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How to Tune an Electric Guitar

How to Tune an Electric Guitar Let’s talk about the most essential and persistent issue that all guitar players face, which is keeping the guitar in tune! Regardless of the style that you play, this always seems to be a fundamental issue guitar players face. Our master blues guitarist, Keith Wyatt, once told us about a famous 19th century composer who said, “Guitar players spend half their time tuning up and the other half playing out of tune.” The irony of this statement is that it is true in a literal sense. The way in which the guitar is built, it will naturally be a little out of tune. Lucky for us, technology has come to the rescue!


In this article, we would like to discuss how to tune an electric guitar and offer insight as to how one might go about doing so. We have our master jazz guitarist Dave Stryker touching on the more primitive ways of tuning and then master rock guitarist Paul Gilbert delving into the technological side of the spectrum.

By clicking HERE you will see a quick video of Dave Stryker discussing life before technology and electric tuners, which tuning instrument he prefers, and what to do if you are without an electric tuner. Dave masterfully breaks down the technique of tuning and touches on how one can tune with a piano (using the open E string or an A string), harmonics (5th fret harmonic with 1st finger, 7th fret harmonic with 3rd or 4th finger), and his favorite, octaves (same note, but an octave lower - skip a string in between).

On the other side of the spectrum, we have rock guitarist Paul Gilbert breaking down the same concepts while focusing solely on electronic tuners and 5th fret tuning. By clicking HERE, you will see Paul discuss the benefits of an electric clip-on tuner (mobile, accessible, affordable, accurate) v.s an electric floor tuner (visual not audible, so you don’t bother your audience while tuning) v.s 5th fret tuning, which instrument/method he prefers to use and why. He also touches on the tuning technique such as tuning below the note and where to give it a little stretch to bend the note slowly to bring it back up into tune, how to handle the guitar while tuning so you don’t throw the tuning off, which notes are the trickiest to tune, and why he prefers to be flat.

The art of tuning is something that is a lifelong process. There will never be a time when you don’t have to tune before practicing or before a gig. In the past, musicians had to tune their instruments rather primitively using a piano or a tuning fork. Today, as mentioned above, we have electronic tuners to use to our advantage. We strongly suggest investing in an electric, clip-on tuner which seems to be a “fan favorite” amongst musicians. Again, this specific tuner is a small device that clips onto the headstock, and tells you whether or not your sharp or flat. It truly is that simple making the operation seamless. Alternatively, you can also use a smartphone app. These apps are typically free or can cost a low monthly/yearly subscription fee. The benefits of smartphone apps is that they are easily accessible to the user and sometimes include additional tools such as a metronome, which can make the subscription worth the small fee. The disadvantage is that the microphone on the phone easily picks up other surrounding noise, so the read is not always accurate.

Now that you know how to tune an electric guitar, all that’s left to do now is get rolling with that new practice regimen! If you are interested in learning how to tune an acoustic guitar, check out some of our additional blogs. If you want more pro tips and cool lessons, be sure to check out our FREE SAMPLE GUITAR LESSONS and get started on something new today.

Relevant Content


How to Tune an Electric Guitar

How to Tune a Guitar

Choose the Guitar Style For You

Beginners: Acoustic Guitar v.s Electric Guitar

It’s Time to Use a Metronome

Introduction: How to Read Guitar Tabs

What Are Guitar Tabs?


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