Ukulele Tuning Notes

Almost all the ukulele tuning notes online seem to be for standard tuning. So I thought I’d knock together tuning notes for some more out of the way tunings.

Re-entrant C-tuning


Sometimes referred to as standard tuning. It’s the most common ukulele tuning.

Re-entrant D-tuning


Used to be more popular than it is now. Most of the old song sheets from the ukulele heyday are in D-tuning. Nowadays, the only place I really see it used often is with Formby acolytes.

Low-G Tuning


This tuning (with the g string an octave lower than in standard tuning) is becoming more popular – particularly with Hawaiian players. It offers a greater choice of base notes which can fill out the sound when you are playing solo ukulele. This tuning is most often used on tenor ukuleles.

Watch this video of Carl Ray Villaverde to hear how effective it can be.

Low-A Tuning


Should probably be called the ‘Canadian tuning’. It’s used extensively by James Hill and Chalmers Doane. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember it being used anywhere else.

Slack-Key Tuning


The tuning is most often used in the slack-key style of playing (from Hawaii). The A string is tuned down a whole step to G. This produces a C chord when all the strings are played open. The G string can be either low or high (in this case, it’s high).

Baritone Tuning


The baritone ukulele strings are usually tuned the same as the top four strings as the guitar: with the strings going from low to high. It is possible to buy strings for baritone ukulele that allow you to play in re-entrant tuning with a high-D


The standard C-tuning with each string tuned down half a step (one fret). It’s particularly useful for playing in uke unfriendly keys like B and E which often crop up in guitar-based songs.


The standard ukulele C-tuning tuned up half a step (one fret). So it’s half way between C and D tuning. You can recreate this tuning on a C-tuned uke with less hassle by putting a capo on the first fret.

Other Tuning Methods

Using a Tuner

If you don’t trust your ear to tune the uke (or you want to check you’ve got it right), you can use a tuner.

If you’re tuning at your computer, you can download the AP Tuner free and it will tell you the pitch of each string as you play it. The readings should be this for standard tuning:

G = G4
C = C4
E = E4
A = A4

Don’t worry about being bang on 00.0. One or two either way doesn’t matter much.

For tuning away from the computer, you can use a ukulele tuner. You can find out more about them here: ukulele tuners.

Tuning to Pitch Pipes

In days of yore, when dragons roamed the earth, there was no such thing as computers, intertubes and digital tuners. In order to tune their ukuleles, our forefathers had to toot on an ancient whistles known as pitch pipes. They work like a harmonica and a have on hole for each note of the ukulele. You blow the note and tune to it. Dead simple and they break down a lot less often than fancy digital tuners.

Tuning to a Piano

The C string of the ukulele corresponds to the middle-C of the piano. This video should help you find middle C.

Here are the other notes you’ll need:

ukulele tuning

From left to right: C, E, G, A

Tuning to a Guitar

If you’re playing with other instruments, you have to make sure you are in tune with them. Even if you’re both out, so long as you’re out by the same amount, it’ll sound right.

For standard, re-entrant tuning, you can find the tuning notes here:

G = E-string (high E-string) third fret.
C = B-string first fret.
E = E-string open.
A = E-string fifth fret.

Tuning the Ukulele to Itself

Sometimes, you’ll have nothing but your ukulele. On these occasions, you’ll have to tune the ukulele to itself. This might mean that the strings aren’t exactly right. However, so long as the strings are in tune with each other (all of them out by the same amount) it’ll sound right.

Start with the C-string. So long as it sounds like it’s in the right range, use that as your base note. Play the C-string at the fourth fret and tune the E-string to this note.

Play the E-string at the third fret and tune the G-string to that.

To get the note for the A-string, you can either play the E-string at the fifth fret, or the G-string at the second fret.

Strum through a few chords and if all sounds well, you’re good to go.

View Comments


  1. jane May 19th, 2011 4:06 am

    I just purchased a 6 string tenor ukulele. The manufacturer has the A string as the low string. On my 8 string that I purchased in Hawaii,the low string is the G string, the “top” string. I’m not crazy about the bottom string being the “low” string and would like to have the double A string on the bottom and the G string the low string. Can I do this? Can I do it if I purchase a new low G string? JANE

  2. Woodshed May 19th, 2011 6:36 am

    jane: I wouldn’t like to say for sure, but it sounds like something you could do. Worth giving it a try.

