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

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    10

    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 https://reverb.com/item/23918139-mar...e-1960s-walnut 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
    Location
    Finland
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    592

    Default

    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
    Location
    FL, USA
    Posts
    962

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    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!

    bratsche

    A bunch of stringed instruments tuned in fifths. And a bunch of cats!


    "There are two refuges from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    Sunny Jersey - where the cows come from!
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    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
    Location
    Belgium
    Posts
    221

    Default

    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
    4(G)--------------A
    5(B)--------------E
    6(High E) ----------Not used
    UkeFever... ukulele tabs for free!

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