Unless you are playing a song with alternate tuning there is nothing pleasant about playing a guitar that is out of tune.
The guitar is like several mini-pianos, that is, each string starts with a different note and runs up the musical scale like the white and black notes of a piano.
Standard guitar tuning from the sixth (top) string down to the first (bottom) string goes: E A D G B E. The beauty of the guitar and standard tuning is that you can tune the guitar to itself by tuning each string on the guitar to another string. Ideally, you could reference a pitch tool or online tuner to begin with the sixth string and be in exact concert pitch. Even without that reference you can use your ear to get the sixth string close to what you think it should sound like. From there you can tune each successive string to perfect pitch with that one string.
So how does it work?
Step 1: Getting your fifth string in tune with your sixth string. Hold down the fifth fret of the sixth string. This note is the pitch that string five should be tuned to. Pick the sixth string then the fifth string. If the fifth string sounds exactly like the note on the sixth string, it is in tune. If it's higher, you need to tune the fifth string. If it's lower, you need to tighten the string and bring its pitch up to the fifth fret note on the sixth string.
Step 2: Get your fourth string in tune with your fifth string. Hold down the fifth fret of the fifth string. This note is the pitch that string four should be tuned to. Just like in step one, play the two strings and either tune the fourth string up or down to match the note being played on the fifth string.
Step 3: Get your third string in tune with your fourth string. Hold down the fifth fret of the fourth string. This note is the pitch that string three should be tuned to. Again, play the two notes and tune the third string either up or down to match the note being played on the fourth string.
Step 4: Tune your second string in tune with your third string. This time the pattern breaks by one fret. Hold the note on the fourth fret of the third string. This note is the pitch that string two should be tuned to. Tune the second string up or down to be in tune with the third string.
Step 5: The last step is to get your first string in tune with your second string. We are now back to the familiar pattern as on the previous strings. Hold the note on the fifth fret of the second string. This note is the pitch that string one should be tuned to. Just like before tune either up or down to get this final string in tune.
That's it! But wait. . . your probably not quite done.
Sometimes as you tune the strings down the neck the ones above them get a little out of tune. So go back to the top and go through the sequence again. Plus, since the top and bottom strings are both E notes you can reference them against each other too.
Darren Fauth loves playing guitar and sharing guitar information with others. Visit my website for more resources on Expert Guitar Lessons and Advice . I hope to one day study a guitar music education .