How To Tune Your Guitar

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Welcome to our Quick Start series here at Guitar Tricks. This three part series is designed to get eager beginners making music and having fun with the guitar. If you already have a little bit of experience, I recommend skipping ahead to Chapter 1 of Guitar Fundamentals, as this tutorial is designed for people who are picking up the guitar for the very first time.

So you decided you wanted to learn guitar and you found Guitar Tricks! The first thing I want to tell you is that this is going to be a lot of fun! As with learning any new skill there might be times when you feel challenged, but with a little determination anyone can learn to play, and if you stick with it, the rewards are well worth it.

In future lessons we will cover everything you need to know about the parts of the guitar, proper technique for each hand, and lots more in-detail lessons. But for now, let’s just get you strumming a few chords and playing some music!

The first thing to cover is tuning, because if your guitar is out of tune, nothing you play will sound right.

If you have an electronic tuner like this one, go ahead and grab it now. There are many different versions out there but the basics are the same on all of them.

You play a note like this, and the tuner shows whether your string is flat and needs to come up in pitch, or sharp and needs to come down.
Here I’m playing the thickest string, which is an E note, and I can see that the tuner shows the needle on the flat side of the letter E. So what I will do is find the tuning knob up here that controls the 6th string. Now that I have the right one, I want to turn it in the direction that makes the note rise in pitch, so that the needle on the tuner goes to the middle, which means the note is in tune. Try it yourself. You can turn it both ways and hear that one direction makes the note rise in pitch and the other makes it lower in pitch. When we tune a guitar, we want to raise or lower the pitch of each string so that on the tuner it shows this line being in the middle, which means it is in-tune.

I’ve already got my guitar in-tune. So what I will do next is play each note 3 times slowly, so that you can follow along and quickly tune up. Play each note with me, and if the note sounds wrong, adjust it with the tuners here. You might need to replay this part of the video a few times to get it right, and that’s ok! Just go to the next lesson once you are in tune and ready to go.

Caren Armstrong
Instructor Caren Armstrong