HOW TO TUNE A GUITAR? MY GUITAR DOESN’T SOUND COOL are some of the most common statements coming from guitar beginners. Tuning a guitar is the most fundamental step of guitar playing for anyone. Many guitar beginners face immense difficulty on playing guitar and sounding the same notes and tunes, which they are trying to play. One of the reasons may be the lack of skills and experience in playing guitar for beginners, but another important reason that many people just ignore is that their guitar is out of tune.
So the best way is to first tune your guitar and then play the desire tone or song, which you wish to play. In that case you can identify whether the hurdle in getting the sound right, lie in the lack of skills or in the tuning of the guitar. So, in this little guide I will help you in understanding that HOW TO TUNE A GUITAR and will share some knowledge about the common misconceptions about the strings’ positions etc and will also recommend some websites for tuning the guitar, will mention some of the guitar tuners and a free software to tune your guitar.
This guide will be divided into three major portions:
- About Strings, strings’ names and strings’ positions
- Tuning your guitar by EAR
- Tuning your guitar by ‘Guitar Tuners’ and ‘Software’
NOTE: I highly recommend you to sit with your guitar while reading this guide, it will surely help you.
So, let’s discuss each of the above categories in detail:
1. STRINGS, STRINGS' NAMES and STRINGS' POSITIONS:
In this category, as the heading mentions, we will discuss about:
- How many strings are there in the guitar?
- What are their names?
- And how their positions are taken in the music theory?
It should be noticed as the first and foremost thing, that all the beginners should tune their guitars in “Standard Tuning” (we’ll discuss standard tuning below).
So, the basic information that one needs to know right now in order to grasp the above “Standrad Tuning” concept is to know about the strings and their names. The strings from top to down (physically) are:
1.1) Strings' Names:
- E String (The thickest string)
- A String
- D String
- G String
- B String
- E string (The thinnest string)
1.2) Strings' Positions:
This makes the strings’ names as EBGDAE (from the thinnest to thickest string or from physically down to physically up) – Make sure you get this right and if you are having any sort of difficulty, read it again and again until you get the exact concept till here, otherwise you will be like some of those guitarists having one of the most common misconceptions about the strings.
For memorizing the strings' names, the TIP is:
Assume the strings’ names (from thinnest to thickest string or from physically down to physically up) i.e. E-B-G-D-A-E = Easter Bunny Gets Drunk After Easter. This will help you in learning the strings’ names ;)
1.3) A Common Misconception:
Another important information is E string (the thinnest one) is also known as the highest string, and the E string (thickest string) as the lowest string.
Note: You can memorize it as the opposite of the real time highest and lowest positions e.g. E (thickest string) is physically high to all other strings, but in music it is actually the lowest string and vice versa.
Now what is standard tuning?
Standard tuning is just the same as the strings’ names i.e. Standard tuning = EADGBE
More technically, in standard tuning your strings will be tuned to the following notes i.e. EADGBE (from lowest to highest strings).
2. EAR TRAINING
One basic principle for tuning your guitar is that you have to train your ears to the sound of the above mentioned notes (EADGBE notes’ sounds). And let me tell you honestly, this skill “Ear Training” is one of the most incredible and amazing performance oriented technique and skill learned by any guitarist or musician. You simply HAVE TO train your ears at some stage, if you want to reach the far end of this field. After all, music is all about LISTENING, isn’t it?
But to be honest, you cannot just turn your ears into a perfect note capturer device in a couple of hours. It DOES take time, rather a lot of time, I should say. But persistent ear training and practice will obviously lift you up in the future. I repeat IT IS IMPORTANT!
Till then (until your ears got trained) you will have to use many softwares and tuners to let your guitar in tune. No, it is nothing to be ashamed of. It IS common. I know it look extremely cool seeing a guitarist, sitting on the stage, when he strums, tunes, strums, tunes and VOILA! The instrument is perfectly tuned. But you can’t learn all the skills in one day, can you? So, the key thing here is to be patient and keep doing the basics right and you will surely get there one day.
3. Tuning by Guitar Tuners and Softwares
I am mentioning here some of the most common and generally used guitar tuners, to get your guitar in tune, as I mentioned, tuning a guitar is the FIRST STEP of guitar playing. You have to keep it right; otherwise you will face a lot of difficulties and tons of frustrations. You obviously do not want your guitar to sound like a 'Sitar' or 'Banjo', do you?
3.1) Guitar Tuners:
If you want to buy a good tuner, you may want to have a look at:
3.2) Online Guitar Tuners:
The following is a website, through which you can make your guitar in tune by using your ears. It may also contribute in practicing your ear training. But in the beginning, you will face a bit of difficulty in getting the note right. Do not worry about it, and please do not get frustrated. It happens to everyone.
Well, I won’t recommend it to beginners right now, until and unless your ears get familiar with the standard tuning notes.
3.3) Guitar Tuning Software:
My recommendation for the beginners will be, to download the following software. It is free to download and it is pretty good and accurate in finding the notes. All you will need to have is a microphone, in order to use this software. It is called AP TUNER and I still often use this for tuning my own guitar.
Tip: Mitigate the environmental noise, as much as you can, to get the near perfect results e.g. I always turn off the fan when using this software for tuning my guitar. Otherwise I do not get satisfied with the results.
I hope that the above little guide on HOW TO TUNE YOUR GUITAR will surely help you in one way or another. I also mentioned some other common mistakes and points about strings, strings’ names and strings’ positions. Above all, I tried to get your head down about the importance of ‘Ear Training’ because this is REALLY REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT! I am thinking of writing a whole article about ear training and about its importance, very soon.
Till then, enjoy your guitar playing. Remember me and if you find any difficulty regarding anything about guitar n music, feel free to contact me. Here is my "Facebook Profile Link". And if you like my work, "Follow Me" on Hubpages, so you can have instant access to my upcoming hubs.
I know it is really hard for a beginner to get started with all this without any proper instructor. So, I will do whatever I can to get you kick started :)
Be kind, be safe and do not forget to strum that beautiful instrument ;)
In the end, enjoy this beautiful video :)
Newbie on November 29, 2012:
Lots of great information but I wish you had something on D tuning your guitar (my guitar) thank you.
Syed Hunbbel Meer (author) from Karachi, Pakistan. on July 22, 2011:
@Binaya.Ghimire: You should try learning it again. It is a beautiful instrument to play :)
Tons of guitar instructional and musical hubs are on their way anyways :)
Binaya.Ghimire on July 22, 2011:
Once I had tried to learn to play a guitar. I would have certainly benefited, if I had read it then.
Syed Hunbbel Meer (author) from Karachi, Pakistan. on February 22, 2011:
Oh that's great if the above article helped you in any way. More article are on their way regarding guitar and music. And If anyone of you need advice regarding a particular area, you can always request for an article. :)
Schayan on February 21, 2011:
good work, just the thing i needed :p