How to tune a ukulele

Tuning the ukulele - but how? The instructions in short form

How do I tune my ukulele - with a tuner or by ear

The right mood for my ukulele: With video instructions

(Image: @ shutterstock / golubovystock)

The ukulele is in, it's cool and has its very own character. But before it goes into action, like almost any instrument, we have to tune our ukulele first.

Our small workshop is for soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles and here you can find out:

In a nutshell: How do you tune a ukulele?

Tuning the ukulele - but how? The instructions in short form
Soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles are generally tuned the same. Most common for ukuleles is the C tuning with the strings in g, c, e and a, also known as the Hawaiian tuning.

Further variants are the D tuning (a, d, f sharp, h) or the baritone tuning (d, g, h, e). If you look at the ukulele from the front, the G-string is on the far left and sounds higher than the C-string next to it. Almost all ukuleles come from the factory in this so-called "re-entrant tuning".

Tuning the ukulele with the tuner

Which tuner for ukulele?

It doesn't matter whether you use a clip tuner to attach to the headstock or the traditional tuner with a built-in microphone - the principle is always the same.

If you pluck a note, the tuner shows via needle, LED or display whether the note is too high or too low. It is important that you use a tuner that masters the chromatic tuning mode. But there are also special ukulele tuners that have to be set to the C tuning. If the tuning mode is set to guitar, the C string will not be recognized because normal guitar tuning does not have a C. The same applies, of course, to apps on smartphones.

Now pluck the first string and check whether the note is too high or too low. If the tone is too deep - the needle or display is to the left of the center - you have to tighten the string. To do this, turn the corresponding mechanical wing counterclockwise. If the string is too high, we turn accordingly in the other direction.

Tuning the ukulele without a tuner

You can also tune the ukulele by ear without a tuner, for example if only one string is out of tune or you get a reference tone from a fellow musician. With a little practice, this also works quickly and precisely. The tone at the second fret of the g-string is an a and thus corresponds to the first string that was not fingered. The fifth fret on the e string is also exactly this a. To then tune the C-string, you simply compare the tone on the fourth fret of the C-string with the empty e-string. Here is a small graphic:

How often does the ukulele have to be tuned?

Check the mood every time you pick up the ukulele. Temperature fluctuations and changing humidity cause the strings to go out of tune. Especially when they are freshly raised, they get out of tune very quickly at first and have to be readjusted quite often.