Cool exercise to train your Ear




In this article I am going to present you how to tune a guitar. This way of tuning a guitar does not necesarilly help you to tune a guitar accuratelly to a certain precise tuning (for example EADGBE at 440Hz), but to tune a guitar relativelly – so the strings are tuned accuratelly one to another. This means that strings,  from 6th (thickest) to the 1st (thinnest), are tuned in fourths one to another, except for the 3rd and 2nd string, which are tuned in major third. That is, of course, unless you have a reference tone(for example tuning fork or similar device), upon which you can tune any of the strings to a certain precise tone. In that case you can tune a guitar quite accuratelly, depending on your ear and/or guitar setup.

This article is meant mostly for beginners, but also for all whom it may concern. It is especially useful for a quick tune up during a concert, practice, if your playing sounds strange you can check the tuning this way, but also if you simply don’t have a tuner at hand and want to play. In this case you will have your guitar tuned only relativelly, so you can’t expect to be in tune with other musicians. That is unless you all tune up upon the same reference tone.

So, here we go:

  • Step 1:  If you have a reference tone E, tune your 6th string (the thickest) as close as possible to the reference tone and continue to Step 2.

– If you have a tuning fork, tune your 5th string to the same tone as the one coming out of tuning fork and tune your 6th string, played on the 5th fret to the same tone. In this case you have the 6th and the 5th string in tune and can proceed to Step 3.

– If you don’t have a reference tone, skip this step.

  • Step 2: Play a tone on the 5th fret of the 6th string, and tune your empty 5th string to the same tone as accuratelly as possible.
  • Step 3: Play a tone on the 5th fret of your 5th string, and tune your empty 4th string to the same tone as accuratelly as possible.
  • Step 4: Repeat the same procedure playing a 5th fret on your 4th string and tuning your empty 3rd string to the same tone.
  • Step 5: Tuning your 2nd string is a little bit different from the others. In this case you play a tone on the 4th fret of your 3rd string and tune your empty 2nd string to the same tone.
  • Step 6: Now go back to the procedure described in Step 2-4. Play a note on the 5th fret of your 2nd string and tune your empty 1st string to the same tone.

Your guitar should be in tune now. You can compare the tones of your empty 6th and 1st string, which should be exactly 2 octaves (24 semi-tones) apart. If you hear noticable difference in quality of the tone(for example, your 6th string sounds like an E, and your 1st more like D# or F), repeat steps 2-6 again. A problem may occur if you press any of the strings to hard on a fret, because in that case a string can bend a little and change the pitch of a tone.  You should press the string very close to the fret, with just as much strength to get clear tone. In this case the pitch will be most accurate.

A problem may occur also on guitars with floating bridges, especially Floyd Rose and alike. In this case you should repeat all steps as many times as needed.

If you are tuning your guitar this way for the first time it may take you some time, but it will get quicker very soon, basically with every repetition. This is definitely a good way to train your ear. You wouldn’t believe how many guitarist now adays realy only on guitar tuners and aren’t able to tune guitar by ear. Of course, learning guitar from a well trained guitar teacher will definitely help you training your ear further, but this is a good start.