‘Ukulele Chord Shapes eBook
“If you have questions about ukulele chords, Chord Shapes has the answers.” ~ James Hill

Reader Question: Jake’s ‘Ukulele and 6 & 8 String ‘Ukuleles

Jerry says:

Tell me about Jake’s Uke, & what’s the deal with 6 & 8 sting ukes?

Hippie Guy answers:

Jake Shimabukuro‘s ‘ukulele is made custom by Casey Kamaka of Kamaka Hawaii Inc. Over the years he has gotten various models, some with slotted headstocks, some with the standard style.

The ‘ukuleles are made out of top quality curly koa with ebony fingerboards and bridges. Each has a Fishman Acoustic Matrix pickup for amplification. All that I have seen had “JS” inlayed at the twelfth fret. Jake uses D’addario Pro Arte EJ46 strings.

6 and 8 string ‘ukuleles

On 6 and 8 string ‘ukuleles, some or all of the strings are doubled (the exception is the Koaloha D-VI). The doubled strings are sometimes known as “courses” ex: an 8 string is strung with double courses.

  • On a 6 string ‘ukulele, usually the C and A strings are doubled. The C course has the normal middle C plus a C an octave up (like the 3rd fret on the A string). The A course consists of the high A and a low A that is a whole step (2 frets) above low G. The G and E are tuned normally.
  • On an 8 string all the strings are doubled. The G course has a high and low G. The C course has middle C and a high C an octave up. The E course is tuned with double Es both in the same octave. The two A  strings are also tuned in the same octave.

These ‘ukuleles look the same as 4 string ukes except for the added strings, nut slots, and bridge holes. As for sound, the added strings really jangle things up. Because you can’t tune each string perfectly, the difference – even between the same note – creates a little bit of dissonance and a chorus sound. From what I’ve seen, these ‘ukuleles are used mostly for vocal accompaniment, but I’ve also seen Taimane Gardner use one for solo performances.

The only additional knowledge needed to play 6 and 8 string ‘ukuleles is just how to tune them (see above).

Meet The Author:

Brad Bordessa

Brad plays 'ukulele on the Big Island of Hawai'i. He writes original music, performs, and hunts unicorns - all with only an 'ukulele.

2 comments… add one
  • Kanaka916 Jun 4, 2009, 4:58 am

    There are options for the 6 string. David Hurd (Ukuleles by Kawika) uses a low G, Octave C, and the A string is in unison. You can find more info on his site Ukuleles by Kawika and using the site map.

  • Hippie Guy Jun 4, 2009, 5:39 am

    Very true. Any combo would work. I’ve seen 5 string ‘ukuleles with a low g and high g as well.

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