  3. Mark June 9th, 2011 4:32 am

    If I wanted to tune a tenor uke like a baritone, i.e., D G B E, would I need different strings? I’m interested in picking up a tenor uke, but I’d prefer not to have to learn a whole set of chords; rather just rely on my guitar chording.

  4. Woodshed June 9th, 2011 9:51 am

    Mark: You would need different strings. Standard strings would be too loose. It’s not all that hard to switch from guitar to standard tuned ukulele. It’s the same chord shapes, you just have to get used to the new names.

  5. Mark June 9th, 2011 4:23 pm

    Thanks Woodshed. It’s not the chord shapes that would bother me, it’s a whole new set of names as well. Your tabs page and instruction books appear first rate, so I’m not going to rule out simply going with traditional tenor tuning. The piece I’m looking at looks like that’s how it’s set up.
    But… if I were to pursue baritone tuning on a tenor, what kind, i.e., size, strings would I look for?

  6. mike June 26th, 2011 4:53 am

    I play saprano, (G tuning) but now have a new baritone uke. Chords are diiferent and I’m a slow learner. What woul be the effect or outcome of playing saprano chords on a baritone uke? Would it sound right or would it be totaly off?? HELP!!

  7. Rick June 29th, 2011 6:13 am

    mike, the chord SHAPES are the same, but they will be a 4th (seven half steps) lower. For example, a C (major) chord on the soprano is simply one finger at the third fret on the highest pitch (A) string (correct?). That same shape becomes a G (major) chord on the baritone. And the G shape on the soprano becomes a D on the baritone. Etc. So you have to get used to the transposition. If this is too bothersome, perhaps a tenor uke would be a better choice for you?

  8. Luke September 20th, 2011 11:08 am

    I’m thinking of buying my first ukulele. Does it matter too much which tuning i start with?

  9. David September 20th, 2011 12:23 pm

    Luke: I started a few months ago and I was really satisfied with the GCEA tuning since a lot of the chords you find on the internet is in this tuning.

    Then a question for everybody:
    I just got some Aquila strings which are “regular – key of D” as it says. So I guess they are made for D-tuning but I actually just want to continue with the C-tuning as I have it now.
    Is it possible to tune the strings in C anyways?

  10. Beka Boo October 3rd, 2011 3:34 pm

    Heya, this is probably explained somewhere and I’ve just completely missed it, but at the top of every tab sheet is the numbers 1,2,3,4 all circled and a letter next to them…is that the tuning to the finger or strings numbers or nothing to do with it!?? Thanks, love the site =]

  11. Woodshed October 4th, 2011 10:29 am

    Beka Boo: Yep, that’s the tuning with the numbers referring to the strings.

  12. Chris January 4th, 2012 7:58 am

    I was given a concert ukulele and want to string it DGBE since I play banjo in this tuning. Can I do that without causing stress to the neck or creating other problems? If so, what strings should I buy? Thanks for any help, could save a marriage…

  13. Mark January 4th, 2012 9:19 pm

    I have a baritone uke, which has both wound wire and nylon strings. Would it cause a stress problem to the neck if I switched to all wound wire strings?

  14. Mark June 30th, 2012 8:59 pm

    Any suggestions on tuning for my concert-Fluke Uke to accompany DADGAD guitar. Shooting for a little more MODAL type sound?

    Thanks in advance…

  15. Wayward Lass July 21st, 2012 7:54 pm

    I saw somebody on youtube saying that the intonation of some older sopranos can be improved by retuning to adf#b, so I thought I’d give it a go with my ohana ck10 (even though I’m sure he was referring to solid mahogany ukuleles from the 30s) that I don’t play any more (because of the intonation) and it’s brilliant – it sounds like a different instrument (& the tuner agrees with me). Why has retuning it improved it so much?

  16. Woodshed July 23rd, 2012 4:17 pm

    Wayward Lass: That’s interesting. A lot of old ukes would have been intended to be played adf#b but I wouldn’t have thought it would make that much difference. I have no idea why but it is interesting.

