At some points, every guitarist must be able to tune guitars by him/herself. Fortunately, there are several methods of tuning a guitar that will make tuning becomes a pleasant ritual before playing the guitar. The more often you tune guitars, the more sensitive your ear will be. Any method that can lead you to gain that sensitivity is good, but, we will not recommend you to use an electronic tuner that can instantly help you to tune the guitar. This stuff is very convenient, yet it will hinder you to master the pitch understanding skills. So, what kind of methods that you can follow to tune a guitar?
Tuning a guitar by ear
Instead of using an electronic tuner or application, tuning a guitar by ear means you will rely completely on your hearing, and your ability to listen to a note. Tuning a guitar by ear will only need one reference point that you can pick from the piano, or any other instrument.
What you have to do is adjusting the low E string (the sixth string) to this external reference note. It sounds simple, but if you rarely practice adjusting the note, you will need some time to make sure the two notes sound exactly the same, or at least “sound right”. Let’s assume that the sixth string is the string you are going to begin with. After you are sure that the sixth string sounds similar to the note E from a reference instrument, you can follow the next steps.
Strum the fifth fret of the low E string, and then play the open fifth string. Listen to both sound. If the notes are different, then your job is to adjust the open fifth string to sound like the fifth fret sixth string. This process is called as tuning the fifth string.
Once you have done with it, you can continue to the next step by repeating the process using the fifth and fourth string. Do the same with all of the strings, except for the B (second) string. When tuning this string, you have to adjust the open third string to the fourth fret of third string’s sound.
Tuning a guitar using harmonics
The second way of tuning a guitar is by using harmonics. This method of tuning a guitar is not too different from the previous method we have taught you. Tuning a guitar by using harmonics offers a benefit to you. When the notes are ringing, this method lets you release your left hand so that you can freely use it to set the tuning keys. It will result in the quicker tuning process. Then, what are the steps that you should follow to tune guitars using harmonics?
First, you should pick one reference note from any instrument that you like. You can use tuning fork or piano. Then, play the sixth string (fifth fret) and fifth string (seventh fret) and listen to the difference. Tune the fifth string so that the pitch perfectly match with the sixth string’s pitch. Re-do the step to the fifth up to the third string.
The setup is quite different on the second string. You should play the seventh fret of the sixth string harmonic and adjust the pitch of the second string. After both strings sound the same, you can repeat the same trick to the first string.
Those are the steps of how to tune guitars without a tuner that will hopefully brush up your pitch understanding skills.