It’s not uncommon for new ukulele players, and even seasoned players, to tune their ukulele by ear. This is probably the most cost-effective solution. The problem with this method however is that it can sometimes be difficult for those who are unfamiliar with detecting pitch. Even those with a really good sense of pitch can still get an inaccurate tuning.
Using a chromatic tuner will always give you the easiest and most accurate tuning. A chromatic tuner is a device that detects and displays the pitch of the strings on your ukulele.
In this post, I want to take a look at five chromatic tuners that aren’t that pricey but will do just the trick in getting your ukulele tuned up.
Top Recommended Chromatic Tuner for Ukulele
In my experience, the best chromatic tuner for ukulele is the Snark SN-6 ukulele tuner. This tuner is different than most tuners in that it clips on to the headstock of your ukulele. When you pluck a string, the tuner senses the vibrations of the string and indicates how the string needs to be tuned.
The thing I like most about this tuner is that, because the tuner is sensing the string vibrations, rather than “listening” to the string with a microphone, you can easily and accurately tune in noisy environments. This tuner is incredibly easy to use, it’s small and portable (fits easily in your case or gig bag), and it’s accurate. Not to mention, it’s one of the most budget chromatic tuners that you can buy. Click here to learn more and buy the Snark SN6x ukulele tuner.
Other Recommended Chromatic Tuners for Ukulele
2.) Korg CA-40 Chromatic Tuner
I have the Korg CA-30, which is a discontinued version of the newly updated Korg CA-40. I love this tuner.
The new CA-40 sports a very sensitive microphone to detect acoustic instruments such as the ukulele and even has the ability to play reference pitches from the internal speaker.
If your ukulele has electronics, you might find the input and output jacks really handy too. This tuner will definitely give you the best bang for the buck. Click here to learn more and buy the Korg CA-40 tuner.
3.) Planet Waves Universal Chromatic Tuner
The Planet Waves chromatic tuner will be one of the cheapest options out there for ukulele players. This tuner comes with a built-in microphone and input jack for electronic instruments.
Those who have used it report it’s surprisingly accurate. The only downside with this tuner might be that it takes CR2032 battery (included), which is not as common as a AA or AAA battery. Click here to learn more and buy the Planet Waves chromatic tuner.
4.) Korg TM-40 Chromatic Tuner
The Korg TM-40 is very similar to the CA-40 except you get a built-in metronome. My brother has this tuner and whenever I’ve used it I’ve been really impressed with how sensitive the microphone is at detecting the strings.
The built in metronome is a really nice feature too. Using a metronome during practice sessions is really important for developing better rhythm and timing. My only complaint about the metronome feature was that you could only increase the tempo in increments of four BPM (beats per minute).
If you know you are eventually going to get a metronome, this tuner is a great choice. Click here to learn more and buy the Korg TM-40 tuner.
5.) Boss TU-80 Chromatic Tuner
The Boss TU-80 is pretty similar to the Korg TM-40 except a little bit smaller. Unfortunately, the metronome options are a bit more limited than the TM-40 and the volume of the metronome is fairly quiet, with no ability to turn up the volume like the TM-40. However, for ukulele players this might be okay.
Despite these issues, in my experience, I will say that Boss makes some of the most durable and reliable products. Click here to learn more and buy the Boss TU-80 tuner.
Final Thoughts & Tips
As most ukuleles don’t come equipped with electronics to plug in to a tuner, it’s absolutely necessary the tuner you buy has a built-in microphone. If you weren’t able to guess from the above list, Korg makes a really great portable tuner. As you go up in price-range, Boss and Peterson make some really great tuners, but these tuners often don’t have a built-in microphone and have only an input jack to detect the pitch of your instrument.
What’s your method for tuning your ukulele? Got any tips or suggestions for buying a tuner?
I use a clip-on tuner I got off Amazon. I believe the brand is Cherub. It is specifically geared for ukes, and has a switch on the side to tune in C or D.
Have you had any experiences with clip-on tuners? I like mine, but sometimes it gets confused as to what string I’m tuning. It doesn’t happen much, but enough to make me wonder if I shouldn’t invest in a more expensive Korg or Boss.
John, I haven’t had any experience with the Cherub, however, I have used some clip on tuners for guitar. I have found some of them to be a bit finicky. It might not hurt to give a Korg or Boss tuner a try at only $20. I really like mine!
