What’s the Difference Between High-G and Low-G Tuning?

by | Apr 22, 2021 | Musical instruments | 0 comments

Do you know what’s the difference between high-G and low-G tuning?

Sometimes you’ll hear ukulele players refer to “High G” or “Low G” tuning on their ukuleles. It can be confusing if you don’t know what they’re talking about. And, why does it matter? Recently Colleen reached out to me with this question:

When I watched the YouTube video where you teach “Edelweiss,” I noticed your ukulele sounded different and you said it had “low G tuning.” It sounded really nice the way you were able to pluck the strings with that kind of tuning. Can you tell me about Low G Tuning? Is that the tuning you use in all of your songs? Do you recommend it?

I answered her by telling her that it really depends on personal preference. Whatever type you choose for your ukulele is up to you. It depends on which sound you prefer.

Difference Between Low-G and High-G Tuning?

All soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles are tuned to GCEA. This tuning is called re-entrant because it starts high, then goes low and then goes high again. A lot of really cool effects can be done with this tuning, but that tends to be for more advanced players.

High G tuning is when the G string is higher in pitch than the C string.

You can see that the first note is higher than the second, which is one of the reasons the tuning of the ukulele sounds so unique.

Low G tuning is when you use a low G instead of a high G.

I mainly play with a Low G tuning because I like the deeper sound, especially for accompanying singing and for chord melody playing. Concert and tenor ukuleles can support the “Low G” tuning. A soprano ukulele will not work with the Low G string, because the lower-pitched G string will end up being really loose. Think of a loose rubber band to get the idea. If you want to switch out your ukulele to Low G tuning, it is very easy to do. It doesn’t work for soprano ukuleles, but for tenor and concert, all you need to do is buy a low G string. You can either replace the string yourself or have someone do it at the music store.

Why I Use Both High-G and Low-G Tunings

My soprano ukulele is more portable. And, it supports “High G” tuning. I have recently learned to play a lot of “clawhammer” with my soprano uke. Here is an example of what “clawhammer” ukulele sounds like. “Clawhammer” works better with the “High G” tuning.

When I play chord melody or accompany myself singing, I like to use “Low G” tuning. Here is an example of that on my tenor ukulele.

So, I use both tunings depending on the style of music I am playing. It gives me more variety of sound and is a lot of FUN. Knowing about the difference between high-G and low-G tuning can help you decide which one you prefer. Or, if you have more than one ukulele, you can have one with “High G” tuning and one with “Low G” tuning. Then you can more easily play all the styles of music you love.

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