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    Desert Island Tuning for Ukulele

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Desert Island Tuning refers to tuning an instrument to itself, but to nothing else. As though you're alone on a desert island, and you just have to guess. No-one to ask for an "E". A Ukulele somehow seems like the most appropriate instrument to use Desert Island Tuning on! While you should always tune to the Rest Of Western Civilization when you can, it's not always possible. So here are a few tips and pointers to get you somewhere in the ballpark.

     

First, try to figure out which of the strings are out of tune. Sometimes it's too many. But sometimes, just one is out of tune - tune it. Don't tune the others to it - you'll just go wandering away from actually being in tune. It requires a fair bit of experience to be able to tell which string or string is wrong, but if you pay attention, you will get better and better at being able to tell. Also - if you find that you're singing to high or low to keep up with the ukulele, tune up or down to compensate.

Some people say that if you sing the note "A" into a standard soprano ukulele's soundhole, it will "reverberate" inside the ukulele in a way that no other note will. I've tried this. Sometimes, if I sing slurring up and down into the soundhole, at some point the note booms back at me from inside the ukulele's body. With most ukuleles I have tried this with, that note is indeed very close to an "A" - so I tune my "A" to that, and tune the rest of the strings from there. Only when I'm on a desert island, of course.

I've also heard that you can tune to the dial tone of a standard telephone, although I've never figured out which note or notes those are, or how to tune to them.


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