ArtistWorks Blog

How to Tune an Electric Guitar

It’s great that you’ve got a guitar and are ready to hit the ground running, but what about tuning? Learning how to tune a guitar can be tricky.

Let’s take a look at how to tune a electric guitar for beginners.

Helpful Tools

Electric guitar tuning can be done by ear, but it’s best to begin by using an electronic tuner. These devices are small, they clip onto the headstock of the guitar and you can purchase them for a reasonable price online or at many music stores.

When you’re ready to tune a string, pluck it and the tuner should light up. When you’re in tune, the arrow will center on the screen and the light will turn green. When you’re out of tune, the arrow will point off to the left or right and the light will be red.

Make sure you know the proper pitch of each string before you start tuning. Electric guitar standard tuning is as follows, from strings 6 through 1: E A D G B E.

Establishing A Pattern

When you’re ready change your strings, make sure to always skip one. In other words, never change two adjacent strings in succession. For example, if you remove the 6th string first, you’ll want to place the new 6th string in place and tighten it before skipping to the 4th string. Continue with strings 2, 5, 3 and finally 1.

Following this skipping pattern is important in order to maintain equal tension across the neck so your intonation isn’t affected during this process.

Securing Strings and Tuning

At this point, you’ve removed the 6th string by turning the tuning peg clockwise. Pull the crimped portion through the hole in the peg and the rest of the string by pulling the ball end of the string through the opening near the bridge, out the back of the guitar.

Note that guitars with all six tuning pegs in a line will all operate in the same direction, while a headstock with three pegs on each side will reverse on the treble side (strings 3 to 1 turning clockwise to tighten).

Carefully unwind the new string and guide it through the hole in the back of the guitar near the bridge. Pass the small end of the string through the tuning peg, giving it a few turns to tighten.

Make sure the string is resting in the bridge saddle and, after a few turns, wrap the string over the top of tuning peg in the opposite direction of the turn to secure it. Repeat for all six strings.

Time for a Stretch

Ready for a stretch yet? Your strings are, because they tend to slip a lot when they’re brand new. Giving them a good stretch will ensure that all your precision work won’t go to waste by keeping the strings in tune for long periods without the need for much retuning.

Pull the string gently upward with your index finger, giving it a few small tugs. After doing so, immediately tune the string using your electronic tuner. Repeat for all six strings, and then play a song you know or practice a scale.

This will help the strings settle. After a few rounds, your guitar should stay in tune, only requiring a slight occasional tune-up if you play frequently.

Trimming Strings and Cleanup

Now that you’re finished tuning, take your pliers or wire cutters and snip the excess from the strings at the tuning pegs.

Be careful not to cut too close to the peg, as this can cause the string to lose its tension. A good rule of thumb is to leave about 1 inch of slack for each string above the tuning peg.

Now that you know how to tune a guitar, all that’s left to do now is get rolling with that new practice regimen! If you want more pro tips and cool lessons, be sure to check out artistworks.com today.

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