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Thread: fifth tunings on tenor and baritone

  1. #1
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    Default fifth tunings on tenor and baritone

    Hi everybody,
    I did a quick search in the forums but didn't quite find what I want.

    I'd like to experiment with fifth tuning for a tenor and/or baritone uke. I know Aquila makes this kind of strings for both soprano and concert, but I'd like to get something more like a viola kind of sound.

    Are there any already made string sets for fifth tuning in tenor or baritone? or do you know a string combination that could work.

    Thanks

    Eugenio

  2. #2
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    Per several threads on mandolin cafe Aquila's AQ-31 (Concert fifths) will tune CGDA (viola) on a tenor uke and GDAE (octave mandolin) on a baritone uke. I have a set but haven't installed them to try.

    https://www.bing.com/search?q=ukulele%20fifths%20AQ-31%20site%3Amandolincafe.com
    Last edited by Arcy; 04-02-2021 at 02:49 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcy View Post
    Per several threads on mandolin cafe Aquila's AQ-31 (Concert fifths) will tune CGDA (viola) on a tenor uke and GDAE (octave mandolin) on a baritone uke. I have a set but haven't installed them to try.

    https://www.bing.com/search?q=ukulele%20fifths%20AQ-31%20site%3Amandolincafe.com
    That's an easy enough solution. I'm ordering some of those strings right now to see how it goes.

    I do like that tuning, and I'm trying to learn mandolin, but I can't stand the metal strings and playing with a pick. Ukes make a much more delicate sound and much easier to play.

    Thanks!

    Eugenio
    Last edited by emarcano; 04-03-2021 at 01:48 AM.

  4. #4
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    Emarcano-

    I have 4 sopranos tuned like a mandolin/violin. Finger-picked/strummed, but a Dunlop .36 or .48 works if you want to use a pick to make it more 'mandolin-ey'. Using a mandolin pick shaped Dunlop Jazz III would complete the mandolin conversion. None of these picks hurt the strings shown below.

    Luna VM Pineapple Mahogany
    Caramel CS419 Mahogany Soprano
    Flight TU-55 MNG Soprano
    Ohana VK-70R

    Mandolin chords are easy to reach, and sound very cheerful.

    The CS419 has built-in tuner+preamp that sounds terrific plugged in (just turn the onboard mid and treble all the way off - adjust bass to taste). I actually have 3 of them; 1 GDAE, 1 standard ukulele, and one strung GDAE that is 'aging'.

    E .016 LaBella RN016 (Make sure the ramp-off at the nut is smooth, or it will break there.)
    A .024 D'addario NYL024
    D .0318 D'addario J3002
    G .028w D'addario J6801 Wound
    <or, if you want unwound low G>
    G .036 Fremont Low G Flourocarbon Clear (not black - too floppy)

    I tried a low G Aquila Red .036 but didn't like it on soprano. Works great as low G on a tenor, though.

    Available at Strings by Mail and Just Strings

    -Wiggy
    Last edited by Wiggy; 04-03-2021 at 04:34 AM.

  5. #5
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    Thanks Wiggy, good information.

    Regards

    Eugenio

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by emarcano View Post
    I'm trying to learn mandolin, but I can't stand the metal strings and playing with a pick. Ukes make a much more delicate sound and much easier to play.
    A soprano ukulele is a closer approximation to a mandolin than a tenor - they're both about 13" scale length. Tenor is 17", similar to a mandola (CGDA). A baritone matches to an octave mandolin at 20" (GDAE an octave down).

    If your goal is mandolin then I'd get a mandolin rather than re-tuning a ukulele. Even with the same tuning and scale length they'll play very differently. You'll be able to learn the fingerings, but it won't transfer directly. If the goal is ukulele in fifths then go for it!

    In addition to the obvious differences of nylon vs steel strings (major difference) and courses vs single strings (minor?), the distance between strings is a major change. I find it next to impossible to reach the big four-string G chop chord on my uke-olin (8 string soprano). I suspect that Wiggy's "easy to reach" Mandolin chords don't include that one

  7. #7
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    Arcy-

    I. Love. Chords.

    Yes, I do play it like a ukulele. Nylon strings are far easier to fret compared to steel mandolin strings. Trying to keep 8 strings in tune on an affordable (cheap) mandolin was the show-stopper for me. The finger pain of steel strings is intolerable at my age.

    Most of my goal in learning is to play within the range of violin. Most music is written that way (my opinion, of course). A low G on violin is a Low G on a soprano. The string combination noted above was chosen for easy to fret tension (with no floppiness) and good string-to-string tonal balance. It was done by experimentation.

    Does it sound like a mandolin or violin? Absolutely not. Is it fun to play? A resounding yes.

    What is the "big G" chop chord? Please respond with fret#s, such as 4557.

    -W

    <edit> I added a pic of the chord chart I'm working out. It is a WIP, so there may be some errors. As you can see, for chords I try to stay at 1st position wherever possible.

    The dots are the easiest to finger; the "o" means optional fingering. Correct sequence of notes (inversions and such) are totally out the window. Some are incomplete, due to being physically impossible. Diminished are my best approximations. I just like the way they all sound, and that I can form the shapes.

    I'd be happy to share the Excel file, but haven't figured out how to private message on UU.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Wiggy; 04-06-2021 at 08:25 AM.

  8. #8
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    I'm not dissing the mando-lele as it's own thing, but it's not a mandolin and doesn't play the same. If the goal is "I'm trying to learn mandolin" then get a mandolin.

    The Big Chop G is a difficult stretch for most on the mandolin. The extra fretboard width on a uke brings it out of reach for me and I have to limit myself to the tighter chords.

    It still works, but it's another way that playing the uku-lin is different from learning the mandolin.

    Attached Images Attached Images

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  10. #10
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    Whoo! My middle finger says "no way." Thus, I would use the 4557 mentioned above for G.

    Here's what I could do on a soprano:

    G 4557 (Slide down for F/Bb/C - Up for A/D/E) All clean chops - way cool!
    C 5578
    D 77910

    I now fully agree that if you want to learn mandolin, you have to learn on a mandolin.

    Thanks for the video! That method is sure crisper (and easier) than palm-muting. Now I gotta go practice chop rhythms.

    -W
    Last edited by Wiggy; 04-07-2021 at 03:40 AM.

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