There are different methods of tuning a guitar. All of the different methods are appropriate but some are more convenient than others. This is especially important if you are just beginning to learn the guitar.
The easiest way to tune your guitar is by relative tuning. Relative tuning is comparing the sound and pitch of adjacent strings. The string with the higher pitch is tuned to match the sound of the lower string. In this method, there is the assumption that the lower string is tuned properly. If you use this method, you will have to tune the sixth string with a tuning fork or piano. More details on this will be provided later.
The process starts with the tuning of the sixth string. When the sixth string has been tuned, you need to press the sixth string at the fifth fret and pick the string. Next, tune the fifth string so that it matches that sound. The sound of the fifth string should match the sixth string's, fifth fret. If you find that the sound does not match, turn the tuning peg for that fifth string and change the pitch. Don't do anything to the sixth string.
If the sound of the string is too low, tighten the string. If the sound of the string is too low, loosen the string. Be sure that the fifth string is tuned in comparison to the sixth string because the fifth string has to be properly tuned in order to tune the fourth string. After that, the fourth string needs to be in tune in order to tune the third string and it continues from there. If there is a tuning mistake on any of the strings, the sound of the whole instrument will be thrown off.
If you have a piano or keyboard at your disposal and you are familiar with the notes, you can tune your instrument by matching the sound of the strings with the matching notes on the piano.
To begin, find the E note of the piano and then play the sixth string or E note on your guitar. Turn the tuning peg so that the sixth string on your guitar sounds like the E on the keyboard. Do this with all the stings on the guitar.
You can also tune your guitar by using pitch pipes. You should be able to find these at your local music store. These pitch pipes will give you the pitches of all strings. All you need to do is match the sound of each string to the proper pipe. Pitch pipes do not cost a lot and even very young guitar players can use them. They are small and easy to carry.
Some more advanced guitar players would not be satisfied with pitch pipes because they do not have a clear pitch like an electronic tuner, tuning fork or piano.
The electronic tuner is the latest and perhaps the easiest tuning device. Good ones may cost RM50 and above. It will digitally show the pitch of string you plucked. The great thing about them is that they can be used for multi purposes i.e. to tune other stringed instruments like the violin, cello etc. They are very small and to use them, merely clip onto your guitar head, where the strings are attached. Follow the instructions and you can tune your guitar strings even when there are musical distractions or sounds in the background.
Next we have harmonics. Advanced guitarists prefer using harmonics when it comes to tuning their instrument. Harmonics can be hard to learn, but the result is a very accurate tuning.
Instead of holding a string down, below the fret, you touch the string very lightly at the fret This is harmonics. This is not the best tuning methods for beginners but it is mentioned here to give you a complete overview of guitar tuning.
It is necessary to know what a harmonic is. A harmonic is achieved by lightly touching a string with one of your fretting fingers and then plucking the string with your picking hand as you would normally. The thing with harmonics is, after you have plucked the note, if you release your fretting finger, the note will continue to play. The most clear harmonics are achieved over the 12th, 7th, and 5th frets. These frets chime notes one octave higher, an octave and a fifth higher and two octaves higher than the played string respectively.
Play the 5th fret harmonic on the low E string and the 7th fret harmonic on the A string, when played simultaneously the pitches should ring loud and clear. If you get a choppy sound (like a tremolo) it means the pitches are slightly out of tune. Do the same with the A and D and the D and G strings. To tune the B string, play the 7th fret harmonic of the low E and the open B string. Finally, tune the high E to the B as you did the A to the low E.
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