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Thread: Alternate Tunings for Ukulele

  1. #1
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    Default Alternate Tunings for Ukulele

    I would like to know all of the alternate ways to tune a Ukulele. My Baritone is DGBE and my Tenor is GCEA. Is there many ways as there is with guitar? Does one have to buy different string sets?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnysmash View Post
    I would like to know all of the alternate ways to tune a Ukulele. My Baritone is DGBE and my Tenor is GCEA. Is there many ways as there is with guitar? Does one have to buy different string sets?
    Tuning in 5th's, as per a violin or mandolin, seems to be quite popular. I have a pineapple soprano tuned the same as a mandolin and my baritone is tuned an octave lower, like a tenor banjo. They are perfectly playable instruments in their own right but inevitably somewhat quieter that their steel-stringed cousins ... good for late night practice For these tunings, some of the original strings can be repurposed, if they're long enough to reach, but the treble on the soprano and the bass on the baritone need to be acquired separately.

    The only other non-standard tuning I use regularly is to raise the hi-G to an A for a couple of claw-hammer arrangements.

    Don't forget the "old-fashioned" D tuning, A D F# B. Simply tighten a standard set of strings up a whole tone, some instruments can really "come alive" with a little more string tension!

    Inevitably YMMV
    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!

  3. #3
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    There are many ways to tune ukulele. If you buy the SmartChord app it has a long list of tunings available and will produce the corresponding chords and scales for review. For Hawaiian music there are also slack key tunings most notable C taropatch G C E G and C wahine G B E G.

  4. #4
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    I basically do two things in regards to tunings.

    1. I adjust all my strings in unison. For example, instead of GCEA my ukulele is tuned EAC#F# (all strings are three half-steps looser than standard tuning)

    2. I use open tunings. For example open A major would be AC#EA instead of GCEA.

  5. #5
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    Basic information about the various tunings for ukuleles can be found in this book: "Open Tunings for Ukulele" https://www.amazon.com/Open-Tunings-.../dp/0786684550

    And here is an example of baritone tuning
    for DGBD tuning


    for CGCE tuning
    See preview my ukulele books
    See preview my guitalele books

    This is my books USA UK

    This is my YouTube channel
    Duo UF UF YouTube channel

  6. #6
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    As long as one realizes that most ukes acoustically respond best within the "traditional" tuning range for their sizes, anything goes as far as tuning each string. There is no "mandatory" tuning scheme. Tunings depend on what the musician (not the manufacturer) feels most comfortable and sounds acceptable.

    There are prepackaged string sets for a couple different tunings. I've also taken extra strings from various string sets to create my own tuning experiments. The goal is a simple one - get the best sound out of the instrument within the dexterity limits of the musician.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)**
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T)*, Lanikai LB6-S (S)*
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)***

    * CGDA reentrant, **DAEB, ***GDAE, The rest are CGDA

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  7. #7
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    For a soprano uke, music from the early 20th century was often marked up for tuning GCEA, ADF#B or BbEbGC. On a soprano, you can use the same set of strings for all those tunings, especially if you use a lighter weight set like GHS soprano ukulele nylon strings for hawaiian D tuning, or Worth brown lightweight

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimavery View Post
    For a soprano uke, music from the early 20th century was often marked up for tuning GCEA, ADF#B or BbEbGC. On a soprano, you can use the same set of strings for all those tunings, especially if you use a lighter weight set like GHS soprano ukulele nylon strings for hawaiian D tuning, or Worth brown lightweight
    This is the best.I used to scamper up and the tunings when I were a lad and couldn't afford more than a 30 bob kapok brand plywood topped uke. Them were t'days.

  9. #9
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    An old acquaintance of mine used to play his guitar and these days plays his ukulele "upside down", that is to say, he plays a conventionally strung instrument left-handed. Certainly allows him to make a slightly "different" sound.
    Try re-stringing your ukulele "back-to-front" to see if it works for you

    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!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kypfer View Post
    An old acquaintance of mine used to play his guitar and these days plays his ukulele "upside down", that is to say, he plays a conventionally strung instrument left-handed. Certainly allows him to make a slightly "different" sound.
    Try re-stringing your ukulele "back-to-front" to see if it works for you

    At least his strings are now numbered correctly as 1234 instead of that asinine convention of 4321.

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