reading standard notation for ukulele


Feb 19, 2011
Reaction score
Poplar Bluff, MO
I am confused, and probably have confused my self, but, is standard notation for ukulele written an octave higher thatn the actual sound? I have searched the web and found that on a tenor in Low G, the "g" is the space below the second line below the staff and on a baritone the "d" is on the fourth line below the staff. However, this seems to be the actual pitch? So, in your learned opinion how do I read standard notation for a ukulele, low G and baritone? Where is middle C? thanks
Thank you "Bill1"! I very much appreciate your answer and am still trying to totally digest it. I confuse myself in trying to read the melody on old hymn books or other music and trying to play it on the ukulele. If middle C is the ledger line below the sfaff then on a baritone the olpen D is three more lines down from the staff right? Or, do many call the D the first space below the staff and but that would put the C the second space down from the top on the staff. I am just trying to find a way of readng which does not put me WAY up on the E stering for bari or the A string on my tenor. But I do appreiate your help.
This is an interesting topic and thanks to Bill1 for detailed explanation. The OP uses notation for vocals which again has different levels. Female voices use a treble clef and male voices a bass clef, but sometimes tenors use a transposed treble clef that is one octave below the females, which sometimes is marked with a little 8 at the bottom. With a hymn book one will have to figure out what voices it is for. Maybe someone can also post the frequency of C for the various vocal notations.
The ukulele is not a transposing instrument, so the notes you play are the same as the ones on the staff. Middle C (the line below the staff) is the open third string, if you tune to either GCEA or gCEA. On the other hand, guitar is a transposing instrument, in that the notes you play are an octave lower than the ones on the staff. The middle C note on a guitar is not represented by the line under the staff, but the third space up on the staff, or the second string, first fret. Most people who play guitar and learned standard notation are confused by this, but it's pretty simple when you are told and accept the truth.
Lots of good stuff here. I have also seen songbooks for Uke that show the first note to be played on the uke to give the singer a good start.
Okay and thank all you for your wonderful advice and thoughts. I can't cay that I totaly understand it all but I'm working on it!

The whole topic is so interesting but the more I know it seems the less I understand.

thanks all!
Last edited:
Top Bottom