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Tuning Extravaganza (Guitar Lesson)

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Jim Deeming

Tuning Extravaganza

Jim explains various tuning methods. He provides useful tips and tricks that will ensure that your guitar is sounding its best.

Taught by Jim Deeming in Basic Guitar with Jim seriesLength: 31:45Difficulty: 1.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (04:03) Guitar Tuning Introduction

Playing the guitar well starts with playing a guitar that is in tune. There are several ways to tune the guitar. In this lesson, Jim Deeming discusses the advantages and disadvantages of several tuning methods.

You must learn the note names of each string before you learn the tuning process. Here is a review of the notes produced by the open strings.

6th String: E
5th String: A
4th String: D
3rd String: G
2nd String: B
1st String: E

Notice how the two E strings produce the same pitch. These two E notes are two octaves apart from one another.

Tuning Fork Method

Follow the instructions listed below when using a tuning fork.

1. Lightly smack the tuning fork on your leg.

2. Then, rest the bottom of the tuning fork on the bridge of your guitar. As the fork vibrates against the wood of the guitar, it produces the pitch A.

3. Match the pitch of the open fifth string to the note that the fork produces.

4. Continue with one of the procedures that Jim demonstrates in the scenes that follow.
Chapter 2: (08:49) Tuning with a Piano Note: In order for this procedure to work, the piano used as a reference point must be in tune.

Find the pair of black keys located roughly in the middle of the piano keyboard. The note located to the left of the first black key in the pair is referred to as "middle C." The note to the right of the second black key is E. This key will provide you with a good reference when tuning your high E string. Identify where the remaining open string notes are located on the keyboard. Use Jim's marker board to ensure that you are using the correct piano note. Then, tune each remaining open string by using the appropriate piano key as a reference point.

The Fifth Fret Method

Once the low sixth string is in tune, use the following process.

Step 1: Fret the note A at the 5th fret of the 6th string. Match the pitch of the open 5th string to this note.

Step 2: Fret the note D at the 5th fret of the 5th string. Match the pitch of the open 4th string to this note.

Step 3: Fret the note G at the 5th fret of the 4th string. Match the pitch of the open 3rd string to this note.

Step 4: Fret the note B at the 4th fret of the 3rd string. Match the pitch of the open 2nd string to this note. This string features the only exception to the fifth fret method.

Step 5: Fret the note E at the 5th fret of the 2nd string. Match the pitch of the open first string to this note.

Tuning by ear is a skill that must be developed over time. Until you master this process, use some sort of electronic tuning device to help you.

Electronic tuners

There countless electronic tuners available in today's musical market. The most expensive and most effective tuners come in rack mountable units. Pedal tuners such as the Boss TU-2 provide a slightly less expensive yet equally effective option. Rack and pedal tuners allow you to mute your guitar sound in live situations. This way, people aren't forced to listed to the obnoxious tuning process.

For home practice use, any type of hand held, portable tuner will get the job done. Clip on tuners operate by sensing the vibration of the wood when a string is plucked. Other tuners attach directly to the body such as the Sabine AX 2000. This tuner is removable. However, it is difficult to remove. Do not buy this tuner if you wish to tune multiple guitars with a single tuner. Others have built in microphones that detect the pitch played. You must connect this type of tuner to your guitar with a patch cable when tuning an electric guitar.
Chapter 3: (07:02) Clip-On Tuners Intellitouch makes the most popular clip-on tuners. These tuners can be adjusted to fit on any size of headstock. One version is back lit for dark live situations, and the other is not. These two options vary in price by about $15.

As you play an open string note, arrows appear on the tuning screen. The number of arrows on each side of the note name indicates whether you are sharp or flat. More arrows on the left indicates a note that is flat. If more arrows appear on the right side, the note is sharp. A note is perfectly in tune when the same number of arrows appear on both sides.


All tuners are slightly flighty. You have probably experienced this with your own tuner. Do not worry! Your tuner is not defective! Electronic tuners are highly sensitive devices. A number of issues can cause them to produce an inconclusive result. Extraneous noise in the room can confuse your tuner. As a result, you must minimize the amount of noise in the close proximity of the tuner. Sympathetic vibrations coming from other strings will also produce an inconclusive result. Mute all of the strings with the exception of the string you are tuning to eliminate this problem. In addition, always tune up to the desired pitch instead of down. This tends to produce a more accurate result.
Chapter 4: ( 11:50) More Tuning Tips Tone Knob

Roll the tone knob all of the way down on your electric guitar when tuning.


The location of where you pick also effects the tuning process. Try picking the string directly in the middle of the fretboard (the 12th fret). Do not pick the string too hard. This will cause the string to go sharp at first. Give the note time to settle in with the tuner. Let the note sustain for a second or two before taking the reading from the tuner. This becomes less of a problem when tuning strings of higher tension. It's easy to over attack a guitar strung with 8's or 9's or a nylon string guitar.

