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Thread: 8 string ukulele - twice as hard to play?

  1. #1
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    Default 8 string ukulele - twice as hard to play?

    Lately I've been very intrigued by the idea of an 8 string ukulele. I'm only half joking with the title of the thread but I was seriously wondering, is an 8 string ukulele noticeably more difficult to play?

    Is it significantly harder to cleanly fret 2 paired strings vs. 1?

    Is it significantly harder to cleanly fret chords, especially barre chords? I don't have problems playing a regular uke with low action (2.5mm at 12th fret) but I do have a slight weakness in my left hand and I'm concerned that an 8 string would be significantly harder to play.

    Would there be a difference in the tension/feel of a concert 8 string vs. a tenor 8 string?

    If a louder/fuller sound is ultimately what I'm looking for might a 6-string uke (paired 1st and 3rd string) be more suitable if the hand strength for playing an 8 string is an issue?

    Another concern is that I'm at the point where if a new uke comes in, one of my others has to go. I don't think there's any way I'd be able to try an 8 string out before buying. I'm pretty sure none of the local places that sell ukes have anything more that 4 string ukes so buying an 8 string (or 6 string) only to try it for the first time would be a bit of a gamble and one I'm not sure would be worthy of selling one of my current ukes.
    Last edited by mikelz777; 01-20-2020 at 05:19 AM.
    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a uke which is basically the same thing.

    Ukes are a lot like potato chips. It's hard to stop with just one!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikelz777 View Post
    Lately I've been very intrigued by the idea of an 8 string ukulele. I'm only half joking with the title of the thread but I was seriously wondering, is an 8 string ukulele noticeably more difficult to play?

    Is it significantly harder to cleanly fret 2 paired strings vs. 1?

    Is it significantly harder to cleanly fret chords, especially barre chords? I don't have problems playing a regular uke with low action (2.5mm at 12th fret) but I do have a slight weakness in my left hand and I'm concerned that an 8 string would be significantly harder to play.

    Would there be a difference in the tension/feel of a concert 8 string vs. a tenor 8 string?

    If a louder/fuller sound is ultimately what I'm looking for might a 6-string uke (paired 1st and 3rd string) be more suitable if the hand strength for playing an 8 string is an issue?

    Another concern is that I'm at the point where if a new uke comes in, one of my others has to go. I don't think there's any way I'd be able to try an 8 string out before buying. I'm pretty sure none of the local places that sell ukes have anything more that 4 string ukes so buying an 8 string (or 6 string) only to try it for the first time would be a bit of a gamble and one I'm not sure would be worthy of selling one of my current ukes.
    I have a six string uke, and while it's definitely my preferred uke I would not keep it as my only uke because it's not suitable for everything I like to play. Most people find multiple string instruments more difficult to play because there is a lot more tension on the strings, and you also have to be more careful to keep it well tuned. So if you already need to put some effort into barre chords, they will be quite a bit more challenging but it's just a matter of practice. I a play mainly 12-string guitar, so am used to having a firm grip on everything. Also keep in mind that there are two types of 8-string that will give you a very different experience. The "taropatch" has a concert scale and all strings tuned in unison pairs, whereas an 8-string tenor has the G and C strings with lower and higher octave strings respectively. So the tenor will will be a bit more challenging than the taropatch.

  3. #3
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    I have an 8 string Oscar Schmidt tenor. Strumming is not that much of a different, But I found bar chords more difficult. Picking takes a bit of getting used to. The OS I have was about $ 100.00 and is a really decent instrument. My only regret was not paying $ 10 more and getting a pick up. Get one and you will be vaccinated against UAS. (For a while).

