A Beginners Guide to Tuning the Guitar… Tuning up a six string guitar is not as complex as one might think. The strings are tuned to a set interval sequence, and once you learn how that operates and what to listen for, tuning up is a breeze…
When it comes to tuning a guitar, it is good to know at least a little bit about the intervals that exist between each guitar string (intervals are the measured distances found between two notes).
The guitar is tuned in specific intervals of, “Perfect” 4th’s, along with one interval of a “Major” 3rd found between the 3rd to 2nd guitar strings. All other string sets use the “Perfect” 4th.
When notes are out of tune they produce a dissonant (unstable) effect. The dissonance is caused when two notes are resonating at different intervals thus producing a “warble” or “ping-pong” effect as the intervals ring ‘out of sync’ with one another.
HOW TO BALANCE THE INTERVALS:
Playing a Fifth fret of the 6th-string against a 5th-string open and matching those intervals will produce proper tuning between them.
Playing a Fifth fret 5th-string against a 4th-string open and matching those intervals will produce proper tuning between those strings.
Playing a Fifth fret 4th-string against a 3rd-string open and matching those intervals will produce proper tuning.
Playing a Fourth fret 3rd-string against a 2nd-string open and matching those intervals will produce proper tuning between those strings.
NOTE: These strings have a different interval between them so it is necessary to tune them off of the fret which produces the proper interval.
Playing a Fifth fret of 2nd-string against a 1st-string open and matching those intervals will produce proper tuning between the final string sets.
TESTING THE TUNING:
Guitarists will commonly use the popular open position “E Major Chord,” to test the tuning of their guitar.
After weeks and months of testing the guitar’s tuning to this chord, a guitarist will be able to recognize if their guitar is either in tune, or if it is out of tune – just from how this chord sounds after it is played.