View Full Version : Baritone uke in om tuning?

Roger Kunkel
Jun-10-2008, 12:45am
I know next to nothing about ukuleles, but I'd like try a baritone in GDAE tuning. Partly because tenor guitars are a bit pricey, large, and long in scale.

Can anyone suggest strings for this purpose?


man dough nollij
Jun-10-2008, 3:57am
Here's a recent thread (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=16;t=54156) with some info.

Patrick Killeen
Jun-10-2008, 7:07am
I got a baritone uke a couple of weeks ago for much the same reason, to get from DGBE to GDAE I just swapped the uke's D bass string with an E bass string from a classical guitar set (which was left over from putting my Risa mando stick into mondolin tuning). I was a bit surprised that tuning the uke's D down to G worked, but it seems fine.


Roger Kunkel
Jun-10-2008, 2:35pm
Thanks for the thread link!


Martin Jonas
Jun-25-2008, 5:05am
Great minds, etc. For much the same reasons as Nutty and Patrick, I've just ordered a Clearwater baritone uke (see here (http://www.amazon.co.uk/CLEARWATER-ROUNDBACK-ELECTRO-BARITONE-ucw7b/dp/B000VWQKMO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1214386221&sr=8-2)), which I intend to play as a nylon-strung tenor guitar tuned GDAE. The Clearwater has an Ovation-type composite back and a solid spruce top, and looks rather more like a small guitar than like a uke, which suits me just fine. It has some really good reviews on the uke boards on the net, complete with sound clips, so I hope this will work -- the seller has a 7-day return policy anyway. There's a piezo pickup, too, which might come in handy.

Recommendations for restringing I found on the net also advised to use a low E classical guitar string as the bass string for GDAE tuning (like Patrick has done), but I think rather than ditching the uke's bass string, it makes more sense to move it one across and to discard the uke's second-lowest string instead.

I'll let you know if it works once I have the instrument in my hand.


Patrick Killeen
Jun-30-2008, 6:05am
I think rather than ditching the uke's bass string, it makes more sense to move it one across and to discard the uke's second-lowest string instead.
I agree, when I come to change strings that's what I'll do. #I only used the uke's G as a D because the bass string that came with it had been cut to short to move across.


Martin Jonas
Jun-30-2008, 7:37am
I have now received my baritone uke. Nicely-made, and I like the cut-away bodyshape. Reminds me a bit of a djangolin. Much lighter built than the Crafter plastic-back mandolins.

All of the uke guys recommend Aquila nylgut strings to bring the best tone out of ukes, so I've ordered a high-tension guitar set of nylgut strings. Looking at string tension and scale lengths, I reckon that GDAE on the baritone uke should work pretty well using the low E, A, G and B string of the guitar set, retuned to G, D, A and E, respectively. Closer fit than using a baritone uke set plus a single guitar low E, and about the same price.

Somewhat surprisingly, even just retuning the stock baritone uke strings to GDAE works reasonably well, even if the two lower strings are pretty floppy. I'll get the Aquila strings tomorrow, and then I'll do a final setup.


Jun-30-2008, 3:40pm
Put bari strings on shorter scale ukejo,
with a 14" scale using martin Bari strings the E, as is, was too tight,
so I fit a thinner .022
which was a soprano high string, so as the pitch difference is wider in 5ths than the 4ths set,
that may bear consideration.

Classical guitar set is a good try when the bottom end drops in pitch with wider intervals between strings.

tension of the high string within reason, and down from there should keep the glued on bridge from being overstressed.

Martin Jonas
Jul-03-2008, 5:55pm
OK, I now have got the Clearwater baritone uke and have restrung it with Aquila nylgut strings. As I had expected from my string tension calculations, using strings 1, 2, 4 and 5 (low to high) from a set of high-tension Aquila guitar strings for G, D, A and E respectively works very well at the scale length of a baritone uke.

The result: a 19.5" scale nylon-strung tenor guitar in OM tuning. It sounds really nice: clear bright tone, good attack, pretty good volume especially for such a small body. I took it to our mando ensemble rehearsal tonight, and our mandola player really took to it -- the volume was pretty comparable to her mandola. Played with a pick, this sounds pretty close to a lute, and it's just great fun. Coming from mandolin, the ease of fretting of those nylon strings is a pleasant change, too. The scale length is just short enough that I can use mainly normal mandolin fingering (I have pretty large hands, which helps), so playing melodies is very easy.

So, I would recommend trying a baritone uke as a fun (and cheap) variant of a tenor guitar.


Cary Fagan
Aug-18-2008, 3:44pm
I saw this thread and so decided to investigate baritone ukes as I've been interested in a tenor. Looked at some youtube videos and discovered what a nice instrument it is. Low and behold my spouse bought me one from the 12th fret in Toronto for my birthday, a really lovely Kala sitka spruce top bari with laminated mahogany back and sides, new with a great case for 215 dollars. I've never really liked playing guitar, but this thing sounds really good and is huge fun to play. I'm keeping it tuned as a regular baritone uke (like the top four of a guitar) rather than changing it. Just thought some might be interested.

Aug-28-2008, 3:23pm
I have a Tacoma Parlor guitar that I also retrofitted as a Tenor guitar. I put a set of Tenor strings on it, left the Low E and A string off but tuned it down three 1/2 steps to keep from breaking the highest string, then capo'ing on the third fret to get the Tenor guitar tuning. (I did regular rather than Irish tuning)

It worked great, and had an other worldly sound to it like open tuning. (In fact, the Tacoma guitar would make an excellent Tenor guitar for sound!).

It was also fun to take the capo off and play it like a Baritone Tenor guitar, which gave it a nice deep voice.

I had thought in the past of turning my wife's cheaper Lyle Baritone Ukulele to a Tenor, thinking that the scale would be friendlier to those finger stretching chords in tenor tuning, so your string info would be helpful for that.

Of course, that means I will have to honor my wife's desire to get a better Baritone Uke for her, since she won't want to live without one for the time being.