I wanted to add to these this time by confirming both the overall method of tuning to your own guitar, and and to say this very simply:
Tip 4: Make sure you are turning the correct tuning peg!
I can’t tell you how easy it is to accidentally turn the wrong one as a beginner. Trace the string. Remember you are not turning the one that your finger is pushing down.
If you keep turning the wrong one, you will be purchasing a new string. I don’t know how it happens, but somehow, people usually end up tightening instead of loosening…so tight that it pops. And it’s quite the shock if you think you are tuning a different string (and nothing is happening). All of a sudden – WHAP!
All this to say – keep an eye on which tuning peg you are turning. Make sure you are turning the correct one.
Need to see? Here’s a video:
Tuning an acoustic guitar: Overview
The overall process of tuning a guitar isn’t too bad. Here’s my suggested method.
- Base your tuning on the A string. In other words, if it’s not super loose, just use the A where it is. In the words, you won’t tune the A string – you’ll only use it to tune the others.
- Tune the D string based on the A string. Hold down the A string on the 5th fret and pluck both strings at the same time. You are listening for both strings to sound alike.
- If they do not sound alike, reach around the front of the guitar with your right hand while still holding the A string down (5th fret) with your left. Remember: just get close!
- Turn the last tuning peg on the top as needed (the D string peg). Turning the peg away (counter clockwise) should be up, and toward you (clockwise) is down. Small amounts of turning usually does the trick.
- Tune all the other strings in like manner except one: the B string. All other strings utilize the 5th fret except this one. To tune the B, press down the G string on the 4th fret and go through the same process.
- After you have tuned the high E (the one on the bottom), go back to tune the low E (on top). You will use the A string for this one as well, only this time, press your finger on the A string 5th fret and pluck both the A and low E string. Generally, you will go through steps 2-4 above, but turn the first tuning peg on top instead of the farthest.
- Play a chord or two to check yourself. Pluck one string at a time while holding down the chord. Most likely, your ear will be able to tell you if something is off. If so, go back to check by using steps 2-4.
Now I’ll simplify the above (summarize):
- Tune the D string with the A (5th fret), plucking both – then turning the peg (I tell my students: “Pluck and Turn”).
- Tune the G string with the D (5th fret), then the B string using the G (4th fret), and the E string using the B (5th fret).
- Tune the low E with the A (5th fret).
I hope this is helpful.
If you have a piano or keyboard, here’s a PDF of general instructions for both methods (the above, and also tuning using a piano).