Baritone Ukulele Tuning – The Ultimate Guide

So you’ve bought the big kahuna of all ukuleles, the Baritone, and now you need to figure out how to tune the darned thing? Well you’ve come to the right place.

How are Baritone Ukuleles Tuned?

Baritone Ukuleles are traditionally tuned in the key of G with the notes D G B E. The D, G, and B are located just below middle C, and the E is located just above.

Baritone Ukulele Tuning

Tuning a Baritone Uke with Online Tuning Notes

Here’s a video which plays the 4 tones used in Baritone Ukulele tuning:

To tuned your Uke to the vid, start with loose strings. Then tighten each string while plucking it until the string’s pitch and the video’s pitch match.

A good way to tell if two pitches played at the same time are the in-tune is that there will be a slight hollow/clean quality to the sound and no “warble.”

Step-By-Step Baritone Ukulele Tuning

Baritone Uke Tuning By Ear (with Reference Note)

Tune your Baritone Ukulele to itself, by ear, with a reference note for the lowest string.

  1. Tune Your Top String to D
    Find a source for the D pitch below middle C. This could be an in-tune keyboard/piano, a tuning fork, etc.
    To tune the string to this pitch, start by loosening it.
    Then, while playing the reference note, slowly tighten the string while plucking it until the string’s pitch and the reference pitch are identical.
  2. Tune Your G String from Your D String
    Now that your D string is tuned, you can move on to the G string.
    Hold down your D string at the 5th fret and pluck it. This is the pitch you want to match your G string to.
    Slowly tighten your loose G string until it matches that pitch.
  3. Tune Your B String from Your G String
    To get the pitch of your B string, hold down your G string at the 4th fret. Again, pluck this string while tightening your B string until they are in-tune.
  4. Tune Your Bottom String to E from Your B String
    Finally, hold your B string at the 5h fret and pluck it to get your E pitch. And as before, tighten your loose E string while plucking the B string (held at the 5th fret) until the pitches match.
    Congratulations, you have tuned your Baritone Ukulele! Now get strumming!
Baritone Ukulele Tuning Notes

Other Baritone Uke Tuning Topics

Besides step-by-step tuning, here are some other topics which related to Baritone Ukulele Tuning:

Baritone Ukulele Tuning Frequencies

The following is a table of the frequencies of the notes used in tuning a Baritone Uke:

NoteFrequency
D (top string) 146.83 (often rounded to 147) Hz
G 196 Hz
B 246.94 (often rounded to 247) Hz
E (bottom string) 329.63 (often rounder to 330) Hz

How to Tune a 6-String Baritone Ukulele

The standard way of tuning a 6-String Baritone uke is to double up the lowest and highest strings.

This means the D string and E string would be doubled up. So the final tuning would be DDGBEE.

Note: I have seen some 6-string Baritone ukes designed to be tuned like a guitar or with other strange tuning systems, so be sure to follow manufacturer instructions or look into your specific model’s designated tuning to avoid damaging your instrument.

How to Tune an 8-String Baritone Uke

An 8-string ukulele is typically tuned with each string doubled up in pairs which are played together.

So for a Baritone uke, this would translate to DDGGBBEE tuning, with each string doubled with an identical pair where each pair of strings is played together to produce a fuller sound.

How to Tune a Baritone Banjo Ukulele

As banjo ukuleles are tuned identically to their standard wood-body counterparts, the Baritone Banjo Ukuele is also tuned to DGBE tuning.

Baritone Ukulele Tuning - The Ultimate Guide

For more information on specific banjo ukulele tuning topics, check out our Banjo Ukulele Tuning article.

The String Tensions of a Tuned Baritone Ukulele

Here’s a table of the approximate string tensions for different baritone ukes:

Ukulele TypeApprox. String Tension
4 String Baritone UkeAround 53 lbs.
6 String Baritone UkeAround 77 lbs.
8 String Baritone UkeAround 90 lbs.

The larger the instrument (and the more strings used), the higher the tension the instrument is under.

