How to Tune a Guitar: Beginner’s Guide 

Are you excited to play your guitar but need to know an easy way to make it sound right? No worries! Tuning your guitar is the first step to making beautiful music. Whether you have a tuner or not, we’ve got you covered. In this blog, we’ll show you how to tune your guitar like a pro, even if you’re a beginner. Fortunately, technological help is at hand. The easiest way to tune your guitar is by using a free online guitar tuner. Check it out – we have simple instructions on exactly how to use it, and it’s super accurate.

Beginner's Guide 

Why is Tuning Important?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of tuning your guitar, let’s understand why it’s so crucial:

  • A well-tuned guitar sounds great and is a pleasure to play.
  • It helps you develop a good ear for music.
  • Playing with other musicians is easier when everyone’s in tune.
  • Out-of-tune guitars can sound awful!

Now, let’s get down to business!

How often should you tune your guitar?

Tune your guitar to sound its best every time you play. The frequency of tuning varies depending on the guitar and your playing style.

  • For casual playing, tune your guitar every time you play. This ensures it stays in tune throughout your playing session. Your guitar can become out of tune due to even little variations in humidity and temperature.
  • Tune your guitar before and after each session if you want to take your practice or performance more seriously. Checking and adjusting the tuning at the start will get you in tune, while checking after allows you to identify any issues cropped up during playing.
  • Change your strings regularly. New strings hold tune better. Plan to change acoustic guitar strings every 2-3 months and electric guitar strings every 1-2 months if playing frequently.
  • Have your guitar professionally set up around once a year. This comprehensive maintenance helps optimize intonation, action, and tuning stability.
  • Ensure you are correctly winding strings on the tuning posts and tuning to the correct pitch. Improper winding or tuning can reduce stability.

Basics of Guitar Tuning

Guitar tuning is the process of adjusting the pitch of the strings so that they are in tune with each other. This is important because it allows the guitar to sound its best and makes it easier to play chords and melodies.

Standard Guitar Tuning

The standard tuning for a 6-string guitar is known as EADGBe tuning from lowest to highest pitch.

E | A | D | G | B | e

  • Low E – E2 – 329.63 Hz
  • A – A2 – 440 Hz
  • D – D3 – 587.33 Hz
  • G – G3 – 196 Hz
  • B – B3 – 987.77 Hz
  • High e – E4 – 1318.51 Hz

It is the most common tuning for popular styles like rock, blues, country, folk, etc.

A Few key things about standard tuning:

  • It consists of the notes E, A, D, G, B, e across the 6 strings from lowest to highest.
  • It is tuned in perfect 4ths between strings 5-2 and strings 1-6. The exception is between the G and B strings, which is a major 3rd.
  • The A string is tuned to A4 at 440 Hz, which is the general standard pitch reference.
  • The lowest E string is tuned down 2 full octaves from the top E string.
  • The tuning results in an E major chord when strumming open strings, giving a bright, vibrant sound.
  • Many guitarists keep at least one of their guitars permanently in standard EADGBe tuning as a reliable go-to.

In standard tuning, the strings are tuned to the following notes, from lowest to highest:

You can tune your guitar using a variety of tools, including:

  • Electronic tuner: This is the most common and accurate way to tune a guitar. Electronic tuners come in various forms, including clip-on tuners, pedal tuners, and phone apps.
  • Electronic Tuner
  • Tuning fork: A tuning fork is a metal fork that produces a specific pitch when struck. You can use a tuning fork to tune your guitar by matching the pitch of the tuning fork to the pitch of the string you are tuning.Tuning fork
  • Harmonic tuning: Harmonic tuning is a more advanced way to tune a guitar without any tools. It involves playing harmonics on the strings and comparing the pitches of the harmonics to each other.

Natural Harmonic

Tuning with a Guitar Tuner

If you’re starting, using a guitar tuner is the easiest way to get your guitar sounding sweet. To tune a guitar, you will need a tuner. Many different types of tuners are available, including electronic tuners, clip-on tuners, and phone apps.

Guitar Tuner App

Here’s how you can tune your guitar with a tuner:

Get a Tuner: You can buy a physical tuner or use a smartphone app. There are plenty of free tuner apps available.

Attach the Tuner: Clip the tuner onto the headstock of your guitar, where the tuning pegs are.

