Sunday, October 26, 2014

Photo: James Hill with Mya-Moe Baritone Ukulele

Copied from the Truro Daily News Article 10-13-2014

James Hill and Jake Shimabukuro have been at the top of my personal list of the most well known and talented ukulele players in the world. They have both been spotted with baritone ukuleles in recent posts. Of course James Hill has an album with Anne which features his Mya-Moe bari.

 It is interesting to note that with the resurgence of the ukulele, the "third wave," which has been affectionately focused on the GCEA ukulele has exploded. It has been my theory that many people have found that they have musical ability and they want to expand and explore. 

Banjo ukuleles have been a strong area of growth with many of my ukulele playing friends. Banjo ukes are an easy conversion since the chords are the same shapes and in the same fret.

But, I was intrigued with the baritone ukulele early on. I loved the mellower low D sound. I started off with a low G concert uke and wanted to get a bit lower in range. I also found that my wife was much more amenable to my coach playing if my uke were a little softer. That allowed me more playing time -- every day!

Another big factor for me was listening to bari players like, Lil' Rev and the YouTube prolific bari old-time music, gospel, and bluesman Todd Baio, who went by the name Doogey9. They really showed me the great potential that I wanted to be part of.


I would like to invite you to share any news that you come across that other bari-uke players may benefit from. I welcome your photos of players with their baris or your photos of custom baris from your favorite luthiers.


  1. What's so bad about high-D, HU? Since re-entrant tuning is the standard accepted tuning on smaller ukes why isn't it the standard
    for the bari, as well?

    High-D bari would still be mellower/softer than the usual ukulele C-tuning. It would sound more "uke-like" and the baritone wouldn't
    stand out as being so different from other ukes.

    It would be more of a uke, if you accept re-entrant tuning as vital
    to the definition of what a ukulele is.

    Absent of any major movement to change the bari's standard tuning,
    there must be some reason why bari players prefer low-D. I just have no idea what it is.

    Now, Jake is well-known for disparaging low-G tuning, for discouraging its use. Now, he's toying with a low-D instrument?

    Sooner or later a goodly number of smaller-uke players turn to
    the baritone. You just get tired of the standard sound after a while and the higher pitch can begin to grate.

    You don't see nearly as many banjo ukes in videos these days as
    you used to.

  2. Ron:

    Good to hear from you and to have your constant support. Well I do play both high-D and low-D baritone. And there are many advocates of using high-D on the Bari.

    I prefer the low-D since I was indoctrinated by Steven Strauss to the sound of a low G instrument. Note that Jake's Facebook video is of him playing a vintage Kamaka with high D tuning. It is a bit softened by his pick up and his expert hands.

    My feeling is that the variety is good. I play the bari 98% of the time because it is the right instrument for my likes. I think when I add a Bari-Banjo to my collection the high-D tuning may be more in line with the banjo pop.

    Again, thanks Ron.