Tuning Your Guitar By Ear

author: Logz date: 12/16/2004 category: for beginners
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When I started playing guitar, along with almost everyone else, we all learnt songs in standard EADGBE tuning. Which is fine, while your stuill gettin to grips with the fretboard and different effects you can make etc etc. But later on, your gonna find yourself tuning to other tunings, a whole list can be found on this website's lessons section. In this lesson ill hopefully help you tune differently! Lets start. Everyone should be familier with a guitar, has 6 strings usually, compromises of around 22-24 etc frets and so on. If we take a look at the 6th string more closly:
This is the E string the first 12 frets (each letter represents 1 fret). As we can see from this, the 12th fret is an E, and to save time, the 12th fret of the 5th string is a A, the 12th fret of the 4th string is a D, and so on. We now know, that every note on the 12th fret is what the tuning will be (in this case its standard - EADGBe). We will now look at one of the most common other tunings, Drop-D which is DADGBe. If we compare this to standard tuning, it is only the 6th string that needs changing. If you look at the E string above with the notes, it says that the D note is fret 10, so we need to move the note from fret 10, to fret 12, get me? we can do this easily. look at the forth string. Its also a D, therefore, if we put our finger on the 12th fret, 6th string, and pluck it, we get an E note. Simply, turn the tuner clockwise, (keeping your finger on the 12th fret - 6th string). Now and again, pluck the 6th string with the 12th fret pressed, and pluck the 4th string open. When they sound similar without any resonating, you have managed to move the D note, down to places from 10th fret to 12th fret. Moving on slightly, you may start to ask, what happens if you want to tune the 6th string to say D#? One fret down, but D# isnt anywhere on any of the strings on the 12th fret. So what do we want? -We want to have the following tuning: D#, A, D, G, B, e How do we do it? - start by mapping out all the notes on all strings (a copy can be found at the end of this lesson), then, look at the string below it, the 5th string (A). On thet 4th fret, there is a D#. We now know where it is, so pluck the 5th string on the 4th fret. This will give the note of D#, now, we want to take that sound, and place it on the 6th string. We already know, that the D# on the 6th string is fret 11, therefore we already know when we are ready to tune, you need to turn the tuner clockwise. (This will work best with an amp, but dont worry if you dont have one. ) Pluck the 5th string 4th fret, then pluck the 12th fret 6th string, turn the tuner on the 6th string clockwise, until the two sounds match up, without any resonating (resonating; matching the two sounds in harmony so there is no 'wobbling' of sounds). You have now managed to tune to D#, A, D, G, B, e The real challenge: DADadd tuning (also called Open D5 (I think)). This is a popular tuning used by Mark Tremonti (formally of creed - now alter bridge). We already no by looking at this, we do not need to change the 5th and 4th strings, as they are already tuned to this. The 6th string is a D, which is drop D, we already learnt how to tune to this, but ill go over it quickly again; pluck the 12th fret of the 6th string and then pluck the 4th string open. Turn the tuner of the 6th string clockwise until when you pluck the 12th fret of the 6th string and the 4th string open there is no resonating. We now have the first three notes, DAD. now for the next 3, add. Look at the 3rd string notes. The note A is fret 14. Because it is past the 12th fret (closer towards the body of the guitar), you know now you need to turn the tuner anti-clockwise 2 frets. Now, look at the 2nd string at the closest A to the 12th fret. On the second string, the A note closest to the 12th fret is on fret 10. Pluck this note, then pluck the 12th fret of the 3rd string. Turn the 3rd strings tuner anit-clockwise, until the 10th fret of string 2 and the 12th fret of string 3 sound the same without any resonating. Once you have done that, you now have the tuning DADaBe. Just the last two strings to do! We now need to change the B on the 2nd fret to a D. Again, look at the chart of notes. On the 2nd string, the closest D to fret 12, is on fret 15, so we know again, we need to turn the tuner anti-clockwise. Now, find the closest D to the 12th fret on the 1st string. Its located at fret 10. Again, pluck the 12th fret on the 2nd string, with the 10th fret on the 1st string. Turn the 2nd strings tuner anti-clockwise, until both the 10th fret 1st string and 12th fret 2nd string sound the same without any resonating. This leaves us with 1 string left to tune, but all the other strings have shifted notes remember, dont get caught out. We now have DADade. We want to change the e on the 1st string to a D. The closest D is on the 12th fret 2nd string. For the last time, we know that the D on the 1st string is before the 12th fret, so we turn the tuner clockwise. Pluck the 2nd string OPEN (This is because whatever note is on the 12th string, is also the note sounded when that string is played open. ) and play the 12th fret of the 1st string. Turn the tuner of the 1st string clockwise until the 2nd string open and the 1st string 12th fret (or played open) sound the same without any resonating. You have now finished tuning to DADadd. To tune back to standard, its simple, use strings 4 and 5, and tune around those. So if you want to tune string 6 from a D to an E, put your finger on the 5th fret of the 6th string, and pluck that (while turning the tuner anti-clockwise) untill it sounds the same (without any resonating) as the 5th string played open. If you do not know how to tune by ear to standard search this site's lessons for either 'tuning by ear' or 'harmonic tuning' (the last one works best if you have an amp). I have based how to tune around the 12th fret as that is how I learnt to tune. You can also tune around playing strings open, but thats harder and complicated. Below you will find a complete list of notes on the strings (like the diagram above). You can use this to find out were notes are on a string. Take note how everything can revolve around the 12th fret - any string) When you get to the 12th fret, and want to know what note is past that, just start from fret 1 again, its an endless cycle. I have wrote the string names in standard to make it easier to understand
If you want to correct me on any of this, please feel free to email me, my email address is spatulator@hotmail.com. Also if you need any help at all with this, or you didn't understand aspects of it, feel free to email me as well, ill always help as best as I can and reply as soon as I can.
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