At the moment, I do not have any songs or lessons that specifically pertain to the baritone ukulele. I realize this is disappointing and a huge bummer for you baritone players, and I want you to know that I plan to create some baritone ukulele lessons in the future.
Until then, I want to show how you can use your baritone ukulele to still follow and play along with me in my standard-tuned lessons on UkuleleTricks.com. Many of my students in my Strumming Tricks course, who own a baritone ukulele, use these tips to follow along and improve their strumming right with me.
1. Figuring Out Chords on the Baritone Ukulele
If you don’t know already, soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles are commonly tuned to standard tuning: g-C-E-A. A baritone ukulele is tuned lower like the bottom four strings of a guitar: D-G-B-E. A baritone ukulele has a deeper, lower-pitched sound. Learn more about the differences between ukulele types here.
Because of the differences in tuning, at the moment, the chord diagrams on UkuleleTricks.com sound in a different key when played on a baritone ukulele. This means, in order to strum along with me in my video lessons, you are required to figure out the chord positions separately on your baritone ukulele.
The easiest way to figure out chords on a baritone ukulele is to search the internet for ‘guitar chords’ and pay attention only to the bottom four strings of the guitar chord diagrams. The bottom four strings of a guitar chord diagram will give you the chord position that you play on your baritone ukulele.
When you’ve figured out the chord positions on your baritone ukulele, you can play and strum those chords along with me in my video lessons, or anyone else that is playing a standard tuned ukulele. The finger positions for the chords will be different between the ukuleles, but if played correctly, they will sound together in the right key.
I prefer a different way of going about using your baritone ukulele to play along with standard tuned ukuleles. Let’s take a look.
2. Use a Ukulele Capo to Transpose Your Playing to Standard Tuning
Shubb L9 ukulele capo
One of the easiest ways to follow along with me in my videos is to use a ukulele capo on the 5th fret of your baritone ukulele’s neck.
A ukulele capo is a small device that barres (that is, holds down) all of the strings at whichever fret you place the capo. By placing the capo at the 5th fret, you transpose your baritone ukulele’s tuning to G-C-E-A, which are the notes in standard linear tuning.
This means with the ukulele capo you can play the same chord positions on your baritone ukulele that I am using in my ukulele lesson videos, and your playing and my playing will sound together in the same key.
I recommend the Shubb L9 ukulele capo because of the ability to adjust how hard the capo clamps around the neck of your ukulele. The Kyser banjo capo is a cheaper and worthwhile alternative, but in my experience, if you’re not careful with how you place the Kyser capo, it can sometimes pull your strings out of tune relative to one another.
My intention is to give you baritone ukulele players some love and provide you all with some really great baritone ukulele lessons in the future. Until then, hopefully this can help you bridge the gap that can sometimes exist with playing along with standard-tuned ukuleles.
Are you a baritone ukulele player? What questions do you have about playing your baritone ukulele with standard-tuned ukuleles? Tell me by posting your comment below.
I have a Kamaka with Aquila strings. I also play the banjo and have lowered the 1st string to D to match the tunings. Great sound. My question is due to the limited range of scale how do you play a song that has higher or lower notes then we can play ?
Hi Tom, are you talking about solo fingerpicking pieces, where you pluck the melody of a song? I know for some songs I have to transpose the song to a different key, or if the position I’m playing in on the ukulele is too low, I might use a capo to raise the key.
On many occasions you have referred to “ukulele” songs. Can’t you play any song with a ukulele? I lean toward gospel and religious songs and would like to play and sing those. For instance, I have this song “I Sing Because” in the key of B flat. Can I transpose it to say a C or D key?
Thanks in advance for your help and may God bless you and yours.
Hi Bob, you are definitely right. I tend to use the phrase ‘ukulele songs’ loosely. Mostly to imply that the song I’m presenting or teaching is specifically meant to be played on the ukulele in the way that I’m showing it, or to imply those songs that are classic to the ukulele like “I’ve Been Working On the Railroad” or “Ain’t She Sweet”.
