In this review, we will be explaining how to tune a guitar. Every guitarist, especially a new one will probably struggle with the tuning. Nowadays, with technology growth, tuning has become a lot easier. Anyhow, in order to tune a guitar, you are going to need some basic knowledge of how guitar tuning works.
The most common tuning is standard E tuning. Therefore, starting from the sixth string (top bass string), tuning goes like this: E2 (with the frequency of 82.41 Hz), A2 (with 110.00 Hz), D3 (146.83 Hz), G3 (196.00 Hz), B3 (246.94 Hz), E4 (329.63 Hz).
In some European regions, musicians use old, German system. In other words, German system indicates B (2nd string from the bottom) with the letter H. For them, H is B♮ (B natural), and B is B♭ (B flat). Anyway, in this review, we will be using simple B indicator.
Different Ways of Tuning a Guitar
There are few possible ways of how to tune a guitar. Some of them require a bit more experience and good hearing, while others are a lot easier with some mechanical devices.
1. Tuning with Dedicated Guitar Tuner
One of the easiest and most precise ways of how to tune a guitar is with dedicated guitar tuner. This is commonly used among guitarists. Guitar tuners are cheap and affordable, so this method might be the best of all.
This way of tuning is used by professional guitarists where accuracy is high-priority. No matter how good your ear is, you won’t be able to tune it that much accurate as a tuner.
Anyhow, guitar tuners are also good for practicing your ear. When there is some background noise plug-in tuner is the best solution while other ways of tuning would probably not be possible.
All you need to do is move guitar tuner closer to your strings and tune it one by one. Try to avoid background noise as it may “confuse” the tuner and lead to wrong tuning.
On the other hand, if your tuner runs out of the battery in the middle of some important moment, that may cause some unwanted problems.
2. Tuning with Piano or Other Instrument
If you are a bit experienced guitarist, there is a simple way of how to tune a guitar with other instrument. First of all, you need other instrument or other musician that has his instrument in-tune.
Playing in a band demands a good synchronization. Therefore, tuning your guitar to a similar tuning of your colleague’s instrument is way more appropriate. This is the most important thing when playing in a group, especially if there is the best player pianos that is not that accurate in tune.
Now, there are certain benefits of this (as we mentioned them), but also there are some challenges as well. In order to tune your guitar using other instrument, you need a bit better hearing and experience. It simply goes by pressing tone on in-tune instrument and “finding it” on your own guitar by tuning open strings.
3. Using a Tuning Fork/ Pitch Pipe
Simply speaking, this is the combination of first two methods in this review of how to tune a guitar. Basically, you are tuning your guitar using other instrument (fork or pipe), with the accuracy of a tuner. One of the advantages of this tuning method is that there are no batteries to run out.
Anyway, in order to tune it with fork/pitch pipe, you need quite environment. It is an old-fashioned way, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad.
If you really want to develop your ear, fork and pitch pipe will definitely help. It requires certain experience and hearing, but on the other hand it’s handy and portable. It can be seen in choirs, as compass to a perfect pitch.
4. Tuning by the Ear with 5th Fret
Now, this way of tuning is preferable when tuning into standard E tuning. Going for other unusual tunings with this method might be tricky. Anyhow, what are you aiming to do is tune it using the 5th fret. Starting from E bass string, 5th fret of this string is actually A2 note- which is the 5th bass string. The goal is making 5th fret to sound equal to an open 5th string.
Following this procedure, 5th fret of 5th string should be equal to an open D string. Once you do that, you are ready to proceed to the next one. When you tune D string, hold 5th fret and strum G string. Do the same, tune it until 5th fret of D string is similar to a G string.
Now, tricky part is tuning B string. The 4th fret of a G string is actually B3. Therefore, hold 4th fret and equalize it by tuning B string. Finally, use 5th fret of a B string to tune the last one- E string.
It requires a bit of hearing and practice, but it’s the best way of practicing your ear. This is one of the most common ways of how to tune a guitar.
5. Tuning a Guitar Using Harmonics
This is one of the most difficult methods how to tune a guitar. First of all, using harmonics requires a bit of technique and skill. It’s most common to do it on the acoustic guitar, but also it can be done with electric one- if you are a pro.
The way of making harmonics is by slightly touching the guitar strings on particular frets (12th is most common but it can be done on 5th and 7th as well), and pulling it away when plucked. For tuning purposes, you are going to need 5th and 7th fret.
Anyhow, 5th fret of the 6th string (bass) has the same harmonic tone as the 7th fret of a 5th (bass) string when in tune. If a 5th string is out of tune, simply tune it until you hear congruence between these 2. The same procedure is with A string and D- 5th fret harmonics on the A string is actually a 7th fret harmonics on the D string. Also, do it with D and G string until you tune G string.
Now, it’s a bit tricky when it comes to a B string due to an interval distance between 3rd string (G) and the 2nd (B). You need to use 7th fret of the 6th (E bass) string and the harmonics of the B string on the 12th fret. Finally, the last one is similar to the previous ones. For tuning the E string (1st one) use the 5th fret harmonics of the B string and a 7th fret harmonics of E string.
Considering everything that we previously said, these are a few methods of how to tune a guitar. Some of them require a lot of practice and experience, while others are simple use of tuners and plug-in tuners.
Anyhow, we hope that you will find this review useful in your learning process of playing the guitar, and how to tune a guitar as well.