How to Tune a Guitar- A Beginners Guide

How to tune a guitar

Guitar playing and tuning is a dream for many beginners. Most people will think that you can get a guitar and pluck it to produce your ideal sound. However, the case is different because you will need to do some studies to understand how to tune a guitar and its essentials.

As a beginner, there are some basics you need to know, like the types of guitars and their features. Understanding the strings and the notes they represent will also help you to enjoy the playing sessions. For that reason, we have a guide that will make everything convenient for you. Below is our comprehensive guide.

Related Article: How to Change Strings On a Guitar

Different types of guitars

Before we get to tuning, it is essential to understand the various types of guitars. This will ensure that you choose the right guitar to buy for a beginner. There are several types, but we shall pick the basic ones.

Acoustic guitars

Acoustic guitars are the ones that come with a considerable body that allows for sound vibration. They are generally huge and have a wide neck that makes playing them more manageable. They come with either nylon strings or steel strings.

Each type of string will have the kind of sound they will conveniently play. Classical music will play better when you have nylon strings. It is also easier to tune nylon strings than steel strings.

Classical guitars

These are acoustic guitars that come with nylon strings. You will therefore love using them to play classical music because they deliver an idealsound quality.

Beginners in playing the guitars also find the classical guitars strings to be the best for lessons because they are easy to master, and the strings do not hurt the fingers. Managing different kinds of music is also another thing you will have easy and great moments with.

Electric guitars

These guitars are slim and produce a minimal sound. You will therefore need to have an amplifier to have the sound getting adequately projected. Having a lean body makes them excellent choices for beginners. The primary reason there is the use of an amplifier is to ensure adequate loudness and sound quality.

When using the electric guitar, you will have adequate loudness and sustain, ideal for learning.  One significant difference between electric guitars and acoustic guitars are the strings. An electric guitar has thinner strings than an acoustic and classical guitar.

Understanding the notes of a guitar

If you want to have a quick understanding of the tuning, you need to have some basic information, especially tuning. A pitch from a different device, such as a piano, will help you to master the placement of the introductory notes quickly. However, a pitch is not mandatory if you have some knowledge from another guitar.

When using different devices, you will need to make some adjustments to produce a different sound. You may play the same note but find it sounding different. The essential thing you will do is to ensure that the notes sound the same.

Before you begin the tuning, you will go through the whole guitar by playing the strings for around 6 minutes. By doing so, you will have known how each string sounds. You can therefore differentiate between the different notes and the sound they produce.

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The next thing is to identify the note E on the strings. What will help you is by using a pitch or a piano to give you the accurate sound you can match. You will note two black keys in a piano that get separated from the other three by two white notes.  The first key from the two black keys is note E, as shown in the diagram below.

On the guitar, the note E is usually the lowest. When you pluck it, you should hear a sound similar to the one on the piano. For you to master and work without having to consult the piano frequently, you will have to play the guitar regularly so that the note gets to your fingertips.

Tuning using a piano

Having identified the note E location, some people would prefer to begin tuning using a piano. Of course, it is the easiest way to master art. You will trace the note’s location and then begin to play the two instruments simultaneously so that you can ascend playing the two instruments while comparing the notes.

You can choose to play the various notes on the piano until you get the one that is closest to the sixth string. Having identified it, we can now choose the rest of the strings. This is another convenient way to learn how to tune a guitar.

Getting the other strings

We have identified a starting point that will make everything simple for start. From E, we have the notes named A,D,G,B and E. We will therefore count up the strings. If the lowest string is E, we will arrange the rest of the letters to make up the complete octave. Counting is from the lowest string to the highest, therefore, having the lowest string as E and the highest as E, and the fifth note is A. 

Again you will need to use the piano or the pitch to ensure that the rest of the notes are accurate. Following the pitching rules are the easiest way as they will allow you to get the notes quickly and more accurately.

