Stringing: Alternate Tiple String Sets

Ever since getting hooked on my 20s Regal tiple (tee-play unless you're a yokel and say tip-ull) a few years ago I've tried maybe a dozen different stringing setups on it. I always return to a uke-centric GCEA stringing, though, but there are certainly a few ways to do it.

The first alteration I did, however, was to my instrument in which I replaced the original 5-on-a-plate tuners with 4-on-a-plate StewMac repro sets made for mandolin. I didn't need to do this but as I was starting to use the instrument now and then for shows I wanted to make tuning a little less troublesome (it's easier to tune pairs on the fly). This of course necessitated a bridge and nut alteration which some folks might find obnoxious to have to do. I just wanted to mention this idea because this change is what ultimately got me using my tiple a lot more.

Anyhow, below are my favorite stringing setups to date for the instrument. Note that some of them may need saddle adjustments to keep them best in tune up the neck. Also note that the gauges listed only mention two strings: for the third string on the center courses, simply double the lighter-gauge string used.

G: 10/22w, C: 08/17, E: 14/14, A: 09/09

This is like a modern 8-string uke tuned to GCEA (low to high) with octaves on the G&C courses. This has become my favorite set as it provides a nice tight uke-ish sound but due to its range also vaguely sounds like any number of Latin-style instruments -- Cuban tres, Puerto Rican cuatro, and whatnot. I keep the stringing fairly light to enhance a bit of harmonic sustain and keep a sparkly tone. With the unison-strung E and A courses you also have a bit of your range that works quite well for lead work, too.

G: 11/24w, C: 16/38w, E: 14/30w, A: 10/20w

This used to be my favorite stringing and is roughly similar in gauge to a standard GHS tiple set, but the A string in this version is given a low octave note making the whole instrument strung in octaves. That means that the thinner strings are at regular re-entrant uke pitch while the bigger wound strings sound an octave lower. This makes the instrument as a whole sound huge for its size -- like a pocket 12-string guitar.

G: 10/10, C: 17/17, E: 14/14, A: 09/09

Taropatch ukes used unison stringing originally (taropatch ukes = 8-string concert-sized instruments) and so this set is all strung in unison (the same size/pitch per double/triple courses), too. This gives a shimmery, sweet, magical and recording-friendly sound that will really thicken up a track or arrangement in the uke frequency range. The downside is that you don't get the typical octave "zing" sound one associates with a tiple.

G: 11/24w, C: 16/38w, E: 14/30w, A: 10/10

This is gauged-out a little heavier than standard tiple sets because standard sets are intended to be strung ADF#B like many ukes were back in the 1920s. These days folks across-the-board tend to tune GCEA and so these gauges may work a bit better and be more tuning-stable for that full-step-lower tuning.

C: 38w, G: 24w, D: 16, A: 10
Double and triple these strings to get a mandola tuning out of your tiple. The nut and saddle will likely need intonation and height adjustments for best fit.

D: 15/34w, G: 11/24w, B: 08/17, E: 14/14

The low notes (wound strings) are the same pitch as a baritone ukulele or the DGBE strings of a guitar. This is a nice, full-sounding tuning for folks more familiar with the fingering on a baritone uke. You could also replace the 34w on the D with a plain 15 to make this a re-entrant instrument with a "high D" to maintain that uke sort of chime.


Julien said…
Thanks to have taken time to share all these informations. Very interesting ! :)