The one thing most new classical guitarists struggle with is tuning. Many newcomers naively think that it is an occasional chore. However, if you want to become an expert musician, you have to know the art of tuning. In this article, we will give you a detailed guideline to learn it in no time.
What is Tuning?
Simply speaking tuning is the method by which you adjust the frequency of the sound.
The basic idea of tuning in any musical instrument is that-
- It is done so that the tone doesn’t come out too high or too low.
- Typically it is done in an exact reference. For example A=332
Is Classical Guitar tuned differently than other guitars?
There is no fundamental difference between any type of guitar tuning. Be it acoustic guitar, classical guitar, or electric guitar, all of them have the same tuning methods.
However, the tuning pegs of classical guitars are different than the rest. So what are these turning pegs, and what do they do?
- Firstly, turning pegs are small knobs that are attached to the head of the guitar.
- By turning these knobs, you can adjust your strings.
- These are the main instruments for tuning.
- If you tighten the knob, then the pitch will go up, and if you loosen them, then the pitch will go down.
Different Methods of Tuning a classical guitar
Before getting into the methods, let us talk about how the strings are laid out on the guitar.
The Basics: Each of the six strings is different in thickness. They are laid out in thinnest to thickest order. High E being the thinnest and low E being the thickest.
- String One: High E, with a frequency of 329.63
- String Two: B2, with a frequency of 246.94
- String Three: G3, with a frequency of 196.00
- String Four: D3, with a frequency of 146.83
- String Five: A2 with a frequency of 110.0
- String Six: Low E, with a frequency of 82.41
Now let us discuss different methods of tuning a classical guitar.
1. Tuning Your Guitar by Ear
This is the most common and standard method. You just adjust the tone by listening to it. This method is quite a tricky one. And most often your tuning taste won’t match with others. However, with little practice, you will get the hang of it. All you have to do is-
- Set the tone of the Sixth string correctly. If you fail to do that, then the whole system will be out of tune. You can tune it depending on yourself or adjust it by listing to different apps or videos.
- Then play the fifth fret of this string and tune the fifth string matching with this tone.
- After that play the fifth fret of the fifth string and tune the fourth string matching with it.
- Do the same with the third string.
- At the time of tuning the second one, there is a small change in the process. Instead of playing the fifth fret, you have to play the fourth fret of the third string and then tune the second string.
- When you tune the first string, you will have to repeat the old process.
While tuning this way, you have to have patience. Take your time and play the strings as many times as it needs for proper tuning.
2. Tuning the Classical Guitar With Tuning Fork
A tuning fork is a U shaped instrument that helps you to tune the fifth string (String A) of the guitar. When you are just learning the art of tuning, it is best to use an instrument for accuracy. This fork comes in the standard A=440. You can find many other pitches but if you are a beginner, practice with the standard version. Tune your classical guitar with it:
- Hold the fork’s base so that it can vibrate and then gently tap it on a solid surface.
- Hold the fork either at the bridge plate or at the bottom so that it can generate A pitch.
- Now according to it tune your fifth string (A string). Make sure they are absolutely identical.
- Now follow the previous standard procedure, and you will have a perfectly tuned guitar.
3. Tuning using Harmonics
This method is like the previous ones. But the plus side is that you can free your left hand to turn the knobs. This method is quicker than the last two. The process works like this-
- First, you have to tune one string using either the tuning fork or any other instrument, app, or video.
- Then, you need to sync the 5th fret of the sixth string and the 7th fret of the fifth string perfectly.
- After that, try to sync the 5th fret of the fifth string and the 7th fret of the fourth string.
- Apply the same method on the fourth and third strings. You have to play harmonic for the above-mentioned methods.
- Tuning the second one is a bit tricky. Match the harmonic play of the seventh fret of the sixth string with the open second string.
- Play the seventh fret of the 5th string and match it with the open first string.
4. Digital Method
This is a beginner-friendly method. When you are just starting and don’t know the knocks and corners of the guitar, it becomes pretty challenging to tune the guitar relying on your intuition. All you have to do is-
- Install a free or paid tuning app from your play store.
- Follow the instructions. Before doing so, make sure you are well aware of all the keys.
When Should I Tune My Guitar?
Now to the most crucial question. If possible, check the tuning every other day. If you are a frequent player, the chances are that after a long day of practice the strings will need tuning.
Sometimes the weather, temperature, change of place also hampers its tuning. So try to check the tuning as often as you can.
After reading this article, I hope you have got a good idea about how to tune your guitar and what method will be best suited for you. Mastering this technique needs a lot of patience. So keep practicing and eventually you will get the hang of it.