  17. Britt October 8th, 2012 12:03 pm

    I’m new to the ukelele and just got given an 8 stringed ukelele from overseas. How can I tune that? Is it just the same as a regular ukelele tuning or is there a special way? Please help :)

  18. Dominick January 8th, 2013 6:01 pm

    Great website! I can’t thank you enough for all the help its given me to get started. I’ve been coming across the terminology “tuning up or down a step or fret”. I typically use low G or C tuning, what do I do to go up or down a fret/step? Sorry if this is simple but I am an absolute beginner. Thanks.

  19. Woodshed January 9th, 2013 10:37 am

    Dominick: Thanks! For C-tuning, the B-tuning in the post is one fret down. And C#-tuning is one fret up.

  20. Gastan January 22nd, 2013 5:50 pm

    I’ve just bought a martin uke and i’ve put new aquila strings on it after 4 days it just won’t keep in tune. The strings seems to strech forever. Is this normal, should i tighten the screws?

    Thanks, Gaston

  21. Woodshed January 22nd, 2013 9:30 pm

    Gastan: It’s very normal for ukulele strings to still be going out of tune after four days. You can take some of the stretch out of them more quickly by pulling them away from the uke, giving them a bit of a tug, then retuning them.

  22. Tim May 19th, 2013 1:46 am

    I’ve stuck to standard tuning on my concerts, although low G has been tempting to my formerly barely decent guitar playing self. I messed with tenor banjos briefly, and have often thoght about how to tune my ukes to CGDA, what strings I’d need. Would be better for strumming to all my 1920’s jazz CDs.

  23. Sean May 24th, 2013 1:26 am

    Surprised no one mentioned open F (fCfa). I loves it. Can do a bari open C in a similar way (CGce).

  24. Woodshed May 24th, 2013 9:01 am

    Sean: Thanks. That’s a good one.

  25. Jimbo June 5th, 2013 7:59 pm

    I’m a guitarist of 45 years and got a uke for Fathers day last year. I find my little clip-on tuner (about $25 – $45) works great. No fuss, no muss and I’m in exact tune with just about any You-Tube video so its easy to ‘play along’. Keep your apps, my little tuner is dead easy to use and is very accurate.

    As to strings going out of tune, common with any nylon string, always tune UP to the note, never down. New strings should be over tuned by at least two frets and then downtuned the next day. They steady out much faster. This is my experience with nylon string guitars and works fine on my uke too.

  26. Woodshed June 6th, 2013 7:25 am

    Jimbo: I agree about tuner apps. I’ve never found them to be as good as snap-on tuners.

  27. Gary July 3rd, 2013 10:36 pm

    I am new to Uke’s but can already play guitar. I recently bought a 2nd hand Gold Tone Tenor Banjolele which are usually tuned DGBE but the previous owner changed the strings to allow standard Uke tuning. My question is – should I change the strings and put it back to DGBE so that I can easily use the guitar chords I already know or persevere & learn Uke chords in GCEA? Which tuning sounds better and how is that sound affected by a high or low D?

  28. Woodshed July 4th, 2013 7:43 am

    Gary: I switched from guitar as well and it’s worth trying gCEA. The shapes are all the same. It’s just the names that are different. So it’s not a huge leap.

  29. Alice August 18th, 2013 1:40 am

    Can I start off by saying how amazing this site is! I only bought a ukulele because I’m a big McFly fan and wanted to play along with Tom fletchers ukulele covers on his YouTube channel! Unfortunately, he has a strange tuning and I’ve tried everything to find out what it is but I just can’t find it! Please could someone tell me the tuning? Here is his cover of ‘my girl’ I tried ‘E A C# F# and its pretty similar but doesn’t sound exactly correct?! PLEASE HELP! Thank you so much! :-) I have a concert uke, not that that matters anyway I don’t think? Thanks again!

  30. Woodshed August 18th, 2013 12:37 pm

    Alice: He’s quite between the notes there. It’s about halfway between yours and F Bb D G.

  31. Alice August 19th, 2013 1:32 am

    Thank you very much! :-D

  32. Wombler October 27th, 2013 7:08 pm

    Hi. If I tune a tenor to low g. Do I need to change chord shapes? If so, how.

