The notes of the open strings are 5 half steps, or 5 frets apart, except for the 3rd to 2nd string, which is 4 half steps or 4 frets apart. We can use this to tune the guitar.
- The 5th string open (A) should sound the same as the 6th string fretted at the 5th fret (A).
- The 4th string open (D) should sound the same as the 5th string fretted at the 5th fret (D).
- The 3th string open (G) should sound the same as the 4th string fretted at the 5th fret (G).
- The 2th string open (B) should sound the same as the 3rd string fretted at the 4th fret (B).
- The 1st string open (E) should sound the same as the 2nd string fretted at the 5th fret (E).
Tip: Always tune up to a note to make it stay in tune longer. If you over shoot, loosen the key and try again.
NEVER turn a tuning key without the string sounding. You simply cannot monitor what’s going on with a string that’s not making any sound. It’s easy to turn the wrong tuning key and this helps to keep you from doing that, or at least realize your mistake quickly. It’s easy to over tighten and break a string, and this helps to keep you from doing that as well.
As the you get close, you will hear a pulse as both strings sound together. The pulse will disappear when they match exactly.
While almost everyone uses an electronic tuner these days for speed and accuracy, as your ear develops, you will eventually be able to hear a string that is a little off, reach over and correct it without the aid of a tuner.
Check out our Electronic Tuner page in our Guitar Gear section.
Join the discussion and share your tuning tips.