Thanks for sharing this…
If you have an iPhone check out the Guitar Toolkit app. It works as well as the best dedicated tuner and it’s only $10. Also includes killer metronome, very complete chord dictionary, and a very cool “what’s that chord” lookup. On e less thing to buy/carry/lose, and it’s always oin your pocket.
Oh, yeah – it’s got a ukulele instrument setting so it’s uke-specific.
Joel, that sounds sweet. I just looked it up in the app store. That looks legit. Over 500,000 chords?! I imagine that’s probably among all the instruments combined and not just uke, but still. Looks impressive.
I also have a korg and revived a chromatic snark clip on tuner(THE RED ONE) best gift I got besides my laniaki concert uke. Tuner very accurate also has metranome feature. Amazon has it for cheap right now. I think the store is harry harrys music.
If I don’t use my Red Snark tuner I just use one of the turner apps for my iphone. I also have a Korg but like the Snark because you can use it in a noisy room since it tunes by vibration and it can be left clipped onto the Uku, easy on and off. It also is lighted so you can see it in low light.
I just used a Red Snark tuner the other day and I was impressed with it. Seems like a good buy for the price and it was pretty accurate.
Snark is the BEST!!!! My father-in-law gave me one and my uke has never sounded better! If I’m playing at home I just leave it clipped on so I can tune as I go.
I LOVE my clip on SNARK tuner I got for 12 bucks on ebay. No interference with other/ambient noise.
I have the planet waves tuner, but I cant for the life of me get it to tune my ukulele correctly. Any help? Sorry I just started playing today.
Can you be a bit more specific? Is it not reading your tuning? Or are you tuning it and it doesn’t sound tuned?
Thanks for the great infomation, unfortunately all the tuners in Australia are over $40 through all stores and most US stores won’t ship to Oz, but perseverence paid off and ebay came through with great retailer “musicalsupplydirect” total cost less than $22 AUS for the Korg CA 40, thanks for your website and your learners guide, am still hopeless but having fun!!!
I just got a ukelele and used an iPhone app called “ClearTune” ($3.99) to tune my ukelele. It works great, especially since I’m what you would call a total musical n00b. All you do is point the phone’s microphone toward your ukelele and strum, and it has an analog display telling you what note it hears.
I also bought their metronome app (Clockwork) – also $3.99 to help me learn the beat counting.
Steven, I love ClearTune. I’ll have to check out Clockwork as well. I’ve been looking for a good metronome app.
I found a Mac app that also does chromatic tuning. It’s donationware ($15) but the donation is optional.
I find it easier to use when watching your lessons on my computer because I don’t have to pull out my phone each time I start.
Their latest model, designed specifically just for tuning Uke’s. Its a clip on (great looking unit) with a really simple clear interface. Doesn’t have a mic. so you can leave it clipped on in the pub and tune your Uke even while others are making a noise.I have two now one for me and one for my partner. Simply superb and superbly simple. Cost about £12 on Amazon or ebay.
Don’t forget to mention a smartphone app will do it too!
Great website and keep it up.
And don’t forget that most music recording computer programs obviously have a tuner in them as well. The Garageband one works great if you have a Mac. I use that to tune by sound when I’m at home, but my Snark clip-on tuner works amazing if I’m out and it’s noisy.
I’ve found clip on tuners work a lot better for me. I have an old guitar tuner with a microphone and it doesn’t always register the notes from my ukulele. My Korg clip on does. Maybe it depends on the uke?
Just to jump into the conversation…I got my first ukulele today. On a whim last week I bid on one on Ebay and the next day I got an email saying my bid won. I think I got a good deal for $20.50. I found another one like it for $85.00.
Now on to tuners. I was tuning mine by ear when in walked my 39 year-old son who lives with us. Among other guitars he has a Les Paul Professional. Well he handed me a tuner saying I needed to put a battery in it. I did and for the life of me I couldn’t seem to tune the C string. The tuner would show my C string anywhere from B double flat to D sharp. I just couldn’t get that C nailed.
When I asked my son to take a look he said, oh, it doesn’t have a C. It is a guitar and bass tuner.
So be careful and stick with a uke tuner. Now I’ve got to get one.
