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How to Tune a Guitar?

Aug 19, 2008
Today we are going to take a look at some basics when it comes to playing a guitar. Actually, when it comes to playing any stringed instrument. In order to sound in-tune with the rest of the band, your instrument needs to be properly tuned - it needs to be tuned to the right key. And not only that - in order for the instrument to sound well in the first place, the strings need to be correctly tuned when compared to each other.

So, let's talk about tuning a guitar. When it comes to guitars, it doesn't matter whether you play an electric guitar, acoustic guitar or a classical one. The strings at the so called standard-E tuning are always tuned the same.

Some basics first. The most widely used guitar tuning is the standard-E tuning. It means that the strings produce tones E, A, D, G, B, e. If you need to remember that (to impress some girls, for instance), you can always think of a sentence: Eat All Day, Get Big Easy.

So, the thickest string (the top one) has to be tuned to the E note. How to do that? Well, the first option is to match it with the E note on the piano or another properly tuned guitar. The other option is to use a special instrument, the so called tuning fork. It produces the tone of 440 Hz, which is exactly what you need. But to really match the right tone requires quite a good ear for music and some experience. The best option almost always turns out to be a purchase of a special gadget, called electronic tuner. It has a little display that shows you which way to turn your tuning pegs while playing a single string. There is a free option as well - you can get one of the guitar tuning programs and install them on your computer, if it has a microphone. A huge majority of modern computers and especially laptops do have them.

Once your E string is tuned, the rest is pretty easy. If you have an electronic tuner of any kind, it will show you exactly how to tune all of the other strings. If you do not have one, you need to hold your E string on the fifth fret and match it with your A string. You still remember that the A string is the second thickest string, right? Once your A string is properly tuned, hold it on the fifth fret and tune the D string. And the same goes for the G string. But - life is not that easy, is it? We do have an exception. To tune your B string, you need to hold the G string on the FOURTH fret. For tuning the e string (the last one), hold the B string on the fifth fret again.

This should suffice for more than 95 percent of all songs. Some of the songs require you to use the drop-D tuning, which goes DADGBe. It just means that your thickest string needs to be tuned to the D tone. And if you sometimes need to tune the whole instrument a little bit higher, I suggest you use the capodaster.

I really recommend you to tune your instrument every single time before you start playing. Once you get used to playing a perfectly tuned instrument, it gets really difficult to play a not-so-well tuned one. And it is really helpful for you if you always practice in the exact same key - that way you are able to learn the songs in the right way and all of the chords will just sound clean and right.

I wish you all the best and have a great time playing the guitar!
About the Author
Anze Sustar is a guitarist and administrator of YourChords.com website, which is one of the biggest archives of guitar chords and tabs.
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