The Ultimate Guide to Tuning Ukuleles

The Ultimate Guide to Tuning Ukuleles

Why is tuning important for a ukulele?

In this article we'll discuss the various sizes of ukuleles, list the correct tuning notes for each, and investigate how to accurately find those pitches and get them locked in on your ukulele!

Being in tune is vital when playing any stringed musical instrument, including the ukulele. Properly tuning your instrument ensures that it produces the correct pitch and that is sound good with other Instruments. Whether you have a Soprano, Concert, Tenor, Baritone, or Bass ukulele, knowing how get in tune is crucial for achieving the best possible sound.

How to tune a Soprano ukulele

The Soprano ukulele is the smallest and most common size, known for its bright and traditional ukulele sound. To tune a Soprano ukulele, you need to know the standard tuning, which is G-C-E-A.

    How to tune a Concert ukulele

    The Concert ukulele is slightly larger than the Soprano and produces a fuller sound and easier playability, yet it still retains a more traditional tone. It is tuned the same way as the Soprano ukulele, using the G-C-E-A standard tuning.

      How to tune a Tenor ukulele

      The Tenor ukulele is even larger than both the Soprano and Concert ukuleles. It offers a bigger and richer tone and is a strong choice for those playing professional ukulele. It is also tuned to G-C-E-A. However, It’s up to the player to decide whether to tune the G string to the same pitch as the Soprano and Concert ukuleles, or to tune it an octave lower to extend the range of the instrument. The lower and higher G strings will require different gauges of strings. String sets are readily available for both tunings.

      How to tune a Baritone ukulele

      The Baritone ukulele is the largest of the traditional ukulele sizes. It is typically tuned differently from the other sizes. Instead of G-C-E-A, the Baritone ukulele is usually tuned to D-G-B-E, which is the same as the top four strings of a guitar.

        How to tune a Bass ukulele

        The Bass ukulele, also known as the U-Bass, is a unique and more modern instrument that produces a deep, bass-like sound. It is typically tuned to E-A-D-G, which is the same as the four strings of a standard bass guitar.

        Now let’s discuss a few ways to accurately find the desired pitches for getting a ukulele in tune.

        Use your ear to tune a ukulele

        If you're sure another ukulele is in tune it's possible to match its sound on your instrument by ear. Use the following video to tune your Soprano, Concert, or "high G" Tenor ukulele to the pitches on this vintage Marin 5K Soprano Ukulele! 

        Use a clip on "Tuner" when tuning a ukulele

        Tuning by ear can be challenging for beginners, especially if the instrument is way out of tune. An electronic tuner provides a precise reference point for each ukulele string's correct pitch. Purchasing an electric "chromatic tuner" allows you to tune any ukulele and many other musical instruments with ease. You can also download a tuner app on your smart phone. Using a tuner helps ensure that your ukulele will sound good by itself and that it's in tune with other instruments.

        Tuning your ukulele with a keyboard?

        Yes you can tune a ukulele with a piano! To tune your ukulele using a keyboard you have to match each ukulele string to the corresponding key on the piano. But how do you find the correct key to compare to the strings on your ukulele?

        For those of you who are already familiar with piano, please keep in mind that C on ukulele is the same as "Middle C” on piano. In other words the notes on Soprano, Concert, and "high G" Tenor ukulele are G above middle C, middle C, E above middle C, A above middle C, from the string which is highest on the fretboard to the string which is closest to the ground when in playing position.

        Here’s where to find the ukulele string pitches on a full sized keyboard or piano:

        • G string: G4 - The 4th G key from the left (28th white key)
        • C string: C4 - The 4th C key from the left (24th white key) 
        • E string: E4 - The 4th E key from the left (26th white key)
        • A string: A4 - The 5th A key from the left (29th white key).
        ukulele notes on a full sized piano keyboard
        If your keyboard has a sustain pedal, it can really help. It will extend the sounding of the piano note and give you longer to zero in on the correct pitch on your ukulele.

        Press the piano key listed above and pluck the corresponding ukulele string. Then fine-tune its pitch by rotating the tuning peg until the sound is in tune. If the pitch of the ukulele string is too high, slacken the string. If it's too low then tighten it. A rhythmic "pulsing" sound indicates a tuning discrepancy. The faster the pulsing is, the farther from tuning the instrument. This pulsing lessens the closer you get to being in tune.

          Remember to regularly tune your ukulele!

          Remember, regular tuning is essential to maintain the best sound quality and playability of your ukulele. Having a good tuner helps tune your ukulele precisely. It's a good practice to check the tuning before each playing session, as temperature and humidity changes can affect the instrument's pitch. By following these tuning instructions for each size of ukulele, you'll be able to enjoy the beautiful melodies and harmonies that this versatile instrument can produce.

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