Ukulele is one of the best-stringed instruments out there. I love ukulele. When I first picked up the ukulele, I was completely unprepared. Still, somehow, I managed to learn this musical instrument by myself. Not to mention, its happy tone made the whole learning process way more fun.
While learning, at some point, I noticed that it went completely out of tune. I needed to tune my ukulele and that’s when it came to me, can you tune a ukulele with a guitar tuner?
I wasn’t very sure if a guitar tuner would work for my ukulele, so I went ahead and tried tuning it myself.
I assumed that it might be a popular query among people who are into different instruments. So, I decided to put together all my thoughts, research, and experiences in this article to help you with all the related questions or queries you may have.
Turns out, you can tune your ukulele with a guitar tuner if you’re using chromatic tuners. There are tons of guitar tuners you can find in the market. But the most flexible ones are clip-on chromatic tuners, which you can easily use to tune a ukulele. This multi-instrument tuner will tune your uke correctly.
As I mentioned earlier, there are numerous different models of tuners you will find in the market. You can easily do your job with certain kinds, but not with others.
Should you use your guitar tuner, or should you just purchase a new one to tune your ukulele? By the end of this blog post, you’ll be able to find all the answers you have been looking for and more!
- 1. Guitar Tuners That Work for Ukulele
- 2. Guitar Tuners That Do Not Work for Ukulele
- 3. How Much Should You Spend on a Tuner?
- 4. Chromatic Tuner or Dedicated Ukulele Tuner
- 5. The Open Strings
- 6. How to Tune Your Ukulele Using Tuners
- 7. How to Tune Your Ukulele Using A Piano
- 8. How to Tune Your Ukulele Using Online Tuners
- 9. Can’t Get Your Ukulele in Tune?
- 10. Frequently Asked Questions
- 11. Final Thoughts
Guitar Tuners That Work for Ukulele
The guitar is connected through pedal tuners and microphones are not necessary. This tuning peg must be plugged in, are not really suitable for any acoustic instruments (such as ukulele or any other traditional guitar) because of the evident lack of plugging in the instruments. But this pedal tuner works fine for standard tuning of the electrical ukulele. You should be able to utilize a pedal tuner without any difficulties if you are trying to tune an electric/acoustic-electric ukulele.
TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Mini Guitar Tuner is an amazing option among all the pedal tuners. This polyphonic electronic tuner comes with a small footprint pedal.
It’s one of the best mini pedal tuners you’ll find on market.
Chromatic guitar tuners, on the other hand, work for all sorts of electric or acoustic ukuleles. This tuner is capable of listening and recognizing every note you play. Chromatic tuning mode is designed to listen to whichever note you play and indicate which note you are nearest to. It basically shows you, if your string is flat or narrow in comparison with the pitch you want.
You’ll find this type of guitar tuner anywhere, in any music shop.
Clip-on chromatic tuners are the finest kinds with more precise tuning ability among all. Let me tell you why!
These are intended to attach to the ukulele-like cloth and sense the vibration of the note. Since these headstock tuners conduct the sound vibration evaluation, they do not distinguish between instruments.
So, you can easily use this tuner for every sort of guitar (acoustic guitars or classical guitars) ukulele, or violin.
While we’re on the topic, I would recommend you the ‘Fishman FT-2 Digital Chromatic Clip-On Tuner’, my personal favorite among all! It’s difficult to beat if you are searching for a cheerful and cheap tuner that will always be exact to one cent and you do not need bells or whistles.
This cheapo guitar tuner is small, inconspicuous, comes with a flip-up display and shuts off to conserve battery life after 5 minutes of inactivity. So undoubtedly, this one is a good buy!
Guitar Tuners That Do Not Work for Ukulele
Non-chromatic Guitar Tuners
These tuners are not ideal for tuning your little string instrument as they are specially intended for the guitar. They try to detect which guitar string you play and tell you if it’s high or low. The tuners are especially intended to recognize the notes on the open strings of the guitar. I wouldn’t suggest these non-chromatic tuners to anyone, especially if you’re new to the instruments.
Dedicated Tuners for Ukulele
You are new to this, you’re still in confusion if the guitar tuner will work for your ukulele or not or you’re just into ukulele; you can always go for the dedicated ukulele tuners.
