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Tips on How to Tune a Guitar

Sep 4, 2008
Knowing how to tune your guitar yourself is one of the most basic as also one of the most integral constituents of learning to play the guitar. Even the most skillful guitarist's performances can go awry if the guitar is not in tune, and tuning the guitar is consonant with the ear of the guitarist becoming one with the sound of the guitar. Thus though many novices to baulk at the idea of tuning their instrument, especially because they find the activity difficult, there are certain easy rules which, when followed, make the matter simple and effective. There are in fact several different ways to tune your guitar depending on the desired sound, and this article shall provide you with some easy to follow instructions for tuning your guitar without you having to invest in any extra equipment.

The first step is to familiarize yourself with the tone that each of the strings should produce. The sequence, starting from the thickest and going to the thinnest string, i.e. from top to bottom, is: E, A, D, G, B, E. the grave or low E is referred to as the 6th string, the A as the 5th, and so on. It is best to start at the grave E and to tune it as best as you can. Having another instrument which is in tune, like say a piano or a harmonica, makes it easier to tune a guitar, for it can then provide a tangible reference. But even without it, one can attempt the tuning based on the 6th string. Usually, because the 6th string is the heaviest, it is also the most resilient to the impact of forces that cause the guitar to go out of tune. So, this 6th string is most often already in, or close to, tune. The 6th string note should match with the 1st E below middle C. In case any other instrument or tuner is absent then simply try to get these as close as you can. What really matters is that the guitar should be in tune with itself.

The second stage of the tuning begins by your positioning the index finger of your left hand just behind the 5th fret on the 6th string. This would give you an A note. Now pluck the 5th and 6th strings one after the other while adjusting the tuning peg for the 5th string so that the two notes sound identical. Next, position the index finger of your left hand just behind the 5th fret on the 5th string. This would give you a D note. Pluck the 5th and 4th strings in turn and adjust the tuning peg of the 4th string until the two notes sound the same. The same procedure can be used to tune the remaining strings right up to the high E. This part about tuning the guitar is fairly straightforward, and easy to manage with a little practice. What is, however, more difficult is keeping the guitar in tune, and preserving your instrument against damage.

Always take precautions to keep your guitar in a place which is not exposed to extreme temperature variations. This will not only undo the tuning of the strings but may also warp and damage the wood.

It would pay to remember that any violent impact or jostling tends to cause the guitar to go out of tune. It is therefore advisable to check the tuning every time the guitar gets dropped or bumped. Before tuning any particular string which you consider to be out of tune, always remember to match it with the other strings. The one you suppose to be out of tune could very well turn out to be the only one in tune!

Learn to trust your ear. Refine it and treat it as your ally. If while striking a note or a chord, the sound appears a little off key, take the time out to investigate. If required retune the string.

If a string breaks, take care to attach the new string properly to the machine head and not only to the tuning peg. When tuning these new strings always ensure that you have stretched them to tune. You could try pressing them down with your right hand while picking them with your left. This would allow the string to stretch into tune and prevent any variations of note later on due to slackness.

And most cardinally, make it a habit to tune your guitar every time that you play. Yes, guitars do go out of tune at the slightest opportunity. But rather than be bothered by this, learn to use it as an opportunity for tuning your guitar and attuning yourself with it.
About the Author
The Jackson Guitars warehouse has a wide range of Jackson Guitars for sale. You can find new and used Jackson Soloist, Dinky, Kelly, King V, Rhoads and many others at fantastic prices.
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