I’ve been receiving a lot of questions through email and comments here on the site asking what type of ukulele I have and how it is tuned. My ukulele has quite a bit of meaning to me, so I thought it’d be cool to make an entire post all about my ukulele, the story behind it, how I tune it, and all that.
Where I Got My Ukulele From
In 2009, I was a music intern at a church in Detroit, MI, called Kensington. Kensington is quite different than what you’d probably expect from a church. They do a lot of different types of songs including a lot songs you’d probably even hear on the radio. All to say, for a Christmas service, we were doing an original tune an artist in our community had written and we needed a ukulele.
One of our friends that goes to Kensington, M. J. Franks, is a luthier out of Detroit, MI. No doubt that this guy is making some of the best sounding guitars out there today. The level of detail and craftsmanship Mike puts into his guitars is unbelievable. Needless to say, we needed a ukulele, and Mike had been starting to make ukuleles, so he put together one for us in a couple days.
When my internship came to a close, everyone I worked closely with on staff autographed the back and gave it to me as a going away gift. These folks have become some of my really good friends to this date. In this way, my ukulele is a great reminder for me of the community of friends I have to this day in Michigan.
What Size of Ukulele I Have
My ukulele is considered a tenor ukulele. The most common type of ukulele is probably the soprano or the concert ukulele. These ukulele sizes are smaller than a tenor and are known for a brighter and more jangly sound that people often associate with ukuleles.
Tenor ukuleles have a warmer and sometimes deeper sound because of the bigger body style. The frets are sometimes spaced farther apart and there are usually more frets on the fretboard compared to a soprano or concert ukulele. This is nice if you want to play higher up on the neck to reach higher notes. People with larger fingers or hands might find tenor ukes slightly easier to play. Read more about ukulele sizes.
How I Tune My Ukulele
A lot of people who’ve watched my ukulele videos have asked me why my ukulele sounds different than theirs. This is because I am in a low G tuning.
Standard ukulele tuning is gCEA where the lowercase “g” represents the top string tuned to the G above middle C. For my ukulele, rather than tuning to the G above middle C, I tune to the G below middle C. GCEA tuning is known as linear tuning.
I like this tuning because it gives my ukulele a broader range. I can play lower notes and get some of the warmth that comes from the bass of these lower notes. I’m also a ukulele player that has come over from playing guitar where the strings are tuned lowest to highest (linear tuning). For fingerpicking stuff, like my rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” it makes more sense in my head with a low G tuning.
Typically, most people will have a low G tuning on a tenor or concert ukulele. Soprano ukuleles aren’t really made for it and baritone ukes are tuned completely different (DGBE).
For my low G tuning, I do have a steel wound low G string. Most normal ukulele strings are nylon. This wound string gives me a bit more tension on the string. Sometimes when you try to tune to low G your G string will become too loose to hold a good tune. I’ve found that a wound string helps with this.
You can get string sets that include a wound low G string. I know the popular ukulele string maker Aquila makes some which are pretty good.
Overall, I loooove my tenor ukulele and I really like using a low G tuning. However, I will say this. I really want to get a concert or soprano uke here in the near future. With my low G tenor uke, I miss the bright sound that you can only get with a soprano or concert uke.
So, there you have it. If you have any questions or if I miss anything, let me know below.
I’m excited to hear what type of ukuleles you all are playing these days. It seems like every ukulele has some type of story behind it that I’ve known of. What kind of ukulele do you have? Why do you (or don’t you) like it? Go ahead. Post your comment below!
After you emailed me where you got your ukulele, I did some checking on Mike Franks. You’re right his work is very good but it appears that he makes very few ukuleles (none on his website) and even his guitars are hard to come by, at least here in California. A store he lists as a supplier of his instruments in Carlsbad indicates they would love to have some of his guitars…and I imagine ukuleles too as they stock many different brands…but apparently can’t get them. I would guess that there is so much interest in what he produces that he doesn’t have to go very far to sell them. Nice position to be in.
I sent an email to Mike regarding a tenor ukuele like yours in terms of pricing, etc., and haven’t had a response yet.
Regards, Ty Moyer
Ty, that’s awesome you’re taking a look at his stuff. Yeah, from what I know, he definitely focuses a lot of his energies towards guitars (they are amazing). I still don’t even know if Mike has really gotten that much into ukes. It was just a little bit more than a year ago where he was starting to mess around with some ukuleles. I tried a couple and they sounded fantastic. Looked gorgeous too, but not sure if he went any farther. You’ll have to let me know what you find out!
