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Article Title: How to Tune the Ukelele
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Wednesday 01 March 2006 - 14:14:31

Whether a ukulele is in tune in or out of tune can make the difference between sweet, soothing sonorities and piercing noise that makes your cat hiss. Ukuleles require frequent tuning, so it is important that you spend a little time getting good at this. If you have been strumming vigorously for several minutes, or if the temperature or humidity changes, or if it has been sitting around for a while, you will have to tune it again. Fortunately there are only four strings to contend with!

There are many methods of turning the ukulele. If you have a very inexpensive ukulele, structural imperfections may make it impossible to tune it perfectly at all. You can compensate for this however by making small adjustments to make it sound good for a particular key. For now, I'll show you a couple of quick ways to tune your and ukulele to make it sound good most situations.

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Tuning to an External Source

At some point, you must tune at least one of your strings to a reliable external source (like a piano, guitar, pitch pipe, tuning fork, etc.) to ensure your ukulele is in tune with the rest of the world. If you don't do this, you can still get your ukulele in tune with itself, but it will not be possible to play with other instruments and sound good. Similarly, you may find it difficult to sing along with your ukulele chords if the whole ukulele is tuned too high or too low.

The following diagram show how each string of the ukulele matches up with notes on the piano. Simply play the source note on the piano, and then turn the corresponding tuning head on the ukulele, until it matches the pitch perfectly.



Important Note: Always drop below pitch, and then tighten the string slowly and rise to the correct pitch. By doing this you are picking up any slack in this string that might exist between the saddle and the bridge or between the nut and the tuning machines. If you don't do this, the slack will be let off while you play causing the string to become out of tune.


if you're not sure which tuning head controls which string, just follow the string all the way along to the head of the ukulele until you see which tuning head it connects with.

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This diagram shows how each string of the ukelele matches up with notes on the guitar. Simply play the source note on the guitar (or have your guitarist friend do the honors!), and then turn the corresponding tuning head on the ukulele, until it matches the pitch perfectly.



Important Note: Always drop below pitch, and then tighten the string slowly and rise to the correct pitch. By doing this you are picking up any slack in this string that might exist between the saddle and the bridge or between the nut and the tuning machines. If you don't do this, the slack will be let off while you play causing the string to become out of tune.


if you're not sure which tuning head controls which string, just follow the string all the way along to the head of the ukulele until you see which tuning head it connects with.

You can also obtain either a pitch pipe or a tuning fork to give you a reliable pitch to match one of your ukulele strings to. Both of these devices are inexpensive and very portable , and can be obtained here. Once you have tuned 1 string, you can tune all of the other strings on your ukulele to that string using the relative tuning method outlined on the next page!

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Relative Tuning

In order to use a relative tuning method, you must have at least one of your strings in tune with a reliable external source, as discussed above. If you are camping way out in the backwoods somewhere and don't have access to such a source, you can still tune your ukulele this way but it may or may not be in tune with other instruments.

There are four steps in this common relative tuning method, one step for each string:

  1. Tune your third string, the C string, to an enternal source such as a pitch pipe, tuning fork, guitar, piano etc.. Remember to loosen the string you are about to tune so the note goes below the correct pitch, and then slowly rise it up to the correct pitch in order to pick up any unwanted slack in the string. Remember to do this for all of your strings. If you don't have an external source available, just tune this string to what you remember the C string sounding like, or just leave it as it is.

  2. Tune the second string, the E string, to the C string (the string you just tuned!). To do this, play the note on the 4th fret of the C string (another E), and turn the tuning head for the second string until it sounds like this note.

  3. Next, we skip over to that high fourth string (the G string) to the second string, the one we just tuned. Do this by playing the note on the 3rd fret of the second string (another G) and matching the sound of the fourth string to it.

  4. Finally we go back to the first string, tune the 4th string the one we just did. For this, play the note on the second fret of the 4th string, and match the sound of the first string to it.


And here you have it! After you've done all this, strum a chord, preferably the first chord in the next song you are about to play. It should be sounding pretty good. Is something sounds a bit off, you can tweak one or two of the strings to get it just right!

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This article is from TheUke.com
( http://www.theuke.com/article.php?article.7 )