How is the tuning for the Cuatro

Course: Introduction to the Cuatro for Ukulele Players

Picture of TuCuatro


Are you ready to learn how to tune a Cuatro? You’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that the tuning method for the Cuatro is very similar to the one you already know for your Ukulele. In fact, it is considered an alternate tuning for the ukulele that used to be popular for the Soprano Ukulele.

This alternated tuning is as follows:

A D F# B

This tuning is also very similar to the standard G C E A for the Ukulele. It is just noted down from the standard Ukulele tuning. Yes.. that is all! It is really this easy to tune a Cuatro.

Once you have it tuned to A, instead of G, you will soon realize that almost all chord figures are the same for both instruments but just transposed a tone.  You’ll start strumming your favorite Ukulele songs right away and realize it is basically the same for the Cuatro.

In fact, If you place a capo in your Ukulele’s 2nd fret, you’ll then be able to do the exact same chord figures for any song you already know.

So, resuming, the Cuatro tuning is, and it will always be (no alternate tunings are available for the Cuatro):

  • 1st String: A
  • 2nd String: D
  • 3rd String: F#
  • 4th String: B

Can you tune a Ukulele like a Cuatro?

Well, of course! The tuning between both instruments is so similar, that it is a matter of tuning down your Ukulele just a note.

Now, we haven’t talked about a little detail… You can tune the Ukulele down, but it will not sound like a Cuatro. It will sound similar, but not quite like, and this is because the Cuatro uses a reentrant tuning with the B string, the last one from the musician’s perspective.

So to truly get the Cuatro sound, you have to restring your instrument, so it uses A, D, and F# going down in the scale, but then uses a B tuned an octave lower.

A trick for pro musicians: If you don’t have cuatro strings available, just use your Ukulele ones, and use two G (the thickest one) for the Cuatro A and B strings.

Did you already tried tuning your Cuatro? or stringed a Ukulele like a Cuatro? Then listen to this video of a tuned cuatro and compare with yours:

Tuning the Cuatro by Darwin Medina

Now, let’s enjoy an explanation by Cuatrista Darwin Medina on how to tune your Cuatro:

If you’re still having issues with tuning a Cuatro or you would like to expand on your knowledge, review this lesson on How to Tune the Cuatro, where we indicate exactly which frets to press to get the correct tuning.

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