Tuning your guitar is perhaps the most important skill a new guitar player needs to learn. You cannot play your guitar if it is not in tune and guitars don’t stay in tune for very long. You should make it a habit to tune your guitar every time before you play. When I used to teach one on one, the number one issue that always seemed to hold novice players back was their inability to tune their guitar. With the new tuning technologies that exist, it is now easier than ever to tune your guitar.
I touched on this in my last post, Buying Guide – What else will you need when you buy a guitar? https://intuneguitaracademy.com/2020/04/28/buying-guide-what-else-will-you-need-when-you-buy-a-guitar/
When I first started playing guitar, I used a tuning fork. Maybe not as precise as using an electronic tuner but it has the advantage of developing your ear, making it easier to learn new songs and pick up new guitar concepts – there is always something new to learn.
The way I learned to tune my guitar using a tuning fork is by using a fork tuned to A. You knock the tuning fork against a hard surface to make it vibrate and then you hold the stem of the fork against the top of the body and tune your A string to the sound of the tuning fork reverberating through your guitar. You are in tune when there is no more warble in the sound of the A sting ringing out. It’s easier to show you so follow the link to my tuning your guitar video below.
You then tune the D string using the A string as a reference. To do so, you press down on the fifth string (the A string) on the fifth fret to form a D note. You pluck the the D note and the open D string a let it ring. When both notes match, that string is in tune. You will know when it is in tune when the warble leaves the sound of the D string and both the D note and the D string sound the same.
You repeat this process for the G string by pressing down on the fourth string on the fifth fret. But when you get to the B string, your reference note is now going to be on the fourth fret. In other words, once your G string is in tune, you then have to press down on the third string (the G string) on the FOURTH fret to form a B note and then pluck both that note and the open B note to tune the B string.
Once the B string has been tuned, you move to the fifth fret again and press down on the second string (B string) to form an E note and then pluck that note and the open E string to tune the E string.
The last string to tune is the sixth string, the low E string. To do so, you press down on the sixth string on the fifth fret to form an A note and match that A note with the A string by plucking both at the same time.
That is a really complicated way to tune your guitar for a beginner, especially if you trouble forming notes to begin with. That’s why the clip-on tuner is a godsend to new guitar players. All you need to remember is the name of the strings: starting from the bottom (first) string, the strings are called E-B-G-D-A-E. You pluck each individual string and adjust the tuner until the greenish blue arrow lights up in the middle of screen of the tuner, with the respective letter shining below that graphic.
If you see only red to the left, your string is flat (lower that it should be). If you see yellow to the right, your string is sharp (higher that it should be). It will take some practice but as I mentioned above, this is one of the most important skills you need to develop in your guitar learning journey.
Have a look at this video to see me demonstrate how to tune my guitar. I hope you can use it as guide to tune your own guitar.