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A Guide for Beginners - Tuning - Page 2

by Christopher Sung
 
Pages: 1 · 2 · 3 · 4
 
Relative Tuning
As stated in page 1, relative tuning is the process of tuning a guitar to itself. To begin, you need to pick a string which will be the reference point. For a beginner, this is usually the low E string (the 6th string). Using this string, you can tune the remaining strings of your guitar to put it in relative tune. For this example, we will assume that the 6th string is your reference point, and we will systematically tune the remaining 5 strings.
Note: If you want to be in tune with the musical examples on the site, you should tune your low E using the WholeNote tuner before proceeding with the steps shown below. To access the tuner, simply click on the tuner icon located in the lower left-hand corner of your browser. When the tuner window appears, click on the button above the left-most 'E' to hear the reference note for a low 'E'. If you are not yet comfortable tuning to a reference note in this manner, don't worry about it.
Tuning Your 5th String
You can use your 6th string to tune your 5th string. If you pluck the 6th string at the 5th fret (refer to diagram below), you will be playing the same pitch as your open 5th string. This note is an 'A'. So, to tune your 5th string:
  1. Pluck the 6th string at the 5th fret.
  2. Adjust the open 5th string until it has the same pitch as your fretted 6th string.

Tuning Your 4th String
You can use your 5th string to tune your 4th string. If you pluck the 5th string at the 5th fret (refer to diagram below), you will be playing the same pitch as your open 4th string. This note is a 'D'. So, to tune your 4th string:

  1. Pluck the 5th string at the 5th fret.
  2. Adjust the open 4th string until it has the same pitch as your fretted 5th string.

Tuning Your 3rd String
You can use your 4th string to tune your 3rd string. If you pluck the 4th string at the 5th fret (refer to diagram below), you will be playing the same pitch as your open 3rd string. This note is a 'G'. So, to tune your 3rd string:

  1. Pluck the 4th string at the 5th fret.
  2. Adjust the open 3rd string until it has the same pitch as your fretted 4th string.

Tuning Your 2nd String
For the all the strings so far, the 5th fret of a string has been used to tune the string above it. The only exception to this is the 2nd string, which has the same pitch as the 4th fret of the 3rd string. This note is a 'B'. So, to tune your 2nd string:

  1. Pluck the 3rd string at the 4th fret.
  2. Adjust the open 2nd string until it has the same pitch as your fretted 3rd string.

Tuning Your 1st String
You can use your 2nd string to tune your 1st string. If you pluck the 2nd string at the 5th fret (refer to diagram below), you will be playing the same pitch as your open 1st string. This note is an 'E' (the same pitch as your 6th string, but two octave higher). So, to tune your 1st string:

  1. Pluck the 4th string at the 5th fret.
  2. Adjust the open 3rd string until it has the same pitch as your fretted 4th string.

Congratulations, you have tuned your guitar! At this point, I always like to play a chord that I really know well (like a 'C' or an 'E') and test how it sounds. If it sounds a little off, you may want to double-check some of the strings.

Tuning in Reverse
It's important to understand that you don't necessarily have to tune starting at the 6th string and working toward the 1st string. For example, your 1st string might be the note that you know is in tune, and you can use it to tune the rest of your guitar. In this case, you can use the 1st string to tune the second by playing the open 1st string, and adjusting the 2nd string until its pitch at the 5th fret matches the open 1st string. Thus, you are using the same relationship between strings but switching which note is the reference point. In the first example, we said that the 2nd string, 5th fret was our good note, and used it to tune our open 1st string. In the latter example, we said that the open 1st string was our good note, and used it to tune our 2nd string.

Review the Tuning Relationships
So, to recap, here is how the strings of your guitar can be tuned by using each string to tune the one directly above it:

 
 
 
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