How to Use the Tuner

Tuner Overview

The tuner is the first view presented to you upon opening and loading the application. The tuner interface can be split into 4 main segments. The navigation bar, the visual feedback display, the string selection controls, and the audio reference bar. An annotated screenshot highlighting these segments can be found below.

precision ukulele tuner interface

A) Navigation Bar

B) Visual Feedback Display

C) String Selection Controls

D) Audio Reference Bar

Selecting a Tuning

The following section gives a brief guide to choosing the correct tuning as well as instructions on how to select a tuning within the application.


Selecting the correct tuning


It is incredibly important that you select the correct tuning. Configuring the tuner to tune for the incorrect tuning could prove frustrating and even damage your ukulele or ukulele strings. Ukuleles vary in size and musical range, so it is important to know what type of ukulele you own, whether it be sopranino, soprano, concert (also known as alto), tenor or baritone. The app separates the tunings into their respective ukulele body types.


A note for beginners: ukuleles are typically tuned in a re-entrant manner, meaning that the strings are not physically placed across the fret board in order of pitch. This means that the 4th string (the top string when held) is not the lowest in pitch as you'd expect with a guitar for instance (you would say guitars typically have linear tunings). The 3rd string is typically the lowest string on a ukulele, however, you can tune the ukulele linearly (in order of pitch) if you wish - just select a linear version of a tuning.


How to select a tuning


To change the tuning in the tuner, tap on the Settings icon to the right in the navigation bar. In the settings menu, tap on the Tuning button - this will present the tuning categories. If you wish to use a pre-installed tuning, tap on the category that matches your ukulele body type. However, if none of the pre-installed tunings are appropriate, create and/or select a custom tuning by tapping "Custom Tuning".

To select a tuning simply tap on a tuning. The currently selected tuning will highlighted and marked with a green tick.

How to create a custom tuning

To create a custom tuning, tap Custom Tunings in the tuning categories menu. In the custom tuning selection menu, tap on "Create New". This will open the Tuning Editor.

Upon opening the Tuning Editor, it is advisable to give the tuning a unique name. Underneath the tuning title text field, it is possible select your symbol preference using the segmented control. Select the string you wish to change using the string selector. The first string is located to the far right - which is identical to the way in which the notes values are presented in the tuning selection. Once you have selected the string you wish to change, you are able to select a note in the note selection.

How to edit your custom tunings

In order to edit your custom tunings, you must first switch the custom tuning selection list into edit mode by tapping "Edit".

 

 

 

 

To delete a cell, tap on the minus button, and then tap on the newly revealed delete button. In order to delete all of the tunings, tap "Delete All" and tap "Delete All" in the confirmation prompt. Deleting a tuning cannot be undone. In order to edit a tuning, simply tap on a tuning whilst in edit mode.

Controlling the Tuning System

The following section describes the selection controls, explains how string selection works and provides instructions on selecting a string.


Overview of the string selection controls


Obviously, only a single string can be tuned at any given time, therefore the tuner provides an intuitive method to determine which string is currently being tuned. The string selection controls occupy the lower half of the tuner interface. An annotated screenshot describing the string selection controls can be found below.

A) Auto Selection Button

B) Input Level Meter

C) 1st String Selection Button

D) 2nd String Selection Button

E) 3rd String Selection Button

F) 4th String Selection Button

G) Headstock Display

Selection of a target note


The target string can either be chosen automatically by the app's intelligent automatic string recognition system, or manually by yourself.
The app defaults to the Auto setting upon opening and loading the application. Selecting Auto engages the intelligent automatic string recognition system, meaning that when you pluck a string on your ukulele, the app will automatically target a string based on the current audible frequency. The app will indicate the current target string by highlighting the corresponding tuning peg and string in the headstock display.


