Tuning an acoustic guitar is actually quite simple but does require a little skill and patience
in order to do it right. Let's face it, having your guitar in tune is an essential part of learning
to play and sounding well. While tuning an acoustic guitar, you're developing your ear to hear how
the instrument should sound. In this article you'll learn how to use an electronic tuner. Hopefully
some of the tips presented here will help you not only with using this device, but also with other
New guitarists will find using an electronic tuner the most simplest and accurate method for
tuning an acoustic guitar. Tuners come in two basic types: chromatic, and those designed especially
for the guitar. We recommend you buy a guitar model as your first tuner as they are calibrated to
read the pitches and register of the guitar.
You will also find many tuners that double as a metronome. These types of integrated models are
fine, but you really don't need a lot of features. Tuners are relatively inexpensive, and a quality
brand name with a short list of simple features will give you more reliable service than a cheaper
brand packed with add-ons.
The strings of the guitar are numbered from highest to lowest, one through six. However, we
usually start tuning an acoustic guitar from the sixth string and work our way up. The standard
tuning for the guitar is:
With your guitar tuner in hand, select which string you wish to tune and play into its small
microphone. Set the tuner on your knee close to the sound-hole so that its microphone can pick up
the sound. You may need to pick the string in a steady manner to 'feed' the microphone with a
steady pitch, as you adjust the string's pitch with the tuning pegs. If your guitar has a built in
pickup, you should be able to plug the instrument into the tuner with a patch chord. An indicator
on the tuner, often a vu-style meter, will tell you when the string is in tune.
Tuning an acoustic guitar using vu-style meters is very easy. You just simply bring the needle
to the center of the viewer while you play one of the strings. I like this style of indicator,
because it tells you when your string is too low or too high, and you can adjust the string's pitch
accordingly. This helps you develop your ear since the meter gives you a visual picture of the
relative highness or lowness of your pitch, something that is necessary to hear when you learn to
tune by ear.
Once you have tuned all six strings, take a moment to test each string once again. We also
recommend playing a couple of open string chords such as E major, A major, and D major after tuning
an acoustic guitar and listen for any intonation problems. If you don’t know these chords and
scales yet, learn and use an E major chord, remembering to strum all six strings.
Check your tuning every time you pick up the guitar to play. Your guitar may actually hold its
pitch for a long period of time, especially if it’s a steel string guitar, but you can’t rely on
this as a fact. Wood responds to changes in temperature and humidity, affecting the tension on the
strings, and in turn, the guitar’s tuning.
Tuning an acoustic guitar is a part of playing and enjoying the instrument. We hope this brief
article has helped you in learning this important skill.