How to tune an acoustic guitarOn October 12, 2019 by Miriam Delorenzo
Tuning the acoustic guitar is one of the most important steps to make the musical notes of our guitar sound good. Having a guitar that is out of tune is not pleasant for the ears.
Stringed musical instruments usually need the use of a tuner when the strings are out of tune. Although it is advisable, but not always necessary, to carry out the tuning whenever you are going to take guitar lessons or before giving a concert, if you want your melody to sound correctly.
Learning to tune your instrument is one of the most elementary things every musician should do, because… who doesn’t want to make the right note sound? To help you a little with this task, at Musisol we offer you this guide with the fundamental principles of tuning and the steps you should follow.
What does it mean to ‘tune an acoustic guitar’?
The process of tuning the guitar is known as tuning. In the case of tuning an acoustic guitar or another type of guitar, such as an electric guitar or a Spanish guitar, we must take into account that there are alternative tunings, although the most common one (standard tuning for 6-string guitar) is EADGBE: mi-la-re-sol-si-mi. And at 440 Hz frequency.
What is a guitar tuner?
A guitar tuner is an element designed with the objective of making acoustic guitars reach a perfect tuning. Guitars do not always stay in tune and that is why it is necessary to tune them before we start playing.
Although it is true that a good musical ear is enough to tune an acoustic guitar, an acoustic guitar tuner will always be useful, especially when we want to save time or we are beginners.
How to tune an acoustic guitar
There are several ways in which we can tune an acoustic guitar, but the most recommended method, especially for those who are just starting to learn to play, is to use an acoustic tuner.
Another thing that we must take into account when tuning is to exercise our ear. Once you have finished tuning your guitar, you must play each of its strings and imitate with your voice each sound of it. You must do it daily so that, in this way, you can perfect your musical ear.
When you buy a guitar tuner you will notice that it has a nomenclature for each note; that is, if you press the strings, the tuner will show you the name of the note that is playing, either with the American cipher (C-D-E-F-G-A-B) or the Latin one.
How to tune your acoustic guitar with a tuner
The first thing you must take into account is the difference between an acoustic guitar and a classical guitar; the acoustic guitar is the American model of the classical guitar and its tone is different, since it uses different materials both in its construction and in the strings.
Having said that, we will explain you how to tune an acoustic guitar:
- Identify which are the correct pegs for each of the strings. Follow the strings to their peg: this way you can be sure which peg you are going to turn and in which direction.
- Turn the peg clockwise to raise the pitch (higher) or counter-clockwise to lower the pitch (lower).
- In case you decide to use an electronic tuner, you should turn it on and place it near the guitar so that it can register the sound or place it on the paddle (top) if it is by pinch-type vibration.
- Play the strings and turn the pegs until you get the right tone.
- You should have gotten a good quality chromatic guitar tuner, as it is the easiest way to tune an acoustic guitar. It will tell you when the string you are playing reaches the desired note.
- In case you are a beginner, the recommendation is a clip-on tuner. They are very simple to use, small, quality and allow you to tune the acoustic guitar in noisy spaces.
This is how these models work:
- Place the tuner on the pegbox with the clip and turn it on.
- Play the string you want to tune and see which note the tuner points to.
- Adjust the tension of this string by means of its corresponding pin, until the tuner indicates that it is in tune (you will see a green light or the needle centered, depending on the model).
- Repeat the same process with each of the strings. Play any chord on the guitar and see if it sounds good.
- When you finish tuning the acoustic guitar, turn off the tuner.
How to tune your acoustic guitar by ear
To tune your acoustic guitar without a tuner you don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to have a good ear. First, find another instrument that is in tune and play the note E: tune the sixth string on this note. Then:
- To tune the fifth string, press the sixth string at the fifth fret: they should sound the same.
- We continue. To tune the fourth, you have to press the fifth string at the fifth fret: tune until they sound equal.
- Now, to tune the third string, you have to press the fourth string at the fifth fret: they should sound equal.
- To tune the second string, press the third string at the fourth fret: they should sound the same.
- Finally, to tune the first string, press the second string at the fifth fret: make the first string sound the same.
This way you will be able to tune your acoustic guitar in the standard tuning. Remember that there are many different types of tuning, such as open tuning: perfect for playing your guitar with a slide.