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I just got a banjolele as a gift. I've played uke for years, so I assumed tuning it would be a breeze, but it has not been!

It's concert sized, and I've been tuning it to GCEA. If I tune it to the 3rd octave, the strings are all warbly, loose, and won't hold tune at all. But the 4th octave is too high and snaps the strings. I can't even get the G string past D4.

Is there a way to make the strings tighter when tuning to the 3rd octave? Or should it be in the 4th and there's a technical issue? Help!

  • are you using the strings that came with it, or did you put specific concert size set on? Concert has a longer scale length than soprano and uses a different string gauge. Wrong set could be causing problems. – Alphonso Balvenie Mar 6 '17 at 19:49
  • Is your bridge in the right place and angled correctly? – jejorda2 Mar 6 '17 at 19:49
  • I broke a few of the strings that came on it while trying to tune, so I put a set of strings I had from a tenor ukulele on it. I measured out the bridge placement, I wasn't sure if maybe the bridge could be too high and needs to be filed down a bit.. but I didn't really want to mess with it until I got a little more information on it! Thanks! – Catie Mar 6 '17 at 20:24
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Check your Uke's scale length to determine which type of strings you should use. The body may look like a Concert, but it is the scale length that you want to get strings for. To check the scale length, measure from the nut to the bridge.

  • Soprano = 13 inches or 33 cm
  • Concert = 15 inches or 38 cm
  • Tenor = 17 inches or 43 cm
  • Baritone = 19 inches or 48 cm

If it is an older (vintage) banjolele it may not be in a standard scale length. Try the smaller size's strings in that case.

There are also alternate tunings than current common standard, such as Soprano being tuned A4-D4-F#4-B4, and the instrument may be built for the higher tuning. Tuning up will also give you a higher tension, so if the older instrument is built for the higher tuning, G tuned strings will have lower tension on that instrument.

Some string manufacturers may have a high-tension version of the set that you can use to get more tension on the lower tuning.

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