Tuning the Guitar (Guitar Lesson)


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Steve Eulberg

Tuning the Guitar

Learning how to properly tune the guitar is an absolutely essential skill. In this lesson, Steve walks you through the tuning process.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Kids and Guitar seriesLength: 8:30Difficulty: 1.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (08:53) Tuning the Guitar Learning how to tune the guitar is an essential skill to master. Practicing on a guitar that is out of tune can be a very frustrating experience. On the flipside, playing a guitar that is perfectly in tune can inspire you to push your playing ability to new heights.

In Lesson 2 Steve introduced you to the parts of the guitar. Specifically, he showed you where the tuning keys are located. The tuning keys can be turned clockwise or counterclockwise to raise or lower the pitch of a string. However, not all guitars are built the same. For example, Steve's guitar features three tuning keys on each side of the headstock. This is the most typical arrangement for acoustic guitars and many electric guitar designs such as the Les Paul or SG. In this case, turning the top three keys in a clockwise motion will lower the pitch. Turning the three bottom keys in a clockwise motion will raise the pitch.

Electric guitars based on original Fender designs feature six tuners in a row on the top side of the headstock. Turning the tuners clockwise will raise the pitch of all six strings. Many guitar companies such as Ibanez and ESP build guitars with reversed headstocks. These guitars feature six tuners in a line on the lower side of the headstock. Turning one of these tuners clockwise will lower the pitch of a string.

Unlike the piano and brass instruments, it is relatively easy for the guitar to slip out of tune. Due to the design of the guitar, the tuners are fairly easy to bump. As a result, the guitar is easy to knock slightly out of tune. Other factors such as climate also have an effect on the strings and tuning keys. Extreme heat will cause a guitar to go flat faster than normal. Also, strings slip loose very gradually from the tuning keys over time, causing a slight drop in pitch. This can occur over a period as short as 24 hours. For these reasons, you must tune the guitar before you begin each practice session. Even if the guitar has been sitting in its case for just a few hours, it can easily slip out of tune.

Review of String Names

Before you can successfully tune a guitar, you must memorize the note names of each of the strings. This topic was originally discussed in Lesson 3. Due to the importance of this material, Steve spends some time to review this information in the current lesson. Arranged in order from fattest to skinniest, the string names are E, A, D, G, B, and E. Steve explains where these notes are written on the musical staff and where they are located on the keyboard. One possible way to tune the guitar is to match the pitch of each string to the pitch of a specific key on the piano keyboard. Open the picture entitled "Guitar and Piano Relation" under the "Supplemental Content" tab to learn which keys on the piano correspond to the open strings on the guitar.

Tuning with an Electronic Tuner

Steve uses his trusty Korg CA-30 tuner to demonstrate how an electronic tuner can help you tune your guitar. This tuner is the most reliable and most popular hand held tuner available. It is also quite affordable. It can be purchased in most music stores for $19.99. The Korg CA-30 has many features that set it apart from other tuners in this price range. Many electronic tuners will only allow you to tune a guitar to standard tuning. When the strings are each tuned to the note names listed above, the guitar said to be in "standard tuning." As time moves on, alternate tunings are becoming more and more popular. The Korg CA-30 will allow you to tune a guitar or bass guitar to any alternate tuning available. Tuners that possess this feature are called "chromatic tuners."

This tuner will work with any acoustic or electric guitar. It has a built in microphone that pick up the sounds of an acoustic guitar. Make sure that the tuner is held close to the soundhole when tuning an acoustic guitar. To tune an electric guitar, simply connect a patch cable from the jack of your guitar to the input jack on the tuner. Then, turn the volume knob to about 7 or 8. Most tuners do not produce a completely accurate reading when the volume knob is set too high or too low.

Follow these steps to tune your guitar:

1. Make sure the tuner is turned on and that the batteries are fresh.

2. Next, make sure that the tuner is calibrated properly. It must be set to A=440. This is the tuning scheme used most commonly in Western music.

3. Begin the tuning process with the low E string. Strike this string as you normally would. The tuner should pick up a reading when this string is plucked. The abbreviation “6E” will appear in the corner of the tuner’s screen to indicate that you are tuning the sixth string to the note E.

