If your guitar isn’t tuned correctly, you just won’t sound good. And you want to sound great, don’t you? If you’re a beginner, this article: “How to tune a guitar for beginners” is just what you need.
If you don’t have a guitar yet, you may want to first read How to buy a guitar for beginners.
In order to learn how to tune a guitar, you need to know the names of the strings first:
- E – the String that sounds lowest and is also the thickest string: the 6th string. This string is at the top of your guitar if you hold it with your left hand.(my students insist on calling it the top string because it’s at the top but real musicians know it is the bottom string because it sounds lowest)
- A – the next one up (because it sounds higher) is the 5th string
- D – the next one is the 4th string
- G – this one is the 3rd string
- B – the next is the 2nd string
- E – the highest and thinnest string: the 1st string. This string is at the bottom of your guitar.
By far the easiest way to tune a guitar for a beginner, is by using a clip on tuner. Here are some popular clip on tuners:
D’Addario NS Micro Clip-On TunerKorg AW3G2WH PitchHawk G2 Clip-On Guitar Tuner, WhiteKLIQ UberTuner – Clip-On Tuner for All Instruments – with Guitar, Bass, Violin, Ukulele & Chromatic Tuning ModesKorg GA1 Guitar and Bass TunerKorg TM50BK Instrument Tuner and Metronome, BlackRowin LT-23 Mini Clip On Tuner Digital Tuner For Guitar Bass Ukulele Chromatic ViolinGuitar Tuner Clip On – The Scheffy Tuner by Scheffland Music Products – Endorsed by Touring Professionals and LA’s Top Session MusiciansKorg PITCHCLIP Low-Profile Clip-On Tuner
With a guitar tuner, all you do is clip the tuner to the head of your guitar, and adjust the pegs until the green light shows as in the video below.
Each tuner has a different way to show the tuning. Some show names, and some just show a green light (as opposed to a red light) when the string is in tune.
How to tune a guitar by ear
The E String
The E string is usually the one who keeps its tuning the best. Start with that one. It is the string at the top of your guitar, and it is the thickest string with the lowest sound. We call it the bottom string because it sounds the lowest.
If it is not in tune, you can tune it by ear from a piano, or if you have a metronome, it usually has the A, which you can use for the A string. Tune up from the A string as shown below, and then do the First E string last. It should sound very similar to the top E string, but obviously lower.
The A String
Now put the first (index) or second (middle) finger of your left hand on the E string’s fifth fret ( the second dot) as shown in the picture. Now play that string with the right hand. Then play the A string. They should both sound exactly the same. If they don’t, adjust the A string’s peg until they sound the same.
The D String
Now put your first or second finger of your left hand on the A string’s fifth fret as in the picture. Play both strings, first the A string, then the D string. They should both sound exactly the same. Adjust the D string’s peg until they sound the same.
The G String
You get the G note the same way, by putting your finger on the 5th fret as in the picture below. Both the D string’s G note and the G string should sound the same. Adjust the G string by turning the tuning peg until they sound the same.
The B String
Getting the B note for the B string is a bit different. You place your finger on the fourth fret as in the picture below. Then play both strings, and adjust the B string until they sound the same.
The top E String
The E note is again on the 5th fret of the B string as in the picture below. Play both and tune the top E string until they sound the same.
You should be able to tune by ear no problem. All it takes is a little practice to get your ear in.
If you need help, please contact me.