If you’re new to the wonderful world of the uke, you’re probably asking, what are the ukulele string notes?
This question is fairly common among beginners, and the answer is surprisingly not as straightforward as you might think.
It is important to know the different things about ukelele strings so you can get the best sound playing experience.
We have done much of the heavy lifting for you by outlining all the information you need to get playing the uke.
- What Are the Strings on a Ukulele?
- The Number and Name of Uke Strings
- The Length of the Ukulele String
- The Type of Strings
- String Tension
- Common Ukulele Tunings
- Mastering Your Instrument
What Are the Strings on a Ukulele?
To answer the question of what are the strings on a ukulele, you need to understand many different things about them.
There are a wide variety of string types, and each one has something different to bring to the table.
There are also many ways to tune the uke strings and get the beautiful sound that you expect from these stringed instruments.
We will go through them one by one, so you can get a better insight into the bright instruments that are ukuleles.
Before getting into the different types of strings and standard tuning tools, let’s discuss the number, name, and length of ukelele strings.
The Number and Name of Uke Strings
The ukulele looks like a traditional guitar, but it has some key differences.
First, the uke is much smaller, making it easier to handle and transport.
Second, it only has four strings compared to the guitar’s six.
Third, ukeleles have a higher tonal range than guitars.
However, like in guitars, we call each string in a ukelele by the single note it plays without pressing a finger on any fret.
Unlike the six names in guitar strings, the top string would be G, followed by C, E, and A.
A baritone ukulele is slightly different since it has a D-G-B-E baritone tuning, with D as the topmost string.
This arrangement is true for both right-handed and left-handed players – the only difference is the positioning of the fretboard.
The Length of the Ukulele String
The length of the string depends on the size of the instrument.
Size, in turn, depends on the type of uke.
There are four different ukelele types: the soprano ukulele, the concert ukulele, the tenor ukulele, and the baritone ukulele.
The soprano ukulele strings are 21 inches long if the scale is 13 inches.
For the baritone string sets, the length is 30 inches for a 19-inch scale length.
Concert ukulele strings have a length of 23 inches for a scale length of 15 inches.
Finally, the tenor ukulele strings are 16 inches long for a scale of 17 inches.
The Type of Strings
Your string choice will depend on what kind of sound you want your uke to produce.
There are five types of strings, each one using a different material.
Choose the best strings for your ukulele based on the tone and quality.
In the old days, people used gut strings made from the intestines of farm animals.
This type of string is not as common as it was, but one that makes the most similar sound is the nylon string.
Durability and resistance to humidity are just some of the benefits of nylon strings.
They also produce a warm, mellow tone.
However, note one complaint about nylon strings: they do not hold their tuning very well.
If you do not mind having to tune your uke from time to time, this type of string is a great option for you.
Wound nylon strings are somewhat of a hybrid of the traditional nylon and another material: bright steel.
They consist of a nylon core surrounded by a layer of polymer thread.
Known for their rich sound, wound nylon strings are commonly used on baritone or tenor ukuleles.
This type of string is similar to wound nylon, except that it has a metal core.
It lets your uke make a brighter sound without shifting to solid steel strings.
In other words, these strings make your ukulele sound like a traditional guitar.
Fluorocarbon strings are similar to traditional nylon strings, but they make a brighter, crisper, resonant tone.
They are smooth to the touch, easy on the fingertips, and also more durable and able to retain their tuning.
Fishing lines also typically use fluorocarbon, which is why many ukelele players experiment with fluorocarbon strings from sporting goods stores.
You do not often see steel strings on a ukulele.
It is more common in traditional guitars and bass guitars, which use brighter strings.
Nevertheless, steel is the way to go if you want your uke to make a bright tone and twangy sound.
Another thing that you have to consider when talking about ukulele strings is the tension.
The string’s tension refers to the amount of force or pressure it exerts when set at the right pitch.
In other words, it determines how tight the string feels when you pluck it.
High-tension strings tend to produce a more aggressive sound that is bolder and bigger.
However, this requires an aggressive playing style that can be harder to fret, and it is more suited for advanced players.
Low-tension strings make a richer, warmer tone and have a looser feel, and, as a result, they are easier to fret.
This type of string is ideal for beginners or those dealing with some pain in the fingers.
Common Ukulele Tunings
There are many ways to tune the strings on your ukulele.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common methods.
1. Pedal Tuner
This tuner works on ukuleles that contain an electronic pickup.
It receives audio signals via a quarter-inch cable and passes them through another cable of the same size.
2. Clip-on Tuning
The clip-on tuner attaches to the headstock and measures vibrations.
It is suitable for all types of ukuleles, whether with or without a pickup.
3. Chromatic Tuner
Chromatic tuners detect the note of a string as you pluck it.
Using this device, you can quickly determine whether a string is too sharp or too flat.
4. Reentrant Tuning
Reentrant tuning describes how the strings do not go from the highest to the lowest pitch.
Instead, the third string from the top produces the lowest pitch.
Linear tuning, where the strings go from highest to lowest pitch, is more common on other stringed instruments.
5. Tuning Apps
Using an app on a smartphone to tune your ukulele is possible, but it is not ideal.
That is because ambient sounds can disrupt the process.
Still, it is a good backup method to have.
6. Good Old-Fashioned Manual Tuning
You don’t have to use any tuner if you have a knack for identifying notes just by hearing.
However, you have to be sure that at least one of the strings has the correct tuning.
With that single correctly tuned string, you can adjust the tuning of the other remaining strings.
Mastering Your Instrument
If you want to play like a pro, understanding the strings on your ukulele is a big step in the right direction.
Know your ukelele string names, and try out all the common tuning techniques.
Aside from helping you appreciate your ukelele better, it will help you tune your instrument and get the most out of every practice session.
Who knows, with just the knowledge presented above, you’re well on your way to producing charming sound.