4. Most tuners feature three lights that help you tune each string. When a string is close to being in tune, the center light will shine green. The lights on the left and right sides of this light will indicate whether the string is sharp or flat.

5. When the center light is green, and the other two lights are not lit up, the string is in tune.

6. Repeat this process with the remaining strings.

The Magic of the Fifth Fret

It is possible to tune the guitar without the help of an electronic tuner. However, if you are just starting out, this process can be quite frustrating and difficult.

Follow these steps to tune the guitar by ear:

1. Fret and pluck the note at the fifth fret of the sixth string. This produces the note A. Since the open fifth string produces this same note, the note on the sixth string can be used as a reference point to tune the open A string. Simply match the pitch of the open A string to the fretted A note on the sixth string.

2. To tune the D string, match its pitch to the note D played at the fifth fret of the A string.

3. To tune the G string, match its pitch to the note G played at the fifth fret of the D string.

4. To tune the B string, match its pitch to the note B played at the fourth fret of the G string. Notice how this is an exception to the rest of the tuning pattern.

5. To tune the high E string, match its pitch to the note E played at the fifth fret of the B string.

6. Watch as Steve demonstrates this process. Hopefully this will clear up any confusion that you may have.

Additional Information

In addition to this lesson, JamPlay offers several other lessons that may help you with any tuning problems you may experience. Simply use the search feature located in the upper right hand corner of the homepage to find these lessons as well as some valuable Q+A sessions.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

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


BingieBingie replied on September 30th, 2015

In this lesson I can hear him but the video has stopped so i don't know what he is showing me.

totallyfrozentotallyfrozen replied on March 9th, 2013

tyelorjam, JamPlay is a HUGE site with dozens of instructors and lessons. Steve Eulberg doesn't owe you anything. If his teaching method is not working for you, then browse the site and find someone else whose teaching works for you. There's no need to call Steve's lessons "crap". If you don't get it, it's not his fault. Just look around and find something you do get.

tyelorjamtyelorjam replied on February 24th, 2011

I'm not learning anything from this guy im tired of his crape I've been doing this thing for three weeks.

Kids and Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Playing the guitar can be a fun, educational, and productive activity for children of all ages. Introduce your child to the wonderful world of music with this lesson series.



Lesson 1

Introduction to Guitar

In this lesson, the first in the Kids and Guitar series, Steve Eulberg introduces the guitar and its many wonders.

Length: 7:23 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Parts of the Guitar

Steve Eulberg talks about the parts of the guitar and how they function. You also get to see some of his wonderful artwork.

Length: 7:30 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Holding and Playing Guitar

Steve explains how to properly hold your guitar. He also explains how the strings are named.

Length: 8:54 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 4

Playing Guitar

Steve prepares you to play your first notes in this lesson. Get ready for some fun!

Length: 13:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Finger Placement and More

Steve explains finger placement and proper playing technique. He also teaches a fun new song.

Length: 14:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Tuning the Guitar

Learning how to properly tune the guitar is an absolutely essential skill. In this lesson, Steve walks you through the tuning process.

Length: 8:30 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Hand Exercise

In this lesson, Steve Eulberg provides a new exercise that will challenge your mind and hands.

Length: 8:07 Difficulty: 1.0 FREE
Lesson 8

Chords and a Song

Steve introduces some basic chords. Then, he teaches the classic song "Hot Cross Buns."

Length: 14:48 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

The Right Hand

Steve explains proper picking hand technique.

Length: 9:34 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Steve Eulberg covers the classic children's song "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Length: 6:37 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Aunt Rhody

Steve teaches an easy children's song called "Aunt Rhody." We've all heard the song. Now it's time to play it!

Length: 10:59 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Paw Paw Patch

Steve teaches a classic song called "Paw Paw Patch" in this lesson.

Length: 10:50 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

The Wheels on the Bus

Steve Eulberg teaches the popular kids song "The Wheels on the Bus."

Length: 5:54 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 14

The Wheels on the Bus Part Two

In this lesson, Steve Eulberg teaches the song "The Wheels on the Bus" in a different key.

