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How to Tune an electric Guitar half step down with a Tuner

Updated on February 19, 2011

cheap tuners

korg tuner

tuning 1/2 step down

Are you a beginner or novice guitar or bass player looking for advice on tuning a guitar or bass in different Pitch variations? If you are trying to play along with artist on CD’s this is a must to insure that you are playing the song as it was meant to be played. Although there are several cheap tuners on the market, I will use the Korg tuner for this lesson.

Today we are going to look at tuning a half step down. Several artists use this method, Guns and Roses and Alice in Chains is just a couple of rock bands out there that do this, along with hundreds more. Unless you are tuned properly don’t expect to play along with the songs from these bands.

Ok, today we are using a 1997 Epiphone Les Paul Sam Ash limited edition for our demonstration. You will see in the photo that I have several guitars, each tuned in different pitch variations for different types of songs. If you own more than one guitar or bass, this is a good idea so that you don’t have to re-tune to play different songs, just change guitars.

First, the Korg tuner is an expensive tuner that fits even the beginner’s budget. I picked this one up for less than twenty dollars and works very well. There are several cheap tuners on the market, but for ease of use, this one can’t be beat.

Hooking up the tuner

Be sure you have fresh batteries in the tuner before you begin. On the right hand side of the tuner there will be an input jack; this is where the cable from your guitar plugs in, the other end of the cable goes to the guitar or bass jack. Make sure you are using a quality cable to increase the accuracy of the tuner and to cut down on interference. If you are tuning an acoustic guitar, there is a built in microphone and no cables are needed.

Setting up the tuner

When you first turn on your tuner it will show traditional A440 tuning and this is standard tuning for most music. If you are playing by yourself and not trying to follow along with another artist, I would recommend using this for the majority of your playing.

Next, if you look at your tuner, you will notice a button that say’s flat. To tune your instrument one half step down, simply press the button once. You will notice a flat symbol (b ) on the top left side of the tuner screen. If you don’t see this symbol, press the button and hold until you do. Be careful though, the tuner is designed to allow several steps down and if you see more than one symbol you went too far turn the tuner off to clear.

Tuning the Guitar or Bass

Ok, lay the tuner on a flat surface, if possible, and then gently strike the string you want to tune. You will see the indicator line move across the face of the tuner and the lights at top light up. As you watch the lights and indicator line, gently turn the tuning knob on the instrument until the line is centered and the only light you see is the green light. This indicates that the string is in proper tune and you can move on to the next string. Continue to do this until all strings have been tuned to the proper pitch. Once complete it is a good idea to double check all the strings, over stretched strings have a tendency to go out of tune once relaxed. Repeat the above steps until you are satisfied that the instrument is in tune.

A word of caution, do not tune just one string and try to tune the rest of strings to it as in traditional tuning, it doesn’t work.

I hope this simple lesson will increase your hours of playing enjoyment and your ability to learn new songs as they were meant to be played.


1997 Epiphone Les Paul Sam Ash limited edition

turn keys gently

tuner set up


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      Corey Morris 5 years ago

      Thank you.