To manually target a string, tap on any of the note buttons corresponding to the tuning pegs. The system will continue to target the selected string until another string is manually selected, or until automatic string recognition is re-engaged. You will only ever need to target strings if you are changing strings, or if your ukulele has not been played in a very long time. Upon targeting a string manually, you will notice that a panel pops up at the bottom of the screen; this allows you to tune by ear using an audio reference. To learn more about tuning by ear, see the “Tuning by Ear” section.


When to use the Auto setting


As a general rule of thumb, whilst automatic string recognition is engaged, if the tuning pegs and strings are not accurately depicting which string is currently being excited, then you need to manually target strings.

Reading Visual Feedback

The following section describes the visual feedback display and provides instructions on tuning your ukulele visually.


Overview of the visual feedback display


The visual feedback display occupies the upper half of the tuner interface. The job of this component is to depict the deviation between the ideal frequency of the targeted string and the actual audible frequency. An annotated screenshot describing the visual feedback display can be found below.

A) Tuning Needle

B) Frequency Deviation Arc

C) Current Note

D) Unity Indicator

E) Tuning Prompt

F) Current Deviation in Cents

How to read the visual feedback display


After cleanly plucking an open ukulele string, the tuning needle will react. If your ukulele string is in-tune, the needle will be positioned centrally. However, if the string is flat (too low in pitch), the needle will deviate to the left – this means you should tighten the string accordingly. If the string is sharp (too high in pitch), the needle will deviate to the right – this means you should loosen the string accordingly. When your string is in-tune, you will hear a confirmation tone. The confirmation tone can be disabled in the settings if it is unwanted.


The deviation, in cents, can also be seen on the pivot of the needle. Minus values are flat, and conversely, positive values are sharp. Ideally, you want to get this value as close to zero as possible. To the right of the needle is a written tuning prompt. The note of the current target string is stated to the left of the needle. The octave value of all notes conforms to Scientific Pitch Notation / Roland Convention, thus 'Middle C' is considered C4.


Tips for tuning accurately

 

  • Ensure that the microphone is not occluded from the ukulele.

  • Place the microphone as close to the ukulele as practicably possible.

  • If there is a lot of background noise, gradually turn down the microphone sensitivity setting until the first bar of the input meter stops flashing before you begin tuning.

  • Place your iOS device on a soft surface to reduce the affects of floor rumbles distorting frequency analysis.

  • If you are outside, shield the microphone from the wind.

Tuning by Ear

The following section describes the audio reference bar and provides instructions on tuning by ear.


Overview of the audio reference bar


When selecting a target string manually, you will notice that a bar pops up at the bottom of the screen; this is the audio reference bar. The audio reference bar provides plucked string samples and a tone generator, all of which can be used as aural references for tuning. An annotated screenshot describing the visual feedback display can be found below.

A) Microphone Button

B) Sample Button

C) Tone Generator Button

How to use the audio reference bar

 

The audio reference bar selects the Microphone button by default. This is so that when a string is selected manually, the tuner will only compare audio input with the note associated with the selected string - as discussed previously, this is useful when changed strings or tuning.


However, by selecting a string, you are essentially selecting a note. To listen to a pre-recorded sample of a plucked ukulele string in-tune with the selected note, you can tap the Sample button. You can use such samples to make comparisons with your own ukulele strings when plucked. When the sample button has been pressed, depending on your settings, the sample may repeat at an interval determined by you. To toggle the repeat, or change the repeat time interval, alter the “Repeat Pluck Sound” and “Pluck Sound Repeat Delay” settings respectively. As of version 3.0, the plucked string sampler will now alter the pitch of samples in accordance with your A4 calibration.


You can also hear the currently selected note in the form of a constant tone by tapping the Tone Generator button. Depending on your settings, the tone can be heard as a sine wave, or a square wave. To alter the timbre of the tone generator, change the “Waveform” setting. The sine wave timbre is far more pleasant, but it may be a struggle to hear without earphones on some smaller devices.

Altering the Settings

The following section elaborates on all of the components found in the settings. The settings can be accessed via the side menu. The side menu can be opened by tapping the side menu button found on the left in the navigation bar. Alternatively, the side menu can be opened by swiping right from the very left of the screen.


