Thanks to its refreshing island sound, the ukulele is becoming an increasingly popular instrument. However, if you don’t know how to tune a ukulele properly, its sweet tropical notes can start to go sour fast! Luckily there are several easy methods of tuning that you can use to ensure your ukulele always sounds top notch!
In standard tuning, a ukulele’s strings are tuned to the following notes: G on the fourth string from the bottom, C on the third, E on the second, and A on the first or bottom string. The knobs on the head of the ukulele are turned to tighten or loosen the strings. Tightening a string tunes it to a higher note while loosening the string tunes it down lower.
There are several methods to ensure you are tuning your ukulele to the correct notes. Here are the three most common ways to tune:
Method 1: Use a Tuner
There are two types of tuners that you can use to tune your ukulele. Some tuners use a microphone, strobe, or vibration detectors to let you know if you are tuned to the correct note. Other tuners will play the note for you and you must match the tone by ear. For beginning players, it is much easier to use a tuner of the first type. However, using the second type of tuner will help you to develop your ear. You can find a great free ukulele tuner online, as a mobile app, or purchase a tuner from a music shop.
Method 2: Tune to your Uke
If you don’t have a tuner handy, here’s how to tune a ukulele against itself. First, listen to your G string and adjust it until the note sounds right to you. Then, hold down your G string on the 5th fret to hear the C an octave above the note your C string should be. Once your C string is tuned an octave below that note, hold it down on the 4th fret and tune your E string to that note. Finally, hold your E string down on the fifth fret and tune your A string.
Method 3: Tune to a Guitar
If you will be accompanying a guitarist with your uke, you will want to tune from the guitar so your instruments will sound good together. Ask your guitarist to play their high E string held down on the third fret to get the pitch for your G string, and then ask them to play the first fret on their B string to tune your C. Next, you can tune your E string to your guitarist’s high E string and ask them to hold down the E string on the fifth fret to tune your A string.
Photo by Tim Walker