Tuning a Guitar - Methods for Tuning a Guitar by Ear
Tuning an acoustic guitar can be tough at first. Everyone's been there at some point. I remember rushing home in the store with my first guitar, keen to get playing, but then realising which i had no idea how to go about tuning it. It can be incredibly frustrating and there's strong temptation for the beginner guitarist to read over the importance of good guitar tuning.
Tuning a guitar is a fundamentally important skill for everyone to get to grips with when beginning to learn guitar. It's very often the first challenge that most people face because they begin their musical journey, however if you simply fail at this first hurdle there is certainly every chance that one could give up on learning guitar altogether. No matter how good your playing is, if your guitar is out of tune, it's certain to sound terrible.
One choices to get your guitar teacher or even a friend to tune your guitar for you. This is fine as a quick fix to get you started however is not a satisfactory solution to the issue because, and this will be no surprise to you, guitars walk out tune! They can walk out tune as you play them or as environmental factors change. If you are relying on someone else to tune playing the guitar for you, what do you do when they are not there to help?
Guitars can go out of tune for any number of reasons. Tuning pegs may be accidentally knocked, temperature changes may cause expansion and contraction of the different component elements of your guitar, which has an influence on the tension of the strings and therefore on the tuning.
Unless you learn how to tune a guitar correctly, your playing will not sound good. Exactly what do you do about it?
Well, I'm about to give you foolproof instructions concerning how to tune your guitar the right way.
To begin with, you need to make sure that your 6th string is correctly in tune. The 6th string may be the thickest string on your guitar and must be tuned to E. This can be done in any number of ways. In case you are playing with other musicians, the best way is to get one of them, for example the pianist, to play the note E so that you can tune your 6th string to it.
Being in tune with all the other musicians in your band is quite crucial. If you are all slightly away from tune relative to one another, even if each individual guitar is correctly tuned in accordance with its own 6th string, the effect will be a discordant cacophony. This is no good result.
One other way would be to use an electronic tuner, pitch pipe or tuning fork to ensure your 6th string is at tune. However, this depends on the other members of your band also finding yourself in tune with the pitch pipe etc. As mentioned, make sure you and your fellow musicians are typical in tune relative to each other.
Once you've got your 6th string correctly in tune, you can tune the other strings relative to it. You do this by playing the fifth fret of the 6th string and taking advantage of that as the reference note for tuning outside 5th string. You are doing the same for the 4th string (5th fret of the 5th string should be the same as the open 4th string) and so forth all the way across the guitar fretboard. There is one exception to this, and that is the 2nd string, which has to be tuned to the 4th fret of the 3rd string.
Once you've carried out this process carefully, it is wise to go back to the beginning and double-check each string remains in tune. This is because sometimes, as you adjust the tension from the strings further throughout the guitar fretboard, it is possible to alter the tension of the previous strings because of small movements of the neck resulting from the changing forces exerted by the strings.