How to Tune a Ukulele by Ear: No matter what type of musical instrument you play, you do not want it to go out of tune. Imagine you are playing in public, having an out of tune ukulele can become a nightmare. While taking a ukulele lesson, tuning is an important step of the process which will only help your ukulele sound better.
A lot of people skip the training of ear that is tuning the ukulele by air. There are other digital tuners such as chromatic tuner and piano or even digital apps but one should never skip the lessons of tuning by ear. As a music player listening to your music while playing is very crucial. Recognising the notes is a must-have skill for you. So, tuning your ukulele by ear helps you to develop your aural skill because for instant feedback your ear is your best companion.
Checking the tune every time before you play your ukulele will be the best for you. This article is going to help you learn tuning your ukulele by ear step by step and make you the master in it.
How the Ukulele is Tuned
To tune the ukulele means simply to adjust the pitch of its strings. You have to tighten or loosen the strings. The pitch will be raised in case you tighten and will be lowered in case you loosen. Make sure the strings are not too tight which can damage or even break your strings.
The most common tuning for most of the ukuleles like soprano, tenor or concert is G-C-E-A. There are other ukulele tunings like Standard ukulele tuning for baritone or tenor ukulele. It is tuned as D-G-B-E. There is Slack-key tuning going as G-C-E-G. It is based on Hawaiian style tuning. There are also English tuning and Canadian tuning and both go as A-D-F#-B with a slight difference. They are used for sweeter tunes.
Also Read: Best 5 Ukulele Tuners
How to Tune by Ear
To tune your ukulele by ear you need nothing but your ukulele and your ear. There are 12 notes for each string. You have to know the notes of the frets. Once you adjust the first string just by your ear or listening to the pitch from other sources, you can tune the other strings by the tuned string. Here are the steps for you to get it right.
Tuning the G String: First of all, you have to adjust the pitch of one particular string. We are taking the G string to start. Play the G string freely at first and listen to it playing completely. Let it ring. Recognize the tune before moving to the next string. If you feel the pitch sharp or flat, adjust the string.
Tuning the C String: Once you have fixed the G string, you can adjust all the other strings matching with it. To adjust the C string, play the fifth fret on the G string which sounds like the C string. Then play both the fifth fret on the G string and the C string at the same time. Keep tuning both together until they sound the same.
Tuning the E String: Now that you have tuned your C string, use to tune your E string. Play the fourth string on the C string as it sounds like the E string. Now play both the fourth string on the C string and E string at the same time. Keep adjusting the E string until it sounds like the other one.
Tuning the A String: Follow the same procedure again for the A string using the E string. The A string sounds like the fifth fret on the E string. So, play both at the same time like before and keep adjusting the A string until it sounds like the fifth fret on the E string.
Starting with a Familiar Tune
Tuning your ukulele by one string at a time is not enough. You have to work on songs for tuning by your ear. Otherwise, your skill will not be developed enough. For tuning a song, the best way is to start with a familiar and simple tune. Take the tune of happy birthday for example. It is the simplest tune of all.
Just like you have tuned all the single string by being familiar with it, keep tuning a single note of the song you have picked until you are familiar with it. Then go for another note and thus practice the entire song for tuning.
At first, it can be very slow of a process but do not give up easily. Keep practicing and you will find it faster gradually both tuning and playing the ukulele perfectly.
Improving Your Ears
Knowing the process of the tuning your ukulele is not enough unless you improve your aural skill to a level where you do not need an external tuner. You can follow the below tips to improve your ear more for tuning.
- While training your ear you can use an external tuner for support. Once you have mastered tuning by ear, it will be faster than the external tuner you have used for your tuning.
- When you decide to learn something, spend enough time for it. Many people do not practice enough and wonder about their lack of skills. To improve your tuning practice more and more.
- Do not practice tuning without your voice. Try to match your voice with a pitch and let your ear get used to your voice too.
- Playing with others also improve your tuning as you will have more sources to match.
Now as you know how to tune your ukulele by your ear, start practising tuning it more and more until you are a master of it. The process can be really slow at first but do not lose your heart and work on the process that goes the best with you.