Improper String Installation

Improperly installed strings also cause tuning issues. Refer back to lesson 4 to learn how to install your strings properly. Make sure your strings are fresh and in working condition. Fresh strings are always easier to keep in tune.

String Slippage

Creaking noises while tuning can be caused by a wrap of the string slipping out of place. Also, this problem can be caused by the string being pinched too tightly as it slides through the nut. This tension might equalize in the middle of a performance and knock your guitar out of tune. You can lubricate the nut with graphite from a pencil if you are experiencing this problem. Or, you can buy special lubrication from the guitar shop.

Capo Problems

Playing with a capo can cause tuning problems. The capo must be placed in the proper location and checked with a tuner. If it is clamped too tightly or too close to the fret, it will force the string to sound sharp. To eliminate this problem, give the strings a small tug after clamping on a capo. As a result, the strings will go slightly flat and balance out the problem.

Guitar Defects

A guitar with a warped neck and / or defective tuners will never stay in tune. Take your guitar to a professional repairman to address this issue.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

LavonjohnLavonjohn replied

Too see and hear the tuning fork method would be a nice demo. However there is probably a scene on YouTube PS. I am old and still have a 440 tuning fork

dawgdawg replied

didn't mean to hit it

davidaddavidad replied

I don't think you ever came back to why you tune the G string a little flat ?

Sleuth86Sleuth86 replied

Jim commented about tuning the G string flat in a prior training video as well, but you are correct ... he forgot to elaborate on it this time. He does it because the G string needs to be slightly flat to sound right (at least in his opinion). I always tune all 6 strings to proper pitch, so also wondered why that one has to be slightly flat. The tricks of the trade I suppose...

AaronMillerAaronMiller replied

I can't speak for Jim but I know I tune my G string flat because there are intonation issues when playing an a minor chord in the open position. The guitar isn't a perfect instrument so sometimes you have to come up with little tricks to compensate.

wuselwusel replied

Hi Jim, great video series, but quite confused by this lesson: I thought that the Upper/Lower E strings are two octaves difference. In scene 2 you say that on the piano you need to move exactly one octave to go from upper E to lower E... Is the video correct? Thx

rumble dollrumble doll replied

Some great information here. Thanks Jim.

malcmalc replied

Hi Jim great lesson have picked up a lot from these leons am now looking forward to getting stuck into the next set and then learning some tunes and as for TE saw him retune his guitar while playing classical gas

sunwentaisunwentai replied

This lesson has been one of the most detailed I have ever seen. This lesson has been extremely informative, very well done, covered everything. Good work!

ferrari79ferrari79 replied

Great job on the lessons Jim. I feel as though I "know" you. And then I think, If I ever were to meet you in person.... you would have no idea who I was!!! Take that as a compliment.

SylviaSylvia replied

??? "I need a g-string" ??? LOL!!!

Sleuth86Sleuth86 replied


SylviaSylvia replied

lol My fave as Miss Minnie Pearl!.... "Howwwdeeeeey!!"

hgnativehgnative replied

damn.. he haw i remember that show

Basic Guitar with Jim

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Fingerstyle master Jim Deeming teaches you the basics of guitar playing. With over 30 years of experience teaching and playing, Jim will definitely start you in the right direction. This is a great series for beginners and guitarists looking to refresh their knowledge.

Introduction LessonLesson 1

Introduction Lesson

In this short lesson, Jim Deeming will introduce himself and talk about his upcoming lessons.

Length: 6:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Choosing a GuitarLesson 2

Choosing a Guitar

Jim gives his thoughts on purchasing your first guitar.

Length: 7:09 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Goal SettingLesson 3

Goal Setting

Jim discusses the importance of setting goals. He provides some tips that will help steer your practicing in the right direction.

Length: 11:00 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
Changing the StringsLesson 4

Changing the Strings

Jim Deeming walks you through the process of changing your strings. He gives some excellent tips on this important process.

Length: 41:09 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Meet Your New GuitarLesson 5

Meet Your New Guitar

Jim introduces proper playing technique. Then, he explains how to play your first chord.

Length: 52:24 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Learning More ChordsLesson 6

Learning More Chords

Jim teaches you the 3 primary chords in G major. He also explains how chords relate to specific keys. A great lesson!

Length: 39:15 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Right Hand RevisitedLesson 7

Right Hand Revisited

Jim discusses a plethora of right hand techniques that are essential to guitar playing.

Length: 35:19 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
New Chords and KeysLesson 8

New Chords and Keys

This lesson provides additional information about chords and keys.

