How to Tune a Guitar by Ear

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Unless you have perfect pitch, you'll need a keyboard or pitch pipe as a reference when tuning your guitar strings.

Things You'll Need

  • Acoustic Guitars
  • Electric Guitars
  • Electronic Keyboards
  • Guitar Picks
  • Pianos
  • Pitch Pipes For Guitar
  • Begin with the sixth (lowest and thickest) string. Tune it to E - the 12th white key to the left of middle C on the piano. Loosen or tighten the string a little at a time until the tones match.

  • Place your finger behind the fifth fret of the sixth string. This step will give you the pitch of the fifth string, which is A. Tune the fifth string to match this note.

  • Place your finger behind the fifth fret of the fifth string to get the pitch of the fourth string, which is D. Tune the fourth string to match this note.

  • Place your finger behind the fifth fret of the fourth string to get the pitch of the third string, which is G. Tune the third string to match this note.

  • Put your finger behind the fourth fret of the third string to get the pitch of the second string, which is B. Tune the second string to match this note.

  • Place your finger behind the fifth fret of the second string to arrive at the pitch of the first string, which is E. Tune the first string to match this note.

  • Touch the strings very lightly during the entire procedure; pressing hard will give you the wrong tone.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't have access to a piano, get a pitch pipe with instructions at a music store. Each pipe has the correct pitch of each guitar string (E, A, D, G, B and E - from the sixth string up to the first string).
  • Remember that your guitar may go out of tune very rapidly if strings are new. Check your tuning at frequent intervals and retune as necessary.

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