Updated: Feb 14, 2021
It's a simple enough task as long as you understand a few key principles. Here I will discuss what these are and suggest some of the best tools you can use.
There is nothing more frustrating than struggling with a new chord only to find your guitar was just out of tune, and you were doing it right all along! This happens fairly often for beginners and is the reason I explain how to tune the guitar during the first few lessons online guitar lessons I have with students.
Why Do Guitars Go Out Of Tune?
The truth is that guitars are always out of tune! strings stretch, woods contact and expand, and tuning pegs get knocked. If you are learning to play guitar, you are going to be become well acquainted with tuning the guitar.
The Basic Principles For Tuning A Guitar
Ok so to strip things down to their essence and ignore all the different types of tuning that exist, you will spend most of your time as a beginner guitarist, playing in standard tuning.
Remembering that the strings on the guitar are labelled 1 - 6 (String 6 being the thickest and string 1 being the thinnest), each string will be tuned to the following notes, E, A, D, G, B, e. (Note that String 6 is often an upper case E and string 1 is a lower case e)
One way to remember this is to use a rhyme.
String 6 - Even
String 5 - A
String 4 - Dog
String 3 - Gets
String 2 - Breakfast
String 1 - early
Your task is to make sure each of these strings is tuned to the correct note.
Easy right? Well, unless you have perfect pitch, you are going to need some help doing this.
What Tools Can You Use To Tune A Guitar ?
I always recommend Tremolo Guitar School students buy a clip-on tuner. This Fender Tuner is affordable, well made and easy to use. Before you start, make sure the tuner is set to guitar. You do this by pushing the large button on the front until the letter G is visible.
Now place the tuner on the end of the guitar, so the screen is facing you!
Start by playing string 6. If it for example, says E but the dial is facing the left, the string is too loose (Flat). This means it needs to be tightened up using the tuning peg.
If the Tuner Says E, and the dial if facing the right, then the strings too tight (Sharp) it needs to be loosened.
When the diaL is in the centre, and it displays E, it will turn green. Now that string is in tune, and you can move onto the next string.
If your guitar is brand new, the strings are often very loose from being shipped. This may mean the strings are a long way off from the target not and may not register on the tuner. Just keep going slowly until the tuner recognises a note.
Remember to turn off the tuner once you have finished to save the battery.
What About Guitar Tuner Apps?
There are some really great apps out there that work in the same way as a clip-on tuner.
Fender also has a great app that's free and can be downloaded from the app store and the google play store.
As with clip-on tuners, play each string and wait for the app to respond.
If it shows an arrow pointing to the left or right it's too sharp or flat.
Follow the instructions and when it's in tune it will show your target note will be highlighted in green.
So now you know how to tune your guitar!
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Stay safe and keep strumming!
Tremolo Guitar School
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