Get Your Guitar In Tune by March 4, 2016 0 comments

The guitar is set, done with the picks, accessories bought and you sit down to play. Bam! It doesn’t sound anything like the guy in the tutorial video or the song you heard. Hold on, did you check the tuning?

Tuning is one of the most crucial part of playing a guitar. Guitar is a string instrument and each string has its own specific note which needs to be done right. I will explain about the different tuning patterns for different genres later. But first, let us get to the normal standard tuning which is used by most of the, let me correct- almost all the guitar players in the world today.


The Standard E Tuning

So your guitar has six strings (not for metal and classical enthusiasts who have begun with some custom seven strings or nine string model). The first from the bottom or the lightest and thinnest of them all is your first string which is tuned in E note. The next, as you move up comes a bit thicker string (not that you will be able to tell the difference), the second string tuned in B note. The third string gives G note, whereas the fourth gives a heavy D. The fifth string as me move up gives an A while the thickest of them all, the sixth string is again an E.

Again for convenience, moving from the bottom thinnest string, gradually moving up-

  1. First String- E
  2. Second String- B
  3. Third String- G
  4. Fourth String- D
  5. Fifth String- A
  6. Sixth String-E

Whether you’re playing jazz, rock or pop- this is the tuning that would be used.

As you would be using the notes for tuning purposes, let us have a look at the notes in guitar that you are going to encounter.

It starts with an A and ends with the G. Every note except for B and E has sharp notes. So here are the notes

A, A sharp
C, C sharp
D, D sharp
F. F sharp
G, G sharp

and back to A again…


The Drop Tunings

For the guys going for metal or harmonizing songs, dropping the notes is very common. Not that it is standard; it is more of a trend. Specifically in metal songs, you will find the tuning in Drop D and Drop C. In this tuning, the sixth string is drop tuned to D or C note. This gives the electric guitar distortion tone a heavy grunge which people love to hear. However, I would NOT recommend this tuning for any beginners.


Tuning the Guitar

And now, the most important part of this tutorial, tuning the guitar. There are many ways of tuning the guitar and all you need is a reference at first. You can use the tuner, a tuning app from Smartphone, a keyboard or anything that can provide you a check for the note. For beginners, I strongly advise using a good digital Guitar Tuner.

A tuner or tuning app is highly recommended for beginners as tuning a guitar takes time to understand. It is better for the beginners to first hear the notes well, get used to them and the movement of the tuning pegs. The tuner gives a good idea of how close you are to tuning the guitar with every turn of the peg. It can also help you learn tuning.


Tuning by Reference

This how he maestros do it. Kidding, this how everyone normally does it when you don’t want a tuner. Honestly, if you are through with it and get this right, you wouldn’t want to use a tuner.

  1. Tuning the First String

First, you need to get a reference of E note as we start from the first string from the bottom. The reference note can be from a piano, an app or you can even set the string to tune to E with a tuner. After you have tuned the first string to E, leave your reference as the real work now begins.

  1. Tuning the Second String

This tuning technique is also known as the 5th fret technique or the mechanical tuning. As you have now tuned your first string to an E, press the fifth fret on the second string and try to match the first string (open) with the note you pluck. The 5th fret of the second string or the B string gives an E.

B (open) C (first) C sharp (second) D (third) D sharp (fourth) E (fifth)

So the fifth fret of second string and first string plucked open should give the same sound. This is more of a hearing test for you. Try to adjust the peg of the second string according to the note you hear from the first to get the both strings matched. The best way to match the two notes is using the Resonance test. You got to love this, there is a hint of physics in it.

The Resonance Test

When you pluck the string of reference, immediately pluck the note you are trying to match and let them resonate. If you can hear the change of vibration sound like a ‘Wow’ coming and going, it means you still need to match things up. However if you get same sound as that of the reference without any vibration change, you are good to go to the next string. This happens because of resonance. Strings having same note will vibrate at same frequency, producing resonance and the sound of the two combined becomes louder.

  1. Tuning the Third

The fifth takes a lift here. When you tune the third string, you need to match the fourth fret of the third (G) String with that of the open Second (B string). Press down on the fourth fret of the G strin and match it with the B note from second string.

For a check, here is how it goes on the third string

G (open) G sharp (first) A (second) A sharp (third) B (fourth)

Mach the notes and do the resonance test. After you are done, you are good to move to the next string

  1. And so on…

For the fourth, fifth and sixth, follow the same procedure as that of the second string as each of them will have their fifth fret note matching the open note of the string right below them. So the fourth string’s fifth will match the open third (G). The fifth fret from fifth string will match the open note of fourth (D) string. The fifth fret note from sixth string will match the open note from fifth string (A).

If you have tried this procedure for the first time or are about to go on with it, make sure to check the final tuning with a tuner so that you know what you were able to get to in the beginning. As I said, tuning takes patience and time, you need to practice it a lot to finally get it right.

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