How to tune a guitar [walk through instruction]

Regularly, a guitar is tuned to the tones E, A, D, G, B, E. The strings could be numbered 1,2,3,4,5 and 6, with 1 being the lowest tone, the thickest one, so to say, and 6 being the thinnest one supposedly producing the highest tone (but wait, it is not tuned yet).

The lowest string denotes the one with the lowest tone, and the highest string denotes the one with the highest tone (so, the lowest string is not the one closest to earth). In addition, it should be added that the Swiss and German notation would put a H wherever English notation would use a B. There is no way around it – one has to know this both. Here, I use B as the tone two halftones up from A – and Bb as the tone one halftone up from A.

You should get a standard tuning fork (A, 440 Hz). You can of course replace this with any computer producing a pure 440 Hz sound; this may be even easier for you. There are downloadable programs, and there are sound synthesizer programs able to generate tones at any given frequency. I will assume you got that fork.

Now practice doing flageolett tones on your guitar. Flageolett tones are swinging tones produced by touching any string at even dividing positions along its length ONLY with the finger tip. Touch any string PRECISELY over the 12th fret, and you will half it and hear a sound 1 octave up; touch any string PRECISELY over the 5th fret, and you will quarter it, producing a sound 2 octaves up, and touch it on the 7th fret, you’d get the string vibration cut into three parts and get the 5th tone of any scale on one octave higher (if counting with the empty string sound you just plucked).

So here is what you do:

1. Tune the A-String. Touch the 2nd string over the 5th fret and produce a flageolett tone. Get this to match your tuning fork.

2. Tune the E-String. Compare the Flageolett at fret 5 of the 1st string with the Flageolett at fret 7 of the 2nd string. Tune the 1st string until those match.

3. Tune the D-String. Compare the Flageolett at fret 5 of the 2nd string with the Flageolett at fret 7 of the 3rd string. Tune the 3rd string until those match.

4. Tune the G-String. Compare the Flageolett at fret 5 of the 3rd string with the Flageolett at fret 7 of the 4th string. Tune the 4th string until those match.

5. Tune the B-String. Compare the Flageolett at fret 7 of the 1st string with the full ringing sound of the 5th string. Tune the 5th string until those match.

6. Tune the E-String. Compare the Flageolett at fret 7 of the 2nd string with the full ringing sound of the 6th string. Tune the 6th string until those match.

Necks are not stiff, but usually, they are flexible parts of a guitar. They have been designed to counteract string tension. If your guitar was really out of tune, redo this procedure 2 – 3 times until you feel the neck is getting there.


Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: swisswuff.ch - How to tune a guitar [walk through instruction]; published 17/08/2006, 14:28; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/wordpress/?p=1621.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1643053101, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{swisswuff.ch - How to tune a guitar [walk through instruction]}}, month = {August}, year = {2006}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/wordpress/?p=1621} }