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Tuning Your Guitar The Easy Way

May 5, 2008
This lesson will outline how to tune your guitar to a standard E A D G B E tuning. As a general rule, tightening a string creates more tension. This gives the string a higher pitch and goes higher in tune. Likewise with loosening your strings, the pitch goes down.

Using a proper guitar tuner is the best way to tune your guitar exactly. However, if you don't have one, all you need is to get one single note either from a piano, tuning fork or from someone else's guitar string. Once you get that single note, I will show you how to tune the rest.

To save you money in having to go out and buy an electronic tuner, I have provided you with all 6 notes on each string: E,A,D,G,B,E

Tuning Method 1

Let's say you have already tuned the top string (6th string).

Step 1: Press down on the 6th string at the 5th fret and you will get an A note. This note should correspond to an open 5th string as shown in the diagram.

Step 2: Strike the 6th string, 5th fret and an open 5th string. Both strings should be exactly the same. If not, the 5th string must be adjusted.

A good tip is to hold your finger on the fret and use your other hand to twist the string. Both at the same time. Do this until both strings sound identical.

These 2 easy steps can be repeated for the rest of the strings. With the 5th string, press down on the 5th string on the 5th fret and you will get a D. This note should correspond to an open 4th string. Therefore when you strike the 5th string, 5th fret and an open 4th string, both strings should sound exactly the same. If not, the 4th string must be adjusted.

The 3rd string however must be played at the 4th fret in order to equal an open 2nd string. Many guitarists use this tuning technique when they suspect a string has gone out of tune.

Tuning Method 2

The most accurate way I find of tuning my guitar is by using harmonics. Harmonics are done by not actually holding down a string, but just gently touching it lightly. When you strike the string, it should be hard so you get a clear "ping" out of it and not an actual string note. You have to be spot on when using harmonics otherwise if you are a tiny bit off, it won't come out.

Tuning your guitar using harmonics is very similar to the first method. Again, say you have the top string (6th string) tuned correctly;

Step 1: Place your finger on the 5th fret of the top string.

Step 2: At the same time, place your other finger lightly on the 7th fret of the 5th string.

Step 3: Strike both strings at the same time. They should be the exact same 'ping' sound. If not, one of them is out of tune. Therefore, the 5th string must be adjusted.

Using this technique is more accurate as by striking both strings at the same time, they both produce a very distinct ping sound that is easier to spot if one is out of tune.

Again, this technique works with all the strings, except the 3rd. So, the most accurate way to do this is to use the first tuning method just for this string. The rest are fine to continue on with harmonics method.
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