One of the easiest guitar basics you need to know and one of the most important things that you can do before you begin practicing or playing is to tune your guitar. Now as a beginner guitarist, that’s not always as easy as it sounds.
First of all if you are just beginning guitar you likely won’t have the confidence to know when you are in tune. There is a solution that’s inexpensive, accurate and easy.
An electronic guitar tuner.
A guitar tuner is usually a small battery operated device. You can purchase these at your local music store or online for about $20.00 and up. Even the least expensive tuner is absolutely the easiest guitar solution you’ll find to get your guitar in tune.
There are three basic styles of tuners:
o Clip On — These tuners clip on to the head of the guitar and will either read the vibrations as you play each string individually through the clip or “hear” the pitch on the mic setting.
o Normal — These are just the standard, regular shaped tuners. They have a built in mic for tuning an acoustic guitar or an input jack for plugging in your electric or acoustic electric guitar. If the tuner also has an output jack you can plug another cable in and continue on to the amp. This will save you plugging and unplugging the tuner.
o Pedal — The guitar tuners that look like a guitar pedal are designed to sit on the floor with your other effects pedals. The more expensive pedal style tuners also act as an AC power supply for your other pedals so that you can eliminate batteries or a separate AC adapter for each pedal.
Also, there are two versions of guitar tuners.
The Standard “Guitar Tuner”
o The first type of tuner is referred to simply as a “Guitar Tuner” and is calibrated for each of the six guitar strings based on the standard tuning for a guitar which is; E, B, G, D, A, E. beginning from the thinnest string.
The 1st string is “E” which is the thinnest string. This string is physically on the bottom (on a standard guitar) however it is called the TOP string because it is the highest sounding string pitch wise.
The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th strings get gradually thicker until you finally get to the thickest string which is the 6th.
This means the 1st string is tuned to “E”, the 2nd is “B”, the 3rd is “G”, the 4th is “D”, the 5th is “A” and the 6th is “E”.
The “Chromatic Tuner”
o The other type of tuner is called a “Chromatic Tuner.” The chromatic tuner recognizes all of the notes including sharps and flats. In other words if you wanted to tune your guitar to what is called a “flat” tuning this is easier with a chromatic tuner than a standard guitar tuner.
Every string in a “flat” tuning is tuned one semi-tone lower. This means that “E” is tuned to “Eb” (E flat). “B” is tuned to “Bb” (B flat) and so on.
There are other variations on tuning as well. Probably the 2nd most popular tuning, after the “flat” tuning, is the “drop D” tuning.
You will not be using these “alternate” tunings in the beginning, but eventually you are likely to use them.
A few suggestions I have for tuning with any guitar tuner are:
o If you are tuning an acoustic guitar have the tuner close to the guitar. If there is no where to set the tuner, lay the guitar flat on your lap and set the tuner on top of the guitar. This keeps the tuner from sliding off your leg if there is no where else to set it. It also allows for a good clear reading. If you are tuning an electric guitar and are plugged into the tuner this doesn’t apply.
o The second suggestion is to play the string and let it ring. This will allow the tuner to get a good reading. Then stop the string and play the string again.
o Also, and this is crucial, if you are tuning the “B” string be sure the tuner says “B”. There are 2 things to look for;
1. that the tuner’s needle or LED’s are pointing to the center or “0” and
2. that it is the correct note being tuned.
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