Last Updated on November 14, 2022 by GuitarsCamp
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If you think standard-guitar-tuning is hard, read on because these tips and instructions for tuning a guitar will show you the easy way to do it.
Guitar tuning is one of the fundamentals that you must learn before you get to grips with playing guitar. It doesn’t matter how good a player you are, if your guitar is out of tune your playing will sound awful.
If you don’t have a musical ear, you will probably find guitar tuning somewhat difficult at first. But if you follow the advice on this article, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
General Standard Guitar Tuning Tips
Before diving into the detail of tuning a guitar, I’ll give you a few general guitar tuning tips which will make things easier for you.
Practice Standard Guitar Tuning by Ear
Don’t rely on electronic tuners too much. They have their place (when tuning a guitar in noisy environments or when your ear is having a bad day), but you should practice guitar tuning by ear in order to get better at doing it. A good habit to get into is tuning a guitar before each time you play it.
Stay in Tune with Your Fellow Musicians
It may sound obvious but, if you’re playing with other musicians – in a band for example – you must make sure that you are all in tune relative to each other. Get one of your fellow guitarists/pianists etc to play the bottom E so you can get your guitar tuning dialed in to it. If you are all slightly out relative to each other the result will not sound good.
Always Tune a Guitar “Up”
When tuning a guitar, always make sure you “tune up”. This is important for making sure your guitar stays in tune once you start playing it. Always tighten the string to the desired note when tuning a guitar. If you tighten too far, go back by loosening the string and increase the tension up to the required note again.
Step by Step Standard Guitar Tuning Instructions
The first thing to do when tuning a guitar is to ensure bottom E (the lowest string) is in tune. Use an electronic tuner, a pitch pipe, pitchfork or another (in tune!) instrument.
Tuning the Rest of the Strings
Once you’ve got your E string in tune, you can tune all the other strings relative to it. The standard guitar tuning is E A D G B E, starting from the low E and moving down towards the floor, finishing on the high E.
This is achieved by tuning each string to the 5th fret of the previous string, except for the B (2nd string), which is tuned to the 4th fret of the G (4th string).
And… some things more!
For tuning a guitar properly, I find that I need peace and quiet, so I make sure there is not any background noise and that I won’t be interrupted. I find it easiest to play the note I am tuning to a few times firstly so that I get it clear in my head. Then, whilst the note is still sounding, I pick the string I am tuning.
So, for example, I would play the 5th fret of the 6th string a few times and then, whilst it is still sounding, I play the open 5th string and adjust the tension of the 5th string until it gives the same note as the 5th fret of the 6th string (remembering to “tune up”, as I mentioned above).
When I first started, I found it much easier to tune using guitar harmonics, which might be something you could consider. I’ll cover that another time, though.