How to Tune a Guitar in Standard Tuning

It’s an absolute necessity that every guitar player have a guitar tuner. If you don’t have one, go out and buy one (check out our review of the best guitar tuners). Tuning the guitar by ear is a difficult thing to do for most people, and even if you can tune your guitar by ear, a guitar tuner will likely give you the most accurate tuning.

If your guitar is even slightly out of tune, it will sound really bad. It’s important when your first learning how to play guitar to have a tuned guitar, because an out of tune guitar will make you much worse than you really are. Talk about discouraging!

Tuning Your Guitar by Ear

Before we try to use the audio samples below to tune our guitar by ear, we need to discuss a bit about tuning your guitar. If you go from the lowest string (the fattest string) to the highest string (the thinnest string), standard tuning is where the the guitar is tuned to the notesĀ EADGBE.

How to Tune Your Guitar

If you have an acoustic guitar like the one picture above, if the guitar is strung right, the top three strings’ tuning pegs will need to be turned counter-clockwise to move up in pitch and clockwise to move down in pitch. Again, if the guitar is strung right, the bottom three strings’ tuning pegs will need to be turned clockwise to move up in pitch and counter-clockwise to move down in pitch.

How to Tune Your Guitar

If you have an electric guitar sometimes the tuning pegs will all be on the top of the headstock like the picture above. If this is so, all the tuning pegs will need to be turned counter-clockwise to move up in pitch and clockwise to move down in pitch.

Standard Guitar Tuning (EADGBE)

In case you don’t have a guitar tuner, here are some audio files that you can use to tune your guitar into standard tuning. Listen to the audio file and pluck the string at the same time. An out-of-tune string will sound really dissonant, warbly and wobbly. You want to tune your strings to the audio file so their is no dissonance or tension between the two sounds. It should sound really smooth.

Low E string
[audio:http://www.guitarfriendly.net/audio/tuner/eadgbe/E.mp3]

A string
[audio:http://www.guitarfriendly.net/audio/tuner/eadgbe/A.mp3]

D string
[audio:http://www.guitarfriendly.net/audio/tuner/eadgbe/D.mp3]

G string
[audio:http://www.guitarfriendly.net/audio/tuner/eadgbe/G.mp3]

B string
[audio:http://www.guitarfriendly.net/audio/tuner/eadgbe/B.mp3]

High E string
[audio:http://www.guitarfriendly.net/audio/tuner/eadgbe/highe.mp3]

Other Guitar Tunings

Some other tunings will be DADGAD, DADGAE, EAEEBE, CGCGCE. You’ll notice that these tunings have a lot similar notes. This makes them sound a bit more open sounding. If you do tune your guitar to these tunings, you will obviously need to learn a whole new set of guitar chords in that tuning. The chord shapes you learn in standard tuning will be different shapes in other tunings.

About Brett McQueen

Brett McQueen is a musician, songwriter, and the founder and editor of Guitar Friendly and Ukulele Tricks. Learn more about him here and follow him on Twitter at @GuitarFriendly.