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Thread: 19" Super Tenor v. 20" Baritone

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    108

    Default 19" Super Tenor v. 20" Baritone

    This year, I discovered the Baritone, and I've been loving the longer scale length. 20" is cool. 19" may be perfect because some stretches on the 20" fretboard are a bit long.

    On the 20" Baritone, I've been tuning DGBE. On a 19", I've heard that same DGBE tuning could get slack.

    In the meantime, I've got a deposit on a custom uke with Kinnard. Before he starts, I've got to make a final decision. I also like GCEA (low G) tuning and am considering doing a Super Tenor since I like the 19" scale more than the 17" scale. I already have a Pono 20" Baritone, so the question becomes, "Do I get a 20" Kinnard Baritone (which I would tune DGBE) or a 19" Kinnard Super Tenor (tuned GCEA)"? Admittedly, this is not a bad conundrum to have.

    Maybe someday I'll save enough for both, but in the short term, do any of you have experience with both sizes, and what are your thoughts?

    Thanks in advance. I always enjoy the expertise of this forum.
    Last edited by SoCal; 03-13-2019 at 08:59 AM.
    Beansprout 4 String Banjo
    Beansprout Concert Banjo Uke
    Beltona concert resonator
    Tyde concert learner uke
    Stuart Wailing nickel/brass concert
    Gold Tone Little Gem concert banjolele
    Gold Tone BUC concert banjolele
    Kmise Baritone

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    Default

    I have a tenor, and a baritone. My wife has a concert scale, and I sometimes play that. I do like the deeper, richer sound which comes from the longer scale length, but mainly I like variety. Because you already have a baritone, I recommend the super-tenor.

    As to whether to tune it GCEA or DGBE (and worries about scale length)---remember that different strings require differing amounts of pressure to fret. What is floppy with one brand of strings will not be floppy with another. A 17" tenor has a reputation for requiring more fretting pressure (what some folks call tension). Many people struggle to find tenor strings which don't hurt their fingers. They use strings recommended for a concert scale on their tenor, and find relief.

    With that in mind, I think you'd find that putting DGBE strings on a 19" scale would create more "tension" instead of less. If that's wrong I'm sure someone here will be quick to explain why.

    I'll be very interested to hear what you discover.

  3. #3
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    Personally I greatly prefer 19" to 20" scale. You can tune 19" to DGBE as long as you're ok with wound strings. I have all unwound on my 19" Ono baritone but have it tuned up half a step. I have a 19" guilele tuned GCFBbDG and don't consider it floppy at all. Tuning up the middle four to DGBE with this string set would probably be tighter than I'd like.

    So my opinion would be to get the 19" and find strings to tune it how you want. You can do either GCEA or DGBE (or in between) with the right strings.
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, A, EJ45LP

    !Flukutronic!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Future Think and Jim, Thank you both. I'm pretty sure I'd go with GCEA on the Super Tenor because I've spent a lot of time playing concert ukes with that tuning and have a lot of songs that I now play based on that tuning. With that said, if I do a super tenor at 19" with GCEA, would I just get standard tenor strings -- say D'Addario Nyltech -- or does that go out the window with the 19" scale?

    P.S. I hope don't mind all the questions, but I'm trying to learn here.
    Beansprout 4 String Banjo
    Beansprout Concert Banjo Uke
    Beltona concert resonator
    Tyde concert learner uke
    Stuart Wailing nickel/brass concert
    Gold Tone Little Gem concert banjolele
    Gold Tone BUC concert banjolele
    Kmise Baritone

  5. #5
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    I'd go for a 19" tenor too, 20" is a stretch too far for me to comfortably play, I have a 19.75" bari which is much more playable, (for me).

    I'd use tenor fluorocarbon strings, personally, as I prefer a lighter feel.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    I own all your proposed configurations. Standard 20" baritones, a Gianinni 19" baritone and an LfdM 19" super tenor, also a bunch of normal 17" tenors. I also at one time owned a 19" Kinnard baritone.

