BBC radio 2

Did you hear our how to guides on Simon Mayo's Radio 2 Drivetime show?

You may have read about Howopia in The Telegraph?

How to Tune a Guitar

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
Before attempting to play any instrument it is always good to ensure it is in tune. In tune refers to the parts of the instrument being set properly to achieve the desired sound. For example the guitar require it strings to be set to a certain tension for the desired sound. Without this system of tuning instruments musicians would have great difficulty playing in group. This guide will show you three ways in which to do this.
What you'll need: 
Tuning equipment
Strum your guitar first of all to hear whether the strings are already in tune or not. It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the sound of a guitar out of tune, as well as in tune so you can easily detect when you need to adjust the strings.
Firstly when tuning your guitar in relation to other instruments that you are playing with, such as the piano, you will need to know what notes the guitar strings are conventionally set to. From the thickest string to the thinnest string the notes are: E,A,D,G,B and E; notice that these notes also ascend in pitch.
Turn the tuning pegs situated at the top of the neck while sounding the relevant string to adjust the pitch until the two instruments sit in tune, and both the pitches are the same. Turn the peg one way and the string will tighten and the pitch will rise, turn it the other way to loosen the string and the pitch will fall. Often musicians describe a sound that is too low as flat, and too high as sharp.
Secondly by using a electric tuner you can tune your guitar without any other instruments assistance and still be perfectly in the conventional tuning of E,A,D,G,B and E. The electric tuner will recognize, through a lead or a microphone, what note is being sounded and whether it is too sharp or flat.
With electric tuners you can fine-tune your guitar exactly and often there will be a meter showing exactly how flat or sharp your guitar is. Often for beginners this option is best to get used to hearing perfectly in tune instruments.
Lastly there is a third way to tune a guitar however this only will ensure all the strings are in tune with each other, this method cannot ensure you will be in tune with any other instrument. Tuning from the thickest string, low E, position your hand on the fifth fret of the E string, then tune your second thickest string, A, to the fifth fret of the E string.
Repeat this process for your D and G string but when tuning the B string fret the fourth fret instead. Lastly for the thinnest string, high E, fret the fifth fret of your B string.
The guitar will now be in tune with itself, and anything written for conventional tuning will sound correct when played. If you were to tune to a electric tuner you would find that this method works because the fifth fret of the low E string sounds as an A, which is the desired pitch for the following string.
This pattern continues and the fifth fret of the A string sounds as an D which is the pitch of the following string. The fifth fret of D is G, the fourth fret of G is B and finally the fifth fret of B is E.
The three different methods shown to tune a guitar have specific scenarios in which they should be used. Tuning to other instruments will be necessary when playing with instrument such as pianos or keyboards as they cannot be easily tuned themselves. Using an electric tuner is very accurate and its always good to try and tune to one. However again if playing with a piano and the piano is slightly flat, the conventional tuning will sound sharp and you will have to tune to the piano's notes. The final way is quick, easy and requires no other input and if your playing with other guitars or basses you can just all tune to one guitar and play in tune together.
Tune your guitar before every time you play!
Try to use all three ways equally to help with your ear training
Continued playing of an out of tune guitar will allow your ears to get used to it and therefore less likely to hear when your out of tune.


Post new comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Featured writers

We have had a chat with a couple of our more experienced writers.

Find out more about their experiences and why they contribute to Howopia.

Spotlight on two writers.

Share this

How To guides

Howopia is a new website dedicated to bringing together a community of experts to create the most useful 'How To' guides, to help you to achieve almost anything.

Related links