Reentrant tuning

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Soprano ukulele, an instrument which is almost always tuned in re-entrant fashion Ukulele1 HiRes.jpg
Soprano ukulele, an instrument which is almost always tuned in re-entrant fashion

On a stringed instrument, a break in an otherwise ascending (or descending) order of string pitches is known as a re-entry. A re-entrant tuning, therefore, is a tuning where the strings (or more properly the courses) are not all ordered from the lowest pitch to the highest pitch (or vice versa).


Most common re-entrant tunings have only one re-entry. In the case of the soprano ukulele, for example, the re-entry is between the third and fourth strings, while in the case of the Venezuelan cuatro it is between the first and second strings.


Instruments usually tuned in this way include:

Instruments often (but not always) re-entrantly tuned include:

Instruments not usually considered re-entrant, but which have common re-entrant alternate tunings:

The standard tunings for instruments with multi-string courses, such as the twelve string guitar, eight string bass, or Colombian tiple are not considered re-entrant, as the principal strings of each course are ordered from lowest to highest.


Ukuleles other than the tenor and baritone are most commonly tuned in re-entrant fashion; the tenor often is as well, and occasionally the baritone. These conventional re-entrant tunings G4–C4–E4–A4are sometimes known as high 4th tunings or high G tuning. [2]

Non-re-entrant tunings, also known as low 4th tunings, exist for these instruments. [3]


Charango tuning Charango tuning v2.svg
Charango tuning

The Andean charango, a small 5-course, 10-string guitar frequently made from an armadillo shell, is most usually tuned in re-entrant fashion, with re-entry between the third and second courses.

Other members of the charango family, such as the hualaycho and charangon are usually similarly tuned; the ronroco is often, but not always tuned re-entrantly.

Ten-string guitar

Narciso Yepes' re-entrant tuning for the ten string guitar Narciso Yepes' reentrant tuning for the ten-string guitar.jpg
Narciso Yepes' re-entrant tuning for the ten string guitar

The ten string classical guitar was originally designed for a specific re-entrant tuning invented by Narciso Yepes, now called the Modern tuning also. Both this and other re-entrant tunings, such as the Marlow tunings, are now used, as well as non re-entrant tunings such as the Baroque; nevertheless the advantage of the Yepes re-entrant tuning over the other tunings is that it provides sympathetic resonance over all the 12 notes of the scale while the rest do not. These tunings may also be used on related instruments, such as ten string electric and jazz guitars.


Traditional re-entrant cuatro tuning Cuatro ven.png
Traditional re-entrant cuatro tuning

The Venezuelan cuatro is a member of the guitar family, smaller in size and with four nylon strings. It is similar in size and construction to the ukulele. The traditional "Camburpinton" tuning is re-entrant (A3–D4–F
–B3), but with the re-entry between the second and first strings, rather than between third and fourth as in the ukulele. The results are very different in tone.

Other tunings of the Venezuelan cuatro are not re-entrant, however they are not as popular as the "Camburpinton" tuning.

The Venezuelan instrument is one of several Latin American instruments by the name of cuatro, which is Spanish for four. Despite the name, not all instruments called 'cuatro' have four strings. The ten-string, five-course Puerto Rican cuatro is not tuned re-entrantly, but in straight fourths. The cuatro Cubano also is not tuned re-entrantly.

Tenor guitar

Tenor guitar re-entrant tuning Tenor guitar reentrant tuning.png
Tenor guitar re-entrant tuning

A variety of tunings are used for the four string tenor guitar, including a relatively small number of re-entrant tunings. One example of a re-entrant tuning for tenor guitar is D4–G3–B3–E4 with strings 3–1 as for the normal 6-string guitar, but string 4 tuned to D an octave above the 4th string of the 6 string guitar.


Upper neck and head of a bluegrass banjo, showing the shorter 5th string BluegrassBanjo cropped.jpg
Upper neck and head of a bluegrass banjo, showing the shorter 5th string

The fifth string on the five string banjo, called the thumb string, also called the "drone string", is five frets shorter than the other four and is normally tuned higher than any of the other four, giving a re-entrant tuning such as the bluegrass G4-D3-G3-B3-D4. The five string banjo is particularly used in bluegrass music and old-time music.

The four string plectrum banjo (more often used in jazz) and the four string tenor banjo (common in Irish traditional music) lack this shorter string, and are rarely tuned in re-entrant fashion.

Related Research Articles

The banjo is a stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity to form a resonator. The membrane is typically circular, and usually made of plastic, or occasionally animal skin. Early forms of the instrument were fashioned by African-Americans in the United States, adapted from African instruments of similar design. The banjo is frequently associated with folk and country music, and has also been used in some rock songs. Several rock bands, such as The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and The Allman Brothers, have used the five-string banjo in some of their songs. Historically, the banjo occupied a central place in African-American traditional music and the folk culture of rural whites before entering the mainstream via the minstrel shows of the 19th century. Along with the fiddle, the banjo is a mainstay of American styles of music, such as Bluegrass and old-time music. It is also very frequently used in traditional ("trad") jazz.

Ukulele Member of the guitar family

The ukulele is a member of the lute family of instruments. It generally employs four nylon strings.


