Ukulele Tunings

Common Ukulele Tunings

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

Yes! Tune Your Ukulele

Yep! — You actually have to tune the uke. Remember you are always training your ear and want to ensure that your are sending and receiving quality musical information.

Although the ukulele was tuned at the factory or by your custom builder. It, most likely needs it again and needs to be checked often.

four ukes

What Tuning?

ANY tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the ukulele's construction supports the required string tension and a string is available . The manufacture or the builder of the ukulele would or should have this string tension information. The string manufacture typically has the tension information for their strings on their respective web sites.

There are three common tunings in popular use today, C, D and G tuning — with C tuning being the most popular.

Re-entrant Ukulele Tuning?

If coming from the guitar world where the strings, tuned low to high, is often called a linear tuning. An instrument like the ukulele with a higher pitched string four is called a re-entrant tuning where the lowest note of the instrument might not be the lowest string. This can seem a little strange at first. The re-entrant tuning, 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.

Tuning is one of the aspects of the ukulele that gives it its charm. Or, it's a plot by builders and manufacture to have you buy more ukuleles.

Here is a great article on tuning systems by Richard Sleigh.

Equal Temperament vs. Just Intonation – War of the Musical Worlds!

Check out Richard Sleigh's • War of the Musical Worlds! (Equal Temperament vs. Just Intonation) about these two tunings. This is the best explanation I've read on the difference and why you might want one vs. the other.

C Tuning • Hawai'ian Tuning

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.

TI-Classic-N

Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N Strings

Abe Lagrimas came through Funky Frets during his 2018 east coast tour for a concert and workshops, and I noticed a different C string when I played his Ko'olau CS tenor, the same model I play. Abe was using a Thomastik-Infeld CF27 - 3rd string (g) .027 Chrome Steel Flat Wound string for his C string. It had great balance and didn't wear out as quick 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 combination is great. I don't know why I didn't consider Thomastik-Infeld before, I've been using their guitar strings on my guitars for decades. A bit pricey, but given that you use less of them, over time it is well worth it.

The Curt Sheller Custom Tenor Uke Set is a combination of singles from two Thomastik-Infed Classic Guitar sets. The Classic N Supernova and The Classic Guitar sets.

TI-Classic-N

C Tuning, Low G

The below custom string sets are what I'm currently using for my two Ko'olau CS Tenors in Low G, C tuning. For my Solid Koa Top, Tenor Fluke it prefers Ko'olau Golds or Ko'olau Golds Manaha strings.

$20 USD

Ko'olau CS Tenor Tenor Ukulele Set

Thomastik-Infeld String Option

Curt's custom set is available at Funky Frets Music Store, Boyertown, PA USA and on the on-line store .

  • String 1Thomastik-Infeld Classic Guitar, Carbon Nylon Hybrid Material CPK24 (.024in/62mm, 19.40lbs/8.80KG) tuned to A (A4)
  • String 1Thomastik-Infeld Classic Guitar, Carbon Nylon Hybrid Material CPK27 (.027in/69mm, 14.55lbs/6.60KG) tuned to E (E4)
  • String 3Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N Supernova CF27 Chrome Steel Flat, .027, 039 (.027in/69mm, 14.20lbs/6.50KG) tuned to C (C4) a.k.a. Middle C
  • String 4Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N Supernova CF30 Chrome Steel Flat, .030, 039 (.030in/76mm, 14.70lbs/6.50KG) tuned to G (C3) a.k.a. Low G in the Uke world

Tension Note: This set is a higher tension, so be sure to verify with the manufacture or builder that the ukulele can handle it.

$20 USD

$20 USD

Tenor Ukulele Set

Savarez Alliance String Option

This are the strings I used prior to 2022 an are still a great option, I only switched because of my access to TI strings and my personal preference for the flat-wound option. The gauges, the material, the feel are the same for the plain strings.

  • String 1Savarez Alliance KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .024, 541R (.024in/62mm, 17.44lbs/7.9KG) tuned to A (A4)
  • String 2Savarez Alliance KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .027, 542R (.027in/62mm, 13.02lbs/5.9KG) tuned to E (E4)
  • String 3Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N CF27 Chrome Steel Flat, .027, 039 (.027in/69mm, 14.20lbs/6.50KG) tuned to C (C4) a.k.a. Middle C
  • String 4Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N CF30 Chrome Steel Flat, .030, 039 (.030in/76mm, 14.70lbs/6.50KG) tuned to G (C3) a.k.a. Low G in the Uke world

$20 USD

C Tuning, High G

This is the set that ( (Curt) currently recommend for tenor ukuleles in C Tuning with a High G. Strings are one area where different ukuleles might prefer different strings. A ukulele can be very opinionated as to the stings that it likes and brings out its best. Basically, your mileage might vary.