This sort of tuner has a dedicated ‘ukulele tuning mode’ that only listens to the four notes/strings of a ukulele.
(If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to do hours of research on this type of stuff, I’d definitely suggest you to go for dedicated uku tuners to tune your fun little instrument!)
There are a thousand types of tuner you will find online, but not every one of them is worth investing the money in.
In this case, Snark SN6X Clip-On Digital Tuner for Ukulele or KLIQ UBERTuner are some better matches for you. These tuners are simple, cheap, and extremely effective, making them ideal for 98% of ukulele players.
However, don’t forget to do your research according to your budget and needs before purchasing the tuner!
How Much Should You Spend on a Tuner?
You’ll find tuners with different price ranges. Prices might vary greatly based on the characteristics you want. You should not spend more than $30 on a decent digital tuner, even if it is the best on the market.
Tuners may be purchased for approximately $10. Most of these do not have the greatest mics for picking up tone. It might make proper tuning difficult.
If you are into multi-instrument, it is worthwhile to invest in a tuner that can handle several instruments. In the long term, it’ll save money. Some tuners feature ukulele and guitar settings, as well as settings for other instruments.
In general, a tuner is a low-cost investment. A digital tuner is an excellent option for long-term tuning reliability.
Chromatic Tuner or Dedicated Ukulele Tuner
Chromatic or dedicated tuners for ukulele? Which one should you choose? And Why?
Well, in my opinion, tuning using a chromatic mode is easier and more efficient, I never utilize one of these specific ukulele modes. When first starting out, if you’re a beginner ukulele player, you may find the ukulele mode beneficial, but I’d recommend learning how to tune chromatically instead.
Chromatic headstock tuners will work for any acoustic instrument, therefore any of these models can also be used to tune your guitar as well.
The Open Strings
Every sound you create with a stringed instrument is determined by the tuning of its open strings. The ukulele is no exception: every sound flows from the sound of the open strings, therefore getting the tuning exactly right is critical!
First and foremost, it is important to comprehend the configuration of your open strings. Keep your cool while reading this section; it is critical to your understanding of your little instrument!
Strumming the open strings of the ukulele is a good way to start. The nearest string to your face (or chin) is now tuned to the note G. The one underneath that is a C, the one beneath that is an E, and the one beneath that is adjusted to the note A.
That should be simple enough. All four strings are now within the same octave with this conventional tuning. The octave to which the ukulele is tuned is known as the fourth octave in SPN (short for scientific pitch notation – a method that numbers all the possible octaves in music from 0 to 10). It’s crucial to remember that in SPN, a new octave starts on every new C note, therefore C4 is the lowest note in its octave.
Check this again because it’s important: C4 is the lowest note in its octave!
It is significant since it implies that the lowest note on the ukulele is C (the third string) rather than G. (the one closest to your chin and known as the fourth string). This is a unique characteristic of the ukulele. Strings on other string instruments, such as the bass, guitar, violin, and harp, get thinner and higher in pitch as your uke progresses.
Here are the ukulele’s open strings in standard notation. Even if you don’t read music, notice how to note C is the lowest pitch yet the second in line. In fact, note G is the second highest.
As a newbie, you may find this confusing (and to some extent it is), but you should get used to it quickly.
Since it is such a crucial aspect of learning the ukulele, I wanted to go over it with you.
Now that you understand how to set up the strings, it’s time to tune your instrument. Remember that to raise a string’s pitch, you must tighten it, and to tighten it, you must turn its tuning peg to the left. Lowering the pitch of a string requires loosening it, and loosening it requires turning the tuning peg to the right.
How to Tune Your Ukulele Using Tuners
The standard ukulele tuning is G-C-E-A, from top string to bottom. (except if you’re using a baritone uke; its standard tuning is D-G-B-E, you can tune a baritone ukulele to the standard tuning though). This basic tuning is known as ‘C’ or the standard tuning. You can play the majority of the songs using this tuning. There are tons of alternative tunings you’ll find. Some uke players prefer using a low G string on their ukulele rather than a high G-sounding string. It is all about preference.
