How to tune your Acoustic Guitar

Author: Ian Bush & Nick Drakakis  

This is a video on how to tune with an electronic tuner:

Here is a video to tune without an electronic tuner, using harmonics:

More on Tuning with Harmonics:

Here's a great little trick I learned about 20 years ago. One of the guys I worked with showed it to me, and I have never tuned a guitar the "old way" since.

The basic way you do it is as follows:

First, your Low E (6th string) has to be reasonably close to in tune. If not, your whole guitar will be tuned to a different ‘pitch standard’. (This is OK as long as you are playing by yourself, but if you want to play with other instruments, or along to a recording, it will need to be exact.)

You are then going to tune the remaining strings by playing harmonics that ‘match’, or vibrate at the same frequency. If a guitar is perfectly in tune, then these two harmonics should sound exactly the same, and not have any ‘beating’. If you play two harmonics that are supposed to match but you can hear that it does not sound the same (it ‘rubs’ or ‘clashes’), then you need to adjust the tuning.

(Sometimes, you may forget which string actually needs to be adjusted, and start adjusting the ‘in-tune’ string to match with the ‘out-of-tune’ string. If you’re not sure which string needs to be adjusted, restart the tuning process, and work down from top to bottom.)
The harmonics that ‘match’ are listed below:

Low E, 6th String, 5th fret harmonic = A, 5th string, 7th fret harmonic.
A, 5th String, 5th fret harmonic = D, 4th string, 7th fret harmonic.
D, 4th String, 5th fret harmonic = G, 3rd string, 7th fret harmonic.

So now you have four strings tuned, but this next step is very important. You might have noticed a pattern occurring: the 5th fret harmonic of the 6th string matched the 7th fret harmonic of the 5th string. Also, the 5th fret harmonic of the 5th string matched the 7th fret harmonic of the 4th string. So it seems like you just have to match the 5th fret harmonic with the 7th fret harmonic of the string underneath, right? For the most part, yes, but the next string you need to tune (the 2nd string) does not follow this pattern. 

Fortunately, the guitar does have a harmonic that matches, so you can still continue to tune by ear. If you play the 7th fret harmonic of the Low E (6th string) along with the open B (2nd string), those frequencies should match, so you can tune the 2nd string according to the 6th string.

Low E, 6th String , 7th fret harmonic = B, 2nd string, open

The last string you need to tune, the High E string (1st string) can be tuned in two ways. You can go back to the original ‘5th fret harmonic matches the 7th fret harmonic of the string underneath’; or you can use the method we just used for tuning the 2nd string. 

A, 5th String, 7th fret harmonic = High E, 1st string, open.


B, 2nd String, 5th fret harmonic = High E, 1st String, 7th fret harmonic.

Now, your guitar should be perfectly in tune. Because of the physics of strings, the weather, and plenty of other factors, your guitar strings will often go out of tune. However, if you master this method, you’ll be able to bring it back up to perfect tuning in a matter of seconds!

If you would like any more information on how to tune your guitar, add a comment below, or feel free to contact us at


Comments (2)


By: Anonymous on 15 August 2020
This video goes to black at about the 3min mark. Interesting lesson nonetheless.

No video available in this page

By: Anonymous on 19 October 2016
I am unable to see any view video on this page. Both the videos to tune with electric tuner and without electric tuner is not available here. Can you please upload them or point me to another source?

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