Are the GCEA chords the same as gCEA chords??
Hi Tulio, they are the same chords, except the note on the top string would be played an octave lower in low G tuning. This can give some chords a little bit of a different sound because of this lower note (which creates a different chord inversion), but to answer your question, the chord is the same between both tunings.
Love the beautiful story behind your tenor Ukulele! Yes, I’m sure your Uke has sentimental value with you! Autographed by your good friends at the back, it’s definitely priceless!!!! Guess everytime you see those signatures, it brought back a lot of good memories, right?
Mine is a tenor, too, a Makala Uke. Bought it from Ebay. Thought it was made in Hawaii, because of the brand. Well, how wrong was I because when it arrived, there was a sticker that said “Made in China”. It has black strings and sounds very good! I would like to have one made here in the U.S.A., just like the one you have; however, I understand Mike stops making Ukes, and one of the posters here from California (I’am also from California) said that even his guitars are difficult to come by!!!
Maybe, just maybe someday, when he decides to make Ukes again, I may be able to get ahold of one, ha, ha, ha!!!
Wish you all the best, more power to your website, and God bless!!!
Ross, I’ve heard pretty good things about the Makala ukes! I believe Kala, who makes uke in Hawaii, also owns Makala but has them assembled in China. I’ve heard good things though still. Sounds like it’s been a really good purchase for you!
Thanks, Brett for the excellent feedback about Makala ukuleles!
Appreciate it! You really put my mind at ease!
Now, that I think about it, while some Ukes are made in China, pretty sure they are under American supervisions or at least their quality control guy is an American!
I know if the Ukes are made here, the costs of labor will be enormous, so they shipped the job out of the country for cost-saving reasons, right?
I’m not entirely familiar enough with them to know how they handle their quality to be honest. I always have been interested what the process is for instrument manufacturers who source their work outside the US. I know for some instrument builders initial assembly will take place outside the States and then finishing touches will be put on in the States. Will have to look into that more…
A nice story about your uke. I grew up with my father playing his beloved mellow tenor. I’ve just been given a soprano Kala uke which is a ton of fun but not quite the same. So day I’d love to have my father’s to play…
Jennifer, there’s something cool about playing a uke that’s been in the family. When I was growing up, my grandpa always had several ukes and when me and my younger brother got old enough he gave us one. We still have those ukes back at my parent’s place sitting on the piano.
Thought I’d let you know I got my Lanikai LU-21 Soprano a few weeks ago. It’s really pretty to look at and it sounds nice to my untrained ukulele ears too! Very cool story about your tenor. I love the idea of ukulele and worship music, especially hymns.
So cool! I’ve always thought the LU-21 looked really good. I’m really thinking about getting a soprano or a concert ukulele here soon. The LU-21 is tempting.
Very true about ukulele and hymns. Hymns sound really good on the uke I find. I’ve been messing around with different arrangements of “Come Thou Fount” on ukulele. It’s been a lot of fun. Enjoy that new ukulele of yours!
Alabaster Jar is wonderful on uke.
I am working hard to hold my ‘collection’ at 4, at least until my skills improve a bit. First, was a Kala baritone uke, which my 11yo daughter has taken over. It was an inexpensive starter uke, under $100, and she likes that the strings match up to guitar, which she hopes to play when she’s older — her hands are still really small for guitar.
Second, is my tenor Fluke with the koa top — lovely uke, and made in the USA, which is important to me. It has a nice sound, and I enjoy it. I bought this one so we would both have one to play.
This fall, I tried out a soprano Ohana bell-shaped uke, and was very impressed at its sound, so it came home with me. I think the solid-mahogany-everywhere imparts the warmer tone than the Fluke’s poly-whatever body can create.
The final uke is, you guessed it, a concert size (see? one of each size!) Eleuke. I wanted to try out the electric, and this one sounded cool. I would have gotten the Fluke SB but since I already had the Koa Fluke, I decided to try out the Eleuke. It’s cute, has nice sound, and is a nice shape too. I like the solid chunk of wood that the main body is, rather than pickups added to a real uke. It’s useful to play “quiet” when there are other activities going on, using the headphones so I can hear it but others just get a light pinging from the strings.
I like the odd shapes you can find ukes in — rather than standard tiny-guitar shapes. The youtube videos on NAMM shows lots of fun ukes, but so far, as I said, I’ve resisted. I need to play a bit more regularly than I do, and up my skills, before I’ll permit myself to get a new uke into the collection. But that $50-$70 solid-top round-shaped Mahalo uke is really tempting….
