Learning to tune your guitar by ear

Published: Jul 14, 2014  |   Category: Uncategorized

  Rats!  I still can't figure out in I am in tune or not?

Learning to tune your guitar can be a bit of a struggle. You break a few strings from tuning up too high as a beginner. You tune to the wrong pitch. (It's in perfect tune!... to the wrong note). There are several ways to tune your guitar with everyone pointing to their fancy gadget, app or gizmo to help you get it perfect. 

But what if you don't have a tuner?

You find a guitar at a friend's house or at a garage sale and someone wants you to play them something.

What will you do? There are several reasons in which learning to tune by ear is essential, not the least of these is that you are a musician. You should know how to tune without the aid of a tuner.  


Let's go over a couple of ways to tune without a tuner.

1.) Relative Tuning Method. 

The way this works is to tune the guitar to itself. Since you have to start somewhere, we would start by tuning your guitar to the sixth string, the low E. 

1. Put your finger on the 5th fret of the low E string and that is an A note. Since the next string you are tuning to is an A, you would play both the notes at the same time, gently tuning the A string until its pitch matched the note you were fretting on the sixth string.

2. Once both notes were the same pitch, you would move to the next string and repeat the previous process. This time, fretting the 5th fret on the A string and playing the open note of the fourth string, D.

3. Repeat the same for the next string.

4. Here's where it got tricky. When fretting on the now tuned G string, you would place your finger on the 4th fret(not the 5th) to tune this string correctly.

5. The last string you would repeat the process you did for the first three strings.


I would always use a tuner when you first start trying to tune by ear. Over time, you will start to hear the subtle differences that let you know whether you are in tune or not.

2.) Harmonic Tuning Method.

Once you have figured out how to tune using the relative tuning version above, you can use this knowledge to tune using the harmonic method. This involves chiming harmonics on the neck.

1. Once again we are tuning to the E6 string. To tune the A5 string, place your finger over the 5th fret on the E6 string, but don't push down. Just touch the string. Make sure you are directly over the fret. It should produce a chime. As that chime is ringing, touch the 7th fret on the A5 string and play the harmonic. Both should sound the same if they are in tune. If they are not, it will be more noticable than using the relative tuning. 

2. Repeat the process for every string except the B2 string. To tune the B2, chime the 7th fret of the E6 string and the 12th fret of the B2 string. They are both the same pitch. 


You know, honestly it's easier to show you than teach you. Stop on by and we will show you how to tune for FREE!  



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