This article will help you learn how to tune your guitar. Tuning a guitar is an important skill that one needs to master to truly appreciate the music it creates.
Because acoustic guitars are commonly made of wood, they have a bit of “give” to their assembly – when you change the tension and tune up one string, the tension on the other strings are also affected.
Thus, it is important that after tuning one string to tune the other strings as well with each pass. After several passes, you can become detailed and exact on each string. Remember that nylon strings take longer to stretch and settle into tune.
For guitars that are newly strung, what you can do is stretch the strings slowly by grabbing the middle of each string and gently pull it away from the guitar a few times repeatedly.
Immediately stretching them manually is better than letting them gradually stretch over time, which may also cause them to drop in pitch.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to tune a guitar by ear.
Start with the 6th string (E), the thickest of the bunch
Tune the bottom E string as best as you can. Use reference tones like a piano or other musical instruments to assist you in tuning the E string. Tighten the peg to make the sound higher, loosen it to drop the pitch lower.
5th string – A
Put your index finger on the fifth fret of the bottom E string to form the A note.
Hold your finger on that fret and strum the open fifth string and fretted sixth string alternately – gently adjusting the tuning peg of the fifth string until the two notes are synchronized with each other.
4th string – D
Locate the D note by placing your index finger on the A string’s fifth fret. Pick the fretted 5th string and the open 4th string alternately.
Slowly adjust the tuning peg connected to the 4th string until the 4th string’s pitch matches the pitch of the 5th fret of the 5th string.
3rd string – G
Trace the G note by putting your index finger on the fifth fret of the D string.
You can either pluck the fretted 4th and open 3rd strings alternately or strum them together, gently adjusting the 3rd string tuning peg until it becomes in harmony with the fret of the 4th string.
2nd string – B
A note to remember: Out of all the guitar strings, the B string is the only string that uses the 4th fret of the string above it as its reference tone.
All other open strings use as their reference tone the 5th fret of the string above it.
1st string – high E string
To tune this last string, use the fifth fret of the B string. Slowly adjust the 1st string tuning peg until it matches the pitch of the 5th fret of the 2nd string.
Once again, go through all of the strings one by one to tune again and double-check that the strings are all adjusted and will sound as they should.
Tuning manually by ear takes practice and can be difficult to learn in the beginning. But, like learning the chords, constantly tuning your guitar on a regular basis will get you more familiarized with it and eventually will become easier.
Another way to tune your guitar is by using an electronic tuner, this is the fastest and easiest way to get your strings tuned accurately.
An electronic tuner is a handy device that helps you tune your guitar. Depending on the model, some tuners are able to sense what string you are playing and whether your pitch is flat or too high.
Tuners help you by displaying what note you’re nearest to and whether that note is flat or sharp. To tune an acoustic guitar using an electronic tuner, the tuner has an integrated microphone in it for you to use.
Usually, tuners work by letting you play a note and then displaying how close you are to the string you want to achieve and the adjustment needed. Electronic tuners are inexpensive, and worth shedding the extra bucks to get your guitar in tune quickly.
Some guitars have built in tuners which is desirable as it will give you the most accurate tuning compared to ear or an electronic tuner.