Tuning a guitar is a necessary skill for any guitar player. Considering that the guitar is made of wood, changes in temperature and humidity can affect your instrument, knocking it off tune. Even simple movements like taking the guitar out of its case may knock some tunes off the strings.
Tuning an electric guitar, surprisingly, is exactly similar to tuning an acoustic guitar. You will not need special equipment or accessories to get your electric guitar back to tune that are any different from those that are used to tune an acoustic guitar.
Tuning a guitar
Tuning your guitar takes some practice. In fact, you are encouraged to tune it as soon as you take it out of the case to play it. The more you practice, the more better you get at it. Initially, you will need about five minutes, and as you get better, you can be tuning it in a record 30 seconds! Tuning your guitar as soon as you pick it up allows you to practice this skill.
For you to begin, you need a ‘reference pitch’ from another source. The pitch could be from a digital tuning application, a tuning fork or another instrument like a keyboard. When you tune your guitar without a reference pitch, it will sound fine on its own, but when accompanying another instrument, it will sound off key. You need the notes to sound the same as the other instruments otherwise you will play out of tune.
As any good guitar instructor will tell you, tuning your guitar is the first step to being a good player. Here are 6 steps to follow for a quick and easy tuning:
- Make sure your sixth string is in tune by use of a reference pitch to standardize to the note E. This string is the thickest when you look directly down at your guitar.
- Play the sixth string. Tune your fifth string to the note A until it sounds the same as the reference.
- Fret D note, then tune the fourth string to sound the same.
- Fret ‘g’ note, then tune the open third string until they sound the same.
- Fret the ‘b’ note, then tune the second string to sound the same.
- Fret the ‘e’ note, then tune the first string to sound the same. This string is the thinnest when you look directly down at your guitar.
After tuning the strings, you can check it against a pre-recorded MP3 file that is in perfect tune. You can adjust the strings until they sound similar to the notes in the MP3 file.
Handling the strings
When tuning individual strings, pluck each string individually and then turn the peg to match the correct pitch. When using an electric tuner, hold it close enough to your guitar, then pluck the string repeatedly while turning the tuning peg until the pitches match. If you don’t have a tuner, you can make use of tuning examples that you can find online on YouTube.
If the pitch is too high, you lower it by loosening it by the tuning peg. If the pitch is too low (flat), you tighten the strings by the tuning peg, and the pitch will get higher as the tension increases. Continue with the process until the pitch the string emits is similar to the reference pitch.