This article is written to inform new guitarists of an essential skill that you must know in order to have a lifelong enjoyment of the guitar – tuning. Many students will first come into a lesson and their guitar will be so far out of tune it sounds like they are playing a sitar (a stringed Indian instrument). If you play a constantly out of tune guitar, you are going to mess up your ears. That is, they will become used to hearing the sounds out of tune and when you do play in tune it will sound wrong to you. Tuning your guitar should be the first thing that you do each and every day before you play. If you have a good guitar, it will stay in tune, but it never hurts to check. There are several ways to go about doing this. Some are more difficult than others. I’ll lay out a few here for you in this article. Hope it helps!
First, you can use an electric tuner. This is the simplest and probably the most accurate option. You can purchase these online or at any guitar store and then run about $5-$20. As I said, you will probably achieve the most accurate tuning using this method but you sacrifice the ear training that you would get from doing it by ear.
The next option is the tune your guitar using other tones as reference points. Many play-a-long CDs come with a tuning notes track that will give you guidelines. Also, if you just do a google search for guitar tuning there are tons of websites that offer you the proper pitch for each string.
The last option is to tune your guitar with itself. To do this, hold down the low e string at the fifth fret. This will play an A note. Strike the next highest string. This is the A string. The fifth fret on the E string should sound identical to the open A string. If they are not, then adjust the open string. Continue in this fashion for each set of strings. Fret the fifth fret and play the open string one higher. They should be identical. The only exception is the combination of the G string and the B string. When you get to this combination, fret the fourth fret instead of the fifth. This is just an exception based on how the guitar is set up. Now, you may have noticed already that this method has an inherent weakness. If your E string is out of tune then using this method will tune the strings of your guitar with each other, but it may still be all sharp or all flat. To avoid this, try to use at least one reference pitch from on of the previously mentioned sources. That way you can tune the rest of your strings from that pitch.
I hope that this cleared up some of this issue. Many students want to ask the question, “How do I tune my guitar,” but are too embarrassed. It is a skill that needs to be learned just like any other guitar skill. Now you know and you can avoid the embarrassment of walking in to a jam session or lesson with an out of tune guitar.
Ryan Gloman has a passion for guitar and a passion for sharing information. He hopes that this article helps you on your way to becoming a great guitarist. Learning guitar can be a daunting task. Luckily, you can find tons of helpful info on the net. Check out this site for some great tools.