Length: 19:08 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Let's PlayLesson 9

Let's Play

This lesson is all about playing. Jim will start you off playing a song. You will have the opportunity to play along with him.

Length: 20:10 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Alternating Bass and ChordsLesson 10

Alternating Bass and Chords

Jim teaches you a few more commonly used chords. Then, he discusses a technique known as the alternating bass line.

Length: 40:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
A Shape ChordsLesson 11

A Shape Chords

Jim covers all possible fingering options pertaining to the basic open A chord shape.

Length: 17:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Basic Guitar CheckupLesson 12

Basic Guitar Checkup

Jim talks about the future of his Phase 1 guitar series and where to go from here.

Length: 4:18 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Notes, Scales and TheoryLesson 13

Notes, Scales and Theory

Jim delves into basic music theory. He starts from square one in this lesson.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Chord FiestaLesson 14

Chord Fiesta

Jim Deeming invites you to a veritable chord fiesta. He demonstrates common dominant and minor chord shapes.

Length: 43:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Movable ChordsLesson 15

Movable Chords

This lesson is all about movable chords. Learn the importance of barre chords and other movable shapes.

Length: 40:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Proper PracticingLesson 16

Proper Practicing

Jim Deeming explains how to create a productive practice routine. Make sure you aren't wasting needless time!

Length: 30:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Pinky AnchorLesson 17

The Pinky Anchor

Many guitarists use their pinky as an anchor. Jim explains the pros and cons of this technique.

Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Palm MutingLesson 18

Palm Muting

Jim discusses an important technique--palm muting. He explains how palm muting is used by flatpickers and fingerstyle players.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Reading TablatureLesson 19

Reading Tablature

Jim Deeming covers the basics of reading guitar tablature. Knowledge of tablature will help with JamPlay lessons as well as learning your favorite songs.

Length: 21:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Tuning ExtravaganzaLesson 20

Tuning Extravaganza

Jim explains various tuning methods. He provides useful tips and tricks that will ensure that your guitar is sounding its best.

Length: 31:45 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Let's Play: Lesson 21

Let's Play: "Red River Valley"

Jim is back with another "let's play" style lesson. He teaches the classic song "Red River Valley" and encourages you to play along.

Length: 52:38 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Drop D TuningLesson 22

Drop D Tuning

Jim Deeming introduces drop D tuning. Drop D is a popular alternate tuning used in many styles of music including rock, fingerstyle and blues.

Length: 25:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Let's Play: Lesson 23

Let's Play: "Wayfaring Stranger"

Jim Deeming breaks down the song sections to the classic tune "Wayfaring Stranger".

Length: 29:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
More On Drop DLesson 24

More On Drop D

Jim Deeming takes another, more focused look at drop D tuning.

Length: 6:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Your Friend, the MetronomeLesson 25

Your Friend, the Metronome

Jim Deeming discusses how to use a metronome for practice, skill building, and speed building.

Length: 24:02 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Jim Deeming

About Jim Deeming View Full Biography Jim Deeming got his first guitar when he was only six years old. His Dad was taking fingerpicking lessons, and Jim wanted to be just like him. The Mel Bay books didn't last very long before he strapped on a thumb pick and added the Chet part to Red River Valley so it sounded better.

Most of Jim's early learning was by ear. With unlimited access to his Dad's collection of Chet Atkins albums, he spent countless hours decoding his favorite songs. They were never "right" until they sounded just like Chet. Around the age of 12, Jim heard Jerry Reed for the first time and just knew he had to be able to make that "Alabama Wild Man" sound. The styles of Chet & Jerry always have been a big influence on his playing.

More recently he has pursued arrangements by Tommy Emmanuel and Doyle Dykes, in addition to creating some of his own and writing originals.

Jim has performed in front of a variety of audiences, including concerts, competitions, weddings and the like, but playing at church has always been a mainstay. Whether playing in worship bands or guitar solos, gospel music is deep in his roots and is also the driving theme behind his debut CD release, titled "First Fruits".

Jim has been playing for about 38 years. He also has taught private lessons in the past but believes JamPlay.com is an exciting and better venue with many advantages over the traditional method of weekly 30 minute sessions.

Jim lives in Berthoud, Colorado with his wife, Linda, and their four children. Although he still has a "day job", he is actively performing and is already back in the studio working on the next CD. If you wonder how he finds time, look no further than the back seat of his truck where he keeps a "travel guitar" to take advantage of any practice or song-writing opportunities he can get.

The opening song you hear in Jim's introductory JamPlay video is called, "A Pick In My Pocket". It's an original tune, written in memory of Jim's father who told him early on he should always keep a pick in his pocket in case he ever met Chet Atkins and got the chance to play for him. That song is slated to be the title track for his next CD, which will feature several more originals plus some of his favorite covers of Chet and Jerry arrangements.

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