Sunday, March 10, 2013

Say old man, is that a tenor guitar or a baritone ukulele?

Tenor Guitar (L), Baritone Ukulele (R)
I have a tenor guitar.  My wife has a baritone ukulele.  Both instruments look very similar.  When we’re playing them, like at an oldtime jam or something, people often ask, “Are those the same instrument?”  Despite the similarities (scale length, body size/shape, number of strings) there are some key differences.

My tenor guitar is strung GDAE, from low to high.  This is the same as standard tuning on a violin or mandolin, just one octave lower.  So, my tenor guitar is not really a “guitar” at all, but more like an octave mandolin. When I pick a melody it I'm pretty much playing mandolin.

On the other hand, Laura’s baritone uke is strung DGBE, from low to high.  This is the same as a regular 6-string guitar, minus the 2 lowest strings.  So, her baritone ukulele is not really a “ukulele” at all, but more like a guitar with only 4 strings.  When she strums chords she's pretty much playing guitar.

By that logic, the instrument that should have the word guitar in the title is the baritone ukulele.  To the contrary, my experience playing tenor guitar tuned GDAE does not help me play a regular guitar, if at all, but I can pick up a left-handed mandolin and know what to do.  Go figure.

5 comments:

  1. can you give me the references of ukulele left on the pictiure pleas is probably the same as using the mills brothers and I want the same! I'm french sorry for Google translation

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  2. can you give me the references of ukulele left on the pictiure pleas is probably the same as using the mills brothers and I want the same! I'm french sorry for Google translation

    ReplyDelete
  3. Can the Baritone Uke be tuned to the same GDAE tuning?

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    Replies
    1. I doubt that a baritone uke could withstand that tuning because of the extra tension. Although with a set of strings designed for this, maybe. Aquila might make some for GDAE tuning.

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    2. Not so, Lanny. I've been playing baritone tuned GCEA for years (I prefer the scale length). Strings are Living Water. Maybe 1 breakage in 2 years.

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