January 10, 2019

You’ve Gotta Whole Lotta Strings, There, Man!

Ohana 10-string tenor ukulele: TK-35-10

  Ohana Music has a long and established appreciation for vintage and unique instruments. One of our most specialized is the Tiple, or TK-35-10, based on vintage Martin builds of the early 1900s. Those made by Martin were inspired in turn by instruments first taken on trans-Atlantic voyages to the Americas in the 1800s. The word “Tiple” comes from the spanish for “treble” as the many steel strings worked to produce a bright and cheery tone.   In its current form, the Tiple was especially sought after in the -30s and -40s, where its bright and full tone complimented current popular music. The chorus of the multi-tonal steel strings provided a truly unique voice that suited the upbeat and often humorous tunes of the time.   The Ohana Tiple is built in all-solid mahogany, with 10-steel strings across 4 courses. We chose a simple and stately cream rosette and wood binding to compliment the instrument’s vintage feel. The strings are paired in sets of  2-3-3-2; with the first top 3 string sets featuring an octave tone. The Tiple is most like a tenor scale ukulele in terms of size and build, with additional bracing and body mass to allow for the tension of 10 steel strings.


At Ohana, these Tiples have a suggested tuning in line with the ukulele. Therefore starting from the top, they are: gG-CcC-EeE-AA, or G3G4-C4C3C4-E4E3E4-A4A4. That many steel strings on a short scale put a great deal of tension on the bridge, so it is of great importance not to overtune the instrument. Doing so may cause damage to the bridge. It is also important to de-tune the instrument when not playing— again due to the great tension placed on the build by the steel strings.

Our technicians find that the sets made especially for the instrument work best, and can be sourced through La Bella or GHS.   Due to the additional length of headstock and body depth, this instrument best fits into our hard-shell cases UCH-27L in black, or UCTV-27L in tweed pattern. A humidifier is an excellent preventative measure with this and any all-solid instrument, especially if you’re living in a climate that experiences change in temperature and humidity.   Check out a sample of the wonderfully unique voice of the Tiple, played by Bartt Warburton, here:

Hear about it from one of our authorized Ohana Dealers:


Get the TK-35-10 at your local Ohana Dealer!

Find Authorized Ohana Dealers