Adjusting the microphone sensitivity


The microphone sensitivity can be changed using the Mic Sensitivity slider found in the Microphone & Analysis subsection. This essentially sets the input gain of what is considered a valid signal. The higher the sensitivity, the longer the tuner will have to analyse the string excitation - thus, the more accurate your tuning will be. However, the higher the sensitivity, the greater the chance of having ambient noise distort frequency analysis. Great tip: gradually turn down the microphone sensitivity until the first bar of the input meter stops flashing before you begin tuning.


Adjusting the A4 calibration


With most modern music, A4 is considered to be 440 Hz. However, this is not always the case and so it is possible to calibrate this frequency dependant on your situation. You can alter the A4 calibration using the increase and decrease buttons either side of the A4 calibration frequency found in the Microphone & Analysis subsection. The Reset button will set the calibration to the typical 440 Hz. Calibration will be reflected in both the visual feedback display, pluck sounds and the tone generator. This is an advanced setting; if A4 calibration sounds foreign to you, just leave this setting on the default 440Hz and you should be fine.


Adjusting the tuning needle movement


As of version 3.0, it is possible to adjust the movement of the tuning needle. To alter the tuning needle movement, use the Movement segmented control located in the Tuning Needle subsection. There are 3 settings as detailed below:
    1.    Responsive - Fast moving needle with little smoothing
    2.    Medium - A medium setting between responsive and smooth
    3.    Smooth - Moves at a relaxed pace with lots of smoothing


Toggling the confirmation sound


The confirmation sound features three bleeps, in quick succession, that indicates that a recently plucked ukulele string is in good tune. Some users find it useful, others do not. To toggle it on or off, use the Play Confirmation Sound switch found in the Sounds subsection.


Toggling the repeating of the pluck sound


When targeting a string manually, it is possible to hear a pre-recorded sample of that string being plucked. This is called a pluck sound. You can either set it to repeat or simply play once using the Repeat Pluck Sound switch found in the Sounds subsection.


Adjusting the pluck sound repeat delay


If the pluck sound is set to repeat, you can alter the Pluck Sound Repeat Delay by using the increase and decrease buttons either side of the delay time found in the Sounds subsection.


Changing the tone generator’s waveform


When targeting a string manually, it is possible to hear a constant tone of that string note using the tone generator. The tone generator can output two different waveforms, these can be selected with the Waveform segmented control found in the Tone Generator subsection. The sine waveform is far more pleasant, but it may be a struggle to hear without earphones on some smaller devices. The square waveform is grittier with some added harmonics, however, it is incredibly loud on all devices.


Toggling the device auto-lock


Your device has a feature called “Auto-Lock”, which waits for a duration of user inactivity and then shuts off the screen whilst locking the device. Depending on your Auto-Lock settings, this may be an inconvenience when tuning. To toggle auto-lock, use the Disable Device Auto-Lock switch found in the Device subsection. If you disable auto-lock, be sure to close the app or lock your phone after tuning, in order to preserve your battery life and device security.

Restoring default settings


To restore the default settings, tap on the Restore Defaults button, and then tap Restore in the confirmation window. This will not reset your current tuning or metronome settings.

 

How to Use the Metronome

Metronome Overview

The metronome is a timing device that provides an audible and visual rhythm. The metronome can be accessed via the side menu. The side menu can be opened by tapping the side menu button found on the left in the navigation bar. Alternatively, the side menu can be opened by swiping right from the very left of the screen.


The metronome interface can be split into 3 main segments. The navigation bar, the count indicator, and the controls. An annotated screenshot highlighting these segments can be found below.

A) Navigation Bar

B) Count Indicator

C) Controls

Configuring the Timing and Sound

Before the tuner can be used, it is important to configure the timing and the click sound. To begin, open the metronome configuration menu by tapping the metronome configuration button.

