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Carlabelle
12-28-2016, 04:42 AM
Hi all,

My mum brought me a ukulele for Christmas. Complete surprise present and I have no real clue what I'm doing! I havent played an instrument before so I'm a complete newbie to all aspects of this. I'm planning to get some lessons once the new year starts but in the meantime I'm trying to learn a few bits on my own from YouTube etc.

The ukulele I have was tuned A, D, F-sharp, B when I got it but I've noticed most are tuned G, C, E, A so when I try to copy something in a video mine sounds completely different. Is it possible to retune my ukele to this? I've just tried with a tuning app I downloaded but I can't seem to retune the A string to G and wondered if this was because it wasn't possible?

Any advice would be gratefully received!

Thanks,
Carla

Croaky Keith
12-28-2016, 04:47 AM
Welcome aboard. :)

Sounds like you got a soprano, some people like to tune them up a little to get more tension in the strings, which is what you have.
Basically if it won't down tune, then you will either need to play in that tuning or a likely better solution is to get new strings & tune up to gCEA. :)

Elessar
12-28-2016, 04:50 AM
I too am new to the Ukulele and have noticed that the G string (no pun intended) is always noted using a lower case "g." Does that mean anything special?

Rllink
12-28-2016, 05:22 AM
I'm trying to figure out what you are telling us here. You said that when you got it that it was tuned A,D,F#,B. Is that out of the box? Because it does not come in tune out of the box. The other thing is that the G string is at the top when you are holding the ukulele in playing position. The A string is at the bottom. I couldn't tell if you are aware of that, or not. Anyway, keeping all that in mind, when I got my first ukulele I tried to tune it and I got one of the strings an octave high. That is a common mistake. Just because it reads a particular note on your tuner, doesn't mean that it is the right particular note.

SailingUke
12-28-2016, 05:22 AM
You are "D" tuning, a full step above "C" (gcea).
You should be able to tune down (loosen strings) to gcea.
The "C" is middle "C".

JackLuis
12-28-2016, 05:23 AM
I too am new to the Ukulele and have noticed that the G string (no pun intended) is always noted using a lower case "g." Does that mean anything special?

A High g is g above middle C and Low G below Middle C. A Uke tuned gCEA is Re-entrant tuning, and Low G GCEA is Linear tuning.

Choirguy
12-28-2016, 05:26 AM
I would suggest going on YouTube and watching many of the videos on how to tune a ukulele. Talking about it here isn't going to help--you need to hear the right notes to get in the general area, and then tune the strings. If you are on A, and need to go down to G, you need to loosen the strings. Hopefully you have a tuner--if not, Reverb's tuner for $4 is a great place to start.


I thought it was the other way around for gCEA. The lower case g, in my mind, represents "low g" meaning that the 4th string (the one closest to you when you hold the ukulele) is thicker than the 3rd string, and is tuned an octave below. Most (soprano/concert/tenor) ukuleles are strung in a "reentrant" way, where the 4th string is G ABOVE middle C, the 3rd string is middle C, the 2nd string is E, and the 1st string is A. Yeah--this method of tuning doesn't really make sense, but it is what it is. The other format, "linear" tuning (gCEA) uses a thicker string for that first G, and is tuned to the G below middle C.

Hopefully you know what middle C is...if not...that entire last paragraph was a waste of digital space.

Again...for tuning, you need to hear to get close...and then use a tuner to be exact.

Croaky Keith
12-28-2016, 06:38 AM
I believe a small g is used to differenciate it from linear tuning - just the way that it is. :)

Mivo
12-28-2016, 07:13 AM
D tuning (ADF#B) is arguably better for a lot of sopranos, both in terms of tone and string tension (less floppy). Most older teaching material is for that tuning also as it was very popular in the early and middle of the last century. It was only toward the end of the century that somehow all ukuleles, regardless of size, ended up with the same tuning, which doesn't make much sense acoustically, but does make learning a little easier. Today, most materials, and certainly 99% of the stuff on YouTube, is for C tuning (GCEA).

Even though people tend to say that you can use the same strings for either tuning, my own experiments showed me that you get mediocre results at best. Strings designed for D tuning are thinner than C tuning strings, and using strings specifically made for the tuning one uses gives a better sound and better tone. I think if you want the best tone, you should stick to D tuning, but tuning it down to C tuning will definitely make learning easier simply because of how common it is, especially on YouTube and in American/American-ized publications (D tuning is still common in Europe and in Canada, but the internet tends to homogenize everything ...).

Elessar
12-28-2016, 07:19 AM
Choirguy: we did use YouTube last night to figure out the actual range that my wife's Uke was supposed to be mimicking. Then we used the turner that was provided to hit the actual notes. I noticed that using the middle G key was really "off" so we went up to the next octave and it just sounded right. Glad to have your advice; thanx.

I was most interested in knowing why the G was noted as g: now I know that too. Thanx again.


I would suggest going on YouTube and watching many of the videos on how to tune a ukulele. Talking about it here isn't going to help--you need to hear the right notes to get in the general area, and then tune the strings. If you are on A, and need to go down to G, you need to loosen the strings. Hopefully you have a tuner--if not, Reverb's tuner for $4 is a great place to start.


