Baritone Ukulele Strings

The standard baritone ukulele strings are lower than the standard ukulele tuning. They are tuned to DGBE (the same as the top four strings of a guitar). They also differ from the standard ukulele as they are not in re-entrant tuning i.e. the strings go from low to high.

That’s the information you’ll read most places. Of course, it gets more complicated than that. I get more people asking me about baritone ukulele strings than I do any other string related query. To answer the question: yes, you can tune a baritone ukulele like a standard ukulele, but you need the right strings.

You can get strings that are DGBE with the D tuned an octave higher (giving the strings the same re-entrant relationship as on a standard ukulele) and you can get strings for GCEA tuning with the G either high or low.

The only problem is that it isn’t always clear what you’re getting. So it might be worth contacting the person selling them to make sure what you get is what you want.

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26 Comments

  1. Joe April 9th, 2011 10:22 pm

    You say regarding baritone strings “…you can get strings for GCEA tuning with the G either high or low” but I can’t find any with low G. Any help? Thanks.

  2. Paul Borowiak July 6th, 2011 9:05 pm

    Can I get a d string for a baritone uke that is not wound?

  3. sally December 2nd, 2011 5:24 pm

    baritone uke strings with low g – unwound . Search for linear strings.

  4. sally December 2nd, 2011 5:30 pm

    http://www.southcoastukes.com I bought 3 sets ( to avoid postage to UK and they work fine on my baritone – none wound )

  5. Zach September 11th, 2012 11:01 pm

    My question is can you tune a standard tenor ukulele to a baritone using the baritone strings?

  6. David January 17th, 2013 5:29 am

    Same question as Zach, 9/11/12, can one get strings to tune a tenor use to DGBE?

  7. John August 1st, 2013 3:13 am

    Most men are baritones, and most songs suitable for baritones are in Bb, which is difficult to play on a guitar with standard tuning. By increasing the(nylon)string diameter but maintaining about the same tension in each string, C chords become Bb chords and accompanying baritones is much easier. My Spanish-built guitar has become much louder with these strings and lower tuning. On another guitar re-stringing with extra high tension nylon strings but tuning one tone lower than normal resulted in much the same increase in volume and broadening of tone. What strings would do this for a baritone ukulele?

  8. phil curran October 10th, 2013 11:35 am

    Bought a baritone recently (greg bennett samick) and found the strings very poor indeed. So bought some Aquilla baritone ones in GCEA. A friend has a baritone with tenor strings that I find unpleasant to play due to the tension of strings. However the Aquilla seem much the same ie overtaut. Also the C string has a flat,dead sound to it. Not happy, will have to change.

  9. Don Aspromonte November 26th, 2013 7:32 pm

    I play a vintage Gibson Baritone Uke and have recently acquired a Boulder Creek Riptide Baritone. I have used Aquila for many years and about 1 year ago I switched to Worth strings.

    I like the Aquila strings but I find the Worth strings are much better for both of my instruments. To me, all of the Worth strings have a similar timbre and a mellow but strong sound. On the Gibson it produces a very strong sound and on the Riptide it maintains the ‘brightness’ you would expect with the solid spruce top while producing very pleasant undertones.

    Either Aquila or Worth are better on my instruments than Martin strings.

  10. Don Aspromonte November 26th, 2013 7:35 pm

    P.S., The Worth Baritone strings are not wound. I do a lot of slides when I play and this enables me to avoid the ‘rasping’ sound of the wound strings.

  11. Don Aspromonte November 26th, 2013 7:42 pm

    PPS. Worth makes both clear strings and ‘brown’ strings. Use the clear!

  12. Bob V February 20th, 2014 4:06 pm

    I use all nylon banjo strings and play slack-key baritone – DGBD. The strings have a little less sustain, but easy vibrato. DGBD – same chord chart as banjo.

  13. Steve W February 24th, 2014 8:03 pm

    After getting a baritone tuned (low)G C E A, I kept breaking the Aquila low G as supplied. Now I’ve got a set of Living Water strings from Ken Middleton: these are (non-wound) fluorocarbon which have an odd feel at first, but now they feel fine to me and so far no breakage.

  14. leroy June 13th, 2014 7:14 am

    Are the chords the same for a low G as for a high G?

  15. Andy December 16th, 2014 9:40 am

    In answer to Leroy’s question, yes.

  16. Aaron December 23rd, 2014 3:16 am

    I’ve got some of Ken Middletons’ Living Waters strings coming for my Lanakai LU21B. I wanted to try them because I replaced my Aquila strings on my tenor with Living Waters strings and the difference was much better, in my opinion. The strings were much smoother and softer; the tone was absolutely great! I’ll pass along a review when I get them.

  17. Paddy Quay February 2nd, 2015 3:15 am

    I have a Baritone ukulele & Tenor ukulele.I know
    the chords are different.Can I change the Baritone
    ukulele strings to Tenor strings?

  18. Woodshed February 2nd, 2015 7:47 am

    Paddy: Aquila make strings for gcea tuning on baritone ukuleles.

