One of the
things I remember when I was starting to
play was that I didn't sound as good as
my friend's big brother. Not because he
was a better player, even though he
was...we were playing the same chords
but mine sounded crummy! Why? Because my
guitar was not perfectly tuned!
I went home that day and REALLY worked
on tuning my guitar. To this day I use
several different ways to tune. Once I
got it perfectly tuned, WOW! The chords
came to life! This is especially true
when you're playing electric guitar with
If you're not perfectly in tune, you're
missing out on the whole experience.
When the notes of a chord are played
together, the result should be one full
sound that stands on it's own. This is
what happens when you are in perfect
There are two tools you can use when
tuning your guitar. One is an electronic
tuner, the other is your ear. Tuning by
ear is far more important because you
must be able to recognize different
pitches in sound. This is essential to
being a musician. Ear training takes
time. Don't get discouraged because you
can't tune by ear in a week. Your brain
needs to get familiar with the notes in
I want to share a few different ways to
tune your guitar.
The first is the most standard. It
entails matching the notes on the
adjacent strings as follows:
6th string, 5th fret and 5th string open
5th string, 5th fret and 4th string open
4th string, 5th fret and 3rd string open
3rd string, 4th fret and 2nd string open
2nd string, 5th fret and 1st string open
In this method, you are matching the
notes exactly to get the proper tuning.
The notes are the same in pitch. If
you're off on one of the strings, the
rest of them will be out of tune also,
so be careful.
Another way to tune is by octaves. An
octave is the interval between two notes
with the same name. If you played the C
major scale: C D E F G A B C, the two
C's are one octave apart.
You can tune with octaves as follows:
6th string open and 5th string, 7th fret
5th string open and 4th string, 7th fret
4th string open and 3rd string, 7th fret
3rd string open and 2nd string, 8th fret
2nd string open and 1st string, 7th fret
By now you're probably wondering, "What
about the tuning of the 6th string?"
Good point. When you tune the rest of
the strings from the 6th, it's called
"Relative Tuning". Although you may not
be in tune with a piano, you WILL be in
tune with yourself and that's fine for
If you want to be in "Concert Pitch",
you will either need to tune from
another instrument or from a pitch pipe.
I recommend that you get a pitch pipe.
It's good for ear training and it's
easier to carry around than a piano!
Yet another way that I will tune is by
simply using chords. Once you know how
they are supposed to sound, they become
very handy in tuning. I prefer starting
with E major, then I play a G major and
tweak it a little if necessary. Then D
major. All three are the open position
chords at the top of the neck.
I guarantee you'll be amazed at how
great a perfectly tuned guitar will
sound! After all, there is really no