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View Full Version : What are you using to tune your ukulele?



Mivo
03-02-2016, 10:14 AM
For the most part, I just use a cheap clip-on tuner (the sub-$10 kind) to tune my ukuleles, because they are inexpensive and for non-musical me it was an obvious choice when I started out. Recently I picked up a tuning fork and a strobe tuner (a PolyTune clip, which hasn't arrived yet) in the hope that these may help with improving the accuracy of my hearing also, at least in the long run.

There are quite a few different ways to tune the instrument and check whether it's tuned properly. Which is your preferred method that you use most often these days?

PedalFreak
03-02-2016, 10:15 AM
I use a Peterson Stroboclip

Mivo
03-02-2016, 10:18 AM
I added a poll, because polls are fun! :)

Joyful Uke
03-02-2016, 10:24 AM
Is the Peterson worth the price vs. a cheaper clip-on, (which is what I use)? I have eyed the Peterson, (tax refund is coming!), but don't know how to decide if I'd gain anything from it. I don't play with others, but would like something that is accurate.

Snargle
03-02-2016, 11:01 AM
Generally, I use a clip-on Snark tuner, but I also occasionally use iStroboSoft, an iPhone app, as a second opinion. They usually agree, but not always.

Osprey
03-02-2016, 11:02 AM
I use a NS micro clip on. Not sure if you call it inexpensive or high end clip on. Works well for me.

jollyboy
03-02-2016, 11:09 AM
I use a cheap Eno clip on tuner, although I do use the 'chromatic' setting and usually check the tuning open and at the first three frets, for a bit of extra accuracy. I like the design of this tuner - I have another clip on that was twice the price and I never use it.

Mivo
03-02-2016, 11:18 AM
I use a NS micro clip on. Not sure if you call it inexpensive or high end clip on. Works well for me.

This is a good point. By higher-end tuners, I mean e.g. the strobo-type of tuners, like the Peterson Stroboclip or the PolyTune (http://www.tcelectronic.com/polytune-clip/) that someone recently mentioned. Basically, the $50+ devices that may provide more accuracy (haven't received mine yet, so can't compare) as they use a different technology than the (by now) more generic clip-on tuners. Not a very solid definition, I admit. :) I, too, am curious about the differences in accuracy, and I'll report back on the PolyTune when it arrives (probably Friday or Saturday).

Tootler
03-02-2016, 11:39 AM
I use NS micro tuners. I have them on most of my ukuleles and leave them permanently attached. I tune with the tuner then check by ear and tweak if necessary.

wildfire070
03-02-2016, 11:49 AM
I used a Snark a lot but recently I've switched to using an app on my phone called insTuner because it has a handy note wheel and also shows the octave of the note which helps when playing around with different tunings and transposing.

Papa Tom
03-02-2016, 02:04 PM
I have a Korg CA-30 digital tuner, but I prefer to just use an inexpensive pitch pipe to give me the high G. After that, I tune the rest of the strings by ear.

Nickie
03-02-2016, 02:14 PM
I use a Peterson Stroboclip

Me too. I wouldn't have spent that much money, it was left to me by my late partner.
I also use the piano, when I am near it.

Recstar24
03-02-2016, 04:22 PM
My preferred method is my istrobosoft ios app. it has some very sophisticated options especially with the in app purchases. I just downloaded a harmonics tuning option which will show you the upper harmonics and you can really dial in the intonation. The basic app itself works very well, and i have a clip on accessory that allows me to connect it from the headphone output and clip to the headstock.

experimentjon
03-02-2016, 04:22 PM
I have the following
* Peterson Stroboclip
* TC Eletronic Polytune
* NS Micro
* A range of other clip on tuners in the $10-$20 range (ex. Korg, Intelli, etc)
* iPhone apps (ultimate guitar and Music Notes--the latter of which is a fantastic free app)

The best one by far in my opinion is the Polytune. It has the best features of the Stroboclip but in a smaller package, more readable, lighter, and cheaper, and in color.

The NS Micro was nice, but startup was annoyingly slow. And even though it felt lightweight, I typically took it off after use b/c I tend to store my instruments for long periods of time and didn't want the clip to somehow cause uneven aging of the finish.

