how to tune a ukulele explained header

How To Tune Your Ukulele

The first thing you need to do when learning to play is how to tune your ukulele. Proper ukulele tuning is essential if you want it to sound good and give you the confidence to continue.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to tuning a ukulele for beginners. With practice, you’ll become a master at tuning your ukulele. Never again will you need to search for how to tune your ukulele.

What we will learn

  • Why isn’t my ukulele staying in tune
  • What notes do I tune the ukulele to?
  • How to tune electronically
  • Tuning by ear (relative tuning)
  • Tuning the ukulele using a piano

Why Isn't It Staying In Tune?

why wont my ukulele stay in tune

It’s very common for ukuleles to go out of tune due to the nature of the materials they are made from. Acoustic guitars with nylon strings have the same issue. The strings stretch, taking a while to settle. You can speed up this “settling in” process by gently pulling the strings away from the body, but it will still require some patience and time.

There are multiple ways you can tune your ukulele depending on what equipment you have access to. You can do it using a tuner, your phone, a piano, or just your ears. Let’s start with the basics.

What Notes Do I Tune It Too?

The ukulele is most often tuned to the notes G, C, E, and A. There are many mnemonics to remember this, such as:

G ood

C hildren

E at

A pples

G et

C razy

E very

A fternoon

How To Tune Electronically

Clip On Tuner

Using an electronic tuner is the easiest way to tune if you are new to the instrument, as it does everything but turn the tuning pegs for you. Make sure you buy a tuner that works with a ukulele, or get a Chromatic Tuner to tune to any notes you wish. Clip-on tuners are very handy as they can stay on your ukulele.

clip on ukulele tuner

To use a clip-on tuner, pluck the string and follow the tuner’s directions to tighten or loosen the string. The tuner often shows a green light once the string is in tune. Repeat this process for each string, starting with the A, then E, C, and G.

Phone

You can get apps that work the same way as an electronic tuner whereby they activate the mic in your phone and it tells you if your uke is in tune or not. You can also get apps that will play the note you are tuning to and you need to use your ear to make your ukulele strings sound the same. If you can master this skill, it’s going to make learning songs much easier in the future as you will be able to make out individual notes.

Once you think your ukulele is in tune, pick a chord and give it a big strum. If it sounds like heaven, congratulations, you have just tuned a ukulele using a tuner.

How to Tune a Ukulele Using Just Your Ear

If you only have your ukulele, you’ll have to tune it to itself. This method works fine if you are playing alone. Start with the C-string as your base note:

  • Play the C-string at the fourth fret and tune the E-string to this note.
  • Play the E-string at the third fret and tune the G-string to that.
  • For the A-string, either play the E-string at the fifth fret or the G-string at the second fret.

Strum through a few chords; if it sounds right, you’re good to go.

Tune Using A Piano

If you have a piano or keyboard, you can tune your ukulele to it. This method requires you to match the ukulele strings to the corresponding notes on the piano:

how to tune a ukulele notes explained

What Next?

Several ways exist to tune your ukulele. It may seem difficult at first, but find the method that works best for you and keep practicing. Now that you know how to tune your ukulele, it’s worth learning some basic chords or how to read ukulele tabs. Head over to the Ukulele Tabs section of the website and start learning some new songs.

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The Basics

In this section, we will cover everything you need to know about starting to play the ukulele.