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Electronic Guitar Tuning

Updated on February 10, 2013
FirstAct & Matrix Guitar Tuners
FirstAct & Matrix Guitar Tuners | Source

Tuning a guitar by ear is a clever idea, but have you ever tried to tune a guitar by ear? I can come close to tuned, but not quite tuned like it should be.

Twenty plus years ago I was shopping at the local music store when I came across the electronic tuner. There were several on display. Some had a metronome like display, and others had lights that indicating when the chord is flat or sharp. I was amazed that these little electronic boxes that could take the guess work out of guitar tuning, I had to have one.

That's when my career as a closet guitarist took off! The electronic tuner is simple and fast to work, and the guitar sounds great when you're done!

How to Adjust String Tension

A guitar is tuned by adjusting the tension of the string. Tightening the string causes it to sound higher, or sharper. Loosening the string causes it to sound lower or flat. To tighten or loosen the string there is a dial at the top of the guitar that can be twisted to achieve the desired sound (see photo at the right).

Tuning Dials on the Side
Tuning Dials on the Side | Source
Tuning Dials on the Back
Tuning Dials on the Back

The FirstAct Tuner

The FirstAct works by indicating when the chord is too flat or too sharp with red lights. The FirstAct runs on 2 AAA batteries.

When you pluck a string, either the flat on the left will light up red or the sharp on the right will light up indicating you're out of tune. If the green light in the center lights, then the string is in perfect tune.

If the FirstAct indicates that the chord is too flat, adjust the tension on the string by turning the tuning dial for that particular string at the top of the guitar. Likewise, if the FirstAct is indicating the chord is too sharp, adjust the tuning dial until the green indicator lights up in the center telling you it is tuned.

To see the FirstAct in action see the video at the bottom of this hub.

The Matrix Tuner

The Matrix runs off of a 9V battery or it can be plugged into a DC outlet to save battery power. It also has options for an input and an output on the side. The Matrix uses a dial with an indicator that goes from -50 on the left indicating flat to +50 indicating sharp. The Matrix has a manual or automatic mode option. A bar across the top starting at 6E on the left through 1E on the right is for the manual mode. The green light at the left of the bar lights up when it is in automatic mode.

When the string is plucked the indicator sways towards the flat -50 or the sharp +50. Excess in either direction means the strings tension needs to be adjusted. Using the dial adjusters at the top of the guitar, either tighten or loosen the string as the tuner indicates. Tighter for sharper +50 and loosen for flat -50.

To see the Matrix in action watch the video at the bottom of this hub.

Side by Side

Compact 3 3/4" by 1 1/8"
5 1/2" by 3"
2 AAA batteries
1 9V battery
Tunes Guitar & Bass Guitar
Tunes Guitar & Bass Guitar
Automatic Only
Both Automatic & Manual
Amp Plug
Amp Plug
Separate In & Out Plugs
DC adapter Plug
Both tuners are equally accurate. I've used them for over twenty years and they have both been absolutely reliable.

Tune a Guitar with Electronic Tuners


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