Have you ever been frustrated when your ukulele goes out of tune? You worked so hard to get your tuner to line up exactly on the G-C-E and A, and then BAM! It goes out of tune. You are not alone! Ukuleles can indeed go out of tune for a few different reasons which I’ll outline below.
Some you can control, and some are just part of playing the instrument, so let’s check out the reasons your uke can go out of tune!
Most ukuleles have nylon strings, and they can stretch over time due to the tension placed on them when playing. This can cause the ukulele to go out of tune more easily, especially if they are new or not broken in. It’s definitely not pleasant to listen to a ukulele that is out of tune. The first thing you’ll want to do is invest in a quality tuner. I highly recommend a clip-on tuner which you can find here in the Terry Carter Music Store and get familiar with it!
When tuning, you’ll want to be sure to tune up to the note. If the pitch is too high, tune it counter-clockwise to lower the note, and then make sure it is right in the center of the tuner. If the pitch is flat, raise it up to the desired note.
Changes in Humidity and Temperature
Changes in temperature and humidity can cause the wood of the ukulele to expand or contract, which can affect the tension of the strings on the ukulele and cause it to go out of tune. Low humidity can cause the wood parts to lose moisture and contract which can cause the strings to tighten and the pitch to rise. If it is too humid, the wooden parts of the ukulele can absorb moisture and expand, which can result in the strings becoming slack and the pitch dropping.
I have more science for you regarding temperature and the ukulele. When the temperature is high, the air molecules vibrate faster, resulting in higher frequency of sound waves. This can cause the strings to expand slightly, making them slightly looser and the pitch to drop. When the temperature is lower, the air molecules vibrate slower, which can result in a lower frequency of sound waves. This can cause the strings to contract slightly, making them tighter and the pitch to rise.
To avoid any problems with temperature and humidity, be sure to store your ukulele in a controlled and stable environment. You may need a humidifier for your ukulele as well, which you can find in the Terry Carter Music Store here.
Read more: Best Hawaiian Ukulele Brands
Poor Quality Tuning Pegs
It’s so important to have good quality tuning pegs on your ukulele. They are responsible for controlling the tension of the strings, which then determines the pitch of the notes produced by the ukulele. If you have poor quality tuning pegs, they may not be able to hold the strings at the desired tension, which can cause the strings to go out of tune more easily.
It’s important to have good quality tuning pegs, and if you don’t, consider replacing them with better ones. You’ll have an easier time with keeping them in tune.
If you don’t have good technique when you are playing or tuning, it can really affect how much you’ll have to retune your ukulele. If you press too hard on the strings when playing, you can stretch the strings beyond their optimal tension, causing the pitch to go sharp. This can make it difficult to keep the ukulele in tune.
Bending the strings when playing can also cause the pitch to go sharp. This is because bending the strings increases tension and changes the pitch. While it can bring expression and character to your playing, you’ll have to be mindful of the tuning issues it may bring.
If you place your fingers in the wrong place on the fretboard when you are making chords, this can also cause the ukulele to go out of tune. And if you are strumming too hard or at an awkward angle, it can cause the strings to vibrate unevenly, which will cause tuning issues.
Now you know how important it is to have good technique when playing and also how important it is to store your ukulele correctly, in the right environment. You know to change out any poor quality tuning pegs, and to use a good quality clip-on tuner.
You can check out the Community Forum on ukelikethepros.com if you have questions about tuning or playing techniques. You can also check out the great membership packages for courses, available in monthly and yearly subscriptions. Happy tuning!