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Thread: Uke's tuning that hits the sweet spot vs strings

  1. #1
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    Question Uke's tuning that hits the sweet spot vs strings

    I recently noticed messages (Ex: the mya moe vs larrivee thread) that refer to how folks tune their ukes one/half step up or down and how much of a difference it makes.

    I see endless threads on strings used but selection of the tuning that matches the natural resonance of the body is not as common.. I guess it is due the fact strings can be selected where as the resonance of the body is fixed?

    I also came across a video featuring Joel Eckhaus and he talks about how he uses his voice to discover the range of a body..

    That got me playing around with my ukes, my voice and TE tuner app.. I found one of my tenors does even better one step down (was resonating before low G, around low A), another is perfect around GCEA with low g, another is better with high G.. one of ukes did not resonate (vibrate more than normal) the same way across my vocal range but still sounds good overall..

    Question: Instead of just playing with strings first why is this not the first step of buying an instrument?
    Any other commends?

    Joel Eckhaus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDvcoIQyjYE

    Mya Moe vs Larrivee: http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...ghlight=tuning

  2. #2
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    Many people attend uke jams and or play with others. Staying tuned to the same as everyone else makes it much easier than having to transpose every song that is handed to you
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  3. #3

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    I have my Pono Tenor at Bb. It sounded good before, but it sounds amazing now.
    And I just put a capo on to play with others (or, if I'm feeling froggy, figure out how to transpose the chords).
    Not convenient, but it works for how rarely I play with others.

  4. #4
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    Exactly what DownUpDave said.

    Ukes do indeed have their own individual sweet spot tunings that can be half or more steps either way or even less than that. Which is great to find if you only ever play on your own as opposed to with other musicians.

    I guess transposing can be done, but I know some folks that go half a step out. Due to it being a fretted instrument no amount of transposing will get you in tune with others.

    Still - it’s fun to experiment with and see what you find. Also really gets you in tune with your own instrument (excuse the pun)
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  5. #5
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    Interesting that Joel considers D tuning normal. As he says, that was from Roy Smeck, back in the old days, when more volume and cut was needed.

    Re his singing into the uke to determine resonance: as I follow it, if the resonance was felt at B, you'd tune down to B. What if resonance was best felt at G? That would seem a strange tuning, especially on soprano.

  6. #6
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    Agreed on the playing with other instruments bit.. there is an excellent documentary by BBC that goes into a lot more detail about the standardization of frequencies their names and historical selection of the frequencies themselves.. in other words it is all made up just so that every instrument can harmonize and every scale can be played on the same instrument https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0Y6NPahlDE

    There are 2 things at play
    1. Selection of note to the played at say string 3 which is what we are discussing when we say step down from C or Step up to D.
    2. Selection of the resonant frequency (singing into the hole) and ratio of the frequencies between the strings.

    A lot of the folks here must be playing by themselves (atleast I do :-(?) and the only thing that should matter is the selection of the frequency and not the note it maps to and then maintaining the same ratio of frequencies on other strings.. that ways all chord shapes remain the same but are not mapped to any standard notes... an interesting experiment for a weekend, start tuning the string till it starts to vibrate and set that as the 3rd or 4th string and tune others up the old way by matching notes. I guess not having pitch perfect hearing does have some benefits :-D

    Hmm.. also I should try our just intonation..

  7. #7
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    Oh yeah.. I need to get some D tuning strings so that I can tune them a step down from C tuning so that the tension is some what right..

  8. #8
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    Question: Instead of just playing with strings first why is this not the first step of buying an instrument?
    Any other commends?



    I have nothing to add to the comments regarding the social aspect of standard tuning. However, I wouldn't engage in this re-tuning business because I am skeptical of a musician's ability--or at least my ability--to become the Ukulele Whisperer and know the sound board's true note. It sounds rather subjective, like the people who insist on having their A tuned to 432.85764 hertz. What sounds best to me is whatever I have been playing for a while. Sometimes that's low G, sometimes high G or even DBGE. Therefore, since it is all in my head, I'd tell my head to worry about other things like playing the F minor chord.

    Hopefully this isn't discouraging. If you want a lower pitch, go for it. I alter my tunings all the time (open A for strumming, open G for my fingerstyle). I just wouldn't do it for the "sweet spot"reason.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukecaster View Post
    Interesting that Joel considers D tuning normal. As he says, that was from Roy Smeck, back in the old days, when more volume and cut was needed.

    Re his singing into the uke to determine resonance: as I follow it, if the resonance was felt at B, you'd tune down to B. What if resonance was best felt at G? That would seem a strange tuning, especially on soprano.
    I have seen old music with chord symbols in D. I understand that many of the old instruments were played in that key. I have heard some say that when they retuned their vintage instrument to that pitch it really came alive. I would think that maybe one of the open strings should match the resonance pitch rather than using it as the lowest or fundamental. It would be interesting to check with Joel to see what his thoughts are.

  10. #10
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    It is more than just tuning up or down. My first tenor has always been overly bright. I've tuned it anywhere from A to C with all sorts of different strings. Over the past 2 weeks I have been trying to get a recently acquired ukulele dialed in. This has also prompted me to re-evaluate the tuning and strings on a couple of other ukuleles including that first tenor.

    Merely tuning down didn't get there until I tried some Worth CH strings and a Seaguar Premier .024 for the A string. I think, hope???, that after 10 years of periodically making another run at this uke, that I just might have hit the right balance with these strings and Bb tuning. Something the other almost dozen sets and the same Bb tuning failed to do. The somewhat harsh bright tone is gone and the volume is huge. We'll see how it sounds after everything settles in.

    John

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