  33. Woodshed October 28th, 2013 7:33 am

    Wombler: No, you don’t

  34. Claudia January 4th, 2014 2:32 pm

    For the life of me I cant tune my ukulele. I use Ukulele Tool Kit and it just isn’t working. I don’t know what the heck maybe its the cheap GHS strings but I cant just leave my uke untuned until I get a electronic tuner and Aquila strings. Maybe I need to tighten the pegs I dunno but its driving me insane.

  35. Gaston January 5th, 2014 5:06 pm

    Claudia, dont despair. It takess a while for the strings to stabilize. About a year ago a bought my first serious uke and re strung it with aquillas and it took about a month for the uke to stay on tune. Ghs strings dont seem like bad strings to me, you may change to aquillas but in any case you will have to give them sometime to strech. Hope this is helpful. Bye

  36. Red March 31st, 2014 6:57 am

    I accidentally bought D’addario J65 strings which are made for tuning ADF#B – if I keep the strings in the right order, can I use these to tune GCEA… or is there something special about the string which makes it specific to a tuning?

  37. Woodshed March 31st, 2014 7:02 am

    Red: The strings should work fine in gCEA tuning.

  38. jamal May 18th, 2014 4:31 am

    I want to tune my baritone uke to geca. Can I use Aquila red low g strings? I think none of them are wound and I like that I think.

  39. Janie September 20th, 2014 12:35 am

    Hi Al, I bought I believe a baritone (not sure if it might be a tenor) for a great price at a pawn shop and was wondering could I convert this to a low G ukulele? Thanks for your help. Janie

  40. Woodshed September 20th, 2014 7:25 am

    Janie: I think Aquila do high-G baritone strings. I don’t know about low-G. If it’s a tenor you shouldn’t have any problems.

  41. Stvn December 27th, 2014 4:13 am

    Hello. My wife just got me an 8 string banjolele for Christmas. I’ve never touched one or a standard ukelele before. This is the most comprehensive guide for tuning I’ve found so far, however, I’m finding it next to impossible to find anything on 8 string tuning. Any advice or words of wisdom?

  42. Don Lawson February 11th, 2015 9:33 pm

    i have been looking for alternative open tunings thus i came across this post / site… i just tried the open F (Fcfa – i m using a word G string) tuning as suggested by Sean on May 24th/14… great sound… now trying to figure out a few chording shapes (i.e. I IV V etc.) beyond having to play a (one finger) straight bar shape up the neck (i.e. 5th, 7th fret etc)…i love the open sound – drone that this tuning brings out in my tenor uke… does any one know of an free app that i could use to help develop a few chord shapes (in the 1st & 2nd position) built around this (an other) tunings… also has any of the other members / readers of this site experimented with any other tunings – and their chord shapes. tx – Don

  43. Michael March 19th, 2016 7:01 pm

    I have a Tenor Ukulele and I would like to tune it to a,D,F#,B the same as my smaller Ukulele.

    Is this possible and do I need different strings? If so can you tell what strings to buy?

  44. Woodshed March 20th, 2016 12:04 pm

    Michael: You shouldn’t have any problems using C-tuning strings in D-tuning. They might feel a bit more tense. Some companies do make strings intended for D-tuning but I haven’t tried any.

  45. Scott July 3rd, 2016 2:08 am

    My tenor uke come tuned f,g#,c,g
    I’m learning still, was this out of tune or another way of tuning?

  46. Woodshed July 3rd, 2016 3:20 pm

    Scott: You’ll need to tune it.

  47. Jennyuke July 26th, 2016 2:43 pm

    Hello everyone, I came upon a song that says the key is Em7. I have standard tuning, (GCEA), any ideas how I am supposed to tune it to play? I’ve been scouring the internet! The song is here if that helps

  48. Woodshed July 26th, 2016 7:37 pm

    Jennyuke: GCEA tuning should work fine.

  49. Victor Barker September 4th, 2016 8:33 pm

    play guitar -jazz- dixieland style . have a 5 string banjo . 4 string banjolele 16 frets. cant work out the bast tuneing for type of music i play the banjolele sounds to bright. the banjo not as i think it should sound like anyone with an idea what key i should tune too

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