Wondering how often to tune your guitar?
This post explores exactly this and brings you some tips to keep it sounding great.
One of the key factors to playing beautiful music is having a guitar that is properly tuned. If you are just starting out playing this instrument, you are probably curious about how often it will need to be tuned. The short answer is, a lot. This article will cover some of the key times to tune your guitar, as well as some tips on how to do it quickly and efficiently.
When Should You Tune Your Guitar?
You should tune your guitar every single time you go to play it. This may seem excessive, but the fact is that string instruments go out of tune very quickly. This seems particularly true of guitars. Due to the mechanical nature of the tuning pegs, the tension put on them by the strings will eventually pull them out of place. The longer you go in between playing sessions, the more out of tune your guitar will likely be. It is a good idea to just get into the habit of tuning your guitar every time you pull it out of its case.
Other Times You Should Tune Your Guitar
Sometimes you will need to stop playing and tune your guitar. There are special circumstances that can pop your guitar right out of tune. Break out the tuner if any of the following things happen:
You Drop Your Guitar
Even if you have already tuned your instrument to perfection, a hard (or even soft) fall can knock it right back out. If you have the misfortune of it slipping out of your hand or being knocked over by a rowdy child or dog, go back to the beginning and start tuning again.
After Bending Your Strings
If you have progressed in your playing to the point that you are experimenting with string bending, be prepared to tune your guitar more often. This extra pressure on the strings and tuning pegs can cause it to slip out of tune pretty quickly. Depending on how you are bending the string, you will hear a very noticeable sharpness or dullness to it when you try to play it normally.
Ideally, you are tuning your guitar every time you get it out. Period. No exceptions. However, if you sometimes decide to skip it, be sure to tune every time you travel.
Something as simple as coming into an air-conditioned room from a hot summer day can cause your strings to be out of tune. Generally speaking, high humidity is associated with being a little sharp, and low humidity is associated with being a little flat.
You Use a Capo
Capos are great, but they aren’t easy on the strings when it comes to staying in tune. Not only can putting one on mean you will need to tune again, but pulling one off can as well. This is because it pulls the strings down toward the fingerboard.
Tips for Tuning Your Guitar
So much tuning may seem overwhelming, or like you will never get to actually play your guitar. That really is not the case, however, especially if you use the following tips:
- Expect tuning your guitar to take you around 5 minutes at first. Once you develop an ear for it, you may be able to do it in as little as 30 seconds.
- Start with the sixth string and work your way up.
- Try tuning your guitar using a piano. Obviously, make sure the piano is perfectly tuned before trying this!
- Use an electronic tuner. Want to make your life a lot easier? Let a machine do the hard work. They are small and battery operated. As a plus, they make sure you are in concert pitch.
- Always try to tune up to the correct pitch instead of down to it. This keeps a good amount of tension on the string and helps it last longer.
- Try tuning down a half-step. Many guitarists tune this way, especially if they are backing up a singer. This is also a way to experiment with a deeper sound. Having an electronic tuner makes this a lot easier.
A finely-tuned guitar is the first step toward musical greatness. Although it may seem tedious at first, tuning your guitar can help make sure it sounds perfect while helping to familiarize yourself with your instrument. Before you know it, picking up your guitar and quickly tuning it will seem as natural as breathing. Even if you have a great ear, you should invest in a digital tuner.