View Full Version : I'm confused (about tunings)

09-04-2015, 04:33 AM
There should be a ukulele law that states newbies should not read about different tunings for a least a year! I unfortunately did read about them and I am totally confused!

I started on and am still playing on a concert size in C tuning with low G. So it is tuned GCEA.

It was suggested I might like Bb tuning for playing with horn players. So for that a tenor uke would be needed and would be tuned F Bb D G. Right?

I just got a Lyle Ritz book that shows the chords two different ways. One for C tuning and the other for a Tenor uke tuned DGBE. Would that be G tuning? What's up with that? Why use this tuning.

so then what's the D tuning I've read about. ADFB? And what is it used for?

Last question. If you do have a tuning other than C, is the music actually written for it, or do you have to transpose from C tuning?

I'm going to go take an advil now!!!

09-04-2015, 04:43 AM
Standard tuning these days is a high gCEA, but it hasn't always been that way. Many old books will teach you D tuning. DGBE is sometimes called Chicago tuning and is typically used for baritones.

09-04-2015, 06:46 AM
The 'old' re-entrant standard 'English' (D) tuning aDF#b (still current in many parts of the world) is brighter than the debased gCEa standard and is likely suitable to make darker-sounding 'ukes snappier. Contrawise, downtuning to fA#Dg lends some gravitas to a tinkly-sounding axe.

A baritone's 'Chicago' DGBe tuning is the same as a guitar's top strings, very handy for git-pickers tired of dealing with six strings at once. I personally find DGBE too guitar-like -- I have enough guitars already -- so I recently tuned my baritone like a plectrum banjo by slacking the top and bottom strings to CGBD. Oh boy, new fingerings to learn... ;)

'Ukes' tunability and flexibility fascinate me. So many tuning possibilities! Even without changing chord forms, we can have linear GCEa and various re-entrants like gCEa and GcEa and GceA (Venezuelan cuatro style) and gCeA (theoretically), all varieties of C tuning. Then there are numerous slack-key and open tunings, and the jazzy straight-4ths tuning GCFa#, and 5ths tunings (linear or re-entrant), and various perversions I had best not mention now.

Yes, are many tunings for much confusion. Fun fun fun.

Jim Hanks
09-04-2015, 04:42 PM
I keep it simple by learning chord shapes for C tuning and treating all other tunings as if I was holding a C uke anyway. The "Bb tuning for playing with horn players" is a perfect example. Say you're playing with a trumpet player (or tenor sax) and reading off their chart. The chart has already been transposed for the instrument so if you play your Bb tuned tenor ukulele, you just read the chord and play the chord - no mental gymnastics needed and you're in sync with the horn gal/guy "automagically".