Ukulele Strings Order Thickness

To master the art of a musical instrument we must master the mechanism of the elements of the instruments. The ukulele isn’t an exception. To get into the heart of the ukulele you must know the ukulele strings to the core. The sound quality, pitch and vibrational properties all depend on the thickness of the ukulele. Moreover, in what order the strings are placed and tuned plays a major role in terms of creating the desired harmony. 

As a beginner, if you are getting skeptical about what to keep in focus then we have got you covered. This article has everything you need to know about the order thickness of the ukulele strings and more!

The Strings

  • Number: There are a number of variations in terms of the strings of the ukulele, despite the popular belief that the ukulele only comes in 4  nylon strings. The variations can be first addressed in terms of the number of the strings. Such as- Conventional ukulele (4 strings), Taropatches ukulele (6 or 8 strings), Lili’s ukulele (6 or 8 strings), 5 string tenor ukuleles, etc.
  • Ukulele type: The usual ukulele has 4 types: Concert, baritone, soprano, tenor. These types are identified based on their size and produced sound quality.
  • Length: Depending on the ukulele types there are different string lengths. 
  • Material: The most common material of the ukulele is nylon. The other most common ones are – Fluorocarbon strings, Steel strings, Wound nylon strings, Wound metal strings. 
  • Winding material: Most common winding materials for the ukulele are Aluminium, copper, silver, phosphor bronze.

Ukulele Strings Order Thickness

Positioning: The 4-string standard ukulele follows the 4-2-3-1 formation. The most common order of the ukulele strings come with the typical g-C-E-A or G-C-E-A tuning. These four notes denote the strings and correspond to the number 4-3-2-1. This is the most common convention of the ukulele string. As the chord changes song to song and the tabs also change based on scale and tuning hence the numbering is the most comfortable way to universalize the notes. 

In a right-handed playing position (fret on the left-hand side) the ukulele strings are positioned in this manner:

  • G: The string closest to the ceiling is the G note or 4th string.
  • C: The second note after the G is the note C or string 2. 
  • E: E is the third last note or string 3. 
  • A: A is the first note or the string 1 that is the one that is closest to the floor.  

The same positioning gets reversed for the left-handed users. In that case it will be 1-2-3-4 or A-E-C-G.

Ukulele String Order Thickness
Figure: Conventional Ukulele Strings Notes and Positioning (Source)

Tuning: The order also plays a crucial role in terms of tuning. The 4-string ukulele tuning has two conventions – 1.High-G (g-C-E-A) 2. Low-G (G-C-E-A)

  • Low-G (G-C-E-A)

The low-G tuning is basically the strings being tuned in an ascending order from bottom to the top. 4-3-2-1 formation works here too. The low-G tuning slowly ascends according to the notes and octaves. The G-C-E-A all of them get tuned according to G3-C4-E4-A4 this order. This is also called linear tuning for its straightforward tuning order.

Figure: Low-G (G-C-E-A) (Source)
  • High-G (g-C-E-A) 

The high-G tuning system is the most commonly used tuning method. In this method the tuning of the notes is exactly the same as the low-G. But the G notes get tuned to G4. That means it doesn’t follow a particular ascending or descending order. The order is G4-C4-E4-A4. This is also known as the ‘re-entrant tuning’.

High-G (g-C-E-A)
Figure: High-G (g-C-E-A) (Source)

These conventional orders are mainly followed for soprano, tenor and concert ukuleles. The baritone ukulele follows the D3-G3-B3-E4 order in tuning and sometimes some also follow G4-C4-E4-A4. Other notable string tuning methods are called: Slack-key Tuning (G-C-E-G), English Tuning (A-D-F#-B), Canadian Tuning (low A-D-F#-B) etc. 

Some of the alternate tuning orders are:

  • Soprano: A4-D4-F#4-B4
  • Concert: A4-D4-F#4-B4 and C3-G3-D4-A4
  • Tenor: D3-G3-B3-E4

The Thickness

The thickness of the ukulele strings depends heavily on the tuning just like any other string instrument as it determines the pitch intensity and vibrational properties to produce the perfect sound or chord. 

Low-G:

According to the low-G tuning the string thickness is also corresponding to its tuning order and ascends gradually. 

  • G: This has the lowest pitch of all and is the thickest of all strings. 
  • C: The note C is the second lowest pitch and second thickest string.
  • E: This one has the third lowest pitch or second highest pitch and the thickness is less than C and greater than A. 
  • A: This has the highest pitch and is the thinnest one.

High-G:

The high-G has the G note one octave higher in the order. So, the thickness order and pitch change slightly. 

  • G: G note has the second lowest pitch of all and is the second thickest of all strings. 
  • C: The note C is the lowest pitch and thickest string.
  • E: E is  the third lowest pitch and the thickness is less than the C note and greater than the A note. 
  • A: Note A has the highest pitch and A is also the thinnest one.

Also Read: How Many Strings Does a Ukulele Have?

FAQ:

Why is the G-C-E-A order a convention?

The G-C-E-A convention is most widely used because it is much easier to play any music or song in this tuning than any other. The majority of the songs, chord tabs, charts and different ukulele resources are written with this convention in mind. Also, this is the classic way to go for the 4-string ukulele. This tuning also enables the easy usage of C major key that covers most of the popular music and songs. 

Conclusion

Now you are absolutely well accustomed to the order thickness and all the other relevant factors of the ukulele strings. So, we hope that this will guide you through while choosing your next ukulele and be a perfect value for your money, energy and time.

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