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Thread: Left Hand Form When Playing Ukelele Tuned in Fifths.

  1. #1
    Registered User mandrian's Avatar
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    Default Left Hand Form When Playing Ukelele Tuned in Fifths.

    Hi,

    I was wondering whether anyone with experience of playing the ukulele tuned to fifths, say CGDA, from a mandolin background could provide guidance on left hand position.

    I’ve just got a tenor uke I want to tune to fifths and was trying to proceed to learn it based on YouTube generic uke tutorials. General impression is that the fingers of the left hand should adopt a more guitar like position and be roughly parallel to the frets rather than at an angle as a mandolin player would adopt.

    Is that a given or should I be able to proceed with the accepted left hand mandolin technique?

    The scale at 17 inches is conceivably slightly longer than the mandola and the nut marginally wider, but should that necessitate a complete change. I would not want to adopt a completely different left hand shape/form if it was not necessary. Has anyone who has gone through anything similar got anything to share? I am wondering whether the fact that I will tune it to fifths means that I can retain mandolin left hand fundamentals?

    Regards,

  2. #2
    Registered User Christine Robins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Hand Form When Playing Ukelele Tuned in Fifths.

    I have a CGDA tenor uke. I just use the same fingerings as a mando. Never noticed anything special about my left hand; I guess it's basically the same form as with mando.

    I also have a couple of baritone ukes tuned GDAE. With these, I use a guitar-like fingering for single-note playing,1 fret per finger.

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  4. #3
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Hand Form When Playing Ukelele Tuned in Fifths.

    Your hand, your body, your ergonomics. You'll find a comfortable hand position, just make sure to think about not doing weird things that can cause injury long term.

    The differences on general MO between guitar, uke, mando have almost as much to do with tuning as with scale length. So when you change the ukelele re-entrant tuning to a fifths tuning, it's natural to adopt a more mandolin-like hand position. You'll figure it out.
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  6. #4

    Default Re: Left Hand Form When Playing Ukelele Tuned in Fifths.

    I'm not sure what you mean by"angled" to the neck, but a lot of players of CGDA tenor banjo, and of mandolin, have a neutral position of the forearm and wrist perpendicular to the neck. This prevents strain and injury over time, especially as one gets faster. Even Bill Monroe did this.

    There's a reason top players adopt this approach.

    Good luck!

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    Default Re: Left Hand Form When Playing Ukelele Tuned in Fifths.

    I've experimented recently with CGDA tuning on uke and have had better luck with a concert instrument than tenor. Not only does the concert sound better—more resonant due to less string tension—it has a shorter 15" string length that makes fingering practically indistinguishable from mandolin.

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  9. #6
    Registered User mandrian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Hand Form When Playing Ukelele Tuned in Fifths.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Freeman View Post
    I've experimented recently with CGDA tuning on uke and have had better luck with a concert instrument than tenor. Not only does the concert sound better—more resonant due to less string tension—it has a shorter 15" string length that makes fingering practically indistinguishable from mandolin.
    Doug,

    I was put onto the idea of playing the tenor uke tuned to fifths by cafe member Rob McKillop’s playing. Check out his you tube channel where he has recently posted several such videos. Sublime playing and very inspiring. Of course Rob seems to be able to play most string instruments with an expert hand.

    Regards,

  10. #7
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    Default Re: Left Hand Form When Playing Ukelele Tuned in Fifths.

    Me too, that was my inspiration! But I wanted to actually be able to tune to CGDA (not Bb et al.) and had much better luck with a concert uke than tenor.

  11. #8
    Registered User mandrian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Hand Form When Playing Ukelele Tuned in Fifths.

    Doug,

    I’m using the same Aquila 31U set for concert (CGDA) that Rob uses for fifths on his tenor. Seems to be working out ok with CGDA so far, but time will tell. As you say Rob tuned down to B flat on his tenor.

    No real experience with the uke, it’s just a lockdown experiment, but good fun!

    Regards,

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