When you’re playing a musical instrument, it’s vital that it’s tuned properly in order to get the proper sound you’re after.
Correct tuning is especially important for beginner ukulele players who aren’t familiar with the sound of a ukulele and telling if it’s out of tune or not. If the ukulele is out of tune, you’ll associate the wrong sounds with their corresponding notes and chords which will make learning much more difficult.
A proper tuning will also give your instrument the best sound possible which is why you should also check the tuning on your strings before you start playing.
Ukulele String Tuning
The standard way to tune your ukulele is GCEA, with the G string being the top string when you’re looking down from the playing position.
If it’s your very first time tuning your ukulele and it wasn’t set up at a music store, it will likely be very out of tune. You’ll need to turn the tuning gear quite a bit to have it sounding properly, so don’t expect it to be easy right away.
You should also be prepared for your ukulele strings to stretch out over the first few weeks you own your ukulele. You’ll be tightening and retuning your strings often, but after 2-4 weeks they should get to the point where they stay in tune for quite some time.
Ways to Tune Your Ukulele
There are a few old school ways to tune a ukulele, like using an already tuned ukulele or piano and using your ear to match the tune.
The better and more reliable way to tune your ukulele is through the use of a digital tuner. Digital tuners have become very cheap and affordable in recent years while still remaining the most reliable way to tune your ukulele.
There are two main models of tuners – clip-on, microphone, and apps.
Clip-on tuners attach to the headstock of the ukulele and read the vibrations from the wood as you pluck the string. Clip-on tuners have an advantage in that you can use them in a noisy environment and they won’t be affected since they don’t rely on a microphone.
Microphone tuners rely on a built-in microphone that listens to the sound being played to tell if it’s in tune or not. Standalone microphone tuners sometimes have more advanced features like a metronome.
Finally, you can find many different apps for your smartphone that will use your phone’s microphone to act as a microphone tuner.
Let’s take a look at the best ukulele tuners to keep your uke sounding great.
Best Clip-On Ukulele Tuner
The Snark SN6X is everything you want from an affordable clip-on ukulele tuner. It features a bright LED display that can rotate 360 degrees to fit whatever viewing angle is easiest for you.
The display is colorized to make it obvious which way you need to adjust your string. If it’s red, you need to tighten it. If it’s yellow, you need to loosen it. Green means the string is successfully tuned to the right note.
The SN6X can also tune guitars, and it comes with a long lasting battery that you won’t need to worry about replacing.
Best Microphone Ukulele Tuner
The KLIQ MetroPitch is a tuner, metronome, and tone generator all in one pocket-sized package. The tuner works with a variety of instruments including the ukulele.
You can use the MetroPitch as a metronome to practice keeping on the beat as you strum, and it also has built-in beats and rhythm patterns to play around with.
This device uses different colored backlighting when you’re tuning your instrument to show when it’s in or out of tune. The lighting will be red when you’re out of tune and green once it’s right, and the “needle” will be in the middle of the gauge.
Best Android Ukulele Tuner App
There’s a sea of free ukulele tuner apps out there, but our favorite has been Pocket Ukulele Tuner. It’s got a nice and clear display of what is being tuned and how it needs to be adjusted and it’s accurate.
It will also auto-detect the string being tuned, and you can use an alternative tuning as well.