#1
Ok, this may sound confusing considering how I address this question but I need to ask you all...

How do you guys tune your guitar?

Do you start with the Low E string working down or the High E string working up because I've been called out doing it wrong for doing it one way and not the other. I do tune the guitar and it sounds right but I'm not sure if there is a certain better way on how to tune both acoustic and electric in terms of order.

Post below how you start to tune and if there's a proper/better way how.

P.S I'm a new member and have been playing for months now and I fear that I've been picking up a bad habit.
I'm an interesting person... sometimes
#2
I always start with low E, and work up. Then once all strings have been done individually, I recheck them all and tweak as necessary.

Reason: The thicker strings create more neck tension, therefore doing them after the thinner strings has more potential to put the strings you did first back out of tune. Realisitcally though, unless you were very out of tune to start with it probably makes minimal difference.

Note: When playing live, I will often do it the other way. This means I can make sure the higher strings are in tune - bends etc during solos are more likely to put those out than the lower strings.
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Jan 6, 2015,
#3
Thanks Gary for giving in your technique!
Quote by GaryBillington
Reason: The thicker strings create more next tension, therefore doing them after the thinner strings has more potential to put the strings you did first back out of tune.

Hmmm, I never really thought of tuning like that when it comes to the strings. I've always been going from Low E down to High E when tuning because I can only memorize the tone from low to high (EADGBe) and not from high to low (eBGDAE). I can also hear the lower strings better than the higher pitched strings so I start with low.

I've only been asking because of an accident involving a string being snapped (on accident. His tuning pegs were really stiff) when I was helping out a friend and then someone else told me I've been tuning it wrongly (I was tuning down EADGBe) which made me confused since I've always had a fear of picking up a bad habit from learning guitar.

Do you use a tuner or do you rely on tone memory? Both?
What kind of tuner do you use to tune your guitar?

Do you use a portable electronic tuner, your own amp, phone app, pitch pipe because I've also been told the dangers of using the wrong kind of tuner to use but I'm not really sure if there's an actual difference with what you use.
I'm an interesting person... sometimes
#4
Live, I use a Korg Pitchblack for speed, and will go low E to high e before double checking. When I'm at home I'll do it by ear, either with the usual fretting the string below to the same note, or with harmonics. I also use the open chords (C, A, G, E, D) and check the intervals between the notes there. Obviously it takes longer, but I usually find I can get it more in tune that way. It's also good for ear training!
#5
I play about half a dozen string instruments and regular use about a dozen different tunings between them. My perspective is a bit different and so my answer will be very because I often tune for temperament and so I find that the best order to tune really depends on how you are trying to temper the instrument for the piece you are trying to play.

This is a long, only vaguely relevant explanation that you can skip if you wish...

Acoustic physics contain many "flaws" that make intonation and harmony a constant challenge. Traditional folk music tended to use tuning systems that gave optimal harmonies by being based on physical harmony. They sound better... but you are somewhat limited since the tuning, while it optimizes harmonies in a particular key, makes playing in other keys difficult or impossible without retuning.

Now, this wasn't a problem since traditional music tended to be built around this. Indian string instruments, the korra of Mali, the guzheng and other similar east Asian zithers, etc have a fair amount of flexibility in terms of being retuned. Scottish pipe music was written almost entirely in D major and it's relative modes. Mongolian music featuring the morin khuur is prominently in F minor. And so on.

In western music, we use a system where the octave is divided into 12 logarithmically equivalent intervals (semitones). This means that harmonies are not as sweet, but all 12 keys sound equally favorable without having to retune.

This is not the case with all instruments though. Certain instruments are tuned in ways that can play with the purer harmonies while still being well suited to different keys. Generally, these instruments are tuned in a way that a certain string will always be the root in a major chord, another will be the fifth, etc. So in this case, you tune in an order that reflects this. The notes that are closer to 12 TET are tuned first, so usually your root note, then fifth, then third, and so on.


So for example... on a C6 lap steel guitar (CEGACE), you would tune the Cs first to a tuner to get a nice accurate in tune C. Then you tune the G. Now... the E notes are next... but they are tricky because... in order to get the purer physical harmony, you need to make them slightly flat. And so you tune the Cs and Gs and then tune the E so that the C major chord sounds its sweetest. From there you tune the A a fifth below the E, which makes the A slightly flat but gives you a better A minor chord with the slightly raised third.

With a banjo (gDGBd) you tend to always play in the key of G (unless you use a capo). This means that the third string tends to be your root. So... you tune the G first. Then you tune the fifth string an octave above that. Then you tune the forth string so that it is the same pitch at the fifth fret as the open third strings. From there, you make the first string an octave above the fourth string. Finally, you tune the second string so that it is the same pitch at the third fret as the open first string.

Keep in mind that with both instruments I make sure that all the strings are relatively close to the desired note before making the fine tuning adjustments for proper temperament.

Like Gary said... if you make big changes, the changes in tension on the instrument as a whole can throw all the strings off. This goes double for a guitar with a tremolo bridge and triple for one with a Floyd Rose style. So by starting closely and then rechecking and making slight adjustments a second time in the same order, you can avoid this.

Now... to actually talk about guitar.

Again, I find it depends what you are playing. If I am playing in A minor and planning on using the open fifth string a lot, I will start with that string and get it nice. Then from there, decide what else I need. Usually from there I would tune the low E to get a nice sounding alternating bass sound.