That said, if I were starting today, I'd just go with a Snark. Those things look great for the price.

M3Ukulele
03-02-2016, 04:39 PM
I like the new Snark HTZ tuner. Not because of the tuning to HTZ feature, frankly don't think it applies to ukulele. At least I never figured out How to use it but..............because it's 40%smaller, tracks with very stable, accurate tuning and because they made a much better joint holding clip to the body. Just had a Snark Super tight start to weaken at the ball joint. Plastic in cracking. It's only a matter of time now.. I will add another HTZ. To replace.
My .02 cents worth

Ukulele Eddie
03-02-2016, 05:08 PM
I added a poll, because polls are fun! :)

Yes, I agree!

kohanmike
03-02-2016, 06:10 PM
If my uke (bass uke) did not come with a preamp with built in tuner, I installed it myself. I still have one uke without one (for now) for which I use a D'Addario (Planet Waves) micro clip on tuner, which I also use on three of my solid body bass ukes, on two others I use the new flip up D'Addario clip on tuner.

hollisdwyer
03-02-2016, 07:02 PM
I have the following
* Peterson Stroboclip (most used)
* NS Micro
* Snark (Black)

Inksplosive AL
03-02-2016, 07:59 PM
Back in the late 80's I bought a Korg GT-60X to compliment my usa warlock. Since it is a fixture in that guitars case and chromatic tuners are the norm today when I bought a new tuner for ukulele I bought a clip on Korg PC-1. I have a handful of first gen micro tuners but find using only one tuner saves on battery cost greatly. I am a clip on tune and take it off type only using it when I can hear it is out of tune.

I also found cheap batteries run 6 or 8 to 1 name brand battery so buying name brand is more economical.

The other day when down tuning my 20's 30's Harmony for storage I was plunking around on a seriously out of tune instrument having much fun. I may have found my niche.

:music:

rustycase
03-02-2016, 09:20 PM
Not so many snarks here... I'm surprised to see that.

I could not pass up a $2 many-name clip-on tuner, delivered to my doorstep.
It works, has multiple functions, but does not inspire confidence.

With new strings on my ukes, it is still a re-tuning blitz around here.
Whichever tuner comes up at the top of the list with a google search is what seems most accurate, to me.
Then, I go back to the little digital clip-on, to see what it thinks... and I warm tones when chords or tab progressions don't quite cut it.

I use a free downloaded program for my fiddle, and am very happy with it.
Need to find a d/l able one for the ukes...
More confidence in them that the cheapo clip-ons.
I would spring for the newest version of the snark.

Good thread! Thanks for all the input, and I also like polls.
rc

Croaky Keith
03-02-2016, 11:01 PM
Snark SN-6 Chromatic Clip on Ukulele Tuner.
(Prefer also to use it on my electro accoustics rather than use their inbuilt tuners as it should save the pre-amps batteries)

DownUpDave
03-02-2016, 11:54 PM
I use mostly Snarks and a couple NS micro tuners

Rllink
03-03-2016, 01:22 AM
I just use a cheap ol tuner and go with it.
Amazingly, they tell the same story as expensive ones do.
C is C is C....
doesn't matter whether you pay 5 bucks or 50 bucks.... Exactly.....

crisson
03-03-2016, 01:23 AM
I use a clip-on called a Kliq Ubertuner that seems to be very accurate and has several modes (uke, guitar, chromatic, etc.). I don't know if it would be expensive or inexpensive in the poll but I voted inexpensive. I paid about $25 on Amazon. I also have an old Korg CA-30 that I have used for more years than I can remember.

actadh
03-03-2016, 01:36 AM
Started with the blue Snark and gave it away to my mother-law when she took up the ukulele.

Got a red Snark for my Opio because both were an upgrade in uking for me and both were a treat to myself. It also kind of matches the friction tuners.

Picked up a black Snark when I got my Outdoor Uke Tenor and gave it to my sister when she took up the uke this year.

So, now I have the one red Snark and multiple Reverb tuners since I pick one up every time they do a $1 sale.

