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Dec 29, 2019 - 6:19:27 PM
116 posts since 9/30/2016

Hello. I’ve been toying with GDAE tenor on lots of instruments for a couple of years now, and had been struggling with getting a comfortably short scale length with the lower GDAE like normal tenor for Irish, which usually seems to want 19-22 inch scale. I have a 19 fret old Stella tenor (my late Dad’s) strung with hard-tension classical guitar (nylon and wound) with an extra-fat .052 or .054 G string. I have it capoed at fret 5, which yields 17” effective scale, and still banjo-y sound, at least to me, and tuned it so it’s GDAE at that fret 5. Soft, perhaps, but easy on the fingers, and sounds promising. I have been practicing on a tenor uke set to play the low GDAE, but while pleasant and supremely comfortable, the volume just isn’t there for public play.

I will try to figure out how to put small sound samples here, so those of you who know ITM banjo (or any banjo, for that matter) can tell me if I am barking up the proper tree, or not.

Regards,

David

Dec 30, 2019 - 7:42:43 AM

116 posts since 9/30/2016

OK. My first (I think) sound sample posting; at least the first of this instrument. I post because it’s my crude playing of the old Stella tenor banjo set up for very short (17 INCH) scale length, so my old fingers can play with less reach difficulty. I share for feedback on the SOUND of the banjo, while I know how clumsy my play is. Does it sound like a banjo?

I know you are a supportive community, so thanks for your kind listen. I feel like one of those 7 year old beginning whistle players who come to the slow session...but not quite as good as some of them, of course.

Anyway, your comments appreciated.

Thanks, and regards,

David

Dec 30, 2019 - 7:45:54 AM

116 posts since 9/30/2016

This was supposed to attach to most recent note, a minute ago.

 

Don’t think I can attach...sorry

Edited by - dcolpitts on 12/30/2019 07:47:25

Dec 30, 2019 - 8:03:59 AM

DSmoke

USA

1107 posts since 11/30/2015

It sounds like a banjo to me. FYI we had a uke tuned GDAE being passed around a session at the Catskills last summer.

Dec 30, 2019 - 8:08:38 AM

116 posts since 9/30/2016

Thanks, Dan. I couldn’t tell if the attachment worked. My Catskills week was cut in half by family stuff last summer; was it my Firefly that you refer to being passed around? That one works great for its size, but pitched fiddle, rather than banjo range.

Regards,

David

Dec 30, 2019 - 8:32:14 AM

116 posts since 9/30/2016

quote:
Originally posted by dcolpitts

This was supposed to attach to most recent note, a minute ago.

 

Don’t think I can attach...sorry

DUH..just realized one needs to look at “media” to find attachments.  Well, now I think I understand....
Dec 31, 2019 - 7:41:07 AM

928 posts since 2/19/2012

I'd love to know more about GDAE on the uke, perhaps another thread. I built a banjo uke a couple of years ago that would be fun to switch over.

Dec 31, 2019 - 8:36:13 AM

DSmoke

USA

1107 posts since 11/30/2015

No David, my wife has a uke tuned GDAE. Ben got his hands on it and next thing you know he took it to a session. Parker she is using Aquila Soprano fifths or something like that.

Dec 31, 2019 - 9:29:11 AM

928 posts since 2/19/2012

Thanks Dan. I guess this is a topic unto itself because of all the scale length options with ukes. I'll start one maybe later today. I think this has come up before and I was left with the idea that I'd have to try a bunch of string combinations including guitar sources.

Dec 31, 2019 - 1:22:19 PM

DSmoke

USA

1107 posts since 11/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by Parker135

Thanks Dan. I guess this is a topic unto itself because of all the scale length options with ukes. I'll start one maybe later today. I think this has come up before and I was left with the idea that I'd have to try a bunch of string combinations including guitar sources.


I believe there was an old thread about it, sometimes the search results are good, sometimes not so good.  I can ask her to find the link for the stings if you want.  She spent many hours playing that after surgery when she could not play the fiddle.  And she uses it to pick out new tunes in the front seat of our motorhome when on the road.  I get a little jealous about that though.

