View Full Version : Uke tuning

01-31-2015, 08:11 AM
Hi all,
I'm new to the Uke and to this forum. One question I have is about the standard tuning of the ukulele - GCEA. Does anyone know the reason for this? I haven't seen any advantage for chords or soloing (being a guitar and bass player since about 1968, quite the contrary for me, actually). Even the violin and mandolin use the guitar's EADG, albeit in the opposite direction. And for that matter the baritone ukulele uses the guitar's upper string sequence of DGBE. Just curious if anyone has some insight on the subject. (And I'll keep trying to remember that what used to be an A chord is now a D, and what was a D is now a G, etc....) :o

And on the lighter side, just so you don't think I'm some total whiner, I find my little concert model a lot of fun. It's size makes it a lot more "handy" to just have out for impromptu practice anytime, anywhere. And you can't help but smile when you hear its plucky voice.

01-31-2015, 08:20 AM
I don't know the answer to your question. I'm a guitar player that started playing uke in October. I found it to not be as confusing as I initially thought. I just made a point to not compare it to guitar.

01-31-2015, 08:22 AM
I used to ask the same question. Coming from guitars and mandolins, and used to swapping from one instrument to the other, had no allegiance to GCEA. I finally swapped all my ukes to fifths tuning to match up with my mandolins, tenor guitar and tenor banjo. That made everything "comfortable."

01-31-2015, 09:06 AM
For me it's not about the ease of chording etc - the re-entrant tuning of an ukulele (with the outer two strings being the highest) is what makes an uke sound like an uke and not a small guitar.

Diamond Dave
01-31-2015, 11:12 AM
Sammich, I agree--coming from guitar, the tuning on a ukulele is different, all right. But it's not a guitar. All the same, when I just bought my first "good" ukulele, I got a tenor and had it strung with a low G. This way, it still sounds like a ukulele and it's still small, but it's not quite as plinky or toy-like.

I think ukuleles and guitars are like sharks and dolphins--different, unrelated animals that have arrived at similar shapes from different evolutionary paths. The uke is a Hawaiian adaptation of a Portuguese instrument, while today's guitars owe their design as much to the old blues players in the American south 100 years ago as anything else.

01-31-2015, 12:23 PM
Thanks for the comments, all. Ubulele, I guess it makes the most sense that it descended from the Portugese braguinha and simply put - "that's the way it's always been done." I've read that there were lots of tunings in the past and this is the one settled on as "standard." I know I can tune it anyway I want, but since the music I've gotten is all for standard tuning, that's what I'll go with. It definitely is more conducive to the Hawaiian sound (even though I find myslef playing more classical fingerstyle on it than chord strumming). I was just curious.

01-31-2015, 01:34 PM
Lots of insight to your question is provided by our resident expert on strings and tunings, Dirk of Southcoastukes

Here http://www.southcoastukes.com/019-2.htm and

Here http://www.southcoastukes.com/tunings.htm

01-31-2015, 01:58 PM
If it helps, it's like a guitar capo'd at the 5th. That "D" shape would be a "G" with a capo'd guitar. I'm primarily a guitar player (although lately I more often grab my uke ;) ) the "capo at 5th" doesn't help me make the switch, but it may help you. It's a different instrument ... I believe you'll dig it, then UAS will set in and the real fun begins!

02-01-2015, 07:20 AM
OK, now we're getting some meat and potoatoes info. Thanks for the links geetee - very helpful (and a good website I need to examine more closely, plus its link to Kawika), and deschutestrout (yep, I've fished for steelhead there!) cleared things up in the literal sense with the 5th fret capo (sorry, I don't even own one, which is probably why that didn't make any sense at first until spelled out for me). So, what does UAS mean... "ukulele (something) syndrome"?

02-02-2015, 04:03 PM
So, what does UAS mean... "ukulele (something) syndrome"?

Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome. Similar to GAS, but takes up less room, so you can buy more ukes. :)

02-03-2015, 01:57 PM
Dang it! Looks like another disease, and I seem to have gotten this one, too. Already looking at the tenor models :o

02-03-2015, 02:05 PM
Do I know you thru TGF... or am I full of Baloney? Either way...welcome to the wonderful world of ukuleles!