One of the first things you need to know as a new guitarist is how to tune your guitar. Although an electronic tuner makes tuning easier, it is not difficult to tune a guitar without a tuner. The tuning is the same for all 6-string guitars regardless of whether they are acoustic, electric or classical.
Which string is which?
The thinnest and highest sounding string is the 1st string. The thickest and lowest sounding string on the guitar is the 6th string.
The strings are named as follows:
6th string = low E
5th string = A
4th string = D
3rd string = G
2nd string = B
1st string = high E
Tuning your guitar without a tuner
First you need a reference pitch. You might hear people talking about “A440” or “concert pitch”. Concert Pitch is the standard pitch that you should tune to and when correctly tuned your 5th string (the ‘A’ string) should produce a frequency of 440Hz (440 hertz). To hear a 440Hz ‘A’ note, either use a tuning fork or try this great online version: http://www.onlinetuningfork.com/
To tune your guitar by ear, first tune the 5th string to sound the same as the A440 tone.
Once your 5th string (A) is in tune hold down the 5th fret on this string and play the note.
This note is a D so tune the 4th string to sound the same.
Once your 4th string (D) is in tune hold down the 5th fret on this string and play the note.
This note is a G so tune the 3rd string to sound the same.
Once your 3rd string (G) is in tune hold down the 4th fret on this string and play the note.
This note is a B so tune the 2nd string to sound the same.
Once your 2nd string (B) is in tune hold down the 5th fret on this string and play the note.
This note is a high E so tune the 1st string to sound the same.
The 6th string (low E) and the 1st string (high E) should sound the same note an octave apart.
You can check the low E is correct by holding it down the 5th fret and playing the note.
This note will be an A and should sound the same as the 5th string.
You will usually need to repeat this the whole tuning process again. Then hold down a simple chord that uses all six strings (such as E or G) and strum slowly, hearing each string individually - the chord should sound "in tune" and harmonious - if not, repeat the whole tuning again!