Dec 31, 2019 - 1:42:10 PM

928 posts since 2/19/2012

That sounds great! Yes, I'm the driver when pulling our camper, so I can relate. My banjo uke is a concert scale, and so much of what I found was for tenor ukes. Any suggestions welcome.

Jan 1, 2020 - 7:16:02 AM

DSmoke

USA

1107 posts since 11/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by Parker135

That sounds great! Yes, I'm the driver when pulling our camper, so I can relate. My banjo uke is a concert scale, and so much of what I found was for tenor ukes. Any suggestions welcome.


She has these on a concert scale:

https://www.stringsbymail.com/aquila-soprano-ukulele-new-nylgut-strings-fifths-tuning-30u-17199.html

Jan 1, 2020 - 8:03:07 AM

928 posts since 2/19/2012

DSmoke

Great! I'll try a set of those. It would be really fun to get set up that way as I'm not doing much in the way of regular uke playing.

Jan 1, 2020 - 2:09:58 PM

116 posts since 9/30/2016

Hello, All.

The Aquila sets (fifths for soprano ukes and fifths for concert ukes) almost always seem to make people glad they tried ‘em. Add (for soprano size, at least) the Aquila “Red” mandolin set, and you’ve got a setup I’ve tried four or five times, and still play three of them frequently. My goal is now to get that kind of reliable and repeatable success on the 17”, with volume. Quest continues, but committment to fifths tuning is for keeps. And, for now the old tenor capoed way up is promising, while I research a platform “born” to the 17” scale.

David

Jan 1, 2020 - 6:36 PM

928 posts since 2/19/2012

Everything I read about using the 30U fifths tuned Aquila strings indicates that I won't be able to tune GDAE on a concert scale uke without breaking the E string. They do sell a set for CGDA on the concert scale, so maybe that would be the way to go just to get started with fifths tuning on my banjo uke. I have a mandolin and tenor banjos to play with others when I get the opportunity.

Jan 1, 2020 - 7:15:59 PM

116 posts since 9/30/2016

Now that you mention it, Parker, I’ve read that too...it was never an issue for me because I don’t own a concert length instrument, and have been interested in going lower, anyway, than the mando/fiddle GDAE on anything longer than the mando/soprano length.

David

Jan 1, 2020 - 7:49:54 PM

44 posts since 7/27/2010

quote:
Originally posted by dcolpitts

Now that you mention it, Parker, I’ve read that too...it was never an issue for me because I don’t own a concert length instrument, and have been interested in going lower, anyway, than the mando/fiddle GDAE on anything longer than the mando/soprano length.

David


Hello David,

I still have that nice Bacon Peerless Tenor(21" Scale length) that you played at the festival last summer in East Durham! 

Jan 3, 2020 - 4:59:14 AM

116 posts since 9/30/2016

Thanks, Don, but the current obsession is more like 17” scale length!

Davi

Mar 16, 2020 - 9:13:40 AM

116 posts since 9/30/2016

Hello, All.

As I sit in more-or-less self quarantine (‘cause I’m old, only) I am re-reading this and related threads; I will also look for stuff in the ukes section here and other places. But for now,
I have a very happy report about my current 17 inch scale length (not fret, but inch, yes) favorite GDAE appliance. After much fun with my Dad’s old Stella tenor slack tuned and capoed up to only 17” I have put it in the back row for now, in favor of:

Córdoba Tenor Uke (I think model 24 T) which cost about 140 USD, plus 6 or 7 USD for a set of hard tension D’Addario classical guitar strings, from which I used the most appropriate 4, which I think were the bottom (low) three, plus the high. The result is a surprisingly easy to play and resonant little box, with not too sloppy low notes, and good tone and projection. While not really loud enough for large session play, it is louder than I imagined it would be, and my friend who plays “real” tenor banjo invited me to play lead and melody while he played rhythm and chords. It sounded great! If anyone is curious, I can probably make a lo-res sound sample.

