Guitars are instruments which will make you go wild and frenzied. They will get you all crazy because of their amazing sound. The music that they create is pure bliss and you cannot escape the charms of the guitar. So, taking care of your guitar is very important to increase its longevity and durability. And the first step of doing that is by tuning the guitar regularly. Out of tune guitars can be annoying and you will find yourself uncomfortable and distressed while playing it. That is why, we will be covering all the basics on how to tune a guitar for the beginners and the newbies. This will help you a lot while you tune your guitar and you won’t find any difficulty at all while tuning it. We will elaborate both on tuning the guitar with a tuner and without a tuner. Therefore, without any more dilly-dallying, let us proceed with the tuning so that you can tune your guitars fast and play on fluently and merrily.
- A guitar (Of course!)
- A tuner (Optional)
Contents (Post Overview)
The mechanism of Tuning
Tuning a guitar is very simple. All you have to do is pluck a string and press and adjust its corresponding tuning peg or key which is placed at the head of the guitar. The more you turn the peg towards you, the more will it tighten the string thus raising the pitch thereby. Adjusting the key away from you will loosen the string up thus lowering the pitch of that string.
Beginners should keep in mind that they need to be gentle with the keys. Applying too much force on them can cause the string to rupture. It is advisable that you apply little pressure and turn the tuning pegs gradually as you pluck the strings. This will also aid you in identifying the various pitches.
Also, pluck the strings many times so that you are able to memorise the tune and pitches of the strings. Don’t just pluck once and leave the string. Continuous plucking will help you tune flawlessly.
The Standard Tuning
The guitar has string strings- E-A-D-G-B-E. The order of the strings ranges from the thickest to the thinnest. The thickest string is the low-pitched E and the thinnest string is the high-pitched E. You can remember this standard tuning pattern easily if you keep in mind this funny little rhyme-
E-very B-oy G-ets D-onuts A-fter E-ating
E-lephant A-nd D-onkey G-oto B-ed E-arly
Start adjusting the peg of the 6th string first. After you acquire the desired tune and pitch of that string move on to the 5th string and adjust the keys. Repeat this process several times till you reach the 1st string in this descending order.
Tuning with tuners
There are two types of tuners namely the electronic tuners and the chromatic tuners. These are the best ways to tune your guitar. You don’t have to do anything. Just clip the tuners to the tuning pegs and pluck the strings. The tuners will tell you its pitch and whether it’s a sharp or a flat. Then adjust the tune accordingly and your tuning is complete. Now you can choose from these two tuners-
The Electronic tuner
As the name suggests, these tuners are electronic and have a screen on them that display the pitch of the string that you strum. Using electronic tuners is super-easy. First, turn on the tuner and place it near your guitar. Pluck the string. It will show you with the needle which string you are plucking and how high or low the pitch is. Turn the tuning pegs and keep on plucking till the needle is placed right between the high and low options thus maintaining equilibrium. Once the balance is reached, your tuning of that string is complete. Keep on doing it until all the strings are covered. Electronic tuners are the best indeed since they are quite accurate and swift. There are three types of electronic tuners- Vibration based electronic tuners, pedal based electronic tuners and microphone based electronic tuners. You can avail them online.
The Chromatic tuner
These are clip-on pitch electronic tuners that you have to clip on the tuning pegs of the guitar. Then as you strum the strings, these tuners pick up the pitch just from their vibration only and display it on the screen. Then you can adjust the pegs and tune the strings accordingly.
Tuning with smartphone apps
Many smartphone tuning apps are available now and you can use them for free without any hassle at all. All you have to do is open the app and place the phone near your guitar and pluck the strings. The rest of the procedure is just akin to the tuning process with tuners. ‘Guitar Tuna’ and ‘OmniTuner’ are some good tuning apps.
Tuning with your ear- The 5th fret method
While guitarists always prefer tuning with tuners, it is not always possible to use them. So, if you are on the run, traveling somewhere or haven’t bought the tuner yet, you can still tune your guitar without even a tuner. We will tell you how. All you need to do is use the 5th fret tuning method. In this method-
- Step 1– Tune the 6th string or lower E first. You can refer online to know its exact tune, but the 6th string’s tune should be perfect as the other tunes are all dependent on it.
- Step 2– After you set the tune for the lower E, pluck the sixth string on the fifth fret. This is the A string. Turn the keys as much as it takes to make the A string sound similar to the E string played on the fifth fret.
- Step 3– After you tune the A string, go the next 4th string which is D. Place your hand on the fifth fret of the fifth string and play. Then slowly go the fourth string and adjust the pegs until the 4th string sounds just similar to the fifth fret on the fifth string. This will tune your D string.
- Step 4– Next, place your finger on the fifth fret of the fourth string. Pluck the string which is the third string or the G note and keep on tuning the pegs until the G sounds just like the fifth fret on the fourth string.
- Step 5– Next, tune the second sting which is the B note. This step is a bit different from the other step. In this step, you have to place your finger on the fourth fret of the third string and open the second string after the third string is plucked. Then the pegs on the second string have to be turned so that the second string or the B note sounds bright and exact to the fourth fret on the third string.
- Step 6– This is the final step. Place your finger on the fifth fret of the B note or the second string. You will get the higher E note. Now pluck the 1st string or the thinnest string and turn the pegs so that the 1st string sounds exactly like how it will sound when played on the fifth fret of the second string.
Keep in mind that only the second string or the B note uses the 4th fret on the third string. Rest all the other frets use the fifth frets only.
Tuning with other instruments
This is another easy method of tuning. Mostly electronic keyboards or the pianos are used while tuning the guitar. You have to tune the sixth string or the lowest E two octaves beneath the middle C or C4. Then press a note in the piano and pluck the string on the guitar and turn the keys accordingly. Keep on playing the notes on the two instruments simultaneously until both these same notes resonate together and sound the same.
How often should you tune?
It is advisable that you tune after every time you play your guitar. As beginners, you are just learning how to play the guitar. You will err. You will alter the positions of the strings. They are bound to go out of tune. Therefore, tune your guitar every time you play and also do change the strings after every 3 months regularly.
Well, these are the various ways in which you can tune your guitar. Since you all are amateurs and just beginning your journey with the guitar, we will recommend you to go for the tuners. They are not very costly, are totally accurate and do half of your work. Tuning is convenient with them. If you follow the fifth fret method and tune by your ears, you will take up a lot of time and as beginners, this method can seem tricky and perplexing. So, do tune your guitar, take care of it and then march on and rock the world.