Baritone Ukulele Tuning vs. Soprano, Concert, and Tenor

Most ukuleles (soprano, concert, and tenor) are traditionally tuned in C (GCEA) with a re-entrant G string.

Baritone Ukulele Tuning - The Ultimate Guide

The Baritone, on the other hand, is tuned similar to guitar in G (DGBE) with a straightforward linear (low to high) tuning system.

This gives the Baritone a deeper, fuller, more guitar-like sound quality compared to its smaller siblings.

Its sound can almost be described as a hybrid between guitar and ukulele, combining the lightness of the ukulele with the richness of the guitar, though not fully either.

Can a Baritone Ukulele be Tuned to GCEA like a Soprano, Concert, and Tenor?

Yes. However you will need to use special Baritone GCEA strings to avoid over tightening your DGBE strings and potentially damaging your instrument/strings.

What are the Common Chords for a Tuned Baritone Uke?

Here’s the common chords chart for the Baritone Uke (DGBE Tuning):

Baritone Ukulele Tuning - The Ultimate Guide

If you’re familiar with guitar chords, you’ll notice the similarity with the baritone chord shapes to the highest 4 strings on the guitar.

If you’re familiar with other sized ukuleles’ chords, you’ll notice the chord shapes are the same, except the Baritone’s chords are a fifth lower (C on Soprano Uke is G on Baritone, etc.)

What is the Scale of a Tuned Baritone Ukulele?

The Baritone Ukulele’s scale (distance from Saddle to Nut) is 19 inches.

This is the part of the strings which vibrates when plucked or strummed.

Baritone Ukulele Tuning - The Ultimate Guide

The vibration frequencies (see above) determine the pitch which our ears hear.

Tuning a string is tightening the string to the frequency required to produce the desired pitch.

What are the Fretboard Notes of a Tuned Baritone Uke?

The Baritone Uke’s fretboard increases 1 half step for each fret. So the open strings’ notes are DGBE, the 1st fret notes are D#/Eb, G#/Ab, C, and F. etc.

The following is a fretboard note chart for the tuned baritone uke up to the 12th fret.

Baritone Ukulele Tuning - The Ultimate Guide

Pineapple Baritone Ukulele Tuning

Pineapple body-shaped ukuleles are similar to the standard wood body ukuleles except there are no indents on the sides of the body. It’s pineapple shaped.

Pineapple Baritone Ukes, though rare, do exist. They are tuned identically to their standard bodied cousins (see above for instruction).

For more info on the pineapple ukulele and how it compares to the standard, check out our Pineapple Ukulele vs. Standard article.

Baritone Ukulele Tuning Mechanisms

As with other ukulele sizes, you have a few choices when it comes Baritone ukulele tuning mechanisms.

The two main types are defined by their function, they are Geared Tuners (a.k.a. Machine Head Tuners) and Friction Tuners.

Geared Tuners

Geared tuners use 2 gears each to hold the string to the desired tightness. One gear is attached to the shaft which holds the string and the other to the shaft with the tuning head (the part which is turned to adjust the tuner).

The two common types of geared tuners are Open and Sealed:

In Open Geared Tuners, the gears are exposed. This allows for easy cleaning and adjustments, but also means the the gears are more exposed to getting dirty or damaged.

Baritone Ukulele Open Geared Tuners Close up
A Close-up of Open Geared Tuners

Sealed Geared Tuners, on the other hand, have a case around the gears to keep them clean and protected. The advantage is they won’t need to be cleaned/adjusted as often, but it will be a more difficult task if they do. require maintenance.

Baritone Ukulele Sealed Gear Tuners Close up
A Close-up of Sealed Gear Tuners

Friction Tuners

Friction tuners use a single-shaft design where the tuning head and string are both on the same shaft which is held in place by friction.

Baritone Ukulele Friction Tuners

Friction tuners generally each have a screw on the back which can be tightened or loosened to adjust the friction (or hold) of the string.

Conclusion

Well there you have it! Hopefully we’ve covered whatever Baritone Ukulele tuning topic you were searching for.

If not, be sure to leave a comment and let us know what we missed!

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