Tuning Up Your New Guitar Strings

There are a few different methods to tune your guitar, and I will try to explain them all in this guitar tuning lesson. I will also discuss the A-440 tuning reference for those of you who are not aware of the standard tuning reference.

tune a guitar

A-440 Tuning Reference - this is the industry standard for tuning modern instruments. The "A" stands for an A note, and 440 refers to the speed of the vibration that leads to what we consider a perfect A note. The reason is that all sound is vibration, and the speed of these vibrations produces the pitch of the sound. Frequency (or vibration speed) is commonly referred to as Hertz, or Hz. So when something vibrates at a speed of 440hz, it will produce a standard A note. You can use this reference tone to tune your instrument with.

As you tighten your guitar strings they will vibrate faster producing higher tones. When you loosen them, they vibrate slower producing a lower tone. The idea is to match your A string perfectly to the A440 reference tone. If you are using a digital tuner as I am sure most are, you'll simply tune until the tuner indicates that you are at A440 for the A string, or indicates proper tune for other strings.

Tuning Reference Tools - we used to use a standard tuning fork to tune guitars and other instruments, which is a metal bar that splits into two bars that vibrate at 440hz and produce a reference note when struck. Nowadays digital tuners that read the frequency have gotten very accurate and quite inexpensive as well, so that will be the right tuning equipment choice for almost everybody. I should note that it doesn't hurt to carry a tuning fork in your guitar case, just in case your tuner batteries go dead or you have a malfunction. Tuning forks are inexpensive and do not malfunction or break, assuming you don't abuse them.

Comparative Tuning - this is a method of comparing the tune of one string to another, and is useful for tuning if you can get one string in tune using a reference note. It is also quite useful for checking your tune quickly and easily. What you will want to do is check the tune of one string against the equivilent note on the string next to it.

For instance, the low E string has an A note at the 5th fret which means you can tune your A string using a reference note, and then tune the low E string until the A note at the 5th fret matches the A string that you already know is in tune. This should mean that the low E string is now in tune as well. You could then play the A string at the 5th fret to produce the D note to tune the D string and so forth. This pattern continues with all of the strings except the B string which doesn't follow this pattern, but is actually the 4th fret on the G string. Once you learn the chromatics and can name any note on the guitar neck, you'll realize why this is.

Recommended Books On Guitar Tuning

Beyond getting your guitar tuned up to standard A440 tuning, there are also many alternate tunings that can allow you to do some very cool things. You'll be amazed at some of the things you can come up with using some of these alternate tunings! And purchasing this book from the link provided here helps to keep this site free for everyone!

  • guitar_tuningsGuitar Tunings : A Comprehensive Guide (With CD) - For many beginning-to-intermediate level guitarists, guitar tunings are a mystery. Everyone begins with "standard" tuning and knows its basic strengths - and limitations. But, once a guitarist gets beyond basic skills, the desire to play in different styles and achieve individual sounds leads inevitably to exploring alternate tunings. Including an audio CD, this book gives clear and concise instruction for the guitarist who has mastered basic skills but wants to go beyond them.

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