The charango is a small Andean stringed instrument of the lute family, which probably originated in the Quechua and Aymara populations in the territory of the Altiplano in post-Colonial times, after European stringed instruments were introduced by the Spanish during colonialization. The instrument is widespread throughout the Andean regions of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, northern Chile and northwestern Argentina, where it is a popular musical instrument that exists in many variant forms.

Banjo ukulele

The banjo ukulele, also known as the banjolele or banjo uke, is a four-stringed musical instrument with a small banjo-type body and a fretted ukulele neck. The earliest known banjoleles were built by John A. Bolander and by Alvin D. Keech, both in 1917.


The cavaquinho is a small Portuguese string instrument in the European guitar family, with four wire or gut strings.

Tiple Fretted string instrument

A tiple, is a plucked-string chordophone of the guitar family. A tiple player is called a tiplista. The first mention of the tiple comes from musicologist Pablo Minguet e Irol in 1752. Although many variations of the instrument exist, the tiple is mostly associated with Colombia, and is considered the national instrument.

Tenor guitar Four-stringed guitar

The tenor guitar or four-string guitar is a slightly smaller, four-string relative of the steel-string acoustic guitar or electric guitar. The instrument was initially developed in its acoustic form by Gibson and C.F. Martin so that players of the four-string tenor banjo could double on guitar.


The name chillador can refer either to two related types of charango. The First type, simple called chillador is a type of charango which has a flat back and is usually steel-strung. It exists in both 10-and 12-string forms. When strung with 10-strings it is tuned the same as a charango. With 12 strings, courses 2 and 4 are triple-strung, and the (re-entrant) tuning is more like that of a charangone or ronroco in Argentine tuning. The chillador charango is a standardly-tuned charango but with a body built from bent sides and a flat back like a (smaller) guitar,

Jarana jarocha

The jarana jarocha is a guitar-shaped fretted stringed instrument from the southern region of the state of Veracruz, Mexico. Typically strung with 8 strings in 5 courses, usually arranged in two single outer strings with three double-courses in between. The strings are usually nylon, although they were gut in the past. The body is somewhat narrower than a guitar because of its direct lineage from the Spanish baroque guitar of the sixteenth century. Sometimes mistaken for a ukulele, the jarana jarocha comes in at least five sizes, the smallest being the chaquiste, somewhat smaller than a soprano ukulele; then the mosquito, about the size of a soprano ukulele; the 'primera', about the size of a concert ukulele; the 'segunda', in length between a tenor and a baritone ukulele; and the 'tercera', somewhat longer than the baritone ukulele. Some luthiers are building jaranas of a size they label "tercerola" or "jarana cuarta", but there is some discussion as to whether these represent a distinct size or are merely particularly large variations of the standard tercera.

In music, standard tuning refers to the typical tuning of a string instrument. This notion is contrary to that of scordatura, i.e. an alternate tuning designated to modify either the timbre or technical capabilities of the desired instrument.

The cuatro is a family of Latin American string instruments played in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and other Latin American countries. It is derived from the Spanish guitar. Although some have viola-like shapes, most cuatros resemble a small to mid-sized classical guitar. In Puerto Rico and Venezuela, the cuatro is an ensemble instrument for secular and religious music, and is played at parties and traditional gatherings.

Plucked string instrument

Plucked string instruments are a subcategory of string instruments that are played by plucking the strings. Plucking is a way of pulling and releasing the string in such a way as to give it an impulse that causes the string to vibrate. Plucking can be done with either a finger or a plectrum.

Ten-string guitar

There are many varieties of ten-string guitar, including:

This is a chart of stringed instrument tunings. Instruments are listed alphabetically by their most commonly known name.

Banjo guitar or banjitar or ganjo (Australia) is a six-string banjo tuned in the standard tuning of a six-string guitar (E2-A2-D3-G3-B3-E4) from lowest to highest strings. Theخضتخیخس۸ق۸بببل six-string banjo was introduced in the late 19th century. Less widespread than four- and five-string banjos, it was reintroduced in the latter part of the twentieth century with the modern guitar-like tuning.


A guitalele, also called a ukitar, or kīkū, is a guitar-ukulele hybrid, that is, "a 1/4 size" guitar, a cross between a classical guitar and a tenor or baritone ukulele. The guitalele combines the portability of a ukulele, due to its small size, with the six single strings and resultant chord possibilities of a classical guitar. It may include a built-in microphone that permits playing the guitalele either as an acoustic guitar or connected to an amplifier. The guitalele is variously marketed as a travel guitar or children's guitar. It is essentially a modern iteration of the Quint guitar.

Puerto Rican cuatro Musical instrument

The Puerto Rican cuatro is the national instrument of Puerto Rico. It belongs to the lute family of string instruments, and is guitar-like in function, but with a shape closer to that of the violin. The word cuatro means "four", which was the total number of strings of the earliest Puerto Rican instrument known by the cuatro name.

Colombian tiple

The Colombian tiple, is a plucked string instrument of the guitar family, common in Colombia where it is considered one of the national instruments. About three-fourths the size of a classical guitar, it has twelve strings set in four triple-strung courses. It is played as a main instrument or as an accompanying instrument to the guitar.


  1. "Gibson Harp Guitars". Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  2. "Making Sense of UKULELE TUNINGS". Ukulele in the Classroom. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  3. "FAQs - What tuning(s) do you use?". James Hill official website. Retrieved 23 November 2019.