Low-G Ukulele Tuning

If you have recently stepped on the journey to learn your first ukulele tuning, you might see that many ukers opt for something known as a “low-g tuning.” 

The standard ukulele chords GCEA can be strummed in various ways to produce different tuning. A “low-G” uke string is a subtle tuning variation from this standard. It is garnering fame in the musical world gradually. In other terms, this is also referred to as linear tuning. Like most stringed musical instruments, your uke can be tuned from the low-pitched top string to the high-pitched bottom string. 

If you want to know how to practice a low-G ukulele tuning, we will walk you through all you need. Let’s dive in to learn more.

Also Read: Best 5 Ukulele Tuners

What actually is a low-G? 

It is a replacement string put on the ukulele to shift your G-string down a 1-octave pitch. Any standard re-entrant tuning would go from high to low to high.

 Linear tuning is basically changing to a low-G by pulling the first note down an octave, keeping the strings rising all the way during the tuning. 

Mass, however, comes to play here. The physical mass of a string determines the pitch you can calibrate your string to. Keeping all other factors constant, a thicker cord might be attuned lower than a thinner one. 

In order to adjust to a low-G, you shall require a replacement string. You might wonder why is a high-G string not tuned in a similar way? Or the low-G string taken up an octave? If you detune the high-G string down by 1 octave, the sound will become distorted and flabby. On the contrary, tuning a low-G string up by an octave will probably cause a crack in the sound as it is incredibly tight.

How to tune it? 

Before learning this, we would like to give a small tip. You would require a unique low G-string set for your uke, provided you want to tine to a low-G tuning. Any regular ukulele will not hold tension well and stay in tune if you pull it down by an octave. You would, thus, require a thick, wound low G-string to remedy this. 

When you are just getting the hand of tuning strings, pulling the octave perfectly can be challenging. Ensure that you string to the octave it is intended for – to a not too tight or floppy place. 

Low-G types

There are two low-G options to consider: wound and unwound. 

Wound Low G-strings

Just like you would think, these strings are composed of nylon or metal thread in the middle and metal wound around the exterior. Owing to this sturdy design, wound strings hold the same amount of tension as a small-diameter unwound string. 

Over the years, wound low-G strings have improved drastically. They were excessively rich-sounding and sustained more than other unwound strings. As the transitions were pretty distracting as you strummed, wounded chords were considered flawed. Very often, they would let you squeaking sounds even if someone put fingers on them. 

Fortunately, some promising advances in the wound low-G string production propounded some great options. These addressed the squeaking and imbalance issues – both in one.

Some of these are: 

Fremont Soloist:

Here, tuning can be implemented at a lower level. It has a small diameter of 0.03″. It is available in one size only.

Thomastik – Infeld:

They are the best available strings. During transitions, they do not cause any noise, being flatwound.  Balance is excellent, as they use fluorocarbon.

Unwound Low G-strings

These are generally a fluorocarbon breed. Found commonly as a member of a set, these are composed of the same products as the remaining strings.  

One evident advantage is that this smooth string does not produce any noise when you perform transitions. 

However, the con is that you would need a larger chord diameter to tune down to a low-G pitch – all with a decent tension. When the size is augmented, the ringing potential is reduced. In fact, most G-strings produce a muffled or dull sound. It happens as the large diameter has a dampening effect on the chord vibrations. 

There are claims that new fluorocarbon-free materials with a smaller string diameter can produce a high tension. They have not yet been brought to exposure, though. 

Some unwound string types are: 

Savarez KFP5:

It reduces the dampening effect of the large diameter. It comes in two gauge lengths. The more extended version is perfect for low-G tuning, and it is also cheaper. Apart from that, both sizes are made of the same quality material.

Aquila Red:

It has a hardened clay look. It is known to be the weirdest string available on the market. It boasts a higher density for a smaller spring diameter. Despite this, the strings need to be appropriately placed as they are delicate. 

If you want to notice the difference between unwound and wound low-G strings, tune in to Herb Ohta Junior’s Ukulele Breeze album. 

Should you low-G?

We would recommend you to try both before deciding to low-G or to not low-G. Some people have the stigma of testing only one, thus miss out on the other string. 

As you strum, you would realize that the difference is negligible. You just need to check if a low-G makes you uke sound better. 

Tuning the string below the C string is low-G-ing. Even though you play the same notes, a low-G tuning will cut off the brighter G. This gives a mellow tune to your uke sound.

If you use a wound string, you will notice that it accentuates the low-G more. In contrast, the unwound or plain low-G provides a lower note. In such cases, the G-strings are probably thicker than the C-strings.

Final Thoughts

This is a wrap for low-G ukulele tuning. If you tune down an octave, it does not make much of a difference in playing. It, however, will change the way your ukulele sounds. 

Give it a whirl! Good luck!

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