Tuning the Irish Bouzouki

Return to Lessons Page


Knowing how to tune your instrument is another vital skill that a musician needs to learn if they ever intend to play with other musicians.

The following section explains how to use a chromatic tuner to tune the Irish Bouzouki to "standard" pitch as well as information to help understand how alternative tunings are achieved.

Devices such as smartphones and tablets that have a built-in microphone usually have a chromatic tuner available as an application. These can be useful when you quickly need to tune an instrument but they rarely work in noisy environments. Performing musicians tend to favour devices such as clip-on tuners.

How to:

Strings were attached in the first lesson so now it's time to bring them to pitch. The tuning pegs at the top of the instrument are turned which increases the pitch of that string as it tightens or decreases the pitch as the string loosens.

Plucking a string causes it vibrate a number of times a second. This value is referred to as the frequency and is measured in Hertz (Hz).

Standard tuning on an Irish Bouzouki with unison strings means that the frequency for each string is as follows:

With octave strings the G string and D string are paired with a string one octave above the other. An octave is double the frequency of the previous. The top 4 strings will now be tuned:

For those that play stringed instruments other than the Irish Bouzouki. The generally agreed standard tuning for each instrument can be found through the following wikipedia article:

Stringed Instrument Tunings (external)

After discovering the note. The following website provides a useful chart for converting notes to the specific frequency. Just incase the chromatic tuner you use only works with only exact frequency.

Note to Frequency conversion chart (external)

While a new set of strings settle in the instrument it might require a few repeat tunings. A technique that people employ to speed up the settling process is to "stretch" the string. This involves lifting the string away from the fretboard around the 12th fret. Doing this process about 2-3 with tuning should be enough for a properly set-up instrument to retain tuning of new strings.