Simple steps to tuning your guitar

  1. Get the sixth string accurately- you will, first of all, ensure that the lowest string is in tune. To ensure that you have made an accurate guess, you will need to use the pitch or the piano. For accuracy, ensure that he notes on the pitch and the E sound as they are.
  2. Play the sixth string- the sixth string and fifth on fret A. When counting from below is E. You will also tune the note until you have a sound that matches the one on the pitch. Playing the fifth strings and A located at the fret until they sound the same will have allowed you to acquire the mission.
  3. Play the fifth string- combining the fifth string, D on the fret and playing D on the strings, will have tuned the note D. You will then play until they sound the same.
  4. Play the fourth string- you will locate the fifth fret and play the string under sound G. Plucking several times until the sounds match will make everything perfect.
  5. Play the third-string- you will observe the fourth fret with the note B. Tune the second string as it has the sound B until you merge the two sounds.
  6. Finally, play the second string- the second string and the fifth fret have the note E. You will play the two until they produce a similar sound. 
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Once you finish doing all this work, you will have tuned your guitar. It is a simple task that you can begin to do without a pitch after a few exercises. Once done, you can try comparing the work you have done with the piano to see if all the strings you played are accurate.

Using a mobile app to tune your guitar

Another effective method you can embrace when tuning your guitar is the use of the mobile app. It is an accessible and cheap method that most beginners will find convenient to start with. One of the apps you can easily use is the piano app with the notes indicated, hence making note identification effortless.

Other mobile phone apps will teach you how to Tune a Guitar conveniently. Some have a guide that will make you keep learning the whole tuning exercise.

Using other instruments for tuning

If you have a different instrument you wish to use for tuning, then there is a provision. What you will do is to identify the position of note E. You will therefore be in a position to use the same theory to master the remaining notes and do the tuning. You need to be very careful with getting the notes clearly, especially the sounds, as they may confuse if they don’t match.

When tuning using other devices, the process is the same as the one we have highlighted above. You will adhere to it so that you have the best outcomes.  Microphone based tuners are some of the best models as they will project the sound with a lot of clarity, making your mastery easier.

Tuning tips for guitars

Some tips will help you to make the tuning process effective. If you are a new guitarist, you probably understand how challenging it may be to tune your new guitar.  Mastering the art through tuning and listening consumes time and can be quite challenging.

What you will experience as a challenge is a process of learning to differentiate the notes.  Getting to understand which note is higher or lower is a significant challenge.  Continued practice will make the process of understanding the notes simpler.

Here are the tips that will make things easier.

  • Try humming a note as soon as you play it. Making it to understand a note with your voice makes your understanding more accessible. You can then play the second note and differentiate it from the first while still humming it.  Continue playing and humming the first and the second note until you master and differentiate the notes naturally.
  • Hum the first note continuously- you will keep interchanging the notes several times. As you play, note the shift of the voice as it either goes up or down. If your voice goes down, the note is lower, and if it goes up, then it is higher. An adjustment through tuning is therefore needed, especially for the second note, until they get to the same point
  • Tune the guitar every time- when intermingling with your guitar, it is vital to keep tuning it. Continuous intermingling with it will make the process of familiarization quick and more enhanced.  When you keep repeating the tuning, you will be able to manage the guitar quickly.
  • Watch tuning videos- another effective method you can always employ is watching videos associated with tuning. By doing so, you will be able to relate the lessons you acquire with the practical bit of tuning. You will also find it convenient to adjust a few guitar settings so that it becomes simple to adjust.
  • Keep the guitar away from hot and cold places- just like any other instruments, an increase in temperatures affects the guitar’s functionality. When the day is warm, avoid keeping the guitar exposed to the sun.
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When it is cold, do not let the guitar get exposed to extreme temperatures. Placing it on the floor or behind the door overnight while exposed to cold will make its rigidity more enhanced, ending up tampering with the tone.

  • Loosen the strings- some slight loosening of the string will make the guitar quickly cope with the temperatures and humidity. When you have to travel, it is wise to ensure that the strings are slightly loose so that they adapt to all forms of temperatures,
  • Keep the guitar off from impacts- impacts can be heavy or light. It is very wise to keep your guitar less exposed to impacts. A slight bump will make the quality of the tone bad and its performance unreliable when playing. Keeping the guitar in its protected place is the best thing as it will keep it away from any form of damage.
  • Make replacements of the strings- you may also need to replace the guitar strings regularly. If the strings are old, dirty, and corroded, you will have difficulty tuningthem up. It will also be very exposed to damage every time you try to tune the strings or adjust them.
  • Press the strings- when playing the strings, ensure that you press the part on the fretboard so that the sound gets tuned. Pressing tunes, the sound to produce the required and preferred note.


Tuning a guitar is a very challenging task, especially for beginners. Having some good guide for understanding the guitars and how to locate the notes makes everything easier. If you have a pitch, then the process of mastering the art will be a cake.

You can use these steps to tune a classical guitar or any other type of guitar.