For the song ‘I Sing Because’, I’d recommend transposing it up to the key of C. You could do this by putting a capo on the 2nd fret and playing a Bb position, or you can transpose the song.
Thanks for your response. I guess that you are saying is that I can play ANY song on the ukulele. Is that correct?
Yep. Nothing is off limits.
Thanks very much for your help and dedication to this website of yours. I’m sure it takes a great amount of time. I haven’t signed up yet for your course but I will in the near future.
May God bless you and yours.
Really useful stuff, thanks again. I’ve been using method one which is great, however I’m now thinking of getting a capo and learning a song both ways. That way when I treat myself to a ‘standard’ uke I’ll already have a solid grounding. For any body else with a Buke I’ve been using websites with guitar chords and just ignoring strings 5 and 6. I haven’t hit any problems with that yet but I’m a newbie so I may have missed something.
I can,t understand the problem with a Baritone ukulele.
I bought a Baritone uke about 18 months ago, after having strummed a guitar for a number of years.
Although it was a Mainland solid mahogany, It sounded like a thin, “weedy” guitar.
Although living in the UK, I found a company called The Southcoast Ukulele and Guitar Company in Mandeville , Louisiana that supplied string sets similar to nylgut, with. Low G . From then on , I was able to use the standard C tuning uke chords and the sound is much better.
Now, in the UK, it is possible to buy, similar C-tuning string sets , with either a low or high G string from : Ken Middleton.
They are called : Living Water.
I recommend these strings, particularly as they don’ t have low, wire wound strings.
Hi Sally, this is the first I’ve heard about this. Thanks for the tip! Gonna check these strings out!
Ken’s strings are great. He will make custom sets up too. I have just bought my first Baritone – A Mainland Red Cedar Wood. As an ex-guitar player I thought I would enjoy going back to the adapted form of chords, but at the back of my mind I thought just maybe GCEA as well. I bought in advance Ken’s standard Baritone strings so Eagle Music could restring with these. I didn’t want Aquila this time with one them being wound. I also ordered a custom set of Baritone strings with an extra low G. I have yet to try these as only had it a week or so. Adore the sound as i knew I would. Now I have to decide whether to persevere a bit longer as it is now – the traditional way, or follow my instinct and put the GCEA on for that uke sound. Difficult as if I take the standard set off so soon it is a bit of a waste. Hmmm! How to folk tune their Bari GCEA’s? There doesn’t seem to be any online examples for pitch etc. Is it a matter of tuning to what you like without putting any uneccessary tension on?
Hi Pauline, I don’t have a baritone ukulele, but from what I’ve heard, baritone ukulele players who wish to tune to standard tuning just use a regular low G tuning string set and stringing up the ukulele to GCEA. For pitch reference, you can use my online ukulele tuner tool here:
How could you not have a baritone ukulele?
The baritone is the same notes as top four strings on the guitar. You can use the baritone
with kids (8 yrs. and up) as an entry instrument for guitar (most guitars are way too big for kids and expensive if you want one that is playable) I use the baritone uke to read guitar music and just leave out the low notes below D above middle C.
We then go back and play the entire piece on 3/4 size nylon string guitar…
I notice that my baritone strings “ring” much longer than the standard ukes do even with a wound low G. Should I stop the sound or let it continue to ring as I go from chord to chord? I’m using a Ponto baritone in dGBE tuning. My “go to uke” is a Kamaka bell shaped concert. I was already comfortable with chords on the concert and have found it easy to go to the different tuning but I’d love to see a song that would really showcase the baritone. I have a capo and it works but I’m finding it a bit awkward to use the fret on the 1st fret (6th fret). Am I doing something wrong? Right now I just switch ukuleles.
Hi Shirley, one of the positive things about playing a baritone ukulele is that the strings do tend to ring out longer and even louder. This is just because it’s a bigger instrument. No need to stop the strings from ringing. I agree with you that it would be great for me to find some songs that showcase the baritone ukulele. Do you have any suggestions?
