How To Tune A Guitar

Have you ever wondered what it meant for your guitar to be “in tune”?  Are you learning how to play the guitar and wonder why it just doesn’t sound right?  Your guitar may not be in tune!  This is a basic outline for how to tune a guitar and get your guitar sounding just right so we can hear you truly shine on your new instrument!

How the Strings are Tuned

Playing Guitar
Your guitar likely has six strings and each one of these strings should be able to play a single, specific note when played in its open position.  The top string farthest from the ground and closest to your ears plays the note lowest in pitch and the bottom string closest to the ground should play the highest pitch.  The pitches associated with each string sound in order from lowest to highest playing from the top string down to the bottom string.  The pitches in order starting with the top string are: E, A, D, G, B, E.  This is the most common tuning for a 6-string guitar.

How To Adjust The Pitch

If you look at each string on the guitar, you will notice that each string travels up the neck and ends coiling around a tuning peg at the top of the guitar.  Each string is connected to its own tuning peg.  In order to make the pitch of a string sound higher, you have to tighten the tuning peg associated with that string.  In order to make the pitch sound lower, loosen the tuning peg associated with that string.  You can hear the changes being made by playing the string and immediately adjusting the tuning peg.  You will notice the pitch getting either higher or lower depending on how you adjust the tuning peg.

Using A Tuner

It is often easiest to tune the guitar strings to the correct pitches when you are using a tuner.  There are many different types of tuners but the one thing that they all have in common is that they will all tell you what pitch is being sounded when you play a string.  The tuner will also tell you if a string is between pitches and if it is, whether the pitch is above or below the desired pitch.  Let’s say you are tuning the first string, the low E string.  If the tuner shows that the note is an E but it is just flat, or below, an E, then you know you need to tighten the E tuning peg.  The tuner will show you in real time once you have tightened the peg enough and it will show you if you go too far in the opposite direction.  The pitch on guitar strings is very sensitive so only turn the pegs a little bit at a time.

Tuning By Ear

What if you don’t have the luxury of having a guitar tuner at your disposal?  Well, if this is the case, then you need to learn how to rely on your own ears to hear the correct pitches.  Don’t worry, there is a trick to it!  If you press down on the 5th fret of the low E string and strike that string, you are playing an A, which luckily, is the tuning of the next string down.  To tune the A string, try to make the A string sound just like the E string played on the 5th fret.  Similarly, if you wish to tune the D string, play the 5th fret of the A string and tune the D string until it sounds the same.  You can continue this pattern down each string until you reach the B string.  To tune the B string, hold down the 4th fret of the G string and tune the B accordingly.  To tune the high E string, we’re back to the 5th fret of the B.  This method will make your guitar sound in tune with itself without having to use a tuner!

How To Tune A Guitar

Sound simple enough?  Once your guitar is in tune, you are ready to sound great on your instrument!  Remember, the more you play and practice, the more you will be able to hear the subtle differences in pitch on your guitar.  Keep practicing and most importantly, keep listening!

Leave a Reply