Every day, thousands of people decide that they want to learn to play guitar — especially acoustic guitar. While some acoustic guitar players, decide to take lessons at a local music shop, many guitar players pursue online guitar lessons. Regardless of where you are on your guitar journey, it’s important to know how to properly tune a guitar.
When musicians can’t properly tune their guitar, it can impact their confidence and the ability to express their creativity. In addition, tuning a guitar can help you sound better when playing with others. Making sure you know how to tune a guitar the right way will help you on your guitar journey.
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1. Guitar Tuners (it’s not wrong to use one!)
So often in the guitar world, there can be a stigma surrounding who uses a tuner to tune a guitar. Whether it’s because it feels like you’re cheating or it might not make your guitar the most in-tune with itself, there’s no shame in using a tuner.
In fact, tuning a guitar with a tuner is a great way to make sure that you are in tune. For beginners, tuning a guitar with a tuner can yield quick and accurate results to ensure your guitar is in tune. If you’re having trouble tuning your guitar with a tuner, try hitting the harmonics on the 12th fret of your guitar. Harmonics can be picked up by tuners easier than normal notes.
2. Detune and Start Over
If you’re struggling to tune a specific string — if you can’t tell whether you’re above or below the correct pitch — tuning your guitar down and starting over is a great option. Think of this as recentering yourself. When you detune by tuning the string down, you essentially start all over. Starting off on a pitch that is so low will help you identify and find the correct pitch as you start tuning the guitar.
Approaching the correct pitch from below also helps reach that pitch more precisely. Because of the way the tuning machines work on a guitar, you can accurately approach your desired pitch from below. If you try to approach the desired pitch from above, the string may slip and it will be harder to find the desired pitch.
3. Tune Your Guitar Without Using Tuners
Learning to tune your guitar without using tuners is an important skill to have. Whenever you are just slightly sharp or slightly flat, you can tune your guitar without even touching the tuners. To make quick adjustments without getting completely lost in the tuning process, try these two handy tips:
- If your string is sharp, try grabbing the string and gently lifting it away from the guitar. By doing this, you are stretching the guitar string, making the pitch flatter.
- If your string is flat, apply pressure to the string in the area above the nut and before the tuning machines. This will apply more pressure on the string, making the pitch sharper.
To make these methods of tuning more effective, try lubricating the nut of your guitar with a pencil when you next change your strings. By just drawing in the slots with a graphite pencil, you lubricate the slot so the string responds to changes in applied pressure with greater ease.
4. Retune when Using a Capo
Most of us know how to use a capo, but did you know that using a capo can change the intonation (tuning) on your guitar? Not all capos apply equal pressure across different strings. As a result, it might make certain strings sharper or other strings flatter.
To alleviate these issues, it is important to retune your guitar after you put the capo on the strings. Certain capos allow you to adjust the downward tension the capo places on the string. If you are someone who places with capos frequently, consider getting a capo with an adjustable tension, and don’t forget to retune when you put on or take off a capo.
5. Be Patient with New Strings
Many guitar players are excited to immediately play when they get new strings. Unfortunately, those new strings are going to need some time to stretch out and adjust. If you do want to start playing, just know that you are going to need to retune often.
If you want to speed up the stretching process, try stretching the strings manually. Similar to how you tuned down in guitar tuning hack #3, gently lift the strings away from the guitar to give them a good stretch. As you continue playing, just make sure to retune frequently.
Learn More with Online Guitar Lessons
By checking out our guitar tuning hacks, you have started learning a valuable skill. Learning to tune a guitar properly will help you on your guitar journey. If you are looking for an even better way to continue your guitar journey, be sure to check out Tony’s Acoustic Challenge.
Tony’s Acoustic Challenge is like no other online guitar lesson platform. We help eliminate limiting beliefs while giving you the confidence to start learning how to play the guitar. For more information, request an invite today!