How To Tune Your Guitar And Play Your Very First Chords

Tuning your guitar

How To Tune Your Guitar And Play Your Very First Chords

In this lesson, you are going to learn how to tune your guitar and play your very first chords. This is very important because without being properly in-tune, anything you play on the guitar will not sound right.  It might even sound quite unpleasant.  So we can avoid this by learning how to get our guitar in-tune.

Once you get your guitar, amp and tone set, you can then progress forward with where the fun comes in. Learn to tune up your guitar and play it!  Start off with open chords first. These are great because they require only one finger to form and play them. Chords like Open E, Open A & Open D. These are the easiest to learn and will set a solid foundation for your development of playing rock guitar.

But first, we must get in-tune!

Before you start playing anything on the guitar you want to make sure that you’re in-tune.  Meaning that all six strings are at the correct pitch relative to each other.  This way when you play them they will be in harmony with each other.  And for this, we need a guitar tuner.

When it comes to guitar tuners, there are many to choose from but for getting started I recommend you get a simple clip-on tuner.  These can be found at your local store or online at a place like

How to tune your guitar.

Now that you have learned a little bit about the guitar, you are ready to learn about how to tune it. But before you do, I’d recommend you learn the name of the guitar strings.  This will allow you to know what to tune the guitar strings too.

Names of the Guitar Strings

The names of the strings are (from thickest to thinnest)







A good way to remember this would be to use an acronym.  Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie.  Or you could do it in reverse.  aster Bunnies Go Dancing After Easter.  Either way is fine, it doesn’t really matter as long as it helps you to remember the strings name.  After you learn and you remember your strings name, you are now ready to tune your guitar with a guitar tuner. I recommend a Snark clip-on tuner.

Learning your first chords.

Once the guitar is in tune and everything is set to go we can now proceed to actually play the guitar and start to make music with it.  And this is where it starts to get fun.

The very first chords you want to learn are your open power chords.  We start with these because they are the easiest to play.  As stated before, they only require one finger.  Your index or first finger will do.

In addition to that, it is best to learn a little bit about how one might read these chords on a sheet of music paper as well.  Like tablature.  This is simplified sheet music for guitar.  Here is an example of what they look like.

Chords in tab

Open chords:   E            A            D

your first chords

The horizontal lines represent your guitar strings.  Biggest on the bottom, smallest on the top and the numbers represent the frets in which you will put your fingers.  Except for the 0 which stands for open, which means you play the string without putting your finger on it.

In the example above for the Open E chord, you will place your index finger on the 2nd fret of the fifth string and strum only the sixth & fifth strings.  For the Open A chord same thing just a string down and same for the Open D chord.  These three chords are all formed and played on the second fret.  They just change strings that you play them on.

Strum only two strings.

When playing open power chords with one finger, be sure to only strum the two strings that the chord is on.  This will make it easy to get a good sound out of your guitar to start.  Eventually as time progresses and you learn more complex chord voicings, you’ll strum more strings and get more sound out of your guitar, but for now, just strum the two that the chords are made of.

By taking this approach to form and play simple one-finger chords, you will be able to build self-confidence fairly quickly and you will be setting up yourself for closed power chords.  Two note chords that move up and down the fretboard.

Lesson conclusion.

In this lesson, we have learned about how to tune our guitar and start off playing simple one-finger chords.  By doing this we are now setting a foundation for our other chords that are needed to learn for playing the art of rock guitar.

There are many guitar chords to learn but these are the easiest and most common to start with for playing rock guitar. Not just guitar mind you, but rock guitar.  This is a certain style of guitar playing.  Very much like Jazz or country or blues.

Rock Guitar 101

Now if you are interested in learning more about how to get started playing rock guitar I recommend you check out my book Rock Guitar 101.

Rock Guitar 101

A is a simple step-by-step method book for beginners.  It is designed to teach the fundamental principles of the art with easy to understand lessons and full-color pictures so you can learn easily and get quick results.

