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Learning How to Play the Baritone Ukulele

Know the differences between the baritone and the standard ukulele

by Frances Lin
Learning How to Play the Baritone Ukulele

Ready to embark on another ukulele journey? Perhaps you have been thinking about playing the baritone ukulele, or maybe you heard about this instrument and were intrigued. What is this instrument? Is it an ukulele or guitar? I will discuss what makes the baritone uke a unique instrument and how to approach the chords on this versatile ukulele.

What are the Benefits of a Baritone Ukulele?

A baritone is indeed an ukulele. The tuning differs from the standard ukulele which is tuned with G-C-E-A. The baritone is tuned with D-G-B-E. What does this mean? We will explore that in this article. But first, let’s look at the benefits of this instrument. Take a look at the following video, where Terry Carter breaks down the virtues of the baritone ukulele. This might very well be the instrument for you!

Top 5 Baritone Ukulele Benefits

  1. You do not have to worry about the low or high G with a baritone ukulele because its tuning yields a lower sound with the bass strings. This can be beneficial for ukulele players with a lower voice, which can make singing with the baritone easier.
  2. It’s a bigger instrument. There is more space, a longer scale length, and a bigger body which can be appealing to some players who might struggle with a soprano ukulele.
  3. Deep sound. The baritone ukulele has a low, bass sound because it is tuned lower than a standard ukulele.
  4. Same chord shapes as the guitar. This is exciting for those of you who want to play the guitar! The baritone has the same first four strings as a guitar, so the chord shapes are the same. This fact is why the baritone uke is often called a gateway instrument, because it makes transitions from ukulele to guitar and vice versa easier.
  5. The “X Factor.” The baritone is a unique instrument, and I will expand on the content and many opportunities that ULTP provides for baritone players later in this article.

Why the Baritone Ukulele?

There are things special to the baritone that sets it apart from other ukuleles. Again, the size is very different in the body, scale length, and neck. If you are struggling with the small ukuleles, you may very well enjoy the bigger body and scale. Also, if you find that you do not have enough room for your fingers on the fret board, you may prefer the neck of a baritone.

The sound is much deeper, which might entice you. Because of its bigger body, the baritone has a lower timber. The tuning is D-G-B-E which is another reason to start especially if you are thinking of learning the guitar. Finally, there is power to the chords, and fingerpicking can be dynamic. So how do you approach the baritone? In the next section, I will reveal some things you can do to make the most of this versatile instrument.

Read more: The Best Ukulele Books For Music Players

Can One Change the Tuning on a Baritone or Tenor Ukulele?

Playing chords on the baritone can present some challenges. Because of the tuning, you cannot play with other ukulele players (playing standard ukuleles) unless you change your chord shapes. These can be transformed with some work; however, if you are playing solo, you can play the usual chords you would play on a standard ukulele. You will just have more of a bass sound which can be appealing to many musicians. There are ways to combat this one challenge, though. Read on to find out how you can change tuning on ukuleles.

Tuning a Baritone Like an Ukulele

Why would you want to do that? You may like the size and scale length of the baritone, but you want to play with friends who play standard ukuleles.

If you change the tuning, you can have the best of both worlds. You can have the size of the baritone, but still easily play with others. You would need a new set of strings which you can find on store.ukelikethepros.com. This is an alternative to learning new chord shapes.

Turning a Tenor into a Baritone

Terry Carter also goes over how to tune a tenor into a baritone in this video, Can You Turn Your Tenor into a Baritone? This would be for players who do not want to play a bigger instrument, but who want to play with another baritone friend. It may also be helpful to do this if you are traveling and do not want to transport a bigger instrument. To do this, you would need a new set of strings which are available at the ULTP store as well. I purchased a set of Pepe Romero, Jr. Baby Baritone Strings in case I choose to transform my tenor into a baritone.

Opportunities for Baritone Players from ULTP

One of the challenges that once faced baritone players is the lack of baritone instruction out in the field, but that is no longer a problem. ULTP has so much content for aspiring baritone players. This section discusses some of the many opportunities that ULTP have to offer baritone players, so I encourage you to take advantage of these ULTP perks!

Baritone Ukulele Content with ULTP

Terry Carter goes over the beginnings of his journey with the baritone in this video, Baritone Ukulele Beginnings. You learn about the ULTP blog, the Baritone Fingerstyle Course, the free Beginner’s Baritone Fingerstyle Guide, and the Baritone Mastery Workbook. All of these resources are available through ULTP. You can also obtain a free baritone chord chart here, Free Ukulele Chord Chart. This is only one of the many free baritone resources available through ULTP.

Baritone Ukulele Chord Chart

You may be thinking about joining ULTP Nation by becoming a premium member which will also give you access to the weekly, live Q & A’s. If you cannot make the live events, you will have them archived as a premium member for viewing at any time. You will also have access to all the courses available from ULTP. This includes all of the baritone courses like the Ukulele Boot Camp for the Baritone which can be previewed in this video, Ukulele Boot Camp. There are so many opportunities out there, so get connected. As a premium member, I appreciate the care ULTP takes to build a strong foundation for my musical journey as an ukulele player. I cannot recommend ULTP Nation enough!

Conclusion

If you have never played an ukulele before or if you have been playing a standard ukulele for a while, learning how to play the baritone ukulele can definitely open new avenues to this fascinating instrument. ULTP offers many baritones at the store, and you can choose anything from an entry level baritone to a beautiful, fancy ukulele with a resonating, deep sound. Wherever you are in your journey as a musician, consider this instrument if it sounds like a good fit, and join us at ULTP Nation to build the fundamentals in your music journey!

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1 comment

Judy June 19, 2023 - 10:51 pm

I love my tenor ukulele and really trying to learn that well before I get a baritone someday. One thing at a time, right?? says Judy Corrette

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