It really doesn’t matter how good you are, no one sounds good on an out of tune guitar. But if you’ve just started playing, tuning your guitar isn’t always the easiest part and it can feel like an annoying chore if you just want to play. However, it is very important to tune your instrument regularly, not just for yourself but also for your neighbors! So here’s a few tips and tricks.
There are many ways of tuning, but for now, we’ll focus on the standard way. That means, going from low E string to high E string: E-A-D-G-B-E. You can easily remember this by the sentence: “Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie.” You can make the strings sound lower and higher by turning the pegs at the top of the guitar. It’s best to start with the lowest string (the thickest one) and then working your way up.
Why is it so important to tune regularly?
Not every string detunes equally quickly, but playing a lot and differences in temperature are some of the reasons why your guitar can go out of tune. It’s easy to think that your guitar doesn’t have to sound perfect all the time. Perhaps you just want to play a song and not go through the trouble of tuning? That’s not a very good idea however, because if you’ve just started playing, you might be making life difficult for yourself.
When you’re playing, you’re not just training your fingers to go where they should, you’re also training your ear. And because of that, it’s very important that you know what notes, chords and strings should sound like. If you get used to playing out of tune, you’re training your ears to hear the wrong thing and after a while, notes that are out of tune will sound fine to you. And you don’t want that.
So it’s better to prevent the problem before it’s too late. It’s much easier to be able to tune your own guitar instead of waiting for someone to do it for you. Also you never know when someone else might need a tuner!
The easiest way to tune your guitar is with a tuning device. For example, you can use a ‘clip-on tuner’ for an acoustic guitar. This is a device with a little display that you clip onto the top of your guitar. The tuner will measure the frequency of the strings and tell you the pitch. You can also use these for electric guitars too, of course.
For electric guitars, you also have tuners that directly measure the signal of the guitar. The most common is a little device that you can plug your guitar cable into. But when you’re performing on stage, this tuner is far from ideal, because you don’t want to to keep plugging the cable in and out of the amplifier every time you tune your strings. That’s why most professional musicians use a tuning pedal.
Tuning by ear
There will be times when you won’t have a tuning device on you, so you’ll have to rely on your ears. The easiest thing to do is to tune your guitar with a piano or keyboard nearby, starting at the lower E string and working your way up. Or use this video.
Another thing you can do, is tune the lower E string and then tune the other strings from there. The 5th fret of the E string is an A, so you want your A string to sound like the 5th fret on your E string. The 5th fret on the A string is a D, and so on, but keep in mind that G string is an exception, where the next string is on the 4th fret instead of the 5th. On the B string the next string (E) is back on the 5th fret. You will have to play the strings one at a time after each other and adjust the pegs until the notes are the same.
Tuning new strings
Our last is tip is definitely not the least important. It is important to remember that when you get new strings, you’ll have to tune your guitar more often. Boxfresh strings can still stretch out a little before they settle down on your trusty axe. One trick to make it a little easier: each time you put a new string, grip it in the middle and carefully pull it upwards and then tighten it further. If you repeat this a couple of times, your strings will have stretched a bit more and won’t untune as quickly.
Our biggest tip is simply to tune every time you get your guitar out. The better it sounds, the more you’ll enjoy playing. And the more you enjoy playing, the better you’ll get! Happy jamming!