Ah, you pick up an electric guitar and strum a fine G chord. Wait! It sounds like a cacophony of hell! The strings are not tuned properly! This means it’s up to you. You are the guitar’s savior now. It’s time to tune the guitar.
If you’re just beginning on your guitar journey, the mere thought of tuning all six strings can be pretty daunting. But, don’t worry. All guitarists have been there. From Eddie Van Halen to Jimi Hendrix, guitarists have all needed to learn how to tune their electric guitars.
If you want to sound great on the guitar, it doesn’t matter how good you are. If that guitar is not in tune, it will not be music to anyone’s ears. The earlier you learn how to tune an electric guitar, the sooner you will be able to enjoy playing and sounding like a maestro.
Many guitarists try to avoid this learning curve but playing an out-of-tune guitar can be frustrating, especially if you’re trying to play along with your favorite tracks or learning chords and scales. The good news is that there are several ways of tuning an electric guitar.
These include different tunings but for today’s blog, we will be focusing on standard tuning – E-A-D-G-B-E. This regular tuning will give you a good footing and base of knowledge to help you understand both pitch and harmony on the guitar.
From apps to electric tuners, there are numerous ways to tune an electric guitar as well as acoustic models. However, we will also be finding out how to tune by ear without any electric tuner, too.
But, don’t worry, we will also show you how to tune with an electric tuner for the most accurate tuning possible.
Let’s get your guitar in tune so you can shred to your heart’s content all day long.
Ways Of Tuning An Electric Guitar
As we mentioned, there are a few ways of tuning your guitar. These include:
- Tuning by ear
- A plug-in/pedal
- A microphone based tuner
- A vibration-based tuner
We believe all guitarists should learn to tune by ear before turning to an electronic tuning device. This provides you with valuable experience and will make it easier to tune your guitar quickly and easily when a tuner isn’t available.
Plug-in and pedal tuners are ideal when tuning your electric guitar in a busy, noisy environment such as in the middle of a gig. This is why many guitarists who play regular live shows and studio players use these on most occasions.
Microphone-based tuners are electric devices that pick up each string’s sound via a microphone. These include a display that shows you how close your string is to being in tune.
Vibration-based tuners are another perfect tool for when you’re in a busy or noisy place. Coming in various shapes and sizes, these types of tuners are commonly used.
How To Tune An Electric Guitar – Steps
The standard tuning for a guitar is E-A-D-G-B-E and this is what we will be tuning your guitar to today. Once you learn how to tune to these notes, you can start to play around with alternative tunings eventually. But, standard tuning should be considered the foundation for moving around the fretboard.
Tune By Ear
Here’s how to tune your electric guitar without a tuner:
- To tune your guitar, you will need to turn the tuning pegs on its headstock. Begin by checking the pegs and familiarize yourself with the direction in which they turn. Whether it’s an electric or acoustic guitar, these pegs should move similarly.
- You need to tune the low E string first. For reference, tune it to a Piano’s E, if possible. If you do not have a piano, you can use another guitar as your reference pitch.
- Now, play the fifth fret on the low E string. This fret is an A note. Tune the next string down, the A string, to match the sound of this note. This method will continue for the remaining strings.
- The D string is next. Play the fifth fret of the A string and tune the D string until it sounds the same.
- Do the same again by playing the fifth fret on the D string and tune the G string to this note.
- The method changes slightly here. To tune the B string, you should play the fourth fret of the G string and then match the pitch of the open B string to this note.
- Finally, for the high E string, return to the fifth fret of the B string and match this tone with the open high E string.
So, remember, the frets to play are “5-5-5-4-5.” This may take a little bit of time to get used to but this is the best and most traditional way of keeping your guitar in tune.
Tune With An Electric Tuner
This is an easier method for tuning your electric guitar. Luckily, there are a range of inventive electric tuners available to make the tuning process more straightforward and quicker.
A microphone-based tuner is one of the most popular ways to tune a guitar. These pick up the sound of each string via a built-in microphone. The majority have a simple interface that shows you how close a string is to being in tune via a lighting system of arrows.
Vibration-based tuners are very useful in noisy environments. These tuners clip onto the guitar’s headstock and detect the pitch of each note via different vibrations. Just follow the needle on the tuner. The tuner will usually state the closest note your string is at and its interface will light up as the arrow reaches the middle when perfectly in tune.
Plug-in or pedal tuners are great for live shows. These are designed specifically with electric guitars in mind but can be used for electric/acoustic models too. You simply connect your guitar via jack lead and the tuner’s interface will indicate how close your strings are to being tuned via a light (typically green for in tune or red for out of tune) or a needle.
There are quite a few ways to tune your guitar but always learn the basics without an electric tuner. Learning by ear will help you in all situations, wherever you are with your guitar.