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Blues Guitar Lessons: Tuning

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All right, let's talk about one
of the most essential and one of the most
persistent issues guitar players face.
Doesn't matter which style you play.
And that's keeping
the darned thing in tune.
There was a guitar player,
famous composer and
player in the 19th century who
made the joke a little too true.
That guitar players spent half
their time tuning up, and
the other half playing out of tune.
It's almost literally true,
the way the guitar is built,
it's always a little bit out of tune,
but we try to get it as close as we can.
Now, fortunately technology has
come to our rescue in recent years,
used to be you had to tune up
to a piano or a tuning fork or
something kinda primitive like that.
But now, we have electronics.
And, I highly recommend if you haven't
already, that you invest in an tuner,
an electronic tuner.
They come in different varieties.
The one that I have become
fond of is this clip-on.
It's a little dinky thing.
And you literally clip it on
to the end of the neck here.
It has an adjustment that fits the size,
you squeeze it on there.
And then when you turn it on,
what you get is it reads the note,
it tells you what note you're playing,
and it tells you whether you're sharp or
whether you're flat.
It's as easy to use as anything
I've ever come across.
And because it always sits on
the guitar you don't have to stop and
go somewhere and grab something and
tune up as a separate operation,
it's kinda of seamless.
So that's one good way to do it.
Another good way to do it is to
use one of these things here.
A smartphone app and they come for
all different kinds of phones,
different companies make them,
more or less expensive.
They come sometimes in a package with
different tools that you might wanna use
as a guitar player, like a metronome,
and it's worth the investment.
And this one for example, you kinda
hit the note [SOUND] the note is read
through the microphone onto the phone and
then you're hearing the note.
Now, the only disadvantage to this system
is that if there's noise in the room or
other people are playing,
you can't tell who's playing what.
So the clip-on is exclusive
to your own instrument.
But anyway you do it those are ways
of staying in tune and they're very
accurate and it makes life just a lot
more enjoyable when you play in tune.
Now if you don't have anything like
that you can tune to yourself.
Its the relative tuning method and that
means you just pick one of the strings and
usually its the high E.
We'll explain the string
names in a second.
Pick that high string and
just pluck it and then go to the 5th fret.
Remember the numbering system
on the second string and
play that note and
they should match exactly.
Now if they don't I'm gonna de-tune here.
now, that's out of tune.
I think you can hear that.
So what I do is turn the tuning
key until they match up.
Now, it's tricky.
Because the vibrations get very close.
Now the other thing you have to
do when you tune up like that,
is always stretch the string to
make sure it's settled in properly.
Because sometimes you'll
tune it up just right.
You'll hit a cord and
it'll go right back out of tune because
the strings will shift position.
So you tune it up, 5th fret.
When that note's in tune now you use your
second string as a reference and
go to the 4th fret on the third string,
that's cuz the strings are tuned
a little different to each other.
And you compare the third string at
the 4th fret to the open second string.
When they're in tune,
use the third string as your reference.
Each string now becomes
the new standard here.
Third string.
Go to the 4th string.
5th fret.
5th string.
5th fret.
And 6h string.
5th fret.
5th fret.
4th fret.
5th fret, 5th fret, 5th fret.
Now, this is a little tricky because
sometimes a string will be slightly out of
tune and you tune the next string to
that and is slightly out of tune,
then you get to the end and
it's kind of a mess.
So you wanna be sure that ultimately
you have that absolute reference.
And, so the clip-on tuner, the iPhone
tuner, whatever method you come up with
electronically will be more accurate and
in the end it'll produce a better result.
Now, there's sometimes when you'll
tune up you'll stretch it all out and
it'll go right back out of tune again.
And it's not because the guitar
intonation is no good, once your guitar
intonation is set it should be able
to play in tune no matter what, but
the strings get worn out and
when do you know that?
Well you just kinda have to look at them.
One way to tell is to run your finger up
and down the bottom of the string and
if it comes away real black, that means
there's a lot of goo on the string.
And that goo builds up, and
it changes the nature of the string
it doesn't vibrate the same.
So first of all, you clean the strings.
And you run a rag up and down,
and get underneath there.
Clean them up, make sure they're clean.
Then tune up, if it stays in tune, great.
If if doesn't, sometimes it's because
you've dug little goo in the strings, and
they don't vibrate evenly anymore.
Then it's time to change strings.
Now I'm not gonna go into detail
about how to change strings.
Again, lots of tutorials are available
on the web about how to change strings.
There are different methods people use,
they're all pretty similar.
But when you need to change your
strings it's well worth the time.
It'll make your guitar sound a lot better.
And when you get done playing every time,
just wipe the strings off.
Some people have very acidic hands,
and it builds up the goo quicker.
Some people less often, but
either way it's a good idea
to keep your strings clean.
Now [COUGH] to practice tuning,
the best way to do it is untune
your guitar and then retune it.
It's not gonna be a problem cuz
your guitar's gonna go out of tune
pretty much all the time all by itself.
Now, let's talk about the string names.
What do we call these things?
We know it's numbered one, two, three,
four, five, six from the top down.
But the names are very important
because that's how we tell keys and
figure out the musical alphabet.
So one way to remember the names is
to come up with just a saying that's
kinda dumb but it sticks in your brain.
Starting with the 6th string,
that note is E.
And next to it is the note A.
I'm gonna go through the notes and
then I'll give you the saying.
E, A, D, G, B, E, okay,
it sounds pretty arbitrary so
let's do it like this.
Even, after, dinner, growing, boys, eat.
I get that.
That's true, in fact, right.
So, even, after, dinner,
growing, boys, eat.
E, A, D, G, B, E.
So when I say B string,
I mean the second string.
If I say put your 3rd finger on
the 7th fret of the B string, so
you are right, right there, okay?
So we know the names of the strings,
we know how to tune the strings to
each other, or even better to
an absolute pitch which is a tuner.
And so once you're guitar is consistently
in tune and it's not wavering and
sort of going out of tune all by itself,
then we are ready to start playing.
And we'll actually start making some
music here so let's get down to it.