How can I tune a Ukulele so it's one semi-tone higher? Can this be used for 2/3 semi-tones as well?

I've tried using a capo but it makes it a lot harder to play.

  • A whole octave! Are you sure you don't want D-tuning which is 2 semi-tones (or one step) higher than the standard C-tuning?
    – Anonymous
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 11:49
  • @Gareth I don't know much (or really anything) about the Uku fretboard + theory so any suggestions are welcome. I had this song in mind: youtube.com/watch?v=PS7lGaupiFw
    – Chris S
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 12:00
  • Ahhh... Can't get youtube at work but when I get home I'll check it out...
    – Anonymous
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 12:03
  • Yeah I'm not sure if the strings would take a whole octave. That would be a good bit of tension, and ukelele strings are nylon I think. Hopefully it will work though :D.
    – Jduv
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 13:08
  • Y'know, having watched that video, I don't think it's an octave higher than a uke is usually tuned. Sounds like a uke in standard tuning. I mean, ukulele's are already so much smaller than guitars; it's almost as if you took a nylon-string guitar, removed the two bass strings, capo'd it at the 12th fret, and shrunk the body to match. Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 13:48

1 Answer 1


Ok, So now that I've heard the song you mentioned he is definitely using the D-tuning (A-D-F#-B) that is mentioned below and, I think, with re-entrant tuning. So onward with the breakdown of Ukulele tunings. It would be ideal to use a ukulele pitch pipe to tune but using a standard guitar tuner should work.

I'll start with the standard C tuning. Holding the Ukulele like you're going to play it; from the top string the tuning is:

G - C - E - A

So essentially if you want a semi-tone up you would use (obviously pitch pipe won't work):

G# - C# - F - A#

For D-tuning which is quite popular and gives a more "sweeter" higher pitched tone than the standard C you would use (try us the pitch pipe's A note for the top string and tune the rest using it as a reference like you would tune a guitar - http://www.howtotuneaguitar.org/tuning/how-to-tune/ (Guitar tuning)):

A - D - F# - B:

Now there are two ways of tuning the top string (G-string); "linear" and "re-entrant". Linear is more like a guitar where the top string is lower in pitch than the string below it (C-string). In re-entrant, however the pitch of the G-string is higher than the string below it (So this could be what they mean by an octave up, but its only and octave for the G-string)

Note: When using re-entrant tuning the G-string is usually a different string type than linear so that it can be tuned up higher than the 2nd string using the linear type G-string would probably just snap it.

There are other tunings like slack key (G-C-E-G) and one for the baritone uke (D-G-B-E) but I think essentially the most common are the first two.

  • Also keep in mind that you should never tune using harmonics other than the octave, always use fretted notes. Commented May 27, 2011 at 21:35
  • 1
    @ReinHenrichs Care to elaborate? Ukulele intonation is finicky, and fretted notes are going to be less accurate then on a good guitar. Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 3:28

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