Are Ukulele and Guitar in the Same Key?

Some ukulele enthusiasts often ask me, are ukulele and guitar in the same key? Maybe that’s because they already play guitar and want to get their hand on ukulele too.

Well, the short answer to this is, NO, ukulele and guitar are not in the same key, while they are very similar to each other but the standard tuning of E-A-D-G-B-E for guitar and G-C-E-A for ukulele.

In this blog post, why keys and chords are different in ukulele and guitar, the standard keys of both instruments and also if it is possible to transpose a ukulele in guitar’s key.

So, first of all, you should know that one who plays guitar CAN easily shift to ukulele because most of the functionalities in both instruments are same.

Such as,

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  • Ukulele and guitar both have fretboard
  • Both are stringed instruments
  • The playing style is almost similar for both, like strumming, fingerstyle and even with a pick.
  • Chord and scales are different but can be easily remembered in both instruments.

So, it’s not hard to shift from guitar to ukulele and vice versa.

Although, there are common similarities in both instruments,

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Then why the keys and chords are different?

Let’s find out.

Why Do Keys and Chords Change Between Ukulele and Guitar?

As I have mentioned above, the standard tuning for a guitar is E-A-D-G-B-E, while for a ukulele is G-C-E-A.

Guitar has 6 strings and ukulele has 4 strings.

That’s the main reason why the notes in both the instruments are played in different locations of fretboard.

Let’s take an example.

You can play C major chord on a guitar by placing your fingers on the 3rd fret of the A string, 2nd fret on D string and 1st fret on B string. In ukulele you can play C major by just pressing your one finger on 3rd fret of A string.

The shapes of chord and finger positions are different in both instruments however the chord generated is the same.

There are in fact other reasons for change in keys of both instruments, such as,

  • Ukulele has smaller fretboard then guitar which obviously get changes in the scales
  • Nylon strings are used in ukulele that we cannot tighten like a guitar otherwise they can break.

These are the main reasons why the chords and scales are different in both instruments. A Few wise men designed ukulele very wisely according to their needs.

In Which Key Ukulele is Tuned?

Ukulele Key and Tuning

As I’ve mentioned above, the standard tuning of ukulele is G-C-E-A, in which A string is closest to the bottom when you hold the ukulele for playing and the G string is the upper string.

We refer this tuning as GCEA.

G string is tuned in 4th higher then C string. E string is tuned in 4th higher then A string.

This type of tuning along with the nylon strings provide the unique warm tone of ukulele and also make it easy to play chords and melodies.

While, GECA is the most common ukulele tuning pattern, people use other tunings such as A-D-F#-B, D-G-B-E etc.

But for Soprano and Concert ukuleles GECA is the very best and most common tuning.

In Which Key Guitar Tuned?

Guitar is generally tuned in E-A-D-G-B-E in which the E string is the bottom one when you hold the guitar in playing position and Also the highest is E string.


Okay let’s see the image to get the exact pattern.

In Which Key Guitar Tuned

E, A and D strings are tuned in perfect 4th from one to other. while G and B strings are tuned a major 3rd apart.

The higher E is tuned in the same pitch as the lower but 2 octaves higher.

This type of tuning allows you to play a wide range of chords and melodies.

Other tunings also used in guitar rarely. Such as, Drop D tuning, Open G tuning, and DADGAD tuning etc.

But the most standard tuning for guitar is EADGBE.

Can Ukulele and Guitar Play Together?

Yes, you can play ukulele and guitar together and it sound great as a duet. In fact, I have published an article on this topic that you should read to get more about it.

However, as both are in different keys, it can be challenging for you to play them together at first.

But with time you can play beautiful music with these amazing instruments.

Obviously, you need a friend to play one of these with you to complement your playing.

As they have different tonal qualities it would be amazing to play them together.

How Do You Transpose A Ukulele to A Guitar?

Transpose A Ukulele to A Guitar

You can transpose the ukulele for guitar, however, it needs you to determine the key of the song in that you want to transpose your ukulele.

Also, you need to figure out the corresponding chords on the guitar and play them on ukulele.

You can follow the steps below to perfectly transpose ukulele to a guitar.

  1. First off, determine the key of the song: You should first identify the key of song song and then find it’s chords on ukulele. If the first chord of song is C major then the key is C.
  2. Now Identify the corresponding chords: Now you should write down the corresponding chords used in the song and also write down their position on the ukulele fretboard by ukulele tabs.
  3. Last step is to transpose the chords: Now you have all the chords on ukulele, you can easily find the same chords on guitar and transpose them according to the base key. If you want to transpose from C to D then all the chords will transpose one key upward. For example, If you want to transpose C to G then all the chords will transpose five frets up.

That’s it.

It’s easy to transpose any song on ukulele for guitar however it needs practice to achieve accuracy on this.


While ukulele and guitar are both stringed instruments, they are very different such as different tunings and tonal qualities that make them unique.

That’s why they are definitely in different keys and you need to practice them separately to master them.

But, ukulele is quite easy to play compared to guitar as it has only 4 strings and chord structure is also easy.

Gautam Roy is a recording engineer and a blogger from India. He loves listening music, playing Guitar and Ukulele, writing, and travelling. He is also an active investor and a successful entrepreneur.

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