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Thread: String Numbering and Tab

  1. #1
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    Default String Numbering and Tab

    As a new uker, I still find myself confused regularly about terminology and practice when referring to uke strings. Since we talk about standard tuning on a uke, we refer to it as GCEA (or gCEA), but then we call the A string the FIRST string? For consistency's sake, should we not call it the fourth string?

    When reading tab, the top line represents the bottom (i.e. "first") string, correct? Presumably because when you hang your head over your uke that is what it looks like?

    So in tab, a G chord would be:

    2
    3
    2
    0

    right?

    But if I am describing it in text running left to right, do I refer to it as

    2320

    or

    0232 ?
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  2. #2
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    Default

    It is for consistency's sake the strings are numbered the way they are. A uke can be tuned other than GCEA or gCEA, but the first string will always be the first string, regardless of the tuning. This is true for all stringed instruments to the best of my knowledge.

  3. #3
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    Default

    Personally I would do 0232. I know what that means.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PhilUSAFRet View Post
    It is for consistency's sake the strings are numbered the way they are. A uke can be tuned other than GCEA or gCEA, but the first string will always be the first string, regardless of the tuning. This is true for all stringed instruments to the best of my knowledge.
    In that case, shouldn't we be saying that the uke is tuned to AECG or AECg? That would be the more consistent way to state it, right?
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by sukie View Post
    Personally I would do 0232. I know what that means.
    So when you describe a G chord as 0232, you are naming the frets starting with the 4th string and working down to the 1st.
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  6. #6
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    Default

    This is how I look at it...when stating the string number, I state it as if I'm holding the uke in playing position and the string closest to the floor is #1 and the one closest to my head is #4.

    When I'm reading tabs or writing it in text my reference position changes to where I'm not looking at the ukulele in playing position but I'm looking at it straight on, front view with the headstock pointing up and looking straight at the fretboard. And looking at it this way is like reading a book...going left to right...#4 string to #1. So a G chord in gCEA tuning would be 0232

  7. #7
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    All the best,
    Campbell


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  8. #8
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    Default

    I can think of no reason why string numbering and the lettering couldn't have been logical and both of them run in the same direction. I suspect it has just evolved the way it has. I see the lettering being a logical result of the strum direction (top to bottom). I wonder if string numbering originated with the string manufacturers. It would follow standard practice for a manufacturer of a set of graded string to consider the thinnest one as the starting point and call it No.1
    Last edited by freewheeler; 03-09-2014 at 01:16 PM. Reason: typo

    Freewheeler

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by freewheeler View Post
    I can think of no reason why string numbering and the lettering couldn't have been logical and both of them run in the same direction. I suspect it has just evolved the way it has. I see the lettering being a logical result of the strum direction (top to bottom). I wonder if string numbering originated with the string manufacturers. It would follow standard practice for a manufacturer of a set of graded string to consider the thinnest one as the starting point and call it No.1
    I agree, and believe your theory is correct. Both the down strum and the order most players use to pluck the strings to check if the uke is in tune suggests that the player's natural inclination is to start with the top string, not the bottom.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by WKerrigan View Post
    In that case, shouldn't we be saying that the uke is tuned to AECG or AECg? That would be the more consistent way to state it, right?
    That wouldn't be logical, unless you can play a uke tuned AECG or AECg. To make an absolute statement that "ukes are tuned gCEA" would not be correct. All you can say is that it's the post popular tuning today. It's not necessarily logical to expect the numbering be reversed because you strum the g string first. Strings are numbered with regard to your fretting hand. Again, regardless of tuning, the first string will always be the first. It's universal. Sounds like you are trying to "re-invent the wheel" so to speak. You know the old expression, "if it isn't broke........."....well, it isn't broke.

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