It goes over everything that is needed to get started.  From what type of guitar, amp, tuner, chords to learn, how to develop timing for better rhythm playing, intro to lead guitar and much much more.  It even has a rockstar training quiz at the end to make sure the student fully understands the material.

And the best thing about it is no previous musical knowledge is necessary.  This book can be learned by anyone at any age who wishes to learn the art of rock guitar playing.  All that is necessary is the desire to learn and want to get better.

Additional training

So if you have that desire, check out the book and get started enjoying the fun of playing rock guitar.  You’ll be glad you did. And if you haven’t already, I recommend you grab my FREE action-guide Beginner Guitar Secrets that’ll give you insider tips to excel your guitar playing.  And if any further help is needed, I’m only an email away.

Best of luck and until our next lesson, take care.

Dwayne Jenkins.

5 Tips For Tuning Your Guitar By Ear

images-3In today’s lesson, we are going to learn 5 tips for tuning your guitar.  This 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.

Listen for string vibration

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.

5 step process for tuning your guitar

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.

Continue the tuning your guitar process

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 with yourself.  Being in tune with someone else or in tune with a recording or the radio might require an electronic tuner.  If using a tuner, make sure the tuner reads what the names of the strings 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.

A modern way of tuning

Learning to tune your guitar by ear is very helpful to your guitar playing.  But it will take some time to get the ear trained to hear the proper vibrations.  Until then you can use a more modern method like an electronic clip-on tuner.

Snark clip-on tuner

The Snark clip-on tuner is a great choice for tuning your guitar until you can get your ears trained to do it by ear.  It just clips on to the headstock of your guitar, you turn it on and away you go.  Real simple and easy.  All you need to know is what your string names are (from low to high: E A D G B E) and you are ready to tune your instrument.

This tuner works on both acoustic and electric guitars.  It also can be used for other stringed instruments like the Bass guitar and Mandolin.  The Snark clip-on tuner display is big for easy visibility and can be seen even in the dimmest lighted stage.

So until you get your ear trained, and it won’t take long if you follow the 5 steps to tuning your guitar by ear, I recommend you try out the Snark clip-on tuner.  It comes in a variety of models and colors.  Perfect to fit your personality and style of playing.


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.


Tuning up a guitar

How To Tune Your Guitar The Smart Way

Getting In Tune

Getting in tune and staying in tune is one of the most important things to make sure of when playing guitar. It’s what makes the difference in what your playing sounds good or bad. Even one string being out of tune can make your chords sound bad when you strum them. That’s why it is vitally important that you get a tuner and learn to tune your guitar. No matter if it’s acoustic or electric.

Know the names of your strings

Knowing the names of your strings is important because you need to know what to tune the strings to.  From low (thickest string) to high (thinnest string) the names are:

6. E

5. A

4. D

3. G

2. B

1. E

The video below shows you how this works.  It is presented on electric, but this kind of tuner works on both electric & acoustic.

Being in tune is one of the most important things to make sure of when playing guitar. It’s what makes the difference in what your playing sounds good or bad. Even one string being out of tune can make your chords sound bad when you strum them. That’s why it is vitally important that you get a tuner and learn to tune your guitar.

Always Check Your Tuning.

Snark clip-on tuner

You should check your tuning before every practice session. It’s also a good habit to check your tuning during a session once in a while to make sure you’re still in tune. Especially if you do a lot of bending. This usually comes from playing guitar solos. Or if you tend to hit the guitar strings hard while you play rhythm.

Lesson Conclusion.

The right kind of tuner can make the process of tuning your guitar a lot more enjoyable and help you to get into a habit of doing so to make sure you’re always in tune during your practice session. For tuning your guitar I recommend a SNARK tuner. This is a simple “clip-on tuner” that works very well & I highly recommend you get one or one like it.

Until our next lesson, take care.

Guitar teacher, Dwayne Jenkins.