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Thread: Best way to string a baritone ukulele for GDAE (Octave Mandolin) tuning?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Question Best way to string a baritone ukulele for GDAE (Octave Mandolin) tuning?

    Hi all,

    I just picked up this vintage Marathon baritone ukulele on Reverb and could use a little help getting it set up for octave mandolin / tenor tuning, GDAE.

    I have a Kala that I string up with classical guitar strings; 2 wrapped steel (.043 for G, .030 for D) and two nylon (.032 for A & .028 for E). This seems to work and I love the sound that I get from it, although I'm concerned about the tension being too much for the bridge on this new (old) instrument. The Kala handles it well after 6 years; I believe the Marathon is from the '60s and I don't want to damage it, but I still want to maintain GDAE tuning in some form.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? Is there anything I should consider outside of string gauges when setting this up?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2017


    You can't unless really long fingers, use mandolin fingerings. And chords will harder than with standard DGBE. Other than that wish you an interesting experiment
    Classical 6th E string tuned 3 half steps up could be one for low G. 5th A string tuned down might be too slack, because of the shorter scale instead.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    FL, USA


    The 1,2, 5 and 6 strings from the Thomastik CF128 classical guitar set will work on a 20" scale baritone. I don't know the scale on that Marathon, but the low flatwound string gauges are .045" and .035", and they seem to last as long as the Thomastik flatwound steel mando-family strings. (I tried a cheaper 6th roundwound classical guitar string from d'Addario at first, and it began unraveling after about 5-6 weeks.) I found that I prefer an altogether non-wound 3rd string on my Pono mahogany baritone, so I use 130 lb test Seaguar Premier fishing leader for that, and save the 5th string for use as a low C on my mandola-tuned tenors. YMMV of course!


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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Sunny Jersey - where the cows come from!


    My Brunswick 20" baritone is strung .043w, 036w, .035 and .026 for GDAE tuning an octave below normal mandolin tuning. As I remember the three treble strings were from the original set that came with the instrument, the bass string is the "E" string from a guitar set. I use one of the on-line calculators to work out which strings to use in any "non-standard" configuration, that way I can maintain overall string tension whilst achieving the tuning I want

    Good luck
    Last edited by kypfer; 06-04-2019 at 08:53 PM.
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012


    I found this on the Mandolincafe forum. It works very well on my baritone uke.

    Strings: D'Addario "Pro-Arte" EJ46 (hard tension) nylon strings (Because those are the first 'high tension' strings I found on the rack)

    Removed the baritone uke strings (will recycle as cat toys)

    Re-strung like this:

    Guitar string-------Used as Octave mandolin string
    1 (Low E)---------G
    2 (A)-------------D
    3(D)----------------Not used
    6(High E) ----------Not used
    UkeFever... ukulele tabs for free!

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