4 Popular Ways in Tuning a Guitar by Ear

Tuning a Guitar by Ear

Learning how to tune a guitar by ear can seem daunting, but it’s actually a lot easier than you think! In this blog post, we will walk you through easy steps that will help you get your guitar in tune in no time. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced musician, read on for tips and techniques that will help you fine-tune your instrument like a pro!

What is tuning and why do we need to do it?

Tuning is the process of adjusting the pitch of a musical instrument so that it matches notes played on another instrument or in reference to a known standard. In other words, tuning ensures that all instruments are playing in harmony with each other or simply getting your guitar in standard tuning. There are many different ways in tuning a guitar, but we’ll focus on four common methods: the fifth fret method, harmonic tuning, using a tuning fork A-440 and with a keyboard.

Why is tuning a guitar important?

Well, if all of your instruments are not in tune with each other, the resulting sound will be chaotic and unpleasant to listen to. In addition, tuning your guitar regularly can help prolong the life of your instrument by preventing string breakage. So it’s definitely worth taking the time to learn how to tune your guitar by ear!

Why would you tune a guitar by ear?

  • There is no tuner available.
  • The battery is dead.
  • This is an excellent exercise for ear training.

Guitar tuners are a great tool for beginners and experts alike. They can help you stay accurate in pitch. But if you’re just getting started, it’s best to use them sparingly until your ear has been trained enough so that manual tuning becomes second nature instead. This skill also comes in handy since we normally don’t carry around a guitar tuner!

How do I get started tuning my guitar?

The first step is to understand the parts involved in guitar tuning.

Tuning Keys

The tuning keys on your guitar control how tight or loose the strings are. This is what allows you to change the pitch of the string. Turning the tuning key clockwise will tighten the string, and turning it counter-clockwise will loosen it.

Frets

The frets are the raised metal lines that run down the neck of the guitar. They help you measure where to place your fingers on the strings in order to play certain notes.

Strings

There are six strings on a guitar. They are numbered from the thinnest (high E) to the thickest (low E). The tuning of a guitar is usually written as “EADGBE”  or “Eddie Ate Dynamite Good Bye Eddie”.

Standard tuning follows next.

There are several tuning methods that can be used to tune a guitar. The most common is the Standard Tuning method, which uses the notes EADGBE open strings.

The first and last strings are the same note, E. There are two octaves between these E strings, which is a double of solfege syllables of do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do. You may always double-check these octaves to see if your guitar is in tune or not.

The different ways to tune a guitar by ear.

Tuning with the 5th Fret Method

This is probably the most common way to tune a guitar, the 5th fret method. This involves finding the pitch of the note played on the sixth string at the fifth fret, and then tuning the other strings to that pitch.

Once you have found the pitch of the note played on the sixth string at the fifth fret, play that same note on the next string. When two strings are in tune with each other, they will sound harmonious when played together.

If you need to adjust the tuning of a string, gently turn the tuning peg until the string sounds the same. Be careful not to over-turn the tuning peg, as this can break the string.

As a rule of thumb, start with the E string on the 5th fret, the lowest and thickest string on your guitar. The open string below, A string, should be tuned to match the fretted 6th string. The same is true for the remaining strings, use the following equation:

  • 5th fret of 6th string = Open 5th string, A
  • 5th fret of 5th string = Open 4th string, D
  • 5th fret of 4th string = Open 3rd string, G
  • 4th fret of 3rd string = Open 2nd string, B
  • 5th fret of 2nd string = Open 1st string, e

Tuning with the use of Harmonics

Harmonic tuning is a technique that uses harmonic frequencies to help you tune your guitar. It’s a little more difficult than the fifth fret method, but it can be very accurate. Here’s how it works:

  • 5th fret of 6th string = 7th fret of 5th string
  • 5th fret of 5th string = 7th fret of 4th string
  • 5th fret of 4th string = 7th fret of 3rd string
  • 7th fret of 6th string = 12th fret of 2nd string or an Open B string
  • 7th fret of 5th string = open high E string or (5th fret of 2nd string = 7th fret of 1st string)

Tuning Fork Method

Tuning forks are tiny and portable, allowing them to be taken with you almost anywhere. They also do not require batteries, which is a nice bonus.

This involves using a tuning fork to find the pitch of a string and then adjusting the corresponding tuning peg on the guitar until the strings match that pitch. The process employs a single reference pitch to tune the entire guitar.

To use the tuning fork method, hold the tuning fork by the stem and strike or tap it against your palm, kneecap or another hard surface to produce a sound.  The pitch of the tuning fork will remain stable for a few seconds, you can put the stem of the ringing fork on the bridge, not the fork prongs. While it’s ringing, adjust the tuning peg on your guitar until the pitch of the tuning fork matches the pitch of the string. This could be an A-440 fork matching your open string A or simply the 5th string.

Once you’ve established a good open fifth string (A) with the tuning fork’s A, you may tune every other string to that 5th string (A) by using the 5th fret relative tuning method.

Tuning with a Keyboard

This is yet another pitch tuning based on the six pitches, EABGBE, from a keyboard. To do so, you must first identify the keyboard’s middle C. The middle C differs depending on the number of octaves available on your keyboard. It’s still in the middle, though.

On Keys: C D E F G A B | C D E F G A B | C-middle D E F G A B C | D E F G A B C

Look for the second E note from the middle C, which is approximately two octaves lower, to tune your lowest E string on your guitar.

On Keys: C D E-lowest E F G A B | C D E F G A B | C-middle D E F G A B C | D E F G A B C

Find the rest of the notes on your keyboard by moving towards the middle C and match them to the same pitches on your guitar.

On Keys: C D E-lowest F G A B | C D E F G A B | C-middle D E-highest F G A B | C D E F G A B

Most people tune their instruments with a keyboard when they play in a band or have one at home. It’s a great way to stay in tune with everyone else and sound your best.

Tips for keeping your guitar in tune.

  • Keep your guitar in a cool, dry place.
  • Don’t bang on the strings – this can throw off the tuning.
  • Don’t over tighten the tuning pegs – this can also throw off the tuning.
  • Keep your guitar in a case or gig bag when you’re not using it.

No Tuner, No Problem!

Tuning a guitar by ear is not always easy and can seem overwhelming at first.  When tuning a guitar by ear, it is important to be patient and take your time. But with enough practice you will be able to tune your instrument quickly and easily.

Take the time to tune your guitar before beginning any guitar lessons so that you may practice and learn properly.

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