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.
In this article, we’ll attempt to cover every possible aspect of Bari uke tuning.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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:
|D (top string)||146.83 (often rounded to 147) 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.
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 Type||Approx. String Tension|
|4 String Baritone Uke||Around 53 lbs.|
|6 String Baritone Uke||Around 77 lbs.|
|8 String Baritone Uke||Around 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.
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 new (higher resolution) version of the common chords chart for the Baritone Uke (DGBE Tuning):
And here’s the older lower resolution version:
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.
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 15th fret.
And here’s the old version which was harder to read but may be useful for someone.
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.
How to Tune the Baritone Ukulele
Of all the ukuleles, Baritone Ukes are the outliers.
This is because their tuning system is so different from the others.
Sometimes it can be hard to find info on tuning the Baritone because so much ukulele instruction material is written for GCEA tuning rather than DGBE, which is the system the Baritone uke is tuned in.
More specifically these notes are: D3, G3, B3, and E4.
Using a Guitar Tuner for Tuning a Baritone Uke
This is a really useful trick for tuning a baritone ukulele if you have a guitar tuner.
Because the 4 strings of the Bari-uke are tuned identically to a guitars’ strings, you can use any tuning gear you have for guitar tuning to tune the uke.
Just disregard the lowest 2 guitar strings.
Alternative Baritone Ukulele Tunings
The baritone ukulele can be tuned with re-entrant D, G, B, E tuning as well as either G, C, E, A tuning system typically used on other ukuleles.
This will require new strings (just the D string for the re-entrant DGBE and completely new strings for either GCEA tuning).
Sometimes baritone ukes are sold with these alternative tunings, but it is much less common than the standard linear DGBE tuning.
How Does the Baritone Ukulele’s Tuning System Compare to Tenor?
The Baritone ukulele is traditionally tuned to D, G, B, E linear tuning, while the tenor is traditionally tuned to G, C, E, A re-entrant.
For a more in-depth comparison, check out the Baritone Ukulele vs. Tenor 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!