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Thread: Nylon string GDAE

  1. #1

    Default Nylon string GDAE

    Iíve got an Ibanez parlor body tenor guitar and while it sounds pretty good, the stretch is a bit much for violin fingers and the steel is a bit sharp for me.

    Iíve been looking for a shorter scale tenor guitar, something in the 19Ē range, but finding something in the store is near impossible. I did play a Kala ukulele of some sort that was branded as being DGBE like the top four of a guitar and it felt pretty good scale-wise. The nylon strings added more warmth and mellowness as well.

    So the magic question, and I know Iíve asked it for steel string. What ukulele size and what strings will give me GDAE tuning (octave mandolin aka tenor guitar GDAE) with the least amount of fuss?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    Most baritone ukuleles are in the 20.25" range, but my Arthur Godfrey (my last name is also Godfrey, so a must have instrument for me) baritone uke has about a 19" scale. You can find them used from time to time in varying conditions. Many are quite overpriced but every now and then a deal comes along. I keep it in octave mandolin tuning. I have a 20.5" Oscar Schmidt baritone uke that works fairly well in mandocello tuning, the ukecello.

  3. #3
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    Baritone 20” scale GDAE nylon set 50w 36w 22w (or 40p ) 28p

    Those gauges will give a very similar tension to an average DGBE baritone set available off the shelf but you will have to order classical guitar strings to make the GDAE set I recommend.
    I much prefer a wound A string but that is the only problem string as they are obviously close to breaking strain. You can use a .40p but it is a chunky size to use and does not feel quite right for me.
    Here is a 21” scale in GDAE nylon...

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eLjPKE0C-0Q

  4. #4
    Harley Marty
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    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    I've been shortening the scale length on some of my guitars by saw cutting deep into the nut & sometimes recessing the strings into the fingerboard above the first frett & resetting the truss rod. It doesn't take long to get used to the dots being one place out & easy to readjust back when playing anything else.
    At the moment I have a thing for silverwound nylons. I have a set of Savarez's on a 15" scale Gold Tone banjo-uke tuned CGDA & they sound sensational!

  5. #5
    Harley Marty
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    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    Another thought, I have a Harley Benton bass-uke of 20" scale. Cheap and good value. You may get away with putting a cheap set of 4/4 cello strings (say Olymics) onto one of those. 20" up from the bridge of the cello is very close to GDAE

  6. #6

    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    So it seems like GDAE can be accomplished then on the baritone ukulele. I found another post that recommended using a dgbe string set, dropping the b down to an a, moving the d string into the g position, and then using a classical guitar low e for the g. Iím guessing no one makes a GDAE string set for minimal waste?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    I have read that the Aquila 31U CGDA set for concert ukulele can be used on a baritone scale instrument in GDAE octave mandolin tuning. I have not tried this personally, just something I read about on the ukulele forums.

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  9. #8
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    There are obviously lots of great ideas of how to get GDAE but I have found you really need a .48 or even better a .50 for the G.

    It is not difficult to buy or order single classical guitar strings in the correct gauges and that often works out cheaper than a standard DGBE set!

    You will find that most standard baritone uke string sets are around 48-58lb of total tension.

    So that must be a safe and effective working range for the average baritone uke.
    The strings I suggested are all readily available to order, classical guitar strings.
    The four strings add up to 56lb and sound fantastic.

    Making up sets without knowing the overall tension might not be the best long term idea.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    Please check out Mandolele.com

  11. #10

    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    Hello. This thread is where I “live” in GDAE on odd, short instruments. I use a mixed bag of classical nylon strings for D,A,E and a .54 d’Addario for G. But here’s the rub: I use them in scale lengths down to 17” (which is Tenor Uke length) with very little complaint. The fat G isn’t like an overdone noodle, and the unwound E is fine. While I don’t have the volume (nor, truth be told, the skill set, yet, for fast session play) I asked a skilled banjo/mando/octave mando/bouzouki session-mate to try it, and, as they say, “You shoulda heard him on it!” So, easy on the fingers, ears, and pocketbook. I started, lest I forget, with similar experiments on both Baritone Uke (success) and 14” old Gibson mando in-banjo, trying to emulate a man (from Japan, perhaps I recall) who got nice tone and action at that scale length, in the octave below fiddle and mando. I couldn’t quite get that to work right, but I gave up without too much effort. If anybody gets that “octave mandolin” lower GDAE to work on 14” scale, I’d love to know that string set.

    Thanks, and regards,

    David

  12. #11
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    I could possibly work out the string gauges but off the top of my head I would say the G will be in the .80 range.
    You won’t fit a string like that through a standard machine head or the bridge and I don’t think you could play it very easily with a pick.
    You can buy a ukulele bass instrument, so there might be some joy in that direction.....

  13. #12
    Harley Marty
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    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    If you want to get the low octave on 14” scale you could try octave violin strings D’addario do a set, I think they are called Hellicore. If you go to the maestronet forum & search chin cello there is some info on how they work on fiddles which are a 12” scale

  14. #13

    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Marty View Post
    If you want to get the low octave on 14Ē scale you could try octave violin strings Díaddario do a set, I think they are called Hellicore. If you go to the maestronet forum & search chin cello there is some info on how they work on fiddles which are a 12Ē scale
    Thanks for the octave violin suggestion, Harley Marty, and also Fox, for the super fat string idea. I will try the former, but the latter wouldnít fit my (to me) precious Gibson trapdoor mandolin banjo.

    Regards,

    David

  15. #14

    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    Hello, All.

    I am back on the hunt. I love the sound and feel of nylon, and have GDAE exclusive obsession. I have capoed a tenor banjo all the way down to 17 inch for the low Octave Mando/Tenor (for Irish) GDAE. Also a tenor uke down that low. Neither is really awfully loose, nor is either loud enough for session play. I have also done a 40 dollar baritone uke at those notes; sweet sounds and low volume. So, my questions:
    Is a tenor guitar capoed up to about 19” scale length going to be louder than, say, a baritone uke built that way and just “tweaked” to get it to GDAE? I guess I wonder if the extra neck length and body size make a big difference, even if the neck is “choked up” with a capo?

    To tell you the truth, I emailed Nigel Forster about his “Session Mandolin” which looks like a really heavy-duty ukulele or shrunken guitar, steel strung, and packs a wicked punch. I suspect if I could get anywhere near that volume with a mando-tuned uke I could be heard at sessions.

    Regards,

    David

  16. #15
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    I am not sure if a nylon string anything will cut through enough to dominate even a small body steel string instrument.
    I don’t really know but it seems to me that nylon produces a mellow low frequency sound that simply can’t compete with steel strings?

    Do you think a nylon six string full size acoustic guitar would come though in one of your sessions?

    There are some decent battery powered amps around, perhaps you could go that way?
    Last edited by fox; Jan-19-2020 at 2:36pm.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Nylon string GDAE

    Well, there are some high end classical guitars that have great volume, but i haven't heard them side by side with a D18. Nylon really works for using fingers and steel just chews up my nails. A good quality 20" scale nylon OM would be a great number for chicken pickin' too.

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