The ukulele is fun 3. Should i bother with music theory

3

Should i bother with music theory

One of the most common tunings for the standard or soprano ukulele is C tuning: G4–C4–E4–A4, which is often remembered by the notes in the "My dog has fleas" jingle (see sidebar). The G string is tuned an octave higher than might be expected, so this is often called "high G" tuning. This is known as a "reentrant tuning"; it enables uniquely close-harmony chording.

Ukulele C tuning
"My dog has fleas" tuning.

More rarely used with the soprano ukulele is C linear tuning, or "low G" tuning, which has the G in sequence an octave lower: G3–C4–E4–A4, which is equivalent to playing the top four strings (DGBE) of a guitar with a capo on the fifth fret.

Another common tuning for the soprano ukulele is the higher string-tension D tuning (or simply D tuning), A4–D4–F♯4–B4, one step higher than the G4–C4–E4–A4 tuning. Once considered standard, this tuning was commonly used during the Hawaiian music boom of the early 20th century, and is often seen in sheet music from this period, as well as in many method books through the 1980s. D tuning is said by some to bring out a sweeter tone in some ukuleles, generally smaller ones. D tuning with a low fourth string, A3–D4–F♯4–B4, is sometimes called "Canadian tuning" after its use in the Canadian school system, mostly on concert or tenor ukuleles, and extensive use by James Hill and J. Chalmers Doane.

James Hill, that canadian player who did a lot of good to the ukulele by offering Mario Bros theme cover (among other less known tubes)

Whether C or D tuning should be the "standard" tuning is a matter of long and ongoing debate. There are historic and popular ukulele methods that have used each.

For the concert and tenor ukuleles, both reentrant and linear C tunings are standard; linear tuning in particular is widely used for the tenor ukulele, more so than for the soprano and concert instruments.

The baritone ukulele usually uses linear G tuning: D3–G3–B3–E4, the same as the highest four strings of a standard 6-string guitar.

Bass ukuleles are tuned similarly to bass guitars: E1–A1–D2–G2 for U-Bass style instruments (sometimes called contrabass), or an octave higher, E2–A2–D3–G3, for Ohana type metal-string basses. E-A-D-G is also the same tuning as a double bass (the only bowed chordophone tuned to perfect fourths rather than perfect fifths as is the case with all other instruments in its class), or the first four strings of a standard guitar.

Sopranino ukulele tuning is less standardized. They usually are tuned re-entrantly, but frequently at a higher pitch than C; for example, re-entrant G tuning: D5–G4–B4–E5.

As is commonly the case with string instruments, other tunings may be preferred by individual players. For example, special string sets are available to tune the baritone ukulele in linear C. Some players tune ukuleles like other four-string instruments such as the mandolin, Venezuelan cuatro, or dotara. Ukuleles may also be tuned to open tunings, similar to the Hawaiian slack key style.