Common Ukulele Tunings

Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the construction supports it and a string is available.

Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the ukulele's construction supports it and a string is available.

There are three common tunings in popular use today, C, D and G tuning - with C tuning the most popular with two popular variations.

Re-entrant Ukulele Tuning?

If coming from the guitar where the strings are tuned low to high, ofter called a linear tuning. An instrument like the ukulele with a re-entrant tuning where the lowest note of the instrument might not be the lowest string can seem a little strange at first. This re-entrant tuning, which places all the notes of a chord within one octave is part of the unique ukulele sound. This tuning is especially common for the smaller soprano and concert ukuleles.

four ukes

C Tuning • Hawai'ian Tuning

Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the construction supports it and a string is available.

C Tuning is the most common tuning used today.

C Tuning, High "G"

C Tuning - For Soprano, Concert and Tenor ukulele. The same as the higher four strings of a standard tuned guitar with a capo at the fifth fret with string four "G" one octave higher.

For setting up music notation programs like Finale and Sibelius this tuning is:
MIDI: G = G3, C = C4, E = E4, A = A4
C4 is middle C.

For tweaking EQ in performance situations:
Frequency: G4 = 392.0 Hz, C4 = 261.6 Hz, E4 = 329.6 Hz, A4 = 440.0 Hz
C4 is middle C.

C Tuning, Low "G"

Low 'G', C Tuning - For Soprano, Concert and Tenor ukulele. Same as Key of "C" Tuning but with string four one octave lower. This is the same as placing a capo at the fifth fret of a standard tuned guitar.

For setting up music notation programs like Finale and Sibelius this tuning is:
MIDI: G = G3, C = C4, E = E4, A = A4
C4 is middle C.

For tweaking EQ in performance situations:
Frequency: G4 = 196.0 Hz, The rest is the same as the High "G" - C Tuning, C4 = 261.6 Hz, E4 = 329.6 Hz, A4 = 440.0 Hz
C4 is middle C.

Thomastik-Infeld Classical Strings

Abe Lagrimas came through Funky Frets during his 2018 east coast tour and I noticed a different C string when I played his Ko'olau CS tenor. He was using a Thomastik-Infeld CF27 - 3rd string (g) .027 Chrome Steel Flat Wound string for the his C string. It had great balance and didn't wear out at the frets as a round would string typically does. I use a low G so I got the CF27 for the C string three as well as a Thomastik-Infeld CF30 - 4th string (D) .030 Chrome Steel Flat Wound for a low G. I play a Ko'olau CS tenor as well and this string combinationis great. I don't know why I didn't think of Thomastik-Infeld as I've been using their guitar strings on my American Archtop 7 string for decades. A bit pricey, but given that you use less of them in over time it is well worth it. ( We have them available at Funky Frets, Boyertown, PA USA or right here. If not we are not offended if you them from Amazon. )

Curt's Long-time Current String Set(s)

C Tuning, Low G

This is the set that I'm currently using for all my Tenor ukuleles. Two Ko'olau CS Cedar TOP / Rosewood Back and Sides Tenors.

  • String 1 - Savarez Alliance 541R - KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .024, 541R tuned to A (A4)
  • String 2 - Savarez Alliance 542R - KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .027, 542R tuned to E (E4)
  • String 3 - Thomastik-Infeld CF27 - 3rd string .027 Chrome Steel Flat tuned to C (C4) a.k.a., Middle C
  • String 4 - Thomastik-Infeld CF30 - 4th string .030 Chrome Steel Flat tuned to Low G (G3)

C Tuning, High G

This is the set that I'm currently using for on a Lanikai Malibu, Makau Series All Koa Tenor.

  • String 4 - Savarez Alliance 541R - KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .024, 541R tuned to A (G4)

Strings one, two, and three are the same as the Low G, C Tuning set above.

  • String 1 - Savarez Alliance 541R - KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .024, 541R tuned to A (A4)
  • String 2 - Savarez Alliance 542R - KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .027, 542R tuned to E (E4)
  • String 3 - Thomastik-Infeld CF27 - 3rd string .027 Chrome Steel Flat tuned to C (C4) a.k.a., Middle C

G Tuning • Baritone / Guitar Tuning

Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the construction supports it and a string is available.

G Tuning is common on the Baritone ukulele and can also be used on a tenor ukulele with a high D string four.

All notation examples are show in concert pitch.

G Tuning

Key of "G" Tuning - For Baritone and Tenor ukulele. The same as the higher four strings of a standard tuned guitar. So you already know how to play the Baritone and Tenor Ukulele.

For setting up music notation programs like Finale and Sibelius this tuning is:
MIDI: D = D3, G = G4, B = B4, E = E5
C4 is middle C.

String 4 can also be tuned up one octave. A tuning that the great jazz ukulele player Lyle Ritz favors.

For setting up music notation programs like Finale and Sibelius this tuning is:
MIDI: D = D4, G = G4, B = B4, E = E5
C4 is middle C.

Different Ways to Tune a Baritone

Here is a cool video by Aaron Kiem about the various way to tune a baritone ukulele.

The tunings Aaron goes over are: D G B E, G C E A ("Low G), d G B E ("High" D), d G B D (Banjo Tuning)

D Tuning • European Tuning

Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the construction supports it and a string is available.

D Tuning is a popular tuning in Canada, Europe and was popular is the previous two waves of ukulele popular.

All notation examples are show in concert pitch.

D Tuning, High "A"

"D" Tuning - For Soprano, Concert and Tenor ukulele. The same as the higher four strings of a standard tuned guitar with a capo at the seventh fret with string four "A" one octave higher.

For setting up music notation programs like Finale and Sibelius this tuning is:
MIDI: A = A3, D = D4, F# = F#4, A = B4
C4 is middle C.

D Tuning, Low "A"

Low 'A', D Tuning - For Soprano, Concert and Tenor ukulele. The same as the higher four strings of a standard tuned guitar with a capo at the seventh fret.

For setting up music notation programs like Finale and Sibelius this tuning is:
MIDI: A = A4, D = D4, F# = F#4, A = B4
C4 is middle C.

Alternate Tunings

Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the `ukulele's construction supports it and a string is available.

Here are the tuning recommendations of several prominent ukulele musicians:

Byron Yasui's recommended ukulele tunings:

  • Soprano - A D F# B
  • Concert (Alto) - G C E A
  • Tenor - F Bb D G
  • Baritone - Eb Ab C F

For more information on Byron Yasuicheckout Byron Yasui's musician listing .

Joel Eckhaus's recommended ukulele tunings:

  • Soprano - A D F# B
  • Concert (Alto) - G C E A
  • Tenor - E A C# F#
  • Baritone - D G B E

For more information on Joel Eckhaus checkout Joel Eckhaus's musician listing .

Tune the Ukulele Like a Banjo

Tune string one down a whole step and you have a Banjo like tuning.

Tune the Ukulele Like Other Instruments

  • Mandolin

    The standard mandolin tuning is G D A E. Aquila has a set of strings available to tune your ukulele like a mandolin.

Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the ukulele's construction supports it and a string is available.

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