Tuning a guitar can be done in a few different ways such as using an electronic tuner, using a piano, using your ear or using the guitar itself. Utilising the latter is very simple and quick way to get in tune. I will start with the basics of what each string should be tuned to (standard tuning) –
E – This is the lowest/thickest 6th String
A – The 5th String
D – The 4th String
G – The 3rd String
B – The 2nd String
e – The highest/thinnest 1st string
The first thing we need to do is to establish whether or not you are going to be playing the guitar solo (virtuoso) or whether you are going to be playing with a backing track or other instruments. If you are playing virtuoso then the guitar only needs to be in tune with itself so it doesn’t matter too much about how perfect the pitch is. If you are playing along with other instruments then you need to make sure that the bottom E string is in tune. You can tune this by ear or against another instrument but a lot of the time you will find that this string holds its tuning because it is the thickest.
Once you have got the tuning for the bottom E string we can move on to tuning the A string. To do this you need to place your first finger of your fretting hand on the 5th fret of the low E string, which is the note A. You need to keep your finger on this fret and pick the E and A strings in turn and gently adjust the tuning of the A string (5th string) until the 2 notes are the same.
Next we can move onto tuning the D string (4th string). We use the same process as before but this time placing the first finger on the 5th fret of the A string, giving us the D note. Then play these two strings together and tune the D string to the D note being played.
Now for the G string. Again we use the same technique, dropping the first finger down to the 5th fret on the D string, giving you a G note. Play the two strings together and gently tune to G string to the G note.
Tuning the B string (2nd string) is slightly different as your finger needs to be placed on the 4th fret of the G string (B note), rather than the 5th fret as before. You use the same technique in playing the two strings together and tuning the B string to match the B note.
Finally the high E string (6th string). We go back to using the 5th fret for this one, so place the first finger on the 5th fret of the B string, giving you an E note. Play the two notes together and tune to string to match the note.
Now it is important to go back over the tuning of each string and check it is all in tune with itself, now you are in tune!
There are a couple of different types of electronic tuners you can use; a clip on tuner and a free standing tuner.
The clip on tuner is attached onto the head of the guitar and will pick up the vibrations of the strings and have a form of dial indicating the tuning; it is very easy and quick to use. The free standing tuners usually both have a jack input and a microphone so that you can tune both electric and acoustic guitars. They will have more functions like tuning to a different frequency. Both of these types of these tuners are easily transportable and robust so you can take them everywhere.
For all of our different tuners please look here.
If you want to tune your guitar using a piano then you do this by sounding the notes needed (e.g EADGBe) and use your ear to tune the guitar to each note. This is a good way to train your ear with notes and tuning.
If you have any queries then please let me know.