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. 

Try this online Guitar Tuner

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 great online Guitar Tuner  that I just found. Just go to the site, allow it to use your devices built in (or external if you have one) and get tuning! (It also has audible pitches.)

There are many reference tuners onliine also. These use audable pitches to tune your guitar too. Here is another one you can try.

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?

Just get tuning... The more you do it the easier it gets. Get a portable tuner as described earlier and or use this online mic tuner  and use this audible tuning reference to practice tuning and checking youself for accuracy. You will soon replace frustration with confidence as you develop your ear and therefore your musical skill!

Happy tuning!

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