Length: 14:11 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Steve teaches the popular kids song "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" in this lesson.

Length: 11:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Ode to Joy

Steve teaches "Ode to Joy," a catchy and highly recognizable tune.

Length: 20:52 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Scale Finger Practice

Steve demonstrates techniques to accomplish the ability to move your fingers independently.

Length: 6:54 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

E Minor Chord

Steve teaches the E minor chord. This chord was first introduced in the song "Ode to Joy" and serves as an introduction to the remaining minor chords that will be taught in this series.

Length: 5:54 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

A Minor Chord

Steve introduces the A minor chord. You have an opportunity to compare and contrast the difference in sound between major and minor chords in this lesson.

Length: 9:16 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Picking Technique

Steve breaks away from left hand positions to focus on picking hand technique.

Length: 6:44 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

B Minor Chord

Steve adds yet another chord for your fingers to enjoy. In this lesson, he teaches the B minor chord. Steve teaches the proper fingering for this chord and incorporates it into a few chord progression...

Length: 10:54 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 22

4 Fret Exercise

Give your fretting hand a workout with this 4 fret exercise!

Length: 9:24 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 23

12 Fret Movement Exercise

Steve Eulberg explains an exercise that will develop your ability to perform position shifts.

Length: 11:11 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 24

"Monkey Around" Fret Exercise

Steve shows how to "monkey around" with a fret hand exercise designed to develop creativity and proper technique.

Length: 4:45 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 25

D Minor Chord

Steve demonstrates the D minor chord.

Length: 3:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 26

Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho

Steve uses the new D minor chord from Lesson 25 in the classic song "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho."

Length: 9:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 27

Smooth Chord Transition (The Pivot Finger)

Steve demonstrates some techniques that help transition smoothly between chords.

Length: 9:35 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 28

What and When Hands

This fantastic lesson explains that the strum hand determines when we hear the sound, and the "what" hand creates what we hear.

Length: 8:15 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 29

5th Fret Magic

Steve breaks explains how notes are laid out in first position and how the 5th fret is used to shorten up the work needed to play full scales.

Length: 8:40 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 30

House of Chords - The Room of G

Welcome to the first installment of a series that details how various chords are formed! Get started by learning some "G" chords.

Length: 4:50 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 31

House of Chords - The Room of C

Steve moves from room to room in the house of chords. This lesson features the room of C.

Length: 5:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 32

House of Chords - The Room of A

Steve continues through the House of Chords. In this lesson, he has found himself in the room of A.

Length: 14:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 33

House of Chords - The Room of E

Steve welcomes you to the room of E as he continues to take you on a tour of the House of Chords.

Length: 5:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 34

House of Chords - The Room of D

Steve finally completes his tour of the House of Chords with the room of D.

Length: 3:39 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 35

Advanced Strumming Pt. 1

It's time to introduce a new strumming technique commonly referred to as the "boom-chuck." This lesson will help develop more advanced picking hand skill.

Length: 6:04 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 36

Advanced Strumming Pt. 2

Steve continues with part 2 of his advanced strumming techniques.

Length: 4:16 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 37

Advanced Strumming Pt. 3

Diving more in depth and getting a better grasp on the alternate "boom chuck" style of picking, Steve continues with part 3 of his advanced strumming techniques.

Length: 2:44 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 38

Advanced Strumming Pt. 4

Steve introduces full chord strumming techniques in part 4 of his advanced strumming lessons.

Length: 3:50 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 39

Advanced Strumming Pt. 5

Steve demonstrates how to "alternate the boom" to a different string in this Advanced Strumming Pt. 5 Lesson.

Length: 3:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 40

Advanced Strumming Pt. 6

Welcome to part 6 in a series of advanced strumming techniques. This lesson demonstrates how to "alternate the boom" on two different strings.

Length: 4:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 41

Advanced Strumming Pt. 7

Steve Breaks down what the D chord looks like when applying the "boom chuck" strum technique.

Length: 2:33 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 42

Advanced Strumming Pt. 8

Steve finishes off his strumming sessions by demonstrating additional alternating bass patterns within the context of the "boom chuck" strum pattern.

Length: 6:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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