November 01, 2020

A Simple Guide to Tuning a Guitar

Tuning a guitar is essential to learning how it works. The instrument can easily fall out of tune due to changes in the temperature level, environment and routine playing. When it does, you will hear that your songs appear to sound off-key.

Firstly, guitar strings do not fall out of tune at the same rate. As a result, it is essential to know how each string should sound in tune as you learn guitar chords.

Tuning Basics

Tuning a guitar includes adjusting 6 strings on the instrument. Standard guitar tuning, begins with the thickest, lowest-pitched string (the 6th string) at the top of neck. This starts with E-- A-- D-- G-- B-- E—to the highest and thinnest pitched string at the bottom of the neck. This is referred to as the 1st string.

One way to remember the string names, beginning with the small "E" to the big "E."

E-very B-oy G-ets D-onuts A-fter E-ating.

instrument guitar tuner

Tuning with a Chromatic Electric Tuner

Using a chromatic electronic tuner is one of the most convenient ways to tune a guitar. An electric tuner takes in the vibrational input and interprets the sound waves it picks up from your guitar and displays the notes on the screen it reads. Just turn on the tuner and strum the string. It'll tell you if your guitar is in tune within a second or two.

How to Tune a Guitar By Ear

To tune a guitar the old-fashioned way, first tune the 6th string to low E. You may wish to go online to hear samples of the low E being strum for reference purposes. If you're having fun with others, you may wish to have one-person tune, then everyone else tunes to match that individual's pitch.

Pluck your tuned low E string with your right-hand (use your thumb or a pic, using your thumb, index and middle finger) while holding the string down with your left hand at the 5th fret. This can be visually understood by starting from the headstock, count 5 frets up towards the body. The pitch that sounds is an A when you hold the string down at the 5th fret.

Pluck the open string below it. Next, turn the 2nd tuning peg till your A string produces the same tone as your low E string, when pressing on the 5th fret. Doing the same, you'll play the A string at the 5th fret to find the appropriate tone for the D string, the D string at the 5th fret to discover the G string, When you are ready to tune your B string, you'll play the G string at the 4th fret instead of the 5th.

Finally, to tune the last high E string, you'll move back to the 5th fret where you'll play the B string to find your high E tone. Do this a few times and will become easy. Unfortunately, the downside to tuning your guitar by doing this is you might not be achieving the "standard A 440" tuning. Tuning to A 440 helps you play in tune with other guitar players who use standard tuning.


Using this guide will help you learn how to tune all types of guitar instruments (with or without a tuner), identify guitar string notes, and keep your guitar in tune longer. My recommendation is to use a reference pitch when you start tuning your low E string (the thickest string). Also note, that when you change to new strings, they will need to be stretched and tuned multiple times.