  4. #4
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    Overall, I find no basic difference in playing 4, 6 or 8 string ukes. I agree with the "get it amped" comment, as I put an inexpensive tuner/amp in my OS 8-string and Lanikai 6-string. Getting an inexpensive 8-string (like the OS) makes it a great one for finding out how much one likes 8-string play, and the OS doesn't sound half-bad either.
    ...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

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  5. #5
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    An 8-string uke sounds great. You have to hear one to understand. I have Kala and Baton Rouge tenors. I also have a Kala 6-string tenor and an 8-string Ohana Taropatch (an 8-string concert). With the strings close together as pairs, I find it no more difficult fretting the strings.

    I went to a Taimane concert a couple of weeks ago, and she was playing a 5-string. One of the G-strings broke, so she just removed it. : )

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    Last edited by Jerryc41; 01-20-2020 at 07:28 AM.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
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  6. #6
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    I had an Ohana 6 string and didn’t care for it, so I traded it in on a very nice lookin’ Kala 8 string tenor. I don’t play the Kala much though. I’m mostly a finger picker and don’t care to use it for that.

    I guess I’m saving it to sing and strum with.
    Kala "Spalted" baritone - Lo D GBE - Finger style
    Gold Tone “Mini” Travel banjo - Steel GCEA - Noodling
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    Kala tenor eight string - gGcCEEAA Strum

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  7. #7
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    I have three ukuleles with eight strings, a Baton Rouge, an Ohana Taropatch, and the Ortega Hydra. I released a review of the Hydra last week.

    As you can guess, a lot of the playability of an eight string is setup. The Baton Rouge came from the UK (Stones Music) and Mark Pugh set it up brilliantly. I had an acquaintance buy one from Stones, and they weren’t as happy with the sound or set-up as they were with mine. The Taropatch (Spruce) is from Mim’s and she does a great job. The Ortega Hydra is from Uke Republic, and I failed to tell them my preference for the action at the 1st fret. So the instrument is set for 2.75mm at the 12th and is closer to 1mm at the 1st fret...too high for me, making it less nice to play.

    Eight strings are more difficult to tune,,,not only due to eight strings, but with the spacing it can be challenging to play one of the strings while tuning, and not the other.

    Otherwise, they are a lot of fun, they sound unique, and they really get a lot of notice from other players.

    I personally think they are more for strumming than picking...but that is my perception and I’m not afraid to be wrong.
    My ukulele blog: http://ukestuff.info

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  8. #8
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    I co-own an 8 string Ohana tenor and agree with a lot of the comments here with regards to it being harder to play barre chords on and definitely takes a chunk of practice time to be adept at finger picking with the 8 string. It is nice for strumming but more so for slower songs where the strings can really chime rather than fast pieces where the strings tones tend to sonically crash into one another.
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  9. #9
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    I've been paying special attention to my barre chords in my last couple of playing sessions. I'm adequate at making barres but they aren't one of my strong points and I don't really want to make them more challenging than they already are so if I'm going to up the string count, maybe a 6 string would be better for me than an 8 string. (not a guitalele)

    I'm a concert guy so it looks like I might have to go with a tenor if I go with a 6 string. I see Ohana has a 6 string concert which appears to be different than other 6 strings. The Ohana has paired G and C strings whereas the other 6 strings I've seen have paired C and A strings.

    Thoughts on 6 stringers?
    Last edited by mikelz777; 01-21-2020 at 02:32 PM.
    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a uke which is basically the same thing.

    Ukes are a lot like potato chips. It's hard to stop with just one!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikelz777 View Post
    I've been paying special attention to my barre chords in my last couple of playing sessions. I'm adequate at making barres but they aren't one of my strong points and I don't really want to make them more challenging than they already are so if I'm going to up the string count, maybe a 6 string would be better for me than an 8 string. (not a guitalele)

    I'm a concert guy so it looks like I might have to go with a tenor if I go with a 6 string. I see Ohana has a 6 string concert which appears to be different than other 6 strings. The Ohana has paired G and C strings whereas the other 6 strings I've seen have paired C and A strings.

    Thoughts on 6 stringers?
    The Ohana Taropatch is an 8-string concert. If you want more strings, and you like concert, this is a good choice.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

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