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Tuning to a Piano

 If possible, watch someone tune your guitar for the first time. Tuning is not easy so be patient.  It requires intense listening abilities and a developed ear. It is important to have your guitar in tune every time you play, otherwise, you may not develop the ability to “hear” what different notes sound like.  Because of this, you should tune your guitar before every practice session. At first this may seem hard to do but with time it will get easier and faster.
     There are different ways to tune your guitar. You can buy a special “pitch” pipe made especially for tuning guitars. This is a good method because it is small and can be carried with you at all times.  Follow the directions that come with your pipe.

     You can also tune the guitar to “itself” which assumes that one string is in tune and all other strings are tuned in comparison to that particular string. This is discussed in another lesson.

     If you have a piano, you can tune your guitar by matching certain strings on your guitar to keys on the piano or keyboard. Note that the piano must be in tune for this to work.  Keyboards are especially good for this as they are usually in excellent tune.

     First, sit down at a piano and find the keys noted in the chart below.  Find the keys in reference to the middle C on your piano or keyboard.  The “C” key is a white key located to the left of a set of two black keys.  The middle C is usually off center to the left just a few keys and falls approximately under the model name of the instrument.  For more information on finding these notes go to the piano lesson pages

     Notice that the sixth string of your guitar is the lowest sounding string.  The first string is the highest sounding one.  Starting with string one, gently play the E key on your piano.  Listen carefully. Now play the first string on your guitar. Does it sound lower or higher? Twist the appropriate tuning key away from you to make the string sound higher.  Twist the tuning key towards you to make it lower.  You are actually stretching or loosening your guitar string. Do not twist too far towards you or the string may snap! Take it easy and go slowly.  Keep playing and listening to the piano key and adjusting your guitar string until they both sound alike. This will take a lot of time and practice. You may not know what an “in tune” string sounds like until you actually hear it.  Be sure you listen to one that someone else has tuned so that you know what to listen for.

     Once you have the first string in tune, work on through the other strings in order.

     After you have learned some chords it is a good idea to play several of these to test the sound of your tuning.

You may also use the Online Tuner provided on this site.


Click here for a printable PDF Version of this chart.

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