View Full Version : Tuning

02-24-2012, 06:23 AM

I bought myself a ukulele today. I went for the cheapest one available caus it's my first ever musical instrument and I didn't think I'd be able to appreciate the difference between one for 30 and one for 130. Plus I saw a really beautiful one on theukulelestore which I think I'll splash out on once I get better :D

Anyway I'm sat here now with a Korala and an electronic tuner twiddling the twisty things and trying to get it into tune. What I'm finding (and bear in mind I've not owned any other instrument before so I have no clue about tuning) is that it says it's in tune when I pluck the string loudly but whether the tuner says it's in tune or not seems to depend on the volume of the note. Is it supposed to work like that? Or am I doing something wrong?

Also the thing keeps going straight back out of tune again after 30 seconds or so but I guess because it's new and cheap this is to be expected, right?

I considered buying more expensive strings but I don't want the hassle of trying to restring it myself: I looked at a quick tutorial and it looked pretty complicated. I think I'll wait til I order the one from theukulelestore caus my understanding is they come fitted with aquilla strings already (which I understand to be the best?)

Anyway, sorry, I'm rambling. Basically: when you tune your uke is it supposed to only be in tune when it's at a certain volume or is there something I'm missing?

Steph :)

02-24-2012, 06:36 AM
Nylon strings take a while to settle in, until they do, frequent retuning is necessary. After a day or so of being at full tension you should be able to play for twenty minutes or so before retuning but you will basically need to retune every time you pick up the uke for at least a couple of weeks.

It is normal for tuning to be a little sharper when the string is first plucked, then go flat as the note decays. It will also be sharper when plucked harder. You want to continuously pluck the string about one a second while tuning.


02-24-2012, 06:38 AM
OH, BTW, it's kind of unfortunate that you chose to buy the cheapest uke you could find. That's a common beginner's mistake. If you're reasonably sure that you are going to stick with it then it is best to buy the best instrument you can afford up front. In general, better instruments will be easier to play and will sound better - and both of those things encourage you to practice more.


02-24-2012, 06:44 AM
I've already got a tonne of motivation to practise (set myself the task of playing a song by Easter) and the uke I want from HMS would take a while to get here, plus I'd have to try and fit it in my luggage when I fly back to live in England in May, so I figured a cheap one would be best for now, then it's not too much of a big deal if I have to leave it here when I move.
Thanks for the advice! What do you mean "at full tension"? Should I tune it tighter than I normally would until it settles in?

02-24-2012, 07:00 AM
"Full tension" refers to having all strings at the proper pitch. It's common for electronic tuners to 'bounce around' a bit as you pluck the strings due to all the complex overtones, harmonics and resonances. You'll get the hang of it in no time and once you get everything tuned up properly, you'll intuitively know if it's the string or the tuner that is off. If yours uses a mic instead of a contact pickup, you may find that moving it around will give you more stable results. Muting the neighboring strings as you tune will help too.

02-24-2012, 01:41 PM
(set myself the task of playing a song by Easter)

What song do you want to do by easter? Just curious!

02-24-2012, 02:25 PM
daisychains - if you're having a hard time making sure you're tuned to the right pitch, something like this online tuner might help:
http://www.get-tuned.com/online_ukulele_tuner.php You can actually hear the pitch you're trying to get each string tuned to, so it makes it a little easier to get close....

Good luck and enjoy the new ukulele....

02-25-2012, 02:24 AM
This is the song I'd like to learn by Easter. It's "Hey, Soul Sister" by Train. I have no idea whether that's way over ambitious or anything, but a little ambition never hurt anybody. And I have a ludicrous amount of free time.

I'm trying to learn online though and so far it doesn't seem like I'm a natural! I'm struggling to get to grips with how you hold it, and strumming with the index finger seems so strange: my thumb wants to do it and my finger doesn't seem to catch all of the strings every time. Hopefully I'll at least master one chord by Easter :P

Thanks for the help, guys! I think I've got the hang of tuning now, and it's even managed to stay in tune for a bit while I've been messing about :)

02-25-2012, 03:47 AM
I'm struggling to get to grips with how you hold it, and strumming with the index finger seems so strange: my thumb wants to do it and my finger doesn't seem to catch all of the strings every time.

Yup, there's a lot going on when you first start! You definitely aren't the first person to encounter these problems--here's a thread about strumming (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?15340-I-cant-strum!), and here's something to consider if your holding issues (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?59703-Does-a-strap-(or-half-strap)-help-learning) persist. Be patient with yourself, don't compare your progress to others, and have fun!