I’m afraid I can’t suggest any songs as I’m not that experienced on the baritone. I rarely use the capo. It was easier for me to just learn the new positions. I’ve found that folk songs sound good and that gospel song “Jesus on the Mainline” sounds great. It would be nice to go up the neck and pick and strum some of it. I like using it in mixed Jams where the majority of instruments are guitars. I can just figure out the chords by looking at their fingers otherwise I have to convert and get my fingers in place before they’ve finished and moved on to another chord. (I’m not that great so it takes some effort!)
I just watched your 12 bar blues lesson and played it on both my Ovation-style acoustic electric soprano uke and my baritone uke. I didn’t bother with the capo, I just played it in a different key (sorry, new to the buke, same finger positions for chords = different key, that’s all I know! 😉 ). It was really interesting to hear the difference. The soprano was light and fun and the baritone was much richer and more bluesy. I would think anything by Johnny Cash would sound good on a baritone.
As for chord charts, http://www.chordie.com will give you chords for both the soprano (including G and C tunings) and baritone ukulele. It’s a great way to get chord diagrams!
Dr. Uke is a great place to go for songs played not only in the regular uke chords, but the baritone as well… he has been around for years and has a great website for this: http://www.doctoruke.com/songs.html
wow-all these comments have been really helpful as I was just given a Baritone Uke (handcrafted koa) as a gift and as I do play guitar, I understand that the strings are DGBE- strings 1-4 -on a guitar. Have not received the strings I ordered for it as of yet, but that’s not a problem as the instrument has to acclimate itself to my location. It’s a lovely looking thing though. I wondered about guitar chords which are played only on strings 1-4 and will be checking out my chord diagrams. I still prefer my concert or tenor uke. I don’t think that’s going to change. Have heard of SouthCoast and will be checking out their strings with a low g should I find that I like this instrument. so Thank you all for your comments-I have no idea what possessed this person to buy this for me-he thinks I have musical abilities-if he only knew! Oy vey. We shall see what we shall see.
I am looking to pick up the baritone. Love my concert. I have never played guitar. Are there any baritone uke cord charts, or do I just need to use one for guitar? Also, one of the commenters said something about using a different set of strings. Will these strings allow the baritone to be tuned as the other ukuleles are tuned? I am new to all of this.
bstorey, for the baritone ukulele chords, I recommend just looking at the bottom four strings of guitar chord charts. Right now, I don’t have a better solution to offer. For the baritone ukulele, you will need to purchase a baritone ukulele string set that has the strings DGBE. This will be a different tuning than your concert ukulele, which means that the positions for chords will be different on the baritone ukulele.
Also check this website: http://chordlist.brian-amberg.de/en/ukulele/baritone/
The tool on the left of the page is really great–you can find any chord you want, e.g. F9, G+, with the most common shapes, as well as alternative chord shapes.
Most string instruments violin, viola, cello, tenor guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo and others are tuned in fifths. This gives the instrument a wider range (more notes) and is easier to play scales The guitar is tuned in fourths with a third (g to b) which is good for playing chords.
A nylon string guitar can be set up for fifths as follows….1. Remove the low E string. and the B string. Remove the high E string and put it in the B string slot. Tune to gdae- same notes as the mandolin and violin but an octave lower. This teaches fingering in fifths tuning which transfers to the instruments mentioned earlier.
I just purchased a Mitchell baritone MUB70S. I am not able to confirm the type of strings that come with the instrument. When I called the company, the customer support agent thought that they were D’Addario J68 traditional nylon strings(but he was not certain). I see that D’Addario also makes titanium strings EJ87B and Nyltech string EJ88B for the baritone. I am trying to get the deepest richest sound on the instrument. Which strings do you suggest? Thanks.
Hi! I love my baritone ukulele, but normally play violin [decades]. I just broke the baritone uke’s E — can I use a violin A or D string on the ukulele, for now? Thanks!
Hello, I tried to tune my Kamaka Bari using the Aquila strings designed for gCEA tuning. To my ear it sounded clunky (a techical term). Anyway after reading about low g tuning, i took a g string from a standard bari set and tuned the bari to low G. It now rings loud and clear and I am very happy with the result. Great site, I enjoy the bari uke talk.