I thought it was the other way around for gCEA. The lower case g, in my mind, represents "low g" meaning that the 4th string (the one closest to you when you hold the ukulele) is thicker than the 3rd string, and is tuned an octave below. Most (soprano/concert/tenor) ukuleles are strung in a "reentrant" way, where the 4th string is G ABOVE middle C, the 3rd string is middle C, the 2nd string is E, and the 1st string is A. Yeah--this method of tuning doesn't really make sense, but it is what it is. The other format, "linear" tuning (gCEA) uses a thicker string for that first G, and is tuned to the G below middle C.

Hopefully you know what middle C is...if not...that entire last paragraph was a waste of digital space.

Again...for tuning, you need to hear to get close...and then use a tuner to be exact.

Carlabelle
12-28-2016, 07:22 AM
Thanks for all of the help. Looks like I might have to get new strings to tune it to GCEA. I bought a tuner you clip on to the end of the ukulele but it didn't work properly. Not sure if that was because it only recognises standard tuning though and not ADF#B. I tried an app which quickly tuned it to ADF#B but I can't tune my ukulele to GCEA with it. It doesn't get near the note no matter how much I try with some of the strings. So new strings it is!

Thanks again,
Carla

Mivo
12-28-2016, 08:01 AM
You should be able to get to GCEA with the strings you have, though they may be floppy and not sound so good. But you should be able to tune them that way (briefly at least before they try to get back to the higher tuning). Most clip-on tuners have different settings, one of which is "chromatic" or "C". That is the one you want, not U (ukulele), V (violin) or G (guitar). More advanced app tuners also show you the actual note. Which app did you use? One I can recommend for iPhone and iPad is "Tunable". It works very well, is cheap, and also has a metronome built in. It'll show notes as, say, G4 or E4. The number indicates the octave, so you'll know if you have the right G or E. I use Tunable when putting on new strings, and a clip-on tuner for re-adjusting (new strings take a while to become stable)-

Note that going from D tuning (ADF#B) to C tuning means you are going down in pitch, so the strings get looser and the notes lower. Make sure that you don't accidentally tune up, which may damage the instrument or snap the strings.

That said, new strings are a great idea for a new uke anyway! There are good videos that show how to put them on. If you aren't set on any particular strings yet, I'd recommend Aquila Nylgut or Martin M600 strings. Both are very available.

ErnieElse
12-28-2016, 08:41 AM
Get a decent clip on tuner such as a Snark.

Tune the existing strings down a whole step to GCEA. You'll likely discover a couple of things straight away: 1) the Soprano sized instrument you almost certainly have (because it can handle being tuned up to ADF#B) will sound better tuned back up to ADF#B than tuned down to GCEA 2) This is unfortunate because the majority of ukulele music resources are transcribed and taught in GCEA tuning so in order to use all these and also to play with others you will probably be better learning to play your instrument in its suboptimal GCEA tuning.

Soprano instruments in ADF#B tuning are great fun and usually sound great with that very distinctive uke sound. But as a beginner you need to learn to play in GCEA first. Transposing between tunings is dead easy but that is for later. Right now, tune whatever instrument you've got to GCEA and start learning how to play.

Booli
12-28-2016, 10:49 AM
If you have an iOS device, iPad/iPhone etc, there is a free tuning app called instuner, and it will show you the OCTAVE of the notes you are tuning to.

I am surprised that nobody mentioned that actual octaves of the tuning notes yet. Yes middle-C is the 3rd string up from the floor and in re-entrant tuning the thickest string. Middle-C is C4.

If you are on Android, I do not know which tuning app will show the OCTAVE, but what you are aiming for is the following:

for re-entrant tuning (which is likely what you already have): G4-C4-E4-A4, in the string positions of 4-3-2-1, with 4 being closest to your face, and 1 being closest to the floor.

for LINEAR tuning (the G is an OCTAVE lower): G3-C4-E4-A4 (all the rest are the same as re-entrant tuning save for the G string).

STANDARD uke strings are re-entrant and if you try to tune the G string of this string set to a low G it will be super floppy and almost no volume and sound like a stretched rubber band with such a thin string. A LOW-G string will be even thicker than the normal C string, due to needing more mass (weight and density) in order to have enough tension (about 11lbs of tension) to properly tune to a G3 note and give useful intonation.

Hope this helps.

robinboyd
12-28-2016, 11:45 AM
This would have been so hard for me to understand when I first got my uke. Good luck Carlabelle. Is there anyone in your area who can show you a few things in person?

Booli
12-28-2016, 12:23 PM
This would have been so hard for me to understand when I first got my uke. Good luck Carlabelle. Is there anyone in your area who can show you a few things in person?

Along these lines either a music store, with someone who knows about tuning a re-entrant ukulele, or if there is a local uke group that meets regularly in your area.

Carlabelle what town/state/country, where are you located? Many of us might be able to recommend some resources local to you to get hands-on in person with folks.

Also someone here from UU might be local and willing to meet with you for 'uke & coffee' or similar to help you get started.

Camsuke
12-28-2016, 01:37 PM
Welcome to UU Carla, this information from Ukulele Hunt may be quite helpful http://ukulelehunt.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/FirstUkulele8.pdf Good luck!