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Thread: Guitarist Turning Baritone Uker: Advice?

  1. #1
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    Default Guitarist Turning Baritone Uker: Advice?

    Hi all,

    I've taken the plunge and bought a Kala Baritone (KA-B). My question is this. What advise do you have for someone who plays the guitar and is planning to take up the baritone ukulele:

    - How can I avoid thinking of it as a guitar with only 4 strings?
    - What techniques are differerent?
    - What ways of thinking (approach to the instrument) are different?
    - What are some good starter songs that will help kick off this new way of thinking (vs. just playing my repetoir on the ukulele)?

    Thanks in advance for any insight.

    Scott

  2. #2
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    There are tonnes of different songs you could choose from really, one that springs to mind is 'I'm Yours' by Jason Mraz. Check out ukuleleoversoul's (Aldrine G's) cover on youtube.

    There are tonnes of differences between the uke and the guitar, it's a very subtle instrument. I'm sure someone with more experience than me will explain the major differences but one thing I'd advise is not to treat it as a guitar. You have four strings not 6, you don't need to do wild long strums, you just rotate your wrist with your index finger pointed towards you and strum right next to the strings. I recommend watching the uke minutes with Aldrine and Jake S, and all the others, they're really useful. Also there are a few differences in grip, the guitar is more horizontal whereas the uke is more like 45 degree angle.

    Hope this helps,

    John
    Last edited by upskydowncloud; 09-18-2008 at 10:37 AM.

  3. #3
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    First of all, congrats on buying your first uke. Hopefully this is the first of many.

    Let me also say that you can play the ukulele like a guitar. Nothing wrong with that at all. As your growth and exploration furthers, you'll develop your own style. There's no right or wrong way to play the uke, just have fun.

    Now that that's out of the way, here are some replies to your questions:

    - How can I avoid thinking of it as a guitar with only 4 strings?
    If you're tuning the baritone D G B E, then why not keep thinking of it as a guitar with 4 strings? It will make your transition that much easier.

    If you want more of an ukulele sound, you can always use C tuning strings.

    - What techniques are differerent?
    Most ukulele players play without a pick. You'll also find that there are some complicated strums. Try the fan stroke on for size.

    - What ways of thinking (approach to the instrument) are different?
    I find that just strumming an ukulele puts you in a different headspace than a guitar might. The feel of the instrument is much lighter, more nostalgic in nature. You're not going to be playing a lot of metal on an ukulele. You may, however, find yourself playing more reggae. It's an island instrument, so think island vibe. Imagine that you're talking to a sweet wahine, sipping rum out of a coconut between songs.

    - What are some good starter songs that will help kick off this new way of thinking (vs. just playing my repetoir on the ukulele)?
    There are a whole bunch of tunes located in the tabs section. There's a Complete Clickable List of Tabs thread that has all the tabs on UU. Try that one out.

    Have fun!

  4. #4
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    - How can I avoid thinking of it as a guitar with only 4 strings?
    you cant. its tuned just like a guitar without the two low bass strings. so you just play it that way. unless you were to get a set of nylon tenor strings and string it up as a high G tuned tenor... just bigger (this is how guting does it i believe).
    - What techniques are differerent?
    see answer above
    - What ways of thinking (approach to the instrument) are different?
    see answer above
    - What are some good starter songs that will help kick off this new way of thinking (vs. just playing my repetoir on the ukulele)?
    see answer above


    OK so maybe not the answers you were looking for. but in essence, the baritone uke when tuned DGBE is still a small guitarISH instrument minus 2 strings.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NukeDOC View Post
    - How can I avoid thinking of it as a guitar with only 4 strings?
    you cant. its tuned just like a guitar without the two low bass strings. so you just play it that way. unless you were to get a set of nylon tenor strings and string it up as a high G tuned tenor... just bigger (this is how guting does it i believe).
    There are g C E A strings that are made for baritone, too.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeso View Post
    There are g C E A strings that are made for baritone, too.
    oh for real? cool i just learned something new!

  7. #7
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    I just started playing the guitar and now that I've learned those chords, I'm playing my baritone more. It basicially is a small guitar with 4 strings, therefore, I envision the guitar chords to help me remember the right fingering. Tuning it DGBE takes advantage of it's larger size for a much fuller sound, perhaps too full for many uke players as it starts sounding more like a guitar. I almost sold the baritone, but now it's found a permanent spot in my small family of ukes.

  8. #8
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    Default TwoCamps

    It seems like there are two camps- It's a small guitar and it's a large uke. As the owner of a steel string, flamenco, and (once) a 12-string, I plan to "embrace" the uke aspect of the baritone just as I do when I pick up the three very different guitars.

    I have a feeling that this won't be my last purchase. Perhaps next time I'll get a "real" uke ;-)

    Thanks for all of the input! I'm dying to get my hands on it (ground shipping from Hawaii is S L O W).

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScottRule View Post
    ... (ground shipping from Hawaii is S L O W).
    Have you ever tried to drive through the Pacific Ocean? Traffic is horrendous.

  10. #10
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    Not only is the traffic bad,the rest stops are few and far between.

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