Tune Your Guitar Without a Electronic Tuner

Tuning your guitar with a tuning fork or pitch pipe

  1. In the old days before electronic tuners a tuning fork,or a pitch pipe,  would be used to find what is called concert pitch which is usually  the A note at 440 Hz. The A note was used as a starting point to tune the rest of the guitar strings. How? You may ask. Go to step 2
  2. If you start with a tuning fork or pitch pipe, tune the 5th string or the A string to the A note. The open strings are E-the 6th string (the thickest one) then as follows A-the 5th, D-the 4th, G-the 3rd, B-the 2nd, and E-the 1st.
  3. Next fret the 6th string on the 5th fret and tune it until it sounds like the open A. Then finish tuning the other strings as  you did before by freting the 5th string or A at the 5th fret and tune until it sounds like the D  or the 4th string. When you get to the G or 3rd string fret it at the 4th fret and tune until it sounds like the B or 2nd string. Then fret the B at the 5th fret and tune the last string E until it sounds the same.
Guitar tuning diagram

Tuning diagram by Mjchael at Wikimedia Commons

If you do not have a pitch pipe or a tuning fork, you can tune your guitar “relatively”. That means you start with the low E-the 6th, and estimate where it should be in frequency or Hz and proceed to tune the remaining strings using the method shown in the above diagram. You can also tune by simply matching your guitar string notes to another guitar, so you can play together, and be in tune with each other.

If you have access to a piano you can use it as a reference point as well. Just find “middle C” and play the E note above it, that would be where your high E string or first string should be tuned to, then play the piano notes below, B,G,D,A, and E and adjust your strings B,G,D,A and E so they sound the same.

tuning can be a challenge, and if you have trouble, a electronic tuner is a lot easier for beginners. It is however nice to know how to do it by using the above examples, and as a side benefit your ear will get better and better, at matching notes, the more you do it. Practise makes perfect!

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