View Full Version : Concert ukulele tuning question

05-09-2011, 04:02 AM
Greetings. I have a question on behalf of my grandfather. He owns a concert ukulele - he bought it a while back and has not begun learning it yet. He is 80 years old and recently suffered a stroke, so although he is already a musician (saxophonist) and has a good musical brain, learning a new instrument is going to be challenging for him.

He's asked me if it would be possible to tune his ukulele to EADG. That way I (as a guitarist, albeit a beginner) would be able to help him out.

Is this possible with a concert ukulele? What would people recommend as a way of learning for someone in my grandfather's position?

Thanks in advance for any help.

05-09-2011, 05:45 AM
Hi and Welcome to the forum. You will find much help and support from the fine folks here.

As far as the concert ukulele is concerned, the tuning that you proposed is typically for a Mandolin or a Bass. Is this what you are looking for? If "guitar" tuning is what you suggesting (i.e. the last 4 strings on a guitar) then DGBE would be the way to go. I have never tuned a concert to DGBE tuning. The chords shapes are essentially the same whether one tunes DGBE or GCEA. You just have to transpose by 5 steps. In other words, if you were to capo a guitar at the fifth fret, you would have GCEA tuning. This might be the way to go.

Hope this helps...

mm stan
05-09-2011, 06:03 AM
Aloha Hound,
Yes you can drop tune it , not sure how it would sound on that uke...but I have a tenor in that tuning...depends on the scale and the strings too..hope it helps..

05-09-2011, 07:00 AM
You can buy the J71 High Tension Pro Arte strings (http://ukeunderground.bigcartel.com/product/daddario-pro-arte-tenor-ukulele-strings) and down-tune them to EADG. They'd be floppy, but you can do it.

I would not recommend that, however. Your problem is non-existent. As a guitar player, you can already help your grandfather learn the chord shapes on an ukulele. Your guitar chord shapes will transfer over to the ukulele as is, they will just be different chords.

Standard ukulele tuning is G C E A. This corresponds to the 4 highest strings on a guitar - D G B E. They are the same intervals, just different notes. If you removed the low E and the A string from a guitar and put a capo on the 5th fret, you would have the ukulele tuning.

05-09-2011, 08:02 AM
Thanks for the responses.

Seeso, that makes sense, but how do guitar chord shapes that utilise the low E and A strings transfer over?

05-09-2011, 08:30 AM
That would tune the uke to the last four strings of a guitar, when ukes are typically tuned to the first four.

All he has to do to is play chords on the first four strings as you do on your guitar, and ignore the last two. Of course the pitch will be different, but you can use a capo to balance them out.

05-09-2011, 08:34 AM
"how do guitar chord shapes that utilise the low E and A strings transfer over? "

In most cases these notes are duplicated, so you can just ignore them.

05-09-2011, 10:00 AM
A chat with these folks will help you get the best strings for such a non-traditional tuning on a concert uke (DGBE). You can also get uke chords for a baritone uke for his use.


05-09-2011, 04:52 PM
Thanks for the responses.

Seeso, that makes sense, but how do guitar chord shapes that utilise the low E and A strings transfer over?

If the shape utilizes the low E and/or the A, simply don't play them. For example, a G on a guitar is 320003. On an ukulele, it's a C, and its shape would simply be 0003.

05-10-2011, 05:15 AM
Thanks all. :)

05-10-2011, 06:08 AM
Thanks all. :)

Like Seeso & others said - the transition is actually pretty easy. Remember that the uke is similar to starting w/a guitar w/a capo on the fifth fret. So "first postion" guitar chord shapes re now up 5 semi-tones. So a G chord on a Guitar capo'd on the 5th fret would be a C & which 0003 IS on the ukelele. The one difference is the "reentrant" high "G" string, but it is what gives the uke its ringing sound.

You will be making beautiful music w/yor grandpa in no time!