Tuning Your Guitar By Ear

Ever heardthat creed song that uses DADadd tuning and not known how to get it? Find out here, if you dont have an electronic tuner.

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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:
E|--F--|--F#-|--G--|--G#-|--A--|--Bb-|--B--|--C-|--Cb-|--D--|--D#-|--E--|
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
E|--F--|--F#-|--G--|--G#-|--A--|--Bb-|--B--|--C--|--Cb-|--D--|--D#-|--E--|
B|--C--|--Cb-|--D--|--D#-|--E--|--F--|--F#-|--G--|--G#-|--A--|--Bb-|--B--|
G|--G#-|--A--|--Bb-|--B--|--C--|--Cb-|--D--|--D#-|--E--|--F--|--F#-|--G--|
D|--D#-|--E--|--F--|--F#-|--G--|--G#-|--A--|--Bb-|--B--|--C--|--Cb-|--D--|
A|--Bb-|--B--|--C--|--Cb-|--D--|--D#-|--E--|--F--|--F#-|--G--|--G#-|--A--|
E|--F--|--F#-|--G--|--G#-|--A--|--Bb-|--B--|--C--|--Cb-|--D--|--D#-|--E--|
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.

98 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    metalkid66
    can soneone plz help me with drop c tuning coz i cnt get it right its hard for me...thanks heaps ppl
    kwatrokantos
    Hey i tune drop DADGBe like this. 6th sting (E) at 7 fret and 5th string (A) open. And its the easiest way!!!!
    delondcosta27
    you wanted to have the following tuning: D#, A, D, G, B, e hmm how come noone noticed tht or am i mistaken?
    delondcosta27
    yo dude u said tht on the 5 string(a) the 4th note is D#.It aint.its c#....so one of ur tunings is messed up
    rrb6699
    To me tuning by ear means you know what at least one note sounds like. How are you going to tune an E if you dont know what it sounds like to start with? Ok, getting past that point I'll assume you know you have an E on the 6th string. Well, I'm not a great player but sounds like drop D would be easier to tune if you pluck the 3rd string (open D) and turn the 6th string tuning key until they are the same. why pluck the 12th fret and try to hold the string and turn the tuning key? You just gave a different way to do it but, if you know your guitar is EADGBe then you should be able to tune any string to any tuning since you can find the notes on any string by counting 1/2 steps up from the 1st fret (pick a string it doesn't matter)-- (this comment for beginners - I mean each fret is a half 'step' up as sound goes from the previous lower fret). your diagram of the 1st E string is a great example of how you can find a note on any string by knowing it is in tune to begin with. the 2nd string (A) would start A (open) A# (1st fret) and so on. Easy? -RayRay the Drummer
    ToxicSoup
    i know you probably know this but its CGCFAD atleast i think thats full step
    ToxicSoup
    im a little worried to try and tune my guitar by myself without an electric one and i want it tuned down a full step so i can play some of my favorite metal songs. How do i do that in a nutshell?
    metalkid66
    hey can someone please help me with dropc tuning coz i can do drop d but dropc is hard for me coz im new at playing thanks ppl
    jimmiew
    that seems like common sense? idk i was just hoping you would have a lesson on tuning your guitar to standard when its out of tune (as in its gone flat or sharp)
    dobby240
    very good i will need to study this a bit more but i never did know how to tune my guitar differently untill i read this all the tunings i knew were drop D and normall lol thanx man alota help
    Logz
    No, you dont need to actually take your string off and put another "d" string on, you just need to downtune the E to a D.
    DRoboWHOids06
    ^so will they be the same measurement like.23&.23 or will they just be tuned like the E string to D? sorry never have done this with the string colaberations
    Logz
    ^ You change the open note of the string. If you drop D it, you will have 2 strings that play D notes, but they will be an octave apart
    DRoboWHOids06
    do you change strings? or leave them. if you change them to drop-d youll have 2 d string will they sound the same?
    Logz
