For guitarists, tuning is a must-have skill. No guitarist should play his instrument without tuning it first. It will screech instead of play music.
Tuning techniques are not difficult to learn. There are many ways to prepare a guitar to play the songs you love.
This is pretty much guitar lesson #1 for any new guitar players. but once you learn it, it’s a skill you carry with you for the rest of your life.
How to tune a tuner
Beginning guitarists should use an electric tuner, as learning manual tuning takes time. You should listen to a tuned guitar before learning to tune one yourself.
Electronic tuners are functional devices that can sense what string you are playing. They show you the pitch you are nearest and whether you are too high or low. They indicate the note closest to you (EADGBE) and if you are near that note.
If you are using an electric tuner, just plug your guitar into it. You may use the tuner’s built-in microphone if you are tuning an acoustic guitar. Functional iPhone tuners are available. The Justin Store sells many excellent ones as well.
How to tune to reference notes
A fast way to get your guitar in tune is to use reference notes. Listen to recordings of EADGBE notes played on a guitar. Then, tune the corresponding strings to them.
Guitarists will find reference tuning useful when they play with other musicians. Pianists cannot tune their instruments on the spot, but guitarists can accommodate them. You may use the notes found on ES-010 • Tuning Using Reference Pitches.
Tuning a guitar to a piano
A piano is an excellent point of reference. Tune your guitar to the EADGBE keys. You can ask a pianist to play any of these notes while you try to get your strings to sound like them.
A useful tip is to step on the sustain pedal below the piano so that the note resonates. You can tell that a guitar string is in tune if it has the same resonance.
Using pitch pipes to tune your guitar
Pitch pipes are much like harmonicas. Tuning to them is easy because they have only six notes. They match the strings on a guitar.
Using a pitch pipe to tune your guitar is inexpensive and convenient. Your hands are free to tune the guitar while you blow on it.
About relative tuning
Relative tuning is useful if you do not have access to other tuning methods. It refers to getting a guitar in tune with itself.
Most notes are in more than one place on the guitar’s neck, so this is an efficient way to get it in tune. That said, you may not be able to get it to “concert pitch.” Discover how to use relative tuning at ES-011 • 5th fret Technique.
A guitar produces harmonics when your finger moves over certain frets. You touch the string, but not the fretboard. Doing this changes the pitch of the note. You will hear the same note at a higher frequency, called an Upper Partial. It sounds like a chime.
Harmonic tuning is not suitable for beginners. It includes techniques not covered in the beginner’s course. If you are curious about this tuning method, you can find out more at ES-012 • Tuning Using Harmonics.
Get your guitar in tune with one of these useful techniques.