Selecting a time signature

 

The metronome is able to count in a wide range of time signatures. To change the time signature, simply tap the Change button next to the current time signature in the metronome configuration menu. This will present an editable time signature. Use the arrow buttons to increase or decrease either the number of beats or the beat value. Once you have finished editing the time signature, tap the Done button.

Changing the count value


Simple time signatures, such as 4/4, normally require a musician to count in so many crotchet beats per minute. However, compound time signatures, such as 6/8, normally require a musician to count in so many dotted crotchet beats per minute - as the beats are separated into two sets of three quavers, as opposed to a string of crotchet beats. To select a count value, use the Count Value segmented control in the metronome configuration menu.


Changing the click sound


The metronome features three click sounds. The select a click sound, use the Click Sound segmented control in the metronome configuration menu.


Toggling the first beat accentuation


The metronome is able to accentuate the first beat of a measure with a click sound that is higher in pitch. To toggle accentuation, use the Accentuate First Beat switch in the metronome configuration menu.


Restoring default settings


To restore the default settings, tap on the Restore Defaults button, and then tap Restore in the confirmation window. This will not reset the current tempo or the tuner settings.

Controlling the Metronome

The following section provides instructions with regards to controlling the metronome.


Setting the tempo explicitly


The tempo can be set explicitly using the rotary tempo control by holding the rotary cursor and moving your finger accordingly. You can also change the tempo using the plus and minus buttons; these can either be tapped to nudge, or held to cycle through the values rapidly.


Using tap tempo


Tap tempo allows you to set the tempo by tapping on the Tap button. You must tap on the Tap button at least twice, however, tap delays are averaged out - so the more taps you provide, the more accurate the tempo will be in accordance to your taps. The tap tempo will automatically work out when you’ve stop tapping or started tapping a new tempo.


Playing the metronome


Once you have configured your metronome and set a tempo, you can start and stop the metronome by tapping the Playback button. You can understand the position within the current measure by observing the count indicator. Tempo can be changed during playback. Playback will automatically stop upon exiting the metronome or closing the app.

Troubleshooting

Every effort has been made to ensure this app runs as smoothly as possible on as many devices. Most people do not have any problems, however, some devices have unique configurations, and the app is used in a number of settings, making it is impossible to create default configurations to suit everyone. Thus, the following section provides solutions to common issues that may arise in special circumstances. All problems are written in a first person format so that you can easily identify with any issues you might be experiencing.

Common Tuner Problems

The following problems and solutions relate to the tuner

I keep seeing an exclamation mark appear when tuning

 

 

This symbol is the noise indicator. When there is too much noise in the signal, this will appear to let you know that the current readings are unreliable. This may be the result of being in a noisy room, or having the microphone sensitivity too high.

​Try these steps:

1) Find a quieter, more suitable environment to tune in.

 

2) Go into the tuner settings, and turn down the microphone sensitivity until the "NOISE" indicator is no longer red.

Ideally, you should always try and get the microphone sensitivity as high as possible - but without the presence of noise.


The frequency detection isn’t accurate


Presuming your microphone is in good working order, the frequency analysis will be accurate. If you feel that it is not tuning to the correct notes, there may be a calibration issue.

Go to the tuner settings, and check the A4 Calibration value. By default, it should be 440 Hz, as this is the modern standard. However, certain institutions may consider A4 to be something different. Find out what your accompaniment is considering as A4 and then calibrate accordingly in the settings.

If the calibration is correct, it may be that other noise sources are skewing the frequency analysis. Either move the device closer to your ukulele, alter your microphone sensitivity, or find a more suitable tuning environment.


The visual feedback display constantly says “Tune Up”


You have probably selected the wrong tuning. Please read the “Selecting a Tuning” section towards the start of this user guide.


Alternatively, the microphone could be picking up floor noise; bass rumbles that travel up through objects. Place your iOS device on a soft object when tuning and/or alter the microphone sensitivity.


