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Master how to do acoustic guitar tuning

Jun 10, 2008
You should be sure to do your acoustic guitar tuning each time you sit down to play, whether you are practicing or performing. Its pretty unpleasant to try to make beautiful music on an untuned guitar. Lots of guitar students think their inexperience is ruining the sound, not understanding the importance of doing their tuning regularly. You will be much more successful in your music making if you set aside that small amount of time it takes to tune your instrument properly.

Pluck the string you want to tune. If you use an electronic tuner, the tuner's built-in microphone will pick up the sound. Look at the indicator. It could be a flashing light and/or a meter. It will tell you how close your are to the right pitch and whether you are sharp or flat. Adjust your acoustic guitar tuning accordingly by tuning the string's tuning key.

Keep in mind that one always tunes up, which means going from looser to tighter till its in tune. If it becomes too tight, dont just unwind it a little bit to try to improve it (called tuning down). It works far better to give the string some play and then start tightening it again till its right. When you tune up, not only are your results more accurate, but you also help the string hold its tuning longer.

If you dont purchase an electronic tuner, you still need to have a reference for pitch when playing acoustic guitar. You can use another guitar, a piano, tuning fork or an MP3 that you are certain is already in tune. Acoustic guitar tuning with an electronic tuner will consistently provide reliable tuning. But if you choose to tune the traditional way then use an electronic tuner to test your results. This is a great way to learn to develop your ear.

To begin tuning your guitar, use the refence pitch to tune the sixth string (the thickest string) to low E. Once this string sounds right, the other strings can be tuned to their correct pitch based on that note. There is a reason why this technique works, but the explanation is long. Acoustic guitar tuning is a bit like driving. You don't have to understand the internal combustion engine to drive a car, and you don't have to understand music theory to tune your guitar.

Then proceed with your acoustic guitar tuning as follows:

(1) Once the low E string (sixth string) is in tune, play it on the fifth fret, and then pluck the open fifth string. Adjust the the tone of the fifth string as necessary until the two notes match. (2) Move up to the fifth string. Playing it on the fifth fret, tune the open forth string. (3) Similarly, adjust the tone of the third string while playing the fifth fret of the fourth string. (4) For the next note, play the third string on the fourth fret (not the fifth) and tune the second string. (5) Tune the open high E string, comparing it to the tone of the second string, fifth fret.

Before you try acoustic guitar tuning for the first time, have an experienced player show you the ropes. The best place to learn is probably the music shop where you bought your acoustic guitar. After a few tries, you'll get the hang of it. You have to put time and effort into mastering the skill of acoustic guitar tuning. Its a whole lot easier for someone just starting out to use an electronic tuner instead. Since they only cost about $20, they are well worth their price. Whats more, if you choose one that was manufactured especially for use with guitars, it can actually let you know which string youre playing too.
About the Author
Shane Fenham shows you how to learn acoustic guitar tuning as well as everything there is to know on how to learn to play acoustic guitar. For more articles and resources on this melodic and magical instrument, be sure to follow this link: acoustic guitar shops.
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