I have never seen much difference in the Snark result versus the Reverb result, but the Reverb seems a bit more daunting to newbies because of the instrument mode setting feature. I also have a tuning app on my phone and a tuning website bookmarked on all my computers.

Mivo
03-03-2016, 01:46 AM
I just use a cheap ol tuner and go with it.
Amazingly, they tell the same story as expensive ones do.
C is C is C....
doesn't matter whether you pay 5 bucks or 50 bucks....

From what I understand, the question is whether what the tuner shows as a C is a precise C or an approximate C. The claim is that strobe tuners are more accurate. I don't know if that is true, to what degree, and whether it actually matters in most cases. But to find this out for myself, I bought the PolyTune (it also has pretty lights!). It cost €42, so around $45 USD. Worst case scenario is that it's just a fancier version of what I have. I'll review it when it gets here.

Rllink
03-03-2016, 04:57 AM
From what I understand, the question is whether what the tuner shows as a C is a precise C or an approximate C. The claim is that strobe tuners are more accurate. I don't know if that is true, to what degree, and whether it actually matters in most cases. But to find this out for myself, I bought the PolyTune (it also has pretty lights!). It cost €42, so around $45 USD. Worst case scenario is that it's just a fancier version of what I have. I'll review it when it gets here.I look forward to your review.

Rllink
03-03-2016, 05:00 AM
I realize that there is always going to be some measure of error, regardless of what method or tool that any individual uses to tune their ukulele. I find the journey to find the most precise tuning instrument possible, and then transferring that preciseness to an individual string, which in all likelihood will not stay that precise for more than a strum or two, is an interesting preoccupation. In fact, I find that preoccupations in general are be a big part of some people's ukulele experience.

drbekken
03-03-2016, 05:01 AM
I have a G harmonica in the gigbag. From that, I use my ears.

PedalFreak
03-03-2016, 05:51 AM
Is the Peterson worth the price vs. a cheaper clip-on, (which is what I use)? I have eyed the Peterson, (tax refund is coming!), but don't know how to decide if I'd gain anything from it. I don't play with others, but would like something that is accurate.

I think it is. I've got a ton of tuners. I was in the music instrument industry for over 15 years, and I have been given a lot of tuners. I bought my Peterson, and have owned it for 4-5 years. It's the only one that has held up. It is one of the two accessory purchases that I have made, that if I was to lose it I would buy another in a heartbeat.

sopher
03-03-2016, 06:45 AM
I think it is. I've got a ton of tuners. I was in the music instrument industry for over 15 years, and I have been given a lot of tuners. I bought my Peterson, and have owned it for 4-5 years. It's the only one that has held up. It is one of the two accessory purchases that I have made, that if I was to lose it I would buy another in a heartbeat.

I would disagree with this. I have the Peterson and a variety of Snarks. I haven't used the Peterson in months and I use the Snarks every day. My problems with the Peterson are:
1. I never get it to be perfectly still
2. I have no idea how far off my tuning is when the screen is rotating slowly
3. They have a "sweetened uke" setting, but I'm not sure that it is still valid if I use it on my Bari in d'GBe' - it doesn't seem to be very good up the neck
4. I normally just tune string4 with the tuner and then use a fair amount of hand-ear tempering to get a tuning that is equally out of tune all up and down the neck.

Sopher

PedalFreak
03-03-2016, 07:54 AM
I would disagree with this. I have the Peterson and a variety of Snarks. I haven't used the Peterson in months and I use the Snarks every day. My problems with the Peterson are:
1. I never get it to be perfectly still
2. I have no idea how far off my tuning is when the screen is rotating slowly
3. They have a "sweetened uke" setting, but I'm not sure that it is still valid if I use it on my Bari in d'GBe' - it doesn't seem to be very good up the neck
4. I normally just tune string4 with the tuner and then use a fair amount of hand-ear tempering to get a tuning that is equally out of tune all up and down the neck.

Sopher

That is a mistake a lot of people make with a strobe tuner. You can never 100% have a note be in tune, it is constantly changing. That is why you never see it "perectly still." It never will be. The reason a snark, or other tuners like it, will stay still is because the accuracy isn't there.

