How to Tune Your Guitar

So now you just want to know how to tune your guitar. You’ve looked at the general guitar tuning page and are ready to go for it, great. 

There are really only a few things you need to know to help you out here. 

1. Which way do I turn the "pegs" or "keys" ?

2. How do I know how far to turn them?

3. What are the strings names/pitches?


Which way?

It is always best to tune your strings up from a lower pitch to the higher "target" pitch. This keeps tension on the string to reduce slipping. If you are not sure what is meant by higher and lower pitch go to Music Theory Ground Floor and have a read.


How Far to Tune Your Guitar ?

This is one of those moments in the "how to"/"DIY" manual where it says something like "now re-configure the four-way framus rods to coincide with the piston return springs so as not to discombobulate the chrome-plated muffler bearings, then move on to step number ten" ....huh!?  

There is no quick answer here, but I'll try... OR you can...

SKIP THIS PART! and go to this (one of many) online Guitar Tuner and click on the Tuning Keys to hear the reference pitch for each guitar string and get tuning!

What you are doing when you tune your guitar string from one unknown pitch to match another known reference pitch is trying achieve a Perfect Unison or two notes vibrating at the exact same frequency. First go to using you ear alone to practice hearing the difference between Perfect Unisons, Major Seconds and Minor Seconds. Go to Music Theory First Floor (half/whole steps) if  this is all sounding like the DIY manual!

The String Names

If you've been doing a bit of home work and you know the names of the strings than you can begin to use one your most powerful tuning tools: your voice.

Try to use ANY reference note generated by ANY means and try to sing, hum or even whistle it in Perfect Unison.  If you can learn to do this (immediately or eventually) you can learn to tune anything.


So, now go to any sound source that you know is the low E string (82.31Hz).

Make sure, by ear, that you are below that pitch with your own low E string. Keep humming or singing the reference pitch and then your own string pitch. Do your best to make them the same pitch (or note) by tightening your string up to the Perfect Unison.

Eddy Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddy

Use the above or any mnemonic to memorise the string names if you don't already know them.

From the Low E string pitch, sing the first two notes of either "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" or "Here Comes the Bride". This is the Perfect Fourth. (You may have noticed that E to A are four letters apart just as A to D are also)

You can vocalise your own reference this way to at least get into the ballpark of a Perfect Fourth interval which is what E to A or A to D or D to G or B to E  (but not G to B that's only three letters apart...hey I just work here man...)

Now What Do We Do?

This would be a real good time to look at this video and its sister videos which include the Perfect Unison method using your own strings as a reference to tune your guitar as well as other useful hints. These are outside productions from Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. I have no affiliation or agreement with Fender. I thank them for providing these useful videos that save me having to make them! (like I said I just work here man). I hope you have enjoyed and gotten something out of these pages on how to tune your guitar and I hope you will return to PlayableGuitar.com as it develops. Remember this is a new site. Please subscribe or join the RSS feed to keep up with any additions as the appear. Many thanks and Happy Playing! 

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