Get Started On Your Ukulele: History, Tunings, and More!

The ukulele – a recently popular figure in the musical world. Cheerful, simple, and a little exotic, this little stringed instrument is easy to play and fun to listen to no matter what.

But where did this four-stringed guitar look-alike come from?

Many associate the ukulele with Hawai’i, and they are right to say that much of the music and culture surrounding the ukulele as we know it comes from its involvement in Hawai’ian culture. However, the Ukulele is actually Portuguese!

Brought over by Portuguese travelers from the Madeira Islands, the ukulele was originally called the Machete de Braga. The reason behind its name change to Ukulele is still somewhat unknown but there are multiple stories that may or may not be the real reason.

You can find out more about the History of the Ukulele at:
Museum of Making Music

So you got your ukulele, now what?

As you get to know the ukulele as an instrument, you’ll hear people talking about the tunings of a ukulele.

Similar to a guitar, the ukulele can be re-tuned into multiple combinations of sound. The main tunings for a ukulele are:


The Soprano tuning is by far the easiest to hear, most common, and best-soundings when it comes to clarity and brightness.

The Baritone tuning is the next most popular tuning method. While not as common this is a good tuning for a more somber tone and warm sound.


Other tunings, such as tenor, are unusual but appreciated when used properly.

This is a great website you can use to tune your ukulele if you don’t have a piano on hand to compare it to:

Uku Tuner

So you know the history, you know how to tune it, now what should you play?  Head on over to our ukulele page to find a few videos of popular songs on the ukulele: Here!

If you want to know how to play these songs, and more, come on down to our shop, Prince Music Company, at the HarMar Mall in Roseville, MN, and sign up for lessons!  Starting at $22 a lesson, you can learn how to jam out on the ukulele and have a great time with friends and family!