Tuning a guitar is a basic skill that every guitarist begins learning the first day they pick up their guitar. It’s not really the act of tuning that’s the skill, though…it’s developing the ear for tuning.
I once heard a well-known guitar luthier in Nashville, Tennessee talk about how the most trained human ear can be as accurate – and sometime even more accurate – than an electronic tuner. It takes years, even decades, to get to this point, however, and even then we need a baseline from which to tune (unless you’re one of the 1 in 10,000 people who has perfect pitch).
Even though the outcome of various tuning methods is the same (get the guitar in tune!), the fact is that different tuning methods are appropriate for different situations. Below I want to share with you five of my favorite tuning methods and how they are best used.
Most beginner guitarists tend to rely on acoustic guitar tuners to help them tune their new acoustic or electric guitar. However, learning how to tune a guitar using harmonics without a tuner is a great way to train your ear.