Bouzouki Tuning

Bouzouki tuning Irish

The most important thing when playing an instrument is to be in tune, it takes time to develop a feel for tuning by ear (and for me, it’s the best method) but when starting out you can use tools to help you. In the next lines I’ll explain the bouzouki tuning (Irish only) greek tunes different.

Electronic tuner for Bouzouki

There isn’t any specific tuner for bouzouki on the market but you CAN’T use a regular guitar tuner, those are specifically designed to tune the notes of a guitar. When you want to tune any other instrument like the zouk or the mandolin you have to buy a chromatic tuner, this is very important, it has to be “Chromatic”

APPS to tune a Bouzouki

We’re in 2020, there are plenty of free and paid apps that will help you tune your octave mandolin, I personally like Cleartune and Pitchlab which is 100% FREE

Tune the bouzouki by Ear

Some people think that the electronic tuners are 100% accurate, and that is true if you play on Equal Temperament. The problem with the bouzouki and other folk instruments is that we tend to play a lot in one specific Key – say D or E. So in this scenarios, we have to use Just Temperament, which is based on the overtones generated by a fundamental note. Electronic tuners are not prepared for this but when you tune by ear you are automatically tuning in Just Temperament because your ear knows it will sound better. Believe me, it’s a dramatic change. It makes your instrument sound so much better if you train your ear a bit!

Choose right the tuning for you

When we choosing the tuning for our zouk, we have many options, first I’ll list some of the most used tunings on a table of contents and then we can discuss each of them individually with pros and cons.


One of the most common tunings is GDAD, an open tuning, it means that when you strum the instrument without fretting anything, you will get a chord. In this case, it’s a Gsus2 chord. It resembles the DADGAD tuning of the folk guitar. You need to enjoy bar chords as we have quite a lot. There is of course simplified versions of the chords with a one-finger only chord, too.

It’s a great tuning to accompany other instruments and of course to sing along, of course, you can also use this tuning to play melodies but his potential is definitely chords. The sound is bright and full, If you choose this tuning make sure to check our article talking about GDAD Chords for bouzouki


This is somehow the standard bouzouki tuning, as you may have already noticed it’s the same as the tuning above but we only raised one tone the first course (pair of strings). Fiddles, Tenor Banjos, and Mandolins are tuned the same way

It’s the most comfortable tuning to play melodies. Choose this one if you want to sound quite traditional 😛!


You have tried both of the tuning listed above and you discovered you like both? OK! Go get your capo, because I’m going to show you a very interesting trick for fast changes between GDAD and GDAE. Ready? Follow the next steps.

First of all, tune to FCGD:

Place your capo on the first fret and you automatically got GDAE

Capo on the first fret EXCEPT for the first course (pair of strings) so only capo the 4th 3rd and 2nd string pairs leaving the 1st open – You get GDAD

This will allow you to have the best of both worlds, and you can change tunings very fast even from song to song.

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