Guitar Tune for Quality

March 24th, 2010

The title of this article may come off as a little strange.

‘I thought that the only way to make the instrument sound good was via someone who could actually play the guitar?’

Correct, but even in the hands of a professional, the guitar will only sound as good as the tune. Thus, you must tune the guitar for quality.

If you have ever observed the professionals, you’ll note that they are constantly tuning their beloved musical instrument. Why? Simply because the guitar gets out of tune often (even modern technology cannot fix this small vice). You’ll want to tune your guitar:

  1. After it’s been bought, regardless of whether it’s new or not.
  2. You’ve been playing with some big bends which may cause the tune to change.
  3. A string breaks.
  4. You travel with a instrument and the temperature changes, the guitar is bumped, etc

In other words, you’ll tune the strings a lot. Fortunately, several guitar tuning methods exist. You may tune the instrument with:

  • an electronic tuner
  • with a piano
  • with a tuning fork or pitch pipe
  • from another guitar that is fully tuned
  • relative tuning
  • by harmonics
  • from an internet source
  • or, via your phone

Today’s Fun Fact: Betcha really didn’t think the iPhone could “do it all.”

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Regardless of however you tune the guitar, you must always start below the note and then ”tune up” to the note. Why? When you are loosening the string, the nut that keeps the string from loosening when you play may not let go of the string immediately. Thus, after you tune the string may ultimately be ”out of tune.” However, when you tighten the string, the nut has no effect because the string is already under tension.

“The Standard Tune” is tuned to the notes E-A-D-G-B-E. Some guitarists create helpful little reminders like “Eric Archer Digs Great Breakfast Everyday.”


The “first E” (6th string) is at the top of your guitar but is technically the bottom string (because it’s the thickest). “A” is the next string (5th string), followed by ”D” (4th string), “G” (3rd string), “B” (2nd string), and the second “E” (1st string). 

If you ask any professional guitarist, most will strongly recommend that you tune the strings in the following order: 3rd string, 4th string, 2nd string, 5th string, 1st string, and finally the 6th string. By tuning in this pattern, the guitarist eliminates stressing and twisting one side of the guitar neck.

While you may use several different methods to tune the instrument, innovative methods like the phone (dial tone is @ the pitch of A), are not nearly effective as say, the electric tuner. While electric tuners are expensive, they are by far the best and most accurate method. For a price of $20-$50, the guitarist may plug the electric guitar directly into the tuner and use the analog or digital device (most professionals prefer the analog needle) to read the note until it reaches the desired position.

The piano is also a very useful for guitar tuning if you are blessed with such a beautiful instrument. On March 31st, Guitar Lessons Critic will break down guitar tuning into a more detailed approach that utilizes such methods as relative tuning and tuning by harmonics. We’ll also examine some of the top guitar tuning devices on the web, such as the one located on Gieson.

One Response to “Guitar Tune for Quality”

  1. [...] to the second edition of guitar tuning done well. In the first article, we examined the why you want to tune your guitar, when you need to [...]

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