rhetorical post, there is not much use in typing out and answer to me"

Well, that's a cowardly cop out if ever I read one. I'm going to weigh in anyway.

Your post isn't at all encouraging, informative or constructive. Some of us are just beginning our ukelele journey and being told to put our musical instruments (not playthings) away until we figure out what we want to play is not what people with a genuine interest and developing passion want to read. So much for the ukulele bringing a smile to people's faces.

I can definitely see how parts of that post can be discouraging.

But I also want to highlight some advice in the post that came immediately after the suggestion to put the ukuleles in their cases:

Spend a week without the practice and other stuff, and just listen to music and work out what you want to play on your ukulele. Write it down on a 3x5 card and keep it in your case or pocket. And keep listening to music and updating it.

This part can be excellent advice for anyone who feels stuck or stressed about learning any musical instrument. Taking time to figure out your "why" for learning an instrument, what you like, and where you want to go with it makes it much more likely that you will keep taking the ukulele out of the case and playing it.

The best answer to choosing between starting with high G or low G probably is "listen to both until you know which you prefer".

The part about ukuleles not being "to play with" was pretty off-putting, but if you re-read the rest of the post without that sentence, there is still some good advice there.