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The mysterious Low G

If you play ukulele, you are familiar with its special sound which is due to its traditional tuning, GCEA.  When the G is tuned above the C, this is called “reentrant tuning.”

Why is the ukulele tuned this way?  The ukulele was developed in the late 1870s by immigrant wood workers who moved to Hawaii from Maderia (an autonomous region of Portugal).  The ukulele was the result of a combination of two instruments from Madeira: the machete and the rajão.  The machete had four metal strings (tuned CGAD), and the five-string rajão was tuned DGCEA with G to C being “reentrant.”  As a new instrument, the soprano ukulele used four non-metal strings (what was available locally) and GCEA reentrant tuning.

Over the years, there have been many other tunings for the ukulele, as well as ukuleles with different scale sizes and number of strings.

One popular modification of the ukulele is the use of a Low G string, tuned below the C, which is called “linear tuning.”  IZ used this type of tuning on his famous, “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.”  Low G gives the ukulele four additional half steps below middle C and creates a “darker, fuller” sound.  Think of it this way: reentrant tuning places the ukulele in the range of the soprano singing voice; linear tuning places the ukulele in the range of the alto singing voice.

While no Flight ukulele comes with Low G (yet!), if you want to try Low G, you can!  Many players own ukuleles in both reentrant (Low G) and linear (High G) tuning.  You will have to buy a Low G string or a set of Low G strings, and make sure that the Low G string can fit into the nut slot for the G string.  If not, you will need to modify the nut, or bring it to a luthier.  If you haven’t noticed, strings get thicker as they represent lower notes, and as a result many Low G strings are metal wound, keeping the string from being thicker than necessary.  There are also non-wound Low G strings on the market.  Just don’t put a metal wound string on a ukulele with a plastic fretboard.


Monthly Flight Uke Tips are written by our friend Chris from

Pic of Low G on Flight Mustang by Larissa from @the_ukuleleaves 😊

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