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Thread: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

  1. #1

    Default DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    Hello everyone.
    In the last 3 weeks I moved from gCEA (tenor uke) to DGBE on my tenor guitar. Iím having some issues with A major and Bb/A# chords.

    1) Amaj: it sounds just bad. I thought it was cause of the missing A string, but if i pick the same chord on a regular acoustic guitar muting the last 2 strings itís pretty nice. Not the best, because the dominant note is an E, but itís okay at least. Any thoughts? Do you feel the same?

    2) Bb/A#: the problem here is the ďrightĒ version. If you look at the Bari-ukeís Bb chord on internet, they show you one version with an open 4th string (like an Eb on a tenor ukulele); others pick the 4th string at the 3rd freet. Both sound good, but the second one is kinda hard to make for me. I canít understand which one sounds better.
    Do you prefer the first one (open 4th string) or the second one? Is there a ďregularĒ one, or some rule to follow?
    Last edited by KRShin; Jun-17-2020 at 5:09pm.

  2. #2
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    I played a lot of early jazz on "Chicago" tuned instruments like bari uke and tenor guitar or banjo tuned DGBE;

    so to answer #2 first, I almost always use the full barre chord shape for Bb chords, frets 1 - 1 - 2 - 3.

    If that is hard to make, as you say, then you need to check your fretting hand technique and/or the action at the nut, which may often be slightly high and make chording tougher at the lower frets.

    As for the open A chord, it should sound fine so again I suggest making sure that the nut action isn't making it hard to fret AND may make the fretted notes slightly sharper than they should be.

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    (not my heart rate!) 40bpm's Avatar
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    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    Not every chord needs all 4 strings. Find the best sounding partial chord that's easy to grab. Inversions up the neck may sound good too, but context is important.
    [note to self] Burst not thy brother's bubble ~ unk

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    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    Iím going to ask the obvious question: are you using the same strings for Chicago tuning as you are for the GGDA? I tried that when I first got my tenor but the timbre of the instrument was off. I ordered the correct strings for it, but even then the timbre of Chicago tuning wasnít really suited For this particular instrument, so I went back to the default CGDA Tuning. I would urge you to change strings if you havenít , Because with Chicago Tuning, youíre Dropping the highest stream down a fourth. My impression was that it became flabby in its sound. Ironically, raising the A String To B, Caused the most problems ; it developed a bell-like Timbre!

    Regarding your B-flat chord: I generally play B-flat with a bar at the third fret coupled with the sixth fret on the E String.This puts the root of the chord In the highest position in the chord,Making it easy to tell itís B-fLay. I am referring to the baritone Ukeb here.

    As 40bpm said context is important and every note is not always necessary. In many cases, you could play the 2 Middle Strings at the third fret And convey the B-flat. In some cases You will want to play the full chord. Thereís always more than one way to do it.

    Best of luck,
    Garry

    Disclaimer: I am using an iPad with voice dictation to type my messages, so if anything weird or INXS of typos shows up, itís not my fault, itís The superior intelligence of this magnificent computing device.
    Last edited by Sittius; Jun-19-2020 at 7:30am. Reason: Clarification

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    Quote Originally Posted by Sittius View Post
    I’m going to ask the obvious question: are you using the same strings for Chicago tuning as you are for the GGDA?
    Good point, which I missed. Thanks for bringing it up.

    You need to change the string set to go from an all 5ths tuning to a guitar tuning.

  7. #6

    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    Yeah, I got the right strings for ghe DGBE tuning. Maybe I got the wrong gauge and the tension is not good enough? Right now I have this set:
    D: 032 (cant remember specs)
    G: BW022 - 0.559mm
    B: PL014 - 0.360mm
    E: PL010 - 0.250mm

    Should I try some different string? The B string sounds a little bit flappy actually, but the orignal string was a 0.14 as well...
    Btw I own a Blueridge BR-40T.

    Thanks a lot for your help guys.

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    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    A good even tension set would be 12 16 20 30 but the blueridge is well braced for higher tension so 13 17 22 32 is a popular choice.
    You can try a wound B string in 16-17 to get an interesting sound.

  10. #8

    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    Could be a similar issue to ‘normal’ guitars, tune all strings exactly on pitch but flatten the B string by about 1/8 tone, sometimes more.
    See how that works. Check harmonics too.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    Could be a similar issue to ‘normal’ guitars, tune all strings exactly on pitch but flatten the B string by about 1/8 tone, sometimes more.
    See how that works. Check harmonics too.
    The problem is fretted instruments are designed for 12 tone equal temperament tuning. If you sweeten it for a certain chord or key center, then it is off when playing in other keys.

    Tuning by harmonics does not match fretted notes either; 12 tone ET 4ths are a bit shrp but 5ths are a bit flat compared to pure tuning.

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  13. #10

    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    Quote Originally Posted by fox View Post
    You can try a wound B string in 16-17 to get an interesting sound.
    I canít find any Wound B string 016/17 on the web. Could you suggest me one to buy?

  14. #11
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    Well I dont know where you live? They are available as singles in the Uk and quite common in GDAE tenor banjo sets.

    https://www.eaglemusicshop.com/prod/...Single-Strings

  15. #12

    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    After trying many different string sets I settled on John Pearse 650LM Bluegrass strings (12 16 24 35) for my Blueridge BR-60T tuned DGBE. I find the heavier D string gives the guitar a more robust and balanced sound.
    Blueridge BR-60T Tenor Guitar
    Eastwood Warren Ellis 2P Tenor Guitar

  16. #13

    Default Re: DGBE (Chicago) Tuning: A and Bb/A# chords are weird

    The B flat chord is kinda meh in chicago tuning because there is no real "first position" chord you can play. You have to play a barre chord for it's first inversion or what have you on the neck. No open notes... That's just the sacrifice we have to make honestly. Wait until you start getting into more complex voicings and realize that some chords you simply cannot play at all...

    HOWEVER, I really enjoy DGBE tuning for certain jazzy chords and tonalities, there is a simplicity to it that makes the chord patterns really just flow into one another so to speak, or rather they relate to one another well. That's the trade off though, four strings make's chord usage simpler, but you have less to work with... I just started getting into 6-string, and knowing those four top strings is super helpful with the transition, but just two extra bass strings really changes the game (not for better or worse).

    The A Major chord I cant really relate with, i've never found its tone to be off putting, but again like it's been mentioned here it might have to do with your strings or other factors. How are you holding the chord? are you using your tips of your pointer / middle / ring finger to hold the notes of the chord respectively? or are youbending one of your fingers over the three notes as a sort of barre chord approach?

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