Guitar Tuning: Tuning by Ear – Without an Ear by April 19, 2016 0 comments

Guitar Tuning

Tuning a guitar is not a child’s play. So before you put your hand over the tuning board and try experimenting, you should know that just the wrong turn there could really mess up your practice sessions. Not that I am trying to scare your or ward off your learning curiosity, you need to be very careful with the tuning board. In this tutorial blog, you would be learning how you can tune your guitar with and without ear.


Guitar Notation For Open Strings

To begin guitar tuning, you need to understand and learn this notation-

‘Every Boy Goes Down And Eat’

This might be another sentence for you right now. But look at the first letter of every word that has been capitalized- E, B, G, D, A, E. This is how the strings sound in open- the thinnest of them being the first E, going to the second thinnest at B and the thickest two at A and E.

Once again, in increasing order of thickness (bottom to top)

1st String- E

2nd String-B

3rd String- G

4th String- D

5th String- A

6th String- E


Tuning Without Ear

Tuning the guitar without using ear power or the sense of notes by sound can be easily done if you have a tuner. A tuner is a small device which can be attached to the guitar’s tuning board above the fret board and can tell how far you are from the default open string sounds. Then by making adjustments to the tune knobs, you can get the desired note easily.

Not just the tuners, today you can find a variety of technological tools such as the tuning application for smart phones and an automatic tuner which can help you to tune as well. In these, you do not exactly need to make your sense of sound judgement better. This is an effective way of tuning for the beginners. However, if you’re planning to learn the basics as well and are looking forward to play different songs from several genres, you should be able to change the tuning with ear as well.



Tuning With Ear

By the rule of 5

Welcome to the professional way of doing it- tuning the guitar in no time by using your judgement of the sound of different notes. The very first step of this process is to choose a reference medium

The Reference

The technique that you’re going to learn requires you to have your first string openly tuned to E note with perfection. Now you can do so without using a tuner. You can choose a reference such as a keyboard or a software/application that can play the E note for you. Choosing that as the reference, you need to make sure that your first string is tuned to match the note E. You might also use the tuner for this purpose.

Tuning The Second String

Now you must have thought what ‘the rule of 5 in the subheading above means. The rule of 5 is what is going to help you tune your guitar strings perfectly. After you have completely tuned your first string and are ready for the second, do not play the second string open. Instead, play the fifth fret and try to match it with the sound of open 1st string.

This is done because the fifth fret of the second string (B) happens to be the note E, as shown as follows-

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

All you need to do is to make sure that the fifth fret sound of the second string matches the first string without any discrepancy. You can check the extent of match or similarity in the sound by plucking both the strings together. If the strings have the same sound, they will resonate and the E note will ring loudly. However if there is a difference, you will get a ‘waw-waw’waw’ sound which will diminish shortly.

Tuning The Third String

After getting the second string completely right, we move on to the third string, which happens to be the only exception to the rule of 5. According to the rule, the fifth fret of the third string should correspond with the open note of the second string. However, this does not happen. The fourth fret of the third string satisfies the condition instead of the fifth fret.

G(open) G sharp(first fret) A(second fret) A sharp(third fret) B(fourth fret)-second string match

You get the match and tune in the same manner as you tuned the second string.

Tuning The Fourth, Fifth And The Sixth String

Now that you know that the third string was the only exception, the fourth, fifth and the sixth string need to be tuned in the same manner from beginning to the end just like the second string was. The reference of the string would be its predecessor. Each string’s fifth fret note would match the open note sound of its predecessor. The fourth’s string 5th fret would be G (open of third string), fifth string’s 5th fret would be D (open of fourth string) and the sixth string’s 5th fret would be A (open of fifth string).


Guitar Tuning without ear is easy. However, Guitar tuning without ear requires a lot of practice which over the time being makes your judgement of sound much better. Remember, Guitar tuning without the ear might seem easy and quick but it is tuning with the ear that actually helps you further in guitar learning process.

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