I use a plectrum tuning scheme on all of my ukuleles. To read and learn more about that, Click Here
FREE TAB - " Yesterday " by the Beatles ( key of F )
Enjoy this free tab of my arrangement of “Yesterday” in plectrum tuning for baritone ukelele. See video of arrangement below. CLICK HERE for pdf of the tab.
Watch my arrangement of YESTERDAY (baritone uke)
Also, check out some of the videos below to hear me play more baritone ukelelele in the plectrum tuning.
My personal journey to the baritone ukelele and the plectrum tuning ?
I started out my musical career as a teenager picking on the 5 string banjo. The open G tuning (bluegrass tuning) made it fairly accessible as a first instrument. Starting from the low 4th string to the high 1st string the tuning is D-G-B-D . The short drone 5th string is located next to the 4th string and is tuned to high G, much like re-entrant on the ukelele. It was the lower 4 strings however that I became very familiar with. As an occasional option to that tuning, some banjo pieces were played with the low D string tuned down a whole step to C ( the plectrum tuning). The was referred to as C tuning on the 5 string banjo and for the sake of clarity bears no resemblance to C tuning on the ukelele. Famed bluegrass banjo pioneer Earl Scruggs arranged and recorded a number of pieces in this “C” banjo tuning. If Earl did it, I had to do it and so I started getting into that tuning as well.
Later on in my twenties I became interested in some of the older traditional jazz stylings and decided to give a go at the 4 string banjo ( played with a pick instead of the 5 string fingerpicked style)… but which 4 string banjo should I play.. the tenor banjo or the plectrum banjo? The tenor banjo being tuned in fifths ( like a violin,mandolin etc…) was a pretty foreign entity at that time in my life but the plectrum banjo ( while not as popular as the tenor) was tuned just like the 5 string banjo in C tuning ( minus the 5th string) and became an obvious choice. To Hear me play the plectrum banjo ( which by the way is for sale), CLICK HERE. I became very drawn to that particular tuning and saw a myriad of possibilities.
Later on I also began to learn a 5 string finger picked banjo style called “Classic Banjo”. It featured a repetoire of turn of the century classic ragtime along with some classical music and was also mostly played in the C banjo tuning (plectrum tuning). Needless to say , I assimilated that tuning well using both a pick in the right hand (called a plectrum) and also fingerpicking style.
While I’ve always loved the sound and timbre of the banjo , I’d always felt that the plectrum tuning could have a whole world of possibilities on a mellower sounding instrument such as a 4 or 5 string banjo neck on a guitar body. Lo and behold , a few years ago I discovered a few people that were manufacturing or customizing such beasts. I was thrilled when I was able to acquire a “ Doc Fosse” 5 string guitar ( a 5 string banjo neck on a jumbo body guitar). They are sometimes referred to as a gitjo or guitanjo. Not to be confused with another hybrid instrument which is the exact opposite of the gitjo, the banjitar ( a 6 string guitar neck on a banjo body). After much experimenting with tunings, string gauges etc.. I found something that worked well for what I had always dreamed of. I used a plectrum tuning on the gitjo, but with all of the strings tuned down proportionally a step and a half. This way, I was able to use the tuning that I was most comfortable with along with the sound I wanted being in a guitar range. Here are a few samples of that instrument in that tuning with my arrangements:
A year or two after building up a nice repertoire with that instrument, I decided to commission an excellent Luthier ( Chris Bozung -www.cbguitars.com) to build a custom gitjo for me. It turned out great and sounds fantastic. During the period of timer that I was waiting for the finished product, I began to experience some serious hand/finger/arm issues. I’ve been to many doctors and specialists about my issues, but It was becoming more and more difficult for me to play either banjo or gitjo. One day while at a friends house who happened to play the ukelele, I was invited me to check out his brand new May Moe ukelele. I loved the sound and feel of it and although I play some guitar, I just couldn’t relate immediately to the tuning other than a few chords. I asked if it would be ok to tune the 1st and 4th strings down a whole step. He told me to go right ahead and….voila… my career as a ukelele-ist began. I loved the nylon strings, the size of the instrument didn’t bother my arm as the larger gitjo had and most importantly loved the sound. I was hooked. I was able to first acquire a Lanakai baritone and now play on a Pono acoustic and Pono semi-hollow body electric purchased from the good folks at Hawaii Music Supply (the ukelele site http://www.theukulelesite.com). I am about to purchase a Kanelia long neck tenor ( 19’ scale close to a baritone) and tune it in the tenor range with of course the 1st and 4th strings down a whole, and I can’t wait. I still struggle with some hand/finger issues but the good news is that so far it seems manageable on the ukelele if I take it soft and slow. That’s why a lot of my arrangements are ballad-esqe.
Just in case any of you all actually read this whole thing, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. In the meantime I’m also working a bit on the standard ukelele tuning and really beginning to love that sound as well. Now I have to see another specialist to help me get rid of my UAS (ukelele acquisition syndrome). Any of you know a good doctor?
firstname.lastname@example.org Sandy Weltman 2012