Ukulele tuning (1)
In this post, we’ll explore the different types of ukulele tunings and how to tune your ukulele. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, you’ll find everything you need to know about tuning your ukulele in this post.
A Ukulele tuner
Using a tuner is the easiest way to tune your Ukulele. You can find tuners in music stores or online. Tuners come in different types, but the most common type today is a Clip-on tuner . This is a small device that you clip onto your Ukulele’s headstock when you want to tune it. It detects the vibrations of the strings and shows you the pitch on a screen.
Clip-on tuners are very practical and affordable. You can get one for as low as 10$ or more, depending on the brand and quality. (#Ad)
Some electric acoustic Ukuleles come with a built-in tuner along with the sound controls. This makes it easy to keep your Ukulele in tune at all times.
Ukulele tuner app for your smart phone
Downloading a tuner app to your smartphone is the most affordable way to tune your ukulele because you can usually find a free version for iOS, Android and Windows. These apps are very good and easy to use. They work by using your phone’s microphone to listen to the sound of your Ukulele strings. You can also adjust the tuning mode and the reference pitch according to your preferences. The best part is that you always have your phone with you, so you always have the tuner with you as well. The only downside is that free versions of the ukulele tuning app often come with some ads.
Android Ukulele tuner
If you have an Android phone, you have many options for Ukulele tuner apps. One of them is Pocket Ukulele Tuner, which we recommend at the moment. It’s easy to use and has a simple interface. However, you might find a better app out there in the jungle of Android apps.
To use this app, you just need to select the ukulele setting on top, and then tune each string according to the app. For example, if you have a normal tuning, choose C tuning (standard) (gCEA). This is how most tuners work, so it’s not a complicated operation at all.
Of course, you can also tune the ukulele by using your ears and listening to the sound. This is not easy for everyone, in our opinion (Read the article Baritone Ukulele Tuning.)
A bit deeper information if you don’t have, or want, a standard tuning:
Ukulele tuning and types.
Before you start you need to know what kind of Ukulele you have (Read the article: Ukulele Types).
If you have a:
- Sopranissimo or Sopranino (Piccolo or Pocket): D5-G4-B4-E5 or C5-F4-A4-D5
- Standard or Soprano Ukulele: the most popular tuning is C-tuning: G4 C4 E4 A4. The re-entrant tuning is when the G string is an octave higher.
- Standard or Soprano Ukulele: another normal tuning is the D-tuning: A4 D4 F#4 B4. This is one step higher than the first. Some thinks the D-tuning bring out a sweeter tone in small Ukuleles. (We find the standard C tuned Ukulele easier for beginners.) This tuning was normal during the Hawaiian music boom early in the 20th century, but it is still often used today. It is also called English Tuning.
- Concert or Super Soprano Ukulele: A4-D4-F#4-B4 or G4-C4-E4-A4 that is most common
- Tenor Ukuleles: A4-D4-F#4-B4, G4-C4-E4-A4 (most common), G3-C4-E4-A4
- Baritone Ukulele: D3-G3-B3-E4 this is called G-tuning
- Bass Ukulele: E2-A2-D3-G3
- Contrabass Ukulele: E1-A1-D2-G2
(The numbers indicates in which scale you find the note on a piano.)
Read about the Ukulele Strings at the link!
Concert and Tenor Ukuleles can also use a “Canadian tuning”. This name comes from its use in the school system in Canada. This is a D-tuning with a low 4th string. The notes are A3 D4 F#4 B4. If you want to know more about this tuning, you can read the Ukulele history article.
Sopranino, Soprano and Concert Ukuleles usually have re-entrant tuning, which means the 4th string is higher than the 3rd string. On the other hand, the “lower pitched” instruments such as Tenor, Baritone and Bass often have linear tuning, where the strings are tuned from low to high pitch.
Slack key ukulele tuning
Hawaiian Ukuleles can also have open tunings, like the Hawaiian slack key style. Slack-key Tuning (G, C, E, G). A down to G. When you strum the strings as open strings, it sounds like a C major chord. The top G string can be tuned either to the G above middle C or down one octave. This gives you two options: re-entrant or linear tuning.
Of course, this means that all your normal chord positions are different. If you strum all the strings open, as mentioned above, you already have a C chord. By moving it two positions up and fretting 2222, you have a D chord. To play a basic C-F-G song, you use 0000, 5555, 6666. This tuning works best while playing in the key of C and with C scales.
Slide tuning is a unique way to play slide blues on the ukulele. While most people think about lap steels and guitars for using slide playing, you can play slide ukulele as long as you are light on the slide. To achieve this tuning, instead of G-C-E-A change the A to Bb, that gives you G-C-E-Bb which is a C7. The 7th chord is the hallmark of blues, so with a slide ukulele tuning you can play some great slide blues on the instrument. It’s important to use a slide that isn’t too heavy and to remember that a simple Bic lighter, or sometihing like that, makes a great slide for instruments.
If you want, you can turn the ukulele on its side and play it like a mini lap steel. The key is that your slide covers all the strings and that you don’t press the slide all the way down to the fretboard. Just lightly touch all the strings and play your slide ukulele.
In this tuning you are moving the A up to a Bb, so be careful. Whenever you are experimenting with an alternate tuning, always slowly tune anything up. If you go too far up in tuning you may break the string or damage or evan break the instrument (We know!). In this tuning you are only going up one and a half steps to Bb so it shouldn’t be too big a deal. This slide tuning works best on the bigger Ukuleles as Concert, Tenor, or Baritone ukuleles.
Now that you know some of the different ways to tune your ukulele, you can start your tuner and tune your instrument. 🙂
For a detailed explanation of tuning all kinds of ukuleles, you can also read the article about Baritone Ukulele Tuning.
Hertz and the sound
Hertz (symbol: Hz) is the unit of frequency in the International System of Units (SI), equivalent to one cycle per second. It is named after Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (1857–1894). The back-and-forth movement of the string that gives the sound is indicated in Hz. A low Hz is a love note, and a high Hz is a high note.
At your ukulele tuner, the sound is often indicated with Hz, and each note has its Hz from 146.8 (D Baritone) to 440Hz (A on smaller ukuleles).
There are four courses of strings on a ukulele. One course may have 1 or 2 strings. (Read about courses in the post about Ukulele types.)
Soprano and Baritone ukuleles have four courses with four strings
Concert ukuleles may be stringed with a low-G, and they may have the C course as an octave pair that means that it is one octave between them, high and low-C.
Tenors come in several variations:
- 4-string with a (low G (196 HZ) or high G
- As a Baritone DGBE
- 6-string tenor ukuleles with the G at 392 Hz, an octave pair of C strings, the E at 329.6 Hz, and an octave pair of A strings with the lower A at 220 Hz. It is also possible to have the G set at 196 Hz, but then the A strings are both at 440 Hz.
- 8-string is with an octave pair of G strings, an octave pair of C strings, both E strings at 329.6 and both A strings at 440 Hz.
Tune and strum!
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Finally, Basic Ukulele was founded in 2015 with the aim of making it easier for anyone who wants to learn or find out more about this wonderful instrument.