Electric guitars come in many forms and shapes, but one thing they all have in common is that they sound fantastic. You just can’t make a good rock or metal song on an acoustic guitar. That said, for any song to sound good, that electric guitar needs to be in tune.
This is exactly what we are here to teach you today, how to tune and electric guitar. Yes, there are a few different ways to tune an electric guitar, and today we want to talk about the most common ones.
We’re going to talk about how to tune an electric guitar manually, or in other words, without a tuner. We’re also going to talk about how to use an electric guitar tuner to achieve the same result. Let’s get to it and help you get that electric guitar in tune.
Guitar Tuning Basics
Before we talk about how to tune an electric guitar, there are some basics that you need to know. The most important thing for you to know is what standard tuning on an electric guitar looks like. Of course, an electric guitar will generally have six strings.
Standard tuning involves tuning these six strings to various pitches. Keep in mind that these electric guitar strings are tuned from the thickest string to the thinnest string.
In standard tuning, they are tuned to E, A, D, G, B, E. In case you don’t know, the first E is going to be the lowest sounding string, and the last E will be the highest sounding string. Keep in mind that both electric and acoustic guitars are usually tuned using standard tuning.
There are also other types of guitar tuning out there. However, for a beginner, you’re generally just going to use standard tuning. Therefore, today we are going to focus on how to tune an electric guitar using standard tuning.
How to Tune an Electric Guitar Without a Guitar Tuner
First off, we want to teach you the old school method of tuning and electric guitar. Yes, using an actual guitar tuner is of course much easier and faster. However, you might not always have a guitar tuner on hand. It definitely helps to have this kind of old school knowledge at your disposal.
Before you get started, there is one small thing that you should know. You should first try to familiarize yourself with the head of your guitar, as well as the pegs. Just make sure that you know which way you need to turn them to increase or decrease the pitch of the string in question. Other than that, just follow the steps as outlined below to tune your electric guitar by ear.
- OK, so the thing with this method is that your low E string does already need to be in tune. Therefore, something you can do is to play the low E on a piano and then compare the low E on your guitar. If you don’t have a piano around, then using another guitar that is already in tune may work. If worst comes to worst, you can always use your mobile phone for reference.
- Now it is time to tune the next string, the A string. What you need to do here, with your low E in tune, is to play the 5th fret on the low E string. This should be an A. Now, you want to tune your fifth string or the A string to this note. The 5th fret on low E should sound exactly like the A string.
- Next, we have the D string. You will tune this in the same way you tuned the A string. Here, you’re going to play the fifth fret on the A string. This should be a D. Tune your D string until it sounds exactly like the note played on the fifth fret of you A string.
- Now it is time to tune the G string. Follow the same method as above. Play the fifth fret on your D string. Tune your G string to sound like the note played on the fifth fret of the D string.
- Now you need to tune the B string. Things are a bit different here. To tune the B string, you are going to play the fourth fret on the G string. Tune the B string to sound like the fourth fret on the G string.
- Finally, tune the high E string. To tune the high E, play the fifth fret on your B string, and tune the high E to sound like this.
How to Tune an Electric Guitar Using a Guitar Tuner
There are many different kinds of guitar tuners out there. However, for the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on using a clip on guitar tuner. They’re fast, accurate, and really easy to use. Moreover, you can find a decent clip on guitar tuner for well under $50. On that note, they’re also extremely small and portable, which is of course another benefit.
What you are going to appreciate about clip on guitar tuners is that there is barely any work involved on your end. You simply have to clip them onto the headstock of your guitar. You then have to pluck a string. If the string is not all too out of tune, the guitar tuner can detect which string you are playing.
It can identify what tone you are playing and what tone should be being played. The guitar tuner will then tell you if the note is flat, sharp, or dead on. It will then provide you with instructions in terms of the direction that the string needs to go to reach proper tuning. You can do this with all six of the strings.
When it comes down to it, we do recommend using a guitar tuner. They’re just much easier and faster to use. Of course, when it comes to tuning your guitar by ear, it is more than doable. However, you do need to have that low E string already in tune for this to work.