When taking ukulele classes, you need to learn how to tune a ukulele using a piano. Yes, that’s right—a piano. Learning ukulele tuning is necessary if you want to become a good ukulele player, and it always helps if you want your instrument to sound excellent. It takes time to learn how to tune the ukulele in the desired key, but it’s an invaluable skill in the end.
Several new ukulele players don’t realize that they can use a piano to help with tuning their ukuleles. But pianos and other keyboards are perfect for this job because they have a wider range of notes, and they’re always in tune.
In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on using a piano to tune your ukulele in the desired key. Remember, it takes patience and practice to do this perfectly every time, but eventually, you’ll get the hang of it.
Why Do You Need To Tune Your Ukulele?
One of the main reasons you need to know how to tune your ukulele is that it helps the instrument sound better. If your ukulele isn’t in tune, it will sound off, which can be frustrating for both you and your audience.
In addition, if your ukulele isn’t properly tuned, it will be difficult for you to play the right notes. It’s not all about playing songs; it’s also about knowing what ukulele strings need to be plucked to produce certain chords.
What is The Standard Ukulele Tuning?
The standard tuning for a ukulele is G, C, E, A, meaning the strings of your instrument should be tuned as follows:
– The fourth string (top) – G, 5th fret;
– The third-string – C, 7th fret;
– The fourth string – E, 10th fret;
– The first string (bottom) – A, 12th fret.
Steps to Tuning A Ukulele With A Piano
Now that you know the standard tuning for a ukulele, here are the steps to tuning it with a piano:
Step 1: Find the key to your ukulele.
The first step is to find the key of your ukulele. You can easily do it by looking at the ukulele’s headstock. There should be a label that says what key the instrument is in. If there isn’t one, you can measure the string lengths and find the middle C on the piano. The key to your ukulele is the note that the strings are tuned to when you’re finished.
Moreover, make sure to take note of the following:
- Learn about the tuning pegs – These are the small screws on the top of the ukulele that you use to tune the strings. There’s usually one for each string.
- The tuning peg should be turned alternately in a clockwise and counterclockwise direction to increase or decrease the tension on the string, respectively.
- Loosen the strings if you need to lower the pitch, and tighten them if you want a higher pitch.
- Avoid tightening the strings too much as this will snap the strings off and damage the ukulele in the long run.
Step 2: Find the right pitch on the piano.
Now that you know the key of your ukulele, it’s time to find the right pitch on the piano. Play the middle C on the piano. Then, play each of the strings on the ukulele one at a time. Listen carefully to which string is closest in pitch to the note played on the piano.
Try playing each string a few times until you find the one that sounds most in tune if you’re not sure. When you’ve found the right pitch for each of the strings, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Step 3: Check if your ukulele is in tune.
This step can be tricky, so you need to be patient and pay attention. Start by tuning one string at a time while checking with the piano. Play the Middle C on the piano and then play the C string on the ukulele. If the string is in tune, it will sound the same as the note played on the piano.
If it’s not in tune, you need to adjust the tuning peg for that string until it is. Remember to keep checking with the piano to ensure that the string is in tune.
Step 4: Repeat and tune the other strings.
If you want to tune your ukulele’s other strings, simply look at the note on your instrument’s headstock. The string that’s closest in pitch to the note is tuned to this note on the piano. It’s the C string to the middle C on the piano. Then, you can move to E, G, and A strings.
Keep checking with the piano until all the strings are in tune.
Here’s a video showing how to tune a ukulele with a piano:
How Often Should You Tune Your Ukulele?
Tuning your ukulele is essential because it lets you play the right notes and ensure that you don’t damage your instrument.
Ideally, it would be best to tune your ukulele every time you play it. However, if that’s not possible, try to tune it at least once a week. It is especially true if you use your ukulele for practice sessions and jamming with friends. It will help keep your ukulele in tune and sounding its best.
Another thing you should note is that some ukuleles stay in tune longer than others, so the best way to know how long they will last is by reading the manual that came with it or checking with the manufacturer online.
If you’re not a frequent player, tuning it once a month is fine. Just make sure to do it before any critical performances!
Why Won’t My Ukulele Stay in Tune?
There are a few reasons why your ukulele might not stay in tune. One of the most common reasons is that the strings have become too loose or tight. You can easily fix it by adjusting the tuning pegs.
Some other reasons include:
- Instrument not played in a while – If you haven’t played ukulele in a while, the strings will be out of tune. It’s because the metal strings will stretch over time and lose their tension.
- Temperature or humidity changes – If the temperature or humidity changes, it can also cause the strings to go out of tune. For instance, if you leave your ukulele in a car on a hot day, the strings will stretch and become loose.
- Bad quality strings – If you’re using low-quality strings, they might not stay in tune for very long. They’re made of cheap materials that don’t hold their tension well.
- Newly changed strings – New strings will stretch more than old ones because they are fresher and don’t have any wear on them.
- Inspect your ukulele regularly – Be sure to inspect the uke occasionally for loose or broken strings, pegs that aren’t turning properly, frets that need adjustment, etc. Fixing these can help keep your ukulele in tune for longer.
Now that you know how to use a piano to tune your ukulele, you can make sure that it’s always in tune. In addition, remember not to make the strings too tight, or they’ll snap and damage your instrument.
Try using an electronic ukulele tuner or other tuning alternatives if you’re still having trouble tuning your ukulele with a piano. Now, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice! Be patient, take your time, and you’ll be able to have your uke sounding its best in no time.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.