How to Tune a Guitar by Ear

An out-of-tune guitar can grate like nails on a chalkboard or a cat in heat, so know how to keep yours humming.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Strike your fork Strike your tuning fork against something hard so that it begins to vibrate, then listen closely to the note that rings out. It’s an A.
  • Step 2: Adjust the string Loosen or tighten your A string (also known as the fifth string) by rotating the pertaining tuning key until the string sounds at the exact same pitch as the fork.
  • TIP: Don’t worry if you don’t have perfect pitch. Just listen closely and be patient. The more your ears familiarize themselves with an exact pitch, the better a musician you will become.
  • Step 3: Press the E string Press the lower E string (also known as the sixth string) down on the fifth fret.
  • Step 4: Adjust the string Pluck the fifth and sixth strings, one right after the other, allowing each string to ring out. Listen closely and then loosen or tighten the sixth string until it matches the pitch of the fifth string.
  • Step 5: Press A string Press the A string down on the fifth fret.
  • Step 6: Adjust the string Pluck the A string and D string (that is, the fourth string), one right after the other. Adjust the fourth string so it rings out at the same pitch as the fifth.
  • Step 7: Tune third string Tune the third string (the G string) using the same method as you have for the other strings. Tune the open string so that it matches the lower, adjacent string (the fourth string) when the fourth string is pressed on the fifth fret.
  • Step 8: Press the G string Press the G string down on the fourth fret.
  • Step 9: Adjust the string Pluck the G-string and B string (the second string), allowing each string to ring out. Loosen or tighten the second string so that these two strings are exactly the same pitch.
  • Step 10: Press the B string Press the second string on the fifth fret.
  • Step 11: Adjust the string Pluck the second string and first string, and adjust the pitch of the first string until it matches that of the second string.
  • Step 12: Enjoy Enjoy your now pitch-perfect instrument. As for your voice--well, we leave that up to you…
  • FACT: Studies suggest that all babies are born with perfect pitch.

You Will Need

  • A guitar
  • A tuning fork with a frequency of 440 Hz

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