You get your new ukulele, tune it up to pitch and play your first chord and - it is already out of tune! Have no fear. There is nothing wrong with your ukulele or the tuners: you just need to break-in your strings.
Ukuleles come pre-strung with nylon strings which have never been brought up to pitch. They will go out of tune immediately due to the elasticity of the nylon and the looseness of the knot holding it in place. Therefore, it is imperative to pre-stretch each string and lock each knot into place. Here is how:
1. Begin by tuning the ukulele up to approximate pitch (for Soprano, Concert and Tenor: G – C – E – A). Don’t worry about fine tuning for now as you will need to do this several times until the strings are stretched a bit and broken in. You might opt to use a string winder to speed up this process.
2. Place your right hand palm on the bridge and wrap your fingers around a single string, pulling it up gently away from the body. IMPORTANT: Be sure to keep your palm on the bridge so that you are not pulling the bridge away from the body, only the string. This will help lock the bridge knot. Repeat for each of the other 3 strings.
3. Next, place your right forearm on the bridge (which will position your fingers higher on the fretboard area close to the nut), wrap your fingers around a single string, and pull up gently. Again, be sure to keep your forearm on the bridge to avoid pulling the bridge away from the body. You may wish to hold the string in place at the nut with your left hand so that it does not come out of the nut groove. Pulling on the string in this upper range will help lock the knot in place at the tuner. Repeat for each of the other 3 strings.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 until the strings remain in tune to approximate pitch after you have lightly pulled on them.
5. You can now fine tune your ukulele with a digital tuner or tuner of your choice. Note: it is always better to fine tune a string up to pitch. (If you tune down to pitch it is possible for the string tension to get hung up at the friction points, ie. saddle or nut and then slip further down in pitch when released.)
Voila! You are now ready to play. Happy Strumming!!
This article can be downloaded as a pdf here
Have a ukulele question or comment? Contact Sam Marchuk at (800) 397-9378 Ext. 1343 or firstname.lastname@example.org