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Tune Your Guitar Easily

Updated on February 2, 2012

The Layout of the Standard Tuning

Here is a layout of the names of the strings and the placement for tuning.
Here is a layout of the names of the strings and the placement for tuning. | Source

Tuning is easy when you get the right formula.

Have you bought a guitar and it has been sitting in the closet for a while? Have you just got one and want to tune it up? Here's your opportunity. By the end of this article, you will have it down.

The first thing you need to do is open up the case or gig bag, and make sure there are strings in every slot of the nut (white strip at the far left of the fretboard in the image on the right.) If the guitar is missing any strings, take it to your local music store and they will gladly sell you one or a whole set and gladly put them on for a nominal fee or even free, depending on the dealer. While you're there, buy a tuning fork. This article works off of an A 440hz. Notice in the photo provided the numbers on the strings in "aqua marine" are the standard order in which you tune them. They are also the industry standard for naming the strings when annotating them on paper manuscripts. I've put the names of the notes the strings will be tuned to in Yellow. The aqua marine oval shapes represent where you place your fingers (one at a time of course.)

Take your tuning fork in your right hand (or left hand if you play left handed) and strike it on a solid object, then place it on the sound board of the guitar. If playing an electric, place it within an inch of the pickup with the volume dial all the way up. It will sound. Then take your fret hand and hammer a note on the 5th fret of the 1st string. That note is A. Reach over and tune the peg for that string up or down until it sounds the same. If you don't get it the first time, strike to fork again and repeat as many times as you have to. This will help you achieve what is called relative pitch which I have, as opposed to perfect pitch which I don't have. Relative pitch is one in which you can tell the interval between notes easily from a point of reference. Perfect pitch is where you can tell the name of a note with no point of reference.

Once the 1st string is dead on, go on to the 2nd string. Place your fret hand on the 5th fret of the 2nd string and pay the 2nd string and 1st string one at a time. The 1st string should be tuned to E at this point. Reach over and adjust the 2nd string tuning peg by turning it below the 1st string note, then coming back up to it. This will help "set" the string in the nut so it will stay in tune better. Once you get the 2nd string in tune, fret the 3rd string on the 4th fret so it will play what will become a B note. Tune the 3rd string below the note of the open 2nd string note and back up like on the string before. Repeat until the two sound the same. On the fourth string fret the 5th fret. Repeat on the 5th string and repeat the process as described. The same goes for the 6th as well. Each one tuned to the adjacent string above it.

Then take the 6th string and the 1st string and pluck them one at a time. These are 2 octaves apart. If you hear a difference, tune the open 6th to the open 1st, not the other way around. I'd repeat the process starting with tuning the 2nd string to the 1st and then the rest in the same order as below. Repeat checking the 6th to the 1st. I hope that helps. This is how I've been tuning for about 18 or 19 years, or since I started with my classic guitar teacher.

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    • Portamenteff profile image

      Portamenteff 5 years ago from Western Colorado, USA

      Sure. I recommend the android app myself. What if you don't have a smart phone? Tuners use batteries. I've had the same tuning fork for 18 years. $4.95.

    • Rickrideshorses profile image

      Rickrideshorses 5 years ago from England

      Useful. Easiest thing is to use an electric tuner, though!