Kent, great advice! Some tuners are designed specifically for guitar or basses. The key is to find a tuner that is “chromatic.”
The Snark looks great. However, only one local store here in Edinburgh, Scotland, appears to stock this brand and it’s the SN-2, all-instrument version. http://www.snarktuners.com/cliponai.html
It seems to be suitable for ukulele, but as I also have an electric bass guitar there might be an advantage to me getting a one-size-fits all.
I was wondering if the SN-6 will be as good for ukulele as the stand-alone SN-6 version and would appreciate advice.
That *should* have read:
I was wondering if the *SN-2* will be as good for ukulele as the stand-alone SN-6 version and would appreciate advice.
Hey Paul, my understanding is that either will work. As long as the tuner is specified as a “chromatic tuner” you should be in good shape!
Thanks. Going for the SN-2.
The snark SN1 works well.. There are also some great Android tuners that work very well.
I have also been using my iPhone to tune my uke. I use ukulele tune by code app. It’s a no trips tuner that offers tuning for gcea, adf#b, and dgbe. As for a metronome, I found a Steinway and sons metronome app for free on the iPhone aswell, which has a very nice interface.
Correction, it’s a no frills tuner not no trips… Darn auto correct
I just purchased a Fender FT-004. Works well and only cost $14.00.
check it out below.
I got this great tuner at my local music store that is super easy to use and really cheap, $13.00 off of amazon. its called the korg pitchclip and it works really well. there are also a bunch of different colors to choose from.
I forgot to say that I have only used this on my guitar before as I do not yet own a uke.
I use this for a metronome when on the computer http://www.webmetronome.com/ and a Korg KDM-2 other times when it is off. But I use the Snark tuners, my favorite, most of the time when tuning..Cheers.
Hi, I just bought a Solutions Clip Style Auto Tuner. I’m learning on the ADF#B classical 500 low tuning A ukulele. I’m actually taking a beginners course. My ukulele sounds worse when I tuned it! I used tuning in Ukulele in D Tone as I was told to by the music shop I went to. There is also a Calibration which I have left at 440HZ. And when I tune a string, and finally get it right, after I have tuned the other strings, I go back just to see if they’re all tuned where they’re supposed to be, and 3 out of the 4 strings are off. But when I tuned them, they were exactly where they were supposed to be. Help!
Hi Christina, what kind of ukulele do you have? It’s possible that the strings are shifting on you after you tune them. How new are the strings? Sometimes new strings need some time to stretch and “sit”.
Hey, Christina- I just got a chromatic uke tuner, recommended by a guitar maker in town. I am a prof musician, did the “girl with the guitar” thing back in the 70’s. I am trying to revive my playing after 30 years of being an opera singer ,pianist, coach and teacher. I also put very nice new med wt. strings on my guitar, and am blessed (maybe cursed) with perfect pitch. I finally just put this tuner on my guitar and it drives me absolutely crazy!! Being a singer, I tend to hear a tone on the high end to avoid being flat. I hear a pitch in a least 8 parts or more and have sung music containing quarter and eighth tones. Anyway, maybe my strings are still settling, but using this tuner, I get one or two strings in tune and the rest suck. Everything sounds out of tune to me now- it really varies depending on what chords I play. My guitar is average, ( I got it from my first boyfriend and have no idea what kind it is. He’s dead now so I’ll never know!) and I have had an ear infection for 2 mos. that I can’t get rid of, so maybe my hearing is off. I have Grover pegs that tune a click higher or lower than I want, so go back to tuning by ear, and will end up tuning to the majority of chords that I am playing. Does anyone else have this problem? Anyway, I can commiserate, and am just old enough not to trust new gadgets, so take heart, you are not alone… Keep on playing and best of luck! (the tuner I got is the Eddy Finn Universal Uke tuner- EF-Utune digital)
I use Cleartune which I have for my guitar but also like the iphone app Ukulele Tune by Code App Co. Costs 69p in the UK ( about 1 dollar ) Simple, accurate and covers 3 tunings!
This one is perfect “Smart Tuner”, simple and free
Datuner lite for android is free. The pro version costs a bit but the lite version does everything I want.
I have gotten my ukulele a week before and it’s pretty sweet. My mom got it for me and the store clerk tuned it. It sounded fine but after a while (perhaps due to rattling inside the car on the next day) it slightly went off tune. I asked for my friend’s help since she had an app for tuning and it “listens” to the uke. It worked well actually. I’d ask her next time the name of the app.
