I asked Aaron to write us a simple overview of the 6 and 8 string ukulele. He did just that, and here it is- (thanks Aaron!)
As an ukulele instructor, one of the most often asked questions I get is, “What’s with the 6 and 8 string ukuleles?” These multi stringed anomalies of the ukulele world have been both amazing and bewildering us for as long as they have graced the Hawaiian music scene. Well, today I will try to shed some light on the 6 and 8 stringed ukuleles and explain some of the local applications and uses.
The 8 string ukulele is widely used for a driving rhythm sound. Walk into any hula halau and odds are there will be atleast one 8 string being played. The characteristic “chorus” effect us brought about by the combination of both octave and unison harmonies that occur from string to string. Like the 12 string guitar, the 8 string ukulele has the highest pitched strings tuned in unison, and the lower pitched strings tuned to octaves. ( G, lower octave G, higher octave C, C, E, unison E, and A, unison A) When holding chords the blend of these notes create the aforementioned “chorus” effect.
The 6 string ukulele, like the 8 string has doubled strings. In contrast to the 8, however, the 6 string has only the 1st (A) and 3rd(C) strings doubled. The biggest difference between the 8 string and the 6 string is that more often than not, the 6 string has a lower octave A rather than the unison A found on the 8 string. This gives the 6 string a distinctly different voice than both the 8 and 4 string ukuleles. I have found this voicing to lend itself well to jamming with a guitar player due to the difference of the “sweet spot”. The “sweet spot” occurs when contrasting frequencies blend together to create a harmonically rich, but not cluttered sound. In conclusion, the 6 and 8 string ukuleles definitely have their place in Hawaiian music. The full, rich tones work well with other instruments as well as for solo work. Hope this clears up the mystery of the 6 & 8 stringed ukulele. Aloha and keep strumming- Aaron – HMS
This video is for the 8 string. The Uke was a little too loud for the mic, sorry about that.