How to Tune a Guitar: A Free Guide With Online Guitar Tuners
Hey! What’s up, guys? Before you proceed to learn the guitar, you have to read How to Tune a Guitar: A Free Guide with Online Guitar Tuners. Most of the people who learn the guitar around the world are skipping this important thing. You’re most likely to get discourage and frustrated even if you are a skilled guitarist if your guitar is not in tune. There are so many ways in tuning your guitar, especially with the technology nowadays. Everything you need is all on the internet! In my time, we used to tune our guitars on our own by ear. Some of my friends actually have “perfect pitch” so they do not have a hard time tuning. So here are some of Guitar-Elite‘s tuner guide for beginners.
Perfect Pitch – a musical gift, the ability to identify or recognize notes upon hearing it. Some people call it “natural ear”.
Letter names and string numbers
The first thing that you have to do is memorize the letter names of all the strings on your guitar. This means all the open strings (E A D G B E) – these are your six open strings. Giving a mnemonic for this musical alphabet will help you memorize it easily. Here are two examples – Every Amateur Does Get Better Eventually; or, Eat A Dog Get Big Ears. Now that you know the letter names for your open strings, let’s start learning the string numbers.
- E – the low E will be your 6th string
- A – 5th string
- D – 4th string
- G – 3rd string
- B – 2nd string
- E – the high E will be your 1st string
Some clip-on tuners are showing both the letter names and string numbers.
Different types of tuning:
Please keep in mind that all of these are based on the A440Hz reference.
This is your “standard” E A D G B E tuning. Most songs use this type since it is commonly used and most chords are based on this tuning. Most store-bought guitars are already pre-tuned to Standard.
An E flat tuning allows you to sing together with a somewhat “lower” version of the same chords. The Beatles and Elvis Presley used this tuning so they didn’t have to transpose the chords (some chords like E-flat use bars). All you have to do is adjust all the open strings one half-step lower – E♭ A♭ D♭ G♭ B♭ E♭. (Read about half and whole steps)
Okay, now that you know about the E-flat, move it another half step lower and you will have the D tuning. So basically it would be D G C F A D. This is often used by Metal bands like Symphony X, Children of Bodom, Metallica, Nightwish, Anthrax, Megadeth and many more.
Drop D and Drop C Tuning
Most of the metal bands use Drop D or C for them to be able to do aggressive and fast riffs. These are where the single-bar power chords come in. Basically, to be able to do a Drop D tuning, you just have to match the sound of your 6th string with your 4th string (D) at an octave lower. Another way is to just lower your 6th string (E) a whole step down.
This type of tuning is probably the most uncommon of all types but surprisingly, it has been used since the Classical Era. If you strum the strings of a Standard-tuned guitar, it doesn’t really sound like a chord, right? On the other hand, Open-tuned guitars form a “chord” when strummed. Try tuning your guitar to F A C G A E then strum it and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Other Open tunings can vary extensively – it really depends on what sound you want to produce. Other tunings you’ll want to try: [D E F# G A D] or [D G A Bb D Eb].
PRO TIP: Take note that any other tuning (besides the Standard) changes the shapes of the chords.
How to tune a guitar: Tuning Methods
The only method I knew to tune the guitar was copying from another fixed-tuned instrument like the piano. I would look for a low E (before middle C) and start from there going higher. Another thing I used to do was I would base the tuning off the songs I know the chords to. If a song I knew started with an “E” chord, I’d listen for the bass and get my tuning from there. Some people may find this more difficult, given that chords produce two or more sounds together. I had to get used to tuning my guitar by ear because I did not always have access to a piano back then. Now, there are so many available tuners in the market.
PRO TIP: There might come a time that you may also have to do the tuning “manually” or “by ear” as I did above, so it would also be good to not be so reliant on technology.
There are many different devices you can use to tune a guitar. In my next article, I will be discussing the different types of tuning devices you can use. I will also be giving suggestions what apps or devices you can download or buy that will surely make guitar tuning easier for you.