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Thread: 6 vs 8 strings

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Saint Andrews Bay, FL

    Default 6 vs 8 strings

    I like the 8 string I have, but it is a bit bizzy. is the 6 string a good compromise? anyone with a 6 want to chime in?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Queanbeyan, NSW Australia.


    I have two 8 string tenors. I really like the sound except for high octave 3rd string which is above the low octave 3rd string which gives this higher pitch, chimey sound. Up to now I have simply removed the high pitch 3rd string(the really thin one) and have played the instrument with 7 strings. It works for me. Right now though one of my 8 strings is with a luthier having a special nut made that places the small high octave string bellow the thicker, low octave string so that the bass sound dominates.

    I've looked at 6 string instruments however 6 stringers also have the third string doubled the wrong way around for me so they won't work any better for me than an 8 string.

    Depends on what sound you want. If you want a deeper sound remove the high octave 3rd string and see what you think.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Columbus, OH!


    I tried both in stores. I really prefered the sound of the 6 string. To my ears, the 8 string was a little heavy sounding. The 6 string has a higher tone and an interesting voice, with the combo of the single strings and the doublets. Sounds almost like two Ukes playing at once. But again, not so good for single notes.

    Whenever I think of buying one, I remember the 12 string guitar, I had several years ago. I hated tuning that thing.

    But the Oscar Schmidt 6 string does sound nice... hmm.
    •Bonanza Black Walnut Oreo #291
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    •Hadean UKB22 UBass Zebrawood
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    •Kala KA-SSTU-T Travel Tenor
    •Kay Soprano (Plastic Fretboard 1950s)
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    •Luna Tattoo Electric Concert
    •Outdoor Ukulele Black #35
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    •Werco Metal Necked Soprano
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Port Hueneme, CA


    My 6 string is a great strummer, but not my favorite for melody playing.
    They can be tuned in various configurations.
    I have settled with low G, octave C's and unison A's.
    Keep Strummin'

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    NorCal 916


    I have both 6 and 8 and love the sound of them. I do favor the 8 string more; I like how it rings and just the overall sound makes it unique. The string config on the 6 has the 1st (A & a) and 3rd (C & Hi C) course octaved while the 2nd and and 4th course are singles. The low a can be really overbearing especially if it's a wound. What I've done is use an 8 string set making the 1st course unison and making the 4th course a low g. This config got rid of the droning low A and gave me a balance I was looking for. My 8 is strung in the normal configuration, the 3rd and 4th courses are unison and the 1st and 2nd are octaved.

    I think the choice of strings plays a big factor. Some prefer non-wounds and others like the wounds mixed in. I've tried the Aquila and Worth sets. The Aquila set has volume but the tone a bit harsh. The Worths were just a tad bright. I've been meaning to try the Ko`olau sets but since I stuck the Southcoast sets on, really hard to take em off (Kudos to Dirk for work he's done). The string configs mentioned work for me and you're gonna have to experiment a little to find what sounds good for yourself. YMMV . . .

    Nana ka maka; ho`olohe ka pepeiao;
    pa`a ka waha.

    Observe with the eyes; listen with the ears; shut the mouth.
    Thus one learns.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Phoenix, AZ


    I have both. My 6 string is my everyday uke, and a similar 6 string was what got me started. I like the wild card that switching from 2 strings to 1 throws into the playing and, to my ears, the 6 string strumming sound is just big enough. My 8 string (Pono) is also good, but I don't find myself playing it that much, compared to the 6 string (Lanikai). Also, you have the option of low G with a 6 string.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Apollo, PA


    After talking with a 12 string guitar player and him saying he replaces his octave G string with a standard gauge G, I tried replacing the octave C (3rd) string with a standard C gauge on my Lanikai O-8 and love the sound. I then tuned it to an Open F tuning which has a similar voicing to Fahey's Open C tuning on guitar and came up with some cool sounding melodies and harmonies. (F-C-F-A)
    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
    Mar 2008


    I am happy with my six string baritone, although you do have to be a little careful if you use the traditional set-up, with both the first and third courses in octaves, and a re-entrant fourth. The bass string in the first course can be overwhelming, like Kanaka196 said. If you do want to use two octaved pairs, if you tune up two or three semitones, the octaved first course is not as heavy.

    I usually have mine in "linear" tuning with unison first course and the third course in octaves, and it adds not just a fuller sound, but a little range as well: the "high" note in the third course is a bit higher than the first course, and so you get a little more upper end.

    As long as you are mostly strumming (as I am until I get better at fingerpicking), I like the six string a lot, and it does not require the same amount of force to make chords as an eight string. In a baritone size, especially with wound strings, it does sound more "guitarish," but that is fine with me-I like guitars.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Ewa Beach, HI


    I love my six-string, and I love the versatility.
    I have had it strung Low-G, with octave C and unison A, OR you can take that same set, make it re-entrant high G with octave A (with low A) just by swapping the G and A strings.

    Low A can drone with a wound string, but if you stay away from chords that have an open A string this issue goes away. It can also be the sound you are looking for though!

    I find it has a nice full sound and I prefer it to an 8 string.
    My Quiver: S & J Craft Milo Tenor "Liliu" six string custom and Milo and Lychee concert by Emil Bader
    Pono PKT-1 Koa Tenor w/MiSi, Lanikai LU-21T - Autographed!, Hikare CU 528 Baritone
    R&L all koa mini concert, Mainland Gecko, Epiphone Les Paul Vintage, Kala Concert
    Compass Rose 5 string
    Nothin' left to do but : ) : ) : )

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Florida Space Coast


    I too prefer a 6 string to an 8 string. I have a mahogany Pono tenor. I used 6 of a Southcoast 8 string set so I could get more chime (reversed the 4th and 5th strings. A little easier to fingerpick than an 8 also. I first fell in love with a 6 string when I heard a custom Hawaii made 6 string koa concert.......I still want one of those. The only 8 string I really covet is a Boatpaddle 8 string mandolin tuned like a taropatch, with a pickup. Good luck.

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