One of the first challenges we face as students learning to play the guitar is tuning our instrument. Perhaps you've just finished your first music lesson and excitedly pulled out your guitar, only to discover that the strings now sound "wrong."
Already, the guitar is out of tune! This article will discuss what to tune a guitar to, with an emphasis on how to tune a guitar for beginners, but it may also be useful for seasoned guitarists.
We'll look at how to tune a guitar using two different methods:
- Tuning a guitar by ear
- Tuning a guitar with an electronic tuner
The tuning keys (also known as "tuners" or "machineheads") on the guitar's headstock are used to tune the strings. We usually turn them anti-clockwise to raise the pitch of the string and clockwise to lower it. Though this is geared toward aspiring guitarists, the information can also be applied to tuning a bass guitar or a 12-string guitar.
What are the notes that guitars are tuned to?
Let's take a look at how to standardize a six-string guitar. The following are some of the notes:
Strings: 6 5 4 3 2 1
Tuning note: E A D G B E
The thick bass string nearest to us is “6,” and the thin treble string farthest away is “1.”
What causes my guitar to get out of tune?
“When I bought it, it was tuned!”
First and foremost, let's get one thing out of the way. Any guitar, regardless of its value, needs to be tuned on a regular basis. The frequency is determined by a variety of factors, including:
- The kind of instrument you play
- Temperature and humidity fluctuations
- The manner in which it is transported and stored
- The condition of your strings
Guitars need frequent tuning (more on that later), so knowing how to tune one is important!
How to Ear-Tune a Guitar
It can be difficult to figure out what tuning to use on a guitar. On the surface, learning to tune by ear appears to be a practical option. Isn't it possible that we'll be without a tuner at some point?
It is, however, far more than a convenience. Learning to tune the guitar in this manner forces one to become familiar with the sound of of string, as well as the “wrong” sounds they make when they are out of tune. It's one of our first lessons in ear training, instructing us about how to recognize specific sounds and introducing us to the idea of musical intervals.
Technique of the "Fifth Fret"
The “fifth fret” technique will be the primary approach we will cover for tuning by ear. It is by far the most widely used and taught method, and it is easy to grasp.
We compare a note on one string to the next string along by playing the two together to tune a guitar this way. We begin by comparing the E string to the A string, then the A string to the D string, the D string to the G string, and so on until all of the strings are in tune. The fifth fret is used because it lets each string play the same note as the one before it (except for the B string). Holding down the fifth fret on the low E string, for example, allows us to play an A note, which is the same note as the next string.
We are looking for the following things when we play the notes together:
Is the open string's pitch lower or higher? If you're not sure, modify the tuner on the open string gradually to change the pitch, then compare the notes again.
Between the two notes, there is a "beating" pulse. This indicates that the notes are nearly in tune! The beating will start quick and eventually slow down to a stop as you tune the open string in the correct direction.
Look over the tabs below. Except for the G-B strings, which include the fourth fret, all strings use the fifth fret.
How To Use An Electronic Tuner To Tune A Guitar
Electronic tuners eliminate the need for our ears by supplying accurate details on the string's note as well as indications of how in tune it is.
Guitar Tuners That Clip On
Clip-on tuners are fantastic, small devices that fit comfortably in our gig bag or stay on the guitar. They're cheap, and they're often included with beginner guitars. They tune our instrument in the same way that our pedal tuner does, showing details about the note and tuning of each string. This one, on the other hand, does not need a guitar cable, making it ideal for acoustic guitar.