The facts are that Peterson make the most accurate tuners on the market. However, the extra accuracy you get, probably 95% of people can not hear the difference.

ricdoug
03-03-2016, 08:16 AM
Eeyuh kine buggah. Las week Brudduh borrow tunuh. Kakaroch me. Ric

flailingfingers
03-03-2016, 09:29 AM
I have a Peterson, Snark and 2 NS Micros. I use the NS Micros exclusively now. They are small (I leave on the ukes most of the time) and accurate. The Snark is fine too, just bigger than the Micros. I gave it to my granddaughter as it is easier for her to handle with little fingers. I never found the Peterson to be any more accurate than the Snark or the Micros. I ran some tests by either tuning with the Micros or the Snark, then the Peterson and visa versa. They was no difference. If the Peterson, which is a pain to use BTW, said it was in tune then the Micro showed the same....and in reverse. There is a point of neurosis than one can approach with this. (I have approached it). Tune it and play. If it still sounds "off" then tune by ear and then play when it sounds "on".

Cassie
03-03-2016, 01:38 PM
For the most part, I just use a cheap clip-on tuner (the sub-$10 kind) to tune my ukuleles, because they are inexpensive and for non-musical me it was an obvious choice when I started out. Recently I picked up a tuning fork and a strobe tuner (a PolyTune clip, which hasn't arrived yet) in the hope that these may help with improving the accuracy of my hearing also, at least in the long run.

There are quite a few different ways to tune the instrument and check whether it's tuned properly. Which is your preferred method that you use most often these days?

I use audible tuning software. one that my friend made himself. He's also a uu member but he's not on very much. He's also good with programming and he hasn't had any classes for it that I know of.

Tootler
03-03-2016, 01:59 PM
That is a mistake a lot of people make with a strobe tuner. You can never 100% have a note be in tune, it is constantly changing. That is why you never see it "perectly still." It never will be. The reason a snark, or other tuners like it, will stay still is because the accuracy isn't there.

The facts are that Peterson make the most accurate tuners on the market. However, the extra accuracy you get, probably 95% of people can not hear the difference.

The real reason that most cheap tuners "stay still" is they are less precise than a strobe tuner. A strobe tuner will respond to a much smaller change than the cheaper tuners. That is precision not accuracy. It's perfectly possible for an instrument to be as accurate but less precise than another. Most of the tuners we use are probably much more accurate than we give them credit but because they are less sensitive to small changes in pitch (ie less precise), they often appear to be less accurate. The lower sensitivity, however makes them easier to use.

If you use an electronic tuner, once you have all the strings in tune according to the tuner you should still check the tuning of the strings to each other by ear. You will find sometimes you need to make small adjustments to get all the strings exactly in tune. The method I use - and I suspect most others do too is to play the same note on two adjacent strings and listen if there is any beating (a slight wah wah) effect. If there is you need to adjust.

A quick check is to play a C5* chord (0022). This comprises just the notes C and G, a perfect fifth above C (or perfect fourth below). The frequencies of equal temperament fifths are almost exactly in a 3/2 ratio so there should be no beating. If you hear beating, you need to check your strings again.

* 0022 will work on any tuning where the strings are tuned in fourth, third, fourth intervals (DGBE, ADF#B etc)

Inksplosive AL
03-03-2016, 07:36 PM
My Korg PC-1 shows the note slightly sharp as it is plucked but it mellows fast after the initial attack. I guess I tend to tune my ukuleles slightly sharp.

Online when I want to start playing with my stick and some really odd tunings I'll use this one. http://www.get-tuned.com/online_ukulele_tuner.php

Henning
03-03-2016, 11:10 PM
Not only do I use the tuning fork but of course also my ears, thumb and index finger. Did I miss anything out there? :nana:

Peace Train
03-03-2016, 11:29 PM
That is a mistake a lot of people make with a strobe tuner. You can never 100% have a note be in tune, it is constantly changing. That is why you never see it "perectly still." It never will be. The reason a snark, or other tuners like it, will stay still is because the accuracy isn't there.

