Tuning Your Guitar By Ear without an Electric Tuner

January 6th, 2010

Checking to ensure your guitar is in tune is something you should be doing each time you pick up your guitar. After all there are no chords or scales that sound correct when even one string is out of tune.

This brief lesson is going to cover how you can check to see if your guitar is in tune quickly each time you pick it up. We’re going to accomplish this not with an electric tuner but by choosing one particular string on the guitar neck and then tuning the rest of the strings to that string.

Of course there is a chance that none of your strings are in correct tune so even though you may get all your strings in tune with each other if you double check it against an electric tuner you may find all your strings are either higher or lower then they should be.

In order to tune correctly there are only two things you must remember.

  1. The 5th fret is the magic fret
  2. There is one exception on the G string for the 4th fret.

Let’s walk through a quick example. We’ll tune all of our guitar strings to the low E, or 6th string closest to you on the top.

Press the 5th fret on the low E string and play it. This note is an A, which is the same note as the 5th string below it, the A string. By playing the E string on the 5th fret you check to see if the A string below it is in tune. Go back and fourth between the E string on the 5th fret and the open A string below it. Note any pitch differences and adjust the A string either up or down using the tuning peg.

Next move to playing the 5th fret on the A string, this is a D note which matches up to the D string below the A string. As before go back and fourth between the 5th fret of the A string and the open D string. If the D string doesn’t sound like it matches the 5th fret of the A string then adjust its tuning either up or down.

Follow this same pattern for the tuning the G string to the 5th fret of the D string.

Now here is the one exception I mentioned. In order to tune the B string you must use the 4th fret on the G string. Why? Well because it’s the 4th string on the G string that makes a B note. This is the only exception you have to remember when tuning your guitar by ear.

To tune the high E, or first string again use the 5th fret technique explained above.

To get comfortable doing this I suggest each time you pick up your guitar you go through this exercise. It will become second nature pretty quick and you’ll find that in just a few seconds you can double check the tuning on your guitar without having to run for an electric tuner.

Want to progress further with your guitar skills? Why not consider taking some guitar lessons for beginners? You don’t have to sign up for private lessons or find a friend to teach you, there are lots of great online programs from online videos to dvd courses you can use to learn right from the comfort of your own home.

2 Responses to “Tuning Your Guitar By Ear without an Electric Tuner”

  1. I have seen this method in writing so many times. Now with the video 5th fret tuning makes sense! Also I have tuned my guitar to yours – ah the wonder of video

  2. I actually do not typically remark concerning weblogs similar to this but in this case and keeping by means of the feedback previously I would take this opportunity to point out just how much I appreciated your article. Unquestionably beneficial and also well written – bless you for sharing this with us!

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