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How to Tune an Ocarina

Things You'll Need:

  • Pottery filing tools
  • Chromatic tuner

Tuning an ocarina takes patience and precision: patience on your part, to not damage the finger holes as you widen them to match the note you are looking for, and precision from an accurate chromatic tuner, which will help you gauge the correct tone readings from your instrument. A new ocarina begins without correct pitch. Determining the fundamental or lowest note first will help you adjust the rest of the notes properly, no matter how many finger holes you are tuning.

Cover all of the finger holes on your ocarina and blow into it to find the lowest note. The tuner will tell you what note you are blowing, A through G sharp or flat. Once you determine which note is the fundamental, or lowest, on the instrument, you will proceed to the next holes.

Release the first finger hole of the ocarina (position depends upon the number of holes on your instrument). Blow into the mouthpiece and adjust the hole carefully with a filing tool until the tuner reads the next note but remains the same in sharpness or flatness as the fundamental note. For example; if the fundamental note on your ocarina is a C sharp, you must adjust the finger hole enough so the note being played through it is a D sharp. Open the hole wider with your filing tools until the tuner reads the note that you are supposed to achieve.

Continue along the instrument until you have tuned each note in succession to the one before it, maintaining sharpness or flatness. For ocarinas that have 10 holes, once you come back around to your fundamental note, adjust the hole to the same note but at a higher octave. Read the tuner carefully to make sure you have achieved the next octave up.


When adjusting finger holes, go slowly and deliberately. Bevel the edges if needed, and if you make the hole too big, smooth the hole over partially with some wet clay slip and start again. This may require some trial and error before you are entirely successful.

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