Partially true. I have a Peterson that I can never get to be perfectly still when using it to tune my uke. When my instructor uses his twice as expensive $150 tuner to tune my uke, I'll go home and check the tuning with my Peterson and the Peterson is dead still. His tuner only takes seconds as compared to my Peterson. I just checked tuning again before posting, and the Peterson continues to read quite still several days later.

Mivo
03-04-2016, 12:18 AM
I look forward to your review.

I'll do a write-up on the weekend, but the short version (I got it this morning) is that the main difference between the PolyTune and my ~10 Eno tuner is speed rather than precision -- at least in my test with two of my ukes. Built quality is better, too. While it's four times more expensive, and four times flashier, and I'm four times more comfortable with the clip using less pressure, I don't feel it's four times better. Polyphonic tuning, that is: all strings in one go, only works for guitars, not for the ukulele. More on this on the weekend, with pictures.

Booli
03-04-2016, 01:29 AM
yea so I am in the 'other method' since I use more than one method depending upon the moment...no way I can see to select MULTIPLE items in the poll

...NS Micro tuners
...other clip on tuners
...APP called INSTUNER on my iPad
...by ear
...by tuning fork
...be reference tone

whatever is most convenient at the moment, and vs. if I am playing alone or with others, or along to a video lesson...

Recstar24
03-04-2016, 03:52 AM
My thoughts on tuning as a music teacher:

1) regardless of tuning device, the ear should be the final decision maker. After tuning open strings, you really should be checking fretted notes and how they line up. Your finger pressure and how the uke is setup will naturally sharpen certain notes which you will want to modify to make your playing sound in tune. One of my tuning routines is below:

Tune C third string
Fret 4 on C string to check the open E
Tune open E, getting it in ballpark of fret 4 on c string
Third fret on e string against g string
5th fret on e string against a string
Tune a string
Check g string but modify by ear to fit in especially on re entrant. Being a perfect 5th above c but right against the a string, the g string benefits the most tuning and seasoning by ear

2) the strobe tuners are fantastic and work really well but require a learning curve to use. The sweetened uke tuning on Peterson app works well for me, as well as the harmonic tuning upgrade.

3) I have no issues tuning completely by ear as long as there is some kind of pitch reference like a tuning fork or using a piano.

Joyful Uke
03-04-2016, 09:45 AM
Looking forward to the longer review of the Polytune, and already appreciate your comments. I've been eyeing the tuner, but it sounds like I'll do just as well with my Snark.

kohanmike
03-04-2016, 07:18 PM
...regardless of tuning device, the ear should be the final decision maker.

In the fifty years I played guitar and three playing ukulele and then bass uke, I never ever could tune by ear, or for that matter by relative string tuning. Those electronic tuners for me are the greatest invention. There was no learning curve for me, turned it on, plucked a string, turned the tuning machine one way or the other until the tuner showed in tune.

Rllink
03-05-2016, 04:05 AM
In the fifty years I played guitar and three playing ukulele and then bass uke, I never ever could tune by ear, or for that matter by relative string tuning. Those electronic tuners for me are the greatest invention. There was no learning curve for me, turned it on, plucked a string, turned the tuning machine one way or the other until the tuner showed in tune.A friend of mine took up classical guitar six or seven years ago. In fact, he is the reason that I am playing the ukulele, but that is another story. One day we were talking, and he invited me over so that he could show me what he is doing with his classical guitar. My friend is quite the purist, and went to great lengths to tell me on how he is developing his ear, and lectured me about tuning the guitar strings to one another, after tuning one to a tuning fork, that for all I know probably has to get periodical calibrations to ensure that it is an accurate representation of some tone. So I went over there, and he started tuning up his guitar, and after a while I asked him if I could raid his refrigerator for a beer and watch some golf on TV until he got his guitar tuned up. Anyway, after a lengthy process, that seemed to be quite satisfying for him in itself, he played some very intricate pieces for me. It was very interesting, and I thought that he played well, compared to the last time he played for me, which was about the time that I decided to take up the ukulele. But my observation was, that the turning process that he used was in itself something that provided him with a sense of accomplishment, almost as much so as the playing of the piece itself. As for me, I agree with you Mike, tuning just does nothing for me. I can tune one string off another, but it takes some time for me to do it, and even then I'm not always satisfied with the sound. As it is, the sooner I can get tuned and start playing something, the better, and a tuner makes that quick and easy.

