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Thread: 5 string players - yay or nay?

  1. #1
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    Apr 2020
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    Default 5 string players - yay or nay?

    I have some questions for those of you who play or have tried 5 string tenors. Are they a yay or nay for you? I've never tried one, and don't know that I really see a need for both high and low g. But I put in 1 entry for a very attractive Cocobolo 5 string tenor, just because I thought it was so darn good looking, and thinking I'd probably never win it anyway with just one entry. Well my name was picked for it. I have a Cocobolo concert now that I rarely play, because I really do prefer the tenors. I've been watching and waiting week after week for months for the right tenor to come up, and it hasn't. When they showed this 5 string it was the first I've liked enough to enter for. So please give me your feedback on the 5 string ukes. Thanks.
    "So many ukes, so little money..."

    Kanile'a KSR-T premium koa tenor
    KoAloha KTM-00 tenor
    Rebel Double Cheese spruce/mahogany tenor, my BFF.
    aNueNue AMM3 mahogany tenor
    Romero Creations Tiny Tenor spalted mango
    Romero Creations SK koa soprano
    Pono ATC-PC acacia cutaway tenor
    Kala KA-ASFM-T-C flame maple tenor
    Pono MT-SP tenor
    Cocobolo 5 string tenor #28
    Cocobolo concert #467
    Pono ASD acacia soprano deluxe
    Pono MGS mango soprano
    Brad Donaldson cedar/rosewood custom tenor


  2. #2
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    Jun 2018
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    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
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    Default

    Pros:
    They do give a bigger, wider, fuller, unique sound than strumming a 4 string. If you play fingerstyle, you have more options if you have the accuracy. It's fun to play.

    Cons:
    That's a lot of G. A little more difficult to fret chords than a 4-string tenor cleanly. But with practice it becomes normal. Fingerstyle accuracy.

    A very cool uke.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don't begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    --Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  3. #3
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    Canada Prairies, brrr ....
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    There are some notable uke players like Taimane or Joe Souza who prefer 5 string ukes and they can sound nice in many situations and help develop your own style. I was intrigued with the ones I played but ended up getting a six string with octave C and A which is a much better complement to my low G tenor.

  4. #4
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    Feb 2015
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    New Mexico, USA
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    Samantha Muir sometimes plays a five strong. I am not sure if is a concert or a tenor. Check out her compositions.

  5. #5
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    Apr 2015
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpshin View Post
    Samantha Muir sometimes plays a five strong. I am not sure if is a concert or a tenor. Check out her compositions.
    I LOOOOVE 5 string. On a whim, I had my bonanza oreo created as a 5 string a little over a year ago ( I think mine was the first one and they made it a regular offering). It's my travel uke. I love the sound so much that I wound up getting a 5 string Lone Tree mutt in March and it's the uke I pick up the most.

    Reasons I love the 5 g - richer sound. I jam with a guitar player sometimes and love the tone I get with the dbl octave. It also gives me options for low or high g songs when fingerpicking. My bonanza is my travel uke, so I feel like I never have to choose what I play based on my strings.

    Drawbacks - fretboard/nut is wider, so depending on your hand size and pressure, might take some time to get used to and stretches can be more difficult. Some fingerpicking could be a bit muffled/muddied on the Gs. Re-stringing is more complicated. There aren't a ton of 5 string standard sets (Living Waters makes one that I like), but I often wind up buying a re-entrant set and then adding on a smoothwound low G like a Fremont Soloist. This makes strings more expensive. It's also more time consuming and complicated to re-string a 5 string, especially given how close the 2 gs are to make sure that you aren't hitting posts. Happy to chat more about 5 strings. I'm obssessed and likely getting another one

  6. #6
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    Sep 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlin666 View Post
    There are some notable uke players like Taimane or Joe Souza who prefer 5 string ukes and they can sound nice in many situations and help develop your own style. I was intrigued with the ones I played but ended up getting a six string with octave C and A which is a much better complement to my low G tenor.
    Taimine plays a 5-string with double low-G strings, which is probably not what everyone else here is talking about. Joe Souza is at best an OK player, but he did build ukuleles for the late Willie K, who needed the extra range out of his ukulele to match his great voice.

  7. #7
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    I have a Kanilea 5 string super tenor 19” scale long neck. I tune it down a whole step. It has a wonderful full sound. I play a lot of Lute music and this instrument works very well. It takes some practice to learn to single out the double strings but it can be done. I am very happy with my 5 string and it has opened up many possibilities of sound in the music I play.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Interesting……I was just going to start a thread like this. I’ve gone back and forth on low and high g tenor. I was going to add a fiifth string to my Tiny tenor….but talked to HMS and while possible……..with. 1 3/8” nut width it could get cramped.

    So, I purchased an Aklot 5 string tenor. Solid mahogany top with laminate side. Intonation was pretty good and after some fret end filing and new set of string I’m trying to bond with it. nut width is 1.5l which seems about right. profile of neck is really nice for,chineese made tenor.

    It came 5th string Low g…..I found that to be boomy and overpowering. Next, Input high G on 5th string. I like this better….but………not sure I like it better than my standard high g set up. Oh sure, some chords are fuller for sure………finger picking………not sure.

    I’ve read Tamaine uses double low G…….which I’m sure I would not like………and next I will try double high G because I mostly play high.

    I was thinking 5 string would be best of both world……not convinced yet. I will try technique of hitting high or low for different songs and see how that works to get different sounds. Are there any good videos on You Tube of really good five string players that anyone can recommend?

    What string arrangement do most five string player use on top……5th string…….high or low.

    It’s been a good experiment……..only cost me $80 and Uke is worth that will the gig bag, extra Aquila string, strap………
    By the way this Aklot has a truss rod……like my Pono’s. Of course quality isn’t like a Pono but good Uke to TRY the whole 5 string thing.

    Strumming is fuller. Finger picking is a bit more difficult.

    So far, the jury is out for me. I’ve only played it for six days and every other day I’m tweaking the string. I do like the string thru bridge but hate the bird design. LOL.

    My .02 cents worth. If I’m missing something please chime in.

    Thanks for starting thread.

  9. #9
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    The way most people have this set up is like most of the 8 strings, so that when you do a downstrum you hit the high string first and then the low. If you put the low and thicker first then most people tend to miss the thinner string that comes after on a downstrum.

  10. #10
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    Jun 2013
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    Thanks merlin666…….I was thinking the same thing once I tried it. With high g on firfth string …..you get best of normal high g but by hitting both string on down stroke on chords…..you get full sound for that chord. It will take some getting used to. Going back to TT now strung low G and to Pono AT high G…….you can hear a huge difference in clarity.


    As I said for me……jury is still out. I did play the Aklot as a four string and it’s fine. With 3 of my six tenors with 1 3/8” nuts……and now two 1.5” nuts and one custom Uke 1 7/16” nut I’m finding I definitely like the 1.5” nut.

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