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How to Tune a Guitar
One of the first skills you need to master in learning how to play the guitar is how to tune it. Here's how to tune a 6 string guitar with a standard tuning method:

Find a way to listen to an E Note (Tuned piano, a pitch pipe, a tuning fork, or a recorded note

Put the Guitar on your lap in a comfortable position

Pluck the bottom E string of the guitar while listening to the tuned E note

Turn the tuning key for the bottom E string until your guitar sounds the same as the tuned note (tighter string raises the pitch, looser string lowers the pitch)

When the string is slightly out of tune, the E note from the guitar and the other source will combine and cause the sound to waver in pitch. As you tighten or loosen your E string key you should hear this wavering slow down and stop. If you go too far it will start wavering again.

Push down on the 5th freet of the bottom E string that yoiu just tuned and pluck the string. This will be referred to as the fifth-fretted bottom E string.

Pluck the A string and compare it to the sound of the fifth-fretted bottom E string. Pluck the two strings in succession and then simultaneously.

Turn the tuning key for the A string until it sounds the same as the fifth-fretted bottom E string.

Pluck the D string and compare it to the sound of the fifth-fretted A string. Pluck the two strings in succession and then simultaneously.

Tune the D string to the fifth-fretted A string.

Pluck the G string and compare it to the sound of the fifth-fretted D string. Pluck the two strings in succession and then simultaneously.

Tune the G string to the fifth-fretted D string.

Pluck the B string and compare it to the sound of the fourth-fretted G string. Pluck the two strings in succession and then simultaneously.

Tune the B string to the fourth-fretted G string. Note that this is the only time the fourth fret is used.

Pluck the top E string and compare it to the sound of the fifth-fretted B string. Pluck the two strings in succession and then simultaneously.

Tune the top E string to the fifth-fretted B string. Be very careful when tightening this string as it can break easily.

Some Tips

  • If you have a microphone on your computer, you can use online tuners, instead of buying a real life one.
  • When playing the same note on two strings (when tuning), to get a perfect note match, listen carefully, if the two notes seem to be 'wavy, then keep tightening/loosening the nut!
  • After tuning all strings from the 6th to the 1st, check the 6th string pitch again. Most probably it will go out of tune because you changed strings tension and the neck changed its shape, making all strings shorter or longer. This is especially the case for acoustic guitars. If this happened, tune your guitar again.
  • Harmonic tuning is more accurate and easier for some people. This is done by comparing the harmonic on the fifth fret of the lower string to that of the seventh fret on the higher string. To play a harmonic, lightly touch the string directly above the fret and let it go as you pluck the string. Another advantage of harmonic tuning is that both strings will continue to ring as you let go of the neck to adjust the tuning pegs. Note: this doesn't work for the second (B) string.
  • Tune your guitar every time you use it. Playing can make your guitar go out of tune, especially if you have a cheap guitar or old, cheap strings or if you use tremolo a lot.
  • If you are tuning a bass guitar, the layout is the same. The difference is a bass guitar doesn't have a B and high E string.
  • You will find it easier to tune each string if you loosen the string to flatten the note, then increase the tension to come up to pitch. Some of the strings have a tendency to "stick" where they slide over the nut, and will be in tune until they suddenly slip flat. By coming up to pitch, this tendency is avoided. You can also lubricate the slot in the nut with graphite (pencil lead) and it will help to avoid sticking during tuning.
  • If you don't have access to a piano, keyboard, or tuner, pick up your phone! In the US at least, standard dial tone is an F. Also, You can use a tuning fork To tune a guitar, in a pinch.
  • After tuning, strum open major chords in the five common chord forms (C, F, G, A, and D). Make sure they sound right (no dissonance, or wavering). A guitar can seem in tune using the method described above, but if the intonation is not set up quite right the guitar won't sound quite right. You may need to make some minor adjustments to ensure that chords sound right.
  • After tuning, make sure the G string and the G at the eighth fret of the B string sound the same (other than being an octave apart, obviously). These two notes being slightly out of tune is a common problem and will make chords sound very bad. It's better to have the E and B strings a *little* bit flat relative to the low E string than to have the G string sound out of tune with the E and B strings. This problem has to do with the way guitars are designed but is exacerbated by bad intonation.
  • Tune your guitar to concert pitch. Tuning it flat can have a negative subconscious effect on your listeners. Most people have a sense of absolute pitch whether they recognize it or not. Tuning your guitar flat will make something sound not quite right to your listeners. Besides, playing trains your ears. Train them right!
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