pointpergame
03-05-2016, 07:38 AM
I spent some time on the Mandolin Cafe exploring this same question. I guess it's no surprise that even over there with all the working professionals and the folks with $20,000 instruments, the discussion of tuners is similar to this one. Because of studios work and on-stage performance, I think these folks usually take their tuning more seriously than we do as a group here in the more relaxed UkeLand.

In a time far far ago, there were no tuners. The professional piano strobotuners were the size of a big sewing machine and cost more than a two months' salary back when I was a 7th grade teacher in the 70's. I tuned my piano and harpsichords with a tuning fork. Match the middle A to the tuning fork , temper the middle octave, then match the upper and lower octaves to this "reference octave." We had no alternative in the pre-tuner years but to tune our guitars and mandolins, etc., in the same way.

The fact is, in doing this you get pretty good at it. You accept the realities. You get used to hearing things when they're right and when they refuse to behave, and it's a little hard to play an instrument that isn't very close.

I still want my tunings to be perfect. Not because I'm a perfectionist, it's just from a lifetime of listening to it, I can hear the beats and the whanging. If you can't, good for you. For me, the music sounds way, way better when the intervals are pure and sweet. The Uke presents some interesting and slightly ugly problems. The attack note ( right when it is plucked ) is 2, 3, 4, cents different from the relaxing note some seconds later. It depends quite a bit on the instrument and the string combination and which string is being plucked. A tuner lets a person SEE this process. My question is sometimes this: Do I want the chord to sound ideal at the moment of plucking / strumming, or do I want the sustained chord to sound its best? THIS is where a tuner makes a big difference. And it's the place where different tuners are, indeed, different.

OK. That should explain where I'm coming from. As a result, I prefer some tuners way over some others. I want a clear notion of how fast and how far high the plucked note goes and the speed with which it relaxes. For this, the istrobosoft IOS app works just right. The strobe offers an intuitive view of what's going on. The simultaneous digital cents readout then gives me a precise quantity. The little stripes ooze UPPpppp, then DOWnnnnnn. Or up, then stop ( what I usually shoot for ). I can choose if I want an in-tune pop, an in-tune sustain, or something in between. I have to add, since I usually have my iPhone on my person, the istrobosoft app it's a pretty cheap way to go.

Sitting in a jam of 3 or more, though, this is all academic. To say the least. In that case, I want speed and clarity. The Snarks are cute. I keep one in the case. But for my aging eyes, I find them dim. The ( FAR ) more expensive Polytune clipon has proven its worth for me, mostly because it's very bright, there's a bit of a strobe-like motion ( though I still can't make a lot of sense of it ) to tell me which direction to go and how far, and it's fast without too much low-pass filtering to obscure what's really going on.

So, that's my 4 cents. I have used "Cleartune" on the iPhone, and while it gives me almost the same information that the istrobosoft does, I find the rate-of-strobe to off-pitch correspondence comes very naturally to my little musical brain.

Croaky Keith
03-05-2016, 08:01 AM
Going back in time, one indeed did have to use your ears to tune a guitar, starting from a reference note, but it is so much easier to just clip on a digital tuner, & spend all your time playing, (or in my case practicing to play :) ).

UkieOkie
03-05-2016, 11:29 AM
I voted other because about half of my Ukes hav onboard tuners. On the ones that don't I do it by ear or often a great guitar tuner on my iPhone.

joneo
03-12-2016, 02:10 PM
I've just been using a couple of free tuner apps I downloaded onto my Android phone; Da Tuner Lite and Pano Tuner. Both appear to work about the same, although I like the interface of Pano Tuner better. However, just yesterday I bought a clip on Ubertuner from KLIQ, which is apparently an improvement on the Snark design, being more robust and less prone to breakage. Testing the apps against the clip on tuner shows that they all seem to work about equally, as long as I'm in a quiet environment.