If I am playing in E major, I would tune the low E, then the high E. Probably the B string next. Then I would tune the A and D so that you can get a crisp sounding 022X00 E chord (with no third). From there... I don't really need the open G note that much other than for a few country licks that use both a flat and natural third. But the G string tends to be a tiny bit sharp when fretted. And so I would tune the third string last, making it a tiny bit flat to give a nice, sweet sounding E chord.

If I am playing in an open tuning, like open D, I treat it the same as tuning a lap steel. Tune the root note that will get the most attention... or ultimately be resolved to or ended on... first. And then the octaves. After that, the fifths (A). And then finally the F# string(s).

For playing metalcore or something similar in drop C where I plan on mostly playing in C minor, I would tune the low C, then the fourth string C, and then the fifth string G.

Now... all of these tunings are fairly situational since it is rare that you will only use one key like that during a gig... so if I am tuning a guitar in standard with several unrelated keys in mind, I would just tune low to high and then check the strings maybe twice in the same order to make sure that they didn't get too far off.
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#7
When using std tuning, I often use the chord

0 (treble E)
0
9
9
7
0

to fine tune ... strum the whole chord, and adjust as needed till any beats dies down.

cheers, Jerry
#8
Quote by Joshie2499
Do you use a tuner or do you rely on tone memory? Both?
What kind of tuner do you use to tune your guitar?

I use a tuner - TC polytune on my pedalboard, or the one built into my Zoom G1on when doing headphone practice.

Back in the day I used to just tune my low E string to a piano, then go from there using the 5th fret for comparison, but these days technology has made me lazy. I can still tune by ear like that when I need to, but it's pretty rare that it happens. Even so, if you're a learner you should practice tuning without digital assistance like this, it will help develop your ear.
Gibson LP Traditional, LP GT, LP Studio, SG Standard x2
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#9
Interesting little fact... Danny Gatton said that he would use a phone dial tone to tune. He claims that the dial tone on all telephones are F notes and so he would tune the first fret on the low E string to a dial tone. I don't know if it is true that all telephone dial tones are really F notes though. I haven't really ever bothered to check.
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#10
.....Is this thread for real?
Quote by Geldin
Junior's usually at least a little terse, but he knows his stuff. I've always read his posts in a grouchy grandfather voice, a grouchy grandfather with a huge stiffy for alternate picking.
Besides that, he's right this time. As usual.
#11
Quote by Junior#1
.....Is this thread for real?

Why wouldn't it be for real?

It may be a basic question, but when you're learning you need to ask the basic questions to reassure yourself that you're doing things properly. It's the people who don't ask questions in an attempt to not look stupid that actually end up looking stupid in the longer term as they never learn the correct way to handle the basics. And that goes for life, not just learning guitar.
Gibson LP Traditional, LP GT, LP Studio, SG Standard x2
Barber Tone Press > EHX Worm >TC Polytune > EXH Glove > EHX East River Drive > Zoom G3 > TC Spark Mini Booster
EVH 5150 III LBXII
Jet City JCA22H
.
My SoundCloud
#12
Quote by Junior#1
.....Is this thread for real?

This question is more in terms of asking how do other people tune their guitar instead of asking HOW to actually tune. I first wanted to see how others did it to prove this stupid rule on how to 'tune properly' because now I understand there is no proper way of tuning, like there is no rule you have to follow except for getting the right tune for each string on whatever tune you're playing on.

Some judgemental guitar genius told me to go from the last string (6th down) to the top string (1st string) but I did it the other way round and I've always been taught that.

I also wanted to see how others use their own ability to tune whether its from memory, tuner or whatever. It can allow to see guitarists how they can have unique ways with how they do certain stuff but don't let simplicity take over the subject. I'm not sure if this thread has gotten you confused but you'll understand what I'm trying to say.

P.S Yes, this is for real. It's a basic question on techniques.
I'm an interesting person... sometimes
Last edited by Joshie2499 at Jan 7, 2015,
#13
Low E to high E. I've never heard of any one way being wrong. Though some claim that turning the tone knob down allows for more accurate tuning. I don't know how accurate that is.
#14
Quote by chrismendiola
Low E to high E. I've never heard of any one way being wrong. Though some claim that turning the tone knob down allows for more accurate tuning. I don't know how accurate that is.


Well... let me think about this from a physical perspective. With the tone knob up, you get more high end, which means more upper harmonics I think. This means that clashing harmonics of "out of tune" intervals would be more noticeable. So that means that your ears would favor sweeter harmonies (just harmonies). This would mean that you would tune closer to an actual perfect fourth (a 4/3 ration), which is closer to 498 cents than 500. This would mean that the lower of the two would be 2 cents sharp or the higher would be 2 cents sharp. This is negligible I think, but it makes a six cents difference between low E and G, which might be somewhat noticeable. Maybe not.

So if you want 12 TET fourths, tone down might be better since it makes the 500 cent fourth more "tolerable" because of less clashing harmonics.

That's just more of a hypothetical idea though and in reality would probably not be significant enough to be noticeable and would therefore not have a particularly tangible effect on anything. But it's still sort of neat to think about, I suppose.
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#15
Tuning with m tuner on the ToneLab EX
Going Low E, then high E,
Then A, then B
Then D, then G

Then once more to check.
I usually check open, 12th and 12th harmonics to double check the intonation.