How to Tune Your Ukulele to Perfection

Only tuned ukes allowed!
Tayler Tayler (35)
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Ukuleles—fun to play, impossible to keep permanently in tune.

The bottom line is this: You need to know how to tune a ukulele in order to play a ukulele.

Okay, so maybe you chose the perfect ukulele that will last you forever. Unfortunately, uke strings don't last as long. Like any other strings on a stringed instrument out there, they are susceptible to falling out of tune. Strings fall out of tune for a variety of reasons: maybe they're older strings, maybe you live in a humid place, or maybe the weather has changed, causing the cool air rushing in to tighten your strings, which makes them sharper than you're used to. Sometimes they get so worn out that you need to completely replace and [restring your ukulele]. In which case, you'll definitely need to know how to tune the ukulele strings.

Because strings are so reactive, it could be any number of reasons but the bottom line is this: You need to know how to tune a ukulele in order to play a ukulele.

Fortunately, tuning a uke is simple thanks to the marvelous invention of the tuner, which can be used to tune your uke to perfection. If you need help picking out a tuner that will work for you, check out my guide on the Best Ukulele Tuners of 2020.

Grab your uke and let's get started.

Ukulele Tuner ×1

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Tuner on uke.

If you noticed something funky in your playing, it's probably time to tune your uke.

Make sure you're in a quiet place, first and foremost. While there are tuners that can pick up the sound of your instrument in loud areas, any noise interference can affect the tuner's ability to tell you how to adjust your strings.

Most tuners can clip right onto your uke but if you're working with a handheld one, make sure it's close to the uke.

In tune.

The four strings of your ukulele will tune differently from each other and, because of this, you have to tune each one independently.

You can accomplish this by plucking them once or twice while keeping an eye on the tuner. It will indicate if the note is flat, sharp, or in tune.

The tuner will not indicate which direction you have to turn your tuning keys in order to adjust your strings. Here's a handy breakdown of which direction to turn your keys according to how the pitch of the strings is read.

For the purpose of this guide, we'll be looking at the strings in the following order: G, C, E, A.

If your strings are sharp

This means that your notes are too high, meaning your strings are too tight. | Strings | Which direction to turn to loosen them| | --- | --- | | G | Turn the tuning key towards you | |C | Turn the tuning key towards you | |E |Turn the tuning key away from you | | A | Turn the tuning key away from you |

Alternatively, you can break it down like this...

Strings Which direction to turn to loosen them
G Turn the tuning key to the right
C Turn the tuning key to the right
E Turn the tuning key to the left
A Turn the tuning key to the left

...and this:

Strings Which direction to turn to loosen them
G Turn the tuning key clockwise
C Turn the tuning key clockwise
E Turn the tuning key counter-clockwise
A Turn the tuning key counter-clockwise

Pay attention to your tuner as you tune. The screen will indicate when your string is in tune.

A flat note.

If your strings are flat

This means that your notes are too low, meaning your strings are too loose. | Strings | Which direction to turn to tighten them| | --- | --- | | G | Turn the tuning key away from you | |C | Turn the tuning key away from you | |E | Turn the tuning key towards you | | A | Turn the tuning key towards you |

Alternatively, you can break it down like this...

Strings Which direction to turn to loosen them
G Turn the tuning key to the left
C Turn the tuning key to the left
E Turn the tuning key to the right
A Turn the tuning key to the right

...and this:

Strings Which direction to turn to loosen them
G Turn the tuning key counter-clockwise
C Turn the tuning key counter-clockwise
E Turn the tuning key clockwise
A Turn the tuning key clockwise

Tuning - The Bottom Line

Thanks to tuners, keeping your uke in tune is pretty easy. It's recommended that you retune your instrument every 15 minutes to make sure you're playing perfectly. Whichever way is easiest for you to remember which direction you have to turn your tuning key, know that it becomes easier each time you tune. Pretty soon, it'll be muscle memory!

Check out my other ukulele guides!

Just as important as tuning your uke is cleaning your uke

Happy strumming!