  • String 4Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N, Carbon Nylon Hybrid Material CPK24 (.024in/62mm, 19.40lbs/8.80KG) tuned to G (G4)

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

G Tuning • Baritone / Guitar Tuning

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

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)

C Tuning • Hawai'ian Tuning

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.

TI-Classic-N

Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N Strings

Abe Lagrimas came through Funky Frets during his 2018 east coast tour for a concert and workshops, and I noticed a different C string when I played his Ko'olau CS tenor, the same model I play. Abe was using a Thomastik-Infeld CF27 - 3rd string (g) .027 Chrome Steel Flat Wound string for his C string. It had great balance and didn't wear out as quick 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 combination is great. I don't know why I didn't consider Thomastik-Infeld before, I've been using their guitar strings on my guitars for decades. A bit pricey, but given that you use less of them, over time it is well worth it.

The Curt Sheller Custom Tenor Uke Set is a combination of singles from two Thomastik-Infed Classic Guitar sets. The Classic N Supernova and The Classic Guitar sets.

TI-Classic-N

C Tuning, Low G

The below custom string sets are what I'm currently using for my two Ko'olau CS Tenors in Low G, C tuning. For my Solid Koa Top, Tenor Fluke it prefers Ko'olau Golds or Ko'olau Golds Manaha strings.

$20 USD

Ko'olau CS Tenor Tenor Ukulele Set

Thomastik-Infeld String Option

Curt's custom set is available at Funky Frets Music Store, Boyertown, PA USA and on the on-line store .

  • String 1Thomastik-Infeld Classic Guitar, Carbon Nylon Hybrid Material CPK24 (.024in/62mm, 19.40lbs/8.80KG) tuned to A (A4)
  • String 1Thomastik-Infeld Classic Guitar, Carbon Nylon Hybrid Material CPK27 (.027in/69mm, 14.55lbs/6.60KG) tuned to E (E4)
  • String 3Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N Supernova CF27 Chrome Steel Flat, .027, 039 (.027in/69mm, 14.20lbs/6.50KG) tuned to C (C4) a.k.a. Middle C
  • String 4Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N Supernova CF30 Chrome Steel Flat, .030, 039 (.030in/76mm, 14.70lbs/6.50KG) tuned to G (C3) a.k.a. Low G in the Uke world

Tension Note: This set is a higher tension, so be sure to verify with the manufacture or builder that the ukulele can handle it.

$20 USD

$20 USD

Tenor Ukulele Set

Savarez Alliance String Option

This are the strings I used prior to 2022 an are still a great option, I only switched because of my access to TI strings and my personal preference for the flat-wound option. The gauges, the material, the feel are the same for the plain strings.

  • String 1Savarez Alliance KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .024, 541R (.024in/62mm, 17.44lbs/7.9KG) tuned to A (A4)
  • String 2Savarez Alliance KF Plain Treble Standard Tension .027, 542R (.027in/62mm, 13.02lbs/5.9KG) tuned to E (E4)
  • String 3Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N CF27 Chrome Steel Flat, .027, 039 (.027in/69mm, 14.20lbs/6.50KG) tuned to C (C4) a.k.a. Middle C
  • String 4Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N CF30 Chrome Steel Flat, .030, 039 (.030in/76mm, 14.70lbs/6.50KG) tuned to G (C3) a.k.a. Low G in the Uke world

$20 USD

C Tuning, High G

This is the set that ( (Curt) currently recommend for tenor ukuleles in C Tuning with a High G. Strings are one area where different ukuleles might prefer different strings. A ukulele can be very opinionated as to the stings that it likes and brings out its best. Basically, your mileage might vary.

  • String 4Thomastik-Infeld Classic-N, Carbon Nylon Hybrid Material CPK24 (.024in/62mm, 19.40lbs/8.80KG) tuned to G (G4)

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

Alternate Tunings

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 YasuiByron Yasui's LearningUkulele.com 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 EckhausJoel Eckhaus's LearningUkulele.com Musician Listing .

James Hill's BEBE Baritone Tuning:

  • Baritone - B E B E

James has been using this tuning for awhile. It's a great Drone like tuning.

For more information on James HillJames Hill's LearningUkulele.com Musician Listing .

Other Instrument's Tunings

Tune the Ukulele Like Other Instruments.

Banjo Tuning

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

Mandolin Tuning

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

NOTE • Any tuning is possible on a ukulele as long as the ukulele's construction supports it and a string is available. The support part is the combined string tension on the ukulele's construction. All strings manufactures have the individual string tensions available. Remember the the strings length, the scale length of the instruments the tensions as well as the tuning.

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