Tuning your guitar by ear can be inaccurate, and who wants to have a physical tuner laying around? It’s just an extra piece of unneeded equipment.
We have combed through the most popular guitar course’s features and compared the top courses with an online guitar tuner in the table below:
Here’s the thing – You can know exactly what to play and when to play it, but if your instrument is not tuned, it’s never going to sound right. Therefore, keeping your guitar in tuned is one of the most important, if not the most important thing for beginners.
It will take some time to develop an “ear” for music. What this essentially means is that advanced musicians with an “ear” for music are able to pick out notes in, say, a melody and be able to transcribe it into sheet music. Veteran musicians may also be able to tune by the ear, something that you’ll develop over time. Thankfully for beginners, easier methods of tuning like electronic guitar tuners exist.
The Guitar Strings
There are six strings on your acoustic or electric guitar. The names of the guitar strings, from lowest to highest (or thickest to skinniest strings) are:
A lot of beginners find an acronym to remember the strings by like Every Adult Dog Growls Barks Eats. It’s important that you learn the name of the strings because guitarists need to easy know where they can find notes on the guitar as well as for tuning purposes.
Types of Guitar Tuners
Before you begin your guitar lesson, you need to tune the guitar. It is possible to tune the instrument without anything but a couple of good ears, though it is highly recommended that a beginner invest in one of the following tuning devices:
- Electronic Chromatic Tuner
- Electronic Non-Chromatic Tuner
- Tuning Fork
Electronic guitar tuners are by far the most popular and for good reason. Guitarists simply connect the cable from the guitar itself to the electronic tuner. When you pluck an open string (open string = non-fretted), the electronic tuner reads the string and lets you know if it’s sharp or flat. The guitarist then adjusts the tuning peg for the string until it’s fully in-tune. This is where knowing the names of the strings comes into use because you need to make sure the instrument is tuned to (from low to high) E-A-D-G-B-E.
Chromatic electronic tuners are slightly more expensive, but worth the extra cost. Non-chromatic tuners work too, but you may have to get a reference pitch because the tuner will only respond when your strings are close to the correct pitches.
Means to a reference pitch:
- Tuning Fork
- Another Guitar
- Other Instruments
- Other Tone Generators
A more seasoned guitarist will be able to tune the guitar to itself. It’s a complicated process that only becomes easier with experience and practice. The piano and tuning fork are widely the two most popular ways to get a reference pitch. Once you have a reference pitch, it is possible to tune the guitar via a process called Relative Tuning.
Relative tuning works like this: As long as the strings are in tune in a certain relationship with each other, you, the guitarist, can create sonorous and harmonious tones. As long as you tune the strings relative to one another, the guitar will be in tune.
The Fifth-Fret Relative Tuning Method goes as followed:
- Play 5th Fret on the 6th (low-E) string, then play the open 5th on the next string down (A)
- Let both notes ring together. Their pitches should match exactly. Adjust the tuning peg on the 5th string until the two match. NOTE: Slowly make adjustments on the tuning peg. If you adjust too aggressively it will simply keep going from sharp to flat and take forever to tune.
- Play 5th fret on the 5th (A) string, then play the open 4th string. Match the pitch.
- Play 5th fret on the 4th (D) string, then play the open 3rd string. Match the pitch.
- Repeat same process down the guitar until all strings are relatively tuned.
Relatively tuning will take some time to master. It’s something that you should definitely attempt to pick-up after a few months playing because you’ll never know when you might be at a gig, etc and forget your electronic tuner. Relatively tuning will be your savior!