4 Comments

  1. Don Spaeth
    May 15, 2012 @ 04:37:23

    Lovely introductory Ukulele lesson.
    I started collecting vintage ukuleles in 2005–buying mostly on eBay. At the depth of my obsession I had over 50. My wife was shaking her head and making serious threats, so we thinned the herd a bit. While I love the looks and vibe of a soprano ukulele, they are very difficult to play. The fretspace is so small. My favorite playing-out ukulele is the Tenor.
    I would recommend playing some vintage ukes–mahogany sounds and looks very different from koa. I love my Martins, but check out Mele Ukulele from Hawaii. Great instruments, roadworthy, beautiful, wonderful tone. Affordable. Gibson and Gretsch vintage ukuleles are available to the dedicated collector.

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  2. Mat (The Laughing Bard)
    May 21, 2012 @ 23:45:16

    One way to tell if it’s a toy Ukulele is to look if it has a Sponge Bob logo on it…

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  3. Adam
    Oct 30, 2012 @ 10:47:37

    Thanks, David! I always learn a bunch from your articles. I think I’m confused, though. Did I follow the tuning explanation for the non baritone models right? The fourth string (G) is tuned higher than the third string (C) and second string (E)?

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    • David Hodge
      Oct 30, 2012 @ 12:02:12

      Hi Adam

      And thank you for your kind words.

      You did indeed get the explanation correctly. Part of the ukulele’s distinct sound comes from this tuning, which is called re-entrant tuning, where the fourth string is tuned higher than the second and third. If you’re tuning to a keyboard, the C string would be tuned to middle C. Then the E string is tuned to the E just above middle C and the G string is tuned to the G above middle C. So hitting those three strings in that specific sequence – C, E, G – gives you a C major arpeggio, running from root (C) to third (E) to fifth (G). The A string is then tuned to the A above middle C, which is one whole step up from the G string.

      In some ways, it’s a little like playing a five-string banjo, with a very high note being the first string struck when strumming.

      It goes without saying, though, that some folks just don’t like the sound of re-entrant tuning and will buy a thicker gauge G string that can be tuned an octave lower, that note being the G below middle C (the same as the G string on the guitar). For some reason a lot of tenor ukulele players do this (some will even insist it’s the only way to tune a tenor uke), but it can also be done on both the soprano and the concert sizes.

      And then there are folks (myself included) that have a separate uke for each of these possible g-strings. Totally up to you, of course!

      I hope this helps. As always, feel free to post any further questions you may have here or simply email me directly at dhodgeguitar@aol.com. I look forward to chatting with you again.

      Peace

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