Lesson #3: How to tune your ukulele


You now know the different parts and components of a ukulele. If you haven’t assimilated it yet, go back to lesson #2.

You know your instrument, but you can’t play it directly. First of all you have to check that it is well tuned. By reading this page, you will discover how to tune your ukulele.

What is tuning?

tuning ukulele

Tuning corresponds to the empty notes of your instrument. It allows you to speak the same language with the tablatures you will read. Indeed, by being all tuned in the same way, we make the chords in the same way and the notes are exactly in the same place.

Which tunings for which ukuleles?

Not all ukuleles are tuned in the same way. As you saw in lesson #1, soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles have a GCEA tuning while baritone ukuleles are tuned in DGBE. 
You can also choose to use a different tuning, but it is advisable for beginners to stay with a classical tuning and not be overwhelmed by the information to be learned such as music theory, scales, solfege, chords, keys…

How to tune your ukulele with a tuner?

The easiest way to tune your uke when you start is to get a tuner. These devices clip onto the head of the ukulele and pick up the waves caused by a strummed string. Thus it is able to tell exactly which note has come out of the ukulele. 

  1. Clip the tuner on the head of your ukulele.
  2. Strum the top string, the one closest to your head. The open string should give a G. If it doesn’t, turn the tuner knob until you see the letter G appear. Tuners often have a needle or color system to show that you have reached the right tuning: The display turns green or the needle is positioned right in the middle of the G.
  3. Do the same on the other strings, going down. The second string should be C, the third E, and the last A.
  4. Your ukulele is now tuned. Take the time to listen to this tuning without any string.

How to tune your ukulele without a tuner?

For experienced players, or those who already have some musical knowledge, it is possible to tune your ukulele without a tuner. In this case, you will always have to remind the note C of the second empty string in mind.

  1. Strum the second string and turn the tuner knob until the note C is reached. To remember this note, you can sing a song that starts with this one.
  2. Place your finger on the 4th fret of the second string so that it makes an E. Strum that string (the second one), then strum the 3rd string. Then you have to turn the knob of the 3rd string until they are exactly the same.
  3. Do the same by placing your finger on the 3rd fret of the 3rd string and strumming the first open string. 
  4. Do the same thing one last time by placing your finger on the 2nd fret of the 1st string and strumming the 4th open string.

    By making a chord 2 9 5 0, you should have exactly the same note on each string. 
Well done !
Ukulele master 30%

You now know your instrument, it is tuned. You can already start some exercises here. Continue reading and learning about the ukulele with lesson #4: How to hold your ukulele

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