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How to tune your guitar

Tuning your guitar is your first task whenever you pick up your instrument. This can be tricky to do if you are putting new strings on your guitar or are still training your musical ear. I’d encourage you to persevere- being able to tell which strings are out of tune and manually adjust them is a useful skill to have.

For greater accuracy in tuning people use digital tuners (I’ve never seen anyone use old school tuning forks!). I like my little old Korg tuner, it is a trusty little accessories: I’ve had it in my kit for years!

Photo of a small grey almost rectangular device that shows when your guitar is out of tune
When the tuner is turned on and I pluck a string it indicates up to 5 Hz or 50 cents above/below the target note.

Most models of tuner have red lights indicating your string’s a bit flat or sharp, and a green midpoint shows a good note. Some even attach to your guitar, which is helpful if you’re not blessed with a third hand or a suitably sized table. These digital tuners work fine except when you’re in a noisy environment when other sounds can interfere. My device includes an input socket to plug into when there are other sounds in the room, but this is not ideal. Also, when you’re preparing to go on stage it can be nerve-wracking fiddling with tuning pegs, adding to your stress levels when you should be focusing on your upcoming set.

Modern tuners can be very compact and are better at tuning a variety of guitars. Some can even clip onto your guitar so you can play and see the display easily at the same time:

Photo of the head of an electric guitar with a small rectangular tuner with large digital display
Green light on the Intellitouch Mini Clip-On Tuner (PT10) shows the A string is in tune.

One excellent product I recently saw reviewed is a digital tuner integrated with a panel attached to the rear of the guitar head that automatically adjusts all six pegs for you! It seems you can select a higher accuracy for the sake of a few seconds extra tuning. Based on this YouTube video featuring the Tronical tuner, I reckon this tuner could even adjust tuning on stage between songs!

What tuner do you use? Have you got any experience with the Tronical tuner?

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