If you’re using a clip-on chromatic guitar, the following steps may help you with the tuning,
Attach the tuner to your ukulele’s headstock and turn it on.
If the tuner has several automatic tuning modes, choose C.
Begin by pulling on the G-string (the 1st string, nearest your face).
You’re after the g note. If the tuner has an arrow display, you must tune up while the arrow is pointing to the left. Tune down when the arrow points to the right.
When the arrow points straight up, you’re in tune, and you may move on to the 2nd string and then to the 3rd string.
It’s totally understandable if this process seems too confusing now. You can always take help from YouTube tutorials. Just search on YouTube ‘how to tune a ukulele’ you’ll find all your answers regarding the tuning steps.
How to Tune Your Ukulele Using A Piano
Yes, you read that right! You can tune your ukulele using anything that generates a set correct pitch that you can compare to. So, if you’re familiar with the piano or keyboard, you can easily tune your ukulele by ear. (Piano or keyboard apps will work fine as well).
Well, the question is, how do you use the piano or keyboard keys as a tuner?
To orient yourself around the keys, just find the single note known as the middle C. It is comparable to note C in the center of the keyboard. That is note C4 in SPN.
And, as previously stated, note C4 is your ukulele’s lowest note (assuming standard tuning). The G4 string produces the same sound as the fifth white key above C4; E4 produces three white keys above C4, and A4 produces six. It is important to note that while measuring distances between notes, the initial note is always considered as number 1.
Besides, you’ll find tons of tutorial videos on YouTube to help you with smoother tuning by ear process.
How to Tune Your Ukulele Using Online Tuners
Now that we’ve covered most of the issues regarding tuners, let me tell you about another easier tuning method you can try.
You can tune your ukulele in the shortest time, using online tuners or mobile apps as well. There are several good ones available on the internet, and they are quite simple to use.
These audio tuners function in one of two ways: they listen to you, or you listen to them.
Firstly, you play a note, and the program listens via your microphone. It will then determine whether your string is in tune. If not, it means it’s either flat (you’ll need to tighten the string to raise the pitch) or sharp (meaning that you need to loosen the string to lower the pitch).
An alternate tuning option is, the software plays the note for you, and you must use your ears to match the supplied sound with your string. Even if you’re doing it for the first time, it’s not too tough. Listen for the appropriate pitch and, like before, loosen or tighten the string to lower or increase it.
You’ll find a handful of good ukulele tuning app on both the apple store and google play store. Or you can use online tuner sites like this one: https://ukutuner.com/
Can’t Get Your Ukulele in Tune?
Lastly, there is this one more point I need to make. If you have an older ukulele or a new one that hasn’t been correctly set up, you may discover that you can’t get your ukulele in tune at all.
You can possibly fix this by slightly tightening the screws on the tuning heads.
If your ukulele strings still buzz while you play, your uke might need some repairing.
Another possibility is that the strings were not properly attached. You can always check out related YouTube tutorials to learn how to properly replace ukulele strings, they can be quite helpful too!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Do You Have to Tune Your Ukulele?
This basically depends on the model of the ukulele you own. You’ll probably need to keep your instrument in tune more frequently as the strings adjust and settle. This implies that, at the start of a string set’s existence, tuning will undoubtedly be required before each session of playing or practicing.
And as a rule of thumb, you should check your ukulele tuning every 15 minutes for a perfect sounding tune.
Why Prefer A Clip-On Tuner?
Many of these apps or websites work just as fine, but they all use your phone’s built-in microphones. This implies that they can be influenced by background noise, such as music or other players.
The quick answer is, clip-on tuners function by isolating your ukulele’s vibration, so they don’t “hear” what’s going on around them. As a result, clip-on ukulele tuners are suitable for use in noisy environments.
Lastly, do your own research if needed, and invest in the right type of tuner. If you’re a guitar player or simply interested in multiple instruments, definitely go for flexible clip-on chromatic tuners.
You can always rely on the internet as your ukulele tuning option. As long as you have access to a device, or a microphone, and your own hearing; you can easily use a ukelele tuning app.
Hopefully, all the answered questions above helped you with your research. Now happy tuning!