Home guitar How to Tune Your Six String Guitar: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Tune Your Six String Guitar: A Step-by-Step Guide

by Madonna

Tuning a guitar is an essential skill for any guitarist, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned musician. Proper tuning ensures that each string produces the correct pitch, resulting in harmonious chords and melodies. The significance of tuning cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts the sound quality of your guitar playing. Imagine trying to play a song with strings out of tune—it would sound dissonant and unpleasant.

Standard Tuning

Most guitars are tuned to standard tuning, which is crucial for playing along with other musicians or using instructional materials. In standard tuning, the strings are tuned to the following pitches from lowest to highest: E-A-D-G-B-E. This standardization allows guitarists to communicate and collaborate effectively, as they all tune their instruments to the same pitches.

SEE ALSO: How Do Guitars Get out of Tune?

Tuning Methods

There are several methods for tuning a guitar, each with its advantages depending on your preference and situation.

Electronic Tuner: An electronic tuner is a handy tool that accurately measures the pitch of each string. Simply pluck a string, and the tuner will display whether it’s in tune or not. Adjust the tuning pegs until the tuner indicates the correct pitch. Most electronic tuners have different modes for standard tuning and alternate tunings, making them versatile for various musical styles.

Reference Pitch: Tuning your guitar to a reference pitch involves comparing the pitch of each string to a known standard, such as a piano, tuning fork, or online reference tone. For example, you can play a note on a piano and then tune the corresponding guitar string until it matches the pitch of the piano note.

Relative Tuning: Relative tuning involves tuning one string relative to another. For instance, you can tune the A string by fretting the 5th fret on the low E string and matching the pitch. This method is useful when you don’t have access to a reference pitch but already have one string in tune.

Tuning Each String

Now let’s walk through the process of tuning each of the six strings on your guitar.

Low E (6th String): Start by tuning the low E string to the standard E note. Use an electronic tuner or compare the pitch to a reference E note.

A (5th String): Tune the A string to the A note using the same methods as above.

D (4th String): Tune the D string to the D note, ensuring it matches the correct pitch.

G (3rd String): Tune the G string to the G note, maintaining accuracy for optimal sound quality.

B (2nd String): Tune the B string to the B note, making precise adjustments as needed.

High E (1st String): Finally, tune the high E string to the high E note, completing the standard tuning of your guitar.

Using a Tuner

When using an electronic tuner or a guitar tuning app, follow these steps:

  • Activate the tuner and select the appropriate mode for standard tuning.
  • Pluck each string individually and observe the tuner’s display.
  • If the string is flat (too low in pitch), tighten the tuning peg to raise the pitch. If it’s sharp (too high in pitch), loosen the tuning peg to lower the pitch.
  • Continue adjusting the tuning peg until the tuner indicates that the string is in tune.
  • Repeat this process for each string until all six strings are tuned correctly.
  • Using a tuner is straightforward and ensures precise tuning, even for beginners.

Checking Intonation

In addition to tuning, it’s essential to check the intonation of your guitar periodically. Intonation refers to the guitar’s ability to play in tune across the entire fretboard. To check intonation, play a note at the 12th fret and compare it to the harmonic at the same fret. If the fretted note is sharp or flat compared to the harmonic, you may need to adjust the saddle position on your guitar’s bridge.


If you encounter common tuning issues, consider the following solutions:

Strings Going Out of Tune Quickly: Old or worn-out strings can lose their elasticity, causing them to go out of tune more frequently. Replace old strings with new ones to maintain stability in tuning.

Difficulty Tuning by Ear: Tuning by ear can be challenging, especially for beginners. Practice regularly to develop your ear and improve your tuning skills. Alternatively, use an electronic tuner for precise tuning.

Nut Lubrication: If the strings are sticking in the nut slots, causing tuning instability, apply a small amount of lubricant (such as graphite or nut lubricant) to the nut slots to reduce friction.

Guitar Setup: If you’re still experiencing tuning issues, consider taking your guitar to a professional luthier for a setup. A setup involves adjusting various components of the guitar, including the nut, bridge, and truss rod, to optimize playability and tuning stability.

Practice and Maintenance

To maintain your guitar’s tuning stability, it’s essential to practice tuning regularly. Make it a habit to check and adjust the tuning before each practice session or performance. Additionally, remember to re-tune your guitar after changing strings or making adjustments to the guitar’s setup.


In conclusion, tuning your six string guitar is a fundamental aspect of playing the instrument. By understanding standard tuning, mastering different tuning methods, and practicing regularly, you can ensure that your guitar always sounds its best. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced guitarist, proper tuning is key to unlocking the full potential of your guitar playing.

related articles


Musicalinstrumentworld is a musical instrument portal. The main columns include piano, guitar, ukulele, saxphone, flute, xylophone, oboe, trumpet, trombone, drum, clarinet, violin, etc.


Copyright © 2023 musicalinstrumentworld