Last Updated on April 9, 2021.
Tuning your ukulele to low G allows you to take a deeper dive into the ukulele’s potential. It gives a significantly different sound from a standard high G tuning and it seems to become more and more popular by the day.
Tuning to low G is not a complicated process in the slightest. Without further ado, here’s what you need to do.
Before You Tune Your Ukulele
A standard ukulele is tuned to a high G. Now, what high G means is that the G string is set higher than the C string. Meaning, your G string is higher than all other strings. That is usually done to give the ukulele its signature sound. This tuning method is called re-entrant tuning.
Setting the ukulele to low G means that the strings will be set from low to high. This is also called linear tuning, much like how a standard guitar is set.
That tuning will give the ukulele a more low-pitched or a darker sound. This tuning can be a significant door opener for you to play a wider range of harmonies that you may not have been able to play before.
Tuning Your Ukulele to Low G
If you’ve tried just tuning your G string to a lower octave without doing any research, you must have noticed it is not working properly.
Before you can just tune your ukulele, you need a special string. When tuning the G string an octave lower, the string would flop, and you’d need to retune it quite often. That special string can only be used in a low G tuning as it is designed for that purpose only. Tuning it to a higher octave will most likely cause it to break.
The low G special string has a bigger diameter or a different material than that of a standard G string. You may even notice that your standard G string is thinner than the other strings as it is designed for higher octaves. In order to overcome the issue of the flopping G string, you have two options that you could go for:
Wound Vs. Unwound Strings
Wound G strings are much like guitar strings. They are nylon wrapped in metal. Having metal as the outside layer has its advantages and disadvantages. Starting with the pros; metal guarantees a longer lifespan as it can act as a protection layer over the nylon. Besides, wound strings generally have smaller diameters than unwound strings.
However, it can be uncomfortable for you since it is a different material than the rest of the strings. It can get a little tricky to get used to having just one different string. Still, it’s not a big issue, and you can easily get over it over time.
On the other hand, there are unwound strings. Unwound strings are made of a material that you’re more familiar with. Whether you purchase an individual G string or a whole set, they’re made of a breed of fluorocarbon.
However, the set back here is that they have a bigger diameter. That thickness of the string can also be uncomfortable at first, but you can quickly get used to it. In addition, that thickness can act as a resistance to the movement of the string. That means that the sound can be a bit muffled and just generally not as good as you’d expect it to be.
Your ukulele is most likely tuned to high G. High G tuning means that the G string is set higher than any other string. Low G tuning, on the other hand, is linear tuning. It is when you set your G string to a lower octave, thus setting the strings linearly from lowest to highest.
Low G tuning allows for a wider range of sounds and takes away the bright sound of the ukulele. Instead, low G gives a more full or a darker sound since it is tuned like a guitar would.
You cannot use the string set that you have for a high G tuning to tune your ukulele to a low G. Going down one octave in the G string will most likely cause flopping as the G string is not designed to be tuned so low.
You’d need to purchase one of two options: wound or unwound strings. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages that you need to take into consideration before committing to one.