How To Tune A Guitar For Beginners | The Simplest Guide

This is a tutorial on how to tune a guitar for beginners if you have never tuned a guitar before then I will teach you everything that you need to know. The very first step that you MUST take and it would be a mistake to skip it, is to buy a guitar tuner.


Why buy a guitar tuner you might be asking? Well…. Since you are new to guitar playing you want to give you self a solid foundation so when you go to tune by ear in the future, your ear is very accurate.


The idea is basically that you will use a guitar tuner for an extended period of time (as much as possible actually to ensure accuracy, even the pros are always using tuners) so you can always be perfectly in tune.


There are many different types of tuners you can buy from guitar pedal tuners to normal chromatic guitar tuners, as well as downloading apps on your phone. As a beginner, it is recommended to get a normal chromatic guitar tuner such as a Korg GA50.


how to tune a guitar for beginners


If you want something accurate and something that serious musicians use, I highly recommend down the road that you buy the BOSS TU-3.


Anyhow! Here is a step by step guide on how to tune a guitar for beginners.


Step 1) To avoid snapping your guitar strings, start by loosening up your guitar strings but not to the point where they are about to fall off!


how to tune a guitar for beginners


The reason for this is so when you use your guitar tuner you aren’t confused by which way to turn the machine heads. So just loosen up every string for now by turning the machine head on the guitar head anti-clockwise.


If for some reason you are turning anti-clockwise and it is going tighter just turn it the other way, sometimes people turn their machine heads the wrong way when putting on new strings.


Step 2) Turn on your guitar tuner. Once the guitar tuner is on you may notice that it fluctuates, the reason behind this is that your tuner can hear different sounds and it will display on the tuner the sound that it hears. If you were to put your guitar tuner next to a fridge B it might make a B flat sound.


As you can see in this photo, if you keep turning your machine head the tuner will fluctuate.


how to tune a guitar for beginners


Start with the low ‘E’ string and play it, your guitar tuner may or may not pick it up. If your amp is not picking it up then keep turning your machine head slowly clockwise so you can start to get a response. You will notice on the screen the notes will keep changing because as you are tuning your guitar, your string is at the at “current” note.


So, if you keep tightening the machine head and you see the tuner go from “A” note to “B” note and so on that is because you are currently tuned at that note and it will increase in alphabetic order as you tighten the string and vice-versa.


Repeat this process for every string. You will notice that when you bend the string that your guitar may go out of tune. In this case, just tune it back up slightly with the guitar tuner.


Every time you go to play a set you should tune your guitar; this type of repetition will be great ear training and will help you to eventually tune with your ear.


This is pretty much it for the start! Now I will teach you the second most popular option that is used every day by guitar players who want to do it by ear and that is to put your finger on the 5th fret of any string and play that string and the string under it.  


You should only do this once you are comfortable with using a guitar tuner.


Let’s start on the 5th fret of the low ‘E’ string as it is usually the starting point. If you play that note it is the ‘A’ note, which also happens to be the note of the next string which is also ‘A’.


how to tune a guitar for beginners


Assuming your low ‘E’ string is in tune, you can put your finger on the 5th fret and hit the low ‘E’ string and the ‘A’ string individually (make sure both strings are ringing). Once you have done this then start turning the ‘A’ string machine head either clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on how your string sounds in the moment. If you are unsure you can always refer back to your guitar tuner.


Repeat this same process for every other string on the guitar EXCEPT for the ‘G’ string. With the ‘G’ string you need to put your finger on the 4th fret. The reason is that the guitar is tuned in such a way that if you want to get the "Standard tuning" you need to put your finger on the 4th fret.


There are many different types of guitar tunings such as Drop D, standard D, eb tuning, DADGAD tuning and much more. As a beginner guitar player, it’s recommended that you just focus on standard tuning. You can play songs in other tunings if you like but get yourself used to one tuning first.



One trick that you can do when playing songs or learning songs is to find a “Standard tuning” version of them on YouTube so you don’t have the hassle of tuning your guitar then retuning.


ANOTHER BONUS TIP! If you want to get the drop D tuning, for example, all you need to do is tune the low ‘E’ string down to a ‘D’ note. This type of tuning is popular for when wanting to play heavy guitar riffs.


BONUS LAZY TIP!             

When you play the guitar, you will find that it may be slightly out of tune a lot of the time. You will find a lot of the time that the notes are too sharp, and there is a quick and easy way to fix this without having to even touch your machine heads.


Simply bend your strings hard! When you bend your guitar string it loosens them making it an awesome solution to getting your guitar back in tune. You might hear a creaking sound from bending it hard this is completely fine as will not cause any harm to your guitar.


The Final Method to Tuning Your Guitar – Using Harmonics

Instead of tuning your guitar by the 5th fret of each string, use the harmonic on the 5th fret. This much more accurate than doing it by the 5th fret. The same principle applies, just put your finger lightly over the 5th fret of the ‘E’ and ‘A’ string in this example, and tune the guitar accordingly.


how to tune a guitar for beginners


Remember to not place your finger on the middle of the fret but place it on the metal fret itself so it can create a harmonic effect. If you are not sure what I mean check out this illustration.


You will hear the sound fluctuating a lot. Keep tuning the string up or down until it goes perfectly in tune. The great thing with harmonics is that it rings out for a long time giving you more time to tune your guitar.


Final thoughts…

Hopefully this guide on “how to tune a guitar for beginners” was helpful and has helped your ear to become more accurate as a result. Remember to keep on tuning with your tuner as much as possible!