Guitar Tuning Methods

SIDEBAR: was redesigned and re-launched on November 28, 2007. As a result, this page was merged into other articles, including: Tune Your Guitar.

You can alco click here to visit the new Home Page, then look at the navigation bar on the left side of the page for all of the lessons.

You can't play a tune unless your guitar is in tune! Luckily there are many guitar tuning methods. One is certainly perfect for you!

But first...

SIDEBAR: I know... you want to tune your guitar, and I'm telling you to wait. Trust me, before you can tune up, you should know the names of your guitar strings and understand a few basics of how to do so properly... So...

...take a minute to learn the Guitar String Names, then read the article on Guitar Tuning Basics. You'll learn how your strings affect tuning, proper hand technique for the guitar tuning methods, the direction to tune (yes, it matters), and a couple common problems to watch for!

SIDEBAR: One more thing... since this web-site is about the first steps to playing guitar, I cover only what is known as standard tuning. There are other tunings used by guitarists: Drop-D tuning and Open-G tuning are two examples. Don't worry about those yet.

There are several easy guitar tuning methods to choose from. I'll describe several in detail.

As you read about the various guitar tuning methods, you may come across unfamiliar terms, such as 'in tune', 'out of tune', or 'pitch'. Don't worry, that's why I created the glossary.

Tuning methods fall into one of two broad categories: Perfect Pitch Tuning and Relative Tuning.

Relative Tuning Methods

What's Relative Tuning? It's getting a string in tune by using another (already tuned) string. When you're done, the pitch of one string is related to the pitch of another. They may both be slightly off-pitch, but you'd have a hard time telling.

There are two basic relative guitar tuning methods: Tuning to one string, and tuning to adjacent strings. I'll walk you through a few methods to successfully use these methods, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each on the Relative Pitch Guitar Tuning Methods page.

Perfect Pitch Tuning Methods

The Perfect Pitch Tuning Methods will get your open strings as close to a set of standard frequencies (notes) as possible. There are several ways to match your strings to these standard frequencies. Learn about them on the Perfect Pitch Guitar Tuning Methods page.

SIDEBAR: Which method is best?

Like so many other questions, the answer is... It depends.

When playing by yourself, perfect pitch is not required, but it's nice to get used to. In a pinch, though, relative tuning works fine.

When playing with others, matched-tuning (being in tune with the other players) is most important. Start with perfect pitch, then change that only if needed.

If you want to play along with a recording, you are more likely to need to be perfectly in tune.

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