There are many different aspects of playing a guitar, but none are more important than tuning. Being able to tune a guitar is necessary for any musician because your instrument won’t sound right otherwise.
No matter what you do, your guitar is bound to fall out of tune sooner or later. However, not all guitar strings go out of tune at the same rate. As a result, you need to know how each one changes as you play. Here, we will look at the basic steps of guitar tuning in order to better understand how to make sure your instrument is always on key.
The Basics of Tuning a Guitar
- Alfred Music (08/01/2004)
At its base, guitar tuning is all about adjusting the strings. Standard guitar strings go in the following order: E – A – D – G – B – E. The high E, which is the thinnest (or first) string, is at the bottom of the neck, while the thickest is at the top.
There are several ways to tune, but one of the easiest is to use an electric or online guitar tuner. Many people will go string by string, but that method can take quite a bit of time. In contrast, an electric tuner will read and interpret the sound waves for you and then display the notes. All you have to do is turn it on and strum. The technology will give you a reading within a few seconds.
If you don’t mind putting in the work, manual tuning is also a good way to make sure your instrument sounds right. If that’s more your style, you first want to tune the 6th string to low E. If you know that pitch, you then move onto the next one. However, if you’re unfamiliar, you can find different samples online.
Once you get the first note down, you next want to pluck the E string with your right hand as you hold the string down with your left at the 5th fret (count from the headstock up towards the body). That tone is known as an A.
The next step from there is to pluck the open string (which means without holding frets in your left hand) below. At the same time, turn the second peg so that you’re a string creates the same tone as your low E string does while played at the 5th fret.
You should follow the above pattern through strings D and G, but things change when tuning the B string. There, you should play the G string at the 4th fret instead of the 5th. Finally, tune the high E string by playing the B string at the 5th fret.
While it may seem like there is a lot going on in the above steps, it is a pretty simple process once you go through it a few times. The manual method is not always going to be as accurate as an electronic or online guitar tuner, but it will give you a great sound nonetheless.
Note: If you’re left handed, simply reverse the directions above.
Other Important Guitar Tuning Tips
Now that you have some of the basics down, there are a few extra things you need to keep in mind while moving forward. First, it is important to keep your guitar out of any particularly cold or hot environments (including warms cars). Such exposure can damage the instrument, and may even cause it to rapidly fall out of tune. In some cases, your guitar can sustain permanent damage if left in the elements for too long.
It is also important to realize that old strings wear down much faster than new ones. That makes them harder to tune, which is something to keep in mind as you play. If you find that your strings are hard to tune or simply won’t work in the way that you want them to, it may be time to get new ones.
Also realize that you will need to play with new strings a few times before being able to tune them to the exact sound that you want. They are mostly fine once settled in, but it takes a little bit of time to get them there. Some experienced guitar players even stretch out their strings to break them in
Finding the Perfect Tune for your Guitar
Tuning a guitar is an essential part of the playing process. In fact, some guitarists tune their instruments every single time they play. No matter the quality or brand of a guitar, it is going to require some tuning at some point. It does not matter if you use a guitar tuner, or if you do it by hand, as long as you follow the directions above you find the perfect sound in no time.