How to Tune a Guitar – The Fretted Method

Posted by Guitar Pro on 8th January 2010 in Guitar Tuning

Guitar strings are numbered from high to low pitch. The high e (skiniest string) is string 1, the b string is string 2, … The low E string (the fat one) is string number 6.

How To Tune a Guitar

First you need to tune the low E string (string 6) to a reference tone. This can be done by playing an E note on the piano, by using a pitch pipe or by using a recorded E note, such as this one:

Push the play button on the above reference tone (you might have to push twice) and listen to the tone carefully. Now strike the low E-string of your guitar. Does the low E of your guitar sound lower or higher comparred to the reference tone?

  • If your guitar sounds lower: turn the tuning key slowly in clockwise direction until it is about the same pitch as the reference key. When the pitch of the guitar comes close to the reference pitch, you’ll notice that the sound begins to wave. Turn the tuning key bit by bit and the wave will begin to slow down until it comletely stops. That’s when the 2 tones are in tune. If you go too far, the wave will increase again (go to the next point if that happens).
  • If your guitar sounds higher: turn the tuning key in counter clockwise direction until is lower than the reference tone. Then go back to the previous point. Always go lower first when you are tuned too high, otherwise the string might get stuck in some places.

Now finger the low E-string close to the 5th fret:

Tune Guitar Strings

The note you are holding with your finger is an A, the same note as the 5th string in open position. To tune the A string, play both strings together and use the tuning key to adjust the pitch of the A string. Use the method from step 2 to do this.
When the A string is in tune, finger the 5th fret on the A string. This is a D note, the same note as the 4th string. Play both strings together and get them in tune.
Finger the 5th fret on the D string. This produces a G note, the same note as the 3rd string. Play both strings together and tune. If you are learning how to tune a bass guitar, then this is where it stops, only 4 strings on a bass guitar.
This step is a little different. Instead of fingering the 5th fret, we are now going to use the 4th fret of the G string. This produces a B note, the same note as the second string. Play them together and get them in tune.
Hold the 5th fret on the B string. This produces an E note, the same note as the high E string. Play both strings together and tune them.

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