Before the guitar is played, it is most important that the instrument is tuned correctly. It will not have the correct tone otherwise, and players usually end up frustrated because they cannot make the guitar sound pleasing to them.
There are many different theories and discussions regarding tuning methods for guitar, some of which are better than others. The most simple and easiest method is to use a guitar tuner, readily available from most music shops. The open strings should be tuned as follows:
In the absence of a guitar tuner, we can use the standard ‘5th fret‘ tuning method:
- Ideally the 6th string (fattest string) should be tuned to E, using some reference point such as a piano, tuner, pitch pipes etc.
- Hold down the 6th string (fattest string – E) just behind the 5th fret and play this note. This note is an ‘A’ note.
- Then pluck the open 5th string. While this note is ringing, turn the tuning peg that the 5th string is attached to, so that the open string sounds the same as the note on the 5th fret of the 6th string. These two notes are both ‘A’.
- Now hold down and play the 5th fret of the 5th string and repeat the process for the 4th string.
- Again repeat this process for the 4th string, tuning the open 3rd string so that these two notes are the same.
- Now hold down and play the 4th fret of the 3rd (G) string, and tune the 2nd string to match this note.
- Finally hold down and play the 2nd (B) string at the 5th fret, and tune the open 1st string to match this note.
The following diagram sums up this process:
This tuning method is universally used, but like all methods it is prone to slight inaccuracies, especially when playing beyond the fifth fret. Other tuning methods exist for the guitar, and the guitarist is encouraged to explore these. However, for now, this will get your guitar in tune enough for the purposes of this website.