Uke in 5ths

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Uke in 5ths

Postby Daniel » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:07 am

I've been inspired by a post on the Mandolin Cafe to convert a concert uke my wife got me a few years ago from standard uke to CGDA tuning. I bought a set of Aquila strings (31u) for the conversion and restrung the wee beastie.

I'm enjoying the utterly different timbre and feel despite the familiar tuning. It's like getting a new mandola without buying a new instrument.

The intonation is a tiny bit off, the Bb chord (F on a mandolin) is a little out of tune. But the more closely spaced chords or ones with open strings sound warm and sweet.

I'll definitely develop this for live work and add it to the recordings I working on now.

Daniel
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Re: Uke in 5ths

Postby John Kelly » Wed Apr 04, 2018 3:42 pm

I recently got a cheap Stagg uke from one of my daughters when she was moving houses, and I have put a set of Agila strings on it tuned GDAE. Great fun to play, gentle on the fingers and not too far out on intonation! Raises some fun when I bring it out when playing with other folk - it is a very powerful yellowy/greenish colour!
JK Mandolins - handcrafted in Argyll, Scotland
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Re: Uke in 5ths

Postby Daniel » Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:11 am

I am firmly of the opinion that small instruments should be brightly coloured.

My kids have bright green and bright blue ukes. They also have a very RED classical guitar.
I've got emandos in TV yellow, Lake Placid Blue, and sparkly gold!

:-)
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Re: Uke in 5ths

Postby Ray(T) » Thu Apr 05, 2018 3:14 pm

I don't have children to buy instruments for but I did buy the cat a Collings Mandola last year! Just done a quick head count and out of my current 26 instruments, the majority are "wood" coloured. Of those that aren't, two of the mandolins and a bass are black and I have a Regal resonator guitar that's a sickly red/sunburst colour (it was cheap and sounded good).

As for the old "jumping flea", I bought a set of Concert/mandola tuning strings for it several years ago but never got round to fitting them (mainly 'cos a mate wanted his fret files back!). I've always understood that GDAE on a soprano gave you an iffy E string, that was too thin, John - how d'you find it?

Does it have a Toneguard yet? :lol:
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Re: Uke in 5ths

Postby John Kelly » Thu Apr 05, 2018 4:46 pm

Hi Ray, those Agila strings seem to be fine on it, including the E. They are some material called Nylgut ( "probably the first genuine synthetic gut in the world" according to the labelling on the packet) and the ones I fitted are called Soprano Fifths.
Re Toneguard, waiting for trailerload to come in via the Scottish Free Market Zone - opening on a website near you in the near future Can also be entered via Cafe site! :lol:
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Re: Uke in 5ths

Postby Daniel » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:02 pm

Strings have finally settled and the intonation is better.

Spent the week with it in Wales, lovely little thing to strum.

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Re: Uke in 5ths

Postby Daniel » Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:12 am

Took it (it. Hmm this this needs a name) into the studio on Sunday and used it as the basic rhythm track for an original song.

It worked really well, I am pleasantly surprised that it sounds so good.

I used a guitar track as a 'bed' for it on most of the song. The guitar (A Santa Cruz Guitar Co. dreadnought) has brighter highs via the steel strings and, of course, more bass. So it allows the uke-a-dola (?) to seem bigger to the ears.

I also used my JBovier FMC-5 for the solo. Ran it through a vintage Fender Champ at the studio. Mmmmm. Knopfler-esque tone.

But other than that, no standard mandolinning was included. And that feels a little weird. ;-)

Daniel
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Re: Uke in 5ths

Postby Ray(T) » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:13 am

Hmm.... Another Santa Cruz fan eh? I've also got a vintage Vibrochamp! (circa 1970)
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Re: Uke in 5ths

Postby Daniel » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:07 am

I knew I liked you for a reason Ray! :D I've been playing this dreadnought since I bought it new in 2002. It needs attention from time to time to keep it playing well, but it never disappoints.

The studio (Saltwell Studio in Leighton Bromswold, Cambridgeshire) has a vintage Vox amp of some kind as well. I'll be giving that a run on Saturday when I return to work on more material.

On Sunday I took the following instruments with me:
Vessel F5 mandolin
Mix F5 mandolin
JBovier FMC-5 electric mandolin (CGDAE)
Weber Alder No. 2 mandola (CGDA)
Lanikai uke-a-dola (CGDA)
Hathaway mandola (GDAE)
Santa Cruz Guitar Co. dreadnought
Marshall GR15CD amp (solid state practice amp)

I used the uke-a-dola, the guitar, and the emando through the Champ.

On Saturday I'm thinking I'll record the fiddle tunes I've been working on. Will give the the uke-a-dola try for sonic interest.

Daniel
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Re: Uke in 5ths

Postby Ray(T) » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:23 am

I picked my SC Drednought (a '91 TR model) second hand, about 20 years ago. It would take too long to list all my instruments but I also have an "F" and an "OM/PW". The frightening thing is the amount the new price of these has increased in recent years - check out the Ivor Mairants website.

I prefer acoustic amps for acoustic instruments and I have an "Acoustic Image Coda" which copes with everything from a low-C five string bass to mandolin. I keep the Fender - which I also bought second hand nearly 40 years ago - for electric guitar. It's been messed around with - it was originally intended for the US market and someone has replaced the transformer to allow it to be run on 240volts and I replaced the speaker a couple of years ago as it sounded ripped when I turned the wick up.
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Re: Uke in 5ths

Postby Daniel » Tue May 01, 2018 12:12 pm

Cool stuff Ray!

I was back in the studio last weekend with the same line-up of instruments. But this time I stuck with the steel strings, and the only instrument in common between two sessions was the SCGC guitar.

Interestingly, I have also recorded a song for this CD largely on electric instruments (5 string emando, high strung electric guitar, and bass with octave mandolin to sweeten things). So mixing, track order, and mastering are going to be a challenge!

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