Section 1.0 Tuning the guitar (back to index)

If you have the Real Audio plug-in, wherever you see the small guitar image you can click to hear an example.

The guitar is normally tuned E A D G B E








Click on the speaker or the string to hear the mp3 file of the open string selected.

(Note that this is with concert pitch set to A =440 Hz This MAY be different in your part of the world)

Where the highest E (the thinnest string) is the first string.

Guitarists may refer to the A string or the fifth string interchangeably.

An electronic tuner is a MUST for budding guitarists. Any music shop should sell these. Try to get a fully chromatic tuner. A 'Hands Free' tuner will show you the note that you play and whether it is sharp or flat. The use of a tuner will improve your ear and should be used to assist you to learn to tune the guitar without the tuner.

As a warning and matter of fact, using an electronic tuner DOES NOT GUARANTEE that a guitar is in tune. If the intonation of the guitar is faulty the guitar will never play properly in every key until the intonation of the guitar is corrected. If you do not know what intonation is you need to talk to a more experienced guitarist and have them check your instrument for you.

Urgent addendum - Make sure that your guitar strings are good and new. Old and dirty strings can put the guitar intonation out.

Tuning without an electronic aid - do this only when you do not have access to an electronic tuner or if you are trying to improve your aural skills.

The simplest method of tuning - without a reference note.

Hold down the 6th string at fret 5 and tune the 5th string to this.

Repeat for strings 4 and 3.

Tune string 2 by holding down the 3rd string at the 4th fret.

Hold down the 5th fret on string 2 for the first string.

This method is unlikely to result in the guitar being tuned to concert pitch. Its explanation is simple. You should know the names of the six open string notes. E A D B G E. At fret 5 these become the

fretboard second reference point notes - A D G C E A.

You should memorise these notes after you know the open string notes.

(Make up a simple mnemonic to help you e.g. Enemy Aircraft Destroying Great Britain or All Dozy Guitarists Cannot Even Apply)

[ Concert Pitch is an internationally recognised reference for pitch. It is normally referred to like this A = 440 Hz. It is NOT used in certain countries and the standard may be e.g. A = 432 Hz in your country. You should check what it is in your country and tune to that UNLESS you are trying to play along with music recorded in a different country at a different concert pitch. ]

You should try to keep your guitar tuned to concert pitch. This is done best by an electronic tuner, but there are other methods.

  1. Use the samples on these pages to tune to international standard concert pitch.
  2. Use some other reference e.g. a tuning fork, mouth organ or pitch pipes(not recommended)

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The busker is currently taking a small and carefully selected input of new guitar students. Should you live in Fife, Scotland and require guitar lessons email lu(at) [replace (at) with @] The busker specialises in teaching beginners,children and those with learning difficulties. He teaches classical, flamenco, rock, folk and bass guitar.