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Thread: torn...the usual g thread...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    California
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    Default torn...the usual g thread...

    So, I've searched and read all the forums on high g vs. low g. And every time I figure out what I want to play, I hear something that makes me change my mind.

    Right now I've switched to Low G, which I love for songs like Hallelujah and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I've even come up with a nice bass pick then strum on Blue Skies.

    But then I hear someone like Kalei Gamiao play his hisessions songs and think: am I missing out on one of the primary differences between a guitar and an ukulele...the re-entrant tuning? Or do I need to become a way more advanced player to take advantage of that tuning? I notice that professionals who play the high g play waaaay up the fretboard a lot of the time, so middle c actually sounds quite low. Will it be hard to find workarounds for playing low g songs on a high g instrument?

    I did a sound test...I queued up Jake Shimabukuro, Kalei Gamiao, Herb Ohta Jr. and Brittni Paiva and let my friends do a blind listen. They all said the last two sounded like a guitar (the low g players).

    Advice I've seen on forums:

    Get one of each...this is just another excuse to own more than one ukulele.

    Play what you like, and don't let anyone tell you different.

    Hi G 4 Lyfe! Lo G is a castrated Guitar! (that's a paraphrase, but a sentiment I've seen)


    I'm in an odd predicament (relatively new long term girlfriend) where I can't see myself buying a second ukulele...even an inexpensive one. So I feel forced to choose. I have 3 guitars: an acoustic, classical and electric (which I've played little since getting my 4 stringed friend). I can read standard music notation (treble clef) and plan to quickly shift my focus to learning fingerpicking songs, as my voice isn't stellar.

    So, in conclusion, I want your thoughts. Yes, I know that I'll probably be more confused after. But perhaps there are still some insights that could help me out.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Apollo, PA
    Posts
    524

    Default

    Get one of each and play what sounds good to you. Some songs just sound better one way or the other.
    My 4-String Family:
    Kamoa E3 Pineapple Soprano
    Martin S-O (given to my brother for Christmas with the stipulation he learns to play it)
    Early-70s Kamaka Soprano
    KPK Acacia Concert (given to a friend for his birthday because he wanted to learn to play ukulele)
    KPK Deluxe Long Neck Acacia Pineapple Soprano
    Gretsch Concert Resonator
    Lanikai O-8 Spruce/Ovangkol 8 String Tenor
    and various guitars

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    265

    Default

    Mike, No help from me here. Newbie uke player just having purchased my first tenor uke. It came strung with high G which is very cool, but, I am curious as well about the whole low G thing. I've decided I will just have to pursue another uke and have one of each. I have multiple guitars and leave some of them in alternate open tunings, so the concept is not new to me. My dilemma is whether to spring for another tenor or try something different like a concert size. Good luck with your decision - I personally don't think there is a right or wrong answer.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeR View Post
    ... I have 3 guitars...
    I think you've answered your own question
    kidding aside, I prefer high G because it just sounds like an ukulele and also it is a whole new challenge to figure out how it works, the sounds it produces are so rewarding when I learn something new.
    Of course, I still plan on getting a second uku just for low G someday

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Cerritos, CA
    Posts
    5,200

    Default

    Nothing more to add...Any "new" answer is paraphrasing someone else.

  6. #6

    Default

    When I first started playing ukulele I was always thinking about low G tuning, I think it's common if you've played guitar before to gravitate that way. But over time, I learned how to optimize the uniqueness of high re-entrant tuning. As for whoever said, "Lo G is a castrated guitar!", try telling that to Herb Ohta Sr.!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Apollo, PA
    Posts
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    Default

    Being a converted guitar player, some of the tunes I've transcribed to the uke sound more natural in Low-G. It took me a while to come to that conclusion, but now my tenor is a full time Low-G uke while the others remain in High-G.
    I do plan on trying some Low-G strings on the sopranos. Also, through experimenting with a variety of strings, I have found I prefer the feel and sound of an unwound low-g string and currently have the tenor strung with Fremont Blackline Low-G Mediums.
    My 4-String Family:
    Kamoa E3 Pineapple Soprano
    Martin S-O (given to my brother for Christmas with the stipulation he learns to play it)
    Early-70s Kamaka Soprano
    KPK Acacia Concert (given to a friend for his birthday because he wanted to learn to play ukulele)
    KPK Deluxe Long Neck Acacia Pineapple Soprano
    Gretsch Concert Resonator
    Lanikai O-8 Spruce/Ovangkol 8 String Tenor
    and various guitars

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lower Slower Delaware
    Posts
    600

    Default

    I have to agree--I have low G on the eleuke and hi on the Mainland. I only wish I added a pickup to the Mainland, as my amped uke is only the Eleuke.

    I play some songs that are completely improved by hi G and others by low. Some books of music assume low G (is that the Taropatch) and other assume high G. For example, a book of Lute Music (gorgeous Renaissance music, fun to play) is for High G and a book of Hawaiian tunes I like is low G.

    Another advantage, if you are playing duets, or taping tracks to mix, you can mix high G and low G accompaniement and the texture is fantastic. Adds quite a dimension.
    Ukes: Mainland mahogany tenor, Eleuke Tenor Solid Cutaway Sunburst
    Guitars: Yamaha GS-90, Marcario flamenco negra, Cordoba Protege 3/4

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Oak Park, Illinois
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    Default

    You'll probably have a few purists who disagree (and they would not be wrong), but I think most people find some music sounds or plays better with one and other music is better with the other. The music we each choose may differ, or even conflict. Many or most like both for different reasons. Nice thing is all these various opinions are right.
    If everybody wanted peace instead of another TV, then there would be peace.
    -John Lennon-

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    3,616

    Default

    There are many beautiful effects you can create with re-entrant tuning that are impossible with a low 4th string. Check out the playing (and arrangements) of John King and Ken Middleton for more great examples.
    -Ralf Youtz

    My videos are here.

    The future is unwritten.

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