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Thread: baritone ukulele with guitar string

  1. #1

    Default baritone ukulele with guitar string

    I have a baritone ukulele with ~20" scale length. 20" is the 4th fret on a normal nylon string guitar. I installed guitar nylon string on it (only D, G, B and hi E strings).
    I expect to be able to tune 4 half steps above guitar tuning which is: F#, B, D# , G# because these are the notes at 20" (4-th fret) on a guitar.

    And of course, I plan to push a bit more to get G C E A like an (tenor/concert) ukulele with low G.

    It is kind of strange that I feel the strings are quite tense when I tune as D G B E (same as a guitar). Don't want to go to GCEA as I am afraid something will break.
    Amazon do have baritone string sets for GCEA and DGBE (2 sets for each tuning).

    Am I doing OK using guitar string on my baritone uke, tuned as DGBE ?

  2. #2
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Balama, Mozambique, Africa, Earth

    Default Re: baritone ukulele with guitar string

    Using nylon guitar strings on a bari uke should be fine at DGBE, but I would not tune it up any further without changing the string gauge. While the length may be whatever fret on a classical guitar, ukes are not braced the same, and might be damaged easily
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

  3. #3

    Default Re: baritone ukulele with guitar string

    As the scale length gets shorter, strings at the same tension feel much stiffer under the fingers.* So tuning 4 steps up might make the instrument very hard to play. Your baritone uke will be designed for rather lower tension, though if it's an inexpensive model then it's probably overbuilt anyway and so won't self-destruct.

    If you want to go to GCEA there are sets of strings designed for that (Aquila I know, probably several others as well).

    * My reading tells me that the stiffness of the string (how hard it feels to press down to the fretboard) is called its "compliance", and this increases in a non-linear fashion as the string gets shorter. An easy way to imagine this is a thin stick of wood which is 2 feet long, supported at either end. It's easy to press down in the middle. Now cut the stick in half and support one half at either end - harder to press down. The "tension" hasn't changed, just the length.

  4. #4

    Default Re: baritone ukulele with guitar string

    Thanks for all replies. I will leave it at DGBE like a guitar then as it sounds quite good this way. And yes, stiffness is the correct word to describe how my fingers feel the strings.
    This uke had the bridge lifted, I fixed it be removing then regluing the bridge. It has another issue: the neck is bowed a bit. I like to straighten it. Don't know what the best way to do this yet.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Brooklyn, NY

    Default Re: baritone ukulele with guitar string

    I'm using nylon guitar strings on a 20" scale bari uke tuned CGDA.

    It's a perfect fit really, tension and tone wise. I've giged with it. The sound is unique.

    I think it's a Bari-ukeadolatar.

  6. #6

    Default Re: baritone ukulele with guitar string

    CGDA is like a viola. I currently have a tenor ukulele tuned this way using a special set of strings for tuning in fifth. I did try this fifth tuning using guitar strings, not sounding good as string tension is not uniform across 4 strings.

  7. #7
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Saint Augustine Beach FL

    Default Re: baritone ukulele with guitar string

    I put classical guitar strings on my wife's baritone uke. I used the A,D,G and B strings and tuned it to DGBE. It worked great and sounds fine.

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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