You got uke fever! 🙂 Those ukes sound really cool. A few months ago I had a really interest in getting an electric ukulele. I held off the temptation but now I want to get a concert uke so I can have my tenor in low G tuning and then have my concert in standard tuning. What specific eleuke did you get?
I got my first uke not to long ago which is a makala tenor. It is so much fun to play! If you finish that “Come Thou Fount” arrangement you should post it.
I’m actually working on an arrangement right now, so be on the look out in coming weeks. 🙂
I love your story – especially being a Michigan gal and my husband a Detroiter. You must be a good friend to have good friends and obviously you are. I fell in love with the ukulele last fall when I was at a live concert for the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. It was just so much fun! And so many of the audience members brought their ukes with them and played during intermission. I just knew I had to be a part of that! Not that I would ever become as proficent, this was more a desire to play with my grandchildren and have fun. So, I asked for a Uke for Christmas. In mid-December my husband took to the music store some hour away from where we live and let me pick out my Uke, with a lot of help and excitement by the staff there. This little old lady was going to play the Uke, how cool. Then, I told my husband to hide it before Christmas so that it would be a surprise! He was so adorable. Some weeks later, when we celebrated the holiday at home, under the tree was not one oddly shaped box, but three! Had he gotten me two more Ukes! What on earth would I do with three! I couldn’t even play one! So I opened the first, and inside was a chomatic tuner, hahahahaha, so funny. He had created a box the exact same shape as the Uke to fool me. Inside the second box was an instruction book, and the third, the one I had waited for, was my Uke. I’ve been having so much fun since then. I can’t play much of anything, I’m still trying to get my fingers to go where I want them to, and it is progressing nicely – each evening for at least an hour I have my time to practice, and then play one of the two songs in your guidebook. I’ve downloaded some other sheet music for Ukes and sometimes pick out the tune, but mostly I’m practicing scales and strumming, and having just a ball! Thanks for this blog, Brett, and thanks mostly for all your guidance, encouragement, and help.
I love your story! I laughed out loud at the part where your husband made identical looking ukulele boxes for the tuner and instructional book. Hilarious!!!
That consistent practice is the best. Probably biggest hump of learning ukulele to get over is getting your fingers to do what you want them to do. At first, it can feel really unnatural. It sounds like you’re getting the hang of it quite well. You’ll be playing a ton of songs in no time at all! 🙂
Thanks for posting your story! It’s awesome.
As I mentioned to you early on, this is my year for the ukulele. Starting from zero on January 1, I am determined to not only become a good ukulele player but I’m also spending a lot of time on music theory to round out my education (I’m almost seventy five but it’s never too late, right?) After about two months, I think I’m progressing but who knows. For the giggles of my kids and grandkids, I’ve been posting my progress to You Tube so check me out at tymoyer2.
I started out with a Fender Tenor which is a nice moderately price uke; then, bought a cheap Kala with an amp to see what happens with volume. But the big news is that after a running dialogue with your friend Mike Franks who seems like a great guy, I ordered one of his custom made tenors as a reward for making it to my seventy fifth birthday…not there yet, but hopeful. Mike does beautiful work and I can hardly wait to see his handiwork and play it well with my new skills. If any of your readers are interested, Mike is definitely excited about making more ukuleles as he finds them great fun to build after laboring over the beautiful guitars he produces. They should contact Mike for more info at his email, Michael Franks .
I love your determination and dedication! I subscribed and checked out some of your videos on Youtube and you are coming right along. Music theory is really important and can really help the way you understand music. It’s a great compliment to learning uke.
I’m really excited for you to get your Mike Franks ukulele. If any of you all who are reading this want to learn more about Mike Franks, definitely check out his website here: http://www.mjfranksguitar.com
If you have questions for Mike, I can put you in touch with him. Ty, I removed his email, so spammers don’t harvest it from this page, but if anyone has questions for Mike or want to talk about getting one of his ukuleles, send me an email and I will put you in touch right away!
You’ll have to keep us all updated Ty when you get your Mike Franks ukulele!
Hi Brett and Ty, Thank you so very much for your information! I love ukuleles and Brett you do such a perfect job of teaching!!! I have been playing my fathers ukulele since he has crossed over, and I love it! It has severe intonation difficulties though. Can you give me any price ranges that it would take to purchase a tenor with great intonation? Blessings and thanks, Sandi
Hi Sandi! For a tenor ukulele with really good intonation, I would plan to spend at least $200 dollars or more. For higher quality ukuleles on a budget, I’d take a look at Mainland ukuleles or Kala ukuleles.