  19. Flymo February 21st, 2015 4:08 am

    Hello Paddy, Woodshed…
    We have had experience of several Tanglewood TU-5 Baritones. A lovely instrument, but the anonymous black strings fitted from new just do not work as well as the similar ones on our TU-4 Tenor.
    On these black strings traditional Baritone DGBE tuning was floppy and lacked response….
    When wound up to gCEA, the A string would break without fail, at the bridge knot. Bridge is a bit sharp-edged, so I have my suspicions. But the A-string was -very- tight indeed.
    Wound up, but 2 semitones flat from gCEA works pretty well, but my head is no longer up to dynamic transposition on the fly.
    So we tried a set of Aquila NylGut GCEA Baritone strings on one instrument, and all was well after only one A-string breakage. Might even have been my sloppy knot.
    So we got another set of these for the other TU-5. This kept breaking A-strings – until I spent 5 days winding it up slowly until pitch stable. Think it’s OK now.
    The Tanglewood bridge is very smart, but it relies on a sharp-edged slot to capture the knot. Think that may be the root of the problem, but it’s -very- hard to modify, especially with my eyesight.

    On the second one we left the original C & E black strings in place, which gives what we think is a slightly better string balance on these instruments. That’s g & A in Nylgut, C & E in the black original strings. Your mileage may vary!
    On my beloved TU-4 the black strings work so well that I have hesitated to replace them with the set of Aquila that was purchased with it in December 2014. Still hesitating on that! They suit the instrument very well, imho.

    The plan is to try a set of Aquila Red DGBE (low D) next, and see how that works.

  20. Flymo February 28th, 2015 6:48 am

    Well, we have tried the linear tuning DGBE Aquila Reds on the Baritone.
    Surprising to find two wound strings (D & G) in the bass with a pair of Red strings (B & E) for the top.

    Well, it was surprising to us after trying the Low G GCEA set on the Tanglewood TU-4 Tenor. These were all ‘Red’ strings, nothing wound. Worked wonderfully well and attracted much favourable comment.
    So the expectation was a similar set for the Baritone…
    Nope. Two wound, two Red. Oh well.

    After fitting them (more on that later) and tuning up for a fair while, some playing was attempted.
    Very good indeed! We liked them, anyway.
    After returning from the Melbourne Uke Festival benefit at The Bridge in Castlemaine, I can report that others who tried both the Tenor and Baritone made very kind comments about the tone and sound.
    Very big, very full, and well-balanced – particularly for the way I play, which is sorta son-of-fingerstyle guitar, plus strumming.

    Fitting plain Aquila Reds (especially the thinner strings) to TU-4/5 is much more successful if a piece of heavy linen thread is wrapped around the string just before the end knot, and then knotted on. This acts as a ‘soft washer’ to protect the delicate string from damage in the bridge slot, we reckon.

    Either way, no more string breakages so far…
    (fingers crossed)

  21. Flymo March 9th, 2015 10:26 pm

    The 2nd (Red) string on the Baritone parted inside the bridge yesterday whilst it was sitting quietly in its case, so the linen thread trick is not foolproof.
    Re-tied it and added more linen thread, and it has survived the night at concert pitch.
    So far so good…

  22. Flymo March 25th, 2015 11:05 am

    No further string problems despite much furious strumming, a fair bit of fingerstyle and a couple of gigs.
    Yes, I like Baritone!

  23. Flymo March 26th, 2015 5:33 am

    So far so excellent – the trick seems to be more linen thread in the wrap.
    And does it ever sound good with these Reds!

    Mentioned earlier that my head is no longer ok for dynamic transposition, so the Baritone comes out whenever the group does a song new to me. Then I can sight read the chord list, no worries.

    GCEA is five whole frets away from being easy…

  24. Paddy Quay April 12th, 2015 3:03 am

    I have a Baritone & Tenor ukulele.I know how to play the
    Tenor,but not Baritone.Can I use Tenor strings for the
    Baritone and tune to GCEA ?

  25. Flymo April 13th, 2015 3:13 am

    Hi Paddy – you _can_ tune a Baritone to GCEA, but Tenor strings would probably be a problem. They are designed to tune to this pitch at a shorter length, so winding them up on a Baritone might break the strings or pull the bridge off, worst case.
    But there are special strings that allow this to be done.
    We’ve tracked some down at Guadalupe Custom Strings (www.thegcs.com) and there’s a demo on YouTube here:-
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCyLRHl0wEY
    Still working out how to get them mail order….

  26. Flymo April 13th, 2015 3:18 am

    Ooops…
    Typo in the web address, they are at http://www.thegcs.co,
    and the Uke strings are for sale at:-
    http://thegcs.co/ukulele-1/
    …but this does not support a destination other than the USA.
    Mainland Ukes (link below) do offer other shipping options, but they add around $50 postage to one set of strings!
    http://shop.mainlandukuleles.com/category.sc;jsessionid=A80A12C276AEE3CBD1058244ABA3CC5A.m1plqscsfapp02?categoryId=2

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