How is a Ukulele Tune?

Cannot keep your ukulele in tune? An out-of-tune ukulele is worse than a wailing baby. To get the best sound, your ukulele needs to be tuned. Many new ukers do not dig this. They are yet to realize that frequent tuning is necessary for a beautiful sound. Generally, cheaper ukuleles – as they cannot hold their tuning for long –  need more frequent tuning than high-end ones. A rule of thumb of regular ukers is to check the uke tuning every fifteen minutes. We will walk you through what you need to be a pro at ukulele tuning. Your question, “How is a ukulele tuned” will be answered by the end of this article. Let us dive right in! 

Standard Ukulele Tuning

Standard tuning refers to the open strings tuned to the notes: G, C, E, and A. Starting for the far left of the fretboard, G is the 4th string, C the 3rd, E the 2nd, and A is the 1st string. When you tune your ukulele in standard tuning, this is the order most users prefer. Most people chose a low-G string than a high-G to tune their uke and create a more rounded sound. It all merely depends on the user’s preference.

Tune in the fastest way

This method is functional for almost every ukulele, be it concert, tenor, or soprano ukulele. If you are looking for the fastest way to tune, you can use a chromatic tuner. 

Tuners can only tune particular notes. Your best option is the chromatic tuner. As you pluck the string of a ukulele, this device discerns the pitch of every note. 

With its help, you can quickly realize whether you are too flat or sharp – that is, your pitch is too low or too high, as per the desired note. As well as checking the intonation of a uke, it will allow adapting to non-standard tunings. 

Where might you find the chromatic tuner? You might buy it from any local music store or online. Otherwise, you can just download the chromatic tuner app on your smartphone. 

A chromatic tuner is straightforward to use. You just need to strum a string, and the device will let you know if it is in tune or not. Adjust the tuning knobs until it reads the perfect tune. 

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Reentrant Tuning

Like most ukuleles are tuned, this method does not follow the low to high pitch order. The open strings are ordered differently in a way that does not necessarily move from lowest to highest. 

Why different instruments use Reentrant Tuning?

  • Soprano and concert ukulele: The tuning order for concert ukuleles is G4-C4-E4-A4, with G4 a higher pitch than C4. It delivers a closed voicing. Between the lowest-pitched open string and the highest one, there is a distance gap of 6.  
  • Tenor ukulele: This method is used for its high-G tuning. Though it has a low-G tuning, where the order is the standard G3-C4-E4-A4, users can switch the tune anytime. 
  • Baritone ukulele: This version does not use reentrant tuning much. The alternate tuning uses reentrant tuning, though. Here the order is D4-G3-B3-E4, with the D-string pushed an octave higher.

You can tune your ukulele using piano keys as well. As per the image, you can check that the top g-string is tuned at a high note than the middle 2 strings. Here, the tuning of the top g-string above the middle one occurs on a piano. Lowercase G indicates that G-note is higher than the middle C. 

Linear Tuning and Reentrant Tuning

To guitar players, the existence of a high-G string seems odd. The special order of tuning in standard reentrant tuning provides a charming and bright sound.  As the strings are bound in a small range, it gives you the evenest tune.

Some like to tune the g-string by pulling down an octave, playing it in a low-G tuning. This is also referred to as linear tuning. The sound it offers is more resonant, keeping in mind the broad range of the low-G strings. 

Special Tip: If you decide to tune your uke down to low-G, you will require a different set of low-g uke strings depending on your ukulele size. Do not attempt tuning a high-string down by an octave. The sound will not be pleasing at all!

Tuning by Ear

What if you neither have a piano nor a chromatic tuner to tune your ukulele?

Your resort will be to tune by ear. Learning how to tune by ear is a commendable skill, as well as an excellent exercise for your ears. It trains your ears to detect the pitch differences easily. 

If you tune by ear, you must carefully listen to the pitches as they act as references for tuning your piece. 

Play the audio. As the music is playing, hum its note, and inscribe it into your head. Keep doing it before plucking any ukulele strings. Once you are guaranteed that you have heard its pitch, you can pick the top G string on the ukulele. Remember this pitch in your head.

After differentiating whether your sound is sharp or flat, you need to turn on your tuning pegs to match them. 

Learn More: How to Tune a Ukulele by Ear

Know which strings to use

As a regular ukulele user, you must replace your strings every 3 months or so. Older strings deliver dull sound and do not remain in tune for long.

We would recommend you to go with Aquila strings. These are the best strings for almost all types of uke.

Every ukulele, however, responds differently to other strings. Try different strings and check which ones sound best on your instrument.

Final Thoughts

Once you have mastered the skill of tuning your ukulele, you are sure to amaze your audience. Your audience will be suckers for your beautiful sound. 

We hope this article finds you the best way to tune your piece. Give all the different methods a whirl!

Happy tuning!

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