Hi Brett acouple of questions. Can you put tenor strings and the same
g. c. e. a. set up. on a baritone ukulele? and could you do the same on a half size guitar. I know you would have a couple of spaces with no strings on the guitar but is that possible. Just interested. best wishes Dave
Hello Brett, Very interested to read your story, especially about your internship at a church.
Hubby Barry is tuning our ukulele, a Tenor Lanikai CK-TEQ as per your advice here, right now.
I am a beginner, 60+ with almost no knowledge of music, though Barry plays guitar and sings and because of his interest we reguarly visit a number of nursing homes.
I am interested in learning to play as a new music group (KAMS on FB) has started in a nearby town.
Jan, you’ll have to let me know what you and your husband think of the low G tuning on your tenor. I really like it although I’ve recently switched back to a high G tuning to switch things up. That’s awesome to hear you and your husband are sharing your music with folks at nursing homes. A beautiful thing!
Thanks for the article ’bout your tenor uke. I was thinking (somewhat slowly) that if you really miss the bright soprano sound, you could maybe change the ‘low G’ for a ‘high g’ for a while and still have your favorite instrument to play. ? thoughts ??
I know that I look forward to new strings on any of my instruments and unless the nut on Tenor has been changed for the fatter string, it may not be a too traumatic to change your sound.
HEY, what about two necks on a ukulele ? Sounds mad, but may the Luthier who made your tenor uke could swing it. I wonder if there’s a market for that ? cheers ged
Ged, funny you mention that, because shortly after I wrote this post I did switch up the strings to high G. I’ve really been enjoying this tuning, although now I find myself missing my low G tuning! I guess it’s further support for my case that I need to get another ukulele that I can dedicate to high G tuning. Ha! 🙂
Not a bad idea about two necks on a ukulele. That would be insane! I wonder if something like it really does exist or if any luthiers have done anything like it.
Bluesman Manitoba Hal has a double neck RadioSonic uke built by Fred Casey. The necks are a concert neck and a tenor neck. Both are tuned GCE A. The concert neck has the reenterent tuning and the tenor neck is ascending scale. Check it out on you tube…Baby Please Don’t Go , ukulele cover, Manitoba Hal. I’d add a link but don,t know how.
Hey Brett, love your Uke story! I got my Uke only about 4 months ago and already I can’t put it down! I have a Lanikai LU-21T Tenor. I bought it used as I wanted to see how I’d like playing the Ukulele and didn’t want to spend too much until I was sure that I was going to want to stick with it. Anyway, I LOVE this instrument!! It was tuned in standard g tuning when i got it, but I recently bought a low g string set up and installed them last week. I have to say, I thought that I would love the sound but so far I don’t think that I like it too much. I’ve already bought a new set of standard g tuning strings and I’m just deciding on what to do. Any words of wisdom that might sway me one way or the other?? It just sounds a little TOO low.
Jason, so glad to hear you can’t put your uke down! 😀
The thing of low G tuning is that it does have a real different sound to it. Ukuleles are known for that really bright chimey sort of sound, so when you tune to low G, you do lose some of that.
What I’ve found is I really like low G for some songs and I really like standard tuning for other songs. For example, I love playing Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” in low G tuning, because that low G string lends itself well to the fingerpicking pattern. However, for “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” I love the sound of standard tuning.
All to say, it really is a subjective thing, and I think if you are feeling standard tuning, you should totally go with it. It’s good to experiment, but there’s nothing wrong with forming an opinion once you do. Your opinion is definitely very valid.
In my ideal world, I could have multiple ukes so I could tune them all differently. 🙂 Gotta save up some more money… ha!
we are starting a little ukulele group and we all have different types of ukes some tenor and 1 baritone and some soprano— To sound ok do all the ukes have to be tuned the same ie gCEA or can the baritone be tuned DGBE and tenor ukes GCEA and still sound ok together thnax sue
Different tunings together can sound really cool together! Each tuning has it’s own “texture” so when you combine these you can get a really cool full sound.
Hello Brett, Simon ( or Foinnse) here from Galway, Ireland.
