Each string is struck twice - Low E to High E. Use waveform to replay a particular string.
Standard tuning [low to high] = E-A-D-G-B-E (Eat-Apples-Daily-Goto-Bed-Early). Level out (match) your strings against the sounded tones. Listen for the 'beats' - the wavering of the tone as it approaches the match point. Your guitar can be tuned to many thousands of different tunings. Standard, and its kin, are the most widely used.
Learning how to tune a guitar can be a simple process; yet can be challenging for beginners. We recommend that every beginner acquire & learn to use a tuner (chromatic tuner preferred, so we can tune strings to anything we decide - or a tuning of a particular song). Standard tuning [EADGBE] is the world's most common tuning.
Having the guitar in tune creates a positive experience. An out of tune guitar can sometimes make us think we might be doing something wrong.
Using a tuner is an option, but batteries die, & our ear should be able to get the guitar in tune. Since there are many tuning methods, we try all of them, & decide which one works best for us & our guitar.
Depending on the guitar & the environment, one method might work better than another. For whatever method chosen, it will be necessary to make a couple of passes through the strings (do the process more than once).
When we turn pegs, the tension of one string affects the tension of another. Plus, the neck will 'warp' a bit with each change (this is called relief).
For a normal guitar, there are thousands of potential tunings. Standard Tuning is the most popular & has been around for over 200 years. It is also a brilliant example of great decision making by our guitar playing ancestors.
Having multiple ways to tune can benefit us. There are situations where one works better than another.
A tuner is a device that gauges the frequency (the pitch - high/low) of the strings.
It 'listens' to the strings, & provides a visual reference for us to tune one string one at a time. This is the 'easiest' tuning method.
Even if we utilize a tuner, we practice other methods of tuning using our ear. Sometimes recordings can be 'out of tune' with a tuner, or those batteries run out, or we might forget to bring it, so having other ways to tune is important.
One the key points here is that the strings have to be in the range of the tone we are targeting. Reference tones help with this. Also make sure that the tuner is displaying the correct tone name that we are plucking [EADGBE], & that a flat or sharp symbol isn't being displayed (for chromatic tuners).
This method uses open strings to compare fretted tones.
1. Tune the low E string (or the open A string - string 5) to a reference pitch, such as a piano, pitch pipe, tuning fork, or metronome tone (most metronomes have an A reference tone).
2. Once we have one of these strings in tune, we tune the other to the in-tune one. Example: if we tuned the low E to a reference tone, fret the 5th fret on the low E, then pluck the open A string, & compare it using the ear. Then turn the tuning peg for the A string and make the tone sound 'exactly' as the fretted A (the 5th fret on the 6th string). They should sound the same. We use our ear to level the tones out [make listening judgements].
3. Continue the same process for the other strings (going in order), noting that the 3 to 2 strings are 4-0, rather than 5-0.
Once the 6th string (Low E) is in relative tune, fret the 5 fret (A) on that string & compare it to the open A, tune as needed (make the open tone sound the same as the fretted tone). They should sound the same. Continue the same process for the other strings, noting that the 3 to 2 strings are 4-0, rather than 5-0.
Another comparative method is using harmonics. Harmonics are chime or bell like sounds which can be created on the guitar by lightly touching a single point on a string & plucking. The strongest harmonics are at fret 12 (the middle of the string). Other strong harmonics are 4, 5, 7, & 9, yet some guitars (depending on guitar quality & string freshness) can struggle to produce clear & strong harmonics at 4, 5, & 9. The 7's & 12's are typically always strong.
First, we learn to play a harmonic: lightly touch (do not press to make fret contact) the string at a particular fret location (in this case 4's, 5's, & 7's) - then pluck. When we release the fretting hand just after plucking, the harmonic will resonate (vibrate) longer and louder. We can leave the finger on however, it will just dampen the sound, & make it decay faster.
Tuning the guitar can also be done using octaves. An octave is a frequency doubling (same note twice higher) or halving (same note below - half as fast). Octaves are an incredibly effective way to learn all of the notes on the guitar.
Shown here is a sequence of octave shapes. Once we have tuned the low E to a reference pitch (or just to what it is at the moment), then follow this sequence, listening for a 'leveling' of the tones against each other. They should sound the same (same tone, twice higher or lower). With any type of tuning, we may have to make multiple passes.
Most music generates a key-tone (the tone that is 'home'). The song itself 'tells' the ear to what pitch the strings should be tuned.
We can also listen for open strings or chord voicings that we know & tune any note that we recognize.
Once at least one string is in tune, use the 5-0 method or harmonics or octaves to tune the remaining strings.
We select a chord that we are familiar with, like E Major (a good choice).
We pluck each note slowly low to high (drag finger or pick through the strings, rather than strumming -- pick each tone).
Listen to the resonance & interaction of the tones. Make adjustments as necessary to get the resonance to sound correct for the chord. We make it sound the way we know that it should sound.
For most of our practice, we will be sitting down, & there are some important considerations to make while sitting. We encourage you to practice standing now & then to get used to using a strap. When we go to jam with others, standing may be necessary. For certain types of playing, sitting is the primary way to go [i.e. Classic, Fingerstyle].
There are many ways to sit with a guitar, and we recommend that you simply get comfortable. When we are aware of our body while playing [not just our hands], it will be easy to detect when there could be a problem. The main question will be: "Am I comfortable?"
We don't think we need a bunch of pictures showing us how to sit or stand with the guitar. We have seen countless people playing guitar throughout our lives. We simply emulate our favorite players, unless of course, they are doing radical contortions. If you are in to radical contortions, you are on the wrong site.
Another piece of comfort is having everything in our practice space within arm's and foot's reach. We arrange our practice space so that we don't have to get up to change aspects of our practice environment.
Guitarists can end up suffering with back problems. With proper alignment while practicing & a good stretching ritual to get things going, it is possible to avoid common body problems.
The main consideration throughout our playing life is our posture.
Some ideas to check into [check with a doctor or health care professional for the right fit; these are only suggestions & do not constitute a referral or endorsement of any kind; we are not liable for any decisions that you might make in regards to exercise programs.]: Fulford Exercises, Alexander Technique, Yoga (Sun Salutations), Basic Stretching.
Even though this a classic guitar [commonly called the classical guitar] shown below, the parts are nearly the same on all types of guitars [electrics, acoustics, classics]. We should know the names for the parts of our guitars.
This is an image I traced while in college [a long time ago!]. If it is your creation, please let me know and I will give you credit for it!