How to tune your guitar


Knowing how to tune your guitar is essential for achieving a good sound. The biggest reason for this is that as beginners you are teaching not only your fingers to find their way around the guitar fretboard, but you are also teaching your ear to recognise chords and notes. When you tune your guitar, your guitar is in tune and your ear is learning the correct notes; when you do not tune your guitar properly, your ears get used to the sound of slightly sharp (or very sharp) or flat notes. This is very bad for developing your musicianship and strengthening your ear training. The diagrams below shows indicates what the open notes are.


My advice is to get a good guitar tuner and to use the tuner to ensure that your guitar is totally in tune. This will develop an internal solid pitch which you can later rely on. An easy to use good and pretty cheap tuner is the Snark SN-1 Tuner. It picks up every note, has a built in chromatic tuner and doesn't scratch the guitars body when attached. The one problem is that it doesn't illuminate well in the dark, so if you need a tuner for dark venues with low lighting then this is not the one to get. Having said that, if you are gigging in dark venues with low light you've probably already learnt how to tune without the tuner.

Students seem to prefer the Korg TM-40 Digital Tuner and Metronome. A pretty hardy and good value item as it combines a tuner and metronome in a compact, but user-friendly design. Another benefit is that you don't need to change and carry batteries for two pieces of electronics.

The old fashioned way to tune your guitar

In the absence of an electronic tuner you can use a pitch fork or pipes or a piano to tune your guitar. Tune your bottom E string (the 6th string is also the thickest and lowest soundest string).

Tuning the 5th string, A string

Place your first finger behind the 5th fret of the 6th string (E). Pick this note. You are now playing A which is the same note as the A on the 5th string which is sounded by playing the 5th string open. Keep your finger on the A (6th string) and at the same time play the A (5th string). Gently adjust the 5th string until it is in tune with the 6th string.

Tuning the 4th string, D string

Repeat the above process to tune the 4th string, the D string. Place your first finger behind the 5th fret of the 5th string (A). Pick this note. You are now playing D which is the same note as the D on the 4th string which is sounded by playing the 4th string open. Keep your finger on the D (5th string) and at the same time play the D (4th string). Gently adjust the 4th string until it is in tune with the 5th string.

Tuning the 3rd string, G string

Repeat the above process to tune the 3rd string, the G string. Place your first finger behind the 5th fret of the 4th string (D). Pick this note. You are now playing G which is the same note as the G on the 3rd string which is sounded by playing the 3rd string open. Keep your finger on the G (4th string) and at the same time play the G (3rd string). Gently adjust the 3rd string until it is in tune with the 4th string.

Tuning the 2nd string, B string

Repeat the above process to tune the 2nd string, the B string, except that now you are playing the B in the fourth rather than the fifth fret of the 3rd string. Place your first finger behind the 4th fret of the 3rd string (G). Pick this note. You are now playing B which is the same note as the B on the 2nd string which is sounded by playing the 2nd string open. Keep your finger on the B (3rd string) and at the same time play the B (2nd string). Gently adjust the 2nd string until it is in tune with the 3rd string.

Tuning the 1st string, E string

Repeat the above process to tune the 1st string, the E string. Place your first finger behind the 5th fret of the 2nd string (B). Pick this note. You are now playing E which is the same note as the E on the Ist string which is sounded by playing the Ist string open. Keep your finger on the E (2nd string) and at the same time play the E (Ist string). Gently adjust the Ist string until it is in tune with the 2nd string.

This success of this approach is partly determined by how developed your ear pitch is. If you have any doubts about your this, please purchase an electronic guitar tuner. They are affordable and will help you develop the security of ear pitch that you require. If you want to get something more expensive a very nice tuner, with metronome combined, that I can recommend is the Korg TM-40.

Guitar Basics

You can scroll the rest of the guitar basics pages by scanning the list below, or scrolling through the navigation bar

Buying a Classical Guitar: If you need to buy a guitar or are thinking about buying a new guitar, then this page is for you. It provides useful tips on how to pick your first classical guitar.

Sitting Positions: This lesson takes you through the principles and dos and donts of the classical guitar sitting position. It introduces you to the guitar supports available including footstools, the Efel, the Dynarette, the A-Frame and the ErgoPlayay.

Music Theory: Music Theory provides an introduction to musical notation and to the basic theory that you will need to start playing.

Finger Names : Finger names in classical guitar scores.

How to Tune your Guitar: How to tune your guitar. There is nothing worse than playing on an untuned guitar. This page teaches you how to tune your guitar with and without an electronic tuner.

Guitar Parts: Start by becoming familiar with the parts of the guitar so that you know what we're talking about when we talk about the bridge or the fret.
















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