Tiple Ukulele

Martin t45 koa Custom Tiple Ukulele
1922 Martin T45
1972 K Yusuma Tiple Ukulele Corner
My 1972 K Yasuma
Ohana Tiple Ukulele
2012 Ohana
The Tiple Ukulele, (or North American Tiple), is a bit of a hybrid instrument in its history. We know the Ukulele history and the Tiple, (means treble in Spanish and is pronounced ti-plee with the last e sounding), was one of those instruments from the Spanish part of the Iberian peninsula that was very similar to things on the Portuguese side, but with a different name, (in this case the Rajão). Then, as was often the case, when taken to the colonies in South America the Tiple changed into a number of new instruments, with in some places the addition of extra courses of strings, (in some places it reduced the number of strings to 4 or even just 3). The final step was taken by Martin on behalf of Wm Smith & Co. in 1919 when they took the Columbian Tiple, (so this is not really a Hawaiian derivative from the Taropatch), shrank it a little and lost 2 strings to produce Tiple Ukuleles. This idea was then copied by others like Lyon & Healy, Regal and Oscar Schmidt. Martin stopped making them in the 60's, (the others had stopped before WWII), when they stopped making Ukuleles for a while and have not restarted, (I believe they will make a custom one on request?), but some modern makers are.

To the Instrument itself. The Tiple Ukulele is the same size as a Tenor, (in fact it was from the Tiple Ukulele that Martin got the inspiration for todays 17in Tenor scale), but it has 10 strings, usually steel and usually with Ukulele D Tuning, a~D~F#~B. The a and B note are made up of 2 strings and the D and F# notes are made of 3 strings, with the 2 outer strings being 1 octave higher than the middle one. So the full line-up is a~A~d~D~d~f#~F#~f#~B~B ! - fun to tune too. And because the Tiple Ukulele has 10 steel strings it puts a lot of pressure on the fixing of the bridge; this is why it is often damaged or missing on older models

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