Knowing how to tune your ukulele is an essential part of knowing how to play, and a skill that every player should know how to do. Regardless of if you’re just learning how to play, if you’re a casual player at home or if youre playing with a group, if your uke is out of tune you won’t have an enjoyable playing experieince. Simply put, an out-of-tune ukulele just sounds bad.
Whether you have new strings or old strings, as you continue to play, your strings will begin to go out of tune and you will need to know how to get your ukulele back in tune. And, the quicker and more easily you learn how to get your uke back in tune, the more fun you will have playing.
Tuning a ukulele may seem complicated, especially if you are a beginner but, rest assured, with a little practice it becomes quicker and easier over time. The key factors when it comes to tuning are practice, repetition and patience, as well as having the right tuner that suits your needs. And, the more you do it, the quicker and easier it gets.
In this article, we will focus on how to tune your ukulele using a tuner, along with learning the difference between the high G and the low G when it comes to tuning and playing. The type of ukulele you have may determine the type of tuner that you use, and you might have to do some experimenting to find the tuner and method that works best for you. Either way, as mentioned, the more you do it, the better you will get at it.
Learning the Names of Your Ukulele Strings
Before you learn how to tune or learn how to use a tuner, it’s important to learn which string is which. If you don’t know your strings, you won’t know how to tune your uke in the first place. Luckily, there are several ways to memorize the names of your strings using simple acronyms. (This tuning method is applicable for soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles, where as baritone ukuleles are tuned differently.)
Using Acronyms to Learn Your Strings
With your ukulele resting on your leg, start with the top-most string that is closest to your chin. Starting with that string and moving your way down, the strings are G, C, E and A. Popular acronyms for learning your uke strings include ‘Good Charlie Eats A lot,’ and, ‘Great Cats Eat Always.’ However, you can make up your own acronyms and ways to remember the names of your strings until you find a the method that works best for you.
How to Use a Tuner
Once you have learned the names of your strings, you will find that tuning will become more and more easy the more that you do it. Tuners are all based based on the same principle of using frequencies and vibrations, and it’s a simple matter of adjusting the tension of your strings until they achieve the correct frequency.
The more you play and the more you learn how to tune, you will become better skilled at noticing when your strings are out of tune, out of sync, and not vibrating together properly. The word ‘harmony’ is key in this situation – as you continue to play and continue to learn how to tune, you will more and more quickly you will notice when your strings are not syncing up.
Using a Clip-on Tuner
One of the easiest and most effective ways to tune your ukulele is by using a clip-on tuner. Clip-on tuners are very portable and simple to use; you just clip them onto the uppermost part of your ukulele’s head stock, and when you pluck one of your strings, the tuner will let you know if you are over or under your desired note. (Also known as being sharp or flat respectively.)
The clip-on tuner, just like all types of tuners, has a display that will let you know if you are sharp of flat, and you simply tighten or loosen your string until the display on your tuner tell you that are in tune. Once you have your string in tune, move your way through the rest of your strings and repeat the process.
Clip-on tuners are also very convenient if you are in a loud environment, such as when you are playing with a group, playing at a party or playing a show since they rely more on the vibration of your uke rather than relying on the actual sound coming out of your ukulele.
Using Chromatic Tuners and Tuning Apps
There are plenty of great tuning apps that you can access through your phone, tablet or computer, which you can play along with to get your uke in tune. Also, a basic chromatic tuner is another portable and affordable option when it comes to tuning your ukulele. Just keep in mind that tuning apps and chromatic tuners often need a very quiet space in order for them to be effective.
D’Addario and Kala are both very popular brands of tuners that can be found here.
High G and Low G Tuning
Depending on your style of playing, you may prefer to set up your G string in either the high position or low position. Your G string is the main note on your ukulele, almost like the ‘anchor’ of everything that you play, and it basically comes down to whether you want a lighter or heavier tone when you play.
Tuning With the High G
Tuning with the high G is a more traditional style of tuning, which is used mostly for soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles. When you tune with a high G, it’s great for strumming, but not so much for picking because you lose some of the ability for soloing.
When you buy a packet of strings, it will be clearly labelled as to whether it comes with a high G or low G, such as with all of these high G packets.
Tuning With the Low G
When tuning with the low G, the method of tuning is the same, but since you are a full octave lower than the high G, your uke will have a slightly more heavy sound. Having a low G on your uke will usually give you more range when it comes to plucking individual strings.
As with string packets that come with high G strings, string packets with low G strings will also be clearly labeled, like with these.
If you’re a beginner and need a little help with how to change the strings on your ukulele, be sure to watch our helpful video:
Again, the high G and low G are the same note, but it all depends on what sound and style you want to achieve. Whatever you decide, make sure that you string your uke with the correctly sized G string.
Knowing how to correctly and efficiently tune your ukulele is an essential skill that beginners and experts should all know how to master. The bottom line is, if you’re out of tune, your uke won’t sound good and you won’t have an enjoyable playing experience. However, if you follow these simple steps and continue practicing, you will find that it becomes quicker and easier over time, which will help to make you a better player in the long run. Be sure to visit store.ukelikethepros.com for all your ukulele needs, and check out ukelikethepros.com for lessons, videos and other helpful articles. Enjoy your playing!