I just bought my baritone ukulele as a mistake (^^’) because i thought all 4 type of uke are played the same. Im totally a new player trying to learn via internet. My question is if i use the capo for my baritone uke then I just ignor the other frets and use the same chords of standard uke? Thank you very much.i appreciate.
Hi Tina, indeed, you can capo at the 5th fret and it’s just like being in regular ukulele tuning. Some baritone ukulele players also use a set of standard tuning ukulele strings on their baritone ukulele.
Thanks for your post, I also put Aquila gCEA strings on my Baritone ukulele. I don’t really love the sound but I am going to try to give them a chance. To me, the sound quality with the gCEA Aquilas on the Baritone is too high pitched. However, one thing I do like about having the ‘my dog has fleas’ tuning on my baritone is that it plays much louder than my concert (presumably due to the overall size of the instrument).
I ordered a baritone uke to get a deeper sound. I understand about learning new chords ( that my old C is now a G for example )
My question: I have a lot of sheet music with tabs for my tenor uke. Can I still use these tabs for learning music on the baritone uke?
Assuming the tabs are for tenor ukuleles in low G tuning then you could use these tabs on your baritone ukulele. However, the song would be played in an entirely different key on your baritone, since it is tuned differently. If the tabs are for ukuleles in high G standard tuning, then you can’t use these tabs for your baritone.
My wife has just surprised me with a Baritone ukulele for my birthday. I find I can use the same tunes as the banjo dgbe. I notice it is very difficult to get song or hymnbooks tuned to dgbe here in Germany but I have found a good number online. Looking forward to your further work on the baritone.
Thanks to your help, I can now play Amazing Grace and Turkey in the Straw on my tenor ukulele besides German favourites like Die Gedanken sind frei.
My son bought me a surprise guitar for Christmas so now I really am busy.
Hi Brett. A question. I’m learning the Baritone Uke. Can I just take the Tabs of a song, like one on this site, and change the fingering for the chords? I mean like the C chord would be fingered like a F chord on the Baritone. I was asking because the 12 bar blues in GCEA tuning does not sound right to me played on the baritone ukulele changing the fingering. I transpose like a C chord and count C D E F so the C would be fingered in F and a G chord would be going up 4 would be G A B C fingered as a C chord on the Baritone. Or how would I figure out what chords to use? Thanks for the site as it is a big help.
Keith, for the most part, you can use the tabs of fingerpicking patterns (such as the 12-bar blues) and play the same exact positions on the baritone. In this way, the notes would ring out in a different key but the positions would be the same. This wouldn’t work for more intricate fingerpicking melody arrangements arranged for a standard-tuned ukulele.
Brett, I am a guitar player interested in getting into ukulele but am not sure which uke would align better with my knowledge of guitar chords. I have read that the baritone uke is the first 4 strings of the guitar minus the bass strings. My biggest concern is that I want to be able to play in meetup groups and am wondering if it would be too confusing since most would be playing in standard tuning.
Sandy, you’d have no problem picking up baritone, however, since you mentioned wanting to play with other ukulele players, then, if you go the baritone route, I’d recommend getting a set of tenor GCEA ukulele strings to tune up to standard tuning. You’ll have to make the mental leap of learning the ukulele chords, but the positions will all be very familiar with your fingers and you’ll already have the muscle memory needed to play most ukulele chords.
Is it at all possible to transpose concert ukulele chords for a Baritone ukulele,?
Had my Concert Martin Ukulele since October of 2018. . . teaching myself to play. . . purchased from Orami and Brittany at The Fret Shop, Huntsville, Alabama.
Grateful for all JESUS has bestowed upon me through having my ukulele.
Grateful for your response.
Hey, Rebekah, unfortunately, no. There isn’t an easy way to transpose down from a concert ukulele to a baritone ukulele. I wouldn’t recommend re-stringing the concert ukulele either with baritone strings, since the concert ukulele isn’t designed to handle the thicker baritone strings. On stringed instruments, it’s easy to transpose up with a capo. For example, on a baritone ukulele, if you place a capo on the 5th fret, you are now playing in low G ukulele tuning and can use standard ukulele chords.