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Strings for these instruments were, historically, made from sheep gut or cow gut. With each instrument there is a point at which it isn't possible to make a thinner string that could be tuned higher. Such a string would be too weak and would break just from tuning it up to pitch. So the solution was to use a string tuned an octave lower in its place. I ...


Different reasons in different instruments. For ukeleles, it's simply that they were based on an instrument without reentrant tuning, but made in such a way whereby the lowest string could not practically be made. The instrument players wanted an instrument where the chord positions were still possible, and hey presto, you get a uke. The ukelele was based ...

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