And then, it happened again, it went out of tune. I looked for a good tuner, and if I may suggest, Audio Tuner worked swell for me. It shows how near or far you are on a note, and it can provide fine tuning. Also, it can tune many other instruments. I downloaded it for free (trial) but there is a payment if you would want to have other options. :3
Oh and it’s PitchLab Guitar Tuner on Google Play 😀
Thanks for the recommendation, Liana!
I am a beginner with ukes but I know how to play a guitar. I just bought an 8-string ukulele in Hawaii and now it’s out of tune. How do I tune it back? Please send me links to instructional videos and recommend the best app for 8-string tuner using iphone. Thanks!
Hi Mia, please see this lesson here:
I use an Ortega OCCT-1 clip on tuner (http://ortegaguitars.com/produktfinder/zubehoer/zubehoer-produkt/show/Product/occt-1wh/occt-1wh/) that allows switching between tuning for guitar, ukulele, violin and bass. It works perfect and I find the clip ons to work more precise than the normal tuning devices…i guess thats because they use the vibration of the uke rather than the sound and thus have no interference
I have a tuner that is made for ukuleles. It has a switch to tune the uke in C or D. Which of the 4 types of ukes are tuned to C. Secondly are the finger patterns for chords, when tuned in C, played the same on all ukes. Someone on the net said his Baritone is tuned to D and the chords are not the same. I’m picking up my Concert Ukulele Monday and would like to be clear going in.
Hi Don, for a soprano, concert, and tenor ukulele, they are tuned to C-tuning (gCEA) or commonly referred to as standard ukulele tuning. D-tuning is for baritone ukuleles (DGBE), which is also tuned like the four bottom strings of the guitar. Chords are different between standard-tuned ukuleles and baritone ukuleles.
I am from Bhutan and one of my guest give a gift Ukulele so i need Uke tuner and i fond in web how can i buy this item? Model Snark -SN 6 Ukulele tuner
I prefer the Snark for ease of use and the accuracy is fine. And I prefer my Mobile App for outright accuracy. The Snarks are just quicker to tune with.
Two cheap and easy way to tune your guitar
The app that i use is a tuner + metronome, you can find it here:
I just got my Korg TM-50 in the mail and I LOVE it! I had been using your online tuner, which is a great resource to have, but I wasn’t good at tuning with it. The TM-50 saved me. Thanks for the tip Brett!
PS: You might want to update this page to include the TM-50 instead of the former model, the TM-40. The TM-40 is still available at the link, but it’s much more expensive than the newer TM-50. It was only by luck that I found out there was a newer model at a lower price.
In your review of the Korg TM-40, you mentioned that the metronome only increased or decrease in increments of 4 BPM. I don’t know about the TM-40, but I just learned that the TM-50 has a feature called “Pendulum Step/Full Step,” where you can switch over to a 1-step metronome. It will then increase or decrease in increments of 1 BPM. Nice!
Thanks so much for the recommendations. I wanted tuner, but didn’t have the first clue about what to look for. I thought you might have some suggestions, and you did!
I’m trying to determine if there is any way to tune a low G string on a Ukulele using the Snark SN-6 tuner.
Could the capo feature be used for this and if so, how would it be used ? I guess I’m trying to make sure my octave is correct without relying on my ear. I would greatly appreciate your comments and or suggestions on this matter . Thanks, Bob Bray
I believe you should be able to use your Snark tuner to tune a low G string.
Hey Brett, thanks for the great ukulele lessons. I just started and am loving them. Finally, a resource that doesn’t assume I know anything about playing a stringed instrument. Anyhow, I noticed that Snark has moved to a new model, the SN-6X. I thought you might like to update your link.
Thanks, Laura! Got it updated.
As a beginner 3 years ago I received a ukulele starter kit for Christmas that included a Kala KA-15S uke, gig bag, beginner book and CD, felt pick, and a clip on Yahama tuner. The tuner has 5 different instrument settings with 2 settings for ukulele (C & D). I’ve been really happy with it. Besides the whole kit was less than $90. The Kala ukulele goes for about $84 itself. Greatest deal.
Could you please change the “person” before my name. It is so not me (bald and grumpy).