Guitar tuning methods

One way to tune the guitar is to use an electronic tuner, but it’s also good to practice to tune the guitar by a reference tone.

The strings

The strings of a guitar is numbered from one to six. Number one is the thinnest string and number six the thickest.

Standard tuning:

  • E – the first string (s1) – the thinnest string
  • B – second string (s2)
  • G – the third string (s3)
  • D – fourth string (s4)
  • A – fifth string (s5)
  • E – sixth string (s6) – the thickest string

Intervals between the strings

Proceeding from the thickest string (s6), the intervals between two adjacent strings are as follows:

  • E to A (s6 – s5) – perfect fourth
  • A to D (s5 – s4) – perfect fourth
  • D to G (s4 – s3) – perfect fourth
  • G to B (s3 – s2) – major third
  • B to E (s2 – s1) – perfect fourth

Tune the guitar – methods

There are many methods of how to tune the guitar (and some of them are not very accurate).

Below are descriptions of accurate methods on how to tune the guitar.

Method 1

  1. Tune the first string (E) against a reference tone from a tuning fork, keyboard or electronic tuner.
  2. The second string (B) pressed down at the fifth fret must be in tune with the open first string (E).
  3. The third string (G) pressed down at the fourth fret must be in tune with the open second string (B).
  4. The fourth string (D) pressed down at the fifth fret must be in tune with the open third string (G).
  5. The fifth string (A) pressed down at the fifth fret must be in tune with the open fourth string (D).
  6. The sixth string (E) pressed down at the fifth fret must be in tune with the open fifth string (A).

A disadvantage of this method is that small errors propagates from string to string. Therefore you should always end this method with a check of that the first and sixth string are in tune with one another (two octaves difference).

Method 2

In order to avoid errors being propagated, you can tune all strings by the same reference string or reference tone.

  1. Tune the first string (E) against a reference tone from a tuning fork, keyboard or electronic tuner.
  2. The second string (B) pressed down at the fifth fret must be in tune with the open first string (E).
  3. The third string (G) pressed down at the ninth fret must be in tune with the open first string (E).
  4. The fourth string (D) pressed down at the second or 14th fret must be in tune with the open first string (E).
  5. The fifth string (A) pressed down at the seventh fret must be in tune with the open first string (E).
  6. The open sixth string (E) (or the natural harmonic at the fifth fret) must be in tune with the open first string (E).