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Why does my ukulele sound twangy?

When you play notes and chords with your ukulele, you don’t actually hear what’s going on. Your instrument creates sound based on which note is ringing and which note is played. The higher up you pick it up, the more it’ll sound.

In general, your ukulele’s sustain level means it will sound as if it was strummed more frequently, but more gradually, and so you may hear a higher pitched chord coming after the strum. This is common with chords – in fact, a chord will typically sound a higher pitched when played with or held by your ukulele than playing it by itself.

A ukulele’s strings give it better sustain – but don’t be misled about how this is useful. Your ukulele’s sustain level doesn’t actually affect how it will sound when strummed.

You’re probably surprised to hear that, if you strum your ukulele in a different way, the chords will be different too!


How is my ukulele’s sustain level affected by how hard I play and where I play?

When strumming your ukulele and strumming chords together, both will create the same sound. Your sustain level depends only upon which chord you strum, and the chords will be played at a different rate – the higher and faster the strum, the higher the harmonics will play. Your sustain level doesn’t affect this behaviour at all, but it doesn’t really matter either way either – most people use the same kind of sustain when tuning and when playing.

I tend to play fast strings and play fast chords with my ukulele at the same time, which can make my ukulele take longer to start up than when I play slow strings and slow chords together (e.g., with a bass, it takes longer to play a song than when playing a song with a bass.) But that’s not the case with chords. As long as you get in and out of your chord fast, the chords should start and end exactly the same, without any variations or vibrato.

How do I tune my ukulele?

So what now? Tune your ukulele by adjusting the bridge of the ukulele or by going to a ukulele tuner.

It was in the days following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 that a friend of mine first got