How To Tune Your Guitar | Hub Guitar

How To Tune Your Guitar

Keeping your guitar in tune is essential. If the guitar is out of tune, nothing you play will sound right. Taking a few minutes to tune your guitar before you begin to play will go a long way towards improving your sound.

Methods for Tuning

There are two primary methods of tuning a guitar: the first method is to tune with a guitar tuner (such as the Cleartune Tuner App[?]Affiliate Link for iPhone or the stand-alone KLIQ UberTuner[?]Affiliate Link) and the second method is to tune by ear. Both methods are fine and can produce reliable results; however, most players prefer to use a guitar tuner, which has the advantage of being more accurate than even a trained human ear.

Before you tune your guitar, you must know the names of the notes for each open string. The string that is the smallest and sounds the highest is tuned to the note “E”, and is referred to as the 1st string. The lowest string is also tuned to the note E, but a lower version of the note; it is referred to as the 6th string. The order of the strings, low to high, is E A D G B E. One way to remember the names of the strings is to use the mnemonic: “Every Amateur Does Guitar By Ear.”

This means that, when you hold the guitar and look down, the string that is closest to your eyes is the sixth string; it also means that this graph has the appearance of being upside-down! Many students find this to be a little bit confusing, so take a moment to study the strings and make sure you understand how they are numbered and what notes they are tuned to.

Learn the open strings of the guitar: E A D G b e.

Tuning With A Guitar Tuner (Recommended)

To tune the instrument with a tuner, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on the tuner, position it near your guitar.
  2. Play the lowest “E” string.
  3. Based on the reading on the tuner, turn the string’s tuning peg counter-clockwise to raise the pitch (most likely) or clockwise to lower it if it’s too high. Repeat this and stop when the tuner reads the intended note.
  4. Repeat for all strings.

Tuning By Ear

To tune the instrument by ear, follow these steps:

  1. You will need at least one reference pitch. Traditionally an “A” is used, as this was a common note for tuning forks. You may want to try the Planet Waves Tuning Fork (A)[?]Affiliate Link.
  2. Tune the “A” string to the reference pitch; adjust the tuning peg until the pitches match.
  3. Now you’ll tune the other strings to this string. Play the fifth fret of the sixth string. The note at the fifth fret of the big E string should match the open A string. If it doesn’t, adjust the tuning of the sixth string until it does.
  4. Now play the fifth fret of the fifth string and the fourth string open. These two pitches should match. If they don’t, adjust the tuning of the fourth string until they do.
  5. Repeat for all strings. The B string is tuned to the fourth fret of the G string instead of the fifth fret; the rest of the strings are tuned to the fifth fret of the next lowest string. (See diagram.)
Learn the open strings of the guitar: E A D G b e.

The open string notes should match the corresponding fretted notes. After tuning one note to a pitch reference first, you can adjust the other notes to be (relatively) in tune.

As the creator of Hub Guitar, Grey has compiled hundreds of guitar lessons, written several books, and filmed hundreds of video lessons. He teaches private lessons in his Boston studio, as well as via video chat through TakeLessons.

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