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.

Unique Musical Gift at Virtual Sheet Music

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 and pretty cheap tuner is the Snark SN5X Clip-On 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.
My students seem to like the BOSS TU-12EX Chromatic Tuner. This might be because it is the tuner that I use. I've been using the BOSS TU-12EX Chromatic Tuner and its predecessor for over twenty years and it has never broken or dropped me. My Boss TU is now the only tuner that I use. My one criticism of the Boss TU is that the shape doesn't allow it to sleep in my hard guitar case. It's easy enough to slip it into the pocket of my soft gig bar, but if I'm using the hard case (which is always my preference as my guitar is luthier made), I'd have to either use my Snark tuner or have a separate bag for the Boss Tu (and music scores and so on). Another option that is a classic and a solid and reliable favourite is the BOSS TU-12EX Chromatic Tuner and Metronome combined. 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.

There are many android and IS apps that work perfectly well as metronomes and there are a few that market themselves as guitar tuners.  Other than sometimes having an irritating beep, there are many android and IS apps that function just fine as metronomes. I can't say the same of the android and IS apps that are supposed to work as guitar tuners. I have found them sketchy and very frustrating to use as they are just not that consistent. Nonetheless, if you can't afford a tuner or a metronome, these virtually free android and IS apps are good options to get you going and to get you  started. 

Tune your guitar by pitch

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. tun



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

  • Sitting Positions: This lesson takes you through the principles and dos and don'ts 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 provides an introduction to musical notation and to the basic theory that you will need to start playing.
  • Notes on the Guitar: Becoming familiar with the notes on the guitar is essential for any guitarist. This lesson provides guidelines and free guitar software. This is where you pick up the guitar and begin 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.
  • 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.

Latest Digital Sheet Music on Virtual Sheet MusicĀ®

Pasek and Paul: Never Enough (from The Greatest Showman) (arr. Johnnie Vinson) (COMPLETE) for concert band
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/exs/HL-426603.html?af=classicl

Irving Berlin: Always for guitar solo (chords)
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/exs/HL-424251.html?af=classicl

Johnny Marks: Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree for voice and piano
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/exs/HL-386498.html?af=classicl

Toto: Africa (arr. Alex Morris) for choir (SSAA: soprano, alto)
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/exs/HL-426635.html?af=classicl

Toto: Africa (arr. Alex Morris) for choir (SATB: soprano, alto, tenor, bass)
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/exs/HL-426634.html?af=classicl

Nat King Cole: I Just Found out About Love (arr. Dave Briner) for choir (TTBB: tenor, bass)
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/exs/HL-426633.html?af=classicl

Nat King Cole: I Just Found out About Love (arr. Dave Briner) for choir (SSAA: soprano, alto)
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/exs/HL-426632.html?af=classicl

Toto: Africa (arr. Alex Morris) for choir (TTBB: tenor, bass)
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/exs/HL-426631.html?af=classicl

Nat King Cole: I Just Found out About Love (arr. Dave Briner) for choir (SATB: soprano, alto, tenor, bass)
https://www.virtualsheetmusic.com/exs/HL-426630.html?af=classicl

Christmas Sheet Music to download instantly


Leave me a comment, share your experience and let me know what you think











My recommended guitar products











Like us on Facebook