    jessieca wrote: are you supposed to tune your electric guitar with it hooked up to the amp?
    No, you dont have to. It does help though, especially with distortion
    jessieca
    are you supposed to tune your electric guitar with it hooked up to the amp?
    theguitarist
    Logz wrote: How about you go **** yourself.
    Lol, and know you're a mod. Checked/Deleted.
    guitarhero9596
    you mention on the 3rd i think paragraph, that the 5 string (a) that on the 4th fret it was a d# but it is a Cb not a D# i will post this on your profile just incase u dont get it thanks. wb.
    Shift1
    pattyd wrote: 44ohz is the standard it is such an obvius ? that i can't remmber? E Standard Tuning is A440ohz and fyi if anyone doesnt have a guitar tuner/ fork/ piano etc, if u YOUTUBE -> Tuning a guitar, there are some helpful vids that play the correct pitch of string for you. Simples sadnthe is i am great t been ****inmwith wacky tunings. i cant remember if ti 430 or 440
    pattyd
    44ohz is the standard it is such an obvius ? that i can't remmber? sadnthe is i am great t been ****inmwith wacky tunings. i cant remember if ti 430 or 440
    Emo_Hacker
    yeah...this is very helpful....i tune my guitar with the song nothing else matters or wake me up when september ends
    BrokenString97
    cool you just taught me wat i needed to play chevelle, system of a down and many songs (i could't tune before)
    Tsage
    E F F# G Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb E is the same as E F Gb G G# A A# B C C# D D# E
    ellucifere
    i was reading another lesson and it was E|--F--|--F#-|--G--|--Ab-|--A--|--Bb-|--B--|--C-|--Db -|--D--|--Eb-|--E--| why are they different?
    nghienviec
    antonio1990 wrote: It's really good but is there like another strategy to like try and tune a really out of tune guitar to EADGBe??? How can we do that but overall its awesome if i want to change notes, ***..
    You can choose one note as reference point and just learn it. After a while, you can produce the note on your own, then you're body is a 'tuning fork' now. Use that note as your reference to turn all the strings.
    Kadrean
    Good lesson, I was looking for something like this, since electric tuners are a bit gay sometimes, and tuning harmonically sucks if you're out of tune anyway
    Robster8942178
    I need some help tuning to CGCFAD from EADGBe or Drop D. I dont have a tuner for C only for E, If somone could help me that would be great. Send me a e-mail (Robby_Lee_Burns18@yahoo.com)explaining how to tune to CGCFAD by ear from EADGBe. Thanks
    killswitchCurse
    Mr.Glue wrote: Ok I play bass and,DOES ANY ONE KNOW TUNING??? I know that standard on a bass tuner iz no flats (E,A,D,G) and five flats are low B (B,E,A,D) and I know that two flats are (D,-,-,-,) or somthin but what are 1,3,and4 flats called PLEEZ SOMEONE TELL ME!!!If u can THNX!!!
    Alright you confused the shit out of me.....lol, bass tunes same as guitar EADG, DGCF(full step down, meaning 2 semitones down), CFBbD#(this is 2 full steps down, in other words 4 semitones), and then we have your BEAD(dropped 4 full and 1/2 steps down) that makes 5 semitones down. Hope this helped to find what you were looking for =D
    phenom14
    how you you do drop d#?... is drop d# and half step down the same?... sorry... noob here...
    Terrance_1_
    for guitar also if u want to tune to DADGBe just use the 7th fret on the 6th string and the A string, 7th fret is A when u tune it down to D
    Mr.Glue
    Ok I play bass and,DOES ANY ONE KNOW TUNING??? I know that standard on a bass tuner iz no flats (E,A,D,G) and five flats are low B (B,E,A,D) and I know that two flats are (D,-,-,-,) or somthin but what are 1,3,and4 flats called PLEEZ SOMEONE TELL ME!!!If u can THNX!!!
    CatEyez
    If anyonez willing to help me, herez my email: crucified.satan@hotmail.com!
    jamis8891
    ive never learned anything about theory or anthing so everything i pick up along the way helps a ton. more stuff like this!