Tuning a guitar is a relatively simple process. It’s made even simpler if one has a keyboard, pitch pipe, or electronic guitar tuner. The latter can be purchased in virtually any music store for under $30 US Dollars (USD) and is an indispensable tool when you wish to tune a guitar. For an even lower cost option, guitar tuners found online work surprisingly well.
Standard tuning of a six string guitar translates to the strings themselves being tuned to the notes of E, A, D, G, B, and E. In truth, one can tune a guitar in an infinite variety of patterns, but for the beginning guitarist, a standard tuning will allow for playing the greatest number of songs. It will also cause the least frustration for those who are just beginning to learn chords and notes.
If you have an electronic tuner, all that is required is to pick the individual string, view the display on the tuner, and adjust the tuning pegs that increase or decrease the string’s tension. However, you can utilize another method to tune a guitar, and it is also quick and simple.
Using either a pitch pipe or tuner, pluck the thickest string - the sixth string - until you find the note of E. Next, press down on the fifth fret of the sixth string and gently pluck it. This is the note of A. Tune the fifth string until it matches that pitch.
The process continues. Press down on the fifth fret of the fifth string, and you will hear the note of D. Tune the fourth string to that pitch. Again, press the fifth fret of the fourth string, and you will hear the note of G. Tune the third string to this pitch.
On the third string, press the fourth fret, rather than the fifth. Tune the second string to this tone, which is a B. Finally, move your finger back to the fifth fret of the second string. This note is an E, the tone for your first string. At this point, your guitar should be in tune.
This is a tried and true method to tune a guitar. Keep in mind that, as you play, strings will stretch and go out of tune. Also, new strings will need to be re-tuned several times before they hold the correct pitch.
You may not be a guitar god just yet. As with any endeavor, practice is required to learn songs and acquire proficiency. However, your instrument is in tune, and you are now ready to tackle some simple songs.