    First off you can use standard tenor strings on a 19" tenor tuned GCEA, the tension will be a bit high. Some people are ok with this others are not. You can use standard baritone strings on a 19" baritone tuned DGBE, tension is a bit lower but not bad.

    String by Mail will become your best friend and resource for custom strings when messing around with non-standard scale length. In a nut shell if you want "normal" tension on the Super tenor you go down to concert gauge strings. Normal tension on a 19" baritone, use high tension classical guitar strings. I cast my vote for you to get a 19" tenor, you got all the other bases covered. They are very versatile as you can tune it from GCEA all the way down to DGBE and anywhere in between. My 19" super tenor sounds great tuned to B or Bb. When tuned to B and playing with others I put a capo on the first fret and I am at standard tuning.
    Last edited by DownUpDave; 03-13-2019 at 04:47 AM.
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  7. #7
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    Queanbeyan, NSW Australia.
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    19" is the original baritone scale length for DGBE tuning. I have several. The string tension is not slack.

    I've played a few baritones tuned gCEA and they disappoint me every time. Too tight. No life.
    Its horses for courses.
    A 19" scale instrument tuned DGBE is a wonderful sounding instrument in its own right.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    Great information here. Based on what you all are posting, I'm leaning toward the 19" Super Tenor. Down Up Dave, thanks for the tip. I may experiment with the concert strings tuned GCEA on my Baritone (20", not 19") just to get a general feel for the string tension issue you mentioned.
    Last edited by SoCal; 03-13-2019 at 08:14 AM.
    Beansprout 4 String Banjo
    Beansprout Concert Banjo Uke
    Beltona concert resonator
    Tyde concert learner uke
    Stuart Wailing nickel/brass concert
    Gold Tone Little Gem concert banjolele
    Gold Tone BUC concert banjolele
    Kmise Baritone

  9. #9
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    Feb 2019
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    Honolulu
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    String tension also differs considerably according to the soundboard design: type of wood, thickness and bracing. I've owned a number of requintos, alto guitars and terz guitars and they're all designed to be tuned above the D G B E baritone tuning and yet are very resonance and easy to play with the right strings. And yet all of them have scale lengths over 20 inches. My Alhambra requinto is 540mm (21.25") and plays like a dream in A D G C E A tuning. A good luthier knows how to adjust the soundboard to work with a particular tuning. The long neck Kamaka tenor I tried in D G E A tuning felt great (wish I had one!). If you want to tune a standard baritone to D G E A you really should use thinner strings or it will feel tight and choked. For example, if you normally use a .028" or .029" nylon E string on a baritone, you need to slim down to .025 or .026 to pitch it at A 440. With carbon strings you'd need to slim down from .024" to .020 or so.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoCal View Post
    Future Think and Jim, Thank you both. I'm pretty sure I'd go with GCEA on the Super Tenor because I've spent a lot of time playing concert ukes with that tuning and have a lot of songs that I now play based on that tuning. With that said, if I do a super tenor at 19" with GCEA, would I just get standard tenor strings -- say D'Addario Nyltech -- or does that go out the window with the 19" scale?

    P.S. I hope don't mind all the questions, but I'm trying to learn here.
    First, you won't go wrong with a Kinnard. I've played literally more than 30 of them and have owned four which were all lovely, including a Series 3 tenor that I still own.

    Second, if you like the deeper tone of DGBE but prefer the 19" scale, you can get strings that will work. Also, don't feel constrained to GCEA or DGBE. I tune almost all of my tenors to Bb (F-Bb-D-G) as I prefer the tone and the lower tension tuned this way. When I did have a Kinnard baritone (which was magnificent), I often tuned A instead of G because I wanted more tension and it sounded great.

    Look forward to seeing your build pics when they start!
    More an appreciator of the ukulele than a true player. My motto is: "Don't matter how good it ring if it ain't got some bling."

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.—Voltaire

    Curious about the relative importance of tonewood vs. the luthier? See Luthiers for a Cause to learn more!

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