When you are just learning how to play a guitar, nothing sounds worse than a guitar that is out of tune (except maybe a bad Chuck Norris joke you have to hear over and over again). There are two ways to tune a guitar; you can tune it by ear or by using an electric tuner. This how–to guide focuses on tuning a guitar by ear, generally a more practical approach. If you learn to tune by ear, you can then tune your guitar anytime, anywhere, and you won’t have to hassle with an electric tuner. However handy learning to tune by ear, it is strongly recommended that you pick up an electric tuner as well, since it is nearly impossible to tune a guitar by ear as quickly or as accurately as an electric tuner can.
For obvious reasons, acoustic guitars are the simplest to tune by ear because you can actually hear the notes loudly and clearly; unfortunately the same does not hold true for an electric without hookups. Metaphorically speaking, electrics without hookups are shy kids – until you plug them into an amplifier (and then you risk a noise violation from the police).
1. First, you need to pick up a guitar.
2. Second, you need to learn the basics of guitar. If you already know the basics of the guitar, skip to step 3. If not, then I would suggest checking out the Beginner Guitar Lessons located on our site.
3. Now that you are ready to begin tuning, you must tune your first string – high e. You can use a piano to find the right pitch, or there are even some programs on the internet that provide an e sound to use for tuning.
4. Next, place your finger down on the fifth fret of the sixth string (low E). This note should have the same pitch as the high e, only an octave (8 notes) lower.
5. Now, strum both the 6th and the 5th strings at the same time. The string you will be tuning is the fifth string (A). The way you tune the 5th string is by using the tuning pegs at the top of your guitar to either tighten or loosen the string. If there is a wavy or vibrato sound between the two strings, then the strings need to be either tightened or loosened. If you are confused as to which peg to turn, just follow the string from where you are playing it on the base of the guitar all the way to the post/peg it is wrapped around.
6.Next, move your finger to the 5th string (A) on the 5th fret. Strum both the 5th and 4th string at the same time. Tune the 4th string (D) just as you tuned the 5th. Do you see a pattern? You can tune all of the strings exactly like you tuned the first two, except on the 2nd string you will use the 4th fret. Congratulations, you just tuned your guitar by ear. Now, go invest in an electric tuner and save yourself the long-term headache.