In this guitar lesson we are going to learn how to tune the guitar if you don’t have a tuner, piano or any reference note available. There are several different ways to tune a guitar by ear but we have chosen to present this one because it will probably be the easiest for you. If you are new to tuning don’t be frustrated if you can’t do it right away. Some times it takes a while to train your ear to be able to hear if a note needs to be tuned up or down. If you are not yet familiar with the names of the strings of the guitar, check out the lesson The Strings Of The Guitar.
Let’s say that you are somewhere there is no tuner available, maybe at the beach or on a camping trip. If your guitar is really out of tune but one of your guitar strings is relatively close to being in tune, you can use that string as a reference note to tune your other strings. Most guitar players use the low E or A strings as a reference note. In our example we will be using the low E string. The low E doesn’t have to be perfectly in tune, just close.
Start off by playing the low E string on the 5th fret. This is an A note. The next string over, the 5th string, is an open A. Since the note on the 5th fret of the low E string is the same note as the open A string, you can it as a reference note to tune the open A string. Play both notes at the same time and see if you can tell if the open A string needs to be tuned up or down. Try to match the open A string to the 5th fret of the low E string by adjusting the A strings tuning key up or down. This may be difficult and frustrating at first but the more that you practice this the better your ear will get.
Once your A string is in tune, switch to the 5th fret of the A string and play that note along with the open D, or 4th, string. Use the pitch of the 5th fret of the A string as a reference not to adjust the open D string. Repeat the same process with the 5th fret of the D string and the open G string. When you get to the next pair of strings the tuning method changes a bit. Instead of fretting the G on the 5th fret you need to use the 4th fret. Play the 4th fret of the G string and tune your open B string to that note. For the last string play the 5th fret of the B string and tune the open high E string to that note.
This is just one method of tuning the guitar but it works well and it is easy to remember. If you forget how to do it, just remember 5, 5, 5, 4, 5. That is just an easy way to recall what fret numbers you need to hold down if you start on the low E string. It is a good idea to use a tuner to help you work on your tuning. Try tuning your guitar by ear and then checking it with a tuner to see how close you were. Remember to be patient with yourself.