There is no reaction to sound


Try these steps in order:

1) When the app is loaded for the first time, it will request the use of the microphone. If you do not select "Allow", the app will not respond to audio input. In order to change this setting, open your device settings, scroll down and select "Uke Tuner", and then activate the Microphone switch.

2) The microphone may be restricted due to privacy settings. In order to alter this, open your device settings, select "Privacy", select "Microphone", and then activate the Uke Tuner switch. Privacy settings may be restricted due to parental controls.

3) The microphone may be a device restriction. To alter this, open your device settings, select "General", select "Restrictions", and then check the restrictions for Uke Tuner and the microphone restrictions in general.

4) The microphone sensitivity may be too low. To change this, go to the tuner settings and alter the Mic Sensitivity slider so that the sensitivity is “Very High”.

5) The frequency analyser listens out for a steady pitch; if there is excessive noise in your immediate surroundings, it may cause the tuner to ignore your instrument. Try moving to a more suitable location or move the device closer to your instrument.

6) Failing all of the above, there may be a fault with your microphone. In order to test this, open a native app that uses a microphone (e.g. Voice Memos), and determine whether or not your microphone is functioning correctly.

The tuning needle is very shaky when tuning


This anomaly may be caused by several things:


1) If your ukulele buzzes when plucking an open string, this will create extra harmonic content that skews frequency analysis. Open string buzz may be caused if your ukulele is poorly strung, or if your tuning machine heads are defective.


2) The tuning needle movement is set to “Responsive” in the tuner settings. Try the “Smooth” setting.

3) If the device is placed on a surface or music stand, it may pick up low frequency noise. Low frequencies will travel easily through objects touching the floor and will cause small distortions in frequency analysis. Sources of low frequency propagation include footsteps, machines or other musical instruments. To mitigate this, either hold the device during tuning or place something soft under the device when placed on a surface.

4) If you are in a room with a lot of ambient noise, this may also cause small deviations during visual feedback. You will need to move the device closer to your ukulele or find a more suitable tuning environment.


The tuning needle jumps randomly, even when I haven’t plucked a string


When the tuner picks up a steady note, it could mistake it for a ukulele string being plucked. Try these steps in order:


1) If playing with a band, ask the other members to cease playing whilst you tune.

2) Gradually turn down the microphone sensitivity until the first bar of the input meter stops flashing before you begin tuning.


3) If you environment is very loud, attempt to find a quieter, more suitable tuning environment.


How do I stop the 'blippy' sound when tuning?


When tuning with visual feedback, you may hear a 'blippy' sound. This sound is a confirmation sound that indicates that the string currently being excited is in good tune. Some users may not want this sound to be played and it can be easily disabled. Go to the tuner settings and deactivate the “Play Confirmation Sound” switch.
 

Common Audio Problems

The following problems and solutions relate to audio output problems, namely the pluck sound sampler, the tone generator and the metronome.


I can’t hear any audio


Try these step in order:
1) Check your General Volume, not your Ringers And Sounds Volume. You can alter the General Volume in your iOS Control Center.

2) Check that a background app is not currently occupying the audio session (e.g. Music).

3) If it is only the tone generator you cannot hear, try using the Square Waveform. You can select this in the tuner settings.

The metronome doesn’t count compound time signatures properly

 

It does. Simply change the Count Value to Dotted Crotchet in the metronome configuration menu.

I can hear audio, but it is really quiet

 

The audio output might have been routed to the receiver (the speaker used during calls that you place by your ear), as opposed to the main phone speaker. To change this, bring up the iOS Control Center (swipe upwards from the very bottom), go to the audio control pane, and change the audio output to iPhone Speaker. This issue was fixed in version 3.0.1 - so updating should solve this issue permanently. If the issue was not fixed after updating to version 3.0.1, delete the app and re-download it.

Contact

Found a bug or have a question?

If you find a bug, have a problem or simply have a question with regards to this product, please don't hesitate to contact me at timmy.knight@gmail.com


I’ll start replying to your message the moment I see it, but please allow 8 - 10 hours for a reply; we may live in different time-zones =]