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Ukulele Tuning: A Complete Guide

Have you ever wondered about the best way to tune your ukulele? Perhaps you received one as a gift or purchased one that you never got around to learning.

Whatever the case may be, today we’re going to learn the tuning techniques that will work for all of them.

Tuning ukulele is actually quite simple once you’ve got the basics, so we’ll start with the easiest method - using an electronic tuner.

Using an Electronic Tuner

For accurate uke tuning you’ll want to purchase an electronic tuner. These little devices are handy because they are easily portable, fairly cheap, and produce accurate tuning results every time.

In order to properly tune your ukulele, you should begin with each string below the desired pitch, gradually bringing it up to pitch while watching the electronic tuner.

When you’ve reached the proper pitch, the arrow on the electronic tuning meter will center on the screen, typically changing from red to green.

Bringing Strings Up to Pitch

Once your strings are properly secured, you’re ready to bring them up to pitch. This should be done gradually, so as not to break the new strings.

Make sure that the tension is evenly dispersed across the instrument by tuning the G string first, then the E, then the C, and finally the A. Repeat this process until the strings have reached concert pitch, and then you’ll be ready for a final stretching, which we’ll discuss below.

Tuning With Fretted Notes

This method can be used for any tuning, although the locations of the fretted notes will change.

It is often used by musicians who don’t have access to an electronic tuner and/or those who have developed accurate relative pitch — the ability to hear when the the strings are “in tune in relation to themselves” (which may vary from concert pitch).

For the sake of clarity, let’s use standard ukulele tuning as an example: G-C-E-A (C Major 6th)

Play the G string at the 2nd fret. Your open A string should match that pitch. If it doesn’t, tune the A string until it matches. Next, play the C string at the 4th fret. The open E string should match that pitch. You’ve already tuned the A string, but if you want to double check, it should also match the pitch of the E string at the 5th fret.

Now you’re all set. Even if you use a different tuning, as long as it follows the same re-entrant tuning pattern (high note on top), all you have to do is decide on the starting pitch for your 4th string and follow the same tuning method. For instance, standard tuning raised 1 step: A-D-F#-B (D Major 6th, popular in Canada and pre-1930’s America).

Stretch Your Strings

Now that you’ve learned a few different ways to tune your ukulele, and brought your strings up to pitch, it’s time to put the finishing touches on the process.

Stretching your strings is essential to ensure that new strings don’t slip out of tune during a practice session or live performance.

Once you’re in tune, slip your index finger beneath each string and give it a gentle tug upward. As the slack is let out of each string, it will naturally go flat. To correct this during the stretching process, always re-tune the string to standard pitch immediately after stretching.

Repeat this process several times prior to playing and you’ll find that your ukulele stays in tune without slipping.

Now you’re ready to get some fresh new strings and breathe new life in that uke! Don’t forget to check out the rest of ArtistWorks.com to find great online ukulele lessons to get you to the next level!

Read more about how to tune your Ukulele:

Standard Ukulele Tuning

Ukulele Songs You Can Learn in One Week

Ukulele Tuning & The Different Sizes

Ukulele Chords and How to Use Them

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