How to tune a guitar


Click Here for a tuning tutorialYou should check the tuning of your guitar each time you play and in any case many musicians tend to loosen their strings after playing making retuning essential. The neck of a guitar is made of wood therefore not completely rigid so you need to do several passes as you move through the strings because as you tension up a string the neck may give little making the string you previously tuned relax slightly. New strings will in any case take a while to settle in and you may have to frequently retune until they have stretched. When strings become difficult to keep in tune it is usually when they have become flattened through fretting and this is when you need to change them. 


There are two basic methods in tuning a guitar; tuning with an external reference source and tuning by ear (that is tuning a guitar with itself). This article looks at tuning with an external reference source. 


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How to tune a guitar with an electronic tuner


An electronic tuner will monitor the frequency of the string as it is plucked. It will then display how close you are to correct tuning with a pictorial digital display. A needle will display each side of the target tuning point to indicate you are either too high (sharp) or too low (flat). Some electronic tuners will allow you to plug in an electric guitar directly thus avoiding any interference from any external noise. More expensive versions will allow for alternate tunings (see tuning a guitar) and are an extremely efficient way of how to tune a guitar. 


How to tune a guitar with a keyboard or piano


Pianos that are tuned by professional tuners tend to stay in tune for months or even years and so are a good source to use. However, remember that a standard acoustic guitar is transposed one octave (see tuning a guitar).  


How to tune a guitar with an online guitar tuner


A quick search of the internet will find several sites providing pure audio tones aligned with the open strings of a guitar. Some of them will also provide alternate tunings, such as drop D. These are very convenient as they are precise and pure tones but of course you will need an internet connected computer to hand. 


How to tune a guitar with tuning software


There are several software packages that will assist you tuning your guitar many of which are free on the internet. These will both provide an accurate sample pitch source to reference your strings against but also analyse the pitch of your strings giving you a visual indication of accuracy in the same way as an electronic tuner does. Some software will provide alternate tuning conventions. Although an internet connection is not required a computer is. However, the software packages do not need high powered computers and can be installed on a laptop or notepad computer making them highly portable. 


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