How To Tune Your Guitar Without A Tuner

Nowadays, everyone owns a smartphone, right? There are tons of guitar tuning apps that will help you to tune your guitar in seconds. So, why do we even think about tuning it by our ears? Why should we learn how to tune a guitar without a tuner? I mean, is that even necessary?

Well, let’s put it this way- tuning a guitar with a tuner is for beginners. But don’t judge me yet! Let’s hear the whole thing first.


Why is tuning a guitar without a tuner considered beneficial?

Honestly speaking, a guitarist’s experience and sense of music are judged by some of his attributes. The ability to tune his guitar without any technological touch may not be an important one, but it sure does reflect how inconsiderate he is to memorize the notes. Besides, it doesn’t take one to know rocket science of notes to learn how to tune a guitar without a tuner. All you need is the basics.

If you’re wondering it’s still an unnecessary knowledge to adapt, this might change your mind- 

Suppose you are sitting with some of your friends, jamming with a couple of acoustic guitars. Now, if there are five of your friends, chances are- four out of five will prefer a tuner for tuning the guitar. Considering you already know how to manage to tune it without the tuner, I guarantee you will leave them surprised. It is true that technology has made our lives easier, but these are pure knowledge that you can’t just ignore, or underrate at all. 

Your ears develop as you start spending more time on practice. Don’t rush, just follow a proper routine and you will be there. There is no specific time for perfection as it varies from person to person. But if you keep playing, your ears will adapt to the notes that are necessary for tuning the guitar all by yourself.


The Standard E Tuning

There are, however, lots of tune configurations these days. But, the majority of them follow Standard E tuning, that is  – E A D G B E from the thickest string(6th) to the thinnest(1st). 

The process of tuning the guitar is simple. First, you must tune the 6th string. Then, you go down to the 1st one by one. 

Please remember, the perfection of this process closely depends on how developed your ears are. The more accurate pitching your ears can detect, the more accurate your tuning is going to be. 

Steps Of Tuning

First, we must tune the E String. Assuming you don’t know how the perfect E string sounds like, click here and listen.

Pick up your guitar, tune your 6th string, and adjust it according to the sound of the audio clip.

The next steps are quite important for you to remember.

fret 1

In the fretboard, you can play certain notes by placing your fingers on them. For example, if you place your finger on the 5th fret of the 6th string, you get an A. But isn’t that the tune of your 5th string? Now, considering the E String is already tuned, all you have to do is adjust your 5th string according to the 6th string while placing your finger on the 5th fret. 

fret 2

Match both the sounds, and you are almost there. 


Next, you place your finger on the 5th fret of the A string(5th) and you get a D, which is your 4th fret’s tune. Repeat what you just did for the previous string. 

fret 3

Same thing for the G string.

fret 4

To tune your B string, you must match it with the 4th fret of your 3rd string(G).

fret 5

For the thinnest string E, we follow the 5th fret rule.

So the sequence is – 55545.


Accuracy Measurement

Again, it strictly depends on your ears, but there is one more thing. While comparing two strings, you are most likely to hear a clear WARBLING sound that is created when two strings don’t match in terms of frequency. The lesser the frequency difference, the more accurate your tuning will be. This warbling sound may be similar to a tiny uncomfortable vibration. 

This is not perfect. But with time, everything is possible. You will find it easier day by day and start making more accurate tunings of your guitar. 


Quick Tips

  • Be confident while tuning, otherwise you may end up tearing a string.
  • Start increasing your pitch from low to high. This way is more accurate.
  • While stroking two strings, first stroke the one that is being tuned.

Wrapping Up

Standard E tuning is not the only tune configuration in the world. But you will have the basics about how to tune a guitar without a tuner in any configuration if you follow the steps described above. You must have your guitar while reading it and try to implement these. This will help you understand the sequence and remember it for a long time. 

If you are a beginner, don’t worry about the accuracy just yet. For you, we even recommend sticking with a tuner app for a while. Once you are done with some of the fingerpicking lessons, you might give it a try. But if you want to try it anyway, just relax and don’t panic. It is not an open heart surgery if that makes you feel any better.

Keep calm and keep rocking!

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