Playing a Stagg Soprano for about a year,Cheapish, an english maker I think. Dying to upgrade but I’m a poor Nursing student!! Having said that I upgraded to nice Aquila strings couple of months ago and the difference is huge in comparison to the cheap crappy strings it came with! So I’m happy enough with it at the moment. “Powell” as its named for the Shop I bought it in will always be my first little Uke!
I just wanted to ask something about the Low-G tuning that I’m not clear on. You mentioned in a previous post that you might tune to low G for some songs and standard for others. But can you tune a low-g string to to ‘standard’ g tuning. I didn’t think so hence the confusion!
My next purchase will be a Lanikai LU-21TE, tenor with pickups, acacia wood I think. Relatively inexpensive but seems to have a great reputation. Can’t wait!
Really enjoyed playing ‘you’ve got a friend in me’ today going by your chord sheet,
Simon, it’s amazing what a difference strings make. You are right that I can’t use my low G string set to go up to standard tuning. When I switch tunings, I essentially have to put a new set of strings on the ukulele. I don’t do this often because it’s such a hassle. I’ve been meaning to get a concert ukulele here soon so I can have it in standard and keep the tenor in low G.
I think you’ll be very happy with the Lanikai LU-21. You’ll have to let me know what you think!
Hi Brett. I have the LU-21. Really two of them. I order one and liked it so much that I order one for my Grandkid but they sent it to me by mistake, and you can’t return a ukulele if your a uke lover, so I kept it and put Worth BM-LG Soprano/Concert low G strings, they’re brown, non-steel, on it and I really like the way it sounds. I am sure that you would love that ukulele. I do just about all my playing on that one. And they are a quality uke for the price.
interesting reading on different uke’s I got the uke bug last march and did research for a good sound.One maker suggested that if you purchase a sound that will not meet your needs, there is a fair chance that the ukulele will go under the bed and that will be the end of your fun. What topped the pool for my ears was a solid Hawaian Koa wood tenor from hawaii. The brand name is” MELE ” the web site is http://www.meleukulele.com….. not expensive when sound is compared. I was able to buy a tenor and a concert . Be warned ….. others will want to play YOUR ukulele when they hear it…….Playing ukulele has given my wife and I a new lease on life and we meet with other groups three times a week. ( we are in our 70’s) (no previous experience) . ..This is a very good site to visit for encouragement and self satisfaction…… PS we live in Newcastle . australia.
Love your site. I have been playing guitar for many many years and just bought my first ukulele this month. I went with a Cordoba 20TM-CE. I don’t know a ton about ukes but I really love the look and the sound that this one has.
That’s a great story you have for your ukulele. You’re a very lucky person to have had an experience like that, and it will stick with you forever.
thanks for making this site. I have been on it almost daily since I got my uke and it has really made learning the instrument a lot easier and more fun.
Tyler, I’ve heard a lot of great comments recently about the Cordoba ukuleles. It’s cool to hear another positive review! I’m also happy to hear that you’ve enjoying Ukulele Tricks. It sounds like you’re making good progress. Keep up the good work!
I received my first uke in 1970.It was a Decca with a plastic fretboard! I paid $7.00 for it! The hardshell case was $7.00 also! I put an ebony fretboard on this uke and it gets played every day. I now have developed uke fever and also own an Oscar Schmidt Baritone, Lanikai low G tenor, Lanikai soprano, and an Epiphone Les Paul concert electric .
That’s awesome, Mike. You’re developing quite the collection of ukes! Keep it up! 😉
Great site, and great info about your uke. Just curious, as to what type of wood your uke is made from. My guess would be solid mahogony. Almost looks like one of the stew mac tenor kits. I’m a classical guitar player, who recently picked up a concert uke, and can’t seem to put it down. Lots of fun! Anyhow, cheers and keep on ukeing!
Hey Greg, thanks for your comment. You are right. My ukulele is mahogany. Welcome to the site!
Just love your site. This section is just as entertaining as any. Here’s my story… During choir practice when I was in grade 2, the choir director politely requested that I just move my lips and not utter a sound as I was singing too loud. I remember thinking that it just didn’t make any sens and stepped off the stage and went back to my classroom much to the dismay of my older sister who was playing piano for the choir at the time. This was it for my music career until two days ago, some two years into retirement, when I got my Oscar Schmidt OU2 Pineapple Concert which by the way I named JIKAN which means “moment of silence between two thoughts” and is the name given to Leonard Cohen when he reached the status of Buddist monk. While waiting for my ukulele I surfed several ukulele sites and gathered bits here and there. Needless to say that yours is in my Favorites and I will purchase your online course as soon as I finish writing this bit. Anyhow …as I was strumming along with you my wife , who has BA in music told me that someone seemed off tune as we were not sounding the same. I couldn’t tell the difference but was glad to be able to give the explanation following the thread on the lowG tuning compared to the regular ukulele g tuning. Keep up the good work…got to get back to my strumming!!!
hah! That’s a great story. You tell it really well. I liked how you just decided to leave after your choir teacher asked you not to sing. Unbelievable! That’s awesome.
