July 14, 2022

Why Ukuleles Won't Stay in Tune? What is The Reason for This Dissonance?

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, it can be frustrating when your ukulele won’t stay in tune. There are many reasons why this happens and there are also several ways to fix it. We will go through it in this article. Let's go!

Why Ukuleles Won't Stay in Tune?

Most Times, It Is The Strings

Ukulele strings are made of nylon or polyester. These strings are elastic, which means the strings can stretch and continually stretch until they stabilize.

This happened a lot for new strings or new ukuleles as they will need to be tuned a little bit more often and the strings might need some adjusting.

It's just how uke strings work.

The other reason might be that your instrument is out of adjustment from being moved around too much - a very common problem for many people who take their instruments with them everywhere!

make sure ukulele strings in tune

Is Your Tunner Working Fine?

It is not uncommon for a tuner to be out of tune. The other problem with non-working tuners could also be from using one made strictly for guitars - if at all possible, try to use a ukulele-specific digital or analog tuner so there will fewer discrepancies between accuracy. If you tuner's defected, check this list of the best tuner for ukulele.

Tune Your Ukulele Regularly

Ukuleles need to be tuned more often than other types of guitars. Even if it is stabilized, that doesn't mean the Ukulele will stay in tune for good.

Differences in climate can cause the strings to lose their tune quickly. The humidity content of the air and temperature will affect how much your tuning slides around during a concert or performance.

Therefore, the best way to keep it tuned is by practicing and tuning regularly with proper technique, using a tuner app on an iPhone, and restringing after certain periods of time if needed.

Old Strings

Old strings will lose their tension over time and won't be as tight for the next new set. This makes it harder to keep them in tune, so make sure you change your strings when needed.

If you don't want to worry about tuning your instrument during performances or practice sessions, always have backup sets stored away so that one can replace what is being used without having any downtime from performing.

Read more: How To Change Ukulele Strings

Aggressive Strumming

If you have a heavy strumming technique, it is possible that your frequent and fast movements across the strings could cause them to stretch out. This will lengthen their length as they vibrate, which changes how tightly they sit in place on the fretboard.

This usually happens when someone's trying to play quickly using very hard strokes or hitting too many notes within a small space of time before releasing them back into silence.

The best way to determine whether or not this is happening for you is to try playing at a more moderate pace.

If you find that strumming lightly or with less sweeping motions helps keep it in tune better than before, then stop using as much force when performing and adjust how hard you are hitting the strings.

Amazon Basics 3-in-1 Metronome Tuner

Friction tuners

Friction tuners are a type of tuning mechanism that is often found on older ukuleles.

The mechanics of friction tuners are pretty simple.

There is a nut at the headstock that can be rotated to increase or decrease tension on the strings, which in turn changes how much pressure they apply against one another and so tunes them based on your preference.

However, due to how they work, friction tuners can actually rotate backward.

The best way to correct this is by replacing them with geared tuners. These will give you a smoother feel when tuning your Uke up or down, without compromising how well it stays put.

A set like Kala Locking Tuners works great for many people as they have an easy-to-use locking mechanism so that once the strings are adjusted correctly, they won't come loose accidentally even during transport.


Wrong Structure

Structural issues are the least common cause of ukulele tuning troubles. These can include a misaligned bridge, an off-center soundhole, or slight damage to the neck and fingerboard area which make it difficult for the strings to vibrate freely as they should.

To resolve this specific issue, we recommend you take your instrument in person with someone who is more experienced than yourself for precise evaluation.

You may need a simple touch-up by an expert luthier or worst-case scenario a replacement part being fitted if there's significant damage on your instrument that cannot be rectified at home.

How To Stretch Ukulele Strings

How To Stretch Ukulele Strings

To make it stay in tune better, you can try this simple stretching process before you give up and return the ukulele:

1. Tune the ukulele to standard tuning and put it on a concert pitch tuner (preferably one that has an app for your phone)

2. Play each string, from lowest frequency to highest, until you feel like they are all in tune with themselves and other strings

3. Hold down every individual string while gently pulling up at the bridge closest to where the headstock meets the neck of the instrument - this will stretch out any slackness in those strings

4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 with all four strings until there is no more stretching or tension left

5. Take off your finger from over the top of each string so they have enough room to return back into their original position when you strum them

6. Play a few chords and look at the tuner on your phone to make sure that it is in tune (if not, adjust as necessary)

7. Restring the ukulele if needed or desired by removing all strings from the bridge one string at a time while carefully attaching new ones through their respective tuning peg slots, starting with low-to-high pitch order

8. Repeat steps 1 through 6 for each individual string until done - be careful when recreating tension so you don’t break any of those newly attached strings!

9. Repeat step 7 for each string until complete.

How to Tune Your Ukulele

How to Tune Your Ukulele

Recommend new player using a clip-on digital tuner to tune the ukulele and explain how to use it:

Tuning with a digital tuner is the easiest and most accurate way to tune the ukulele, so we recommend that new players use one of these.

Clip-on are easy to transport, take up very little space on your instrument stand or desk while you're practicing or composing music at home, and can be used anywhere as long as there's an audio input source nearby (such as an mp player).

This type also eliminates any chance for human error in reading pitch from a needle gauge.

How to Tune Your Ukulele With A Clip-on Digital Tuner with a few steps:

  1. Clip the tuner onto the headstock
  2. Play each string one by one, starting with G.
  3. Adjust the tuning peg to bring the pitch down until the needle is in the middle of the green zone on the meter or light is at the center of the screen.
  4. When you are done playing all strings and adjusting pegs for best sound balance repeat the process.

If it isn't then adjust the tuning peg as needed but try not to overcompensate past either extreme end of red or blue zones as this will make an ill-sounding chord when played together.


Now you understand why your ukulele won't stay in tune. Hopefully you will find out the main reason and get you uke back in perfect pitch.

Article written by Julia
Hi, I'm Julia. I love playing the ukulele and blogging about it. I started playing the ukulele a few years ago and haven't stopped since! I've also been blogging about my experience learning to play the uke for other beginners like myself. It's been a fun way to share my journey and help others learn too.
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