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Tuning the Guitar

Fist of all… Let’s get in tune. Ideally, you have a guitar tuner but, regardless, you should still be aware of the process of how to tune your instrument to itself. There are many different tunings for the guitar. The most common is what is known as standard tuning.

How to tune your guitar to standard tuning the old fashioned way. i.e. by ear.

To get standard tuning, the strings should be tuned to E, A, D, G, B, E (from the thick one down).

Common useful mnemonics for remembering guitar string names in standard tuning are:

Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears


Eddy Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddy

The following process assumes that the low E string is already in tune. If it isn’t (or you don’t know) don’t worry. That’s why its called relative pitch. Most people wont be able to tell as long as the strings are all in tune with each other. Of course if you are playing with other people, or along with a recording, some consensus will need to be agreed for the starting note. These days however, with tuning apps and reference notes easy to come by on-line this is now a historical issue and hardly worth mentioning.

Play the low ‘E’ string (the thick one) with your finger on the fifth fret. This makes an ‘A’ note.

Listen to the note…….

Now play the open ‘A’ string whilst the ‘A’ note on the ‘E’ string is still ringing.

Listen to the note… Do the two notes sound the same?

If not, turn the tuning head on the ‘A’ string until the two notes sound the same.

When the ‘A’ string sounds in tune, put your finger on the fifth fret of the ‘A’ string to make a ‘D’ note.

Use this note to tune the ‘D’ string.

Repeat the process for the ‘G’ string using the fifth fret of the ‘D’ string to get your ‘G’.

The only time it is different is when you come to tuning the ‘B’ string. This time you need to put your finger on the FOURTH fret of the ‘G’ string.

Finally, play the fifth fret of your tuned ‘B’ string to produce an ‘E’ note which you can use to tune the top string.

Your guitar should now be in tune!