While it’s fun and enjoyable to learn how to play the acoustic guitar, it is not without its frustrating moments but I’ve found to be normal for most things I learn in life. Hearing the guitar play sounds that are out of tune is definitely one cause of frustration.
The thing is most guitars new or old don’t stay tuned forever. So even if you know the basic techniques to play a favourite song, it’s not going to sound right once your guitar starts getting out of tune. This means it’s important to tune your acoustic guitar before you’re able to play acceptable music.
When I got my first guitar I knew it would need to be tuned periodically but had no clue how to tune it but a friend showed me how to use a guitar tuner to get the job done quickly and accurately, because I couldn’t tune it by ear, that was made clear pretty quick.
The first thing you need to realize is you will likely need to tune your guitar each time you use it even if it’s just a tiny bit but that tiny bit can make such a difference. Guitars have the habit of going out of tune on its own very quickly, especially when the barometer changes slightly.
Most of the time it’s from strumming and slightly stretching the strings. It took me a while before my ear would pickup slight changes but my guitar buddies would pick up on the fact I needed to tune it, rather quickly.
I practice on my acoustic guitar at least a couple of hours a day and that’s usually enough that I need to tune it pretty much daily. That’s why it’s important to tune your guitar regularly and as soon as you notice a difference in the sound coming out from it.
I’ve had a couple of different guitar tuners over the last 10 years but I still have my first tuner and it still works great. But I also have a tuner now that clamps on the guitar head along with my capo. I find it so convenient and is actually quicker to use than my first tuner.
Tuning, using a battery operated tuner only takes a couple of minutes and so worth the time so you get those pure notes you love to hear. Some of my guitar friends tune by ear and are always adjusting the tuning. I haven’t reached that stage and I’ve been playing now for more than a decade.
You could also try the fret method, which starts by setting the low E string to set the initial pitch for the E and then using that string to set the rest of the strings. Here are the basic steps:
- Take your index finger and push down the sixth or E string on the fifth fret which is the A note. If you follow the notes from E you will see that it goes E, F, F# G, G# A. You want to make the 5th string, the A string, match that note. Now you have the E string set as well as the A string.
- Next you want to hold the A string down at the 5th fret which is the D note and then tune the D string until those two notes sound the same. So with the A string you move down each fret to the 5th fret so the notes are A, A#,B,C,C#,D.
- Repeat the same procedure, playing the fourth string this time, which is still on the fifth fret (note G). You also need to tune the third string with open fingers until they sound the same.
- For the third string, you would hold your index finger down on the fourth fret (note B) and repeat the same techniques as in numbers one through three.
- Finally, play the second string on the fifth fret (we go back to note E), and do the same things as above while making sure the result produces the same sound.
I just tried to tune my guitar by ear, which I do every once in a while to see if my hearing is getting more sensitive and I get a lot closer to tuning it accurately than I used to but still not enough for me to rely on it. Enough if I was out in woods alone with no one to hear me.
So if you find the above steps just a tad complicated or you can’t seem to get it to tune right don’t fret over it. A pun was meant there, ha ha. You can always do what I do and keep an handy.
What does that mean? Well, there are electronic tuners sold in most music stores. Such a gadget can help you tune your guitar without difficulty. Nevertheless, if you feel strongly about tuning your guitar through hard work, then you can just use a tuner to fine-tune your guitar. With a fine-tuned guitar, you would be able to play the sweetest music.
Ray Lamontagne wrote and sang the song Jolene, which I just heard for the first time a couple of weeks ago.I heard it being performed by the Zac Brown Band. I guess the song’s more than 5 years old and I’m just hearing it. Guess I’ve been under that rock for too long.
What a cool song, I had to pick my guitar up immediately and try to follow along. However when I tried I couldn’t find where it was played on my guitar. I thought maybe it was using a capo but that wasn’t it. So I gave up trying to figure it out and just checked online. So much quicker that way.
I learned that Jolene is tuned a half step down. Now I’m hooked, love it and it sounds so much better tuned a half step down. To set this tuning I went from standard tuning: E A D G B E and just dropped each string a half step to: D# G# C# F# A# D#.
Work schedules have made it tough to have a guitar jam for the past couple of months and I’m missing it big time. I am so eager to teach Jolene to our little group, wish I could sing as it would be so much easier to teach them. But that’s where Youtube comes in.
Other Songs In Non Standard Tuning
Some time ago I learned a couple other songs that are tuned differently than the normal standard tuning. But it can be a bit of a pain when you can’t tune by ear and have to get the tuner out and stop everyone from making too much noise. So we don’t usually do any different tuning.
Well not before this really cool Intelli IMT500 Clip-on Chromatic Digital Tuner for Strings my son bought and is letting me us, like he’s ever getting this back. I found this one Amazon.
This tuner clips on the end of my guitar right next to my capo and picks up every sound from the guitar without much interference from surrounding noises. I can now tune my guitar so fast, even if everyone around me is having a blast and making noise.
I’ve already been practicing a few songs that are tuned to a non standard tuning.
- Copperhead Road by Steve Earl
- She Talks To Angels by The Black Crowes
Copperhead Road is tuned to Drop D tuning while She Talks To Angels is Open E. Both sound so much better when tuned this way. It’s so much fun learning new guitar related things.
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