I’m glad you’ve been enjoying Ukulele Tricks and I’m glad to hear you’ve started up your music career again! Ukulele is a fun instrument. Enjoy! 🙂
Brett, first off congrats on setting up a first class site your site and material “rocks dude”. This chain of blogs makes me feel that I am still sane and not the only person that has been bitten by the Ukebug. I have been playing for around 14 months and I’m absolutely addicted to my collection of UKE’s.
It all began in Hawaii when I was introduced to the UKE for the first time. I spent 5 minutes in a UKE shop and was able to knock out a reasonable tune. The first thing I did when I returned to Houston was by my first UKE – called surprise, surprise UKONe. This first purchase was a Cordoba concert UKE which is extremely bright and pleasant to play. After about three months it really settled in and seemed to improve significantly. I travel around the world with my work and UKONe comes with me everywhere I go. (by the way this note is being written in Idonesia, Jakarta at the airport)
Anyway I then bought a Riptide Tenor with the strange cut outs for sound holes. Great looking UKE but found the sound took a bit of getting used to. This one is called Ukatoo and is a very pleasant sounding UKE that has a great range and action on it, great for the price.
Much to my wife’s dismay, at Christmas time she asked what I would like for my gift and low and behold, I thought how about a new UKE!!! She went off her head and asked how many UKEs can one person have??? It took me 3 days to come up with a suitable response……………I then asked her as we were driving……….how many hand bags did she feel that she needed?? I followed this with a statement that one hand bag was functional, if it was an appropriate size then it would adequately hold everything she needed. She responded that handbags were a very personal statement, fashion item, different sizes provided different functionality, so on and so forth. There was silence for around 10 minutes then she asked why I had asked such a strange question, to which I responded, the best answer I had to how many UKES one man can have is that I still could not understand why she had a wardrobe full of handbags, and that she wanted a new Coach purse for her Chrsitmas!!!!!!!
The third member of my UKE collection now in place and I must say my favorite so far. I bought a Hamano Mahaogany Tenor aptly named ménage-twa. Great loud sounding UKE that just keeps getting better the more it gets played, very deep and rounded sound, looks very much like yours, but not unique and hand made!!!
Anyway I am going to sign off for now as my flight is soon to board. Keep up the great work Brett, you have a great teaching gift that is apparent by the amount of feedback that you are getting on your site.
UKE addict – grantk
Haha, what an awesome story! Thanks for sharing. I love the conversation you had with your wife. Hilarious. I think your approach was very good and convincing! And it looks like it worked, since you got a third ukulele!
Hey Brett, just to give you an update on my UKE status!! I have decided to get a custom built UKE commissioned. One of my friends is a custom acoustic guitar maker. We have embarqed on a fun journey to build his first UKE. We have selected all the woods……Brazilian rose wood body, cedar top, mahogany neck with Brazilian rose wood fret board. It is going to be a tenor UKE with my initials in pearl on the fret board. I am so excited!! We have the back and front cut and joined. There is nothing like being part of the construction, makes it very personal. I will keep you posted of the progress.
It would be great if I could upload pictures to share with the folks on the site, as a number of them have shown an interest to get UKEs built!! Not sure if it has the functionality?
Jake S is playing in Houston next week, can’t wait to see him live. If you haven’t checked out his new album, Peace, Love and Ukulele, you need to! It is awesome.
Grant, your custom ukulele sounds awesome! You’re going for the real deal. Brazilian rosewood is so beautiful. That’s going to sound great and look amazing.
I definitely want to see pictures of this. Are you on Facebook? A lot Ukulele Tricks friends have posted their ukulele pictures to the Ukulele Tricks page:
That would be the best way to share the pictures. I can’t wait to see it! 🙂
Call me stupid but I didn’t know you could put pictures on someone elses Facebook page. You shouldn’t of told me that, you might be sorry. lol. 🙂
Uh oh! Hah! 😀
hey there Brett – just started playing uke – hence checking out some uke sites. Love this site and thanks for sharing your story. I love my new ukes – yes ukes plural – couldn’t help myself – just kept buying – now i have a tenor, concert & sopprano – love them all – like you i also play guitar – love jazz so am keep to learn jazz uke. I’m thinking i might get a wound low G string for the tenor but having a lot of trouble finding one – tried lowering the standard g string bring like you say it just doesn’t cut it with the sound. Found a low C string so will try that out too. I am growning to love my ukes – ukes are a beautiful, fun and much to my pleasant supprise a very serious instrument.
