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Thread: How to tune a tiple?

  1. #1
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default How to tune a tiple?

    Greetings all. Please refer to this tiple tuning chart on the Martin Tiple website: http://martintiple.blogspot.com/p/tunings-strings.html

    My question -- why, if one is tuning DGBE, do they indicate to use lighter gauge strings not only on the D but also the G strings? In other words, for uke tuning they indicate the top (C) string for re-entrant tuning, but for guitar tuning it looks the top two strings (D&G) are both lighter gauge than the others.

    I hope this is comprehensible. Thanks for any light you can shed.
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
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  2. #2
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    You tune it just like anything else, silly!
    Those things in the little part where the strings go, the keys turn!
    Sorry Jaycat, I've been redecorating and the paint fumes may have gotten to me!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  3. #3
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    You tune it just like anything else, silly!
    Those things in the little part where the strings go, the keys turn!
    Sorry Jaycat, I've been redecorating and the paint fumes may have gotten to me!
    Tim, I asked how to tune a tiple, not how to tipple while painting!

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  5. #4

    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    Jaycat,

    I'm by no means a tiple expert, but I think the answer is that 3 of the 4 tiple courses have an octave set-up similar in a way to 12 string guitars--octaves on the lower strings (D and d) and unison on the high e strings. The two middle courses have three strings in octaves (high-low-high for each), to be more precise (g G g) and (b B b).

    Hope, I've got that right and that it makes sense.

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  7. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    How do you tune a tiple? Constantly, and unsatisfactorily, in my experience (I own two, a Martin T-15 and a koa-bodied Regal).

    The three "lower" courses -- second, third and fourth -- are "octave" tuning, as Stuart indicates. Courses #2 and #3 are triple, three strings each, with the heavier, lower-octave string in the middle of each course, and the lighter strings above and below it. In double course #4 the lighter string is on the "inside," toward the soundhole. At least that's how they're "normally" strung.

    So your tuning is sorta "semi-re-entrant," in that the fourth course heavy string is the lowest-pitched string, with an octave-higher string next to it.

    I tune my tiples like ukuleles, GCEA, 4th course to 1st course. The octave stringing and short scale cause all kinds of tuning issues, as the heavier strings in each "octaved" course tend to go sharp when fretted more than three frets up. I often use a sort of "compromise" tuning, where the heavier strings are slightly flat to the lighter strings in each course, but sound "close" both unfretted and fretted.

    Love the sound of the tiple, but struggle frequently with tuning issues. Unfortunately, Martin and other tiple bridges lack the sophisticated compensated saddle that would reduce the discrepancies between higher- and lower-octave strings. (You find the same problems when you capo a 12-string guitar up a few frets.)

    Good luck with yours.
    Allen Hopkins
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  9. #6
    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    The tiple is a traditional folk instrument played in Columbia, Cuba, Argentina and other Latin American countries. It is considered a soprano member of the guitar family and has either ten or twelve strings arranged in four courses (triplets or pairs of strings). Martin’s version of the tiple uses ten steel strings and typically the same “D-tuning” (technically D6 tuning) commonly used on a soprano ukulele. The four courses are tuned as follows.

    First Course – B4, B4
    Second Course - F#4, F#3, F#4
    Third Course - D4, D3, D4
    Fourth Course – A3, A4

    This seems to work well with standard packaged tiple strings...shown here 4th to 1st course

    Martin Tiple Bronze Wound, Set M650 (10) - .025W, .009, .015, .029W, .015, .013, .027W, .013, .010, .010
    GHS Tiple 85/15 Bronze - .022W, .010, .015, .034W, .015, .012, .026W, .012, .010, .010

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  11. #7
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    But it can be tuned DGBE, correct? If so, I was wondering why both the D and G courses appear to be re-entrant as shown on the Martin website???
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://soundcloud.com/j-person

  12. #8
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    Don't know if you could tune it DGBE with standard tiple strings. Gweetar Picker's tuning is "GCEA up two frets," which is another commonly used ukulele tuning. Your suggested tuning is "baritone ukulele" tuning, or like the top four strings of a guitar, only (I guess) an octave higher?

    GCEA and DGBE are the same relative tunings, fourths and a third; you just need to transpose the chords -- e.g., you make a "G chord" shape, as if you were playing guitar, and you get a C chord instead.

    If by "the Martin website" you mean martintiple.blogspot.com, they show different string gauges to use for different tunings, and also suggest using acoustic guitar strings of various gauges to achieve different tunings. (I don't think this is an official C F Martin website; interesting, though.)
    Allen Hopkins
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    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
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  13. #9

    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    they are notoriously hard to get the intonation right with all the different dtring guages and short lengths. i wonder if one modified one with an intonated saddle. ??? should such a change have a pin bridge or a trapese bridge?? i love the tone of martins tiples but they are are hard to make sound as perfect as i like.

  14. #10
    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    The bridge my Fylde Portuguese Mandola is compensated for octaves.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  16. #11
    Registered User gweetarpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    The GCEA and ADF#B tunings are the most common uke tunings and work fine on tiple as well. Given the scale length, I have never tried to tune my Martin T28 tiple to DGBE though it might be possible with different strings.

    If you want to use re-entrant tuning (the D higher pitched than the G), then I am not sure you could find a light enough string for the higher note of the 4th course pair. You would probably have to go with two strings of the same gauge on the fourth course, maybe two .029W for the D. I would then maybe try .010, .022W, .010 for the G, then maybe .009, .020W, .009 for the B. The E would have to be an octave lower than would be expected, maybe .016 and .016 or a tad lighter (and tuned to E like the first string of a guitar). I am just guessing here and would of course be very careful with my instrument while I was experimenting with the gauges. The DGBE tuning might make for some interesting chord inversion if you work out the string gauges and octave tunings for the courses.

    Regards intonation, there is not much you can do other than fresh strings and a good neck set and set up. The pinless Martin bridge doesn't have much room to install an intonated saddle, and I'm not sure a compensated saddle would help much anyway with those octave string pairs/triplets. I suppose someone might could come up with a replacement bridge with tiny individual compensated saddles for each string. I don't think the vintage guitar gods would curse you for a replacement bridge if you needed good intonation for playing and recording.

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  18. #12
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    Thanks for the good thoughts everyone. The tiple is supposed to arrive tomorrow, so I'll start experimenting and keep you posted. BTW, it is advertised as having a compensated bridge....

  19. #13
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
    ...it is advertised as having a compensated bridge....
    Which would be neat! The standard Martin tiple bridge has a straight saddle, but I've seen some instruments where the bridge has been modified, sometimes by installing several partial saddles to provide compensation. I'd bet this would help with the chronic tuning and intonation issues tiples seem to have.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  20. #14

    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    i bought a regal tiple off e bay . it was cheap--now fixed up and ready for strings. whatever should i do???? i think i'll use light guitar strings and create my own open tuning. i might buy some martin strings. i had a martin 1936 tiple years ago but sold it when i was broke. it had an amazing sound but was hard to intonate. we compensated the regal bridge. i will see if that imroves things.

  21. #15

    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    I see on eBay that ghs and labella still make tiple strings.....

  22. #16

    Default Re: How to tune a tiple?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    I see on eBay that ghs and labella still make tiple strings.....
    yeah but i think i'll go lighter and either tune like an octave guitar but down a tone cafd or some open tunning. it's a light instruments so light strings

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