Make a 6 string baritone uke

In this recent article, I told you how to make a fairly rare 6-string ukulele starting from a regular tenor uke. Well, you can still buy those, but the 6-string baritone variety is impossible to find. The good news is that it is quite easy to make one, on a very tight budget.

Yes, it is actually easier and cheaper to make a 6-string baritone ukulele. This is what you need, with some links to he parts I used:

  1. A 1/2 scale guitar. Best if the strings tie to the bridge through holes rather than pins. I used this one from Amazon:
  2. A set of baritone ukulele strings. I bought a D’Addario set because I had read (and actually experienced) that Aquila wound strings don’t last. My source:
  3. You’ll need two extra strings: a plain thin one to be tuned in high G, and a wound one to be tuned E, so it should be a thickness between the D and the G strings in the set above. You may find that the G and A strings of a low-G tenor ukulele set work quite well.

For tools, you’ll need a knife blade, perhaps a fine-tooth saw, and a thin, long drill bit.

Construction is very similar to that of the tenor 6-string uke described in the other article, except that you don’t need to add two more tuners because the guitar already has six of them. The only construction necessary is to make new grooves on the nut and new holes on the bridge for the relocated strings. Remember that 1st and 3rd now become doubled, so leave at least 1 mm on the nut between the two strings of each of these sets. A 1/2 scale guitar naturally has a narrower neck than a full-size, or even a 3/4 size, so chances are you’ll be able to use the 1st and 6th string grooves (and bridge holes) without any changes, and perhaps one more of the original grooves and holes, and so need to make only three or four new ones. The spacing doesn’t have to be exactly even for the instrument to play well.
I am adding some pictures of the reworked nut and bridge, showing the new grooves and holes.

String it up, placing the new high G (the tenor A string) between the original 3rd and 4th, and the new low E (the tenor low G string) between the original 1st and 2nd, so you can play a reasonable scale by fingerpicking. Tune it up and you’re done. It will take a day or two for the strings to stretch, so tune it up a little high for starters so the strings settle faster.

I really love how this instrument sounds. It has both the “fullness” of a guitar and the sweetness of a ukulele. Great sustain. Put a capo on the 5th fret, and you’ve also got yourself a 6-string concert uke (low G). My go-to instrument at the moment.



Here is a sample sound. Same tune as for the 6-string tenor, one fourth lower:

6 thoughts to “Make a 6 string baritone uke”

  1. I would like to give this a go, however just for the stupid individuals like myself, how is this baritone Uke tuned as I think there are at least a couple of ways of tuning a baritone with the normal 4 string configuration could the narrator outline how all 6 strings would be tuned in this instance to clarify please? apologies in advance!

    1. It is tuned DGBE 4th to 1st. The instrument referred to in the article has a wound low D, as in the standard baritone tuning, and an unwound B. 1st and 3rd are doubled in octaves: high E (normal unwound) + low E one octave lower (wound), low G (normal wound) + high G one octave higher (unwound)

    2. I am collaborating with a luthier to create what we call a 6 string Cocobolo Colossal Baritone Ukulele.
      I currently have a Short neck( tenor length) Baritone with a low G ( gCEA). It sounds great with good foundation sound. I want him to design and build a parlor guitar sized Baritone Ukulele. Im not sure if it should be tuned like a parlor guitar( DGBE) or with GCEA . I would like it to be 6 strings for a fuller sound. ( I play for groups of 20-60) I visioned paired octave strings on the 1st and 4th . Do you think that would sound good and are their strings available? Thanks, Dave in Robins, Iowa

      1. Hello Dave, I have made a few of the possible combinations yielding 6-string ukuleles by doubling certain strings in octaves, including one where the 1st and 4th are doubled, tuned generally in C like a standard tenor or soprano. The extra strings are a couple “low G” wound strings for the low 1st (A) and low 4th (G). This is one of my least favorite combinations, I think because the doubled 1st and 4th sets are very close in pitch to one another, so much of the effect of doubling in octaves is lost. If you want to do a set tuned in G like a baritone, you will need extra heavy wound strings for the low 1st and 4th, which can possibly be obtained from baritone sets (4th string) or guitar sets (5th string).
        Why not double the 3rd instead of the 4th, as I describe in the post? This adds a high 3rd that can be heard distinctly above the other strings. This baritone in G with 1st and 3rd doubled in octaves is one of my favorites. The extra low E (1st) is a wound 4th from a baritone set (or maybe a 3rd, since an over-tuned 4th might snap too easily). The extra high G (3rd) is a 1st from a regular ukulele set (get it from a banjolele set, which has longer strings).

        1. Paco, thanks very much for your helpful comments. I want this Collassal Cocobolo Baritone to have an expanded full sound with the 6 strings . Am I correct you are recommending gcCEaA? With the CAPITAL letters being the normal tuned strings?
          Also I am thinking a normal length Baritone neck might work better than an extended neck? What do you think?

          1. Yes, with the extra 3rd string one octave higher than normal, and the extra 1st one octave lower than normal. You can tune it in G (DGBE) or in C (GCEA). No need to have an extra long neck. The regular baritone neck is perfect.

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