When you pick up your guitar, your first instinct may be to begin playing immediately. However, your guitar may not be sounding its best. If the guitar strings sound “off,” your guitar may need some tuning. Tuning your instrument is an important skill to learn, especially as a string instrument player. The quicker you can tune your guitar, the quicker you can get to playing your instrument!
What is Tuning?
Tuning is changing the pitch of the strings on your instrument. You can achieve this by using the tuning pegs on the head of the instrument. Turning the peg one way will tighten and raise the tension of the string, making it sound higher. Turning the peg the opposite way will loosen and lower the tension of the string, making it sound lower.
Ideally, you should check the tuning of your guitar every time you play it, especially before your lesson. You should tune your instrument once it begins to sound “out of tune.” This could range from once a day to once a week. Some professional guitarists may even tune their instruments once every few hours during a performance! If the strings on your instrument are brand new, they may need “breaking in” and may need to be tuned frequently. Make sure to turn the tuning pegs slowly and carefully!
Two Ways to Tune Your Guitar
Method 1: Using an Electric Tuner/Tuning App
Electric tuners are a tool that guitarists use to quickly assess the pitches of their guitar strings. A physical electric tuner can be clipped onto the head of the guitar. Once the tuner is on, you can play an open string and the tuner will tell you which pitch you should tune the string to and how far away you are from that pitch. This is usually indicated with colored lights. Your goal is to tune the six strings of the guitar to the pitches E, A, D, G, B, and E from the sixth string to the first string.
Nowadays, there are plenty of instrument tuning apps online. You can download a tuning app on your electronic device for easy and portable access to a tuner. Tuning apps function similarly to a physical tuner. However, be sure to place the device close to your instrument. Your device’s microphone needs to pick up the sounds your instrument is making.
Method 2: Using a Reference Note
You can also tune your guitar “by ear” using a reference note. This means that after you tune the low E string, you can continue using the tuned string to tune the rest of the guitar. This is a more advanced method for tuning your guitar, so please reference the attached video for guidance using this method.
Tuning will become quicker and easier the more you practice it. Thankfully, this should be done before every time you practice guitar. Soon enough, you’ll be tuning your instrument in seconds!
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