Pluck a String: Pluck one string at a time. The tuner will show you if it’s in tune. Aim for the note names E, A, D, G, B, and e (from thickest to thinnest string).

Adjust the Tuning Pegs: If the tuner’s display shows the needle to the left (flat) or right (sharp), turn the corresponding tuning peg until it’s centered (in tune). Remember: lefty loosey, righty tighty.

Repeat for All Strings: Go through each string until they’re all in tune. Be patient – it might take a few tries!

Tuning without a Tuner

Don’t worry if you don’t have a tuner; you can still tune your guitar using your ears! It’s a valuable skill to develop.

Reference Note: Find a reference note to tune your guitar to. You can use an online tuner, a piano, or another well-tuned instrument. (Tune the A string first. This is your reference string.)

Tune the Low E String (6th): The lowest and thickest string on your guitar is the low E string, often called as the sixth string. Play the reference E note, then pluck your low E string (the thickest one).  Adjust the tuning peg until the pitch of the string matches the pitch of the note E2.

Tune the A String (5th): Place your finger on the 5th fret of the low E string (A note) and pluck it. Play the open A string after hearing the sound from the low E string. Tune the open A string up or down until it matches the sound from the low E string.

Tune the D String (4th): Place your finger on the 5th fret of the A string (D note) and pluck it. Then, pluck the open D string. Adjust as needed.

Tune the G String (3rd): Place your finger on the 5th fret of the D string (G note) and pluck it. Then, pluck the open G string. Adjust the tuning peg.

Tune the B String (2nd): Place your finger on the 4th fret of the G string (B note) and pluck it. Then, pluck the open B string. Adjust as necessary.

Tune the High E String (1st): Place your finger on the 5th fret of the B string (E note) and pluck it. Then, pluck the open high E string. Adjust the tuning peg.

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Tuning a 12-String Guitar

If you’re lucky enough to own a 12-string guitar, tuning it might seem intimidating, but it’s not that different from a 6-string guitar.

Tune the First Six Pairs: Treat the first six pairs (the thicker strings with their corresponding thinner strings) just like a regular 6-string guitar.

Octave Strings: The remaining six strings are the octave strings. They’re higher-pitched than the first six. Tune them using the same method, but remember that they should sound an octave higher than the thicker string in the pair.

Tune Carefully: Pay close attention to ensure you don’t break any strings while tuning. 12-string guitars can be delicate.

Tips for Tuning Success

Here are some extra tips to make your tuning experience smoother:

  • Stretch Your Strings: New strings tend to go out of tune easily. Play each string and gently pull it away from the guitar to help them settle in.
  • Tune Often: Your guitar can go out of tune due to temperature changes, playing, or just over time. It’s a good habit to check and adjust your tuning before every practice session.
  • Use Harmonics: You can use harmonics (lightly touching the string at the 12th fret) to fine-tune your guitar. It can help make the tuning even more accurate.
  • Be Patient: Tuning might be frustrating at first, but you’ll get better at it with practice. Don’t give up!

FAQs

How do I know when my guitar needs tuning?

You can tell your guitar needs tuning when it sounds out of tune or when you hear dissonance between the strings. Another indicator is if you notice your guitar’s pitch has drifted from the standard tuning (E A D G B e). You can use a digital tuner or a tuning app to check the pitch of each string and determine if it’s out of whack.

What is the most accurate way to tune your guitar?

The most accurate way to tune your guitar is to use an electronic tuner or a pitch pipe.. Electronic tuners can be either clip-on or stand-alone. Clip-on tuners attach to the headstock of your guitar and sense the vibrations of the strings to determine their pitch. Stand-alone tuners typically have a built-in microphone that you can use to tune your guitar. Using guitar tuning apps is also a great way to tune on the go, although they may be a bit less accurate than traditional tuners.

What is the standard tuning for a guitar?

The standard tuning for a guitar is E A D G B E, from lowest string to highest string. This is also known as EADGBE tuning.

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Conclusion

Tuning your guitar is the key to making beautiful music. Whether you have a tuner or not, you can get your guitar in tune and start playing. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep tuning and keep strumming. Soon, you’ll be making sweet music that will bring joy to your ears and those around you. Happy tuning keyboard! Learn more about our guitar courses!

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