As a guitar player, you’ll always want to ensure your instrument is at peak performance. This means keeping up with general maintenance such as changing the strings and tuning.
Whether you’re a fresh player or a seasoned professional, knowing how to correctly tune a guitar is an essential part of playing such a wonderful instrument.
It can often be difficult to learn how to tune a guitar by ear (or tune a guitar at all) but there are plenty of online demos out there that will guide you through the process.
Here’s a quick guide that will teach you how to tune your instrument in no time at all.
How Often Should You Tune Your Guitar?
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All stringed instruments have specific tuning needs. Guitars are no exception. These instruments should make a pleasing sound when played solo and also shouldn’t clash when mixed with other instruments in an orchestra or a band.
A guitar should be tuned each time it is picked up as they tend to go out of tune quite quickly. This is especially true for cheaper value guitars. Because of this, it’s really important to make sure your guitar is in tune before, during, and after you finish playing.
The Basics Of Tuning A Guitar
You might be glad to find out that tuning is quite simple. All you need to do is loosen or tighten the strings of your instrument by turning the tuning keys on the neck of the guitar. This will then either lower or raise the tone of the corresponding string.
Remember: you will always want to ensure you’re adjusting the right tuning key!
String Order On A Guitar
The order for the strings on a standard guitar is as follows:
E – 6th String
Tune the low E string to your reference note then adjust the pitch until they match (up or down.)
A – 5th String
You can tune this string simply by playing a note at the 5th fret of the E string. All you need to do is adjust the pitch until it’s in tune.
D – 4th String
Tune this string by playing a note on the 5th fret of the A string. Then adjust the pitch until they match.
G – 3rd String
Play a note at the 5th fret of the D string to tune, and adjust until it is in agreement.
B – 2nd String
This requires a slight change. Play a note at the 4th fret of the G string for your desired pitch. As you would for the other strings, adjust until they match.
E – 1st String
Tune the high E string using the 5th fret of the B string. Adjust as needed.
Using A Guitar Tuner
You don’t need to purchase an external tuner for your guitar. There are plenty of free mobile applications out there that use the built-in microphone in your device to listen to the pitch of the strings. You will then be able to figure out when your instrument is in tune.
These apps will usually have options for half step down tuning so you can play along to your favorite tunes without issue.
Without A Tuner
You can use another in-tune instrument like a piano to tune your guitar. You’ll have to tune “by ear” which means listening to the reference pitch, playing the note on your guitar, and then comparing the two pitches. You can then adjust the strings accordingly.
If one of the strings is in turn, all you need to do is play a fretted note on a lower string and tune the open string to the note.
Maybe hold off on this until you’re more comfortable with how to properly tune your guitar!
How Long Does It Take To Tune A Guitar?
As a beginner, it may take you a couple of minutes to get your guitar in tune. But the more you practice, the quicker you’ll be! A lot of guitarists can tune their guitars in under a minute.
If a guitar is adjusted and tuned correctly then it will create a smooth sound as you play. This is quite a vague description but will help you massively when it comes to ensuring your instrument is tuned correctly. If a single string is out of tune then it will be easily identified.
Tuning a guitar is an essential skill that you’ll need to learn if you are serious about playing the instrument. It’s relatively straightforward to do and will make a huge difference in the quality of the music you play!