Part of owning and playing a guitar is to tune it. Similar to checking the oil level on a car frequently. Tuning the guitar is something you have to also do.
Fortunately, turning the guitar is neither rocket science nor takes much time. A twist or two here and there, and you should be done. The key is, however, frequency. How often should you tune your guitar?
You should tune your guitar every time you play it for the best results. This is because guitar strings may detune after being left unplayed for a while. Tuning before playing also ensures you get your guitar’s best and most accurate sounds.
This article explores how often you should tune your guitar. We will also look into other common questions about tuning guitars. These include how to tune your guitar and how to keep your guitar in tune for a longer time.
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Why Do You Tune Your Guitar?
You tune your guitar to ensure the best sound and performance from your strings while you play. Tuning also ensures you get the strings to vibrate at the correct frequency and produce the most accurate pitch when you strike it.
You should tune your guitar for many reasons:
You Get The Best Sound
One of the best things about tuning your guitar is the confidence that comes with it. You know your guitar will sound its best when it is in tune. The chords and notes will sound great and in harmony, and you can pluck the individual strings with full confidence.
That is much better than trying to play an out-of-tune guitar. They sound dull and unpleasant.
You Improve Your Pitch Recognition
As you tune your guitar, you repeatedly play the strings while adjusting the tuning peg. As you do that, you may listen to the pitch change until you get the right note.
This, over time, should help your brain to recognize the correct pitch, helping you to be able to develop better as a musician. You may even be able to tune your guitar without a tuner if you do this enough since you can instantly tell if a string is tuned correctly.
You Get to Jam With Other Instruments
Guitar playing is often a social affair. You may be playing or jamming along with other musicians and instruments.
However, if you want to do that, you must first tune your guitar and ensure the other instruments are tuned too. If not, the whole thing will sound real off and may be very unpleasant to hear.
You Protect Your Guitar
Guitar necks are designed to hold the tension generated by the guitar strings. This means they should be able to hold their own no matter how tight the strings are.
However, if your strings are detuned, the tension on the strings may be uneven. This means the pressure may not be applied evenly on the guitar neck. Over the long term, this may weaken the neck, causing issues such as warping or bending.
By tuning your strings, you reduce the likelihood of damaging your guitar.
You Can Do It Quickly
Tuning your guitar is a very simple matter, often requiring no more than several minutes. If you use a tuner, the whole process could be as fast as under a minute.
When you compare the benefits to the effort you need to put in to tune your guitar, it is much better to do it. Your guitar will sound better, and you will enjoy playing it.
How Often Should You Tune Your Guitar?
You should tune your guitar every time before you play it. This ensures you get the best sound out of your guitar. Frequent tuning also protects your guitar and helps you to develop better pitch recognition. With that skill, you can tune by ear without using a tuner.
Now that we know the benefits of tuning your guitar, the next natural question is how often to tune?
The answer is simple. Just tune them every time before you play. There are plenty of reasons why you want to follow along:
Best Guitar Sounds
Tuning your guitar right before playing ensures you get the best sounds out of your guitar. This is because the strings are just tuned, which means they would be very accurate and vibrating at the correct pitch.
Compare this to if you decide to tune your guitar weekly. This means there may be chances that you will play your guitar six days after tuning it. By this time, the strings may have gone off-tune.
No Need To Set Reminders
If you do not tune your guitar right before playing, you will need to have a tuning regime. You may need to decide when to tune your guitar. You may need to set reminders too.
Weekly would make sense. Once several days may be a little too frequent. If you are going to tune your guitar every day, that will take some dedication.
This may risk turning the task of tuning your guitar into a chore and taking out the fun part of playing it in the first place.
Professionals Do This Too
Tuning your guitar right before playing is also a good idea since professional guitarists tend to do this themselves.
If you watch concerts or shows, it is very common for professional musicians to tune their guitars right before their show. In fact, some may even tune their guitar repeatedly in between songs.
How Do You Tune Your Guitar?
To tune your guitar:
- Decide on the tuning setup.
- Start with the low E string, plucking and listening to the pitch. Tighten or loosen the string by turning the tuning peg until you get the right low E note.
- Repeat step 2 on the other strings, matching the string’s pitch to their corresponding notes.
- Once tuned, play some scales and strum a few chords to check that the guitar sounds correct.
One good thing about tuning a guitar is that it is not rocket science, nor do you need to spend a lot of effort. In fact, with the right tools, the whole process may not take more than a minute.
To tune your guitar:
- Decide On the Tuning Set Up: You can tune your guitar to several tunings. Aside from standard tuning, there are also Drop D, Open G, half-step down, and more.
- Decide How To Tune: You can tune your guitar in several ways. You can tune by ear, using a tuning fork or an electronic tuner. For many guitarists, an electronic tuner is usually the easiest method.
- Start With The Thickest String: Pluck the guitar strings, then listen to the pitch. Keep plucking the string while turning the tuning peg at the same time. This tightens or loosens the string, changing its pitch.
- Stop At Desired Pitch: Stop turning the strings when the desired pitch is reached. You can confirm this by referring to your tuner or your own ear. For the lower string, you are aiming for a Low E note.
- Repeat With The Other Strings: Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the other strings, ensuring the strings are vibrating at the right pitch. For standard tuning, get the following notes for the strings from the A, D, G, B, and high E.
- Play Scales And Chords: Once you have finished tuning all strings, confirm that the strings are playing well. Play some scales and also strum some chords to double-check. If the chords and notes still sound off, repeat the tuning process.
- Enjoy: Now that the guitar is ready, enjoy playing it!
How To Keep Your Guitar In Tune Longer?
To keep your guitar in tune longer, use high-quality strings, and stretch it slightly before installing them. Keep your guitar in a stable environment, away from large changes in temperature and humidity. Finally, apply lubricant on the guitar nut and saddle to reduce friction.
As much as tuning before playing helps to keep the guitar in tune, you should still implement certain steps to keep the guitar in tune longer. This prevents the guitar from going out of tune too soon or so off-tune that you must spend a long time getting the pitch correct.
Use High-Quality Strings
High-quality strings are usually stronger and are more capable of handling external environments better. This means the strings will be less likely to break down and go off-tune.
High-quality strings also tend to have better elasticity, meaning they can stretch and return to normal afterward. This feature should also help strings to keep their tuning longer.
Keep Guitar In a Stable Environment
Another way to keep your guitar in tune longer is to keep it in a stable environment. If you keep your guitar places with large changes in humidity and temperature, your guitar may go off tune easily.
This is because changes in temperature and humidity may expand or contract your guitar. This means changes in the pressure on the strings that may cause them to go off-tune.
Another factor that may cause strings to go off-tune faster is friction. Strings may be subject to additional friction on the saddle and nut. Frequent rubbing may cause strings to lose tension and go off-tune faster.
You can manage this by adding lubricant to the guitar nut and saddle. At the most basic, just rub a pencil on the nut and saddle since it contains graphite. To do this better, add some silicone lubricant, such as Tune-It.