The Ear: Root of the Tuning Tree VS Battery-powered Tuner

Knowing how to tune the guitar or any other musical instrument is an art and as such it can be learned.

Educating the ear through practice is the first step in learning how to do it.

The use of the tuner, depending on the circumstances, can become our best ally when it comes to tuning. This is highly recommended for all students of initiation, elementary and basic level, of course, as it is a visual process based on the little light that enters our eyes and not through our ears, this technological device as a “crutch” does not It helps a lot to learn to tune by ourselves. Doing it this way then becomes unconscious by placing ourselves in automatic mode and letting ourselves be carried away by said technology.

From the intermediate level it is therefore, from my point of view, more than necessary for the student to learn to tune by himself if he does not want to find himself in trouble the day the little gadget runs out of batteries.

Not knowing how to tune the guitar from a certain level means that nothing we play will sound well tuned to us, since even tuning with the tuner “perfectly” will result in the guitar being out of tune.

In flamenco slang, the tuned guitar is usually referred to as being “templá”

Some theory

The C Major Scale.

If we start from the Do scale upwards, the following notes are produced progressively:

These 7 notes, except those of Do and Fa, are found on the guitar in a different order by sounding the open strings from top to bottom.

Guitar is tuned by perfect 4ths except the 2nd string which is an interval of a third


The Methods: Pisando en el V Traste

There are different methods and each guitarist will look to a greater or lesser extent for his own way of tuning based on one of them or a mixture of several at the same time.

The simplest of all of them consists of stepping on the V fret of each string (except the 3rd), to tune that same note with the immediately lower string since both have to produce the same sound.

The notes produced by plucking the open strings from the 6th to the 1st are

the following and in this order: E, A, D, G, B, E

According to the previous explanation and, regarding the intervals, the guitar is tuned by Just Fourth intervals Fig 5

My suggestion and at the beginning is that we first tune the 6th string with the tuner and then turn it off, so we will make sure that at first we will do it wrong and little by little a little better when later checking with the tuner, this time turned on, yes we have stayed high or low or we went through the hills of Úbeda. It is possible that in this hypothetical scenario we can break some strings. There is nothing to worry about as this is a good symptom because, by directly affecting the pocket, learning is much faster.

Step 1:

The 5th string must be tuned by stepping on the V fret of the 6th string

Step 2:

The 4th string must be tuned by stepping on the V fret of the 5th string

Step 3:

The 3rd string must be tuned by stepping on the V fret of the 4th string

Step 4:

The 2nd string must be tuned by stepping on the IV fret of the 3rd string.

Step 5:

The 1st string must be tuned by stepping on the V fret of the 2nd string.

It is convenient to check how the E Major chord is sounding according to step 1,2…etc that we find ourselves during the process.

The Methods: Tuning by natural harmonics


Another common method employed by is by tuning with natural harmonics. Supposedly the student must have already learned to tune with the previous method. Master the technique or techniques used to produce these sounds

It requires a degree of technical and musical skill of a superior degree and a slightly more mature ear at a musical level to perceive the harmonics. The guitar technique to sound the harmonic note to be able to tune requires gently brushing a finger of the left hand on frets V, VII at the top of the chosen fret; XII, and once the string is pressed with a finger of the right hand, the finger of the left hand that is touching the fret, move it away quickly. If not, the note will not sound


To tune the two lowest strings, the 6th and the 5th, we will sound:

Step 1:

Harmonic of E on the V fret of the 6th and the VII of the 5th

Step 2:

Harmonic of A on the V fret of the 5th and the VII of the 4th.

Step 3:

Harmonic of D on the V fret of the 4th and the VII of the 3rd.

Step 4:

Harmonic of B on the VII fret of the 6th and the V&XII of the 2nd.

Step 5:

Harmonic of E on the VII fret of the 5th and the XII of the 1st.

Once we believe that the guitar has finally been tuned, it is when we can resort to the tuner as a valuable checking resource to make the corrections that may apply.

Be very careful during this process since, when tuning the 3rd string, the tuner always gives it as good, making it coincide with its green light, but this is not the case since the light does not have to turn green and we better stay in the red just before turning green. If we don’t do it like this, the guitar will sound like anything but a tuned guitar.


The interval method of Joust 4th, Joust 5th and Joust 8th.


The first thing I do is tune the 5th string with a tuning fork and leave it tuned to 440, since these are the vibrations that a string vibrates per second to produce the note A.

From then on I remember Manolo Escobar and the two notes in the chorus of “My car was stolen from me”.

It could be with another song or songs but they will have to start their first two notes by a Just 4th interval. This is valid to tune from the 6th to the 3rd since the 2nd and first use other intervals. For example:


Knowing that the 5th string is at 440 my favorite chorus begins:

Step 1 Tuning the 6th to the 5th: My car (Mi-la-la)

Step 2 Tuning the 4th to the 5th: My car (Mi-la-la)

Step 3 Tuning the 3rd to the 4th: My car (Mi-la-la)

Step 4 Tuning the 2nd to the 6th this is a Just 5th interval

Step 5 Tuning the 1st with the 6th (8th Just)


The important thing is that in the end, be that as it may, the guitar has to be in good “Templá”, with or without a car.

Actually under normal circumstances tuning is a process of half a minute, if not less. On the other hand, external conditions such as humidity, temperature, new or heavily used strings, the state of the headstock can play tricks on us, greatly affecting the guitar, giving the impression that the guitar cannot be tuned. In addition, guitarists and tocadores have the handicap of having the capo on any fret, either for fandangos to V, soleá to VI, seguiriyas to III in between, or peteneras…namely. It would take more than stick and stick we would have to remove the capo, tune again with the latest “fashionable technological mirror” and put it back on I don’t know what fret and as if that were not enough that after so many turns the guitar was still out of tune or ” Distemper”.

So the tuner is of little use once you are in “see and go to work”.

What has been said, knowing how to tune is an art and, as such, it can be learned. Put the batteries!!

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