In the ukulele family, the baritone uke with its long scale length is a rich, deep sounding instrument that brings some classical guitar vibes to the traditional ukulele sound.
The baritone tuning is interesting for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, it uses linear tuning, tuned a 4th lower than the traditional re-entrant tuning (explained below) you find on most soprano, concert, and tenor ukuleles – this gives its own distinct sound. However, as we’ll see below, it is possible to ‘reentrant tune’ the baritone uke to make it sound more like a classic uke.
Secondly, the tuning notes (DGBE) are the same as the guitar’s top 4 strings, making it a useful ‘transition instrument’ for guitarists wanting to get into playing the uke. Fortunately, baritone uke chords are very easy to work out if you know guitar chords.
In this article, we show you the basics of baritone ukulele tuning. It’s got its own particularly unique sound that is well worth investigating.
Standard Baritone Ukulele Tuning (Linear)
As we alluded to in the introduction, the way most ukuleles are tuned is using what’s known as ‘re-entrant’ tuning. In other words, what most people tune a tenor uke to is re-entrant tuning (gCEA).
With the baritone, the tuning is more conventional and the strings are tuned in order from high to low, as you’d find on most stringed instruments such as the guitar.
These non-reentrant notes are: D3, G3, B3, and E4 (from low to high). Below you can see where they appear on the piano.
It’s worth remembering that, as the baritone ukulele has a longer scale length than its siblings, you need a baritone string set that has extra-long ukulele strings needed for this size of uke.
How to Tune a Baritone Ukulele
If you want to tune the ukulele to itself (known as relative tuning) here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Grab a tuner (even a guitar tuner will do) and tune the open D string as the starting pitch. Tune the open 3rd string to the 5th fret of the D string.
Step 2: Tune the open 2nd string to the 4th fret of the 3rd string
Step 3: Tune the open 1st string to the 5th fret of the 2nd string
Re-entrant Baritone Tuning (High D)
The problem with the above is you take away some of the characteristic sound of the ukulele. To address this, you can ‘re-entrant’ the standard baritone tuning by moving the 4th string (the D) an octave higher.
Therefore the tuning notes become D4, G3, B3, E4
Moving the D an octave higher retains the same musical intervals, but makes the baritone sound more like a traditional ukulele.
How to Tune in High D
Step 1: Tune the open E string (1st string) to the 2nd fret of the D string (4th string).
Step 2: Tune the 5th fret of the B string to the open E string
Step 3: Tune the 4th fret of the 3rd string to the open 2nd string