I walked in to a guitar center with my dad to see if we could fix a banjo there. I never imagined I would be interested in any instrument, but there was a small stand in the middle of the store with a bunch of ukulele’s. I picked one up, not really thinking about it, and played a chord from the displayed chord chart. It was the happiest sound I have heard in a super long time, and I fell in love with the noise. After some convincing arguments, I finally convinced my parents to let me buy one. Now, it doesn’t leave my sight, and I am learning very quickly. I love having my little soprano, and I will always have it with me. Not much else to say other than thank you for sharing “Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”. Love that song.
Hey Zach, welcome! I’m glad to hear you’re happy with your choice to get a ukulele. That’s really nice of your parents to help you out!
Hey Brett, I’d like to tune my ukulele to the linear tuning too because of the longer range, but wouldn’t you have to switch your fingering for your chord? For example, when you play a C chord on an ukulele with linear tuning like you would on one with reentrant tuning, the lowest note will be the G en there it will be a C/G slash chord. Can this pose a problem? How do you deal with it?
Hi Victor, great point. You are right that you would technically be playing a C/G slash chord in that scenario. I’ve found that it doesn’t cause too much a problem, because the lowest note is still a G below middle C, which is actually not that low when you compare it to the bottom three strings on a guitar. You shouldn’t have a problem! If anything, it does give you more options, which can be nice to have.
i have also an (selfmade)Tenorukulele ( i called her I-kulele cause i stuck an Apple sticker on her) i want to buy an E-Ukulele because they are much cooler when you played a E-ukulele in a Band than an auccoustic so for what i:ve got to watch when i buy an E-Ukulele ?
So, I want to get a Tenor Uke, simply because its a lower pitch. I have played Tenor Sax and Bass guitar, so I wanted something a little more portable. However, I can’t stand soprano or concert ukes because they are too high pitched. My ears are inclined to the lower sound. This definitely helped alot. Thanks
I am from Indonesia. I am just learning Uke with so much joy. Here in Jakarta I could only find the soprano Uke. I have tried in many musical shops but none sell the Tenor Uke (Ukulele is not a favourite compare to Guitar for example).
Can you help me to get a middle price one of Tenor Uke? I will send the money first if you can help me. (And please help…. I really love Uke, and I want to go more improvisation with the Tenor Uke).
Thanking you very much.
Your site has helped me so much! I’m planning to play a song for my dad for his birthday. (Tennessee Waltz) It will be the first time I’ve played for another person.
My mom asked me what key I’m playing in, so she can play along on her organ. I am confused as to how you tune different instruments to sound good together. Can you help me out on this?.
Thanks so much! Your site is what got me started on the ukulele. I LOVE IT!
Hi Kathy, it’ll take a little ingenuity. First off, you’ll need to make sure that you are both playing the song in the same key. I’d recommend looking for a piano/organ ‘fakebook’ version of the song with sheet music and the chords. That would be ideal. You could search online on the sheet music websites to see if you can find music for “Tennessee Waltz”. The alternative method would be to find the song’s chord chart and have your mom improvise over those chords on the organ. Let me know if any further questions come up.
As a fellow Michigander, I was pleased to see that you did a music internship at Kensington. I have (musician) friends who attend that church. Thought I would touch base briefly and let you know I have a 1971 tenor Kamaka uke which my mom brought “hot off the press” … back in the day – right after it was made 🙂 I’ve recently decided to pick it back up to play in a jazz ensemble, and am looking to buy an electric/acoustic tenor uke … I’m learning some jazz techniques and, if all goes well, plan on gigging (jazz) with a pianist, guitar, bass, and drummer. Any suggestions on makes or model number? Any help would be appreciated.
Thank you much,
Hi Tara, that’s really cool! Thanks for posting a comment. Since you’re looking to do jazz, definitely look at tenor ukuleles. You’ll want these so you can tune to low G tuning, which is beneficial with the jazz chords since it expands the range of the ukulele and some of the voicing possibilities for chords (important for jazz). On a budget, I know that Kala has some ukuleles that have built in electronics (in the $300 range). I would stray away from buying a set of electronics for your Kamaka because that normally requires drilling into the wood, which I wouldn’t do with a 40+ year old ukulele.
