How To Tune A Guitar With A Tuner – Step By Step.

Digital Guitar Tuner

So you have a nice new guitar tuner and you have no idea how to use it. Don’t cry it’s OK, I’m here to help you with that tiny problem. Your search has brought you here today so you can find out how to tune a guitar with a tuner. There are a variety of guitar tuners available so I will do my best to explain a method which will work for most tuners.

Before We Begin – Crawling Before We Walk.

The images you see are of my digital tuner. Your tuner may look and work differently to mine, however, the principle will remain the same. You simply have to increase or decrease the tension of your string to bring it into tune. To tune your string, all you have to do is turn the tuning peg clockwise or counterclockwise.

If the pitch (highness or lowness of sound) is too low you have to tighten the string. In a similar fashion if the pitch is too high you have to loosen the string. It is best to turn the tuning pegs slowly and in a controlled manner rather than spinning them furiously.

Below you will find a step by step walkthrough for tuning your guitar with a digital tuner. In order to tune your guitar correctly, there are a few things you need to know. about the musical alphabet and about flats and sharps. While it may seem unnecessary to know right now, the value of knowing these things will be revealed shortly.

The Musical Alphabet – Easy As E A D G B E

While more complicated musical systems exist in the world, the musical alphabet for us is only 7 letters long. These are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. All of these notes can be found on the guitar and will be explored in a later article. On a guitar, standard tuning is E, A, D, G, B, and E (from the thickest string to the thinnest string when played open).

These are the notes you are trying to achieve with your tuner in order to ensure your guitar can be called in tune and ready for duty. Your guitar wants to do its best for you and sing to the best of its ability. Making sure that your guitar is tuned is a great way to help it help you make your music.

The Easy Way – Lucky You.

If you have a tuner with multiple functions your task will be made significantly easier. By functions, I mean that your tuner has a built-in mode change catering for a variety of instruments. Mine does have this function and has Chromatic, Guitar, Bass, Violin and Ukulele.

To make your life easier simply press your tuner button until you have selected “Guitar” and then you can begin tuning each string. This way is easier due to the fact that your tuner is now looking for one specific string as opposed to any tone or halftone.

My tuner reads the string and gives me the letter of the note as well as its string number. Below you will find some images to further clarify this method. Remember standard tuning is:

  • 1 – E
  • 2 – B
  • 3 – G
  • 4 – D
  • 5 – B
  • 6 – E
    Tuned Low E stringTuned DTuned GTuned BTuned High E


If your tuner does not support multiple functions or you are interested in learning about getting more information about semitones (half steps), please keep reading below.

Sharps And Flats – The Short Version

Understanding sharps and flats are helpful to you now because as you tune your guitar you may encounter these strange looking symbols. They should not discourage or scare you and are quite simple to understand. The frets on a guitar each indicate a semitone. A semitone is half a tone. You can call tones a step and a semitone a half step to make things easier.

Let’s use the 5th fret of the D String (G) as an example on a right-handed guitar.

  • The Sharp (#) is simply the next fret to the right of the note( a half step). So in our example, if you move your finger from the 5th note (G) to the 6th note (G#), you will be playing the sharp of the 5th note.
  • The Flat (b) is the note to the left of your current note (half step down). From our example, if we move to form the 5th note (G) to the 4th note (Gb) we have flattened the 5th note.

Below you will find images to help you with the tuning process, I have included the flats and sharps in case your tuner does not have the ability to change functions or change to tune different instruments.

E (Low)

D SharpEF

  • String number: 6
  • Semitone before: D#
  • Semitone after: F


G SharpAA Sharp

  • String number: 5
  • Semitone before: G#
  • Semitone after: A#


C SharpDD Sharp

  • String number: 4
  • Semitone before: C#
  • Semitone after: D#


F SharpGG Sharp

  • String number: 3.
  • Semitone before: F#
  • Semitone after: G#


A SharpBC

  • String number: 2
  • Semitone before: A#
  • Semitone after: C

E (High)

D SharpEF

  • String number: 1
  • Semitone before: D#
  • Semitone after: F


All Tuned – Well Done Happy Camper!

If you are wondering who in their right mind would break down the same procedure for each string? The answer is me. Whats the point of doing it this way? Why not just summarize the process? All the wonderful questions, however then I wouldn’t be able to reiterate a very important point.

All of your strings are important and deserve respect the same way you respect different people. Having all of your strings in tune is a must every single time you play. Developing the crucial habit of tuning your guitar every time you play or practise is an excellent way to help you develop your musical ability and skill.

This habit will not just get your guitar in a better mood, but will also help you tune your ears! Over time you will be able to train your ears to understand what a tuned string should sound like. (If you’d like to see a tuner review click here)

Now is the perfect time to go get that guitar tuned, see you next time.




4 Replies to “How To Tune A Guitar With A Tuner – Step By Step.”

  1. Great guide Renton!
    I find using a tuner pretty straight forward when it comes to standard tuning but other than that, one can easily get lost…

    I tend to use my guitar mainly for recording purposes and the virtual guitar amps I use come with a very flexible tuner, that also allows you to select whether your guitar is a seven string one (which mine is).

    1. Cool. I am glad you found it this post helpful. My amp (a real one not a virtual one) also has a built in tune function although its only for six strings, but the tuners can really help no matter what tuning you are trying to achieve. What type of genre do you enjoy playing,if you don’t mind me asking?

  2. This writeup is really helpful!
    I can play guitar but I’m always getting it hard to tune it.
    But what I’m seeing here looks great. So I can certainly tune my guitar with this device. Incredible!.

    Thanks very much dear for this wonderful Review here. You really did a nice job! And it’s helpful.

    1. Thank you for the comment. Once you get used to it, tuning will happen a lot faster and there are even devices available to make your task even simpler (such as automatic guitar tuners). Just keep on trying until it starts to become second nature to you.

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