Picture of a person playing an acoustic electric guitar

How To Tune An Acoustic Electric Guitar

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Now that you have purchased your acoustic electric guitar the first thing you need to do is tune it. This guide will teach you how to tune an acoustic electric guitar.

What Notes To Use In Tuning Your Guitar

There are 6 notes that your guitar needs to be tuned to. 

Diagram of the notes you use to tune an acoustic electric guitar
  1. The low E String (The thickest string.) called the 6th string.
  2. The A String called the 5th string.
  3. The D string called the 4th string.
  4. The G string called the 3rd string.
  5. The B String called the 2nd string.
  6. The high E string (The thinnest string.) called the 1st string.

3 Methods To Tune Your Guitar

There are 3 methods to tune your acoustic electric guitar. You should learn how to do each of these methods. Using a guitar tuner is the easiest method but there will be times that you might not have a tuner available. The harmonic method is the most difficult to master but it is the most accurate. Learn all the methods of tuning your guitar so you will always be ready for any occasion.

The Traditional Method

picture of a guitar neck showing how to tune an acoustic electric guitar

Step 1

First you start off with the low E string. (The thickest string.) Use a guitar tuner, piano, or other instrument to tune that string to the same pitch using the corresponding tuning peg at the end of the neck of the guitar. Usually guitars are strung in such a way that the string leaves the tuning peg from the side facing the center of the neck. When it is done this way, you turn the peg counter clockwise to raise the pitch and clockwise to lower the pitch.

Step 2

Place your finger on the 5th fret of the low E string. Pluck the low E string. That is the A note which is the same pitch the 5th string is supposed to be. Pluck both of them together and adjust the tuning peg of the 5th string until both notes sound the same.

Step 3​

Now place your finger on the 5th fret of the 5th string, the A string. That is the D note. That is the note that the 4th string needs to be tuned to. Repeat what you did with the 5th string until both notes are the same by adjusting the 4th strings tuning peg.

Step 4​

Move your finger up one string until it is on the 5th fret of the D string. Repeat what you did with the other 2 strings. This is the G note. 

Step 5​

This step is different than the other steps. Instead of placing your finger on the 5th fret of the G string, place it on the 4th fret. This is the B note. Adjust the 2nd string until both strings sound the same.

Step 6​

This is the final string to tune. Place your finger on the 5th fret of the B string. This is the high E note. Adjust the high E string until it sounds the same as the string your finger is on. 

The Electronic Method

By far the easiest method to tune your guitar is by using an electronic tuner. Some guitars come with electronic tuners built in. However do not fret if your does not have one. You can purchase one for a reasonable price.

Clip On Tuners

Picture of a clip on acoustic electric guitar tuner

Clip on electric tuners are very popular in today's world. They are simple to use. 

You just clip the tuner on to the head of your guitar, pluck the note, and it will tell you what note you are laying. 

You just adjust your tuning peg so until it shows you playing the proper note.

Onboard Tuners

Some guitars come with onboard or inboard tuners. These are tuners that are just built in to the electronics of your guitar.

They work the same way as a clip on tuner as far as showing you the note that you are playing and what you need to do in order to get in tune.

picture of a guitar with a built in tuner

Inline Tuners

picture of an inline guitar tuner

Inline tuners are tuners that you plug your cable coming from your guitar into. Usually musicians place them between the guitar and the guitar amp with one cable coming from the guitar and another cable coming out of the tuner and into the amplifier.

They operate the same way as the other two guitar tuners where you pluck a string and it shows you what note that string is tuned to. You just adjust your tuning pegs until it shows the right note.​

The Harmonic Method

The harmonic method of tuning your guitar is by far the most difficult. It takes a light touch. It is difficult to explain with words so I found a video that will help you learn how to tune your guitar this way.

Final Tips About How To Tune An Acoustic Electric Guitar

I have been playing guitar for over 40 years. There are a few things I have learned over the years that will help you keep your guitar in tune.

  1. When you are using new strings, stretch them out. New strings stretch a  lot when first being used. It takes a while for them to stay in tune. You can speed up this process by stretching them after you give them their first tune. This is important if you are playing in public. If you use new strings before playing and do not stretch them out, your strings will go out of tune before you get done with the first song.
  2. Changes in temperature will make your strings go out of tune. Taking your guitar from a warm climate to a cold climate will cause your strings to go out of tune. Try to keep your guitar in a temperature controlled environment as much as possible.
  3. Learn the harmonic method of tuning. It may take a while to get the hang of it but once you learn how to tune an acoustic electric guitar using the harmonic method, your tuning will be 10 times better than the traditional method. Of course nothing beats electronic tuners.

About the Author Duke Taber

Duke Taber is the owner of 3 successful Christian website and is now taking his skill as a webmaster and using it to help bi-vocational pastors and missionaries do their jobs across the world.

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