Low G versus Standard “Reentrant” Ukulele Tuning

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I think this really illustrates nicely the benefits and challenges of switching from a re-entrant tuned ukulele to one with a Low G string.

The pluses are:

  • a deeper sound (even if it’s just a little bit);
  • often your major chords have a fuller sound (still doubling a note, but an octave apart is possible);
  • a greater range — five extra notes’ worth!

On the other hand…

  • some easy picking patterns become more difficult (the low G really stands out);
  • most tabbed songs (for solo uke) assume a high g and you’ll need to do some on-the-fly thinkin’

At one point I would have included the string itself as a negative: until quite recently most low G strings were wrapped wire, just like a guitar string, and tended to wear out quickly. Not so now with Aquila’s reds or the Worth nylon low Gs.

All told I enjoy the sound my Low G (over reentrant tuning) adds to my mediocre playing.

Range Comparison, Part 1: low G v. high g Fretboard Mapped to Piano

A couple more visual aids on “Low G” versus ukulele’s standard reetrant (High G) tunings, here’s the ukulele strings mapped onto a piano keyboard, low and high G, illustrating the odd (but nice sounding) re-entrant tuning versus the more intuitive “do ray me fa” progression available with a low G string.

If you’ve ever wondered why sometimes you see the strings written gCEA, well, that’s a common way to indicate low g

(unless I just got that reveresed… hmmm, I should Google that) 

Range Comparison, Part 2: Range on Piano Keyboard

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Range comparison, re-entrant ukulele tuning (high G) versus Low G for typical soprano ukulele. You can see that a low G string extends your range by five extra notes (G, Ab, A Bb, & B).

(Note: Range mapped onto a piano keyboard because, even if you don’t play, it’s nice to see relative positions laid out on physical objects — we’re visual critters after all. The black keys are the sharps and flats.)

(graphics from a never completed video I’d begun over a year ago. Sigh. Perhaps some day… )

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