I have a Fire Fly Banjo Ukulele and wonder what is the best tuning for it? Currently it is tuned in High G.
I am new to the Ukulele and am enjoying the exercises and the easy way they are presented. I would like to learn fingerpicking down the track. Thank you so much for a great site, it has spurred me on to practice more. Love it.
Hi Ray, regular standard tuning with a high g-string for your banjo ukulele would work great, as far as I know. I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying Ukulele Tricks!
My uke is an absolute piece of rubbish Mahalo – poorly finished, won’t stay in tune to save its life, and the fretboard makes my fingers turn black. But it sure is fun!
I bought it when I was recovering from a broken ankle, figured it would be easier to lug around on crutches than my bass guitar. Plus it gave me something to do while I was stuck in bed. I just recently picked it back up after a bit of a hiatus and really enjoy playing.
My heart’s set on a mahogany Mainland soprano, when it’s time to upgrade.
I play a tenor uke tuned to G2 D3 A3 E4. I use classical guitar strings gauged at 048w, 034w, 026w, and 034n. I was a mandolin player, so an octave Mando tuning works for me. I definitely had to go with heavy strings to play that low.
Hi Brett, just a bit of background first ,I got interested a short time ago when I picked up on the Orchestra of Great Britain thing, I was hooked, then made a few enquiries about teachers in the area, .luck was with me and I found the U3A (University of the Third Age) had a beginners class starting off, a phone call later and I was in. A phone call to the teacher as to what type/make of uke and I bought my first one, a Mahalo, not too expensive just in case it went “Belly Up.” .Not being too good on the computer I looked up some sites, and your smiling face kept looming up, but alas I kept losing it. However after a few classes at the “Teenagers Special” and a bit of help from one of my sons I’m on the way .A few strums now under the belt, a bit more ambition and I now own a Kala 6 string Mahogany Tenor, WOW !!, that is a bit out of my depth really, and too, I want to learn a bit of Picking as well as just strumming, and having now found your site again,(wrote it down this time) I feel that I’m on my way. Can’t thank you enough for the ease and style you teach, keep up the good work, loved your background ,by the way, I shall be eighty next week or so, been at sea for most of my life, shame I never thought of the Uke in those days. Best Regards Ern.
Thanks for sharing your story, Ern! Love hearing about how people stumble across playing the ukulele.
PS. I live in Sydney New South Wales northern beaches, great spot to live.
If I want to change my tenor uke from gCEA to GCEA , can I just change to a G string alone or do I have to change all the strings? I love your site and your mission. Keep up the fine work
Hi John, thank you! You can just change the top g-string with a thicker, low G string if you’d like rather than changing all of the strings.
Hi. I have been “playing” with a bunch of Carers, basically we turn up, some songs with the pretty chord pictures in the margin are given to us and for 2 hours, twice a month, we have fun!
I started with a concert size and fell in love with the tone of the tenors 2 members play, my dearest hubby bought a tenor for me but it sounds higher in tone than my concert (this has a beautiful mellow tone), and the strings feel narrower. Is it possible the tenor uke has the wrong strings ?
Both ukes are Freshman.
Thanks for any input
Hi Gillian, it could be a different brand of strings. Some manufacturers have different gauges or widths to their strings–some are thicker and others are thinner. You might try purchasing some ukulele strings specific for the tenor ukulele to see if that makes a difference.
Knowing a few cords on the guitar and dinking around with that about a hundred years ago, a fellow church member asked me to join the guitarists that go around to visit and play for shut in church members. I hemmed and hawd about it because it had been so many years since I played. Self taught with many bad habits to boot. He told me about the baritone Uke so I bought it and played with the group.
That led of course to buying a tenor Uke. It’s a Makai MT-70 by Uke Co SF CA. Probably made over seas somewhere because of the hundred dollar pricing. I also have a soprano Flea Tiki King, the sound hole is it’s mouth. The best find however is an old surfer’s Uke from the 50s/60s. It’s a tenor, The Singing Tretolipee, solid body..
I’m plodding away with Strumming Tricks, learning a lot and enjoying it. As a reward for finishing I will buy a second Uke so as to have a low G strung tenor. Thanx for the great course Joan
Oops, it’s a triholipee Uke.