What is a “High” Baritone Ukulele?

Normal Baritone Ukuleles are tuned like the top four strings of a guitar–DGBE–and have a string length that is generally 19″ to 21″ or more. Over the years, I have found baritone ukuleles sound better if they are strung with tenor ukulele strings and tuned up a third to FBbDG, which gives a brighter but still mellow sound. I believe this is because the body of a baritone isn’t quite big enough to support the relatively low pitches of the traditional baritone ukulele tuning. Further, shortening the string length lessens the tension on the top just a bit and improves the sound a bit more. So, what I am calling a “High Baritone” is an instrument with the traditional baritone body shape and size, a string length of 18 3/8″, and tuned nominally to FBbDG.

Here are two recently completed “High” Baritones. One is has Ziricote back and sides, a Redwood top, Curly Maple rosette and bindings, Spanish Cedar neck, and Ebony fingerboard and bridge. It features a Gold Mother of Pearl Plumeria flower inlay on the fingerboard and a slotted headstock with Rubner tuners. The other instrument is made of master grade Quilted Bubinga back and sides, Western Red Cedar top, with Cocobolo Rosewood binding, head plate, fingerboard, and sound hole rosette. It also features a special fingerboard inlay of a dragonfly in white Mother of Pearl and Paua Abalone, and a slotted headstock with Rubner tuners.

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