With a little training and practice, learning how to tune a ukulele isn’t all that difficult. Often associated with Hawaiian-style music, the ukulele is a surprisingly versatile and pleasant-sounding instrument. For most, its slightly high pitch and clear tone conjure images of warm beaches and tropical drinks. When a ukulele isn’t in tune, however, those it can sound downright awful. The normally soothing, bell-like sounds can morph into a dissonant cacophony pretty easily. In order to avoid this unfortunate ear-assault, use the following quick guide to tuning a ukulele properly.
What You’ll Need:
- A ukulele (strings included)
- A digital tuner
- Begin by placing your tuner near the ukulele, and plucking the top string. As you become more adept at the ukulele and your ear gets sharper, the tuner likely won’t be a necessity. But for now, having a tuner that can precisely identify pitch is the one surefire way to know that your ukulele is in tune. When you pluck the top string, the tuner should identify the pitch as being an “A” note.
- Successive strings each have their own specific pitch. Now that the first string is in tune, you can repeat the process with the rest of the ukulele’s strings. The second string should read as a “D” note, the third should be an “F#” (or F-sharp) note, and the fourth should be a “B” note.
- If a string is registering off the mark on your tuner, use the pegs to correct it. A ukulele’s pegs are located on the headstock, and are used to tighten or loosen their corresponding strings – effectively changing the pitch. Most ukuleles come set up so that the top pegs can be turned clockwise to tighten the string, which raises the pitch. Alternately, turn the top pegs counter-clockwise to lower the pitch. For the pegs on bottom, it’s just the opposite. A clockwise turn will lower the pitch, while a counter-clockwise turn will raise the pitch.
- The “A”, “D”, “F#” , ”B” tuning isn’t your only option. Once you know how to tune a ukulele the traditional way, you can move on to so-called “alternate tunings”. The most popular of these is one where all of the instrument’s strings are lowered in pitch by a single note. This means that your top string should be a “G” note, the second string a “C” note, the third an “E”, and the fourth an “A”. Alternate tunings such as this give your ukulele a different sound, making the instrument more versatile in certain musical settings.