I can only imagine that this would work just as well on a tenor banjo uke, but mine are only
14” scale length and the aforementioned full-size Stella. I almost ordered the high-tech looking Outdoor brand tenor banjo uke, but am not sure the polycarbonate frets would last long enough under the wound strings. Actually, the Firefly I have tuned “mandolin” GDAE shows no wear in 2 or three years, but it isn’t played every day.

Anybody tried anything recently in this direction? Anybody got fifths-tuned tenor scale uke/banjo uke reports? Anybody with the “Outdoor” tenor?

Thanks, and regards,

David

Mar 16, 2020 - 10:48:48 AM

928 posts since 2/19/2012

I built a banjo uke a couple of years ago using an 8" Remo hand drum and Rudy's wine box banjo plans. Unfortunately it has a 15" scale, closer to a mandolin. I'd love to get it tuned to GDAE, but I I wouldn't know where to begin with (nylon) strings. I guess I could try steel on it, but I might have to make a different tailpiece and a hardwood bridge for it.

Mar 16, 2020 - 10:55:45 AM

127 posts since 2/16/2020

David,

Do you tune your tenor Uke to GDAE?

"Córdoba Tenor Uke (I think model 24 T) which cost about 140 USD, plus 6 or 7 USD for a set of hard tension D’Addario classical guitar strings, from which I used the most appropriate 4, which I think were the bottom (low) three, plus the high. The result is a surprisingly easy to play and resonant little box, with not too sloppy low notes, and good tone and projection. While not really loud enough for large session play, it is louder than I imagined it would be, and my friend who plays “real” tenor banjo invited me to play lead and melody while he played rhythm and chords. It sounded great! If anyone is curious, I can probably make a lo-res sound sample.

Robert

Mar 16, 2020 - 5:01:17 PM

116 posts since 9/30/2016

Yes, Robert. That was the point for me, and I, of course, failed to note that in the most recent post. Sorry. It actually gives me the “Irish” tenor banjo/one octave below mandolin and fiddle tuning, at a scale length that suits my hands quite elegantly. Sounds kind of like a small classical guitar, which is I suppose what it is. So now, I have soprano uke/mandolin length, tenor uke length, baritone uke length, and actual tenor banjo length all tuned GDAE, with all but the shortest tuned in that lower octave range.

I will try to get some kind of sound sample. I managed it (clumsily and perhaps not repeatable) for my old Stella full-sized banjo tuned for a short GDAE. I will try.

Thanks, and regards,

David

Mar 16, 2020 - 5:43:33 PM

127 posts since 2/16/2020

I have a tenor ukulele (17" scale) that I wanted to try tuning like an IT banjo. I was aware of a string set for the concert ukulele CGDA. Your success with guitar strings is promising. Can you tell me the specific string set you used, or the gauges of the strings?

Mar 17, 2020 - 7:22:19 AM

116 posts since 9/30/2016

Robert,

I’ll PM a lengthy reply, because I ramble and it’s a rather loose project. If others wish, I’ll paste it back in here, too.

Regards, and stay well,

David

Mar 19, 2020 - 10:35:16 AM

84 posts since 10/15/2010

Here are the scale lengths of the various types of ukuleles (and a tenor guitar).

13"-14".........soprano uke
14.75"-16"....concert uke
17"-19".........tenor uke
19"-21.5"......baritone uke
22"-23".........tenor guitar

There are string sets for each of these instruments and you can try one of them to see if you can get it to work. I'd suggest the concert set, since they are designed for 14.75"-16" scale length; I don't know if you can get them into a GDAE tuning (they are designed for GCEA), but it's worth a try.

Mar 19, 2020 - 4:08:06 PM

116 posts since 9/30/2016

Thanks for the comparative length list, Neuronz. I didn’t realize there was that much variation, particularly that the tenor could grow to as long as a baritone!

My goal continues to be that nice-sounding, good-to-the-touch 17 inch scale with the low GDAE. I think the classical guitar string set offers the options one needs for that. If anyone gets those tunings in even shorter lengths, please let me know!

Regards,

David

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