Tune Guitar: 6 Ways To Get In Your Guitar In Tune

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Standard tuning is the “default” tuning for the guitar. Most songs that you will learn will be in standard tuning. This lesson will show you how to tune to standard tuning.

How To Tune Guitar Video

This video gives an overview  on tuning the guitar.

The Many Ways To Tune Guitar

Tune Guitar Method 1: Reference Tone

One way to tune guitar is to use a reference tone such as in the audio clips below.  Match the pitch of each string as closely as you can. It’s alright if it takes you awhile. You’ll get better with practice. One you have tuned all six strings, go back and check them again. Sometimes you’ll have to make some minor adjustments. You can use the images and audio files to tune your guitar to standard tuning:

Tune Guitar: Low E StringTune Guitar: D StringTune Guitar: B String Tune Guitar: A StringTune Guitar: G StringTune Guitar: High E String

A Quick Note…

I’ve provided the brief tutorial below in case  you’re note too sure on how to use your tuning machines to tune guitar.

Using The Tuning Machines

The tuning machines on the headstock of the guitar are used to tighten the strings to make them sound at a higher pitch, or to loosen the strings, hence making them sound at a lower pitch. You can tighten the strings by using a counter-clockwise motion, or you can lossen the strings with a clockwise motion:

Tune Guitar Method 2: Absolute

If you need your guitar to be exactly in tune with e.g. a piano, then you’ll need a tuner or some other device that can give a reference to guarantee accuracy. To get the most accurate tuning you will want to use a good quality chromatic tuner.

Tune Guitar Method 3: Relative (tuning the guitar to itself)

The main thing to understand about relative tuning is that a guitar can be in tune with itself, but not necessarily be in tune with another instrument, such as a piano. A lot of players will get the low E string in tune and then tune the rest of the strings as in the tab below:

Tuning

This is not a very effective method to tune the guitar correctly, but is great for “on-the-fly” adjustments.

Tune GuitarMethod 4: Unison

Here we use the high E-string as a reference note.

Tuning the B-string

  • Pluck the open high E-string.
  • Pluck the B-string at the 5th fret.
  • Adjust the B-string until it has the same pitch as the open high E-string.

Tuning the G-string

  • Pluck the open B-string.
  • Pluck the G-string at the 4th fret.
  • Adjust the G-string until it has the same pitch as the open B-string.

Tuning the D-string

  • Pluck the open G-string.
  • Pluck the D-string at the 5th fret.
  • Adjust the D-string until it has the same pitch as the open G-string.

Tuning the A-string

  • Pluck the open D-string.
  • Pluck the A-string at the 5th fret.
  • Adjust the A-string until it has the same pitch as the open D-string.

Tuning the low E-string

  • Pluck the open A-string.
  • Pluck the low E-string at the 5th fret.
  • Adjust the low E-string until it has the same pitch as the open A-string.

One problem with this method is that if you get one string wrong, the following strings will also be wrong. If you have tuned accurately, the interval between the two E-strings should be exactly two octaves.

Tune Guitar Method 5: Octaves

In this method we use the low E-string as a reference note.

  • Pluck the open high E-string. Then, pluck the low E-string at the 12th fret. This note should be in tune with the high E-string. If not, then adjust it into tune.
  • Pluck the low E-string. Then, pluck the D-string at the 2nd fret. This note should be in tune with the low E-string. If not, then adjust it into tune.
  • Pluck the A-string. Then, pluck the G-string at the 2nd fret. This note should be in tune with the A-string. If not, then adjust it into tune.
  • Pluck the D-string. Then, pluck the B-string at the 3rd fret. This note should be in tune with the D-string. If not, then adjust it into tune.

Here Is Another Example In Tuning With Octaves :

  • Pluck the low E-string on the 3rd fret. Then, pluck the open G-string. This note should be in tune with the low E- string. If not, then adjust it into tune.
  • Pluck the A-string on the 2nd fret. Then, pluck the open B-string. This note should be in tune with the A-string. If not, then adjust it into tune.
  • Pluck the D-string on the 2nd fret. Then, pluck the open high E-string. This note should be in tune with the D-string. If not, then adjust it into tune.

Tune Guitar Method 6: Harmonics

This is a great way to fine-tune your guitar after you’ve used the unison method! Here we have the high E-string as the reference

note.

  • Pluck the 5th fret harmonic on the low E-string. This should sound the same pitch as the open high E-string. If not, adjust the low E-string.
  • Pluck the the A-string on the 7th fret. This should sound the same pitch as the 12th fret harmonic on the low E- string. If not, adjust the A-string.
  • Pluck the D-string on the 7th fret. This should sound the same pitch as the 12th fret harmonic on the A-string. If not, adjust the D-string.
  • Pluck the high E-string on the 7th fret. This should sound the same pitch as the 12th fret harmonic on the B-string. If not, adjust the B-string.
  • Pluck the B-string on the 8th fret. This should sound the same pitch as the 12th fret harmonic on the G-string. If not, adjust the G-string.
  • Finally, pluck the G-string at the 7th fret. This should should the same pitch as the 12th fret harmonic on the D- string.

In step #2 and #3 you tune the fretted notes. In step #4 and #5 (and #1) you tune the harmonics.

*FOOTNOTE – It is important to let you know about 5/7 harmonic tuning. This is a method that can only be used when tuning roughly and quickly. A fine-tuned guitar will not play in tune with this method.

This is how many people tune:

  • First, they strike the 5th fret harmonic on the low E-string and compare it to the7th fret harmonic on the A-string.
  • Then, they strike the 5th fret harmonic on the A-string and compare it to the 7th fret harmonic on the D-string, and so on………

The reason for all this is that all harmonics are pure intervals, but the guitar is constructed for the tempered scale.

In Closing…

As you can see, there are many ways to tune guitar. The best method is the absolute method (#2).  A good electronic tuner is your best friend.