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Tuning a guitar basics

musicismylife78musicismylife78 Posts: 6,018
edited December 2008 in Musicians and Gearheads
I know that to tune a guitar means, these days at least, for those who are beginners means, you get one of those electronic/digital tuners and you play a chord or string and it tells you if you are in tune or not.

But I hear this all the time: What is the tuning of this song? Or... Its a tuned down a half step

How does one tune differently to a song? How do you tune a half step down? If a song is tuned to DADGAF# then how does one accomplish this?
Post edited by Unknown User on

Comments

  • A guitar, in standard tuning, is tuned EADGBE, meaning the strings, from top to bottom if your playing it, are tuned E, A, D, G, B, E, so alternate tunings would involve changing the pitch of each string.

    For the one you questioned, instead of having the top string tuned to E, you'd have to tune it down a whole step to a D. And you would tune each string according to the tuning at hand.

    A half step down just means you're tuning each string, a half step, or fret, down. So now EADGBE become E flat, A flat, D flat, G flat, B flat, E flat. This is a lower tune and can sometime suit those with deeper voice, which is why hendrix tuned this way. Also make the strings easier to bend.


    This probably sounds very confusing, but I hope it helped some.
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  • I know that to tune a guitar means, these days at least, for those who are beginners means, you get one of those electronic/digital tuners and you play a chord or string and it tells you if you are in tune or not.

    But I hear this all the time: What is the tuning of this song? Or... Its a tuned down a half step

    How does one tune differently to a song? How do you tune a half step down? If a song is tuned to DADGAF# then how does one accomplish this?

    For D, A, D, G, A, F# you're sixth string (E) would be tuned down a whole step. A, D, G are still in standard tuning. A would be a whole step down from B. The E is tuned UP to the F#. I might be wrong but I don't even believe that's a correct tuning. I may be wrong since I stick to half step, standard and drop D most of the time.

    EDIT: This may help: http://www.howtotuneaguitar.org/
    I'll ride the wave where it takes me.
  • mccreadyisgodmccreadyisgod Bumfuq, MTPosts: 6,395
    Since I don't know what you know, I thought I'd explain some things...

    On a piano keyboard, if you played the notes in order as you go up or down the keyboard, regardless of color (black or white), you would be playing half-steps. In an octave, there are 12 half-steps, or 6 full steps. It gets a little confusing, because in any key, there are 7 notes that repeat (8 when you complete the cycle) in an octave, which of course refers to 8 notes. So a lot of semi-knowledgable musicians assume there are 8 full-steps in an octave, when there are actually 6. The problem is that there are 6 intervals of a full-step, and 2 intervals of a half-step, in an octave. The rest of the notes aren't in the key, so aren't used. But that doesn't mean the notes don't exist.

    Each fret of a guitar's neck is equal to one half-step in pitch. A full-step, then, is two frets. So, tuning down a half-step means tuning each string down the equivalent of one fret. You can do this by taking the low E and tuning it so that the 6th fret of the low E is equal to the next string, the A string. If you know how to tune a guitar relative to itself, you can then tune the rest of the guitar to that first low E (which is now in E-flat, Eb, which is the same thing as D-sharp, D#). To tune down a full-step, you can tune the low E so that the 7th fret on the low E is the same pitch as the A string, and then re-tune the entire guitar. The most popular alt tuning is probably drop-D, where you tune the low E string to a D (where the 7th fret is the same pitch as the A) and leaving all the other strings in their normal standard tuning.

    Most GOOD tuners will have the ability to tune to whatever note you want. So, if you wanted to tune to D,F#,A,G,Bb,E then you could do so. Most cheaper guitar tuners have only standard tuning, and can't do alt or drop tunings.

    One thing that helps is to learn how to tune a guitar relative to itself, what notes are where on the guitar, and what the intervals are between notes. Then developing alt and open tunings becomes much easier.
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  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 32,356
    I was looking for a guitar tuning thread and found this one.  It seems like the perfect thread because for me, much of the time, there are no guitar tuning basics- there are only tuned or not tuned guitars. 

    I've tried all manor of tuning, including several kinds of electronic tuners.  I have the least luck with electronic tuners.  They never get me to that blissful sweet spot on all 6 strings together.  

    Using an "A" tuning fork as a starting point is probably the best, but sometimes I do better by ear.

    It may because of the way I hear, but most of the times when I play, if all six strings don't resonate in just right way to my ear for every chord, open or bared, and every riff doesn't hold together, I have a hard time playing.  Getting to that "sweet spot" of 6-string resonance can at times be challenging, frustrating, or even to the point where I say, "OK guitar, I get it, you don't want to be played."  So I go and do something else. That's why I'm writing this, right now, LOL. 



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  • ed243421ed243421 Posts: 6,884
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  • ed243421ed243421 Posts: 6,884

    The whole world will be different soon... - EV
    RED ROCKS 6-19-95
    AUGUSTA 9-26-96
    MANSFIELD 9-15-98
    BOSTON 9-29-04
    BOSTON 5-25-06
    MANSFIELD 6-30-08
    EV SOLO BOSTON 8-01-08
    BOSTON 5-17-10
    EV SOLO BOSTON 6-16-11
    PJ20 9-3-11
    PJ20 9-4-11
    WRIGLEY 7-19-13
    WORCESTER 10-15-13
    WORCESTER 10-16-13
    HARTFORD 10-25-13









  • dudemandudeman Posts: 2,406
    I've been using a tuner app on my phone for about a year now. Seems to work well enough, especially for the acoustic guitars. 

    Plugged into my rig, I use a Sonic Research strobe tuner. Crazy accurate and easy to read. 

    There are many good options for tuners these days.
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  • Gern BlanstenGern Blansten Your Mom'sPosts: 10,901
    I usually tune the A string and then tune the remaining strings using the A string rather than using a tuner to tune each separately.  
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  • dankinddankind I am not your foot. Posts: 16,221
    edited September 14
    Tuning, you say?



    Throw your axe down a couple of flights of stairs. Tuned!

    :naughty:
    Post edited by dankind on
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  • bbiggsbbiggs Posts: 5,459
    I’ve been changing the tuning around on my guitar between e standard, drop d and e flat depending on what I’m playing. I don’t have enough guitars to keep one set in each tuning. My question is, does this weaken the strings at all? I’ve popped the high e string twice over the course of 6 months or so. I’m not tightening it too much so I don’t know what’s causing it. Is all that loosening and tightening likely the cause? I wouldn’t think so, but not sure. Also, when I’m done playing, I always bring it back to e standard which is where it is the majority of the time and stays there when not in use. Thanks in advance. 
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