Saturday, September 18, 2010

Alternate tunings

When it comes to the ukulele, I've been pretty much a traditionalist in terms of tuning. I had tried some low-G tuning, but currently every one of my ukes is tuned re-entrant C (GCEA). I guess part of it is because all the songs I know uses re-entrant tuning, but for some reason I've been reluctant to learn more low-G songs.

A couple of days ago someone at Ukulele Underground asked me to try tuning my Koa Works tenor to EAC#F#. He also owns a Koa Works and found this tuning to bring the best out of the ukulele. I figured I'd give it a shot and tuned the Koa Works down to EAC#F#. I liked what I heard but because the Koa Works already has pretty low string tension and very low playing action, the strings felt too loose and slappy. I thought perhaps the 18" scale on my William King tenor would handle this tuning better, and sure enough, it gave about the same sound without the loose strings of the Koa Works tenor.

This tuning made the King tenor sound like a mini-guitar. There is more sustain and more warmth to the sound. I thought it sounded pretty cool. The person who referred this tuning to me said he tries to tune many of his ukuleles (he has more than I do!) with a tuning that maximizes the potential of the particular ukulele. I don't think I know enough about sounds to do something like that, but I think I'll be experimenting with a couple of my ukes for sure. It's pretty cool to hear a different character from ukes you've played for a while.

I just learned the Beatles' Imagine as played by Aldrine Guerrero from Dominator's tabs, and I thought this song worked pretty well with this tuning. So I shot a quick video of it this morning. I only had time for about 2 takes and I was far from perfect (as usual), but maybe this will give you some idea what EAC#F# sounds like. Try it at home today!


Anonymous said...

Paul moore here. i love taht tuning only recently put it on my Beltona Tenor Uke works so well and for my voice its perfect!--
Ukuleles For Peace on Face Book.!/group.php?gid=293481180064

Paul Moore on Face book --
> Paul Moore
> The Last Homely House
> Harashim
> Western Galilee Mountains
> 24954
> Israel Tele 00972 (0) 4 980 3314
> Cell phone 052 8928787
> Watch The Latest U TUBE Ukuleles For Peace Doco
> Part 1
> Part 2 Out takes

Coolkayaker1 said...

EAC#F#. I came to this on my own when I bought a Peter Hurney Poahku baritone, and had him put GCEA Hilos on it instead of the wound baritone strings. He said, "It'll lose something, sound-wise..." but he did it for me. Well, Peter was right. It was a giant tenor. So, I tuned it down 1.5 steps, as above, and no string slap, it's a dream! It's my dream ukulele, all the way around. It will never be sold. I adore it. So, I went online to see that, in 2010, you were doing similar experimentation.

Coolkayaker1 said...

The next step i the progression seems to be, single string alternative tuning (I, like you, do not like low G, though). Like GCEG, and such. PLay on, G! -- Steve CK1

Which uke should I bring on my next trip to Oahu???

What's the maximum you'd spend on a ukulele case for your best uke?

If you could steal one of my ukes, which one would it be???

How curly do you like your koa? (preferably on a uke)

What's the maximum number of ukes a perfectly sane person should have???

Poll: How often do you play the ukulele???

Poll: Which guitar company's approach to ukes do you prefer???

Poll: What's your favorite type of headstock???

Poll: The new basic Collings concert uke (UC-1) sells for about $1k, your reaction is: