Tuning your guitar is one of the most important things to know when learning to play. Although this is good for ear training, it is a bit of a lost art. Today you have all kinds of gadgets that help in this area. Electronic tuners, amps with tuners built in, guitars with a switch that automatically turns the guitar into a specific tuning.
All this modern technology is fine, but it is still good to know how to tune the guitar to itself. The thing that is most important to listen for is the vibration of the strings. Know that when you turn the tuning key it is either going to make the string vibrate faster or slower. In this case, we want to eliminate the vibration so that the two strings sound the same. So let us get started.
1.) First, pick the 6th string (If you’re not too sure which one, it’s the biggest one) listen for its vibration. Once it sounds close to the pitch of E (which will take some time to get your ear trained, but that’s ok for now) put your finger on the 5th fret and pick the 6th and open 5th string (A) together. If they vibrate, turn the tuning key of the A string until it stops vibrating. As mentioned above, it will either vibrate faster or slower depending on which way you turn it.
2.) Once this is done repeat the process with the 5th and 4th string at the 5th fret. Finger on the 5th fret of 5th string and play 4th string open. Eliminate vibration and go to the 5th fret of the 4th string and play the 3rd string open and check the vibration.
3.) When you get to the 3rd string, move down to the 4th fret and follow the same process. Finger on the 4th fret of the 3rd string, 2nd string open and check the vibration. On the 2nd string, move back to the 5th fret and pick the 2nd string with the 1st string open. Check for vibration.
4.) Following this simple procedure should allow you to be in tune to yourself. Being in tune with someone else or in tune to a recording or the radio might require an electronic tuner. If using a tuner, make sure the tuner reads what the strings names are. If your not sure what the names of the strings are, be sure to read my article on tuners.
5.) Having good ears is what music is all about and can take years to develop this skill, but if you practice and have fun to work at it you will see this happen. Once you get tuning down it will all start to make sense. What I’ve covered here is just basically getting the instrument in tune. What’s neat about the guitar is that it can be played in many different tuning for different types of sounds and playing ability.
Conclusion: If you here some rock music that sounds kind of strange or really deep in tone, it’s a good chance they are using what’s called alternate tuning. But I’ll explain that later in another post. For now get your guitar, get it in tune and start having fun. If you have any questions contact me and I will help you out.
Until our next lesson, take care.